CR Uncertainty. The continuing resolution (CR) that temporarily funds the federal government expires Dec. 22, but what will replace it is unclear. The Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee has introduced legislation that would fully fund defense for the rest of fiscal year 2018 and fund the rest of the government through Jan. 19 at FY 2017 levels. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed that Senate Democrats would block the proposal because it does not provide parity between non-defense programs and defense. “Because 60 votes are needed to advance a spending bill here in the Senate, House Republicans should have known not to waste everyone’s time with a partisan spending bill that could never pass in the Senate,” Schumer said Dec. 14.

An Air Force F-22 Raptor. Photo: Air Force.
An Air Force F-22 Raptor. Photo: Air Force.

F-22 Engines. The Air Force has awarded Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corp., an eight-year contract worth up to $6.7 billion to continue sustaining F119 engines for the F-22 Raptor. Pratt & Whitney built the F119 for the twin-engine stealth fighter, which achieved its initial operational capability 12 years ago.

Nomination Vote. The Senate is scheduled Dec. 18 to consider and vote on the nomination of Owen West to be assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved his nomination by voice vote in July.

GPS III Launch. The Air Force plans to launch its first Global Positioning System (GPS) III satellite in May, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. The Air Force has been less specific about the launch date, saying only that it would occur sometime in the spring.

Overruled. Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week released several staff reports examining recent directives by the White House Office of Management and Budget to the Department of Homeland Security to make certain spending cuts as part of the formulation of the FY ’19 budget request, which is expected to be delivered to Congress next February.  According to one staff report, released Dec. 14, OMB is instructing DHS to ask $1.6 billion for construction of a border wall in the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector, $700 million more than the department sought in a draft request.

…Program Cuts. OMB also wants DHS to cut its original request for border security technology by $175 million, including lopping $44.6 million from the $88.3 million request for Remote Video Surveillance Systems, called RVSS. The OMB passback also directs a $28.4 million cut for Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft, a $7.9 million cut for the P-3 surveillance aircraft, a $15.4 million reduction for UH-60 medium lift helicopters, rejection of an $11 million request for VADER airborne radar, rejection of a $7.8 million request for aircraft sensor upgrades, a delay in the $14.8 million request for Coastal Interceptor Vessels, a $2.2 million cut for the Tethered Aerostat Radar System, an $18.8 million cut for Border Patrol information technology needs, and rejection of $25 million more for internal cyber security remediation for Customs and Border protection IT systems.

Election Threat Council. The Department of Homeland Security and election industry representatives on Dec. 14 launched the formation of a new industry-led Sector Coordination Council (SCC), which like other critical infrastructure SCCs, will allow owners and operators of elections systems to share information on threats to election systems. “The integrity of our electoral process is a vital national interest, and we are facing an environment in which threats to this process are continuously evolving,” said David Wulf, acting deputy assistant secretary for the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection. In October, DHS, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and state and local election officials created the Government Coordinating Council for the Election Infrastructure Subsector, the public-sector counterpart to the SCC.

New IR Head. General Dynamics has appointed long-time Jefferies & Co. aerospace and defense analyst Howard Rubel as its new vice president of Investor Relations, reporting to Phebe Novakovic, chairman and CEO of GD. “Howard brings a wealth of experience form the investment community and has a deep understanding of the aerospace and defense industry,” said Novakovic. Before joining Jefferies in 2004, Rubel provided aerospace and defense analysis for Schwab Soundview Capital Markets, Goldman, Sachs & Co., and C.J. Lawrence, Morgan Grenfell. He succeeds Alison Harbrecht, staff vice president of IR.

Tax Reform. The Aerospace Industries Association welcomed White House initiatives to eliminate excessive regulations and enact comprehensive tax reform, with which “America has an historic opportunity to boost economic growth, enhance our global competitiveness and create new jobs.” AIA has consistently called for streamlining regulation of the aerospace and defense marketplace so companies can “more effectively enhance the safety of the flying public, sustain American leadership in space, and deliver American and allied forces equipment and technology they need to win,” the association said in a statement.

NDAA Praise. The National Defense Industrial Association, the defense industry’s largest dedicated lobby, congratulated President Donald Trump and Congress on the signing of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA0. “The legislation provides necessary guidance to defend our nation and makes a down payment on the rebuilding of our warfighters’ readiness, along with investments in future capabilities and capacity,” NDIA said in a statement. ”Now, Congress must work in a bipartisan manner to pass a full-year budget that funds the priorities agreed upon and approved in overwhelmingly bipartisan votes in Congress.”

… More NDAA Praise. The Professional Services Council (PSC) also welcomed the signing of the fiscal year 2018 NDAA, which authorizes national security funding, provides policy direction, and significantly changes rules governing how contractors provide services and ensure mission success for the Department of Defense. “The FY18 NDAA has a number of significant implications for federal government service contactors. PSC is pleased that the president signed this important bill into law,” said PSC President and CEO David Berteau. “PSC worked diligently throughout the year to offer recommendations to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees and conferees on this bill. While some of the acquisition provisions give us concern, there are many positive aspects of the bill that will improve acquisition outcomes and aid PSC member companies in their work to meet mission needs.”

AMDR. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) awarded Raytheon an $8.4 million undefinitized modification to procure Air and Missile Defense Radar-S-Band/Radar Suite Controller (AMDR-S/RSC) detection simulation (DetSim) only low-rate initial production (LRIP) emulators and spares. Raytheon will build, test, and deliver two of these AMDR-S/RSC DetSim LRIP emulators to support Aegis Baseline 10.0 integration and testing. Work is expected to be finished by July 2018.

Laser Demo. The Missile Defense Agency awarded Boeing a nearly $9 million competitive contract for the Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) Phase 1 work with no options contemplated. Boeing will perform the steps for the LPLD that address laser power and aperture size by integrating and testing a laser system on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Work is expected to be finished by September 2018.

DDG Yard Services. NAVSEA awarded General Dynamics Bath Iron Works a $24 million modification for DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers lead yard services. This includes engineering and technical assistance for new destroyers and covers liaison for follow-on ship construction, general class services, class logistics services, class design agent services, and continuation of the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class Flight III upgrade design efforts. Work is expected to be finished by June 2018.

JCREW. NAVSEA awarded Northrop Grumman a $23 million modification for Joint Counter-Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare (JCREW) Increment One Block One (I1B1) systems full-rate production. This is to support the Expeditionary Warfare Program Office. The Navy noted JCREW I1B1 as a first-generation system uses a common open architecture across three capabilities, maximizing commonality, reducing life cycle costs, and providing increased protection. Work is expected to be finished by August 2022.

McCain. The USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) arrived at Fleet Activities Yokosuka for repair following heavy damage inflicted in a collision near the Straits of Malacca and Singapore in August. The ship left Singapore on Oct. 5 aboard a heavy lift vehicle, but redirected to Subic Bay, Philippines once personnel discovered additional cracks in the McCain’s hull and were dealing with bad weather. Technicians added additional blocks under the ship to distribute its weight on the heavy lift vessel to deal with the cracks. The ship is now set to be fully repaired at U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility-Japan Regional Maintenance Center in Yokosuka.

Little Rock. The Navy plans to commission the future Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship USS Little Rock (LCS-9) during a ceremony in Buffalo on Dec. 16. This is the 10th LCS and fifth Freedom-variant to enter the fleet. It will be commissioned alongside the first ship with its namesake, CL-92, which serves as a museum in Buffalo. 

RAM MK-31. NAVSEA awarded Raytheon a $22.6 million modification to exercise options for design agent and engineering support services for the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) upgraded MK-31 Guided Missile Weapon System Improvement program. The MK-31 RAM system is a cooperative and production program jointly conducted by the U.S. and Germany via a memorandum of understanding. Work is expected to be finished by September 2019 and funding covers Navy procurement, Germany foreign military sales (FMS), Egypt FMS, and Qatar FMS accounts.

Airbus Management. Tom Enders, 59, will step down from the helm of Airbus in April 2019 after leading the aerospace and defense giant for 14 years. Enders said it is “time to initiate a leadership change,” adding, “We need fresh minds for the 2020s.” Fabrice Bregier, 56, chief operating officer of the company and president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft, won’t be part of the succession planning as he plans to depart the company in February 2018 to pursue other interests. Airbus said that Guillaume Faury, 59, who currently leads Airbus Helicopters, will succeed Bregier as president of the commercial aircraft division. Airbus’ board in 2018 will review executives inside and outside of the company to succeed Enders.

Board Additions. Lockheed Martin is adding former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to its board on Jan. 1, 2018. Johnson led the Department of Homeland Security for the last three years of the Obama administration and is now a partner with the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. The company has also elected James Taiclet to its board. Taiclet, a former president of Honeywell’s Aerospace Services business, is currently president and CEO of the telecommunications real estate company American Tower Corp. “Jeh’s experience in acquisition and government operations and Jim’s aerospace and global perspective will help advance our ability to anticipate and exceed our customers’ expectations,” said Marillyn Hewson, chairman, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin.

 Manufacturing Award. Constellium received the 2017 Defense Manufacturing Technology Achievement Award in the category of Enhancing Military Capability, for its contributions as part of the Army’s Affordable Protection from Objective Threats (APOT) program. The award recognizes individuals from government and the private sector whose manufacturing technology projects result in system enhancements to improve military performance. Bryan Cheeseman, team leader for the Material Manufacturing and Technology Branch of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) nominated Constellium for its efforts developing the industrial-scale processing of aluminum armor plate for forming single-piece combat vehicle hulls.  A collaborative team consisting of BAE Systems Land & Armaments, ARL and Constellium developed, fabricated and demonstrated enhanced hull solutions applicable to tracked combat vehicles. The hull passed all objective threats and demonstrated capability allowing for the military to increase hull requirements for all tracked vehicles moving forward.

Radio Contract. Thales was awarded a $37 million Army contract to equip the new rapidly deployable security force assistance brigades (SFAB) with the AN/PRC-148C Improved Multiband Inter-Intra Team Radio (IMBITR), which becomes the first dual-channel, certified networking radio to enhance communications at the tactical edge providing joint and coalition forces interoperability. Special Operations Command employs the same radio.

DoJ/Netcracker. Software company Netcracker agreed to enhance its security protocols as part of a non-prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice. Netcracker has worked as a subcontractor for DISA providing IT support services, but the company was found to be developing software capabilities outside of the U.S., including Russia, and with degraded security protocols. The company has agreed to improve its security procedures for software development and implementation. “As threats to our critical infrastructure increase, especially from abroad, these protocols serve as a model for the kind of security that U.S. critical infrastructure should expect from the firms they use to develop, install, and maintain technology in their networks,” Dana Boente, acting assistant attorney general, said.

Lockheed/Navy IT. The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a five-year, $77.7 million contract to provide cyber security support services for the Naval Air Warfare Center. Lockheed is tasked with sustaining development and integration services for Naval Air Warfare Center’s weapons division’s IT systems and supporting its cyber security workforce. The majority of the work will be performed at the weapons station in China Lake, Calif., as well as Naval Air Warfare Center commands in Norfolk, Va., Point Mugu, Calif., and Patuxent River, Md.