DHS Authorization. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has introduced a bill that would permanently authorize the Department of Homeland Security’s Joint Requirements Council, an executive body within the department that oversees requirements generation across agencies and components and makes prioritized funding recommendations. The five-page bill, which is narrowly focused, is similar to a section of comprehensive DHS authorization bill that passed the House last year but has yet to be taken up in the Senate. “When agencies work together before they make big purchases, they can avoid wasteful spending and duplications,” says McCaskill, the ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “My commonsense bill enshrines this important program into law, which will help maximize the department’s spending on what’s most needed for national security.”

…Support for DHS Labs.

 A small bipartisan group of Congress members is asking the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to fully fund three Department of Homeland Security laboratories in an eventual fiscal year omnibus spending bill that the Trump administration had proposed closing. House appropriators have already recommended restoring full funding,–$76.4 million–in its version of the FY ’18 spending bill for the National Urban Security Technology Laboratory, the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, and the Chemical Security Analysis Center while Senate appropriators have not fully restored funding. The legislators include six Democratic Senators, and from the House, three Democrats and two Republicans.

V-280 Push. Bell Helicopter, a division of Textron, is setting up an Advanced Vertical Lift Center in Arlington, Va., and adding horsepower to its Washington office. Jeffrey Schloesser, a former commander of the 101st Airborne who most recently worked for Sierra Nevada, will be leading up Bell’s office in Crystal City while the rest of the Textron team stays in the current office in the Washington Star building downtown. Joining Schloesser will be veteran lobbyist Kraig Siracuse, a former professional staffer from the SAC defense panel last with Park Strategies. The move comes as the company is making a major effort to showcase for the Army the V-280, which completed its first flight late last year. In the coming years, the service is expected to pick a future vertical lift family of helicopters.  V-280 and Defiant, an offering from Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky division, are currently under contract for demonstrations of current industry technology.

Cobham Divestment. Britain’s Cobham says it is divesting two businesses that are part of its Communications and Connectivity sector, AvComm and Wireless, and selling them for $455 million to California-based Viavi Solutions. The two businesses combine for more than $200 million annually and diversify Viavi’s Test and Measurement business into military, public safety and avionics test markets, and strengthens its position in the emerging 5G wireless deployment market. The deal is subject to U.S. regulatory approval and is expected to close in the first half of this year.  The AvComm business is based in Kansas and the Wireless business in the United Kingdom. For Cobham, the pending transaction will allow it to focus on its defense, space and aerospace markets.

…Mercury Deal. Meanwhile, Mercury Systems has closed its $180 million cash acquisition of Themis Computer, expanding its position in what it says is the growing market for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence. Themis develops and produces rugged computing systems for defense, aerospace, energy and commercial applications.

New DISA Leader. New DISA leader Navy Vice Adm. Nancy Norton officially assumed her new role at a ceremony Feb. 1 at the organization’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. Norton previously served as Navy’s Director of Warfare Integration for Information Warfare, and will now lead the agency tasked with supporting DoD information technology and network operations. Norton takes over for Army Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, who is retiring after 38 years in uniform. “I am deeply grateful for the confidence placed in me as I take the helm. It’s an exciting challenge that I now eagerly, gratefully, and humbly accept. I will never take the weight of this responsibility for granted,” Norton said during her speech at the ceremony.

Cyber Report. Cyber threats targeting businesses nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017, according to a new report from the Online Trust Alliance. Most threats were ransomware-based, with companies reporting 134,000 attempts to threaten cyber exploitation unless a ransom was paid to the hackers. Report authors found 93 percent of breaches could’ve been prevented with improved cyber hygiene practices, including regular software updates. “[2017’s] big increase in cyberattacks can be attributed to the skyrocketing instances of ransomware and the bold new methods of criminals using this attack,” OTA Director Jeff Wilbur said in a statement.

Breach Report. Another new cyber threat report from Thales and 451 Research found 36 percent of U.S. organizations suffered a data breach in 2017, up from 27 percent when the survey was last conducted. Report authors found businesses are more inclined than ever to consider new encryption tools to better protect data, with 44 percent responding that it’s a critical tool for their cloud computing efforts. “While times have changed, security strategies have not – security spending increases that focus on the data itself are at the bottom of IT security spending priorities, leaving customer data, financial information and intellectual property severely at risk,” 451 Research security analyst Garrett Bekker said in a statement.

Lockheed Martin/PostNord. Lockheed Martin received a new deal to continue supporting PostNord, Sweden’s postal service with its proprietary automated sorting system. With the new contract, Lockheed Martin will incorporate updates with its new Next Generation Sortation Platform, designed for a more flexible business-rule driven workflow engine. “Our automated sorting technology helps companies in the postal sector transform their operations, improving efficiency and competitiveness during the rise of e-commerce based mail volumes,” Emlyn Taylor, managing director of Lockheed Martin UK System Solutions, said in a statement.

Army Appointee. John E. Whitley was tapped to become Assistant Secretary of the Army Financial Management and Comptroller. Whitley currently serves as a senior fellow at the Institute for Defense Analyses and the Center for Naval Analysis, and research director at the Crime Prevention Research Center.  He was previously a health care analyst at the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, and an adjunct professor at the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University. Whitley also has served as director of program analysis and evaluation at the Department of Homeland Security, and an operations research analyst within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He is an Army veteran and a graduate of Virginia Tech and the University of Chicago.

PATRIOT Contract. Raytheon was awarded a $2.3 billion hybrid (cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price and level-of-effort) contract for engineering services to support Phased Array Tracking Radar Intercept on Target (PATRIOT) system of systems, for ongoing support of software, refresh for obsolescence to include support of systems outside the continental United States. and partner country systems. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2023.

Another CR? The current continuing resolution (CR) that funds the federal government expires Feb. 8, so Congress will soon have to pass another CR or a long-term funding package to avoid a government shutdown. Another CR would be the fifth for fiscal year 2018, which began Oct. 1. At a Feb. 1 Pentagon press briefing, Defense Department spokesman Dana White urged lawmakers to pass a long-term package, saying CRs create “a lot of uncertainty” and are “wasteful.”

HAC Chair. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel, might have plenty of competition in her recently announced bid to succeed retiring Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) as leader of the full committee. Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) are all potential contenders, according to a committee spokeswoman.

Aegis Director. Rear Adm. (lower half) Paul Druggan has been assigned as program director of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense in the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Druggan currently serves as commander of the Naval Surface Warfare Center. Druggan is set to replace Rear. Adm. Johnny Wolfe, Jr., who is earlier nominated as vice admiral and assigned as director for strategic systems programs at the Washington Navy Yard.

Germany-Norway And Truman. Two vessels from the Royal Norwegian Navy and German Navy respectively, recently arrived in Norfolk to participate in training and operations as part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG). The Norwegian frigate HNoMS Roald Amundsen (F-311) and German Sachsen-class frigate Hessen (F-221) are participating for the group’s Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX). This kind of partnership is designed to strengthen cooperation and interoperability among armed forces. Following the exercise, the Hessen will stay with the strike group to participate in its following deployment. The Hessen previously deployed with the group in 2010.

More Fitz Work. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries a $30 million modification to execute additional emergent repair and restoration to the badly damaged USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62). This award covers additional modernization work items, contract growth for collision repairs, and maintenance for the ship. In the award, the Navy said additional modifications for collision repair, equipment installation, and other maintenance and modernization requirements are planned with a final definitization of this contract in the third quarter of fiscal year 2018. This modification work is expected to be finished by January 2020.

Omaha. The U.S. Navy plans to commission the newest Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Omaha (LCS-12), at a Feb. 3 ceremony in San Diego. The Omaha is the 11th LCS to enter the fleet and the sixth Independence-variant. Former Nebraska Senator and Governor Bob Kerrey is to deliver the ceremony’s principal address.

ESB-5. The future USNS Miguel Keith (ESB-5) on Jan. 30 held a keel laying ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. As an expeditionary transfer dock, the Miguel Keith is expected to support missions including Special Operations Force, Airborne Mine Counter Measures, humanitarian support, and sustainment of regular military missions.

MV-22 Upgrades. Naval Air Systems Command awarded the Bell-Boeing Joint Program Office (JPO) a $70 million modification to definitize an earlier undefinitzed action placed against a cost-plus-fixed fee firm-fixed price contract. This award also goes toward upgrading three MV-22 aircraft form the Block B to Block C configuration to support the V-22 common configuration-readiness and modernization (CC-RAM). Work is expected to be finished by May 2020.

Sub Risks. The Submarine Institute of Australia presented a paper at a Singapore maritime security conference that submarine operators in Southeast Asia are at a greater risk of collisions than in other regions. While NATO and the U.S. Navy manage submarine operations in the European theater, outside of Russian vessels, the report says there is no equivalent organization to coordinate submarine operations in Southeast Asia. “South-East Asia lacks the international agreements that generally have been adopted in the rest of the world that provides for a system to prevent mutual interference,” the institute says.

P-8A Work. The Naval Air Systems Command awarded Boeing, AAR Aircraft Services Inc., and StandardAero Inc. individual contracts totaling $269 million for P-8A airframe and engine maintenance and repair depot support for the U.S. Navy, Australia, and foreign military sales (FMS) customers. Each company will be able to compete for individual task orders. Boeing and AAR are the primary and secondary awardees for airframe depot work while StandardAero and Boeing are the primary and secondary awardees for engine depot work. Work is expected to be finished by January 2019. Funds will be awarded and obligated as delivery orders are issued.

Dazzler. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) awarded Lockheed Martin a $150 million contract to develop, build, and deliver two high energy laser and integrated optical-dazzler test units. The contract calls this the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System Increment 1, High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with surveillance system. Lockheed Martin’s Aculight Corp. will deliver two the units by fiscal year 2020, one for a Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 Flight IIA and one for land-based testing. The contract includes awards that, if exercised, would raise the total value to $943 million.

CNO On Budget. The Chief of Naval Operations said the Navy has learned to adapt to budget instability. During a Heritage Foundation event last week, he said the service does not plan a lot of major work or big acquisition milestones in the first quarter of a fiscal year, expecting Congress not to have a budget ready by then anymore. However, he compared the downsides of this to football and the upcoming Super Bowl, “in a competition that’s that close, you can’t expect a team to win if they only play three quarters out of four.”

…And Six Dimensions. Richardson added he sees naval power broken down into six dimensions. This includes a bigger fleet, going toward about 355 ships; a better fleet by modernizing platforms with more capability; networking the platforms together to best share data and use capabilities; building a more talented workforce of sailors learning different skills for different systems; leveraging greater agility in how it develops technologies and concepts of operations; then turning all of that potential power into readiness with logistics and maintenance in place. Richardson highlighted in building a better fleet the service is “on the cusp” of intriguing technologies to increase technology like directed energy, high-power microwaves, lasers, electromagnetic maneuver warfare, and unmanned systems.