Southeast Asia. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said on Dec. 1 there is desire for the service to expand its Indo-Pacific region access and basing arrangements further into Southeast Asia. During remarks in which Wormuth said the Army may be “the linchpin service for the joint force” during a potential conflict with China, she noted much of the current footprint is concentrated in the Northeast region of the Indo-Pacific. “If we were able to do that, we would have a more dispersed posture that would give us much more flexibility. Looking forward, I think it’s very much in our interest and the interest of our allies and partners to explore how we can shift that posture over time. But, my own view is that we need to be realistic about what is possible. And as we look at the operational challenges, we need to have realistic assumptions about the locations from where we might be able to operate,” Wormuth said during a CSIS discussion.
AUKUS/Nonproliferation. A group of Democratic lawmakers is urging President Biden to ensure nuclear nonproliferation remains a top priority for the new AUKUS trilateral security partnership among the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Biden noting that one of AUKUS’ goals is to help Australia pursue a nuclear-powered submarine capability would make Australia the first non-nuclear state to operate such a system. “As your administration moves forward with developing a roadmap for this deal over the next 18 months, we encourage you to consider how the implementation of this agreement will impact the United States’ ability to strengthen and reinforce our commitment to nonproliferation,” the lawmakers wrote. “As members of Congress with a strong commitment to both the U.S.-Australia bilateral relationship, as well as to nuclear non-proliferation, we believe it is of the utmost importance that this deal is implemented carefully and with the ramifications on the nuclear non-proliferation regime in mind.”
GLSDB. Saab has signed a new agreement with Nammo and Nordic Shelter to grow its team developing the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) with Boeing. The new agreement was signed on Nov. 23 in Oslo, Norway, with Nammo set to provide its expertise in rocket motor development and production and Nordic Shelter offering its experience to help with building a modular GLSDB launcher. “With Nammo and Nordic Shelter as part of the team, we have two great Norwegian companies who can benefit from future export prospects, while lending their expertise to make GLSDB an even more compelling solution. The range of the system, its 360˚ coverage and precision, with the ability to use a discrete launcher configuration makes GLSDB unique amongst artillery systems,” Görgen Johansson, Head of Saab’s business area Dynamics, said in a statement.
FireNet. BAE Systems said on Nov. 30 it has successfully demonstrated its FireNet software-defined communication transceiver for rotary-wing aircraft. The company said FireNet is designed to address the Army’s needs for an open architecture solution capable of providing unified tactical network connectivity that is cryptographically secure. “Military operations will increasingly occur in network-centric environments that demand greater bandwidth and network diversity to manage the immense amount of information at hand,” Ian Dewar, BAE Systems’ director of Integrated Communication Solutions, said in a statement. “Our FireNet system delivers large volumes of accurate, reliable information exchanged in real-time, allowing warfighters to maintain situational awareness and stay connected.”
North Carolina Tech Bridge. The Navy established a new NavalX Tech Bridge in Eastern North Carolina (ENC) on Nov. 15, the service said Dec. 1. This is the result of an agreement between Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) and Craven County, N.C. ENC is the 18th Tech Bridge, with other locations throughout the U.S. and in London, England and Tokyo, Japan. The Navy said this newest Tech Bridge will initially focus on maintenance, repair and overhaul operations as well as additive manufacturing. FRCE’s Organizational Innovation Leader, Lt. Col. Tegan Owen, said the ENC Tech Bridge Framework allows the Navy to collaborate with non-traditional partners and accelerate the innovation timeline in ways traditional acquisition methods do not. FRCE is North Carolina’s largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider with over 4,000 military, civilian and contract workers.
AN/SSQ-125A. The Navy awarded ERAPSCO and Lockheed Martin modifications on Nov. 30 exercising options to produce and deliver up to 18,000 AN/SSQ-125A series production sonobuoys for the Navy. The total ceiling for all modifications is not-to-exceed $222 million while both companies will be able to compete for individual orders. ERAPSCO will conduct work in De Leon Spring, Fla., and Columbia City, Ind., while Lockheed Martin will work in Manassas, Va., and Clearwater, Fla. The work is expected to be completed by March 2024. No funds were obligated at the time of award, but will only come with individual orders as they are issued.
F-135 Sustainment. The Navy awarded Raytheon Technologies a $448 million undefinitized not-to-exceed modification to a previously awarded contract covering the procuring of recurring sustainment support activities for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter F-135 engines. This covers maintenance of support equipment, common program activities, unique and common base recurring sustainment, repair of repairables, field service representatives, common replenishment spares, and various unique services for the F-35 engine variants for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, Air National Guard, non-DoD participants, and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will mostly be split among East Hartford, Conn. (47 percent); Oklahoma City, Okla. (15 percent); and Indianapolis, Ind. (13 percent); and is expected to be finished by May 2022. At the time of awards, funding was obligated via $44 million in FY 2022 Marine Corps operation and maintenance; $41 million in FY ‘22 Air Force operation and maintenance; $7 million in FY ‘22 Navy operation and maintenance; $5.5 million in Air National Guard FY ‘22 operation and maintenance; $30 million in non-DoD participant funds; and $16 million in FMS funds.
DDG-1000. The Navy held a ceremony on Nov. 24 marking the transfer of command of the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) from Capt. Gary Cave to Capt. Amy McInnis, the ship’s fifth commanding officer. Cave previously assumed command of the ship in August 22020 after serving as executive officer. While Cave led the ship, DDG-1000 completed its first-in-class testing and other sea operations validating new technologies native to the class design as well as tactics and concepts of operation in coordination with Surface Development Squadron (SURFDEVRON) ONE. McInnis served as the Zumwalt executive officer since June 2020 and previously commanded the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Howard (DDG-83).
POLARIS 21. The Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG-78) concluded participation in the first French exercise called POLARIS 21 on Dec. 2. This is a multilateral cross-domain exercise that involves 6,000 personnel, 65 aircraft and over 20 ships across NATO. The event combined warfighting tactics with communications and maneuvering exercises. French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle was the high value unit at the center of a simulated allied forces, which fought against simulated opposition forces led by the French Navy’s Mistral-class landing helicopter dock Tonnerre. During the exercise, DDG-78’s environment followed a steadily progressing storyline of attacks from simulated opposition forces, requiring it and simulated allies to use tactics from air defense, strike, surface and subsurface warfare. Other U.S. participants included a Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft from Commander, Task Force 67 and the Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Lenthall (T-AO 189). French participating vessels included four French FREMM frigates, a La Fayette-class frigate, Horizon-class anti-air destroyer, Georges Leygues-class anti-submarine destroyer, two D’Estienne d’Orves-class light corvettes, and a Durance-class command and replenishment tanker Marne. Other NATO participants included the Hellenic Navy Frigate HS Adrias (F-459), Italian Navy destroyer ITS Carlo Bergamini (F-590), Spanish Navy destroyer SPS Méndez Nuñez (F 104), Spanish Auxiliary ship Cantabria and U.K. Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon (D35). Porter is forward deployed to Rota, Spain.
FMS Slow Down. Through the first 10 months of the Biden administration, there has been an average of $2.5 billion in monthly foreign military sales (FMS) approved versus $6 billion per month during the Trump administration, according to a research note by the investment bank Cowen. Moreover, in September, October and November, only four deals valued at $2.3 billion in total were approved, says the note, adding “Perhaps it’s just a blip, but it’s definitely a poor trend.” The FMS pipeline is still full from the Trump administration’s approvals but with a more restrictive attitude under Biden, sales could flatten and decline in the next two years, so “This will create a headwind for FMS-heavy defense primes and something we’re going to look at more deeply,” the note said.
New HQ. Peraton plans to begin working out of a new headquarters facility by September 2022, moving from its current address in Herndon a few miles down the road to Reston Town Center in Northern Virginia. Peraton said the upcoming move is the “first major decision” in a multi-year review of its office footprint, which includes 150 offices nationwide. In addition to its corporate leadership and major operations of its three business sectors, the Reston office will house the company’s Mission Capability Innovation Center that is focused on developing solutions for “customers’ most unique and complex challenges.”
People News. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week approved by voice vote the nomination of Erik Hooks to be deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Senate must still vote on the nomination. The House Homeland Security Committee has hired Tasha Jhangiani as a professional staff member on the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation subcommittee. She previously was a research analyst for the Cyberspace Solarium Commission and a Future Digital Security Leaders Fellow at the Institute for Security and Technology.
Oops! The space infrastructure company Redwire said it has received notice from the New York Stock Exchange for being out of compliance in terms of failing to file its quarterly 10-Q report on time for the quarter that ended on Sept. 30. The 10-Q is tardy because Redwire’s board is investing “potential accounting issues at a business subunit,” but so far hasn’t found “any material misstatements or restatements of its previously filed financial statements,” the company said last week. The audit doesn’t affect product performance or its ability to generate sales and cash flow, Redwire said.
Securing Information. While the U.S. Air Force has emphasized digital engineering for platforms, such as the Boeing T-7A Red Hawk trainer, securing such information through sufficient cybersecurity protections is also a priority, according to Air Force Under Secretary Gina Ortiz Jones. “It’s not just about the capabilities we have and the information that we’re pushing, but the trust we have in that information being protected and not being corrupted, as it is being transmitted and shared,” she said. “One of the main things that we’re taking a hard look at are the cyber security capabilities that we’ve got, the resiliency of some of our architecture and where might it make sense to leapfrog to ensure that we’ve got the right capabilities. This is not only for our own capabilities, but how do we ensure that our communications with our partners and allies are also secure. I think we’re doing a better job of talking about the operational risks of not having information secure. It’s not just patches. It’s truly how are we potentially costing ourselves time and incurring risk by not making necessary investments to secure our comms infrastructure.”
Final Design Review. L3Harris Technologies said that it completed Critical Design Review for the Space Development Agency’s missile-tracking program last month. As a result, the company is to continue with development and integration of four satellites for Tracking Layer Tranche 0 under a $193 million firm, fixed-price contract. L3Harris is to build, integrate, test and deliver the satellites to SDA on the path to first launch in early 2023. Last year, L3Harris received the Tracking Layer Tranche 0 contract, which continues through 2025. The company said that it “has prioritized investments in end-to-end satellite solutions in spacecraft, payloads, ground software and advanced algorithms” and is also developing a prototype for the Missile Defense Agency’s hypersonic and ballistic missile tracking space sensor.
STP-3. The U.S. Space Force plans to launch its Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission on Dec. 5 or 6 aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 551 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla. The primary satellite on STP-3 is Northrop Grumman’s Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) to advance National Nuclear Security Administration nuclear detonation detection capabilities and improved space domain awareness, weather, and laser communications for DoD and NASA. The “rideshare” satellite on STP-3 is Northrop Grumman’s Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter (LDPE-1), a “freight train to space” for experiments and prototypes in geosynchronous Earth orbit and for rapid response to emerging threats. LDPE-1 hosts communications, space weather sensing, and space domain payloads.