Online and On Time. Lockheed Martin said that it is on track with the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW). In February, the U.S. Air Force said that fiscal 2021 budget strictures caused it to discontinue its Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) effort with Lockheed Martin to focus on ARRW. The Air Force and Lockheed Martin said that ARRW completed a Critical Design Review (CDR) earlier this year. “I think the Air Force, Lockheed Martin and our suppliers are on the same page, really dedicated to bringing this capability online and on time,” said John Varley, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of Hypersonic and Strike Systems. “Through this difficult pandemic we’re going through, we are on track…We are on course doing both subsystem and system qualification and demonstration testing this year.”
WAM. The Navy awarded L3Harris Technologies a $48 million contract to design, develop, test, integrate and verify the Navy Wideband Anti-Jam Modem (WAM) and also provide engineering support services (ESS). WAM is the next generation of Navy wideband satellite communications modem set to be integrated with the Navy multiband terminal on ships and submarines. It will also be part of the modernization of enterprise terminal on shore for communications over the wideband global satellite communications constellation. The contract includes options to produce WAM and additional ESS that if exercised would raise the total contract value to $83 million. Work will largely occur in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Camden, N.J. If all options are exercised, work will last through August 2027. The contract was competitively procured with three offers received, but Naval Information Warfare Systems Command did not reveal the other two competitors.
JCREW. Naval Sea Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a $24 million modification to exercise an option for support equipment and operational level and depot level spares for Joint Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare (JCREW) Increment One Block One Systems. JCREW is a jammer aiming to defend against radio-controlled IEDs. This award combines purchases for Australia (88 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program and the Navy (12 percent). Work will occur in San Diego and is expected to be finished by June 2022. The company previously won its first full-rate JCREW production contract in 2017 and in 2018 won a $96.5 million modification for Increment One Block One systems in full-rate production.
ESB-4. The Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary sea base (ESB) USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4) left Naval Station Norfolk on July 27 for its maiden deployment to U.S. Naval Forces Africa’s area of operations with Expeditionary Strike Group 2. The ESB is designed around having aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging and command and control assets. It mainly supports aviation mine countermeasures and special operations missions, freeing up amphibious and surface combatant ships for other missions. ESB-4 is 784 feet long, has a 52,000 square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair and mission planning services, a four spot flight deck, mission deck and hangar, and space to staff several hundred personnel.
Sea Breeze. This week marked the end of the 20th Sea Breeze exercise among NATO members and partners in the Black Sea. Sea Breeze 2020 was a defensive NATO exercise to strengthen and fortify cooperation among participants. The Navy said this year’s iteration focused on sea and air operations allowing partners to train and build interoperability while keeping restrictions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Collective training exercises included maritime interdiction operations, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, search and rescue, and “free play” allowing training objectives outside scripted exercises. The exercise comprised 27 ships and 19 aircraft, including the USS Porter (DDG-78) and a P-8A Poseidon from maritime Patrol Squadron VP-47. DDG-78 is forward-deployed to Rota, Spain.
LHA-7. The newest America-class amphibious assault ship, USS Tripoli (LHA-7), left shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding’s shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., on July 24 to sail to its new homeport in San Diego. HII is the only builder of the large-deck amphibious ships and LHA-7 is capable of supporting the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Navy administratively commissioned the ship on July 15.
Space Force Caucus. The Senate is establishing a new bipartisan Space Force Caucus, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said on July 28. In remarks on the Senate floor, Gardner said the group will decide on leaders of the caucus in the coming weeks. “The Space Force will better organize the military to handle space operations and bring all military members working in the space domain under the same organizational umbrella,” Gardner said. “The caucus will provide my colleagues and their staffs the opportunity to learn more about military space operations and the critical threats that we face in the space domain.”
Anti-Ship Missile. The House Rules panel this week rejected a potential amendment to its fiscal year 2021 defense spending bill that would have restored $112.5 million funding for the Marine Corps’ ground-based anti-ship missile program, considered to be the commandant’s top weapons development priority. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) detailed his amendment during a House Rules meeting Tuesday, stating that the bill’s current cuts could lead to a nine-month delay in technology development efforts and “endanger the service’s ability to achieve an initial operational capability in fiscal year 2023, as currently planned.” The amendment was ultimately not selected to be considered on the floor.
Advanced Manufacturing. Carnegie Mellon University said June 29 it has entered into a $3.5 million cooperative agreement with the Army Research Laboratory to support development of machine learning-enabled additive manufacturing tools. The program is aimed at finding new opportunities for scaling up methods for 3D printing parts and improving the ease of use for additive manufacturing equipment. “Developing solutions to these problems via expeditionary manufacturing will permit the Army to manufacture parts quickly and reliably at the point-of-need,” university officials wrote in a statement.
DPA Funds. The Defense Department announced another new $31 million Defense Production Act Title III action on July 31.The agreement with North American Forgemasters aims to sustain and increase “critical industrial base capability for domestic production of ultra-large iron and steel forging in support of the U.S. Navy and Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.” The Pentagon said these funds will allow the company “to maintain and protect a skilled workforce during the disruption caused by COVID-19 while strengthening a vital domestic industrial capacity to produce ultra-large iron and steel forgings through infrastructure investments and development of specialized tooling.”
Target Practice. Boeing said that it added a second production line last month for QF-16 Full-Scale Aerial Target drones at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.—“The Boneyard”—to add to existing work at Boeing’s Cecil Field site in Jacksonville, Fla. The Air Force’s 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson is teamed with Boeing on the effort. Boeing said that it began converting retired F-16s into QF-16s in 2015 and that more than 120 aircraft are on contract to be modified, with over 40 percent of the QF-16s delivered so far. The QF-16s will be targets for air-to-air weapons, such as the Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder. QF-16s may also be part of the Air Force’s Skyborg program, which will use drones as “quarterbacks” for manned aircraft.
BAE Gets GPS Biz. BAE Systems last Friday said it has completed its $1.9 billion acquisition of the military GPS business from Raytheon Technologies, giving it a new product portfolio. The military GPS business includes anti-jamming and anti-spoofing technology to enable reliable navigation and guidance. The Iowa-based business has about 700 employees and a global installed base of more than 1.5 million devices on more than 280 airborne, ground and weapon system platforms. BAE is also touting the business unit’s development of M-Code, a next-generation GPS technology for more secure and anti-jamming capabilities for defense applications.
Satellite Security. The House Intelligence Committee last week passed along party lines the fiscal year 2021 authorization bill for the intelligence community that requires certain sensitive satellite components be purchased in the U.S. and incorporates the USA Telecommunications Act that would advance Open RAN technology and broaden competition against Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE. The bill also requires a National Intelligence Estimate on the threat of global pandemic diseases.
Election Security Test. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency last week hosted the third Tabletop the Vote nationwide exercise that included 2,100 state, local and federal officials to test election day plans. The “exercise demonstrates the unprecedented levels of coordination between all levels of government and the private sector to ensure the 2020 elections are decided by voters, free from foreign influence,” according to a joint statement by CISA and other stakeholders, including the National Association of Secretaries of State, the Election Assistance Commission and others. In addition to the nationwide exercise, which included participants from 37 states, they said other state and regional exercises have been taking place and that every state’s election infrastructure is being protected by intrusion detection systems called Albert sensors. They add that auditable paper records will backstop ballots cast by more than 90 percent of voters.
…A Little Help. To further aid election officials, CISA last Friday released a guide for vulnerability reporting, essentially a way to sort out how to go about having cyber security experts test your security to having someone fix any vulnerabilities that have been discovered and then consider sharing information with other affected parties. “Election officials have spent years beefing up security to their systems and closing these vulnerability gaps to keep our elections safe and secure,” said Christopher Krebs, the agency’s director. “Cyber security researchers can be great and responsible partners in this effort and we are creating this guide as a way to help state and local election officials understand the support they can offer and how to work with them in our collective, whole of nation effort to protect our elections.” The Guide to Vulnerability Reporting for America’s Election Administrators will help organizations benefit from cyber expertise that isn’t part of their organization.
Cyber Cup. Registration has begun for the second annual President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition that is open to individuals and teams from any federal executive branch agency, including the Defense Department and uniformed service members. The cup is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and was directed by President Trump in an executive order issued in May 2019. Competitors will be tested in areas from the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education Cybersecurity Workforce Framework, including cyber defense, cyber exploitation, forensics, and more. The competition is divided into two tracks, one for incident response and forensics, the other for exploitation analysis and vulnerability assessment analysis. Team registration is open until Aug. 14 and for individuals until Aug. 28 at www.cisa.gov/presidentscup.
Security Awards. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) announced 61 winners of the 2020 James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award. The public seminar presenting the awards was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The winners were chosen from 12,500 cleared facilities and it focuses on principles like far exceeding basic nations industrial security program requirement and providing leadership to facilities in establishing best practices while maintaining high security standards. Winners included various BAE Systems facilities, Bollinger Shipyards Lockport, General Dynamics Mission Systems, several Lockheed Martin facilities, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Rolls-Royce North America, and Thales Defense and Security.
MH-47G Chinooks. U.S. Special Operations Command has awarded Boeing a $265 million deal for nine MH-476 Chinook aircraft, the Pentagon said on July 31. Deliveries under the deal are expected to be completed by February 2023. The MH-47G is the SOCOM-specific configuration of the heavy lift platform.