Capitol Hill Week Ahead. All eyes are on the Pentagon, which will drop the budget on Tuesday. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has already announced the topline budget figure– $582.7 billion, which includes both base and wartime spending. However, some of the Hill, like HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) are already pushing to increase Overseas Contingency Operations spending. His argument is that the budget spends more money on current operations like the fight against ISIS without raising the levels agreed to in the budget deal, meaning that tradeoffs may have been made for items in the base budget. The SAC will have its first budget hearing, as Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh testify on Wednesday on the service’s 2017 request.
… Acquisition Reform Bill. For the second year in a row, HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) plans to introduce a new acquisition reform bill and solicit comments from the Pentagon and industry on its proposals. The plan is to release the bill in March, giving stakeholders enough time to suggest changes to the bill before incorporating new reform provisions into the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. “You can talk about ideas, but particular in a complex topic like this, if you put words on paper, then you have more specifics” for people to evaluate, he said after a Feb. 3 hearing.
L-3 Protest. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Jan. 20 denied a protest by L-3 Communications over a Navy contract awarded to CAE USA for technology refresh and upgrades to existing helicopter flight training devices and the purchase of additional helicopter training devices. L-3 raised a number of allegations, principally-relating to the evaluation of its proposal and the propriety of the Navy’s source selection decision. While L-3 receives “outstanding low risk” for three of four ratings while CAE USA got “outstanding low risk” for one, GAO says CAE USA’s offer was nearly $27 million cheaper. GAO finds that while L-3 is correct that the Navy did not separately “monetize” each and every feature of its proposal that the agency identified as superior to the other proposals, GAO says it is aware of no requirement for an agency to prepare such an analysis.
XTAR-Satcom Direct. XTAR and Satcom Direct Communications (SDC), the military and government division of Satcom Direct, announce a partnership to offer a new, on-demand and minutes-based satellite communications service for military and government end users, according to a XTAR statement. This non-pre-emptible and highly flexible service will be available stand-alone or as a roaming service to augment the Air Force’s Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) X-band constellation. The service provides throughput rates from aircraft up to 12 Mbps under a pay-per-use structure, which XTAR calls a first of its kind offering unavailable elsewhere.
NASA Unisys Contract. NASA awards Unisys a contract to provide advanced software, hardware and systems integration services to support simulation and flight research projects, according to a company statement. The contract, which includes a three-year base period followed by a two-year option, is worth $38 million if the option period is exercised. Unisys spokeswoman Kate Heckenkemper says the three year base period is worth nearly $23 million. Unisys will design, test, integrate, operate, maintain and modify systems supporting NASA Langley Research Center’s simulation and flight research mission. Unisys will also support research topics including guidance and control, flight deck human factors, airspace operations and unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
JWST Mirrors. NASA reached an important milestone on Feb. 3 when Harris installed the 18th and final primary mirror segment on the James Webb Space Telescope, according to a NASA statement. Each of the hexagonal-shaped mirror segments measure just over 4.2 feet across and weigh approximately 88 pounds. Once in space and fully deployed, the 18 primary mirror segments will work together as one large 21.3 foot diameter mirror. NASA and its JWST contractor teams will now install the other optics and conduct tests on other components to make sure the telescope can withstand a rocket launch slated for 2018. The mirrors are built by Ball, which is also the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the optical technology and optical system design. Harris performs mirror installation and leads integration and testing.
Orion Arrives. The Lockheed Martin and NASA Orion team secures the 2,700-pound Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) Orion crew module into its structural assembly tool, also known as the “birdcage,” according to a company statement. The crew module is the living quarters for astronauts and the backbone for many of Orion’s systems, such as propulsion, avionics and parachutes. While at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., the crew module will undergo several tests to ensure the structure is perfectly sound before being integrated with other elements of the spacecraft.
NSC-9 Contract Plans. The Coast Guard says in June it plans to award Huntington Ingalls Industries a contract for long-lead time material of the ninth National Security Cutter (NSC), followed by the construction and delivery contract by the end of 2016. Funding for the ninth NSC wasn’t sought by the Coast Guard but was provided by Congress in the FY ’16 Homeland Security Appropriations Act. HII has delivered five of the eight NSCs it is under contract for so far.
…C27J Update. The fifth C-27J aircraft to complete the Coast Guard’s regeneration process on the way to becoming an HC-27J medium-range surveillance asset for the service has been flown to the Coast Guard’s Asset Project Office in North Carolina. A total of 13 C-27Js will be pulled from mothballs, regenerated, and ultimately missionized for the surveillance mission. A 14th C-27J will be transferred to the Coast Guard once it is formally accepted by the Air Force. The aircraft will be equipped with an integrated surface search radar, electro-optical/infrared sensors and a standardized Minotaur mission system.
Shareholder Raise. Orbital ATK has declared a 15 percent increase in its quarterly cash dividend to 30 cents per share, up from 26 cents per share. The dividend will be payable on March 24. Orbital ATK recently hiked its share repurchase program to $250 million.
Ball Acquisition. Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. acquires the specialized engineering cyber firm Wavefront Technologies. The purchase is for an undisclosed price and is meant to strengthen and diversify Ball’s business portfolio, the company says. Wavefront provides systems and network engineering, software development software, and analytical services for cyber and mission programs to the U.S. government and private industry. Wavefront is established in 2004 and is a small business with over 100 employees.
F/A-18s Made In India? Boeing is in conversation with India to produce F/A-18 Super Hornets in India as part of the ‘Make in India’ government strategy, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg says in an interview with the Hindustan Times. Muilenburg says the company is willing to support the project with billions of dollars in investment to India for operational needs. India is in negotiations with France’s Dassault Aviation SA to purchase 36 Rafale combat jets at about $200 million/unit but an earlier order to buy 126 aircraft collapses. Additional competitor combat jet makers, like Sweden’s Saab with the Gripen aircraft, line up to offer revised offers with a readiness to produce in India.
SEKON Contract. SEKON Enterprises Inc. won a $29 million contract modification by the Defense Health Agency to exercise the first option period of a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for engineering, cybersecurity, and configuration management. The contract provides engineering support services to the Defense Healthcare Management Systems (DHMS) including enterprise and solutions architecture, configuration management, cyber security, synthetic test data, and software tool support tasks for the management of the integrated functional/technical capabilities supporting the modernization and interoperability mission of DHMS. The option performance period is Jan. 29, 2016 to Jan. 28, 2017 with work to be conducted in Virginia.
MasterCard Cyber. Alexander Niejelow, former director for cybersecurity policy on the National Security Council, is appointed MasterCard’s senior vice president of public policy effective Feb. 8. In the position, Niejelow will work on cybersecurity and global data management policy efforts as well as leading MasterCard’s industry partnerships on technology policy issues. Niejelow served on the National Security Council since 2013 while concurrently serving as chief of staff to the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, where he helped coordinate the Obama administration’s efforts to develop and enforce intellectual property and patent policies.
Navy Osprey. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) gives the Navy carrier onboard delivery version of the V-22 Osprey its official designation: the CMV-22B. The aircraft will be the same as the Marine Corps’ MV-22B but will be modified with three systems meant to enhance its ability to transport personnel, cargo and mail: an extended-range fuel system, a high-frequency radio and a public address system. Bell-Boeing is scheduled to begin production of the CMV-22B in fiscal year 2018, while deliveries begin in 2020. The Navy will buy 44 CMV-22B Ospreys under the current program of record.
LCS Maintenance: The Navy awards General Dynamics NASSCO $12.7 million modification to a previous contract for an USS Independence (LCS-2) maintenance availability in fiscal 2016. The dry docking selected restricted availability includes depot level maintenance and modifications to improve and update the ship’s systems. Work will be performed in San Diego and is expected to wrap up by September 2016.
Aircraft Support. Lockheed Martin picks up a $52 million contract for supply chain management of aviation tires to support a range of platforms including: P-3C, E-2C/D, C2, AV-8B, CH-46E, F-18A/B/C/D/E/F, EA 18-G, MH-60S/R, SH60B/F, S-3, EA-6B, CH-53/E, V-22, and F-35. Under the performance based logistics contract, Lockheed Martin will be responsible for requirements forecasting, inventory management, retrograde management, storage, transportation, and meeting critical supply response time availability metrics over the three-year contract. The contract also has options for two sixth-month periods and an increased quantity of F-35 tires that would bring the award to $131 million. The contract involves funding from the Navy as well as foreign military sales from Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey Japan, and the United Kingdom.
KC-130J Propulsion. The Navy awards Rolls-Royce a $64 million modification for performance based logistics supplies, services and related support for KC-130J aircraft propulsion system. About $5 million of that award stems from foreign military sales from the government of Kuwait. Supplies include the AE2100D3 turboprop engine and the R391 propeller system, quick engine change kit, and associated propulsion components, the contract announcement says.
Hornet Maintenance. L-3 lands an estimated, maximum value $22 million contract for depot level maintenance, support and sustainment of four F/A-18A/B/C/D aircraft. The company will perform high-flight-hour (HFH) inspections, HFH recurring inspections, additional inspections, modifications and liaison engineering, and work is expected to be completed in November 2018.
McMurry Promoted. The Air Force promotes Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry to commander of Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), according to a Pentagon statement. McMurry was vice commander of Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (AFSMC), the nation’s center of technical expertise for military space acquisition with more than 5,000 employees nationwide and an annual budget of $6 billion.
Baird Promoted. The Air Force promotes Col. Mark Baird to the rank of brigadier general and vice commander of AFSMC, replacing McMurry. Baird was previously special assistant to the commander of Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, where he directs and equips U.S. forces with space control systems to gain, maintain, and exploit space superiority.
JLTV Hearing. Lockheed Martin is partially successful in sealing the transcript of the Jan. 20 federal court hearing on its argument that Oshkosh should have to stop building Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) until Lockheed Martin’s bid protest is settled. The hearing was closed to the public, but law requires that a transcript be available for public viewing in whole or in redacted form within 90 days. The Court of Federal Claims, in which Lockheed Martin is suing to have the JLTV program reopened to competition, rules that the bulk of the transcript from the hearing should be permanently sealed from public view. Lockheed Martin petitioned the court to seal the document, which would have been available to the public by law after 90 days, because much of the information aired in court was proprietary. A federal judge agreed in part, allowing the first 12 pages of the transcript to be released while the remainder “shall be permanently sealed.” “This hearing transcript contains extensive information about nascent military technology and competitively sensitive data pertinent to offers in the procurement, which would be difficult if not impossible to redact in a way that would leave meaningful excerpts available to the public,” Judge Charles Lettow wrote in his order sealing the transcript.