Mattis Back to Academia. Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will return to Stanford University’s Hoover Institute as the Davies Family Distinguished Fellow effective May 1, the institute said Tuesday. Mattis was previously the Davies Fellow before accepting the position of Secretary of Defense in 2016. He resigned from the position Dec. 20, 2018, but was then released from the position by President Trump effective Jan. 1 2019. “At Hoover, Mattis intends to focus his research and writing on domestic and international security policy,” said the institute’s statement. “He will also participate at events and programs related to military and national security issues at Hoover’s campus in California and office in Washington D.C.”

Then Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis answers questions from the press shortly before arriving in South Korea., Feb. 2, 2017. (DOD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

Offutt Air Base Flooding. Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska has been fighting flood waters which began to fill portions of the installation March 15. As the base works to mitigate the effects of the flooding, five RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft assigned to the 55th Wing at Offutt were relocated to MacDill AFB in Florida to keep them out of harm’s way, the Air Force confirmed March 20. The 2019 Defenders of Freedom Air Show and Open House, which was scheduled for June 1-2 at Offutt AFB, has been cancelled.

GAO Reports. The GAO plans to soon release a new report on the Air Force’s next-generation operational control system (OCX) for the GPS III program, the agency’s director for acquisition and sourcing management, Cristina Chaplain, said Wednesday at a think tank event in Washington, D.C. Raytheon is the prime contractor for the program, which is years behind schedule. The GAO also expects to release its annual missile defense review within the next month, as well as a report on human spaceflight, she said.

MQ-9s to the Netherlands. The Air Force on Thursday awarded a $123 million contract to GA-ASI for four MQ-9 Reaper UAS and associated mobile ground stations, spares and support equipment for a foreign military sale to the Netherlands. Work will be mostly performed in Pomona, California, and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2020. FMS funds in the amount of $38.9 million are being obligated at the time of award.

Air Force S&T Award. The Air Force on Monday awarded Scientific Applications Research Associates Inc. a $100 million IDIQ contract for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Golden Horde Science and Technology demonstration effort. The contract, which is the result of a competition acquisition under the Small Business Innovation Research Program, provides for support R&D of emerging munition technologies, and integrated weapon demonstrations, according to the award notice. “The effort is conceptualized as a fast-paced Air Force Research Laboratory-led demonstration project executed under the auspices of the Team Eglin Weapon Consortium,” it said. Work will be performed in Cypress, California, and is expected to be complete by December 2021.  The service obligated $15,000 in FY ’19 RDT&E Funds for the first task order at the time of award.

Frigate Laser. The Navy’s director of surface warfare, Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, said last week that the future frigate, FFG(X), will be built to accommodate new capabilities compared to the Littoral Combat Ship, including directed energy weapons. Speaking at the Directed Energy Summit, Boxall said the frigate “will have a design margin built back in to it to get us 150-ish kW laser. So we’ve already put the space, power in that for that ship, which is kind of interesting that we’re able to do that on a small ship and we’re really going to be challenged much more on the DDG flight III to do so. It’s kind counterintuitive, but it’s where we are.” Boxall noted it was important to fleet commanders the margin for a laser weapon was put into the frigate. He also said while the ship has reserved space and power for a 150 kW laser weapon, they are putting enough margin in for more laser power, if the Navy has the time and funding to install one at a later time.

LSC In 2025. The Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan shows the Navy’s schedule for the Large Surface Combatant (LSC) has it procuring the first one in FY ‘25, then two more in FY ’26. Before then, the service will buy Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 Flight III destroyers through FY ’25, with the final two procured that year. The current DDG-51 multi-year procurement schedule lasts until FY ’22 so the service plans to buy eight more vessels over three years before transitioning to the LSC.

…Maybe Faster. While planning to buy the LSC in 2025, the plan insisted it will follow the FFG(X) model by partnering with industry early to help define what is possible, balance costs, and reduce risk before defining requirements. The Navy will also see if it is possible to move up the LSC timetable. “The LSC is nearer-term and industry engagement over the next year will determine the feasibility of accelerating the effort in accordance with the imperatives of the CNO’s Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0,” the shipbuilding plan said.

ESSM. Naval Sea Systems Command awarded Raytheon a $98 million modification on Monday for long-lead material to support FY ’19 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2 low-rate initial production (LRIP) requirements. The ESSM is an international cooperative upgrade of the RIM-7 Seasparrow missile for ship defense. Work will be split among the U.S., Canada, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Greece, Denmark, Turkey, and Portugal and is expected to be finished by March 2023.

P-8A Capabilities. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded Boeing a $326 million delivery order on March 19 against a previously issued basic ordering agreement to develop, integrate, and test Increment 3 Block 2 capabilities on to P-8A Poseidon aircraft for the Navy and Australia. These capabilities include wide-band satellite communications, a new security and computing architecture, common data links, combat system architecture improvements, and communication capability upgrades. The work will largely occur in Puget Sound, Wash.. and is expected to be finished by March 2024.

CVN-73 Mast. Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding reached the 50 percent mark on the refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73). The half-way mark included installation of the final and upper section of the ship’s new mast. “Landing the upper mast is one of the most visible construction milestones in the mid-life refueling overhaul and maintenance availability of an aircraft carrier,” Newport News vice president for in-service aircraft carrier programs, Chris Miner, said in a statement. CVN-73 arrived at Newport News in August 2017 and is expected to be delivered back to the Navy in 2021.

UGV Tracking RFI. The Army on March 19 released an RFI to inform future requirements for a precision tracking capability required for future Unmanned Ground Vehicle tests. “The technology will further support improved, near real time situational awareness of a populated test environment,” officials wrote. A capability is required to provide real-time tracking of UGV prototype platforms in relation to the overall track course and obstacles during tests. The system must be capable of monitoring and recording UGV’s at speeds up to 80 miles per hour and provide accurate positioning data within 10 centimeters. “For multiple system tests, dynamic safety zones must be implemented to assure that a system under test  does not leave the test range or come too close to a traffic vehicle or another vehicle under test,” officials wrote. Responses to the RFI are due by April 29.

DHA Cloud. General Dynamics Information Technology said March 18 it has successfully migrated the Defense Health Agency’s billing and collection service to Amazon Web Services’ GovCloud cloud computing service. With the move, GDIT is the first system integrator to migrate a DHA DoD FebRamp effort to the AWS cloud. DHA awarded GDIT a five-year, $56 million task order und the GSA IT Schedule 70 contract vehicle to perform the work. GDIT is also responsible for continuing to operate DHA’s billing and collection service as a cloud-based managed service offering. Kamal Narang, head of GDIT’s health sector, called the program a “significant milestone” for DHA.

Shoe Check. It’s been a while since the Department of Homeland Security has pursued technology to detect explosives hidden inside someone’s footwear while it’s still on their feet at airport checkpoints, but the department is now conducting a market survey of “available and near-term solutions” to address this issue. When British terrorist Richard Reid failed to detonate a bomb hidden in his shoes during a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001, the Transportation Security Administration began to randomly require some passengers to remove their shoes for closer inspection and then in 2006 made it mandatory for all travelers flying domestically and into and out of the U.S. Some of the technology parameters that DHS wants addressed includes remote operation, automatic detection, and energy exposure to personnel.  TSA years ago looked at a number of technologies to inspect worn footwear for explosives to no avail. Responses are due April 1.

Dividend Increase. Raytheon is increasing its annual shareholder dividend by nearly 9 percent to $3.77 per share, marking the 15th straight annual increase in the payout to stockholders. The company’s board also authorized a quarterly cash dividend of $0.9425 per share to be paid on May 9. “The dividend increase is a key part of our capital deployment strategy, and reflects our confidence in the company’s growth outlook and our continued focus on creating value for shareholders,” said Thomas Kennedy, Raytheon’s chairman and CEO.

Moving Day. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said her department will move its headquarters in April to the former St. Elizabeth’s hospital complex across the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. The move will be a further step toward a unified DHS, she said. The move will begin April 1 with the Office of the Secretary and Executive Management., a DHS spokeswoman told Defense Daily. The DHS Operations Center moved to St. E’s this month. The DHS management functions will add 1,000 employees to St. E’s, where the Coast Guard’s headquarters of 3,700 personnel already work.

Another FRC Delivery. The Coast Guard on March 21 accepted delivery of its 33rd of 58 planned 154-foot Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) from shipbuilder Bollinger Shipyards. The Joseph Doyle will be the seventh FRC stationed in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and will be commissioned in June.

Space Force Letter. The AFL-CIO sent a letter Thursday to the HASC and SASC chairmen and ranking members, critiquing a portion of the Trump administration’s proposed Space Force legislation regarding civilian personnel authorities. The letter cautioned that a broad discretion to re-assign employees to grow the Space Force would negatively affect readiness, and blasted what it called the reintroduction of a “spoils system” where political favoritism could be rewarded over professionalism and expertise. “Aside from destroying the workforce within DoD, the proposal, which appears to be hastily cobbled together from other failed personnel policies, also would impair DoD mission performance,” the letter said.