New AFWERX Virtual Event. AFWERX will host a digital JADC2 prototyping demonstration event between June 15-22, the Air Force said Friday. The event follows a series of service-led meetings and efforts over the past two months to attract companies who could provide solutions for key technologies. Thirty companies were invited to the demonstration event, 24 of which will be participating. The event will be broken up over the two-week period. Technology categories for the selected solutions include: access to disparate data sources; application programming interfaces and integration; prepare, analyze and validate information; data visualization/presentation, decision support and AI/machine learning/software-enabled automation; real-time communication, multi-level security, data caching and storage; and complete multi-domain operations solution.
Boeing delivered the first of a planned 11 F/A-18 Super Hornet test aircraft for the Navy’s Blue Angel flight demonstration squadron, the company said June 3. The aircraft is now entering a flight test and evaluation phase at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. While the Blue Angels are currently F/A-18 A-D Hornets, this is an upgrade to the Super Hornet variant. The company said it expects to deliver all 11 aircraft by the end of this year. Boeing said it converts Hornets and Super Hornets into Blue Angels at its Cecil Field facility in Jacksonville, Fla. Blue Angel modifications include addition of an oil tank for smoke-generation, fuel systems allowing the aircraft to fly inverted for extended periods, civilian-compatible navigation equipment, cameras, and adjustments to the center of gravity.
Frigate Forward. The Navy confirmed last week that the Government Accountability Office’s protest period for the FFG(X) frigate award to Fincantieri passed and work is now cleared to start. “The GAO protest period for the FFG(X) contract award has passed and the Navy has not received notice of protest. The Navy is moving forward with execution of the contract, and has completed the Post-Award Conference. Detail design of the FFG(X) is commencing,” Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Alan Baribeau told Defense Daily. Fincantieri’s frigate design is based on the Italian and French FREMM multi-purpose frigate.
Helicopter Investigation. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters last Friday the crew flying a National Guard medevac helicopter low over protesters in Washington, D.C., the evening of June 2 was immediately grounded once an investigation was ordered into their actions. McCarthy said an update on the investigation would be provided to senior DoD officials later Friday, June 5. “That [investigation] should be coming to a close shortly,” McCarthy said. “I’ve got to be really careful about how I talk about the helicopters. I’m in the chain of command, and I could ultimately be a decisionmaker associated to accountability related to the aircrew. It’s under investigation and we’re going to try and get it closed as quickly as possible.”
Resignation. Defense Science Board member James Miller announced his resignation June 2, publishing his resignation letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper in the Washington Post. Miller, who served as undersecretary of defense for policy from 2012 to 2014, attributed his plan to leave the board to the forced removal of peaceful protestors in Washington, D.C. the previous evening, when the Trump administration directed law enforcement to use smoke canisters and other devices to move protestors out of Lafayette Park, which is across from the White House. Esper accompanied Trump through the dispersed park to the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church, where the president posed for several pictures.
Space Services. Astroscale said last Wednesday that it will acquire the intellectual property of Israel-based satellite servicing company Effective Space Solutions (ESS). The agreement with ESS was signed by Astroscale’s U.S. subsidiary based in Denver, and means the company will acquire ESS’ IP related to its satellite servicing vehicle dubbed “Space Drone,” and will hire several executives and personnel on the program. The move allows Astroscale to provide on-orbit services across low-earth orbit and geosynchronous earth orbit. “Astroscale is known for blazing trails in on-orbit debris-removal services in LEO, and now Astroscale U.S. will do the same for satellite life extension in GEO,” said Ron Lopez, president and managing director of Astroscale U.S.
Space Comms. General Atomics-Electromagnetic Systems Group said last Friday its partnership with the Space Development Agency to demonstrate and eventually deploy a new laser communication terminal (LCT) that would test capabilities to boost the speed, distance and variability of communications in space. The Optical Intersatellite Link would utilize the company’s 1550 nm wavelength LCT. Two company-designed and built spacecraft will each host an infrared payload and LCT payload with an anticipated launch date in spring 2021. “For several years we have been developing a series of optical laser communication terminals to improve and increase satellite crosslink data transfer rates and downlink data rates,” said Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS, in a release. “These experiments will demonstrate robust communication capabilities through multiple mediums, from Earth, to and between satellites in multiple orbits, and on into deep space.”
Bill Signing. President Trump last Friday signed into law H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. The bill includes modifications to the Paycheck Protection Loan Program that are meant to offer increased flexibility for businesses using the loan funds, and qualifying for forgiveness. Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Eric Fanning applauded the bill’s passage in a statement, stating, “Throughout this crisis, access to cash and flexibility have been critical to ensuring the survival of small businesses that are the lifeblood of our industry and our nation. This bill makes it easier for additional companies to use this important financial assistance to help keep highly skilled workers employed and our supply chain working.”
3D Printing. The Marine Corps has partnered with Hewlett Packard to 3D print about 200 parts for its Amphibious Assault Vehicles. Using the HP Metal Jet 3D printing system, the company is able to produce hundreds of replacement parts, including bolts, mounts, brackets, cranks and couplings, critical pieces that are harder to procure from suppliers as the Marine Corps looks to phase out the vehicles in favor of the future Amphibious Combat Vehicle. “Being able to clasp (what used to require) 50 different, subtractive-manufacturing lines into a couple of prints, you almost can’t even put words to that. The efficiencies that are likely to come from that are absolutely astronomical,” Marine Col. Patrick Tucker, command officer of Combat Logistics Regiment 15, said in a statement.
Rheinmetall/Lockheed Martin. Germany’s Rheinmetall has teamed with Lockheed Martin to offer a next-generation training system for the Canadian army’s Land Vehicle Crew Training System competition. The partnership includes Rheinmetall’s electronics business and Lockheed Martin’s training and logistics solutions. “In cooperation with its partners, Rheinmetall Canada will offer the Canadian Army a solution for the LVTCS project that is mature, modular, and cost effective, while ensuring high-value economic benefits to Canada,” Rheinmetall officials wrote in a statement. “The LVCTS solution will enable the Canadian Army to conduct progressive training at the individual, crew, platoon, and higher echelon levels using high- to medium-fidelity reconfigurable trainers, as well as standard trainee workstations combined with a robust virtual environment and a comprehensive instructional system.”
AARGM. The Navy said it finished the first captive carry flight test of an Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) missile on an F/A-18 Super Hornet on June 1 at the service’s Patuxent River, Md., test range. In the test, the aircraft conducted a set of aerial maneuvers to evaluate integration and structural characteristics of the Northrop Grumman-built AARGM-ER to demonstrate carriage compatibility on the Super Hornet. Testing like this will continue for several more years until the system reaches initial operational capability in FY 2023. “This first flight represents a significant step in the AARGM-ER Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase. Data collected from this testing will inform the planned build-up and overall expansion of flight testing with AARGM-ER,” Capt. Mitch Commerford, head of the the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike program office (PMA-242), said in a statement.
Titan. BAE Systems’ Titan floating dry dock arrived in Baltimore on June 4 for a five-month repair and maintenance period at Tradepoint Atlantic. The Titan has a 52,534-ton lifting capacity, is 950-feet long, 192-feet wide, and 82-feet tall at the highest point. It services U.S. Navy ships up to 1,000-feet long in Norfolk, Va. The Titan will receive maintenance at the dry dock at Sparrow Point, which was last used in 2017. “The arrival of the Titan represents countless new opportunities for Tradepoint Atlantic and sends a strong signal that we are willing and able to capitalize on projects of similar scale and scope. Our dry dock is back in business,” Russell Williams, director of business development at Tradepoint Atlantic, said in a statement. Vice President and General Manager of BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair Dave Thomas said this work on the Titan will add another 20 to 25 years of service life.
ONR Chief. Rear Adm. Lorin Selby was sworn in as the new Chief of Naval Research (CNR), the head of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), on June 1. Due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns the change-of-command ceremony took place at ONR headquarters in Arlington, Va., and was streamed virtually to the wider community. As CNR, Selby will also serve as director of Innovation, Technology Requirements and Test and Evaluation (OPNAV N94). Selby previously served as Naval Sea Systems Command’s chief engineer and deputy commander for Ship Design, Integration and Naval Engineering. Selby succeeds Rear Adm. David Hahn, who is retiring and cheered on Selby. “Rear Adm. Selby brings to ONR dynamic leadership, a strong engineering background, and invaluable experience in the federal acquisition process. In this time of increased competition with emergent powers, he is the right person to lead the command as it continues to enhance the scientific and technological capabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps,” Hahn said.
Ford Exercises. Last week the new USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) aircraft carrier began command and control (C2) exercises with the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) while the former is underway during its post-delivery test and trial period, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 12 based on Ford said. “We won’t be exchanging airplanes between the two ships, but we are going to try to do some C2 exercises, Rear Adm. Craig Clapperton told reporters last week. Ford may also sail with destroyers from the Truman Carrier Strike Group. “We’d love to get Ford to start doing some basic interaction with the rest of a strike group type organization, so in this case a destroyer squadron.” He characterized theses interactions as “very basic building block type things.”
Additions. The private equity firm AE Industrial Partners has named Kevin McAllister, the former president and CEO of Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes business, a senior operating partner. He will serve as co-head of the firm’s newly created Portfolio Strategy and Optimization Group, which will help strengthen their strategic planning process, leverage AE Industrial’s industry relationships to accelerate growth, improve quality and productivity, and foster a culture of safety, performance, learning and people development. HawkEye 360, a provider of spectrum-based geo-analytics, announced two new board members: Steve Worley, vice president and chief operating officer of Raytheon Technologies’ Intelligence and Space business, and Chris Emerson, president and chairman of Airbus U.S.