No Flights Today. Luke Air Force Base canceled its local F-35A flights June 9 after five pilots at the Arizona base experienced hypoxia-like symptoms while flying the new fighter jets. The incidents have occurred since May 2. “In each case, the aircraft’s backup oxygen system operated as designed and the pilot followed the correct procedures, landing the aircraft safely,” the Air Force said. Wing officials planned to brief U.S. and international F-35 pilots on the incidents and the actions taken to safely land the aircraft. The Air Force is trying to determine what caused the incidents. The one-day flight cancellation applied to 55 jets and 49 pilots at Luke, a training base. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin has built and delivered more than 220 operational F-35s to the U.S. military and allies.

Hill Air Force Base F-35As fly in formation over the Utah Test and Training Range, March 30, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw)
F-35As fly in formation in March. (U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw)

Night Hearing. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill June 12 in a rare nighttime hearing. Congressional hearings usually take place in the morning or afternoon, but a spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee says the Mattis-Dunford hearing, which will focus on the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2018 budget request, will begin at 7 p.m. due to scheduling constraints. Later in the week, the two leaders are scheduled to testify before the other three congressional defense panels at conventional times.

Pentagon’s No. 2. It took almost three months, but President Donald Trump’s nomination of Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan to be deputy defense secretary has finally made it to the Senate for consideration. The White House announced Shanahan’s nomination March 16, but it was not until June 7 that it said it had formally forwarded his candidacy to Capitol Hill. The White House gave no explanation for the delay.

Sequestration’s Fate? The office of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) isn’t saying whether it will hold a vote to exempt defense from sequestration, or across-the-board budget cuts, as requested by a letter spearheaded by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and signed by 140 of his colleagues. “Our members continue to discuss the path forward as we work to ensure our military has the resources it needs to protect us while balancing our fiscal demands,” a Ryan spokeswoman says.

Infield Single. At least the Coast Guard has a runner on base. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft tells Defense Daily the Trump administration’s FY ‘18 budget request for his service is an “infield single” rather than a “home run,” but it “doesn’t dig a deeper hole for me.” The administration is seeking $7.2 billion in operating expenses for the Coast Guard, a percent higher than in FY ’17, while the request for the acquisition account is $1.2 billion, down 12 percent from FY ’17. Zukunft has been saying publicly that the Coast Guard needs its operating expense account to grow 5 percent annually and a $2 billion annual floor for acquisition spending.

…Leveraging International Partners. A problem for the Coast Guard is that it has intelligence on drug shipments at sea provides it with way more potential targets than it can to intercept and seize due operating issues and a lack of the assets it needs. Zukunft says the Coast Guard is working with its foreign partners to help in interdicting drug shipments in the Eastern Pacific and Western Caribbean. The Coast Guard is providing two of its aging 110-foot Island class patrol boats to Costa Rica so that they can get “into the game.” He will be meeting with government leaders in Panama later this month with one of the discussion topics being the deployment of some Coast Guard Fast Response Cutters—which are replacing the 110-footers in the service’s inventory—to possibly rotate out of Balboa patrol in the Western Caribbean. Operating some FRCs out of Panama for a time eliminates the cost of transiting the vessels from the U.S. and Puerto Rico and creates a “win-win for the U.S. and Panama,” Zukunft says.

Beyond ARM. While NASA’s fiscal year 2018 budget request would scrap the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) to save money, the agency would continue elements that support human exploration, especially solar electric propulsion, says NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot. In-space power and propulsion will be key to sending people to deep-space destinations, such as Mars, Lightfoot testified on Capitol Hill June 8. ARM called for sending a robotic mission to a near-Earth asteroid, collecting a boulder from the surface and moving it into an orbit around the moon, where it could be studied by astronauts.

Army Nominee. Ryan McCarthy, who most recently served as vice president of Sustainment for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program, was nominated to be under secretary of the Army. At Lockheed Martin, McCarthy has held a variety of roles on the F-35 Program and at the corporate office.  He is a former special assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. McCarthy also is a former professional staff member on the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations. He is an Army veteran who served in the 75th Ranger Regiment during the invasion of Afghanistan. He is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, and has a master’s in Business Administration from the Univ. of Maryland. McCarthy’s nomination is under consideration by the Senate. 

Industry Award. Leonardo DRS received the Defense Security Service Award for Excellence in Counterintelligence for the third time. The award is the highest U.S. honor given to the defense industry for protecting classified information and technology through a culture of compliance with government security regulations and partnership with Defense Department intelligence services. The 2016 award is for developing new techniques to identify malicious communications and training other defense contractors to implement countermeasures. “Leonardo DRS is committed to protecting classified data and information and we are proud of our culture of compliance in an environment of constant threats,” says William J. Lynn, CEO of Leonardo DRS. The award recognizes cleared contractors that best demonstrate the ability to stop foreign theft of U.S. defense technology.

Missile Software. Raytheon was awarded a $600 million contract for software support and sustainment to modernize missile defense and other strategic systems. The work will be conducted at the Software Engineering Directorate (SED), Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. “Raytheon brings our software engineering expertise in automation, analytics and cyber to support the U.S. Army’s global systems and the complex, multi-domain missions they support,” says Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. “Raytheon will support the AMRDEC SED to design, test and deploy software updates for critical systems used by U.S. combatant commands and defense agencies that range from missiles and launchers to cyber resiliency.”

F-15 Vs. Drone. A U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle shots down an armed pro-Syria regime unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) last week after it fired on coalition forces in southern Syria, according to a statement from Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTS-OIR). The pro-Assad regime UAV is similar in size to a U.S. MQ-1 Predator, the statement says. It was shot down after dropping one of several weapons it was carrying near a position occupied by U.S.-supported coalition personnel fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The shoot-down follows an engagement in which coalition forces destroyed two pro-regime armed technical vehicles that advance toward coalition forces at At Tanf inside the established deconfliction zone, threatening coalition and partner forces.

A-10 Question. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) has asked the Air Force to explain why it has committed to maintaining only six squadrons of A-10 attack aircraft through 2030 instead of all nine squadrons it currently has. “Nine squadrons is the absolute minimum,” McSally said at a June 7 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces panel. Due to time constraints at the hearing, the Air Force is expected to respond to McSally, a former A-10 pilot, in writing.

SLS Contract. NASA has awarded a $221 million contract to Dynetics to design and build the universal stage adapter for the Block 1B and future configurations of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The adapter will integrate the exploration upper stage to the Orion crew module. Block 1B is scheduled for launch in the 2020s. Dynetics’ teammates for the adapter are RUAG Space USA, ZIN Technologies, Dynamic Concepts, Craig Technologies, Tuskegee University and Paragon Tec.

SAIC News. Science Applications International Corp. appointed Nazzic Keene as its chief operating officer effective immediately, expanding her executive duties to include COO and president of the Global Markets & Missions Sector. SAIC CEO Tony Moraco says Keene will help the company lead its long-term strategy of “sustained profitable growth.” SAIC also says it is moving its corporate headquarters from McLean, Va., to Reston, Va. If you don’t live anywhere near Washington, D.C., SAIC is still staying in Northern Virginia. The move is effective July 1 and the company says it will help consolidate office space in the region and increase efficiencies.

Canadian Surface Combatant. Canada says it is extending the submission for its Canadian Surface Combatant Request for Proposals from June 22 until at least mid-August to provide more time to respond to questions from bidders. The original deadline for submissions was April 27 before it was extended until June. A decision on a contract award has slipped until 2018 from fall 2017 with the start of construction still scheduled for the early 2020s. The current budget for the program is over $19 billion for up to 15 ships. The CSC will be Canada’s major surface component for maritime combat power.

Vet Employer Award. CSI Aviation, a New Mexico-based international air charter and aviation logistics company, received the 2017 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest honor given to employers for their support of National Guard and Reserve employees by the Defense Department. CSI Aviation is one of 15 recipients of the award and was selected from more than 3,000 nominees. Other winners of this year’s Freedom Award include multinational corporations such as Comcast and Johnson & Johnson. Winners must demonstrate exceptional support for their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve through leadership and company practices, including the implementation of personnel policies that make juggling service and civilian life easier.

HFAC On THAAD. The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-Calif.) released a statement urging South Korea to allow full deployment of the THAAD system soon. “I hope any environmental concerns related to the full deployment of THAAD will be dispelled with a quick and thorough review,” Royce says. The South Korean THAAD battery’s deployment is delayed due to the government deciding to conduct a full environmental impact assessment (Defense Daily, June 9).

…Subcommittee Too. HFAC Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Chairman Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) adds that after recent North Korean cruise missile tests, “I would urge the South Korean government to reconsider its suspension of the Terminal High-Altitude Defense System. Ensuring the safety of our troops and allies must be our top priority.”

500th AARGM. Orbital ATK last week marked the delivery of the 500th Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) to the U.S. Navy in a ceremony at the company’s Northridge, Calif. facility. The AARGM supersonic air-launched tactical missile system is designed to engage land and sea-based radar air defense threats and other time-sensitive strike targets. 

Lincoln Certification. The USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) earned its Flight Deck Carrier (FDC) certification while underway in the Atlantic Ocean in early June. This ensures the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier’s flight deck and sailors are capable of safely launching and recovering aircraft. The last jet landed on the carrier in 2012 before it entered the four-year long Refueling and Complex Overhaul period. To certify, the carrier’s air department is required to catch 50 aircraft on the first day of flight operations and 110 the next day, with 40 at night.

LCS-10 Commissioned. The Navy planned to commission the future USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) during a ceremony on June 10 in Galveston, Texas. Dr. Jll Biden, wife of former Vice President Joe Biden is serving as the ship’s sponsor. Named after a former congresswoman, the Gabrielle Giffords is to be homeported in San Diego. The ship is the ninth LCS and fifth Independence variant delivered to the Navy. It is built by an Austal USA-led team in Mobile, Ala. 

EPF Launch. The U.S. Navy’s future USNS City of Bismarck (EPF-9) launched in Mobile, Ala., the ninth expeditionary fast transport ship. Austal USA built the ship. Austal USA is under construct to build two more of the ships, EPF-11 and 12. Capt. Henry Stevens, strategic and theater sealift program manager in the Navy’s program executive office for ships, says “launching is a significant achievement in the production process. We’ll now focus our efforts to final outfitting in preparation for trials.”

UAS ISR Services. The Naval Air Systems Command awarded Academi Training Center LLC, Insitu Inc., PAE ISR LLC, and AAI Corp. $1.7 billion in firm-fixed-price IDIQ contracts for sea-and land-based unmanned aircraft system (UAS) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) services in support of the Defense Department and other agencies. Services include trained personnel, UAS ISR non-developmental equipment, certifications, installation, operation, maintenance, sustainment, spares/product support, and other related support services. The companies will have an opportunity to compete for individual task orders within the total value. Academi Training Center and PAE ISR are only eligible to compete for land-based task orders. Work will be completed by June 2022 and will be performed at each awardee’s facilities.

LHD Dry-Docking. The Naval Sea Systems Command awarded General Dynamics a $105 million firm-fixed-price contract for the execution of USS Makin Island (LHD-8) fiscal 2017 dry-docking phased maintenance availability. This includes a combination of maintenance modernization, and repair of the USS Makin Island. If all options are exercised, the contract value rises to $106 million. The contract was competitively procured using open competition on Federal Business Opportunities, with two offers received. Work will occur in San Diego, Calif. with an expected completion date of Sept. 2018.

Sub Trainer Systems. The Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division awards BAE Systems, General Dynamics, and MES Simulation & Training Corp. a combined $42.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price IDIQ multiple award contract for the hardware design, fabrication, logistics, and installation of Submarine Multi-Mission Team Trainer systems. This contract is 95 percent Navy purchases and five percent government of Australia. Work is expected to be completed by June 2022. 

F-18 EMALS. The Naval Air Systems Command awards Boeing a nearly $12 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification for production engineering support for the installation and integration of systems required for the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) follow-on test and evaluation. EMALS is the aircraft catapult system for the new Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers. 

Navy Counsel. President Trump nominated Charles Stimson to be General Counsel of the Department of the Navy. Stimson currently serves as a senior legal fellow and manager of the national security law program at the Heritage Foundation. He is also a captain in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) reserve component and is the commanding officer of the Navy Appellate Government unit. Previously Stimson served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs under President George W. Bush and an Assistant Attorney General for the District of Columbia.

HII Hire. Huntington Ingalls Industries appointed John Temple as vice president of strategic sourcing at its Newport News Shipbuilding division. In this position he will be responsible for all sourcing and procurement functions in support of shipbuilding contracts and clients throughout the design, construction, overhaul, and repair of naval vessels. Temple immediately assumes the position. Temple previously serves as vice president of contracts and supply chain management at the Energy Department’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina, which Newport News Shipbuilding manages as part of a joint venture.

root9b Advisory Board Gen. Michael Hayden, the former director of both the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, joined the advisory board of advanced cyber security products company root9b. The retired 4-star general led the CIA from 2005 to 2009 and the NSA from 1999 to 2005. root9b is a leader in the Manned Information Security and Adversary Pursuit Operations HUNT markets.

Air Force Proposals The Air Force Research Laboratory put out a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) calling for proposals to research and develop Signals Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Cyber Operations technologies. The proposals may end up supporting units including 1st Air Force – AFNORTH, 24th Air Force, 25th Air Force, Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Force Security Forces Center. Total funding for proposals under the BAA will be approximately $49.9 million, with individual awards ranging from $250,000 to $3 million.  

DARPA CHASE The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is seeking proposals to address needs for its Cyber-Hunting at Scale (CHASE) program, meant to coordinate cyber security efforts for the Department of Defense’s various networks. DARPA is operating CHASE to develop data-driven tools for detection of and protection against cyber threats to DoD enterprise and storage networks. The CHASE program is set to last for the next 4 years.