Congress Returns. After a month-long recess, lawmakers will return to Capitol Hill Sept. 5 facing a host of unfinished business, including the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization and appropriations bills and an overall budget agreement for FY 2018, which begins Oct. 1. The full Senate is expected to take up its version of the defense authorization bill sometime during its first week back. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who has been undergoing treatment for brain cancer, intends to rejoin his colleagues.capitol

Ship Hearing. The House Armed Services Committee’s seapower and readiness panels plan to hold a joint hearing Sept. 7 to explore why two Navy destroyers – the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain — recently experienced deadly collisions with other ships. Adm. Bill Moran, vice chief of naval operations; Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, director of surface warfare; and John Pendleton, director of defense force structure and readiness issues for the Government Accountability Office, are scheduled to testify.

Moon Hearing. The House Science Committee’s space panel intends to hold a hearing Sept. 7 to examine private-sector exploration of the moon. Representatives of Astrobotic Technology, Blue Origin, the Colorado School of Mines, Moon Express and NASA are slated to testify. Astrobotic recently announced that its first moon lander will lift off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in 2019.

Aerospace Vehicle Research. The Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded contracts to two more companies – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. and Textron Systems’ AAI Corp. — to develop cutting-edge aerospace vehicles. Three recipients were announced earlier — Aurora Flight Sciences, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The lab intends to award a total of six contracts with a shared ceiling of $499 million.

NASA Johnson. NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, which has been closed to most of its 7,100 employees since Aug. 25 due to Hurricane Harvey, is scheduled to reopen Sept. 5. “JSC experienced significant flooding during the heaviest rains, but the main campus buildings did not flood,” the center says. “All facilities are expected to be ready for use next week, although some significant workarounds may be required.” Flight control for the International Space Station and testing of the James Webb Space Telescope continued during the storm.

USS GW Overhaul. The Navy on Friday awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries a $2.8 billion contract for the Refueling Complex Overhaul of the carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). The initial obligation is for $1.5 billion. The company says it has been preparing for the overhaul for the past three years, adding that this work represents about 35 percent of the maintenance and modernization in a carrier’s 50-year life. Work will continue through Aug. 2021.

SECNAV On Tour. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, sworn in early August, says his priorities are people, capability, and process during a visit to the newest Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) in San Diego, Calif. Spencer adds he and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson are working closely to ensure that recent collisions do not repeat. “The recent collisions are unacceptable. The CNO and I are conducting a comprehensive review of how we operate and how we train. We are building a ‘challenge team’ that will help us develop best practices. Ultimately, we will refine our processes in order to increase readiness and lethality.”

LHA-6 And DDG-56. The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit with it left Singapore after concluding support for the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) following its collision with a merchant vessel. In Singapore LHA-6 provided initial support to the DDG-56’s crew including berthing for 155 sailors, daily supplies, counseling, medical services, communications network support, and helping damage control efforts. The America now continues on its first deployment.

LCS-9 Acceptance. The future USS Little Rock (LCS-9), the fifth Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship, completed five-day acceptance trials with the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey. LCS-9 was built by Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine, who say the trials are finished with the highest score of a Freedom-variant LCS to date. Trials include tests demonstrating the performance of the propulsion plant, ship handling, and auxiliary systems. The ship is set to be delivered within weeks.

Border Wall Prototypes. Customs and Border Protection last Thursday awarded potential $300 million contracts to four construction companies to build concrete wall prototypes as part of the Trump administration’s plans to add more physical barriers along the U.S. border with Mexico to deter illegal immigration into the U.S. The five-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts were made to Caddell Construction Co. of Alabama, Arizona-based Fisher Sand & Gravel Co., Texas Sterling Construction Co., and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company of Mississippi. Construction of the steel-reinforced prototypes will begin this fall and the walls will be 18 to 30 feet high. CBP plans to make a decision this week on a Request for Proposal for physical barriers using other materials.

Tomahawk. The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded Raytheon a $119 million contract against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for the integration of seeker suite technology and processing capabilities into the Tactical Tomahawk Block IV All-Up-Round missile. This integration work includes analysis, trade studies, architecture, modeling, simulation development, evaluation, and prototyping activities all in support of the Maritime Strike Tomahawk Program. Work is expected to be finished by Aug. 2019.

…AARGM. NAVAIR awarded Orbital ATK a $157 million contract for full-rate production of Lot 6 for Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missiles (AARGM). The contract covers conversion of the AGM-88B High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles into 230 AGM-88E AARGM All-Up-Rounds and six captive air training missiles. The work is expected to be finished by March 2019.

MDA Cyber. The Missile Defense Agency awarded Booz Allen Hamilton a $91.5 million contract for advisory and assistance services for Ballistic Missile Defense System cyber security management and computer network defense. This work is in support of technical, engineering, advisory, and management support. DoD says the contract will ensure MDA information technology (IT) services, management, and resources are managed, acquired, and operated in compiance with priorities set forth by the MDA director and overall DoD regulations. The contract was competitively procured with two offers received. The contract covers a three-year base period with two one-year options.

JLTV Award. Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Manufacturer Oshkosh Defense scored another Army contract for the trucks. The $177 million deal calls for 611 JLTVs and 1,789 installed and packaged kits, according to the company. “The Oshkosh JLTV provides new levels of protected mobility, off-road capability and transportability that is simply unseen n today’s modern battlefield,” says Dave Dierson, vice president and general manager of joint programs at Oshkosh. “Today, combat operations around the globe require the force to be mobile, fast, hard-hitting and well-protected. The JLTV answers that call on every level.”

Brigade to Kuwait. The Army announced the fall 2017 deployment of about 3,500 soldiers from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, to Kuwait. As part of the regular rotation of forces, the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team will replace the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and support combatant commander mission requirements for Operation Spartan Shield. “The 2nd ‎Armored Brigade Combat Team, Iron Brigade, has undergone some of the most intensive and realistic training the 1st Armored Division has to offer, and its leaders have forged a ready team,” says Maj. Gen. Pat White, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss commanding general. “This force is fully prepared and ready to take over their new mission in support of Operation Spartan Shield.”

… And One to Afghanistan. The Army also announced the fall 2017 deployment of the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade and 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., to Afghanistan. As part of the regular rotation of forces, the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade will replace the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division and 3rd Sustainment Brigade, will replace 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Armored Division to support Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. “Our soldiers in the 3rd Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade and the 3rd Sustainment Brigade have completed tough and realistic training to assume their missions in Afghanistan,” says Maj. Gen. Leopoldo Quintas Jr. “I am confident in the abilities of our Dogface soldiers and I am eager for them to join us in Afghanistan for Operation Resolute Support.”

Virtual Training. Bohemia Interactive Simulations received five-year, prime contract to deliver perpetual licenses of Virtual Battlespace 3 (VBS3) and related services to its Games For Training (GFT) VBS3 Concurrency Program of Record. VBS3 is a comprehensive desktop training package based on commercial video game technology. The system provides a virtual learning environment for land, air and sea training and mission rehearsal applications. It combines a massive content library, scenario development tools, and after-action review capability, and immerses trainees in a high-fidelity virtual environment which has been honed over many years to minimize negative training and maximize training impact. The Army previously awarded the Games for Training program in 2013 with BISim as a subcontractor and prior to that BISim was a key subcontractor delivering VBS2 for the Army’s Game After Ambush contract in 2009. 

New Lockheed Strategy Officer. Stephanie Hill has been named Lockheed Martin’s new senior vice president for Corporate Strategy and Business Development. Hill, who will take on her new role on Sept. 11, is currently vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Cyber, Ships & Advanced Technologies business line within the Rotary and Mission Systems segment. She will be responsible for global business strategies and overseeing the company’s efforts for new business opportunities.

Technology Council Support. Information technology trade groups, including the IT Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS) and the Professional Services Council (PSC), expressed their support for plans to increase industry participation in federal IT modernization detailed in the first report released by the White House’s American Technology Council (ATC) last Wednesday. “We are pleased to see the White House continue to prioritize transforming how the federal government acquires IT and modernizes woefully out of date legacy systems that bog our government down and leave it vulnerable to attacks,” says ITAPS Senior Vice President for Public Sector Trey Hodgkins. The group plans to recommend next steps for network modernization efforts to the ATC while the administration is accepting feedback on the report through September 20.  

…More Support. The PSC supports the ATC’s plan to leverage commercial technologies and is planning to work with the Trump administration to provide outreach to its IT clients. “The draft ‘Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization,’ released August 30, includes recommendations to improve cyber security, accelerate the adoption of commercial cloud computing tools, and expand the use of shared services where appropriate. Replacing outdated federal IT can not only improve cyber security, but also support agency process innovation to deliver better services at better value to all Americans,” says a PSC statement. The PSC also plans to submit comments on the report in September to the ATC.

New NATO Cyber Director. NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) named former Security Policy Adviser to the President of Estonia Merle Maigre as its new director. Maigre will helm NATO’s research institute tasked with researching and implementing cyber capabilities utilized by the international military organization’s member nations. “NATO-affiliated cyber defence think-tank has earned a much-deserved reputation and recognition in the cyber security community as a unique knowledge hub with several outstanding flagships. As the CCDCOE is approaching its tenth anniversary it is important to take this work even further, in a sustainable manner. To continue to dig deeper in our focus areas while reaching out to new international audiences,” says Maigre.

New DISA Vice Director. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) named former Navy Director of Warfare Integration for Information Warfare Rear Adm. Nancy Norton its new vice director. Norton will focus on delivering information technology and cyber tools to warfighters, and says her top priorities are continuing to build a mobile and maneuverable joint network and growing an agile DISA workforce. “We [also] need to get the basics of cyber hygiene right. We still have an awful lot of work [to do] across the DOD, and well beyond that, in the federal and commercial sectors and across the board in industry [to keep our systems safe],” she says.