Cochran Passing. Former Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) passed away May 30 at age 81. He served in Congress as first a House member then a senator for over 45 years, and eventually served as chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Agriculture Committees. Cochran was a Navy veteran who resigned from the Senate in April 2018 due to health concerns. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who succeeded Cochran following his resignation, announced his death Thursday.

CVN-75 RCOH. The Navy issued a presolicitation notice in the FedBizOpps on May 24 announcing it intends to award a set of sole-source contracts for maintenance services in support of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) upcoming refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) extended availability. The service intends to award the contracts to carrier shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding. This is one of the first steps the Navy will take in refueling refuel the Truman after a Trump administration-driven budget debate over whether to refuel the ship. After widescale Congressional opposition, President Trump cancelled the plan.

Nomination Hearings. The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing June 4 to consider the nominations of Air Force Space Command Commander Gen. John Raymond to become U.S. Space Command Commander and for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Director Christopher Scolese to become director of the National Reconnaissance Office.

SAC-D Hearings.  The Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee has scheduled two classified hearings next week with senior Pentagon leaders to consider budget justification for critical defense programs in FY ’20. On June 4, the subcommittee will consider nuclear modernization program funding requests with Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Lisa Gordon-Haggerty, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood and U.S. Strategic Command Commander Air Force Gen. John Hyten. On June 5, the subcommittee will consider defense innovation and research funding requests with Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin as well as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Director Steven Walker.

CVN-79. The future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) reached a milestone when shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) lowered the island house onto the carrier on May 29. The island is 56-feet long and 33-feet wide and will serve as the command center for flight deck operations. It will house the navigation bridge, primary flight control, and radar systems.  With the island installed, the ship is now over 90 percent structurally complete. NNS compared this action to the topping out of a skyscraper. “It symbolizes nearing the end of structural work and the start of bringing the ship to life, transitioning steel and cable to a living ship and crew,” Rear Adm. Brian Antonio, Program Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers, said in a statement.

…Digital Help. NNS underscored digital technology helped mark the exact location where the company had to land the island. “Landing the island is a key milestone in preparing the ship for launch in the fall,” Jennifer Boykin, president of NNS, said in a statement. “Reaching this milestone on schedule demonstrates the significant lessons learned we are applying to this ship’s construction, as well as the strides we’ve made to use new technologies to gain efficiencies,” she added. The company said using digital work instructions for construction of CVN-79 provides shipbuilders digital 3-D data that increases efficiency and productivity compared to use paper drawings. HII added the ship is scheduled to move from the dry dock to an outfitting berth in the fourth quarter of 2019, three months ahead of schedule.

BAE Contract Award. The Air Force on Wednesday awarded BAE Systems a not-to-exceed $39.5 million undefinitized contract action for the France MQ-9 FMS Sensor Pod effort. The sensor pods will be used on the French Air Force MQ-9 Block 5 aircraft and Block 30 Mobile Ground Control Stations. Work will be performed in Nashua, N.H., and is expected to be complete by April 30, 2023. The contract involves 100 percent foreign military sales to France.

Airbus to Build Inmarsat Satellites. Inmarsat has selected Airbus to continue as its satellite manufacturing partner for the next iteration of the Global Xpress network, the company announced Thursday. The new contract is for the manufacture of three next-generation GX satellites (GX7, 8 and 9), with the first system scheduled to launch in 2023. Airbus plans to launch its Onesat product line for the program.

Kessel Run Contract Award. The Air Force on Thursday awarded Pivotal Software Inc. a $121.4 million ceiling, fixed-base, production, other transaction agreement for support of the service’s Kessel Run program. “This agreement provides for utilization of the prototyped methodology and the software and services that support them across the entire Air Force Air Operations Center, serving as a follow-on to the successful prototype agreement between Pivotal Software and the Army Contracting Command-New Jersey,” said a May 30 press release. Work will be performed primarily in Boston and Cambridge, Mass.; and Washington, D.C., and is expected to be complete by May 30, 2020. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition. Fiscal year 2019 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $668,750; and fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $19.1 million, are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity.

Cyber Security Spotlight. Election officials nationwide should read the latest annual data breach report from Verizon, to familiarize themselves with the major trends in data breaches to better focus their cyber defense, the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center, which helps state, local and tribal and territorial governments improve their cyber security posture. The MS-ISAC “Cybersecurity Spotlight” highlights that the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report issued in early May shows that 16 percent of breaches it identified affected public sector entities. “For example, cyber-espionage, privilege misuse, and insider errors represent 72% of all breaches affecting the public sector, while phishing was the most pervasive attack vector resulting in data breaches overall, so priority should be given to protecting against those particular threats,” the MS-ISAC says.

AI Commission. The new National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence has met for the second time since its inception, receiving a series classified of briefings the group will use to inform policy recommendations and strategies to be included in a report delivered by August. The latest meeting took place in Cupertino, Calif. on May 20. The group includes executives from major tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle, as well as former government officials, and was established in January following a directive in the latest National Defense Authorization Act.  “In an era of great power competition, the Pentagon and others in the national security community must take on the AI challenge with a sense of purpose and clear objectives,” former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, the commission’s vice chair, said in a statement. Members of the new commission have received over 50 classified and unclassified briefings in various working groups over the last two months.

HDT Armored Cabs. Mack Defense announced on May 28 that Pennsylvania-based manufacturer JWF Defense Systems will provide the armored cab system for the Army’s future Heavy Dump Truck. JWF is tasked with fabricating the complete armored cab system on the M917A3 HDT. The armored cab was originally designed by Tencate Advanced Composites and will now be manufactured by JWF with Jankel BLASTech seating. The Army tapped Mack Defense to provide its future HDT in May 2018, with a plan to deliver over 680 vehicles. Work on the new armored cabs has already started, according to Mack officials, and will continue over the course of the current contract through May 2025.

Alaskan Exercise. The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), ships from Carrier Strike Group Nine (CSG-9), and members of the Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps finished the Northern Edge 2019 (NE19) Exercise on May 24, the largest biannual joint training exercise in Alaska. NE19 was designed to prepare forces to respond to crises in the Indo-Pacific region. More than 10,000 service members and about 250 aircraft from active duty, reserve, and National Guard units participated in the exercise. NE19 occurred in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, which consists of over 60,000 miles of airspace. The last time a carrier participated in Northern Edge was 2009. Naval participants beyond CVN-71 and Carrier Air Wing 11 included the destroyers USS Russell (DDG-59), USS Kidd (DDG-100), USS John Finn (DDG-113), and replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187).

SWATH Ships. The Navy announced an industry day for T-AGOS(X)-class Small Waterplane Twin Hull (SWATH) ships to replace currently aging Military Sealift Command vessels. The industry day will be on June 26 in Washington, D.C. The replacement SWATH program specifically seeks to recapitalize and improve existing capability provided by four T-AGOS-19-class ships and one T-AGOS023 class ship by adding seven new vessels. The industry day’s goal is to provide interested parties with information to help with understanding current technical requirements and projected near-term schedule of an upcoming industry series solicitation. It also seeks to get industry feedback on overall draft contract requirements.

End of Road. On May 28 the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Pittsburgh (SSN-720) arrived at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton to start the inactivation and decommissioning process. Traveling to Bremerton involved the submarine leaving its last homeport of Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn. and making its first Arctic transit. SSN-720 finished its last deployment in February. The submarine was commissioned in 1985.

FMS Bomb Contract. The Air Force on May 31 awarded Boeing a $35 million modification to a previously awarded IDIQ contract for the integration, sustainment and support of the Small Diameter Bomb Increment I (SDB-I) miniature munition for FMS countries. This modification involves foreign military sales to Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Israel, South Korea, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Singapore, and any other future country with an approved letter of offer and acceptance. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri; Air Force test ranges worldwide; and various other countries. Work is expected to be complete by April 15, 2029. No funds are being obligated at the time of award but the modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $100 million.

More AMRAAMs. Raytheon was awarded May 31 a $9.2 million fixed-price incentive firm contract modification to a previously awarded contract for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) program. The modification provides for the procurement of 24 AMRAAM AIM-120D Captive Air Training Missile guidance sections for the Navy. Work will be performed in Tucson, Arizona, and is expected to be complete by Feb. 28, 2022. Fiscal 2018 production funds (Navy) in the full amount are being obligated at the time of award.