F-35 Acquisition. Navy Vice Adm. Mat Winter, the new head of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, says he is pursuing “agile acquisition principles” to speed up improvements to the stealthy jet. “Our solicitation process in the F-35 enterprise is on the verge of acquisition malpractice,” he says. “It takes way too long to get a requirement to an industry performer, that industry performer to get me a proposal and then to do the [technical evaluation] and actually do a contract award. Absolutely too long.”

F-35 developer Lockheed Martin is part of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) trade group. Photo: Air Force
F-35 fighters. Photo: Air Force

Compass Call Replacement. L3 Technologies, which the Air Force recently picked to replace the aging EC-130H Compass Call electronic-attack aircraft, has decided to use the Gulfstream G550 business jet as the airframe, says Capt. Emily Grabowski, a service spokeswoman. L3 will migrate mission equipment from the old aircraft, a heavily modified C-130, to the new one, which is now being referred to as the “EC-X.” The Air Force plans to buy 10 new aircraft to replace 14 Compass Calls.

Boeing LRSO. Boeing will not challenge contracts the Air Force awarded to Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to mature designs for the Long Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO), a replacement for the aging, nuclear-armed, air-launched cruise missile. “We received the customer debrief and after reviewing the information, Boeing has decided not to protest the Air Force’s decision” on LRSO, Boeing spokeswoman Didi VanNierop says. “We believe we provided a strong proposal that leveraged Boeing’s advanced cruise missile expertise on other successful programs.”

Acquisition Appointment. President Trump nominated James Guerts to be assistant secretary of the Navy, Research, Development and Acquisition. Geurts currently serves in the Senior Executive Service as acquisition executive for U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). There he is responsible for special operations forces research, development, acquisition, procurement, and logistics. Previously Guerts served in SOCOM as deputy director of Special Operations Research, Development and Acquisition Center as well as commander of the Joint Acquisition Task Force Dragon.

RoK THAAD. South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense announced the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system has been tentatively completely deployed in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests. U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) completed the transport of four additional launchers to the base in Seongju. Earlier two of six total launchers were deployed in South Korea while the four other launchers were delayed for environmental impact assessments and a controversy when ministry officials did not disclose to the president when the four launchers entered the country.

More Wall Awards. Customs and Border Protection on Sept. 7 awarded four additional prototype contracts for a border wall along the nation’s southern border, with the new awards falling under a request for “other materials” than concrete, which is the material being used in four prototype border wall contracts let on Aug. 31. Awardees under the potential $300 million “other materials” prototypes are Caddell Construction Co., KWR Construction, Inc., ELTA North America Inc., and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company. Caddell and W.G. Yates also received awards under the $300 million concrete wall prototypes contract. Maryland-based ELTA is part of Israel Aircraft Industries and is known for its high-tech approaches to security.

Another FRC Delivery. Bollinger Shipyards last week delivered to the Coast Guard the 25th 154-foot Fast Response Cutter, the USCGC Jacob Poroo, which will be the second FRC stationed in Pascagoula, Miss. The Poroo will be commissioned on Nov. 8. So far the Coast Guard has ordered 38 of the 58 FRCs it plans to buy.

Boeing ASAPTR. Boeing has become the sixth and final company to receive a contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop cutting-edge aerospace vehicles through the Aerospace Systems Air Platform Technology Research (ASAPTR) program. Boeing plans to conduct its work in Hazelwood, Mo., over the next eight years. The five previously announced recipients are Aurora Flight Sciences, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Textron Systems’ AAI Corp. The six contracts have a shared ceiling of $499 million.

A-10 Crashes. Investigators are trying to determine why two Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt IIs crashed during a routine training mission at about 8 p.m. on Sept. 6 at the Nevada Test and Training Range. Both pilots ejected from the close-air-support jets and avoided serious injury, the Air Force says.

Personnel Moves. Raytheon has appointed Christopher Davis as president of Raytheon International Inc. (RII) effective immediately, reporting to John Harris, vice president of Business Development and CEO of RII. Davis replaces Thomas Vecchiolla, who retired. Systems Planning and Analysis appointed retired Air Force Gen. Ronald Keys to its board. Keys retired from the service as commander of Air Combat Command and the air component commander for U.S. Joint Forces Command. And Leidos hired retired Army Lt. Gen. William Bender as strategic account executive, Government Relations, helping to build customer relationships and to better understand their core missions. Bender retired from the Air Force as chief information officer.

Deal Concerns. Jefferies aerospace and defense analyst Howard Rubel says that United Technologies Corp. missed an opportunity last week to “redefine its vision” during its investor presentation outlining a pending $30 billion acquisition Rockwell Collins, a deal that will create a $23 billion aerospace systems division within UTC. The deal will increase UTC’s debt and the company plans to forego stock repurchases for several years. “We are not enamored of deals that restrict financial flexibility,” Rubel says.

JPSS-1 Arrives. The first Joint Polar System Satellite (JPSS-1) has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to undergo preparations for its Nov. 10 liftoff on a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket. Built by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colo., JPSS-1 rode 1,200 miles on a flatbed truck to reach Vandenberg. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is partnering with NASA on the spacecraft, which will collect data for weather forecasts.

Deputy DNI Director. At the AFCEA INSA Intelligence & National Security Summit on last Thursday, Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon called for continued cooperation among the Intelligence Community (IC) to reach out for industry cyber and cloud computing solutions. The “federal government still spends a fraction of what private sector does on augmentation and automation. If you just let the private sector go in that area, they’ll continue to innovate. So we need to bring them in.” Gordon urges the CIA, National Reconnaissance Office and other members of the IC to avoid disparate approaches and make a collective move towards cloud computing and cyber resilient practices.

Space Defense Intelligence. A panel of military intelligence officers speaking at the AFCEA INSA Intelligence & National Security Summit on Wednesday urged the DoD to remain committed to exploring space as a domain for critical C4ISR operations. “Space is one of those places where our situational awareness is not perfect. That’s an area, from an intelligence perspective, where we have to do better,” says Director of Naval Intelligence Vice Adm. Jane Tighe. The panelists, which included intelligence representatives from the Army, Air Force and J2 Directorate, cite the evolving threat environment as an impetus for establishing space operations.

Chopper Wings. Unitech Composites delivered the first production shipset of multi-station lightweight armament support structure (MLASS) wings for use on the Army’s MH-60M aircraft. It is the first of nine shipsets that will be delivered to the Army Special Operations Forces Support Activity (SOFSA). Special Operations Forces already deploy Unitech’s lightweight armament support structure (LASS), a single-station weapons pylon for the MH-60. MLASS is a lightweight, corrosion resistant direct replacement for the external stores support system (ESSS).  MLASS and LASS weapons stores interface with standard military bomb ejector racks and support a variety of weapons configurations including the M230 30mm cannon, M261 rocket launcher and M299 missile launcher. A fully configured set of MLASS wings is 270 pounds lighter, have better center of gravity and drag characteristics and are quicker and easier to install than a set of standard ESSS wings.

Sea Ceptor Test. The U.K. Royal Navy conducted the first live fire tests of the MBDA Sea Ceptor air defense system from the Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll. The U.K. plans to have the Sea Ceptor, using the company’s Common Anti-air Modular Missile, replace the Sea Wolf weapon system on the Type 23 frigates as part of their life-extension program as well as be used on new Type 26 frigates and the Land Ceptor. The Sea Ceptor helps protect vessels against anti-ship cruise missiles, aircraft, and other threats. The Argyll is the first frigate to undergo this life-extension program and will conduct additional firing trials before returning to full service.

F/A-18 Engines. Naval Air Systems Command awarded General Electric Co. a $91.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option to procure 24 Lot 21A full-rate production F414-GE-400 engines for installation on F/A-18E/F aircraft. The work is expected to be finished by Aug. 2018.

Shore Connector. Naval Sea Systems Command awarded Textron a $7 million cost-reimbursable not-to-exceed undefinitized contract action for procurement of long-lead time material for ship to shore connector class craft 109 and 110. Work will be finished by Aug. 2019.

BAE Comms. The U.S. Navy awarded BAE Systems a $76 million contract to support new and existing communication and electronic platforms for the Naval Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD). The 22-month contract covers the rapid design, development, fabrication, customization, and life-cycle maintenance of secure communications platforms. BAE will also support testing, evaluation, installation, and certification of mission equipment and systems for NAWCAD’s Special Communications Mission Solutions Division.

U.S., Singapore Exercise. The U.S. and Republic of Singapore navies completed their first bilateral exercise outside area of Singapore. The Pacific Griffin 2017 exercise occured near Guam from Aug. 19 through Sept. 2 and featured a range of naval operations including anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, air defense, live fire drills, and tactical ship maneuvers. U.S. participating vessels included the USS Coronado (LCS-4), the USS Benfold (DDG-65), and replenishment oiler USNS Matthew Pecos (T-AO-197).

NATO EU Cyber. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg observed a Sept. 7 cyber exercise during an information meeting of the European Untion Defence Ministers in Tallinn, Estonia. Stoltenberg’s participation comes after an invitation was extended to the EU to participate in NATO’s Cyber Coalition exercise in November. The defense ministers were in Tallinn to conduct a cyber war game simulation designed to test their ability to respond to future attacks carried out by hackers.