No ACV Protest. Lockheed Martin will not protest the award of the Marine Corps amphibious combat vehicle engineering and manufacturing development contract to BAE Systems and Science Applications International Corp. General Dynamics, which also was left out of the $225 million award last month, filed a protest this week, contending that the Marine Corps failed to judge the competing vehicles by the same criteria it published when the service asked for proposals.

… Disappointment. Lockheed Martin makes its decision Friday, saying in a statement it was “disappointed with the decision to not select its Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) in the recent U.S. Marine Corps competition. Believing the competition was a ‘best value’ effort as outlined in the original criteria presented in the USMC’s Request for Proposals (RFP), Lockheed Martin offered a vehicle that met or exceeded all of the requirements outlined in the RFP, as well as offered long-term affordability and significant growth potential. After a thorough evaluation of our options, Lockheed Martin has decided to not protest the award. We remain committed to providing our U.S. Marine Corps customers with a range of products and systems to help them achieve their mission.”

SpaceX Return To Flight. Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) targets Dec. 19 for its return to flight as part of a Orbcomm mission, according to a Orbcomm statement. SpaceX plans to conduct a static fire of its Falcon 9 on Dec. 16 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Once SpaceX completes static fire to verify the readiness of Falcon 9, Orbcomm’s second OG2 mission is targeted for between 8 and 9 p.m. EST on Dec. 16. An industry source says SpaceX expects a late December launch for a SES mission. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has been out of commission since a June 28 launch failure. The OG2 mission will launch 11 next generation OG2 satellites for improved machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.

MH-60R Contract… The Army awards Sikorsky a $354 million modification to contract W58RGZ-12-C-0008 to fund the Navy’s fifth program year of 29 MH-60R helicopters, according to a DoD statement. The contract also includes associated program and logistics support. DoD expects work to complete by the end of 2017. The MH-60R is an anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare multi-mission helicopter. Sikorsky is a division of Lockheed Martin.

…More Sikorsky. The Army awards Sikorsky a $833 million modification to the same contract for a variety of Army services, according to a DoD statement. This contract includes Army fixed engineering sustaining, program management/systems engineering sustaining, Army provisioning, Army technical publications, other integrated logistics support, contractor manpower reporting, packaging handling storage and transportation and advance procurement funding. DoD expects work to complete by the end of 2016.

Hellfire II Contract. The Army awards Lockheed Martin a $318 million modification to foreign military sales (partial) contract W31P4Q-15-C-0151 for Hellfire II mission hardware and component production requirements, according to a DoD statement. Customers include the Army, Air Force, South Korea, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, India, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Indonesia. The Army expects work to complete by Oct. 31, 2018. The Hellfire II version of the mission incorporates a semi-active laser guidance system into the legacy Hellfire missile, which is the primary air-to-ground weapon of the United Kingdom’s WAH-64 Apache helicopter.

DigitalGlobe-Raytheon Contract. DigitalGlobe awards Raytheon a contract to develop the capability supporting a September 2016 launch and mission planning of DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 satellite, according to a Raytheon statement. Raytheon’s Constellation Scheduling System (CSS) is a commercial geospatial mission planning system. The competitively-awarded contract to prepare the ground station for WorldView-4 is part of the first phase in the development of DigitalGlobe’s next generation ground system, Platform 20/20. The September 2016 launch of WorldView-4 from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., will be supported by Raytheon space launch range services.

Orbital HAPS Patent. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awards Orbital ATK a patent for its Helicopter Active Protection System (HAPS), according to a company statement. HAPS, which protects helicopters against airborne threats, represents the first patent awarded to Orbital ATK for its development of methods and systems of active protection from aerial threats by dispensing a kill vehicle, the key component, from either aerial or ground platforms. The company recently had a live-fire demonstration validating the basis of the invention, including the performance of its kill vehicle’s ability to launch, perform pitch maneuvers and fly to a detonation point that simulated the location of an incoming rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).

First Aegis Ashore Intercept. Lockheed Martin, the Navy and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully destroy a ballistic missile target in the first live fire intercept test of Aegis Ashore, according to a company statement. The test also demonstrates the system’s “launch on remote” capability, where Aegis Ashore uses information from another radar system to launch an intercept missile before switching to Aegis Ashore’s own SPY-1 radar to guide that missile to the target. Aegis Ashore is the land-based version of the Aegis Combat System, a collection of phased-array radars, fire control directors, computers and missiles installed on Navy warships and those of its allies.

Juno Target Launched. The Air Force successfully completes the fourth Juno Target vehicle launch, according to a service statement. Orbital ATK designed Juno to provide a realistic threat target that meets the stringent performance requirements of the Army’s Patriot program. The target’s first stage lifts the rocket from its launch pad to above the earth’s atmosphere. After a short coast period, the rocket’s second stage ignites, extending the range of the target missile to complete its flight path into the defended footprint of a Patriot test battery.

Russian Missiles. The Army’s top officer in Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, says Russia has positioned “significant” weapons capability near Kaliningrad, including Iskander missiles that could close the Baltic Sea to U.S. and allied forces in the event of conflict. “Kaliningrad itself, of course, it’s sovereign Russian territory, so they can put whatever they want there,” Hodges tells reporters during a press conference at the Pentagon. “The air defense is, I would say … And I wouldn’t want to put a specific number on there. But just let me say that they have the capability that they could make it very difficult for any of us to get up into the Baltic Sea if we needed to in a contingency.”

… Exercising Muscle. Russians regularly engage in sudden exercises that are not publicized and to which neither U.S. nor other NATO observers are invited, Hodges says. Russia’s military practices for a variety of contingencies, including a preemptive nuclear attack on a NATO nation and they make no effort to hide the fact that the hypothetical enemy is NATO, he says.  On the flip side, Russian observers participate in nearly every NATO exercise on the alliance’s eastern flank. “We have seen them do exercises where they, you know, there’s a nuclear strike,” Hodges says. “They don’t say gray land and silver land, or red land or stuff like that.  They say, you know, NATO is the adversary when they do their exercises.  I mean they’re pretty–pretty blunt about that.”  

Syria Gains. During a five-week campaign ending this week, the U.S.-backed Syrian democratic forces (SDF) liberate nearly 1,000 square kilometers and coordinate with coalition forces for 142 strikes, Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, tells reporters this week during a teleconference from Baghdad. Those strikes killed around 500 enemy fighters and destroyed 143 ISIL fighting positions, 43 vehicles and one checkpoint.

Holiday Safety. The Army suggests that soldiers and their families keep their heads down this holiday season, given recent concern over terror attacks both stateside and abroad. Suggested safety precautions include “looking a little less Army” while not on duty. In a blast message to all service personnel, officials say there is no specific threat to soldiers or military installations, but there is a general, ongoing concern that terror groups like ISIS or its adherents could target U.S. military personnel.

… Suggestions. The Army warns personnel to keep their eyes peeled at holiday parties for “unauthorized people” trying to enter or suspicious vehicles. Soldiers should keep in mind that bulky winter clothing can conceal weapons or explosives and that unattended packages, even wrapped presents, could contain bombs. Service officials also suggest keeping a low profile on social media, at least as it concerns being a member of the military and to consider not wearing or displaying visible signs of military affiliation. Army officials also advise disabling location trackers on smartphones and other devices.

Change of Adviser. After 36 years as a Marine, Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retires Friday and passes his responsibilities to Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell. Battaglia was just the second enlisted service member to hold the position.

Budget Message. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter implores Congress to give the Defense Department a measure of stability by reaching a budget agreement that funds equally defense and non-defense sectors of the government. “At a time when our security environment demands a dynamic and agile military, it is vital that negotiations on Capitol Hill arrive at an agreement to fund all of government for the remainder of the fiscal year, consistent with the funding levels set in the budget agreement achieved earlier this year. Further delaying such funding will do real harm.”

… Straitjacket. Congress instead elected to pass a continuing resolution that will fund the government for another week. The Senate voted in the affirmative on the CR Thursday. The House approved it Friday. Echoing his own comments over the past several months, Carter says another CR would place the Defense Department in a “straitjacket.” A CR “prevents us from fielding a modern, ready force in a balanced way, while embracing reform to ensure that every taxpayer dollar is well spent,” Carter says in a statement. “It harms our ability to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIL and to confront the many complex national security challenges around the world. Failure to act sends the wrong message to our troops, our allies and our enemies. There will be ample opportunities for extraneous policy fights in the future, but at this time, Congress must set aside such fights and prioritize our security by funding all of government.”

Venom Vs. UAS. Northrop Grumman demonstrates the ability of its Venom ground-based targeting system to identify, track and target small unmanned aircraft during the Army’s maneuver-fires integrated experiment (MFIX) at Fort Sill, Okla. The targeting capability enables other systems in the network to counter the UAS, meaning jam or shoot it down. Venom is a ground-based targeting system that incorporates Northrop Grumman’s Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder (LLDR) on a universal, stabilized and gimbaled mount. The system can be used to provide target designation for delivery of precision-guided munitions and can be integrated onto any vehicle. At the MFIX exercise, Venom operated from two vehicles providing precision targeting information on small, moving unmanned systems. The LLDR at the core of the Venom system provides allows forward observers, forward air controllers and naval gunfire spot teams to recognize targets during the day, at night or in obscured conditions, determine range to the target at an eye safe wavelength and calculate grid coordinates with its own GPS/Elevation/Azimuth capability. More than 2,700 LLDR systems have been delivered.

Raytheon Mortar Contract. The Navy awards Raytheon a $98 million indefinite delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for procurement of the 120mm Precision Extended Range Munition (PERM). PERM, an extended range, GPS-guided mortar, provides improved lethality for the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Fire Support System, according to the contract announcement. The contract includes low rate initial production projectiles, technical documentation and production orders. The first $13 million delivery order will be awarded simultaneously.

GD Contract. General Dynamics Information Technology picks up a $67 million 081 multiple task order, cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award contract for a variety of systems, including command, control, communications, computers and intelligence; surface ship anti-submarine warfare; surface ship undersea warfare and surface ship mine warfare systems. The contract also includes combat systems engineering, analytical, logistics and technical support to the Navy’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center in Norfolk, Va. Each contract provides a one year base period, with a one year option period.

Submarine Repair Parts. General Dynamics Electric Boat lands a $12 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to the previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-2104) for repair parts that will be loaded onto the future USS South Dakota (SSN 790), a Virginia-class attack submarine. The work will be performed in Groton, Conn., and is slated for completion by September 2018.

CoCom Consolidation. It’s time to consolidate some of the combatant commands, former military officials tell the Senate Armed Services Committee. U.S. European Command (EUCOM) could be merged with U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to form Euro-Africa Command, says retired Adm. James Stavridis, a former commander of EUCOM and U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). EUCOM and AFRICOM are currently collocated in Germany. Retired Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, a former chief of staff of the Air Force, agreed with the recommendation. At one time the military planned to build AFRICOM headquarters on the African continent, he notes. Since that never happened, there’s no reason to have two separate commands.

…More Consolidation. Stavridis also recommended the consolidation of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and SOUTHCOM into a combined American combatant command. Doing so could allow for closer cooperation on a trilateral basis with Canada and Mexico, he says. It could be headquartered in Miami, with a sub-unified command in Colorado Spring, Colo., that would retain North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

First Call. Right after announcing the establishment of a new transaction mechanism to make it easier for start-up companies to work with the Department of Homeland Security, the department’s Science and Technology branch has issued its first call for proposals seeking solutions to improve situational awareness and security measures for protecting Internet of Things domains. The call was issued trough the DHS Innovation Other Transaction Solicitation, which is aimed at helping companies that don’t typically work with the government consider DHS as a “viable customer for their technology,” S&T says. “This is not business as usual,” says Doug Maughan, director of S&T’s Cyber Security Division. “We’re reshaping how government, entrepreneurs and end users work together.”

Coast Guard Bill. The House on Thursday unanimously passed a two-year authorization bill for the Coast Guard through FY ’17, a bill that was worked out in conference with the Senate. Among other things, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 4188) contains provisions encouraging the Coast Guard to explore commercial technologies to solve problems affecting mission performance, authorizes funding to continue the recapitalization of aging aircraft, vessels and related technology, and requires the service to plan for its long-term acquisition and manpower needs.

Anti-UAV System. Finmeccanica’s Selex subsidiary has developed an anti-unmanned aerial vehicle system, Falcon Shield, which can seize control of a small rogue or threatening drone and safely direct it to the ground away from its target. The system can be integrated with optional kinetic hit systems. The portable Falcon Shield system includes Selex’ Nerio family of radars and electro-optical/infrared cameras. Finmeccanica says the system is modular, allowing it to be tailored to customer needs.

FTC Chief Technologist. Lorrie Cranor is appointed the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Chief Technologist. Set to join the FTC in January, Cranor will be primarily responsible for advising Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and the full Commission on developing technology and policy matters. Cranor is currently a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. She directs the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security laboratory at Carnegie Mellon and previously served as a researcher at AT&T Labs research. Cranor succeeds Ashkan Soltani, who was appointed in fall 2014.

DoD Lawyer Back To Firm. Stephen Preston, former Defense Department General Counsel, rejoins law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (WilmerHale) to chair the firm’s defense, national security, and government contracts practice. Preston previously served as both the Defense Department General Counsel (2013-2015) and CIA General Counsel (2009-2013). As General Counsel Preston is responsible for issues related to companies dealing with the government including competition and M&A review, foreign investment in the U.S., cyber intrusions, criminal and civil enforcement, and congressional investigations.