Capitol Hill Look Ahead. Congress is back on the Hill this week, and the big question still remains whether President Barack Obama will veto the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act as he had promised to do. On Wednesday, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates will testify to SASC on the future of defense reform. Later that afternoon, F-35 program executive officer Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan will provide an update on the F-35 to HASC.
C-17 Settlement. The Justice Department says Boeing has paid the United States $18 million to settle allegations that the aerospace company submitted false claims for labor charges on maintenance contracts with the Air Force for the C-17 transport plane. The government alleges that Boeing “knowingly charged the United States for time its mechanics spent on extended breaks and lunch hours, and not on maintenance and repair work properly chargeable to the contracts.” The case was brought about by a whistleblower suit by a former Boeing employee. The settlement is not a determination of liability.
New Fast Response Cutter. The Coast Guard on Friday commissions its newest 154-foot Fast Response Cutter (FRC) the Heriberto Hernandez in Sector San Juan, the second FRC to be home ported in Puerto Rico. The Hernandez is the 14th FRC to be commissioned. The FRCs are currently built by Bollinger Shipyards.
…New C-27J. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has taken receipt of its fourth C-27J aircraft at its Asset Project Office in North Carolina following a series of successful flight tests as part of the regeneration from a preserved status at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. The Air Force is transferring 14 of the aircraft for use as medium-range maritime surveillance aircraft to work along with the Coast Guard’s HC-144A Ocean Sentry patrol aircraft. Following regeneration, the C-27s will be missionized with surface search radar, electro-optical/infrared sensors and a standardized Minotaur mission system to enhance their ability to detect, classify and identify maritime targets. The first aircraft is slated to be missionized in 2017.
Retirement. Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher retires from government service on Friday after nearly six years at the helm. Fisher joined the Border Patrol in 1987 and when the agency was transitioned to the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 he was appointed deputy director for Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Anti-Terrorism in Washington, D.C., managing operations and working as a liaison to the interagency intelligence community for anti-terrorist planning and operational coordination.
South Korean THAAD. The chairmen of SASC and HASC on Oct. 16 call for the deployment of a THAAD missile defense battery in South Korea during a visit by South Korean President Park Chung-hee to Washington. The THAAD system, short for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, is produced by Lockheed Martin and built to shoot down ballistic missiles. Forward deploying a THAAD battery could help protect South Korean and U.S. forces against North Korean ballistic missile threats, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thorberry (R-Texas) say in a joint statement. “While we recognize that any deployment decision regarding THAAD rests with the government of the Republic of Korea, should such a decision be made we would welcome it as a further demonstration of the collective security commitments of both of our countries,” the lawmakers say.
SpaceX-Orbcomm… Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), Orbcomm and SES mutally agree that the Orbcomm-2 mission will be the fly on Falcon 9’s return to flight, SpaceX says Friday in a statement. SpaceX says it is using Orbcomm-2 for return to flight because it does not require a relight of the second stage engine following orbital insertion. Flying Orbcomm-2 first allows SpaceX to conduct an on-orbit test of the second stage relight system after the Orbcomm-2 satellites have been safely deployed.
…More SpaceX. The company says this test, combined with the current qualification program to be completed prior to launch, will further validate the second stage relight system and allow for optimization of the upcoming SES-9 mission and following mission to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). This change does not affect the timeline for SpaceX’s return-to-flight mission, which is still targeted to take place in the next 6-8 weeks. The SES-9 launch is currently targeted for late December. Falcon 9 has been out of service since June 28 after a launch failure ended the NASA Cargo Resupply Services-7 (CRS-7) mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
TSA III Awards. The Air Force on Aug. 11 awards an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract worth as much as $20.9 billion to 25 different companies for the Training Systems Acquisition III (TSA III) partial small business set-aside, multiple-award contract. The service awards contracts to: AAI Corp., Boeing, CAE USA, Camber Corp., CSC, Cubic Defense Applications, Flight Safety Services, L-3 Communications, LB&B Associates, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Aero Simulation, Aerospace Training Systems Partners JV, Aviation Training Consulting, Bowhead Systems Management, CTE Joint Venture, CymSTAR, Delaware Resource Group, DL PI JV, Fidelity Technologies Corp., Logistics Services International, Nakuuruq Solutions, Nova Technologies and Quadrant Training Solutions.
…More TSA III. Contractors will provide the analysis, design, development, production, installation, integration, test and sustainment for Air Force training systems encompassing complex aircrew, maintenance and system-specific training systems in support of warfighter training. TSA III is a 10-year ordering period through August 2025. This award is competitive, 20 large businesses and 21 small business offers were received. Each awardee receives $1,000 at the time of award.
ULA Awards. The Air Force on Oct. 15 sole-sources two launch missions to United Launch Alliance (ULA) as part of the 2013 block buy. The two missions are NROL-47 for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO-4 for the Air Force. The contracts include launch vehicle production, mission integration and launch operations. Both launches are scheduled for fiscal year 2018. ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
MDA Award. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) on Oct. 15 awards Raytheon a $200 million modification to a previous ID/IQ contract (HQ0147-12-D-0005) for Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) work, according to a DoD statement. The modification increases the total contract value from $710 million to $910 million. Raytheon continues performing software and hardware maintenance, limited modeling and simulation support, engineering support and test planning, execution and analysis.
NASA VCLS. NASA on Oct. 14 awards Firefly Space Systems, Rocket Lab and Virgin Galactic Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) contracts to provide smaller class satellites like CubeSats, microsats or nanosats, access to low earth orbit (LEO), according to an agency statement. Firefly receives $5.5 million, Rocket Lab $6.9 million and Virgin Galactic $4.7 million. The services acquired through these new contract awards constitute the smallest class of launch services used by NASA. At present, launch opportunities for small satellites and science missions are limited to rideshare-type arrangements, flying only when space is available on NASA and other launches.
JASSM Contract. The Air Force on Oct. 13 sole sources a $305 million firm-fixed-price and fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract to Lockheed Martin for Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) production, according to a DoD statement. Lockheed Martin will provide production, system upgrades, integration, sustainment, management and logistical support.
Cygnus Update. Orbital ATK achieves a key milestone by shipping its Cygnus spacecraft’s service module to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for its next ISS cargo mission, slated for Dec. 3. Cygnus will be assembled at KSC and launched aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket. This mission serves as the first flight of the enhanced Cygnus variant, which will be capable of delivering more than 7,700 pounds of supplies, equipment and experiments. The original Cygnus variant has pressurized cargo module capacity between 3,200 and 3,500 kg.
Foreign Sales… The Defense Security Cooperation Agency helped defense contractors rake in $46.6 billion in foreign military sales during fiscal year 2015, DSCA director Vice Adm. Joseph Rixey said Oct.13 during a speech at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting and symposium. That would have been a record if not for the sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia in fiscal year 2012. The 2015 figure represents an increase of more than $10 billion compared to 2014. The DSCA processed $34.2 billion in FMS sales then and $27.8 million in 2013.
…More Foreign Sales. Rixey attributed the bump in sales to the growing case value of orders. “We’ve had to double down contracting officers in the Army just to keep up the pace,” he says. The fight against the Islamic State could also be a reason why international countries are purchasing additional arms, he says.
F-35 Order. The Navy awards Lockheed Martin a $17.6 million delivery order for the procurement of retrofit modification kits and services for Block 3F upgrades of two F-35A aircraft. The two aircraft are being upgraded for an unnamed non-Defense Department customer, which obligated $8.7 million to Lockheed Martin at the time of the award. The work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas and Baltimore, Md., the contract announcement states.
Unmanned Aircraft. Booz Allen Hamilton picks up a $43.3 million contract to provide services related to manned and unmanned systems. The company will conduct include engineering, research, design, development, integration, test and evaluation, fielding, maintenance, training and logistics in support of the Navy Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division’s air traffic control division. Those services will be provided for manned and unmanned programs that use relative navigation systems for air traffic control, approach and landing, and refueling, according to the contract announcement. Booz Allen was one of two companies who bid on the program.