Earache. 3M Company agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations the company “knowingly” defective combat earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency in violation of the False Claims Act, the Justice Department said on July 26. The department alleges 3M and Aearo Technologies, which 3M acquired in 2008, knew that the Comate Arms Earplugs, Version 2 didn’t fit users properly and didn’t function properly for some users, yet didn’t tell the Defense Department. “Through rigorous enforcement of the False Claims Act, we protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse,” Sherri Lydon, U.S. Attorney General for the District of South Carolina, said in a statement.

Helo Restructuring. Lockheed Martin Chief Marillyn Hewson said last week that the company has eliminated some positions at its Rotary and Mission Systems segment and restructured part of the business as well, with most of the actions related to the Sikorsky helicopter business it acquired from United Technologies Corp. for $9 billion in 2015. Hewson said the actions resulted in a 26 cents charge to earnings per share in the second quarter, which barely dented an otherwise strong quarter for the company. She said the restructuring will improve affordability and competitiveness.

…No Storm from Tempest. During her company’s second quarter earnings call, Hewson was asked how Britain’s recent announcement of a sixth-generation fighter jet, called Tempest, for the Royal Air Force might impact Lockheed Martin. Hewson replied that she spoke to “senior leadership” in the Royal Air Force and that their comments were that “it is to complement the F-35” fighter, which Lockheed Martin is developing for the U.S. Defense Department and allies, including Britain. She said that any investments in Tempest are good overall for “innovation” in the aerospace and defense industry and that Lockheed Martin is discussing with the United Kingdom how it can help. She reminded analysts that Britain plans to acquire 138 F-35s and had received 15 so far.

Winning Formula. Raytheon Chief Thomas Kennedy said last week his company’s selection to deliver a new Distributed Aperture Sensor (DAS) to Lockheed Martin that provides 360-degree situational awareness for the F-35 aircraft was due to continued development of the company’s technology that resulted in higher performance and lower cost for the product. Northrop Grumman was the incumbent for the DAS system but earlier this year said it decided not to bid on the recompetition because it offered a relatively unattractive return on investment compared to other business opportunities. The latest technology in Raytheon’s DAS product gives the company a “competitive advantage,” Kennedy said during Raytheon’s second quarter earnings call.

Arctic Tech Evaluation. The Coast Guard’s annual technology evaluation in the Arctic is underway and the service said unmanned systems are the focus of the research effort. The Arctic Technology Evaluation in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, will evaluate networking of unmanned aircraft systems, unmanned surface vehicles, and an aerostat. The service said the unmanned systems and the network will be used in various search and rescue and environmental testing scenarios, including using the systems to detect a life raft and to detect and sample a simulated oil spill. The unmanned systems will be integrated through Man Pack Unit 5 radios supplied by Persistent Systems to test the communications relay.

ScanEagle. The U.S. Navy awarded Insitu Inc. an $11 million modification to a previous delivery order to procure an additional 27 ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system, 37 payloads, and spares all for Afghanistan. ScanEagles are small UAVs that can loiter over an area for 24 hours at a maximum altitude of 19,000 feet. They are launched from a catapult with a hook-and-line recovery line so it does not require a runway. Work will occur in Bingen, Wash., and is expected to be finished in December 2019. The full funds were obligated at award time and will expire at the end of the fiscal year.

Fifth French Frigate. France’s Directorate-General for Armaments (DGA) received its fifth Aquitaine-class multi-mission frigate (FREMM) on July 18, the Bretagne (D655), built by Naval Group and Fincantieri. FREMM is a joint program between the French and Italian companies to provide frigates to both countries.  The French version has anti-submarine capabilities and the government said it is the only European warship armed with the naval cruise missile. French FREMMs are being built under the Military Planning Act (LPM in French) 2019-2025, which calls for a sixth FREMM to be delivered next year, the Normandy (D651), and the last two FREMMS, the future Alsace and Lorraine, in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

RAM. The Naval Sea Systems Command awarded Raytheon a $64.4 million contract for design agent and engineering support services for the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) upgrade of the MK-31 guided missile weapon system improvement program. Support being procured is needed to maintain current weapon capability and resolve issues through design, systems, software maintenance, reliability, maintainability, quality assurance, and logistics engineering services. The contract is split 90 percent for the Navy and seven percent for Germany under a memoranda of understanding, and three percent for Egypt under a Foreign Military Sale (FMS). The contract includes options that if exercised increase the total value to $302 million. Work is planned to be finished by September 2020, but all options would push that back to July 2023. This was not competitively procured under U.S. Code rules for international agreement.

Bahrain Support. The State Department approved a possible $70 million Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Bahrain for items and service in support of Follow-On Technical Support (FOTS) for the Royal Bahrain Navy Ship Sabha (FFG-90). DSCA notified Congress of the sale on July 26. FFG-90 is the former USS Jack Williams (FFG-24), transferred as an excess defense article back in 1996. The sale includes associated engineering, technical and logistics services as well as modification material for Navy-supplied systems and equipment. Bahrain would use this support to keep the ship in operational readiness status for security and coastal defense. The contract has no prime contractor or offset agreements. Implementation will require about three U.S. government and six contractor representatives to go to Bahrain for an extended period for equipment fielding, systems checkout, training, and technical and logistics support.

Amphib Upgrades. The Navy’s director of expeditionary warfare (OPNAV N95) said the service’s amphibious forces do not only need to increase toward 38 amphibious warfare ships, but their capability has to be upgraded too. Maj. Gen. David Coffman said at an amphibious warship congressional forum last week that “we must reinvigorate naval maneuver warfare, linking sea control and power projection to win current and future fights.” He noted the need to prepare new ships to be able to handle unmanned vehicles from the start and said they are preparing to use unmanned aircraft and autonomous surface and undersea vehicles. 

…LPD Flight II. Since Congress is in a period when it is willing to build more ships, Coffman said he is working to ensure the next set of amphibious ships is designed to accommodate new and future technology like unmanned systems. The first new San Antonio-class LPD Flight II ship, LPD-30, was procured in FY 2018. Coffman said the Navy has not yet decided if it will buy the 12 follow-on ships in a block buy contract.

…F-35 Prep. The Marine Corps is planning to use the F-35B in a major role to secure contested locations so Coffman said he wants to keep asking what can be done better to improve the amphibious ship’s capabilities rather than settling on one design. “No one else on the planet can do what we can do in the littoral space,” Coffman said.

DISA/DIBNet. DISA on July 27 opened up its Defense Industrial Base Network next-generation platform capabilities sources sought notice to large businesses. Responses to the source sought notice are due by Aug. 9. DISA previously posted the notice for small businesses on June 13. The DoD IT agency is looking for partners who may be able to assist the development and sustainment of platforms supporting DIBNet, including security for enterprise services such as email.

Leonardo SCOSS. Leonardo DRS said July 26 it has received a contract worth up to $10 million to deliver mobile Shipboard Carry-On/Off Satellite Communication Systems for Navy ships. “We are proud to provide this multi-domain satellite communications technology to customers with critical communications needs in the most austere operational conditions,” Larry Ezell, a Leonardo vice president, said in a statement. The company is expected to deliver the SCOSS system to the Navy in 2019. SCOSS provides secure network connection from stem-to-stern across all Navy vessels, and offers continuous service on wideband satellite networks even in signal-contested areas. The system is also able to be moved off-ship for potential use on land vehicles.

US/Australia Cyber. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne at a July 23 gathering signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen technology cooperation between their two countries would coordinate efforts to advance cyber capabilities. Mattis and and Payne were joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop at the annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Palo Alto, Calif. The MoU states that the two countries will work to jointly leverage one other’s technical expertise to collaboratively develop capabilities to address new cyber and information security threats.

Leonardo/Australia Tanks. Leonardo DRS said July 24 that its next-generation ruggedized battle management hardware was successfully demonstrated on Australian Army tanks at a recent live operational exercise. This was the first time the Australian M1A1SA tanks used hardware to test the ability for the vehicles to connect seamlessly with its Army battle management network. Leonardo’s battle management system provides the Australia tank users with Blue Force tracking capabilities, the ability to integrate beyond line of sight communications, and run all required network applications. “DRS looks forward to leveraging our recent $841 million U.S. Army battle management system hardware award into integrated, scalable solutions for emerging Commonwealth of Australia needs,” Jerry Hathaway, a Leonardo DRS vice president, said in a statement.