New Boeing Hire. Boeing has named Ed Dandridge, the global chief marketing and communications officer at multinational finance and insurance giant AIG, as its new communications chief effective Sept. 28. Dandridge will succeed Greg Smith, Boeing’s executive vice president of Enterprise Operations and chief financial officer, who has been serving as interim head of communications since replacing Niel Golightly, who resigned in July following revelations that more than 30 years ago he had questioned whether women should serve in combat. Dandridge will report to Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun and service on the company’s Executive Council. Dandridge, who began his career as a lawyer, joined AIG in April 2018 from Marsh & McLennan Companies where he was also global chief marketing and communications officer.
The U.S. is lagging other developed countries in the support provided to companies through research and development tax incentives from the federal and state governments, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) says in a new report. ITIF, a think tank focused on science and technology policy, says that tax support for R&D in the U.S. accounts for 9.5 percent of R&D spending in the economy and should be raised to at least 15.5 percent to be “close to par among comparable countries.” The report says the U.S. ranks 24th in a comparison group of 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development plus Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Counter Drone Eval. U.S. Special Forces for the past year have been evaluating a counter-drone technology developed by U.S. and Israeli defense agencies and the Israeli company XTEND. The SKYLORD system uses a drone to slam into another drone in mid-air to mitigate a potential threat. SKYLORD’s application programming interface allows the system to securely connect into any detection system being used. After the detection system locates a drone threat, SKYLORD will automatically engage and defeat the threat. An operator equipped with an augmented reality display can monitor and assist if needed. Israel’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development and the U.S. Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office are part of the development effort.
AFA Agenda. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett is to kick off the Air Force Association’s virtual Air, Space & Cyber Conference from Sept. 14 to 16. Recently minted Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Q. Brown is to follow her address. Air Force Gen. Timothy Ray, the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, is to be a panelist in a Sept. 14 discussion on The Right Mix of Stand-in/Stand-off Capability, which will likely address such modernization topics as hypersonic weapons and the Northrop Grumman B-21 stealth bomber. On Sept. 15, Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, the chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force, and Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper are to speak about their priorities. The virtual conference will also include industry briefings and a Sept. 16 discussion with Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.)—a retired Air Force brigadier general, and Richard McConn, the chairman of the board of the National Defense Industrial Association, on whether the Air Force is receiving “its fair share” of the DoD budget.
New Air Force Vanguard Programs. The U.S. Air Force may name new Vanguard programs next year to follow the current three: Skyborg, Golden Horde, and Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3). On Sept. 11, Air Force Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, the commander of Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), said that AFRL’s Transformational Capabilities Office (TCO) had reached Initial Operational Capability. The TCO has introduced initiatives to shape the service’s Science & Technology (S&T) portfolio, including the selection of the first Vanguard programs and a new process called WARTECH to provide collaboration among military operators and technologists. During a recent WARTECH summit, personnel discussed future force requirements and advanced technology demonstrations that have potential to be commissioned as Air Force Vanguard programs. Jeff Palumbo, TCO’s WARTECH lead, said that his team will introduce the next set of Vanguard candidate programs during next year’s Capability Development Council session.
Unmanned Plan. The Navy’s top requirement officer said he expects the service’s unmanned campaign plan to be ready by the fall. “It will probably be matured in the fall timeframe. I don’t have a specific date, but I would also say that I don’t view this as the stone tablets. I think we’re going to come up with an initial draft and we’re going to iterate on it and learn from experimentation,” Vice Adm. James Kilby, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, N9, told reporters during a press call Sept. 10.
…More Holistic. Kilby admitted when he previously served as N9I, the two-star admiral leading requirements integration, he “wasn’t looking at it maybe as holistically as I should have.” While the unmanned systems were not being developed n a vacuum previously, now there is a larger umbrella overseeing the work. “Perhaps the programs could be unburdened from having to do the requirement of development for a specific network or interface because we’re going to require them to use what we have on another platform.” Kilby said this is now driving a change of behavior with more efficiency as he works closely with Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, N2/N6, Vice Adm. Jeffrey Trussler, on the campaign plan. “I’ve got to work closely with Adm. Trussler’s staff to make sure we’re communicating coherently and specifically the requirements. And my observation is we can do better there.”
…MQ-25. The Navy sees the MQ-25A Stingray unmanned carrier tanker as the initial vehicle to help figure out how to manage future unmanned aircraft in the future naval airwing. MQ-25 is “the pathfinder for us for other vehicles for airwing of the future developments,” Kilby said separately during the press call. “So I think figuring out all the blocking and tackling of recovering, launching, storing, maintenance MQ-25 will blaze that trail,” he added.
Biden/Defense Budget. In an interview with Stars and Stripes, former Vice President Joe Biden said he does not think major defense cuts are inevitable if he is elected and that his administration could be open to increasing the Pentagon’s budget. The comments go against the assumption of many Pentagon and defense industry officials that DoD is likely to face flat or declining budgets in the near future, as well as a growing push among the progressive wing of the Democratic party to cut defense spending by at least 10 percent. A potential increase would be a major reverse of the Obama administration where sequestration led to significant defense spending cuts.
Senate D’s/Nuclear Testing. A group of 22 Democratic Senators, led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), are urging Congress to retain a provision in the final version of the FY ‘21 NDAA that would prohibit funding for new nuclear testing. While the Senate’s version of the bill does not require such a ban, the House did include a provision that would prevent funding for new nuclear tests. “A U.S. nuclear weapons testing restart would give license to other nuclear armed countries to conduct their own tests — including Russia and China, whose nuclear arsenals are especially in our national interest to restrain,” the Senators wrote in a letter. Congress is expected to form a conference committee to complete the FY ‘21 NDAA report after the election.
Space Force Caucus. A bipartisan group of Senators have announced the creation of a new Space Force Caucus. The caucus is led by Sens. Cory Garder (R-Colo.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). “My home state’s leadership in space is unmatched – Colorado is the provisional headquarters of U.S. Space Command, the only state that is home to two Space Force garrisons, and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is training and educating future Space Force leaders. This new caucus will be an important platform for us to work across the aisle to support the brave men and women who serve our country in the U.S. Space Force and their mission to advance American national security interests in the space domain,” Gardner said in a statement.
Marines ICATS. The Marine Corps has selected Kollsman, an Elbit Systems of America subsidiary, to build prototypes for the next phase of its Integrated Clip-on Advanced Targeting Sight (ICATS) program. Kollsman is tasked with building and testing its solution for a multispectral, clip-on weapon night sight designed for enabling extended ranges in both day and night operations. “The solution clips onto the Marine’s weapon and provides critical information to the user, even in low-light or inclement weather. The ICATS is configured to provide simultaneous imaging across extended ranges, without adding considerable weight to the Marine’s weapon,” Kollsman officials wrote in a statement.
Unmanned ConOps. The Navy’s top acquisitions officer, Assistant Secretary of the Navy James Geurts, said this week the challenge in developing unmanned systems with Congress’ skepticism on moving quickly is a concept of operation challenge more than a technical one. “So we’ve been working closely with the [Senate Armed Services Committee] there to find the right kind of, I’d say balance point so that we don’t get so far ahead of ourselves that we don’t understand some of the technical challenges,” Geurts said during the virtual AUVSI Unmanned Systems conference on Sept. 8. However, he added that “on the other hand, this isn’t the same as some of our other platforms. I think the challenge in unmanned…I don’t see it as much as a technical challenge as a concept of operations challenge and really refining how we’re going to use these platforms.”
Czech Helos. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Bell a $272 million contract on Sept. 4 for production and delivery of eight UH-1Y Venom and four AH-1Z Viper helicopters for the Czech Republic. Work will be split between Fort Worth (60 percent) and Amarillo, Texas (40 percent) and is expected to be finished by November 2023. The full award as a Foreign Military sale was obligated at time of award. The contract was not competitively procured in accordance with U.S. Code regulations.