Capitol Hill Week Ahead. The Senate is back in lawmaking business this week. SASC will be holding hearings on U.S. Cyber Command with its director, Adm. Mike Rogers, on Tuesday. Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley and other Army officials will be on the Hill throughout the week for hearings on posture and modernization. Also, Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley will testify on the services’ shipbuilding programs on Wednesday.

Carter Talks with Industrial Base. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter met with defense industry organizations on March 29 to discuss a variety of topics including his innovation agenda, the budget, foreign military sales and Goldwater-Nichols type organizational reforms currently under consideration by the department, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook says. The National Defense Industrial Association, the Aerospace Industries Association and Professional Services Council were in attendance. Carter views a strong relationship with defense contractors as part of the broader DOD mission to keep the country secure, Cook adds.

F-35C Weapons Testing. A Navy F-35C on March 23 launched the AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) at the Atlantic Test Range, becoming first Joint Strike Fighter to use the weapon, the F-35 joint program office says. During the event, the CF-05 aircraft released the 1,000 point air-to-surface glide bomb from its weapons bay, says Cmdr. Ted Dyckman, who flew the mission. Only one JSOW was released during the flight ,but further test launches are expected throughout 2016. The JSOW is already integrated on a variety of Navy and Air Force aircraft, including F-16, F/A18, B-52, F-15E, B-1B, and B-2. The Navy is the lead service for the weapon.

New Deputy at TSA. Current Director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office Huban Gowadia will become deputy administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on May 1, Peter Neffenger, TSA Administrator, tells agency employees. Gowadia has led DNDO since September 2013 and before that served as the acting director for a year. Before joining DNDO in 2005, she spent two years at the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology branch leading the Countermeasures Test Bed, evaluating threat detection technologies. After 9/11 Gowadia began working at TSA as the checkpoint program manager, leading the initiative to replace all walk-through metal detectors at airports with enhanced systems in nine months.

More Airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration has raised the blanket altitude for select operators of commercial and government unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) from 200 feet to 400 anywhere in the country except restricted airspace and other areas where UAS operations are prohibited. “This is another milestone in our effort to change the traditional speed of government,” says FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “Expanding the authorized airspace for these operations means government and industry can carry out unmanned aircraft missions more quickly and with less red tape.”  

U.S.-Estonian Defense Ministers. U.S. Secretary of Defense Carter and Estonian Defense Minister Hannes Hanso meet at the Pentagon this week to discuss the nations’ defense relationship. Discussions touch on include Estonia’s willingness to send trainers to support Iraqi security forces later in 2016, Russia’s destabilizing activities in Europe, the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, and reinforcing the U.S.’s “enduring and ironclad commitment to Estonia’s security,” the Defense Department says in a statement. The defense leaders also agree to strengthen cooperation particularly on cyber capabilities through the Tallinn-based NATION-accredited Cyber Defense Center of Excellence and defense industrial activities.

Vulnerability Assessment Contract. The U.S. Air Force awarded SiCore Technologies, Inc a $48 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the Avionics Vulnerability Assessment, Mitigations, and Protections (AVAMP) program. SiCoreis to provide investigation and development of methodologies, tools, techniques, and solutions to identify susceptibilities and mitigate vulnerabilities in Air Force weapon systems and also protect those systems against cyber attack. The award is a result of a competitive acquisition with 23 offers received. Fiscal 2015 research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funds of $75,000 are obligated at award time for delivery order 0001. Contract work is to be performed in Dayton, Ohio with an expected completion date of March 30, 2024. The contracting activity is the Air Force Research Laboratory, Wring-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

…Also Ball Aerospace. The U.S. Air Force also awarded Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. a $48 million contract for the same Avionics Vulnerability Assessment, Mitigation, and Protections (AVAMP) program. Other contract details are repeated from the SiCore contract.

Kroll Cyber Hire. Kroll appoints Stephen Kopeck as associate managing director of the company’s cybersecurity and investigations practice. Kopeck previously served as a team lead at Verizon’s Research, Investigations, Solutions, Knowledge (RISK) division for four years where he managed a team of skilled cyber and computer forensics professionals providing data breach and cyber incident response services to U.S. companies. Before joining Verizon he served as a Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service for a decade, focusing on complex cyber-related financial and other crimes. “His deep knowledge and understanding of the ever-evolving threats posed by cyber adversaries across the globe will enhance our already strong service delivery capabilities,” David Fontaine, CEO of Kroll and parent company Corporate Risk Holdings, says in a statement.

Ship to Shore Connector Award. Textron picks up a $174 million contract modification for the construction of the next five amphibious craft in the Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) program, Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCAC) 104 through 108. The SSC program is the replacement for the legacy LCAC program, although the craft will keep their LCAC designations. Textron is also under contract for first four craft, LCAC 100 through 103. The SSC vehicles will provide improved performance, as well as upgrades to reliability that will increase availability and decrease lifecycle costs, according to the contracting announcement. The work is expected to be complete by Oct. 2020.

OA-6 Anomaly. United Launch Alliance (ULA) says it successfully isolated the OA-6 mission launch anomaly to the first stage fuel system and its associated components. A review will thoroughly assess all flight and operational data to determine root cause and identify appropriate corrective actions before future flights. ULA successfully launched and deployed Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft to its desired orbit on March 22, but the Atlas V launch system experienced a first stage shutdown six seconds early, forcing the Centaur upper stage to burn longer.

XCOR Board. XCOR Aerospace is adding Tom Burbage, Michael Gass and Arthur Bozlee to its board of directors, according to a company statement. Former board members Jeff Greason, Stephen Fleming and Michiel Mol give up their board seats to allow for these new members. Burbage spent his recent years at Lockheed Martin as senior executive managing both the F-22 and F-35 programs. Gass is former president and CEO of ULA. Bozlee is a specialist in spaceflight, aviation and the impact of technology on society and culture.

KC-46. The Air Force says the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker recently recorded higher-than-expected boom axial loads, or pressure along the line of the boom, during testing with a C-17. Service spokesman Daryl Mayer says prime contractor Boeing is working on a fix and the Air Force doesn’t know the potential schedule impact to a planned May Milestone C decision, but that it doesn’t expect an extended delay. The problem is well understood, Mayer says. Reuters first reported the news.

F-35 Contract. The Navy on March 28 awarded Lockheed Martin a $19 million contract modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Block 4 system functional review development efforts in support of the F-35, according to a DoD statement. Block 4 is a modernization program that includes new and upgraded capabilities to provide enhancements and continuous improvements to maintain viability against evolving threats, reduce lifecycle costs and improve operational suitability. Work is expected to complete by May 2017.

Water Test. NASA engineers and technicians performed a test on the Commercial Crew access arm near Kennedy Space Center, Fla., mimicking what the system needs to do at the launch pad in case of an emergency.  Hundreds of gallons of water are sprayed along the arm and beneath it for an evaluation of its water deluge system, a key safety feature for future launches involving Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule. Two rounds of testing in different lighting conditions check whether the water system can cover the arm adequately and if the LED lights are up to the task of helping guide astronauts to safety. After more testing on other systems, the arm will be moved to the launch pad later this summer before being lifted into place on the tower, according to a NASA statement.

COMSATCOM Meeting. The Air Force is arranging for another commercial satellite communications (COMSATCOM) executive roundtable to take place in May, according to service spokeswoman Capt. Annmarie Annicelli. The meeting will be similar to the one held at the Pentagon on Dec. 14, where senior industry leaders were invited to discuss the upcoming Wideband analysis of alternatives (AoA), DoD Pathfinder initiatives and other topics of interest. Annicelli says participants from industry at the last meeting included Intelsat General, SES Government Solutions, Inmarsat, Lockheed Martin, ViaSat, Space Systems Loral (SSL), Orbital ATK, Satellite Industry Association (SIA), Horizon Strategy Group and Boeing.

New Website. For all one’s anti-ISIL information needs, the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) has a new website at The site is collaborative with the counter-ISIS site, says Maj. Gen. Doug Chalmers, CJTF-OIR deputy commander. “We’ll continue to improve the website as we go along with the intent of giving you a better insight as to what the contributing nations and our partners are doing on a daily basis,” Chalmers says.

Sniper Rifles. Heckler & Koch Defense Inc., based in Ashburn, Va., is awarded a $44.5 million firm-fixed-price contract with options for Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System spare parts, training, and government purpose rights, beating out eight other contender for the work to be completed by March 30, 2022.  

Apache PBL. Boeing is awarded a $37.8 million extension to its existing performance-based logistics (PBL) contract to sustain and upgrade the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. Work will be performed at the company’s Mesa, Ariz., facility with an estimated completion date of Oct. 31, 2016.

… And Chinook. Boeing also nets a massive $897 million modification to an existing contract for CH-47F Chinook helicopter multiyear for production lot 14 for 27 renew helicopters and 12 new build helicopters.  Work will be performed in Ridley Township, Pa., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 20, 2020.

Magal Acquisition. Israel’s Magal Security Systems says it has acquired Canada’s Aimetis for $14 million, complementing its portfolio of perimeter intrusion detection systems with a video surveillance offering for outdoor and critical sites. Magal says that in addition to expanding its product offering the deal grows its customer base and global footprint.