Selva Out, Hyten in the Wings. Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the 10th vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired last Wednesday after a 39-year career. Over his career, Selva served as the commander of U.S. Transportation Command and flew 3,300 hours as a command pilot in aircraft including the C-5, C-17A, C-14B, C-37, KC-10, KC-135A and T-37. His likely successor, U.S. Strategic Command Commander Air Force Gen. John Hyten, has been approved by SASC for confirmation, but his vote on the Senate floor will wait until after lawmakers return from recess in September.
…Deployable Bombers. Hyten told lawmakers during his July 30 confirmation hearing that the Air Force currently only has six B-1B Lancer bomber aircraft ready for deployment, a result of frequent deployment cycles. They include five deployable B-1Bs that are split between Dyess AFB in Texas and Ellsworth AFB, S.D., and one test aircraft, while 15 other bombers are in depot. “The remaining 39 of 44 B-1s … are down for a variety of discrepancies and inspections,” he added.
Hurd to Retire. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) on Thursday announced his plans to retire from Congress in 2020, “in order to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.” Hurd, 41, was elected to Congress in 2014 and is a former CIA officer who served a tour of duty as an operations officer in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. He serves on the House Appropriations Committee’s military construction and veterans affairs subcommittee and on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He formerly served as the vice chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation and Operations. In 2018, his legislation H.R. 7327 “Strengthening and Enhancing Cyber-capabilities by Utilizing Risk Exposure Technology Act,” was passed and became law. Hurd is the sixth GOP House member to announce retirement in 2020 in recent weeks.
Bill Signing. President Trump on Friday signed H.R. 3877, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, into law after the bill passed the House July 25 and the Senate Aug. 1. The bill suspends the debt limit through July 31, 2021, and sets defense spending toplines at $738 billion for FY ’20 and $741.5 billion for FY ’21. It gets Congress through the final two years of spending caps under the 2011 Budget Control Act, avoiding the possibility of a return to sequestration.
F-35 Sub Work. Legacy Harris Corp. has been doing about $2.2 million of subcontractor work on the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and that is going to grow to about $2.7 million per shipset in the next few years based on recent wins the company had as part of the Tech Refresh III for the program, said Bill Brown, chairman and CEO of L3Harris Technologies. The new wins were mission computer, the aircraft memory system and Panoramic Cockpit Display, he on the company’s July 31 earnings call. Legacy L3 subcontract work on the F-35 is between $500 million to $600 million per aircraft, Chris Kubasik, vice-chairman and president and chief operating officer of L3Harris, said on the call. Brown said that as F-35 production ramps up, so will his company’s revenue from the program, making the program an important growth driver. Kubasik added that the scale that comes with merging L3 and Harris gives the company opportunities to bid on other parts of the F-35 “in the years ahead.”
UAV Test Flight. The Air Force’s 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force conducted an autonomous test flight on July 25 at Edwards AFB, Calif. A July 29 release stated the flight’s mission was to test a software suite that could make unmanned aerial vehicle flight safer. The “Testing Autonomy in a Complex Environment” or TACE test, served to verify an autonomy safety net built by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, and was conducted as part of AFRL’s Skyborg program to develop new software tools that inform new autonomous capabilities.
Brazil. President Donald Trump last Wednesday designated Brazil as a “major non-NATO ally,” which provides additional opportunities for military cooperation with the South American nation. Argentina is currently the only other country in South America designated as a major non-NATO ally, of which there are now 18 designees. Brazil will now be eligible to participate in cooperative research and development efforts with the U.S. Defense Department, receive expedited export processing for space technology, and have its companies bid on certain DoD maintenance and repair contracts outside of the U.S., among other benefits.
Antarctica. As competition between the U.S. and nations including Russia and China ramps up over the Arctic and its resources, a similar challenge is just waiting in the wings for Antarctica, said Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Charles Brown July 30 in Washington, D.C. “The Arctic … is kind of a precursor to the way I look at the Antarctic,” he said, adding, “The capabilities that we have in the Arctic are the same capabilities that we probably want to have in the Antarctic. And when I look at the competition, and the melting ice in the Arctic, and the competition with both Russia and China … we’ve got to pay attention to that.” Brown wants to see a boost in equipment including Air National Guard LC-130 “Skibird” aircraft and polar icebreakers, he noted. The 1961 Antarctic Treaty System set the continent aside for scientific research purposes, but is set to expire in 2048, Brown added.
Air Force Moves. Lt. Gen Anthony Cotton has been nominated to become the next deputy commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, serving under Commander Gen. Timothy Ray. Cotton currently serves as the as commander and president of Air University, part of Air Education and Training Command at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Prior to that assignment, he commanded the 20th Air Force, part of Air Force Global Strike Command and based at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.
People. Nazzic Keene became CEO of Science Applications International Corp. on Aug. 1, succeeding Tony Moraco, who retired after six years at the helm. Keene previously was chief operating officer. Leidos announced the promotion of Jim Carlini to chief technology officer. Carlini is a member of the Defense Science Board and previously worked at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and led Northrop Grumman’s advanced development programs at the Electronic Systems segment. Carlini succeeds Jim Cantor, who has moved to the newly created position of Chief of Performance Excellence and Strategic Partnerships, overseeing strategic sourcing, execution and mission assurance, and risk. And Northrop Grumman has appointed Todd Ernst as vice president of Investor Relations effective Aug. 5, succeeding Steve Movius, who will continue to serve as corporate vice president and treasurer until his planned retirement in early 2020. Previously, Ernst headed investor relations at General Electric and before that Raytheon.
…More from Leidos. Leidos last Thursday also announced it has entered into an accelerated share repurchase agreement with a financial institution to repurchase $200 million of the company’s common stock. The repurchases are to be completed before the end of this September and are part of the company’s existing share repurchase authorization. Leidos last week also announced a two cent, or 6 percent, increase in its quarterly dividend to 34 cents per share.
DARPA at DEF CON. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency this week will go up against thousands of hackers when it brings a demonstration version of a secure voting ballot box at the annual DEF CON hacking convention in Las Vegas. Hackers will have the opportunity to assess DARPA’s System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH), helping the agency to evaluate its progress on the program. The SSITH is aimed at strengthening hardware to protect against software exploits rather than just relying on software patches. “There a whole set of cyber vulnerabilities that happen in electronic systems that are at their core due to hardware vulnerabilities, or vulnerabilities that hardware could block,” says Dr. Linton Salmon, the SSITH program manager.
LCS-15. The Navy plans to commission the future USS Billings (LCS-15) during a ceremony on Aug. 3 in Key West, Fla. LCS-15 will be the newest Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship and was built by Fincantieri Marinette Marine under prime contractor Lockheed Martin. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) will deliver the ceremony’s principal address.
AARGM Award. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a $167 million contract for 263 full-rate production Lot 8 Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missiles (AARGM). The July 29 contract covers conversion of U.S. government-provided AGM-88B High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles into 260 AGM-88E AARGM all-up-rounds and three captive air training missiles. Work will be split between Northridge (80 percent) and Ridgecrest, Calif. (20 percent) and is expected to be finished by March 2022.
DDG-88 and 89. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) is conducting market research to determine industry capability and interest in performing the depot modernization period (DMP) for the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Preble (DDG-88) and USS Mustin (DDG-89) on the West Coast. The July 30 sources sought announcement at FedBizOpps is looking for sources that can perform pier-side maintenance, repaid, and alterations for the two ships. The Navy expects the DMP work to occur from Sept. 2022 to Feb. 2022 for DDG-88 and Sept. 2022 to Jan. 2023 for DDG-89. The Navy anticipates releasing a request for proposals around Oct. 15. Responses to this announcement are due Aug. 13.
…DDG-64 and 81. Similarly, on July 30 NAVSEA issued a similar sources sought notice on FedBizOpps to determine industry interest and capability in performing maintenance on the destroyers USS Carney (DDG-64) and USS Windston Churchill (DDG-81). The Navy is looking for industry to perform Extended Dry-Docking Selected Restricted Availability on the Carney and DMP on the Churchill on the East and Gulf Coasts. NAVSEA expects DDG-64 work to occur from July 2020 to Sept. 2021 and DDG-81 work to occur from March 2021 to Aug. 2022. The Navy expects to release an RFP around Aug. 30. Responses are due to this notice by Aug. 13.
Mine Countermeasures. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Small Business Programs Office issued a presolicitation inviting “innovative research concepts” in expeditionary maritime mine countermeasures (MCM). DARPA is particularly interested in understanding the feasibility of miniaturizing mine influence sweeping effectors to then be carried on expendable unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). DARPA is using a Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Opportunity to investigate the technology. The post noted delivery of MCM capabilities closer to mines than traditional sweeping systems “should allow for lower power output, significant reductions in cost, and the development of sweeping modalities beyond current programs of record.” Proposals are due between Aug. 13 and Sept. 12.
WMD Biometrics. Battelle has announced it has received a contract from DARPA to work on a program that improves the ability to use biometric information to determine an individual’s exposure to weapons of mass destruction. The Epigenetic Characterization and Observation program will look to build a field-deployable platform that quickly reads someone’s epigenome to identify if they’ve ever been exposed to WMD-relevant materials in their lifetime. “We’ll be developing methods to identify these signatures and how to interpret them for attribution—what did the person handle, when and for how long,” Dr. Rachel Spurbeck, the lead Battelle official for the project, said in a statement.
USMC IT Symposium. The Marine Corps will hold its next information technology stakeholder symposium in November which will focus on areas from cloud computing to preparing for 5G telecommunications. Industry is asked to send in responses to propose emerging technologies that should be discussing at the upcoming IT-ISO event. Marine Corps officials said technologies should be relevant to the National Defense Strategy and 2025 Marine Corps Operating Concept. Additional areas of interest include hardware virtualization, edge computing, software-defined networking and data center consolidation. The Marine Corps started IT-ISO in 2017 with the intent of establishing a forum for government labs, academia and industry to discuss technologies to improve warfighter capabilities. The first symposium was held this past April and data analytics, cyber security and AI.