Air and Space Forces Symposium. This year’s Air & Space Forces Association Warfare Symposium on March 6-8 in Aurora, Colo., comes as U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown is a top contender for the Biden administration’s pick as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to replace Army Gen. Mark Milley. The symposium is to feature discussions with defense industry leaders, Brown, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, and other Air Force and Space Force officials. Among the displays will be those by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) that feature the Tactical High Power Operational Responder (THOR), a counter-swarm electromagnetic weapon AFRL developed for air base defense; fusion-based target recognition systems; a Rotating Detonation Engine (RDE) that has no moving parts and burns fuel through a supersonic detonation wave to increase system range and speed and lower costs; the MUTANT program to improve missile flight control actuation and increase missile range and kill rates against highly maneuverable targets; the QUICKSINK program, a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration that involves Air Force technology for low-cost, anti-ship precision seekers; and other systems developed in response to the needs of military forces in the field.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle, the AFRL commander, is to moderate a symposium panel on the morning of March 8 on Transitioning to a Wartime Posture Against a Peer Competitor. Panelists scheduled to take part in the discussion are David Tweedie, the general manager for advanced products at GE Edison Works; Andre McMillian, the vice president of sustainment operations in the military engines arm of Raytheon Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney; and Brian Morrison, vice president and general manager of Cyber Systems.
Ukraine Oversight. U.S. weapons sent to Ukraine are being put to good use on the battlefield and the “U.S. government has not seen credible evidence of any diversion of U.S.-provided weapons outside of Ukraine,” Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee last Tuesday. The Defense Department has “been ensuring accountability” to address “the risk of illicit diversion” of these weapons, she said.
…End Game Concerns. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), who says he has supported all the U.S. appropriations on behalf of Ukraine in its war against Russia, warned Wallander that “There’s a growing concern about where this ends and how it ends.” Stewart cited President Biden’s recent remarks that the U.S. will support Ukraine for “as long as it takes,” but asked “what does that mean?” He added that “I’m afraid that our goals or Mr. Zelenskyy’s goals may not be aligned. When he says, “We will expel every Russian from Eastern Ukraine and from Crimea,’ that simply may not be possible. Not without broadening and expanding this or in a way that I think the American people would not support and I think we’ve got to define this.” Wallander answered: “The President has stated that his goals for this horrible war…is a strategic failure for Russia. That we have a Ukraine that is secure within its internationally recognized borders.”
TWV Strategy. The Army’s new tactical wheeled vehicle (TWV) strategy will be submitted for senior leaders’ review and approval around November, according to Col. Beth Behn, the service’s chief of transportation. Behn told attendees at NDIA’s TWV conference in Columbus, Ohio this week that the new strategy is intended to inform the Army’s budgeting outlook for 2026 and beyond. “My charge is to have that strategy developed and handed to Army senior leaders before the holidays, so that they’ve got time to consider that heading into the [Program Objective Memorandum] offsite in January ‘24,” Behn said.
Sustainment CFT. Tim Goddette, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for sustainment, said this week there’s a “really good chance” the Army establishes a new cross-functional team (CFT) for sustainment. “I think where we’ve seen the real advantage of CFTs is [with] the access to senior leaders and some of the decisions that they get,” Goddette told attendees at NDIA’s Tactical Wheeled Vehicles Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Following his remarks, Goddette told reporters the Army’s emphasis on preparing for “contested logistics” would support the need for a CFT focused on sustainment. Goddette said such a CFT would sit under Futures Command and bring together teams from Army Materiel Command, Training and Doctrine Command and the Army’s acquisition office. “A Cross-Functional Team that can bring that group together is probably a good idea,” Goddette told reporters.
Boeing Nominee. Boeing’s board has nominated Sabrina Soussan, who is German and French, to be a new director. Soussan, 53, is currently chair and CEO of SUEZ SA, a Paris-based global utility company specializing in water and waste management, and, if elected, would be Boeing’s first board member outside the U.S. Before joining SUEZ, she was CEO at the Swiss company dormakaba, a global company focused on access and security solutions. Soussan also spent 20 years with Siemens AG, including roles as division and business unit CEO and as an engineer in transportation, automation and energy management sectors. Soussan’s nomination will be voted on at Boeing’s annual shareholder meeting on April 18.
FRC Delivery. Bollinger Shipyards last week delivered the 52nd 154-foot fast response cutter to the Coast Guard, the USCG Maurice Jester, which will be the third of six FRCs that will be homeported in Boston. Bollinger is under contract for 65 of the Sentinel-class vessels, with the last one slated for delivery in 2025. The ships typically operate in the littorals and have a five-day endurance, performing multiple missions.
Top Dog. IDEMIA last week said its facial recognition algorithms were the top performer in the most recent National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Facial Recognition Vendor Test, scoring 99.88 percent correct matches out of 12 million face images. The company said 114 algorithms were tested.
Marines Tour Shipyards. Senior Marine Corps officials visited several Gulf Coast shipyards this past week. Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration, and Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources, visited HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding facility in Pascagoula, Miss., and Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile Ala., on March 2 alongside House Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee leadership. Austal said they talked about growing ship construction and repair capacity along with tours of their facilities. Then, on March 3, Bollinger Shipyard in Lockport, La., announced it hosted Mahoney for a visit as well. HII builds several amphibious ships while Austal and Bollinger are two of five companies that previously won government funding for preliminary design work on the Landing Ship Medium (LSM), previously called the Light Amphibious Warships. The LSM will be used to transport Marine Littoral Regiments.
Galinis Bullish On 3-D Printing. The leader of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) recently said he thinks the Navy needs to move faster on additive manufacturing, also called 3-D printing. “That’s a technology that we, frankly within NAVSEA, I think we need to move quicker on,” Vice Adm. William Galinis said during the National Defense Industrial Association’s (NDIA) annual Expeditionary Warfare Conference on Feb. 23. He added the service is moving beyond using it to make simple low priority things like cupholders. “We put some additive manufacturing capability on submarines…it’s amazing when you do get this capability into the hands of our Sailors and Marines and how they use it. And so I think we’ve got to be better at learning those lessons, get those lessons back, but also providing them with some real guidance.” Galinis said once they start making more higher end metal components via this method NAVSEA needs to figure out how to quickly certify that component, once the designs are validated.
…Shipbuilding Helper? Galinis also said he sees it as a possible solution to shipbuilding production issues and efficiencies. “I will tell you that if you take a little bit more of a step back on the shipbuilding side, I really see [metallic] additive manufacturing as a potential solution for some of our challenges when it comes to castings and forgings and things like that. That might be a good substitute as we get into that…there’s a lot of opportunity in the additive manufacturing areas.”
SECNAV Names SSN-808. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced the future Virginia-class attack submarine SSN-808 will be named USS John H. Dalton (SSN 808) on Feb. 28. The vessel is named after the 70th Secretary of the Navy who served from 1993 to 1998. Dalton also served on two submarines earlier in his career. Del Toro made the announcement during the U.S. Naval Academy’s Submarine Officer Selectee Dinner.
…And Renames CG-62 . Del Toro also announced on Feb. 27 the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, previously called the USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), will be renamed USS Robert Smalls (CG-62). The decision came after a congressionally mandated Naming Commission detailed several military assets that should be renamed due to their Confederate-based names, including CG-62 named in honor of a Confederate victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville during the Civil War. Last September, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin accepted all of the commission’s recommendations and gave each service until the end of this year to rename them. Del Toro is renaming the ship after Robert Smalls, a sailor and navigator who escaped slavery in Charleston by stealing the Confederate steamer Planter alongside his family, other enslaved people, and valuable military cargo after being conscripted to pilot the ship. Smalls surrendered the ship to the U.S. Navy and ultimately became captain of the Planter and other naval vessels. Following the war, he fought for civil rights, served as brigadier general of the South Carolina militia, served in the South Carolina legislature from 1868 to 1874, and in 1874 was elected to the House of Representatives for five terms. CG-62 is currently assigned to Carrier Strike Ground Five and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.
U.S. Space Force Digital Infrastructure. General Dynamics’ information technology (GDIT) business unit said that the U.S. Space Force has awarded the unit an $18 million, 18-month Other Transaction Authority contract to develop a prototype digital infrastructure “that allows secure file sharing and collaboration for government and industry partners.” The unit said that, under the contract, it will also integrate “a cloud capability to enable a scalable solution for future U.S. Space Force enterprise requirements.” To execute the contract, GDIT said that it will leverage “its expertise in digital engineering and Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) – the application of cybersecurity solutions in classified environments – to deploy a prototype architecture that enables cross-domain access among mission partners with different security level requirements.” Brian Sheridan, GDIT’s senior vice president for defense, said in a statement that the prototype “is a key component of Space Force digital dominance” and that the system “will further drive effective and secure information sharing, which is critical to the broader Joint All Domain Command and Control strategy.”
AMPV. The Army on March 2 awarded BAE Systems a $245.6 million deal for the purchase of “early order materials” to support the upcoming first full-rate production contract for the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV). Doug Bush, the Army’s top acquisition official, told reporters on Jan. 25 the full-rate production decision for AMPV is expected “soon.” The BAE Systems-built AMPV is the Army’s replacement for its legacy M113 armored personnel carriers. The AMPV program is currently in low-rate production, and the Army has said it has an overall acquisition objective for 2,897 vehicles.
IG For Ukraine Oversight. Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) introduced a bill on March 2 to establish a Senate-confirmed Special Inspector General position tasked with overseeing U.S. assistance provided to Ukraine. “The United States has been sending endless money to Ukraine despite a lack of oversight and without putting any pressure on our European allies to do the same. It is far past time U.S. lawmakers stop writing blank-checks to Ukraine and demand a strict accounting of where these tax dollars are actually going,” Hawley said in a statement. The bill would direct the the new Special Inspector General for Ukraine Assistance’s office to submit quarterly reports to Congress on “obligations and expenditure of U.S funds and the provision of military equipment.” “Reports will also track the Ukrainian government’s compliance with anti-corruption measures, and comparisons of America’s contribution to the war effort versus those from our NATO allies,” according to a joint statement from Hawley and Vance on their bill.