Triton Milestone. Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall has authorized the Navy to begin low-rate production of the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned plane, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) said Sept. 22. “This milestone brings us closer to delivering a new capability to the fleet that will change the way our Navy executes intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) around the globe,” says Sean Burke, the Navy’s Triton program manager. “Teamed with manned counterparts, Triton’s highly capable sensor package will provide persistent maritime ISR data collection and dissemination capabilities to the fleet.” The Navy plans to begin deploying the high-altitude, 24-hour-endurance aircraft in fiscal year 2018.
Unmanned Tiltrotor. Bell Helicopter has unveiled its concept for the Bell V-247 Vigilant, an unmanned tiltrotor aircraft that could operate from land or ships and perform electronic warfare, surveillance and other missions. Bell says the V-247, which has a 65-foot wing span and could stay on station for 11 hours, could meet the Marine Corps’ stated needs and be available for production as early as 2023.
Nuclear Needs. Maintaining U.S. nuclear forces from fiscal years 2016 to 2025 is expected to cost almost $320 billion, making it a tempting target for budget cutters. But the Department of Defense has concluded that keeping all three legs of the strategic nuclear triad is vital to national security, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. “The advantages DoD identified include the survivability of the sea-based leg, the intercontinental ballistic missiles’ contribution to stability, and the ability of the nuclear-capable bombers to visibly forward deploy,” the GAO wrote. DoD plans to maintain 700 deployed delivery vehicles for the triad: 400 land-based ICBMs, 240 submarine-launched ballistic missiles and 60 heavy bombers.
Harrier Halt. All AV-8B Harrier Jump jets in the Marine Corps fleet are temporarily grounded after one of the aircraft crashed Thursday in the Pacific Ocean east of Okinawa, Japan. The “operational pause” was ordered by Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commander of III Marine Expeditionary Force. A single Harrier was lost as a result of the mishap, according to a Marine Corps Press release. The pilot of the aircraft successfully ejected and was rescued by members of the 33rd Rescue Squadron, 18th Wing, U.S. Air Force out of Kadena Air Base, with assistance from the Japanese Coast Guard. The pilot was the only individual involved in the mishap and has since been released from the hospital. “It is common practice for units to execute operational pauses following a significant mishap,” the Marine Corps statement says. “During this period, every AV-8B will be inspected to ensure they meet operational readiness standards.” The service in August grounded all non-deployed F-18 Hornets after two of the jets crashed within a week.
ACV Complete. The first Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) rolled off the BAE Systems production line and is on its way to Quantico, Va., for display at the Modern Day Marine combat gear exposition. It is the first vehicle of 13 the company will build under an engineering and manufacturing development contract worth $104 million. SAIC also holds an EMD contract worth $122 million to build 13 vehicles that will be tested against BAE’s version. Five companies competed for the EMD contracts and each had a vehicle on display at last year’s Modern Day Marine, where they served as the main attraction.
Third Offset. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work says the future of warfare will be defined not by specific technologies but by the employment of existing and emerging capabilities into an operational concept that provides a multi-domain advantage. Reviewing his now-familiar concept of the Third Offset Strategy at the Air Force Association’s annual conference outside Washington, D.C., Work says human-machine collaboration within multi-layered battle networks governing space, land, sea, air and cyberspace will be deciding factors in large-scale future conflicts. “[Artificial intelligence] and autonomy is being driven by commercial interests,” Work says. “We have AI and Autonomy starting to change our society and the way we live and it will inevitably have the same impact on war that the rifle, telegraph and railroad revolution did.
… Everyone’s Game. Because the technologies that will define the character of future warfare are commercially available, all competitors will have access to them, as was the case between the World Wars, Work says. “It’s going to be much like the Inter-War period where advances in aviation, radio communication, mechanization were understood and readily available,” he says. Only the German military put the pieces together into an operational construct – Blitzkrieg – that afforded them unrestrained battlefield dominance for about three years before the Allies caught up “The person who can put them together in operational and organizational constructs and then train the force and exercise the force to get ready to deploy,” Work says. “We got a damn-big advantage in that. When we said we wanted to own the night, we owned the night within 10 years. When we said we wanted to go after guided munitions, we went after guided munitions in a big way. When we said we were going to use a space constellation to support operational tactical commanders … we were ready to do it because our people had already thought it out.”
… Perfect Example. The U.S. military’s “damn-big advantage” is exemplified by the nascent Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, or JICSPOC,” Work says. The command center is designed to perform battle management and command-and-control of a constellation of space-based satellites that are under threat of attack. “We’ve never had something like that before because we’ve never needed something like that before,” Work says. “It is the first step in the Third Offset, to start to readdress and extend our margin of operational superiority. Who gets the technology to field faster doesn’t matter. It only will matter if we can employ it to tactical and operational effect on the battlefield.”
Social Media Vetting. Even though the Department of Homeland Security is working to review the social media of refugees seeking entrance into the United States, this vetting is difficult to do, says Matthew Lenkowsky, branch chief for Security Vetting in the Refugee Affairs Division of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “A big part of the problem is how do we actually lock in an identity,” he says at AFCEA’s Global Identity Summit. “So how do I take an applicant who I’m looking at and figure out that they are definitely the same person whose Facebook page somebody back in D.C. is looking at.” This is “very, very difficult and something we’re working on.” It will take “a lot of time and a lot of smart people figuring out how we’re actually doing that,” Lenkowsky says.
IT Modernization. The House on Thursday by passed by voice vote a bipartisan bill authorizing federal agencies that have chief financial officers to establish working capital funds to improve, retire or replace existing information technology system to improve efficiency and effectiveness. The Modernizing Government Technology Act (H.R. 6004) will help federal agencies quit wasting money on outdated IT systems, “save taxpayers dollars, increase government accountability, and help government be more efficient in serving the American people,” says Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who led efforts to create and pass the measure. The bill itself doesn’t appropriate any funding for the IT modernization but it allows funds to be deposited into the working capital fund through reprogramming, transfers, and appropriations.
Army Training. Meggitt Training Systems completed system verification test (SVT) and site operational test (SOT) for the Army’s next-generation small-arms trainers, obtaining certification as the program of record for Army small-arms training. Completion of these tests confirmed that Meggitt meets all requirements of program executive office for simulation, training and instrumentation (PEO STRI) to deliver the Engagement Skills Trainer (EST) II system to active Army, National Guard and Reserve units worldwide. Delivery of the EST II systems begins in summer 2017. Meggitt holds a $99 million, five-year indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract awarded in 2014. Deliveries of 890-plus ESTII systems will occur during the next 18 months at locations worldwide. The system will train new and experienced soldiers in marksmanship, collective scenarios and judgmental video scenarios. ESTII is designed with a modular, open-architecture that allows ready integration of Meggitt and third-party training modules and will accommodate evolutions in fidelity and graphic complexity for greater realism. Current Meggitt architecture facilitates enhanced 3D marksmanship, with an intelligent automatic coaching application on a wireless tablet, enabling trainers to provide better and more effective guidance within a given training session.
OPM IG. President Obama nominated Elizabeth Field to be Inspector General for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Field has held the post of senior adviser in the State Department’s Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights since 2014. From 2010 to 2014 she served in various positions in the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, including as Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Inspections, Chief of Staff, and Senior Audit Manager. Previously she worked as an inspector and analyst at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Japan F-35. Lockheed Martin rolled out the first Japanese F-35A, according to a company statement. Japan’s F-35 program includes 42 F-35As acquired through the Pentagon’s foreign military sales (FMS) program. The first four aircraft were built in Fort Worth, Texas, and the remaining 38 will be built at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries final assembly and checkout facility (FACO) in Nagoya, Japan, where aircraft assembly is underway. Maintenance training for the first Japan F-35A technicians is underway at Eglin AFB, Fla., and the first Japan F-35A pilots are scheduled to begin training at Luke AFB, Ariz., in November. The F-35 is developed by Lockheed Martin with subcontractors BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman.
USAF Promotions. President Obama on Friday recommended a pair of promotions for key Air Force positions. Obama nominated Lt. Gen. John Thompson to become the commander of Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (AFSMC). He’ll succeed Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, who is taking over the top job at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Obama also nominated Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry as the commander of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC). McMurry is currently the head of Air Force Research Lab (AFRL).
More WorldView-4 Delays. DigitalGlobe and United Launch Alliance (ULA) again delayed the WorldView-4 launch to October due to the wildfires at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., according to a ULA statement. Launch was previously scheduled for Sept. 26. ULA says the fire is 70 percent contained and that the launch vehicle and spacecraft are secure. ULA says the fire was as close as 2.5 km from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg as recent as Sept. 18. ULA says its facilities have not been directly impacted or damaged by the fire.
GPS III Awards. The Air Force on Sept. 21 awarded a $395 million contract option to Lockheed Martin for two additional GPS III satellites, according to a service statement. The option procures long lead and production hardware to produce space vehicles 9 and 10. The Air Force predicts the satellites will be available for launch in 2022. The service expects to compete future purchases of GPS III satellites, beginning with space vehicle 11. Lockheed Martin is under contract for the first 11 GPS III satellites.
Battelle CRADA. The Air Force entered into a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Battelle to develop affordable, lightweight and easily adaptable ice protection technology for aircraft, according to a service statement. For the Air Force, this agreement supports research and development (R&D) efforts for discovering an ice protection system that contributes to enhanced performance and fewer aborted missions. In addition, the agreement will allow Battelle to continue to test and validate its R&D efforts on test wings and engine air inlets from operational systems. Battelle will also leverage its collaboration with the Air Force for acquiring additional external funding through various proposals and grants. These types of agreements allow the Air Force to explore technological developments without committing funding.
Paliwal Raytheon BoD. Raytheon’s board of directors elected Dinesh Paliwal as its director, according to a company statement. Paliwal, 58, is chairman, president and CEO of Harman International, which designs and engineers connected products and solutions for automakers, consumers and enterprises worldwide. Before joining Harman, Paliwal spent 22 years with ABB Group, a $50 billion global energy and industrial leader.
“No First Use.” Thirty senators on Sept. 22 wrote President Obama, urging him to not adapt a “no first use” policy toward nuclear weapon use. The senators argue that a no first use policy would severely reduce the value of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, hurt relationships with allies and limit future options.
Aurora D8. NASA awarded Aurora Flight Sciences a six-month contract worth $2.9 million for continued development of the company’s D8 aircraft, an ultra-efficient subsonic commercial airliner that is a candidate for demonstration in NASA’s new X-plane program. The D8 is a commercial aircraft concept that enables substantial efficiency improvements within the next decade; by entry into service, the D8 will be over 50 percent more fuel-efficient than current best-in-class aircraft while simultaneously reducing airline operating costs, according to Aurora. NASA plans, starting with its fiscal year 2017 budget, to flight test a series of X-planes capable of demonstrating significant reductions in fuel consumption, community noise impacts and air quality impacts as part of its New Aviation Horizons program.
Lockheed Ups Buyback Plans. Lockheed Martin has added $2 billion to its authority to repurchase its own stock, bringing the total available for stock buybacks under its plan to $4.3 billion. The increase in repurchase authority follows receipt of a $1.8 billion special payment as part of the divestment of its former Information Systems and Global Solutions segment to Leidos.
Everbridge IPO. Everbridge Inc., a software company that provides critical communications and enterprise safety applications, on Sept. 21 closed an initial public offering of its stock, raising $69.8 million in proceeds. The company provides a software-as-a-service platform to construct and deliver contextual mass notifications during public safety, terrorist threats and critical business events. The company’s shares trade on the NASDAQ under the stock ticker symbol “EVBG.”
Info Processing Contract. The Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $12 million modification to a previously awarded contract for information processing for data to decision making. Under the modification the company will continue to provide in-scope activities in support of the functions and customers including the Air Force Research Laboratory’s mission partners: Air Combat Command and the 35th Information Squadron. No funds were obligated at award time and the work will be performed at Herndon, Va., and Bellevue, Neb., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 6, 2018. The contracting activity is the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y.
DIA IT Contract. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) awarded Booz Allen Hamilton a five-year time and materials task order worth up to a maximum ceiling value of $268 million if all options are exercised. The task order is funded incrementally, with nearly $800,000 funded in fiscal year 2016. The order provides infrastructure engineering and operation services to support DIA and Intelligence Community (IC) information technology requirements under a previously awarded contract vehicle: the Enhanced Solutions for the Information Technology Enterprise (E-SITE). The task order is originally solicited through the E-SITE contract vehicle with five proposals received. The five-year ordering periods is expected to expire in July 2020 with work performed in the National Capital Region and other international locations. The contracting activity is the Virginia Contracting Activity in Washington, D.C.
IT Contract. The U.S. Army awarded NCI Information Systems Inc. a nearly $43 million contract modificaiton for non-personnel information technology services and support requirements for the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command G3/5/7, cyber network operations, and security support. Details for work locations and funding will be determined with each order. The estimated completion date is Sept. 29, 2017. The contracting activity is Army Contracting Command, Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
Telecom Contract. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) awarded Sprint Federal Operations LLC a $10.3 million firm-fixed price contract modification to exercise Option Year 2 for continued operation and maintenance of fiber telecommunications in Europe. The original award is obtained under a 25-year indefeasible right of use and is solicited on the basis of other than full and open competition pursuant to 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(1), only one responsible source, and no other type of supplies or services would satisfy agency requirements. This modification is funded with Fiscal 2017 defense working capital funds and performance will occur at various European locations. The total cumulative contract now rises to $215.7 million. The period of performance is Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2017. The contracting activity is the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization at Scott AFB, Ill.
Tech Company Purchase. Infoblox Inc, a network control company entered into a definitive agreement to be be acquired by Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that focuses on software, data, and technology businesses. Under the agreement, Infoblox shareholders will receive $26.5- per share of common stock in cash, a 33 percent premium on the company’s average closing share price over the previous 60 days. The agreement values Infoblox at about $1.6 billion and is unanimously approved by Infoblox’s board of directors.
IT Posting. Cybereason, a cyber real-time detection and response company, named Sam Curry as Chief Product Officer. In the position Curry is responsible for driving the product strategy for the company’s cyber platform, overall product management, innovation, and operational excellence, the company says. He previously served as Chief Technology and Security Officer as Arbor Networks, responsible for the development of that company’s technology, security, and innovation roadmap. He also worked for seven years at RSA, the security division of EMC in senior management positions including Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Technologist, and Senior Vice President of Product Management and Product Marketing.