Smith on CBO. New House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) argued a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on nuclear weapons program costs shows “plans to replace and upgrade the nuclear weapons enterprise are unaffordable.” He said in a statement Thursday evening that U.S. defense policy planning has lately “refused to grapple with the size and scope of the budgetary burden that these nuclear modernization plans will impose. We cannot continue to blindly follow that path without a strategic discussion that asks the big questions about the best way to deter nuclear war, reassure our allies, maintain a credible and reliable deterrent, and accomplish our national objectives while taking into account budgetary reality.” Smith added the U.S. has to make “smart choices” to put the nuclear deterrent force “on an affordable and sustainable path in the decades to come.”
Shutdown Impact. Prior to the end of the 35-day partial government shutdown on Friday, 30 aerospace companies issued a letter Jan. 10 to congressional leaders calling for an end to the funding lapse, outlining the impacts to aviation and space industries. “Civil aviation alone supports more than 7 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and $1.5 trillion of economic impact, creating over 11.5 million jobs, but this shutdown is hampering our ability to function effectively,” said the letter, released Tuesday by the Aerospace Industries Association, a co-signer. Among the various negative impacts outlined in the letter, the authors note that “all policy and rule-making for the fast-growing Unmanned Aircraft Systems market have been halted as has processing of waivers for commercial drone operations” due to the shuttering of the FAA. Other certification and regulatory reform activities have halted and validation activities between FAA and other aviation authorities cannot be completed, while airlines and charter operators cannot add new planes to their fleets due to a lack of authorization through the FAA, it adds. More details can be found in the letter on AIA’s website.
Shutdown FMS. Andrea Thompson, under secretary of state for Arms Control and International Security, said Thursday the partial government shutdown affected the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process, but the team was back at work at full strength starting Jan. 22. She said some of the licenses are fee-funded, which allows for work to proceed. There is now a gap in FMS work because the State Department has not had full engagement with Congress with notifications. The last few weeks “has set us back, but we continue to have folks at work, we continue to process” the FMS licenses, Thompson said. “The beauty of defense sales business is this is a multi-year engagement, it doesn’t happen in weeks, it happens over a long period of time,” she added.
…CAT Helps. Thompson noted while “it’ll be a bit of a backlog, but we’ve got efficiencies in place” to help make up that ground, like the administration’s new Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) policy. She said she continues to get feedback from partners that the increased transparency from the CAT policy is helping partners within government and industry. “So we’ll be able to make up some ground, but I am a realist and we’ll have to work harder if we’re going to have the numbers we had last year, which was a very good year,” Thompson said.
Cyber Battles. The month-plus long funding lapse that plagued some of the work at the Department of Homeland Security has put the young Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at a disadvantage, a former department official said last week. President Donald Trump last November signed a bill creating CISA, which was the old National Protection and Programs Directorate, which makes it an operating agency and gives it a new name. CISA houses the DHS cyber and infrastructure protection operations. Caitlyn Durkovich, a former NPPD official for all eight years of the Obama administration, said “many of the equities this very committee fought hard to give to the new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency are being challenged by interagency partners in the absence of DHS at the table and planning has been impeded for future capability development. “ She spoke as part of a panel hosted by the House Homeland Security Committee.
…Problems for Contractors. Durkovich says that CISA’s missions also rely on contractors, some of which have been issued stop work orders and others that have worked through the shutdown but without pay. “This is particularly devastating for smaller contractors, the very businesses that DHS has worked hard to cultivate over the last several years,” she laments. “Many will never recover. Many now are losing employees or simply going out of business. These contractors have built relationships, they have longstanding knowledge, and have gone through the arduous vetting process and are cleared for work. I cannot underscore the enormous impact their potential absence will have on DHS missions, particularly cyber.”
2020. Indiana mayor and Navy veteran Pete Buttigieg announced Wednesday that he is considering a run for president in 2020 by forming an exploratory committee. A Democrat, Buttigieg has served as mayor of South Bend since 2012, when he became the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with more than 100,000 residents. He is a former Navy intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan in 2013 and remains a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve.
Singapore F-35s. Singapore’s government declared Jan. 18 that it had selected Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to replace its F-16 fighter fleet. The country’s defense ministry called the aircraft “the most suitable replacement” and said it would next discuss details with U.S. parties over the next year before officially deciding to procure the F-35. Michael Friedman, Lockheed spokesman, told Defense Daily in a Jan. 23 email the company was honored by Singapore’s announcement, but deferred to the Southeast Asian government for more details. “We look forward to supporting them on their continued evaluation of the F-35,” he said.
GD F-35 Work. General Dynamics’ Information Technology business on Thursday announced it recently won the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 information technology (IT) program support contract with a ceiling value of $155.6 million. Awarded as a task order by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, GD will provide knowledge-based, information assurance, and cyber security IT services to the F-35 Virtual Enterprise network. This work will be in support of the F-35 Joint Program Office. GD noted this will cover services like program management, enterprise architecture, implementation of emerging technologies and requirements, operations and maintenance, and data management. The contracts includes a base period of two years and three one-year options.
Duckworth. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Army veteran, will serve as the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety, she announced Wednesday. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over America’s freight and passenger network and pipeline safety, and oversees the Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Surface Transportation Board, the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. She will serve alongside subcommittee chair Sen. Deb. Fischer (R-Neb.). Both women are also members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in the 116th Congress.
Blue Origin. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin successfully launched its reusable New Shepherd rocket on Wednesday at its West Texas facility, carrying eight NASA research-and-development payloads into suborbital space and back. The NS-10 mission lasted just over 10 minutes and reached an altitude of 66 miles, according to the company. It marked the 10th test flight for the New Shepherd program and the fourth flight for this specific vehicle. Blue Origin eventually aims to use New Shepherd to transport humans into space.
Hawaii Test Site. Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said on Jan. 23 the Defense Department will work on how to divide the funding breakdown its Hawaiian Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Center if it is turned into an operational resource. The new Missile Defense Review directed a study to develop an emergency activation plan to potentially operationalize the test site within 30 days of a decision to do so. “Today it involves both Navy resources for the operational crews to man that site, as well as funds that come from MDA for research, development, test, production, and sustainment. So we would work within the department to understand how to break this down,” Greaves said at a Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance event.
Post-Delivery LCS. Austal USA won its first contract to perform extended industrial post-delivery availability (EIPDA) work on Littoral Combat Ship USS Cincinnati (LCS-20) on Jan. 24. This $16.3 million award covers engineering, management, and production services to support prefabrication efforts, material procurement, and execution of work items for LCS-20. The Navy said EIPDA is accomplished within about 12 weeks between ship transfer to the Navy and the shipbuilding and conversion obligation work limiting date. Austal noted this kind of work is usually performed in San Diego, Calif., but this effort is trying to streamline production and support of the LCS program by reducing post-delivery cost and increase efficiency by performing extra work at Austal’s Mobile, Ala. facility. “This is an important step in the growth of our post-delivery business. We are excited to continue to expand our relationship with the Navy to do new post-delivery work in Mobile,” Austal USA president Craig Perciavalle, said in a statement.
Barracuda. Last week a Navy official said the service is looking to push the Barracuda mine countermeasure (MCM) program forward however they can. “We’re looking for every opportunity to accelerate this. It going to be a really awesome capability. Initially it will operate off the USV [unmanned surface vehicle], potentially it can operate from an aircraft as well,” Capt. Danielle George, program manager for mine warfare programs, said during the annual Surface Navy Association symposium on Jan. 17. The Navy will operate the Barracuda from the Textron-made Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle. George said they are also trying “to streamline the test and evaluation master plan” with the office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, which would be “a big time saver.” She noted the Navy is also considering tailoring the acquisition process and considering using accelerated acquisition.
Boeing, Embraer Update. Boeing and Brazil’s Embraer last Thursday signed the definitive agreements that officially launch their pending joint ventures for commercial aircraft and the KC-390 multi-mission medium airlift and tanker aircraft. With the agreements signed, Embraer’s board of directors has set a shareholder meeting on Feb. 26 to vote on the joint ventures, which also require approvals from anti-trust authorities in the U.S. and Brazil and other “applicable” jurisdictions.
BAE/Rheinmetall Venture. BAE Systems told Defense Daily the company will retain equal membership on the board of its new U.K. military vehicle joint venture with Rheinmetall, although the German manufacturer will hold a 55 percent majority stake in the partnership. The new joint venture, known as Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL), was announced on Jan. 21. Certain decisions will still require the approval of both companies, according to BAE Systems. Officials also said the joint venture is solely focused on the U.K. vehicle space, specifically the British Army’s Mechanized Infantry Vehicle program, but added both parties are interested in pursuing global opportunities in the medium to long-term. BAE Systems told Defense Daily the company expects regulators to approve the new venture by the spring.
State Department Cyber Bill. The House on January 22 passed a bill to address cyber security issues at the State Department and create a bug bounty program similar to the Pentagon’s. The Hack Your State Department Act, introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif), was approved by a vote of 377-3. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs committee, said the bill was critical for mitigating the State Department’s known security vulnerabilities. “As a national security agency, the State Department must do more to secure its networks. The Hack Your State Department Act is a small but important step toward cost-effective solutions,” McCaul said. The bill gives the department a year to run a pilot test of a bug bounty program that would pay ethical hackers to disclose security vulnerabilities in its network. It also directs department officials to create a vulnerability disclosure process over the next six months. The bill currently does not have companion legislation in the Senate.
Big P-8A Award. The Naval Air Systems Command awarded Boeing a $2.5 billion modification to build and deliver 19 P-8A Lot 10 Poseidon aircraft for the U.S. Navy, United Kingdom, and Norway. The aircraft are split between 10 for the U.S., five for Norway, and four for the UK. The Jan. 25 award also includes engineering change proposal 4 SilverBlock for the UK. Most of the work will occur in Seattle, Wash., and is expected to be finished by March 2022. The full contract value will be obligated at award time. The award is split between 51 percent or $1.3 billion for the U.S. Navy, 28 percent or $695 million for Norway, and 21 percent or $507 million for the UK.