Ungrateful Silicon Valley. General Dynamics Chairman and CEO Phebe Novakovic said Silicon Valley companies should do more to help the U.S. government and defense industry and show their gratitude for being part of a country that protects them and fosters an environment for them to succeed. Novakovic, in response to a question from Raytheon Chairman and CEO Tom Kennedy June 11 at the Boston College Chief Executives Club forum, said, “she’s frankly alarmed when I see some companies to whom so much is given not willing to work with the U.S. government. Who do they think provides them this freedom? Who do they think the platform for their technology innovation comes from? It comes from security and stability of this nation. So, I find as an American that’s troubling.” Google, at the behest of disgruntled employees, said last year it wouldn’t renew work with the Pentagon involving an artificial intelligence program.

…Room for Hope.

Novakovic told Kennedy that there are opportunities for Silicon Valley companies to cooperate and that some are, pointing out that Raytheon has “strategic alliances” with non-traditional suppliers,” a euphemism for high-tech companies and start-ups that typically stay away from government contracting because they find it cumbersome and slow. She said GD has offices in Silicon Valley but that hiring employees there is difficult “because we’re competing with some really high-end companies.” She added that it is the job of the defense industry to scour the country for “that rich body of research that we produce as a nation every year and figure out how do we make that work to enhance our national security.”

…A Nation Divided. The top two threats to the country are external and internal, Novakovic said in response to a question from Kennedy. The “exogenous” threats come from “peer and near-peer competitors who are not necessarily aligned with our value system or our interests.” She added, though, that the ongoing cancer of “anger and hatred” that is dividing the U.S. is a potentially existential threat. “You can destroy yourself much faster than an enemy can,” Novakovic warned. “Typically, great empires fall from the inside out. I worry an awful lot about that at the same time as I worry about some other serious threats. That’s something we need to have a national dialogue about.”

GPS III Payload Delivery. Harris has delivered the navigation payload for the Air Force’s seventh GPS III satellite, the company said Tuesday. Harris is on contract to deliver 10 navigation payloads for GPS III prime contractor Lockheed Martin, and is also on contract to provide the navigation signals for the Air Force’s GPS III Follow On satellites.

… And Ground System Upgrade. Lockheed Martin said Tuesday that it delivered the GPS III Contingency Operations (COps) software upgrade to the Air Force’s current ground control system on May 22. The upgrade will allow the service to command the next-generation GPS III satellites, the first of which launched in December 2018. The GPS COps program is meant as a placeholder program to allow the service to control both legacy GPS satellites and the new GPS III systems until the next-generation Operational Control System (OCX) Block 1 is delivered. Raytheon is currently developing the OCX capability.

U.S.-Poland Relations. President Trump said Wednesday new defense cooperation efforts with Poland include an additional 1,000 U.S. military personnel to join the 4,500 rotational troops already stationed in the Eastern European nation. He also announced the establishment of a new U.S. Division Headquarters (Forward), future combat training centers, and the standup of an Air Force MQ-9 ISR Squadron in Poland, among added infrastructure developments and new special operations forces capabilities in country. Warsaw has also recently announced plans to acquire the F-35A, pending FMS approval by the State Department.

2020 Democrat Debates. Most Hill defense authorizers and appropriators vying for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 have been approved to participate in the first debate, according to a DNC announcement Thursday. SASC members Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), HASC member Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and HAC-D member Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) have all reached the threshold to participate in the debate, to be held June 26-27. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Navy veteran, also made the cut of 20 candidates. However, HASC member and Marine Corps veteran Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) did not make the cut.

Space. Air Force Col. Jeremy Raley, the new chief of integrated experiments and evaluation at AFRL’s space vehicles directorate, encouraged more flexibility in procuring space systems in a June 12 presentation at SMI Group’s Military Space USA conference in Los Angeles, and lauded the Air Force’s new NTS-3 experiment, for which it contracted Harris to build NTS-3 as a test bed for advanced technologies to supplement GPS. “The cost to build something new is embracing diversity and includes some experimental capabilities,” he said.

MUOS Partnerships. New Zealand wants in on the Navy’s MUOS system, said Lt. Cmdr. Steve Mansfield, who leads international surveillance and targeting requirements for C4ISR for the New Zealand Defence Forces Wednesday. “We want access to MUOS” and the country is hoping to become a partner in the protected SATCOM program “before it disappears,” he said at the Military Space USA conference. The island nation, which includes about 9,500 troops, is exploring new military and commercial satellite communications solutions to support its missions in the Pacific Ocean, such as search-and-rescue, Mansfield said.

Frigate. An update to the Navy’s FFG(X) frigate presolicitation notice on FedBizOpps said the Navy intends to issue the full detail design and construction (DD&C) solicitation in upcoming weeks. This June 13 update changes the earlier notice that said this would happen by the fourth quarter of FY 2019. Four companies that participated in the earlier conceptual design (CD) contract are competing for the frigate: Austal USA, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Fincantieri Marinette Marine, and General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works. Lockheed Martin participated in the CD but in May decided not to further pursue the vessel. The 16 month-long CD phase ends this month.

VCNO. Adm. Robert Burke assumed his duties as Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) from Adm. Bill Moran on June 10. Moran himself is scheduled to succeed CNO Adm. John Richardson later this month. Burke previously served as chief of naval personnel from May 2016 to May 2019.

LCS-21. The Navy plans to christen the newest Freedom-variant littoral combat ship, the future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21), during a June 15 ceremony at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the Freedom-variant ship. LCS-21 will be homeported in Mayport, Fla.

LPD-31. Naval Sea Systems Command intends to issue Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) a solicitation for long lead time material for the San Antonio-class Flight II amphibious transport dock, LPD-31. The Navy posted a presolicitaiton notice to this effect to FedBizOpps on June 13. The Navy also intends to issue a follow-on solicitation for the detail design and construction (DD&C) of LPD-31. The notice did not list the expected date of solicitation, but said responsible sources can submit a proposal or statement by June 28. In March, the Navy awarded HII $1.7 billion to procure the DD&C for the first Flight II vessel, LPD-30.

Pacific Patrols. The Coast Guard’s 418-foot National Security Cutters Stratton and Waesche on June 12 left their homeport in Alameda, Calif., for months-long patrols in the Eastern and Western pacific, with the Stratton headed west in support of military operations under the U.S. 7th Fleet in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command operating area. Stratton will be replacing the NSC Bertholf, which left Alameda in January in support national security operations in the Western Pacific. Waesche will be conducting counterdrug operations in the Eastern Pacific.

Buy Commercial Cyber Security. The Defense Department and National Security Agency continue to over rely on the development of custom solutions and products from traditional defense contractors, including in the area of cyber security, where the commercial market often has superior capabilities that cost less, the Senate Armed Services Committee says in its version of the FY ’20 defense authorization bill. In Sec. 1641 of the bill, the committee says it “believes the entire DoD, and especially the NSA, should leverage the considerable investment, development, and talent in the commercial cybersecurity industry to satisfy the Department’s cybersecurity requirements.” Given that commercial cyber security products are often better than traditionally procured capabilities, “The Committee believes that the Department must therefore become a more educated consumer of commercially available and deployed cybersecurity products and services” and take advantage of the NSA expertise here as shown by the agency’s successful use of Sharkseer. Sharkseer was developed by NSA using commercial off-the-shelf technologies to detect zero day and advanced persistent cyber threats.

First Army HDTs. The Army has received the first batch of its future heavy dump trucks from Mack Defense, which is set to begin 40 weeks of durability testing starting in July. Mack Defense handed over five of the M917A3 HDTs at a ceremony with Army officials at its customer center. The Army awarded Mack Defense the HDT contract in May 2018, with the company set to deliver trucks through 2025. The M917A3 is based off the company’s Mack Granite truck and is built to meet Army requirements for increased occupant protection capacity, higher payload and improved mobility. Mack officials said the base model of the truck was outfitted with heavier-duty rear axles, all-wheel drive and increased suspension ride height for the Army-model trucks.  

Army Robots’ Network. Persistent Systems announced June 12 its Wave Relay mobile network technology will be integrated on QinetiQ’s small ground robot, marking the first time the Army will use a commercial network for a robotic program of record. QinetiQ received a $164 million deal in March for the Army’s Common Robotic System-Individual program to deliver a lightweight backapable robot outfitted with sensors to provide improved situational awareness on the battlefield. “The Persistent Systems Embedded Module form-factor is QNA’s MANET radio of choice for CRS(I), providing secure, long-range data communication for the small ground robots,” company officials said in a statement. QinetiQ has already placed low-rate production orders for Persistent Systems’ Wave Relay-enabling embedded module, which will be included on all the ground robots for the CRS(I) program.

PSS-T Upgrade. The Army released an RFI on June 11 to find a Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar counterfires capability for its Persistent Surveillance Systems-Tethered command system. The Army is looking to connect up to five PSS-T systems with the C-RAM capability, with eventual contracts to cover integration, testing and production for a ground control station. PSS-T is an Army C5ISR platform that utilizes a range of sensors to provide force protection and assist surveillance missions. “This integration effort will involve the building, testing, and evaluating hardware and software changes to the PSS-T ground control station,” officials wrote. “The contractor will have the responsibility of integration of systems for a holistic solution to interface sensors and command and control for slew to cue with C-RAM systems.”

Marine Corps MUOS. The Marine Corps has started fielding its next-generation narrowband SATCOM capability, the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), officials said June 12. Fielding began in the first quarter of 2019. MUOS includes a firmware update for the AN-PRC-117G radio systems as well as new antenna kits. The Marine Corps is the first service to widely employ MUOS, which is built to leverage cellular technology to increase users’ access to voice and data communication on the battlefield. “MUOS is essentially software and an antenna capability augmenting existing hardware. It’s similar to adding an application to a cellphone,” Noah Slemp, a Marine Corps Systems Command systems engineer, said in a statement. The Marine Corps is set to deploy thousands of antenna kits for the radios and hundred of diplexers to enable vehicles to access MUOS satellites.