Ospreys Delayed. A special operations squadron of CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft scheduled to deploy to Yokota Air Base, Japan, has been delayed four years, the Pentagon announces. The initial three aircraft scheduled to arrive in 2017 will now arrive in 2022. “The deployment of tilt-rotor aircraft will provide increased capability for U.S. Special Operations forces to respond quickly to crises and contingencies in Japan and across the Asia-Pacific region, including humanitarian crises and natural disasters. It will also increase interoperability, enhance operational cooperation, and promote stronger defense relations with the Japan Self-Defense Forces,” the Defense Department said in its initial May 2015 announcement of the permanent deployment. DoD does not give a specific reason for delaying the deployment.
Air-Retrieved Drones. Dynetics and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) have received contracts from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to continue developing an air-launched, air-recoverable unmanned air system for the Gremlins program. The contracts call for each company to complete a preliminary design and mature key technologies. Dynetics and GA-ASI were chosen from four companies that did initial design work under Phase 1 contracts. A Phase 3 contract award, expected in early 2018, will call for building one full-scale technology demonstration system and testing it aboard a C-130 plane.
Canadian Ships. Canada is moving ahead with a major shipbuilding effort for the Royal Canadian Navy. Canada plans to spend $26.2 billion to buy up to 15 surface vessels to replace Iroquois-class destroyers and Halifax-class patrol frigates. Irving Shipbuilding Inc., the prime contractor for the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC), released a request for design proposals in October; bids are due June 22. Construction of the first ship is expected to begin in the early 2020s. Canada’s Department of National Defence calls the CSC project “the largest and most complex shipbuilding initiative in Canada since World War II.”
E-6B Life Extension. Fourteen of the Navy’s 16 E-6B Mercury command-and-control airplanes have gone through a service life extension program (SLEP), and the 15th is slated to be inducted into the program by the end of March, according to Naval Air Systems Command. The $94 million SLEP, which is to be completed in 2019, involves strengthening each plane’s wings and tail. It is expected to boost the E-6B’s service life to 45,000 flight hours, up from 27,000, and keep the aircraft mission-capable through 2038. The Air Force’s Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex performs the SLEP work at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, with Navy civilians providing on-site engineering and logistics support.
LCS Gun Modules. Northrop Grumman has received a contract valued at up to $812 million to build gun mission modules for the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). Most of the work will be done in Portsmouth, Va., Huntsville, Ala., Bethpage, N.Y.; and Manchester, N.H. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) says that Northrop Grumman was the only bidder for the contract.
HART Downselect. The Department of Homeland Security Office of Biometric Identity Management has selected three companies to compete for the systems integrator role for a new biometric database to replace the existing IDENT system. CSRA, Inc., Leidos, and Northrop Grumman are expected to submit bids by April 7 for the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology program, also called HART. The initial procurement will be for the first two increments of the multimodal biometric system, which will include fingerprints, face and iris matching and storage. The IDENT system is largely based on fingerprints and includes limited face and iris capabilities.
WGS-9 Launch. The Air Force and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are set for the launch of the ninth Wideband Global Satcom (WGS-9) satellite the evening of March 18 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., according to a company statement. The launch will take place on a Delta IV rocket. Launch window is from 7:44-8:59 p.m. EDT. The launch was originally scheduled for mid-March but was delayed due to a booster issue. WGS satellites are DoD’s highest capacity communications satellites. Each WGS satellite provides service in both the X- and Ka-band frequencies with the ability to cross-band between the two frequencies onboard the satellite. ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
IOMAX CRADA. The Air Force is in negotiations with IOMAX USA over a potential cooperative research and defense agreement (CRADA), according to a key officer. Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Military Deputy, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch tells reporters March 16 after an Air Force Association breakfast the service has not “moved in” on IOMAX’s request. The Air Force in 2016 entered into a CRADA with Textron to provide an airworthiness assessment for the company’s Scorpion aircraft. The Air Force last April opened a non-DoD military aircraft office to help the service gain valuable insight into the state of aviation development outside of the traditional defense sector, as well as an awareness of independent R&D activities of U.S. aerospace companies.
…IOMAX. The company has an aircraft called Archangel that performs manned border patrol and surveillance. It is a weaponized propeller aircraft with a Thrush S2R-660 airframe and Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67F engines. Company President and CEO Ron Howard says Friday in a phone call the company is currently performing FAA certification on a “green,” or stock, version of Archangel, but they are also changing the plane to allow it to be weaponized. He thinks it would be beneficial and practical to pursue the CRADA with the Air Force for airworthiness certification.
Scorpion T-X. Textron decided against bidding for the Air Force’s new T-X trainer program, according to company spokeswoman Nikki Riemen. She says in a March 14 email that Textron’s Scorpion jet is a modular, multi-mission ISR/strike platform with unparalleled acquisition and operating costs. Analysts have said the T-X competition will likely come down to lowest price. Boeing developed a clean sheet aircraft for the program, Lockheed Martin teamed with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to offer the T-50, Leonardo is offering the T-100 while little known Stavatti Aerospace is offering the Javelin.
EELV LSA RFP. The Air Force on March 14 released the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Launch Service Agreement (LSA) draft request for proposal (RFP), according to a notice posted on Federal Business Opportunities. The draft RFP implements the Air Force’s strategy to transition from the use of non-allied rocket engines (i.e. RD-180) and to implement affordable assured access to space via sustainable competition with commercial providers. Depending on progress in developing new U.S. domestic launch systems, the Air Force intends to explore the competitive award of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based firm fixed price (FFP) contracts to two launch providers for NSS launch procurements as soon as possible, but no later than 2020 for 2022 launches. The Air Force is exploring ordering launch services from the selected providers using a share ratio.
GPS III Launch Contract. The Air Force on March 14 awarded SpaceX a $96.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for GPS III launch services, says DoD. Work is expected to complete by April 30, 2019. This contract is believed to be the first competitive acquisition for Air Force space launch as SpaceX was the only bidder in a previous award. It is believed ULA bid for the contract, but company spokeswoman Jessica Rye would only say that ULA continues to believe a best value launch service competition with evaluation of mission success and assurance and past performance, including demonstrated schedule reliability, is appropriate and needed for Phase 1A missions. The reason, she says, is because of the technical complexities of rocket launch services and their critical significance to warfighter and national security.
SBIRS Contract. The Air Force on March 14 awarded Lockheed Martin a $15 million contract to a previously awarded deal for Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) engineering, manufacturing and development, according to a DoD statement. The company will enhance cyber capabilities on the operational SBIRS ground system. Work is expected to complete by June 30, 2019.
CST-100 Parachute. Boeing on Feb. 22 successfully tested the parachute landing system of its CST-100 Starliner space capsule, according to company spokeswoman Rebecca Regan. She says a flight-sized boilerplate Starliner was lifted to 38,300 feet altitude by a helium balloon and then released in order for the vehicle to pick up the same velocity it will experience during a return from space. The descent, she says, took about four minutes and all parachutes deployed as planned. The capsule also made a safe touch down in the New Mexico desert. CST-100 is scheduled to fly on an Atlas V rocket as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program.
Army IT Contract. The U.S. Army awarded M.C. Dean Inc. a $45 million firm-fixed-price contract for information technology services and infrastructure support services. Bids were originally solicited via the internet with five offers received. The estimated completion date is March 12, 2021. The contracting activity is the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command at Fort Detrick, Md.
HQ IT Contract. The Defense Department awarded QualX Corp. a firm-fixed-price contract worth over $7 million to provide information management and information access support services for Washington Headquarters Services (WHS). The work is estimated to be completed by Jan. 16, 2022. Fiscal 2017 operations and maintenance funds are being obligated at award time. The contracting office is the WHS in Arlington, Va.
Radio Network Contract. The U.S. Air Force awarded Northeast Information Discovery Inc. an $18 million cost-plus-fixed-fee completion contract for Collection Techniques for Radio Network Exploration software and hardware. The company will research, develop, integrate, prototype, demonstrate, validate, and verify new software capabilities for a software-defined and reprogrammable transceiver that has broad applicability to military-relevant missions. The contract is an effort to use digital transceivers that leverage open architectures, standard frameworks, and interfaces to improve military capabilities in the electromagnetic spectrum and cyberspace. The contract is the result of a competitive acquisition with two offers received. Fiscal 2017 research, development, test, and evaluation funds of over $500,000 are obligated at award time.
Another Cyber Contract. The Washington Headquarters Services awards Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory a $7.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide assessments and alternatives of offensive capabilities within the domains of air, land, sea, space and cyberspace as well as missions and warfare areas that asymmetrically mitigate threat effectiveness, impose cost, and/or create ambiguity in adversary decision-making. The expected completion date is Feb. 7, 2018.
IT Lab Service. The U.S. Army awards HX5, LLC a $95 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for personnel, supervision, and services necessary to provide services for research and development and related activities for the Engineer Research and Development Center Information Technology Laboratory. Bids are solicited via the internet with eight offers received. The estimated completion date is March 14, 2022. The contracting activity is the U.S> Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, Miss.
Holmes Promotion. Air Force Gen. James Holmes became Air Combat Command chief and general on March 10, according to the Air Force. He replaces Gen. Herbert Carlisle, who retired. Holmes was previously deputy chief of staff for plans and requirements.
Lt. Dan Honored. Actor Gary Sinise, whose portrayal of severely wounded Vietnam War veteran Lt. Dan Taylor in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump led him to work closely with wounded and disabled veterans, is selected by Association of the U.S. Army as the 2017 recipient of the George Catlett Marshall Medal for sustained commitment to the men and women of America’s armed forces. It is AUSA’s highest award for distinguished public service. Sinise will receive the award on Oct. 11, at the Marshall Dinner, the final event AUSA’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C. The Marshall Medal, awarded by AUSA since 1960, is named for former General of the Army George Catlett Marshall Jr., Army chief of staff during World War II.
Cybercrime Bill. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, has introduced a bill go provide state and local law enforcement with the tools they need to combat cybercrime. The Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act of 2017 authorizes the National Computer Forensics Institute, which Ratcliffe says is the premier cybercrime training center in the U.S. A previous version of the bill passed the House in 2015 by voice vote.