ATT Treaty. President Trump said Friday that the United States would withdraw from the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which sets a global standard for regulating conventional weapons deals. The U.S. government signed onto the treaty in 2013 but never ratified it. A White House statement released Friday justifies the withdrawal by saying the U.S. export controls have already been considered “the gold standard” and notes that countries such as Russia and China – both major weapons exporters – are not members of the ATT. Earlier this year, Trump said the U.S. would withdraw from the INF Treaty, and has threatened to pull out from the New START Treaty.

Launch Services. Space-X CEO Elon Musk told Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in a December 2018 meeting that he felt his company had written a poor proposal for the Air Force’s launch services agreement program, and that it “missed the mark,” according to an April 25 DoD IG report. Space X has not publicly commented on the launch services procurement program, where the Air Force awarded contracts to Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, ULA and Blue Origin in October 2018. SpaceX is expected to compete for phase 2 of the program. Shanahan did not comment on the bid process, and the DoD IG report cleared Shanahan of any potential ethics violations related to his past employment at Boeing.

SpaceX launches its Falcon Heavy rocket, and passenger Arabsat-6A, on April 11.
SpaceX launches its Falcon Heavy rocket, and passenger Arabsat-6A, on April 11. (SpaceX0

Biden 2020. Former Vice President Joe Biden announced he would run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 on Thursday, after months of speculation of whether he would jump in the race. Biden, 76, is now the 20th Democrat to announce a run for president. He served in the Senate for 36 years representing Delaware and has run for president two times, once in 1988 and once in 2008.

Tyndall Industry Day. Tyndall AFB in Florida will host a second Industry Day on May 2, inviting partners to assist with the rebuilding of Tyndall following its destruction by Hurricane Michael last October. Over 450 partners have already RSVP’ed. Senior Air Force leadership will be in attendance.

SATCOM RFI. The Air Force is conducting market research to potentially develop a new satellite communications capability aboard the UH-1N Huey helicopter, according to an April 26 notice on FedBizOpps. The effort will replace one of the current ARC-186 VHF-Frequency Modulated (line-of-sight) radios with a federated ARC-210 Gen V radio and install a new SATCOM antenna capable of providing 30-512 Megahertz frequency range. The capability is required to support daily mission requirements and operations for Air Education and Training Command. Responses are due May 24.

Icebreaker. VT Halter Marine told Defense Daily its winning Polar Security Cutter design is based on an evolution from a mature offshore vessel currently under construction. The company is working with Technology Associates, Inc (TAI) as the ship designer. On its website, TAI said it is “a leader among Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering firms on the US Gulf Coast.” It also claims to have a “vast and diverse library of technology information” made of in-service and proven designs. TAI’s president and CEO, Anil Raj, previously served as the president and chairman of Halter Marine Inc. While VT Halter did not release specific design features, it said their team is working to demonstrate the maturity and reliability to meet Coast Guard requirements. “We are pleased to be competitively selected as prime contractor and shipbuilder for this important program to support the mission of the U.S. Coast Guard and the nation’s needs,” parent company VT System CEO Tom Vecchiolla said in a statement

DDG-1002. The Navy plans to christen the last Zumwalt-class destroyer, the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002), during a ceremony on April 27 at the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works Shipyard in Bath, Maine. “The future USS Lyndon B. Johnson will serve for decades as a reminder of President Johnson’s service to our nation and support of a strong Navy and Marine Corps team,” Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said in a statement.

T-HST-1. The Navy also plans to christen the latest high-speed transport vessel, the future USNS Guam (T-HST-1) on April 27 in Okinawa, Japan. The Guam was originally bought by the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration and was then transferred to the Navy in 2012. The ship is an aluminum catamaran that aims to transport troops and equipment quickly into austere port conditions. It has 25,000 square foot mission-bay areas that can be reconfigured for any cargo requirement including transporting troops and equipment or supporting disaster relief.

THAAD Support. On April 23 the Missile Defense Agency awarded Raytheon a $399 million contract to provide support for the Saudi Arabia Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems. The contract announcement said this will provide long-lead hardware procurement and manufacturing, systems engineering and program management, obsolescence and reliability updates, maintenance planning, facility design support, and county support for Saudi Arabia’s systems. Defense Daily has learned this award will provide long term support for their THAAD sensor and radar systems. This is an undefinitized contract action and work will occur in Woburn, Mass., and is expected to be finished by July 2021. This was a sole-source acquisition.

CVN-69. The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) returned to its homeport in Norfolk, Va. on April 19 after it finished flight deck certifications in the Atlantic Ocean. The certifications ensure the flight deck and sailors that conduct flight operations are capable of safely launching and recovering aircraft. The Navy underscored this is a “major milestone” on the way for the ship being mission ready in accordance with the Optimized Fleet Response Plan. This step came after CVN-69 finished a planned incremental availability (PIA) that re-certified four aircraft elevators and overhauled most of the equipment that supports flight operations, like catapults, arresting gear, safety nets, and jet blast deflectors. During the certification CVN-69 completed over 400 daytime traps and about 200 nighttime traps.

LCS-18. The newest Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship, USS Charleston (LCS-18), arrived at its homeport of San Diego on April 19. LCS-18 was built at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., and was commissioned in Charleston, S.C., on March 2. On the way to San Diego, the Charleston transited through the Panama Canal. The ship is now under commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One (COMLCSRON ONE) control, until the future LCS Mine Countermeasures Division is established on the West Coast. Adding LCS-18 to San Diego makes 11 LCSs based in the city.

New DDS Director. The Pentagon on April 23 appointed a new director for its technology innovation office. Brett Goldstein, a former special adviser to the Navy, will lead the Defense Digital Service (DDS) following current director Chris Lynch’s decision to step down last week. DDS is the lead for programs such as the JEDI cloud competition and the Hack the Pentagon bug bounty effort. Goldstein has also served as both chief data officer and chief information for the City of Chicago.

Army IT Industry Day. The Army is holding an industry on May 7 at Fort Belvoir in Virginia for its new Enterprise IT as a Service (EITaaS) program. Army Cyber Command and Program Executive Office, Enterprise Information Systems will host the program, which detail requirements, the future program timeline and updates on when to expect OTA awards. Officials detailed EITaaS in an RFI released early April, which included plans to conduct 15 prototype projects across Army installations. The program will start with three pilot programs in 2019, followed by another five in 2020. EITaaS is intended to shift the Army’s enterprise technology modernization focus toward industry, bringing in contractor owned and operated IT.

NATO Procurement Tool. NATO’s information agency announced it will launch a new online procurement tool in the fourth quarter of 2019 meant to improve insight into upcoming business opportunities. The new tool, called “eProcurement,” will include a “Supplier Portal” and a “Sourcing Module,” in which NATO’s industry partners can receive updates on bids and contract awards.  “Our priority is to maintain a rich and engaging dialogue with the private sector to deliver the best capabilities and services to the Alliance. Implementing technology such as eProcurement is in line with this vision,” Simona Rocchi, NATO Communications and Information Agency’s interim director of acquisition, said in a statement. Officials are expected to provide further details on the new tool at the NITEC conference in May in Oslo.

Background Investigations. The president signed an executive order on April 24 to transfer authority for conducting background investigations from the Office of Personnel Management to the Pentagon. Officials said the move is to create a “more efficient, effective and secure background investigations operation.” DoD’s Defense Security Service will immediately assume responsibility for the program, and in the process will be renamed the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. The National Defense Industrial Association supported the move as an effort to speed the bureaucratic process that is currently experiencing large backlogs. “It’s a solid step that consolidates process and resources with the excellent work Pentagon officials have done to build the concepts and infrastructure of a modernized security clearance ecosystem,” NDIA officials wrote in a statement.

Cyber Hygiene Success. Federal agencies are applying patches to mitigate their network vulnerabilities faster than ever, according to the top cyber security official at the Department of Homeland Security. One of the first binding directives DHS released to federal agencies had to do with patch management, which took 149 days on average for federal agencies to complete after the release of a critical vulnerability, said Chris Krebs, the director of the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The average is now about 20 days, which is “impressive,” he said, adding that the target is around 15 days. “Keep moving down that lane and you can actually see real improvement,” he said.

5G Security. The Department of Homeland Security has established a new Broad Agency Announcement to acquire potential research projects and technologies to protect legacy, current and 5G mobile network communications, services and equipment against threats and vulnerabilities. The R&D project under the BAA is the Secure and Resilient Mobile Network Infrastructure, which “will provide a comprehensive approach” to the DHS Science and Technology Directorate’s “focus on securing all aspects of mobile communications through public private partnerships,” said William Bryan, the acting chief of S&T. Bryan’s agency and the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will host a joint SRMNI Industry Day on May 16 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the BAA.

Hellfire Missile Deal. Lockheed Martin has received a $723.6 million deal to deliver Hellfire II missiles to the Army as well as Lebanon, Netherlands and France, the Pentagon said Thursday. Work on the domestic and foreign military sales deal is expected to be completed by September 2022. Details have not been specified on the number of missiles included in the order. The Hellfire II missile was first developed in the 1990s.