DDG-51 Procurement. The final version of the fiscal year 2017 defense appropriations bill, unveiled March 2, would fund three Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) destroyers, one more than the Navy requested. The bill would also direct the Navy to complete the extra ship in the Flight IIA configuration instead of the new Flight III version. A report explaining the bill indicates that lawmakers are not convinced that Flight III is ready for procurement and that they have “concerns” about Flight III costs. Flight III ships will include the new Raytheon SPY-6 air-and-missile-defense radar and improvements to the Lockheed Martin Aegis combat system.

F-35 Contract. The Navy on Feb. 28 awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.1 billion cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for recurring logistics support and sustainment services for F-35 aircraft, according to a DoD statement. The contract is in support of Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, non-DoD participants and foreign military sales (FMS) customers. Sustainment services to be provided include ground maintenance, action request resolution, depot activation, Automatic Logistics Information System (ALIS), operations and maintenance (O&M), reliability, maintainability and health management implementation and support, supply chain management and activities to provide and support pilot and maintainer initial training. The F-35 is developed by Lockheed Martin. Aerial view of the Pentagon, Arlington, VA

Australia Unmanned. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) says it plans to offer its Heron TP unmanned aircraft for the Australian Defence Force’s Project Air 7003 program, pitting it against the Reaper, built by California-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI). Project Air 7003 is intended to give Australia a medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft and ground control station. The Royal Australian Air Force “is still defining the precise details of the Air 7003 requirement,” a GA-ASI spokeswoman says. “We are expecting a decision and subsequent procurement timeline before the end of 2017.”

Unmanned Sensor. Redkite, a wide-area motion imagery (WAMI) sensor developed by Logos Technologies, flew aboard a Boeing-Insitu Integrator small unmanned aircraft for the first time last month, Logos says. “In the past, we’ve mounted podded versions of our lightweight WAMI systems to rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft,” says John Marion, Logos president. “Now, thanks to further reductions in weight, we can easily fit a Redkite inside a tactical unmanned platform.” According to Logos, Redkite can image a city-sized area — or over 12 square kilometers — all at once, detecting, tracking and recording all significant movers within the scene.

Sub Decommissioned. The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN-706) is decommissioned after 33 years of Navy service. A decommissioning ceremony took place Feb. 27 at Keyport Undersea Museum in Washington state. The submarine arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in October 2015 to begin the inactivation process, including de-fueling. Built by General Dynamics Electric Boat, the Albuquerque deployed 21 times and traveled 1.1 million nautical miles.

GD Appointments. General Dynamics is appointing Amy Gilliland to be its deputy for operations for its information technology (IT) division, following a nearly two-year stint as the company’s senior vice president for human resources and administration. Gilliland, at one time, was head of GD’s investor relations office. Gilliland will be succeeded by Kimberly Kuryea, vice president and controller of GD. Kuryea will be succeeded by William Moss, staff vice president for internal audit. The appointments are effective April 1.

Cyber Cooperation. Keith Alexander, the former commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, tells a Senate defense panel that government and industry “are not working together” in helping prepare the U.S. for cyber attacks. “Our nation is woefully unprepared to handle cyber attacks in the government and in the commercial sector,” Alexander tells the upper chamber’s Armed Services Committee (SASC). “There’s a lack of policy, strategy, understanding of roles and responsibilities and of rules of engagement.” He says industry wants to work with government but that the government hasn’t “provided the relationships,” adding that the roles and responsibilities between various federal agencies for cyber security “are not well understood.”

…Need to Exercise. Alexander, who is currently president and CEO of IronNet Cybersecurity, says the government and various sectors of industry need to practice on how to defend the nation from cyber attacks. He says “we have failed to do that.” Even different federal departments don’t understand each other’s roles and responsibilities in the cyber domain, he says. “We have to have, in my opinion, exercises and training where we bring the government—Congress, the administration—and industry together to practice this so we can all see how we’re going to defend this country.”

Cyber Coordination Bill. Two U.S. senators introduce a bill that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) improve its coordination with state, local and tribal governments cyber security. The State and Local Cyber Protection bill (S. 412), introduced by Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), requires the department’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center to provide assistance and training for state, local and tribal governments in preventing, preparing for and responding to cyber threats. The senators say that improving cyber security is a top information technology priority for state governments, but that they often lack the resources and expertise to defend their networks from cyber attacks.

KKR Buys Airbus Unit. The investment firm KKR completes its $1.2 billion acquisition of the German-based defense electronics business of Airbus. The France-based portion of the business will be transferred to KKR once the portion of the business in Elancourt, near Paris, is carved out. Airbus will retain a 25.1 percent stake in the business for a limited number of years. KKR is renaming the business Hensoldt, which provides mission critical sensors, integrated systems and services for defense and security applications. Hensoldt has 4,000 employees and about $1.1 billion in sales.

MRAP Contract. Navistar Defense nets a $440 million firm-fixed-price, foreign military sales contract to reset and upgrade 1,085 mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) MaxxPro vehicles for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The vehicles are excess defense articles from U.S. military inventory. The deal includes delivery of specified sets, kits, packages and technical publications. Bids were solicited via the Internet with one received. Work will be performed in West Point, Miss., with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2019. Fiscal 2010 funds in the amount of $46 million are obligated at the time of the award.

More Missiles. The Army awards Lockheed Martin a $427 million contract amendment to exercise fiscal year 2016 options for Hellfire II missile production requirements. Work will be performed in Orlando, Fla.; Ocala, Fla.; Troy, Ala.; Redstone Arsenal, Ala. and Grand Prairie, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2020. Fiscal 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2017 funds in the amount of $427 million were obligated at the time of the award.

AFGSC No. 2. The Air Force promotes Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets to vice commander of Headquarters Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), according to a DoD statement. Tibbets is currently commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, based at Whiteman AFB, Mo.

USAF Software. The Air Force on March 1 awards Mythics Inc., a $293 million firm-fixed-price contract for a service-wide enterprise software licensing agreement, according to a DoD statement. Mythics will provide an unlimited license agreement for a core set of Oracle technology products including a catalog which provides price holds with discounted pricing on technology products. Mythics will also continue and consolidate enterprise license agreements for commercial proprietary maintenance support of 745,768 Oracle licenses currently in use. Work is expected to be completed by Feb. 28, 2022. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition amongst Oracle DoD Enterprise Software Initiative blanket purchase agreement holders with three offers received.

NRL Contract. The Navy on Feb. 22 awards Malin Space Systems an $11 million firm-fixed-price contract for space qualified visible cameras for geosynchronous (GEO) operations, according to a DoD statement. Specifically, the camera housing will need to be modified to meet the radiation environment at GEO altitude. This modification requires a slight increase in the thickness and/or material of the housing case. This contract contains options which, if exercised, would bring the contract value to nearly $12 million. The Naval Research Lab (NRL) is the contracting activity.

NROL-79 Launch. The Air Force and launch partner United Launch Alliance (ULA) on March 1 successfully launch an Atlas V carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), according to a ULA statement. The rocked lifted off at 12:50 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The payload is designated NROL-79. ULA’s next launch is March 8, a Delta IV mission carrying the Wideband Global Satcom-8 (WGS-8) satellite communications payload for the Air Force. Launch will take place at the Cape. ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Virgin Orbit. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, creates Virgin Orbit to serve as a small satellite launch company, according to a company statement. Virgin Orbit will use Virgin’s LauncherOne rocket. The goal, Branson said, is to open space to many more missions by dramatically decreasing the price of each flight. Virgin Galactic will be the company that sends humans to space, using SpaceShipTwo. Virgin Galactic will be based at Spaceport America, N.M., which will host SpaceShipTwo’s commercial service flights. Virgin Orbit will be lead by 34 year Boeing veteran Dan Heart.

Intelsat-OneWeb Merger. Intelsat and OneWeb have entered into a definitive combination agreement pursuant to which Intelsat and OneWeb will merge in a share-for-share transaction. Intelsat and SoftBank also entered into a definitive share purchase agreement pursuant to which SoftBank will invest $1.7 billion in newly-issued common and preferred shares of the combined company. Stephen Spengler, Intelsat CEO, said in a statement he believes that combining Intelsat with OneWeb will create an industry leader unique in its ability to provide affordable broadband anywhere in the world. Intelsat is a commercial satellite communications provider. OneWeb’s mission is to build the world’s largest satellite constellation to enable affordable Internet access for everyone.

First Operational AFSS Use… The Air Force uses its Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS) operationally for the first time on Feb. 19 with a successful SpaceX launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., according to a service statement. A self-contained, independent system mounted to the launch vehicle, AFSS determines if the launch vehicle poses an unacceptable hazard to people or property by using pre-established, programmed mission rules developed by range safety flight analysts.

…AFSS. These configurable software-based rules are reliant on redundant flight processors using data from Global Positioning System (GPS) and inertial measurement unit navigation sensors. If necessary, AFSS has the ability to destroy the rocket to ensure public safety. AFSS provides greater positive control in flight further down range with a faster response time. It also reduces reliance on aging range infrastructure while expediting range turnaround times due to stringent safety standards and fewer people on console.

Northrop Executive. Northrop Grumman’s board of directors elects Janis Pamiljans corporate vice president and president of aerospace systems, effective April 1, according to a company statement. Pamiljans will succeed Thomas Vice, who intends to retire. Pamiljans will report to Wes Bush, the company’s chairman, CEO and president and will become a member of NOrhtorp Grumman’s corporate policy council. A 30-year veteran of Northrop Grumman, Pamiljans began his career working on the B-2 program and has led many of the company’s major manned and unmanned aircraft programs.

Crew Contract. NASA on Feb. 17 awards Boeing $374 million for crew transportation and rescue services, according to a notice posted on Federal Business Opportunities (FBO). According to a March 3 sole source justification document, the contract is for procurement of Russian Soyuz vehicle seats, with two seats each on one ride slated for fall of 2017 and one for spring of 2018. The contract also provides NASA with an option to procure transportation for three crewmembers in 2019. The document says the $374 price tag is estimated at, or below, historical prices for Soyuz seats purchased directly from Russia, which would project costs for these same services to exceed $420 million.

NASA JPSS-2. NASA selects United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide launch services for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) mission, according to an agency statement. The launch is targeted for 2021 on an Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The cost to NASA to launch the satellite is about $170.6 million. NASA’s Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. will manage the ULA launch service.

Obama Cyber Advisor Passes. Howard Schmidt, former President Barack Obama’s special assistant for cybersecurity from 2009-2012, dies on March 2 due to cancer. At the White House, Schmidt developed the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace program. Schmidt’s career spanned 40 years in cybersecurity, defense, and law enforcement positions including 26 years in military service and stints as chief information security officer (CISO) and chief security officer (CSO) at Microsoft. He also worked at eBay and served as cyber advisor to former President George W. Bush. Following the 9/11 attacks, he helped draft the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.

White House Tech/Cyber Advisor. Gary Cohn, National Economic Council director, announces Grace Koh’s appointment as special assistant to the president for technology, telecom and cyber-security policy. Koh previously served as deputy chief counsel to the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology. Koh earlier served as policy council at Cox Enterprises, Inc.’s public policy office, where she worked on technology policies that affected the company’s internet, cable, and broadcast properties.

Navy IT Contract. The Navy awards Trowbridge & Trowbridge LLC a $23.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide various information technology (IT) and technical support to the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons division. The contract covers IT, systems administration and cyber security solutions, hardware, software, licensing, technical support, lab warranty services, technological refreshment and enhancements, complete life cycle support, and customer services in support of the division. The contract is competitively procured via an electronic request for proposals as a 100 percent woman-owned, small business set-aside. Four offers are received. Working Navy capital funds of $600,000 are obligated at award time with none expiring at the end of the current fiscal year. Work will be performed at China Lake, Calif. (95 percent); Point Mugu, Calif. (3 percent); and Tucson, Ariz. (2 percent) with an expected completion time of March 2020.

Army Comms Support Contract. The Army awards Defense Acquisition Support Services LLC a $15 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for support services to Army Communications and Electronics Command. Bids are solicited on the internet and two are received. Fiscal 2017 other funds and Army operations and maintenance (O&M) funds with a combined value of $1.7 million are obligated at award time. Work will be performed in Aberdeen, Md., with an estimated completion date of Set. 1, 2020. The contracting activity is Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen, Md.

Comey On Cyber. FBI Director James Comey is set to speak at Boston College on March 8 as the keynote address for the first Boston Conference on Cyber Security (BCSS). The event is co-hosted by the Master of Science in Cybersecurity Policy & Governance Program at Boston College and the FBI. Other speakers and panelists at the event will be a mix of government and private sector representatives. Government agencies represented will include the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Security Agency (NSA), Defense Department, the National Security Council, and Naval Academy. Private industry speakers include representatives from Akamai, FireEye, IBM Security, Dell, Symantec, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Raytheon and the MITRE Corporation, among others.

Saab Contract. Saab wins a contract to deliver the AUV62-AT advanced anti-submarine warfare training system during 2017 and 2018. AUV62-AT is an autonomous underwater vehicle system used for training a navy’s anti-submarine warfare (ASW) forces. It is an acoustic target that mimics a submarine in a way compatible with any torpedo and ASW sonar system currently on the market, Saab says. It replaces the need of a submarine as a maneuvering training target. The company declines to disclose the buyer or contract value.

Navy Acquisition Tool. The General Services Administration (GSA) and Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the Navy to use the GSA’s Reverse Auction (RA) eTool to add more speed and savings into their acquisition process. The RA tool drives increased savings on the most commonly-purchased office products, equipment and services while making it easier for small businesses to compete for Navy business. In a reverse auction, sellers compete to win business from agencies and prices decrease as the auction progresses. The RA, launched in 2013, facilitates reverse auctions on GSA and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) contracts, BPAs and other procurement actions.