Space & Missile Defense. The U.S. Army taps eight firms to compete for $3 billion in work over nine years to develop space, high-altitude and missile defense hardware and software for Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. The companies are BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services, Dynetics, KBRwyle Technology Solutions, Northrop Grumman Technical Services, QWK Integrated Solutions, Raytheon, SAIC and Teledyne Brown Engineering.

Unmanned Capture. SideArm, a portable device that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing to horizontally launch and retrieve unmanned aerial systems weighing up to 900 pounds, repeatedly captured a 400-pound Lockheed Martin Fury UAS during a test conducted by Aurora Flight Sciences in December, DARPA says. According to the agency, SideArm snags a hook on the back of a UAS and directs the hook to travel down a rail, which provides a safer stop for the aircraft than the traditional method of catching a UAS with a net. DARPA says it is now trying to find “potential transition partners” for SideArm. It is also considering testing SideArm with other UAS.

EPF-8 Delivery. The U.S. Navy plans to accept delivery of its eighth Expeditionary Fast Transport, the future USNS Yuma (EPF-8), in early March, according to shipbuilder Austal USA. The transport ship was built in Mobile, Ala., and completed its acceptance trials in January. Meanwhile, EPF-9 is under construction in Austal’s final assembly area, EPF-10 modules are being built, and EPF-11’s first aluminum was cut in mid-January, Austal spokesman Craig Savage says. EPF-12 construction is expected to begin later this year.

LCS-16 Milestone. The Navy christens its newest Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship, the USS Tulsa (LCS 16), during a Feb. 11 ceremony in Mobile, Ala. Austal USA leads the team that is building the ship. The vessel is slated for delivery to the Navy in 2018.

HPE Nabs HSPD-12 Award. Hewlett Packard Enterprises wins a $154.1 million contract from the General Services Administration (GSA) to allow the agency to provide government-wide contractor managed services for identity and credential management. Under the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 contract, HPE will conduct applicant sponsorship, enrollment, biometric submission for background investigations, credential issuance, biographic maintenance and more. HPE is the incumbent contractor on the HSPD-12 Core Services program.

Minuteman III Test. The Air Force launches an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM Feb. 9 at 2:39 a.m. EST, according to a service statement. Launch took place from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., and travelled 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

House Approps Dems. House Appropriations Committee (HAC) Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) announces Democratic members for the 12 appropriations subcommittees. For the Defense Subcommittee, Peter Visclosky (Ind.) will serve as ranking member with Betty McCollum (Minn.), Tim Ryan (Ohio), Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) and Henry Cuellar (Texas) filling out the panel for Democrats. For the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee, José Serrano (N.Y.) will serve as ranking member while Derek Kilmer (Wash.), Matt Cartwright (Pa.) and Grace Meng (N.Y.) fill out the panel.

New FRC. The Coast Guard accepts its 22nd Fast Response Cutter, the Bailey Barco, which will be the second FRC stationed in Ketchikan, Alaska. Built by Bollinger Shipyards, the 154-foot Bailey Barco will be commissioned in July. So far 38 of a panned 58 FRCs are ordered and 19 are in service.

Polar Icebreaker Partnership. The United States and Canada establish a partnership allowing the U.S. Coast Guard’s heavy polar icebreaker program to test and validate potential icebreaker design models at Canada’s National Research Council in Newfoundland. The testing includes analyses of maneuverability in ice and icebreaking resistance and powering, and helps inform baseline requirements for the new heavy polar icebreakers, and expand current icebreaker design and operational knowledge. The NRC is one of the world’s largest ice tank facilities and is used to measure the performance and evaluate the safety of ice-going ships and structures in controlled model-scale conditions. The Coast Guard and Navy will also conduct model test work in open water at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda, Md.

Fort Benning. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) Maneuver Center of Excellence has added two organizations at Fort Benning, Ga.: the Security Force Assistance (SFA) proponency office and the Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA). The offices support the Army’s preparedness in multinational operations and align the military training center with its operational component, which is already housed at Fort Benning. The SFA proponency office develops policy and doctrine designed to train brigade-level commands how to assist and sustain host or regional security forces in support of legitimate combined arms operations. The establishment of MATA institutionalizes the policy and doctrine and develops curriculum used to train the force. These organizations are expected to add 85 positions to Fort Benning and are a natural fit with TRADOC and the other capabilities currently present at the Fort. 

Arms to Ukraine. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) writes to President Donald Trump urging his administration authorize sending “lethal defensive” weapons to Ukraine for use against Russian separatists in Crimea. Among escalating hostilities in Ukraine, Smith, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, says “I would encourage you to do everything possible to peaceably resolve the ongoing conflict, starting with a strong signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin.” Russia’s actions in the region “undermine the peace, security, stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including through the deployment of military forces to and illegal occupation of Crimea,” Smith writes. The letter reminds Trump that the most recent National Defense Authorization Act includes authority to fund lethal aid to Ukraine. “As the conflict in Ukraine unfolds, the world will be watching you,” Smith writes. “Your words, your actions, and, most importantly, your leadership will matter. Now is not the time to consider easing the sanctions levied on Russia or to back away from Ukraine. It is the time for the United States to stand firm.” 

Armored Vehicle. AMTANK Armor, a subsidiary of American Tank and Fabricating, and their technology partner Composhield, are unveiling a new low-cost, highly-protected vehicle aimed at meeting specialized needs in the defense community. The “Raven” concept vehicle can be built on commercially available platforms. Customers can select any of the following vehicles based on their mission needs: upgraded Toyota Land Cruiser, modified Mercedes Sprinter 4 x 4, or a complete standard Ford F350 or F550. AMTANK then provides a complete Technical Data Package (TDP) to upgrade the vehicle with a full composite armor kit and any corresponding third-party hardware. The customer chooses the vehicle, side and belly protection levels, seat configuration, and other customized hardware options. “Our standalone composite armor technology allows us to offer the optimum balance among price, payload, and performance targets,” says Ken Ripich, President of AMTANK Armor. “This enables our customers to utilize a vehicle such as the F350 without costly modifications to the engine, transmission, suspension, or braking systems.” The Raven will be unveiled at the International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, later this month.

Mattis To NATO. Secretary of Defense James Mattis embarks on his second trip as secretary Feb. 14 to attend a NATO Defense Ministerial and the Munich Security Conference. Secretary Mattis begins his trip in Brussels, Belgium, where he will meet counterparts from NATO nations and, separately, host a meeting of ministers from the Counter-ISIS Coalition. On Feb. 17, Secretary Mattis attends the Munich Security Conference, where he will have a series of meetings with key international counterparts, according to a Pentagon advisory. “The trip underscores the commitment of the United States to our NATO alliance and to defeating ISIS,” the Pentagon says.

…Mattis and Mexico. Mattis speaks with his Mexican counterparts, Secretary of National Defense General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda and Secretary of the Navy Admiral Vidal Soberón Sanz. Their introductory conversation focuses on the importance of the U.S.-Mexico defense relationship, according to a Pentagon statement. Mattis notes the bilateral commitment to strengthen the close defense relationship and to improve cooperation in areas of mutual interest. He lauds Mexico’s growing leadership in the region and commends Mexico’s willingness to host the Central American Security Conference in July, assume the presidency of the Inter American Defense Board in 2017, and host the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in 2018. The participants state their commitment to the North American Defense Ministerial process, and working with Canada to address mutual defense challenges to North America.

STPSat-6 Contract. The Air Force on Feb. 3 awards Orbital ATK a $78 million undefinitized contract action for Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) spacecraft integration and testing according to a DoD statement. The company will provide integration and early on-orbit support of the DoD STPSat-6 space vehicle. Work is expected to be completed by Aug. 15, 2021. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition.

Boeing-NanoRacks. Boeing and NanoRacks are partnering to develop the first privately funded commercial airlock, according to a Boeing statement. The NanoRacks Airlock Module, which is planned to be attached to the International Space Station’s (ISS) U.S. segment in 2019, will increase the capability of transferring equipment, payloads and deployable satellites from inside the ISS to outside. ISS prime contractor Boeing will build and install the airlock’s passive common berthing mechanism, the hardware used to connect the pressurized modules of the ISS. Currently, the U.S. utilizes the airlock on the ISS Japanese experiment module. This new commercial airlock will be larger and more robust to better handle increasing market requirements.

Accenture Acquires iDefense.  Accenture, which last week acquired the cyber security firm Endgame, is also acquiring the iDefense Security intelligence services business from VeriSign, Inc. Transaction terms are not disclosed. iDefense has capabilities in cyber intelligence related to vulnerabilities, malicious code, and global threats to organizations. Its intelligence platform specializes in quick access to timely and actionable security intelligence. Completion of the acquisition is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. iDefense was founded in 1998 and serves clients in banking, communications, media, technology, and products.

…Cyber Hire Too. Valeria Abend, former senior critical infrastructure officer at the Treasury Department, joins Accenture as managing director of the company’s Security-Financial Services North America section. At Treasury she advised banking regulatory principals on cyber security in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Previously she led Bank of New York Mellon’s global business partnerships for information risk management and the bank’s external relationships with government, industry groups, and trade associations.

Airport Insider Threats. The House Homeland Security Committee’s Republican staff says in a report most airports in the United States lack full screening of their employees at secure access points. “These airports are unable to demonstrate the security effectiveness of their existing employee screening efforts, which consist largely of randomized screening by TSA officers or airport law enforcement personnel,” says the report, America’s Airports: The Threat from Within. The report also says there are gaps in the types of data collected for employee vetting, saying that airport authorities lack insight into the vetting done by TSA and the FBI, preventing them from making fully informed decisions when granting badge access.