Chairman of the Board. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s board of directors on July 8 appointed Thomas Corcoran as its independent chairman, effective immediately. Corcoran, who was on the slate of directors backing Eileen Drake, the company’s president and CEO, in her proxy fight against Warren Lichtenstein, the company’s now former executive chairman, has been a director at Aerojet Rocketdyne since 2008. He is also serves on the board of L3Harris Technologies.

…Other Corporate News.

Lockheed Martin’s board has elected retired Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart as a director effective July 15. Stewart retired from the Marine Corps in 2019, most recently as deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command. “As we continue our efforts to transform and advance 21st Century Security technologies, Lt. Gen. Stewart’s deep understanding of cyberspace operations will be a valuable asset to Lockheed Martin,” James Taiclet, the company’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. Stewart also served as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency before his assignment to Cyber Command. And Serco Inc., the North American business of Britain’s Serco Group, has appointed Tom Watson as CEO, effective Sept. 1. Watson, who is senior vice president of Serco’s North America Defense business, will succeed Dave Dacquino, who is retiring as CEO but will continue to chair the company’s board in the U.S.

OPC Progress. Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) last Friday conducted the keel authentication for the Coast Guard’s third offshore patrol cutter, the future USCGC INGHAM (WMSM-917). The keel laying represents the ceremonial start to the ship’s life. The first OPC, the ARGUS, is 75 percent complete and scheduled to be delivered in 2023. ESG is building the first four 360-foot medium-endurance class OPCs. Austal USA in June won a competition to build up to 11 OPCs under Stage 2 of the program.

Unfunded Priorities. The House voted 155 to 272 this week to defeat an amendment to its version of the NDAA that would have repealed the statutory requirement for the Pentagon to submit unfunded priorities lists to Congress. During floor debate, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a co-sponsor of the amendment, said “the mandate only exists to serve the interests of defense contractors eager to grow their profits by selling flashy equipment.” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, spoke in support of the amendment, calling it “incredibly important.” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the HASC ranking member, voiced his opposition to the measure during the debate. “We have to have that unfunded requirements list so we can know what they actually need and then we can then act. Because the fact is the president proposes budgets, we write budgets,” Rogers said.

Spectrum Superiority. The House’s version of the defense authorization bill says that DoD should provide Congress an unclassified version of the implementation plan for the department’s Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy “in all future upgrades to the plan.” The House provision came on an amendment to the bill proposed by Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), a member of the congressional electronic warfare working group. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved a classified version of the implementation plan in August last year after announcing the strategy in October 2020. Electromagnetic spectrum superiority underpins the four priorities of DoD’s National Security Strategy released this year, per Larsen’s amendment. The National Defense Strategy remains classified.

PEO Attack Subs. Rear Adm. Jonathan Rucker succeeded Rear Adm. David Goggins as Program Executive Office Attack Submarines (PEO SSN) during a change of command ceremony on June 30. Rucker last served as the Columbia-class submarine program manager. He also earlier served as program manager for Unmanned Maritime Systems, Assistant Program Manager for New Construction & Test to lead construction and test efforts for 12 submarines, and Assistant Program Manager for New Acquisitions in the Advanced Undersea Systems Program Office. In this new role, he will manage attack submarine acquisition, development and sustainment.

LPD-28. The future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship left HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard at Pascagoula, Miss., on July 11 to sail to its namesake commissioning site in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. LPD-28 is expected to be commissioned there on July 30. This is the 12th San Antonio-class ship delivered to the Navy by HII. Other class ships HII is building for the Navy include the future USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29) and the first Flight II ship in the San Antonio class, Harrisburg (LPD-30). Later in 2022, HII will also start fabrication on the Pittsburgh (LPD-31).

CVN-79. HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding said it has turned over the 1,000th of 2,616 compartments of the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) to the ship’s crew. The company has also installed over 9.8 million of a total 10.5 million feet of cable on the aircraft carrier. HII said it recently finished the electrical and engineering spaces, allowing sailors assigned to the pre-commissioning unit on the ship to increase training while final testing and outfitting continues. CVN-79 is expected to be delivered in 2024. Beyond CVN-79, HII is also building the future USS Enterprise (CVN-80) and Doris Miller (CVN-81).

LPD-24. The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) arrived in Rijeka, Croatia on July 4 to complete a schedule maintenance availability while strengthening relations with a NATO ally, the Navy said. LPD-29’s mid-deployment voyage repair (MDVR) is meant to allow the ship to finish corrective and preventative maintenance that cannot be accomplished while at sea. The Navy said being able to conduct the MDVR in Croatia “provides an excellent opportunity to conduct a deliberate reset and refresh on our equipment and for the Sailors and Marines. Our ability to work maintenance and resupply overseas with trusted allies and partners enables our sustained global presence,” Capt. Eric Kellum, Arlington’s commanding officer, said in a statement. LPD-24 arrived in port after an almost four-month deployment to the Naval Forces Europe area of operations. 

CVN-78. On July 13 Rear Adm. James Downey, Program Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers, said the newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) will be first deployed in a multinational exercise in the fall. “She’s on track to go this fall…we’ve got about seven other nations with other assets out there with her, including the French, and U.K. carriers. And we’ve got about three other nations on staffs. So there’s 10 other nations planned to be out there with her on the specifics.” CVN-78 achieved its initial operational capability in December and the Navy previously said it was planning to deploy it on its maiden voyage in the fall. The ship is undergoing training and preparations for the operational deployment after a six-month Planned Incremental Availability that partially repaired damage from a shock trial.

Supercomputing. BAE Systems said on July 13 it has received a five-year, $699 million deal from the Army for work supporting Defense Supercomputing Resource Center (DSRC) operations, including service for high-performance computer users. “Our team brings the high performing computing capabilities necessary to support the invaluable work of the DSRCs around the U.S.,” Lisa Hand, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions, said in a statement. “This award reaffirms the best-in-class experience our Huntsville team delivers for our government partners as a leading systems integrator of solutions and advanced technologies.” BAE Systems said the DSRC program, which is managed by the Army on behalf of the DoD, provides “supercomputing capabilities, high-speed network communications and computational science expertise that enable DoD scientists and engineers to conduct a wide-range of focused research and development, test and evaluation, and acquisition engineering activities.”

RDER Industry Day. The Pentagon has announced it will hold an industry engagement day for its Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER) initiative on July 26 at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. RDER is DoD’s new effort to help seek out emerging technologies that can address joint warfighting capability gaps, which is set to start in FY ‘23 with 32 projects sourced from the military services. “The private sector will play a key role in the RDER initiative,” Heidi Shyu, the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, said in a statement. “Engagements like these are essential to ensure that we all understand the warfighting challenges and solicit the most creative ideas from industry.” Shyu has previously said planning is underway for the second rapid experimentation sprint in FY ‘24, where the department will solicit industry’s ideas. DoD said the industry day will include several classified briefings and is set to cover information on RDER’s proposal cycle, technical priorities, capability challenges and opportunities for private sector engagement. 

SOFIC. The National Defense Industrial Association said on July 14 it will not hold its Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) next year, after the U.S. Special Operations Command had informed the organization it “will not execute SOFIC in 2023.” “NDIA is extremely proud of our strong partnership with USSOCOM and the exceptional conferences we presented over the past 12 years, including our very successful 2022 conference,” NDIA wrote in its note announcing the move. “NDIA will continue to work with all stakeholders to promote collaboration between government and industry to deliver innovative capabilities to our warfighters.” The annual SOFIC event had been hosted in Tampa, Florida.

NRO Pioneers. The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) on July 14 inducted two new agency “pioneers”–Kerry Rines and the late Paul Demshur–for their contributions to national reconnaissance innovation. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and NRO Director Chris Scolese participated in the ceremony. An Army veteran, Demshur “had more than 50 years of experience in military operations and all phases of overhead signals intelligence system development and operations,” the NRO said. “His valuable contributions advanced the legacy of national reconnaissance and helped make the world a better place.” Rines, who also worked at TASC and Northrop Grumman, “dedicated nearly 40 years to the NRO,” the agency said. “His contributions helped build NRO’s robust space-based architecture, with a legacy of solving tough challenges. His introduction and effective use of a number of new technologies benefited the agency and the community.” The addition of Rines and Demshur brings the number of NRO pioneers to 99, the agency said.

South Korea FMS. The State Department on July 15 approved a potential $130 million foreign military sale with South Korea for 31 MK 54 lightweight torpedoes. The deal also includes recoverable exercise torpedoes, air-launch accessories for rotary-wing aircraft, torpedo containers and spare parts. “The proposed sale will improve [South Korea’s] capability to meet current and future threats by defending its homeland and U.S. personnel stationed there,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency wrote in a statement. “Korea intends to utilize the MK 54 Lightweight Torpedoes on their MH-60R aircraft.”

Taiwan Support FMS. The State Department has also approved a potential $108 million deal with Taiwan for a blanket order covering contractor technical assistance support and related equipment. Taiwan has requested support work to cover spare parts, repair parts and assembly for tanks, combat vehicles, small arms, combat weapon systems and logistical support items to enhance “its ability to meet current and future threats,” according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. “The proposed sale will contribute to the recipient’s goal of maintaining its military capability while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allies,” the DSCA wrote in a statement. Contractors to support the deal will be determined from the Defense Logistics Agency’s list of approved vendors for the requested parts. 

Radford Ammo Plant. The Army on July 15 awarded BAE Systems Ordnance Systems a $1.3 billion deal to continue operating the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Virginia. BAE Systems has operated the plan since 2011 and its work at the facility includes the production of nitrocellulose and propellants.  Gen. Ed Daly, the head of Army Materiel Command, has previously said the service’s 15-year, $16 billion organic industrial base modernization plan includes building a new $400 million nitrocellulose chemical production facility at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant.