Busy Congress. Capitol Hill plans a plethora of defense-related activities the week of June 19 to 23. The House Armed Services Committee’s six subcommittees will mark up the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill. In addition, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold hearings on President Donald Trump’s nomination of Patrick Shanahan and Richard Spencer to be deputy defense secretary and Navy secretary, respectively. Senate hearings will also address the Air Force’s FY 2018 defense budget request and Navy shipbuilding.capitol

Hill Budget View. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel, joins a growing chorus of Republican lawmakers who say that President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget request for the Department of Defense is too low to restore military readiness, even though it represents an increase of more than $50 billion from FY 2017. “While the president’s proposal represents a down-payment on our national security, we must do better,” Granger said in a statement June 15. She conceded that it will be an uphill battle to secure more money for DoD due to divisions in Congress over defense versus non-defense spending.

Rocket Contract. Lockheed Martin was awarded a $471 million fixed-price-incentive foreign military sales contract for guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) full-rate production lot 12 for alternative warheads. The deal is for 2,868 rockets, 648 unitary warheads, 370 low-cost reduced-range practice rocket pods and integrated logistics support for Finland, France, Germany, and Singapore. Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, Texas, with an estimated completion date of July 31, 2019.

Orion Motor Test. The Orion capsule’s launch abort motor underwent its first firing test June 15 at Orbital ATK’s facility in Promontory, Utah. During the ground test, called Qualification Motor-1 (QM-1), the motor, which is over 17 feet tall, was placed on a vertical stand with its four exhaust nozzles pointing skyward. The motor fired for five seconds, with its bright-orange exhaust plume flames reaching up to 100 feet in height, according to Orbital ATK. Another firing, QM-2, is scheduled for late next year in Utah. The launch abort system is designed to ensure that Orion’s crew can escape in an emergency on the launch pad or during initial ascent. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for Orion, which NASA plans to use to send astronauts into deep space.

Hypersonic Concerns. Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-Md.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel, says the United States needs to pay more attention to the hypersonic missiles that China and Russia are developing. Such missiles threaten U.S. Navy ships, including aircraft carriers. “I really think this is something that has to be focused on and very quickly,” Ruppersberger told Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at a June 15 hearing. Mattis replied that he agreed on the need for the United States to develop defenses against such missiles and to pursue hypersonic technology of its own.

New Hill Group. The House Democratic Caucus is forming a task force to identify and promote solutions to national security challenges. Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) will chair the task force, which plans to hold its first meeting June 21. The meeting will include a discussion with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. “This task force will hold the [Trump] administration accountable in a thoughtful and impactful way, while working to find the best solutions to the national security issues facing our country,” says Moulton, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, who served four tours in Iraq as a Marine Corps infantry officer.

Intelligence Budget. The Department of Defense released the Military Intelligence Program (MIP) appropriated top line budget for fiscal year 2018. The total MIP budget, which includes both the base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations appropriations, is $20.7 billion. The Defense Department says releasing the topline figure does not jeopardize any classified activities. No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons, DoD says.

MDA Director. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) conducted a change of responsibility ceremony June 16 with Air Force Lt. Gen Samuel Greaves succeeding Navy Vice Adm. James Syring to become the 10th director. Syring has served as director since 2012. Greaves previously served as the commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command, Los Angeles Air Force Base, and deputy director of the MDA at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

Army Vice. Lt. Gen. James C. McConville was sworn in as the 36th vice chief of staff of the Army on June 16. McConville, who currently serves as deputy chief of staff for personnel, succeeds Gen. Daniel Allyn as the Army’s second in command. McConville is a 1981 graduate of West Point, and is a former National Security Fellow at Harvard University. He is former commander of the 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, which he led in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, and deputy commanding general for support of the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009. McConville’s nomination and promotion to general were approved by the Senate on May 25.

Navy Leaders. The Pentagon announced the nomination of Vice Adm. James Foggo to become admiral and assigned as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, Naval Forces Africa, and Allied Joint Forces Command in Naples, Italy. Foggo currently serves as director of Navy Staff, N09B, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan has been nominated to replace Foggo as Navy Staff director (Defense Daily, June 8).

Under Investigation. The professional consulting and services firm Booz Allen Hamilton says that the Justice Department is “conducting a civil and criminal investigation relating to certain elements of the company’s cost accounting and indirect cost charging practices with the U.S. government.” Booz Allen, which does business primarily with the federal government, says that so far internal and external audits haven’t uncovered any major deficiencies or weaknesses, “or any significant erroneous cost charging.” The company says it is cooperating with the government on the investigation.

CT at the Checkpoint. Finally, the Transportation Security Administration has begun to evaluate advanced imaging technology in a live airport security checkpoint environment. The agency is testing L3 Technologies computed tomography (CT)-based explosive detection system to screen carry-on bags at one checkpoint lane at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and later this month plans to install a CT system supplied by Integrated Defense Security Solutions at Boston Logan International Airport. The CT technology is currently used to automatically screen checked bags for explosives and hold the potential to allow passengers keep their laptops in their bags and also bring their liquids through the checkpoint. TSA tells Defense Daily it still hasn’t decided on a path forward in terms of possibly procuring CT technology for use at airport checkpoints.

…Fingerprint Checks. The agency also has begun a proof of concept demonstration to evaluate the operational and security impact of using biometrics to verify the identities of travelers entering airport checkpoints. The testing of fingerprint technology supplied by Advanced Optical Solutions at a PreCheck trusted traveler taking place at Denver International Airport. Participation is voluntary. The system allows a passenger’s fingerprints, obtained live via a speedy hand-wave application, to be used as both a boarding pass and identity document. The technology is used to match the live fingerprints against those provided by travellers when they enrolled in PreCheck.

Radar Demo. Northrop Grumman successfully completed the first flight test of its new modular, open architecture, panel-based radar sensor. The open architecture, multi-function surveillance system represents a leap forward in radar capability, the company says. The radar is hardware-enabled and software-defined, allowing for rapid adjustment to emerging mission requirements by adapting new modes and capabilities, including modes developed by third parties, that best suit the threat environment. During the April exercise at Northrop Grumman’s flight test facility in Baltimore, the radar performed with exceptional stability and effectively executed ground moving target indicator and synthetic aperture radar map modes on its maiden flight. “Northrop Grumman is focused on equipping the warfighter for today as well as the battlespace of the future,” says Paul Kalafos, vice president of surveillance systems and electronic maneuver warfare at Northrop. “As mission requirements change, our open architecture sensor is easily adapted to remain the best tool for the mission.”

Army Fires. The Army awarded Raytheon a $116.4 million contract to enter the technological maturation and risk reduction phase of the Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) program. LRPF is a new, longer-range surface-to-surface weapon that can defeat fixed land targets out to 499 kilometers. It replaces the existing Army Tactical Missile System. Raytheon’s LRPF solution, named DeepStrike, fires two missiles from a single weapons pod, lowers costs and increases capacity and boosts range over current systems by more than 40 percent, according to a company statement. “Raytheon can develop, test, and field this new capability and deliver it to the Army ahead of current expectations to replace aging weapons,” says Thomas Bussing, vice president of Raytheon’s advanced missile systems product line. “LRPF gives soldiers on the battlefield overmatch capability against adversaries.” The technological maturation and risk-reduction phase includes testing missile components to be sure the design is ready for engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) and live-fire demonstrations by the end of 2019.

Deal Closed. PAE has completed its acquisition of the government services firm FCi Federal, providing with new expertise in information and process management services. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. PAE says that FCi’s capabilities will enhance the support it already provides to its federal customers.

X-Band Award. The Missile Defense Agency awarded Gryphon Technologies LLC a $57.7 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract including options for Sea-Based X-Band (SBX) Radar Mission Integration. It provides for communication operations and support for the SBX Strategic Missile. This contract was a competitive acquisition with two offers received.

Helo Repair. The Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support awarded Bell Helicopter Textron a $146.6 million firm-fixed-price long-term contract to repair 35 items used on the UH-1Y and AH-1Z aircraft. The contract has a two-year based period and one unpriced option year. Navy working capital funds will be obligated when individual orders are issued. 

International F-35 Engines. The Naval Air Systems Command awarded United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney Military Engines a $42 million modification to a contract to procure one F-135-PW-100 and one F-135-PW-600 propulsion systems to support the F-35 low-rate initiation production Lot X in support of international partners. 

Navy Support. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division awarded Mantech Advanced Systems International Inc. an $80.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for warfare analysis, modeling and simulation, software development, Department of Defense architectural framework products, acquisition analysis and support, and analytic program support. The services are in support of the Naval Air Systems Command’s Mission and Engineering and Analysis Department naval and joint warfighting capability assessment and warfighting analytic efforts. The contract was competitively procured through electronic request for proposals with two offers received. The ordering period is expected to be finished by June 2022.

F-18 Repair Support. The Naval Supply Systems Command Weapons Systems Support awarded Moog Inc. a nearly $50 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to repair 26 items in support of the F-18. Working Navy capital funds will be provided through individual delivery orders. This is a sole-source contract pursuant to authority in the U.S. Code. 

Army Birthday. The Army celebrates its 242nd birthday on June 14, the day on which in 1775 it was founded more than a year before the birth of the nation. The same day is also the birthday of the infantry. On that date, a resolution by the Continental Congress authorizes 10 companies of expert riflemen to be formed to support the New England militia protecting Boston, creating the infantry branch.

Army Cyber RFI The Army announced a Request for Information from industry to submit proposals related to technical capabilities and expertise on integrating viable cyber tools into operations. The request calls for white paper proposals demonstrating contractors’ ability to develop cyber capabilities and handle infrastructure integration. The window for submissions is June 16 to July 14.

China Diplomacy Meeting The Department of Defense and the Department of State announced the first U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue will be held on June 21. The meeting, initiated by President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, will focus on increasing areas of cooperation on diplomatic and security issues. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will host the dialogue, along with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s Joint Staff Department Gen. Fang Fenghui.