Goldfein Timeline. Despite the rotation of the three other service chiefs of staff this year, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein will remain in his role until July 2020, the service’s director of public affairs Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas told Defense Daily Wednesday. That will culminate Goldfein’s four-year term as chief of staff, which he began July 1, 2016, Thomas noted. The other chiefs of staff, who are each being replaced this year, were on a separate rotation schedule, having all begun their assignments in 2015.
Global Hawks. The Air Force continues to fly RQ-4 Global Hawks for ISR missions despite a recent incident in which Iran shot down a Navy variant of the UAV last week, Goldfein said Wednesday. “We continue to fly where we need to, when we need to be there and as we do in all scenarios,” the chief of staff said at a breakfast event in Washington, D.C. “This is a conversation we can have in the South China Sea; this is a conversation we can have anywhere in terms of international airspace in the global commons,” Goldfein added. “We continue to protect those global commons, we continue to operate where we need to operate.”
RFI. AFRL on Tuesday released an RFI via FedBizOpps seeking new technologies and solutions related to passive EO/IR sensor capabilities with low size, weight and power for use in smallsat constellations in low-Earth orbit. These technologies could end up performing “high-altitude balloon flight testing” to occur next fiscal year and beyond, followed by a satellite demonstration in LEO, the RFI said. Responses are due Aug. 29.
Arms Sales. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday passed the Saudi Arabia False Emergencies (SAFE) Act out of committee, in an effort to block President Trump’s use of emergency authorities to sell over $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The new bill, which must be taken up by the Senate, would restrict the use of emergency authorities within the current Arms Export Control Act for use with only certain countries: NATO member nations, Australia, Israel, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. The committee’s chairman, Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), opposed the bill, leaving its future uncertain.
Pitch Days. Fresh off of the success of its inaugural “Pitch Day” event in March, which brought small, emerging businesses in contact with Air Force program managers who signed contracts on the spot in New York City, the Air Force has scheduled a total of 14 Pitch Days through the end of 2019, service SBIR/STTR director David Shahady said June 21. The Air Force hopes to expedite the contracting process for new and emerging technologies and “think more like a venture capital business” through the events, Shahady said in an interview in Dayton, Ohio. While the specific topics and dates for all of those Pitch Days have not been publicly announced, two space-related Pitch Days will take place in the fall in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Kaman Hones Focus. Kaman Corp. has agreed to sell its Industrial Distribution segment to the private equity firm Littlejohn & Co. for $700 million in cash, allowing it to focus on its Aerospace segment that designs and manufactures components, structures and systems for commercial and military customers. Kaman said its Aerospace business has nearly 3,000 employees and is expected to generate between $730 million and $760 million in sales this year. “For Kaman this transaction represents an important milestone in our portfolio transformation and the culmination of a thorough strategic review undertaken by our Board of Directors,” said Neal J. Keating, Kaman’s chairman, president and CEO. “Our strengthened balance sheet will better position the company to invest in and build our higher margin, higher growth aerospace and engineered products business to enhance shareholder value.”
…The Meaning of it All. Capital Alpha Partners aerospace and defense analyst Byron Callan said Kaman’s portfolio reshaping is part of a trend away multi-industrial companies. The pending sale by Kaman “is another bit of evidence that multi-sector companies with very different businesses are falling out of fashion and are shedding or separating lower margin/return businesses from higher margin/return ones,” he said in a June 28 note to clients. “This trend may still play through some defense contractors which possess a mix of services and product businesses.” The multi-industrial corporation United Technologies Corp. last November announced it would separate its aerospace and defense, elevator, and climate, controls and security segments into three separate businesses. UTC more recently agreed to merge its aerospace and defense company with Raytheon.
New Confirmations. The Senate last Thursday confirmed Christopher Scolese to be the director of the Defense Department’s National Reconnaissance Office, which designs, builds, launches and maintains the intelligence community’s satellites. Before his confirmation, Scolese served as director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center since 2012. The Senate also confirmed Veronica Daigle to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness. Previously, she was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness.
Cyber Security Shortcomings. The federal government continues to lack in the implementation of cyber security best practices and standards, leaving their networks vulnerable to data breaches, according to a report prepared by a Senate investigative panel. The review of agencies’ Inspector General reports going back 10 years as well as other government audits found “sustained vulnerabilities,” the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said in its June 25 report. It said, “the Subcommittee finds that the federal government has not fully achieved its legislative mandate under FISMA and is failing to implement basic cybersecurity standards necessary to protect America’s sensitive data.” The panel is part of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
T-ATS 7. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer announced on June 21 the newest Towing, Salvage, and Rescue ship will be named the USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7). Gulf Island Shipyards previously won a $65 million contract option for the detail design and construction of a new ship, based on existing commercial towing offshore vessel designs. This new class will replace the current T-ATF 166 and T-ARS 50-class ships in service in the Military Sealift Command. These ships will serve as open ocean towing vessels that also support salvage and submarine rescue operations. T-ATS 7 will be the second ship in the new class, will be built at the company’s Houma, La., shipyard and is expected to be finished by July 2021. Gulf Island Shipyards’ contract includes options for up to six additional vessels, with each named after prominent native Americans or Native American tribes.
Sea Breeze. 6th Fleet will participate in the 19th Sea Breeze (SB19) multinational maritime exercise next month, which will feature 29 countries, 32 ships, 24 aircraft, and over 3,000 military personnel. Sea Breeze is scheduled for July 1-12 and intends to “build combined capability and capacity to ensure maritime regional security and foster stronger friendships among partnering nations.” SB19 will be co-hosted b the U.S. and Ukraine and the Navy expects participants to conduct exercises focusing on protecting critical infrastructure, force protection, and maritime security operations.
TRAPS. The Navy awarded Leidos a $73 million sole-source contract for the Transformational Reliable Acoustic Path System (TRAPS) on behalf of the maritime Surveillance Systems program office in Program Executive Office Submarines. TRAPS complements fixed surveillance systems and the surveillance towed array sensor system. The award announcement argued this “provides flexible and responsive wide area surveillance for theater antisubmarine warfare commanders worldwide.” The award has a three-year ordering period up to $73 million with no options. Work will occur at Long Beach, Miss., and is expected to be finished by June 2022. Funding will only be obligated as individual delivery orders are issued.
DoD CIO/5G. Pentagon CIO Dana Deasy told reporters on June 25 the department is beginning to explore options for military bases where 5G technologies will be tested and ultimately integrated. Deasy said DoD has worked through a series of use cases for 5G tools and is looking to expand capability opportunities for the future telecommunication technology, such as dynamic spectrum sharing. “It’s the idea of low latency, high broadband and Internet of Things. And so we’re saying what bases throughout the U.S. can we establish a 5G presence in and test these different concepts in,” Deasy said. “Right now, that list is being assembled. There will be bases from all the various services and we’ll test out a bunch of different capabilities.” Deasy also reiterated the need for the Pentagon to support the domestic industrial base working in the 5G space, as international competition picks up with companies such as China’s ZTE and Huawei. “I’m probably not in a position right now to forecast what I think the future of [5G infrastructure] will look like. I think as a nation we do need to step up and look very strongly at how do we create more domestic capability,” Deasy said.
Estonian Missiles. Estonia has agreed to a $45 million deal with Eurospike to purchase SPIKE electro-optical missiles. The deal was finalized during a ceremony last week, and includes SPIKE-LR anti-tank guided missiles and launchers. Eurospike is a joint venture formed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Diehl Defense and Rheinmetall. Estonia is now the 32nd country to acquire SPIKE missiles and the 19th in the European Union and NATO.
GDIT/Air Force. GDIT said June 26 it has received a new deal, worth up to $217 million, from the Air Force to continue support services for the Air Force Distributed Common Ground System. “GDIT’s team developed and implemented the initial design for this global network. We will leverage this expertise to maintain current network technology while seamlessly modernizing the Air Force’s global network into a next-generation posture,” Leigh Palmer, head of GDIT’s defense division, said in a statement. The AF-DCGS is the Air Force’s primary ISR weapon systems and GDIT has supported the platform for over 20 years. The latest task order covers network administration and engineering, information assurance, computer network defense and C4ISR engineering work.
Space Command Leader. The Senate on Thursday confirmed Air Force. Gen. John Raymond to lead the recently reformed U.S. Space Command. Raymond currently serves as chief of Air Force Space Command, and he will remain in the role dual-hatted as commander of Space Command. The administration is establishing U.S. Space Command as the newest combatant command as part of a broader push to prioritize the DoD’s space focus, including a proposal to stand up a Space Force as the sixth military branch.