Beyond Red Hawk. The Air Force’s announcement last September of its first digitally engineered platform–the Boeing eT-7A Red Hawk trainer–marks the beginning of what may be a slew of such efforts. “Our eT-7A successfully virtualized production, constructing hundreds of e-planes digitally to optimize their physical assembly,” former Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper wrote in the Bending the Spoon Guidebook for Digital Engineering and e-Series
, published a day before he left the service on Jan. 20. “Our new ICBM used virtual design to explore six billion e-missile variants in mere months. And our advanced sixth-generation [Next Generation Air Dominance] aircraft, also an e-plane, is adopting Formula 1-style practices to out-iterate pursuing adversaries using a Digital Century Series approach.”
…Designation Justification. While the fate of the “e-Series” designation is uncertain, Roper justified it in Bending the Spoon. “Aside from safety and mission reliance on virtualizations, ‘bending spoons’ certified e-Series should help propel the Air Force and Space Force’s analog-to-digital metamorphosis,” he wrote. “Much like the dial-up internet transformed into the Internet of Things over the course of a decade in which phones, homes, cars — the world of things — picked up the preface smart as they explored a new, connected paradigm that invited both designers and users to think differently about their uses. Today nearly every device consuming electricity is smart. So much so, we’ve nearly dropped the honorific, which successfully played its role in transforming myriad commercial tech markets. The Air Force and Space Force are now in the larval stage of our analog-to-digital metamorphosis. Each new e-System invites us to reimagine both its acquisition and operationalization. Years from now, when a majority of programs have taken digital flight and are seamlessly interconnected, we’ll doubtless drop the term e-Series. But just like smart, the term will have played its part in transforming us into a more competitive acquisition system that accelerates the changes our service Chiefs — and all warfighters — need.”
GMLRS Award. The Army on March 26 awarded Lockheed Martin a $2.8 billion award for Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) munitions. The award covers GMLRS Alternative Warhead and Unitary Warhead rocket pods, practice rocket pods and cyber security services. Work on the deal is expected to be completed by the end of October 2024. In early March, Lockheed Martin conducted a successful test of the new Extended Range GMLRS, reaching 80 kilometers during the demonstration.
Building the Colosseum. For the Golden Horde vanguard program, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) had planned a test this fall of the Collaborative Small Diameter Bomb-1 (CSDB-1) and the Collaborative Miniature Air Launched Decoy (CMALD) to defeat simulated targets, but AFRL has decided not to pursue that demonstration. Instead AFRL is shifting toward a more generic approach that does not feature specific weapons in keeping with congressional concern about Golden Horde being too mature a program to receive science and technology (S&T) funding. Under the new, generic “Colosseum” approach, AFRL is trying “to enable more players to bring their systems into this” with a possible “gladiator” competition at the end, said Air Force Col. Garry Haase, the director of AFRL’s munitions directorate.
T-45C Crash. A Navy T-45C Goshawk trainer aircraft crashed about three miles northeast of Naval Outlying Field at Orange Grove, Texas on March 24. The instructor and student safely ejected from the aircraft with minor injuries. The Navy said the incident is under investigation.
Tomahawk. The Navy received its first Tomahawk Block V configuration missile from producer Raytheon Technologies on March 25. The initial Block V missiles are recertified and modernized from existing Tomahawk Block IV missiles. Raytheon is currently conducting a mid-life recertification process where the company replaces life-limited components in Block IV missiles to enable it to complete its remaining 15 years of service life as well as provide the opportunity to upgrade them to Block V modernized variants. All Block IV missiles are set to undergo recertification and modernization. Block V missiles have a NAV/COMM upgrade maintaining the capability for in-flight target updates and improved navigation. Future Block V capabilities set to be added include the Maritime Strike Tomahawk variant, called Block Va, and the Joint Multiple Effects Warhead System, designated Block Vb.
SSN-762. The Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding a $194 million modification on March 24 for continued execution of fiscal year 2018 engineer overhaul work on the Los Angeles-class USS Columbus (SSN-762). Work will occur in Newport News, Va., and is expected to be finished by December 2022. $191 million in FY ’21 Navy operations and maintenance funds was obligated at the time of award and will expire at the end of this fiscal year.
Seagull USV. Elbit Systems said on March 2 it was introducing new technologies aboard its Seagull Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) to enhance its ability to operate autonomously in busy environments. These new features include a 360-degree panoramic video system with automatic target recognition and a patented automatic navigation system to complement the Seagull’s sense and avoid capability. Elbit said this will allow the USV to operate in compliance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGs), enabling it to operate safely in places like dense harbors, at sea with heavy traffic, and autonomously complete missions without communications with a control station. The Seagull has a modular payload suite that supports anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures missions, electronic warfare, maritime security, underwater surveys, and more. It has served with the Israeli Navy since 2017.
Boeing NGI. Boeing responded to the news it lost the competition to start developing the Missile Defense Agency’s Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) to the Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman teams. “Boeing is disappointed the U.S. Missile Defense Agency did not advance our team to the next phase of competition in the development of the Next Generation Interceptor competition.” The company added “while it is premature to comment on next steps until we participate in the formal debrief session, it is important to note that today’s announcement does not impact our commitment to the MDA and to the mission of the GMD system.” MDA awarded NGI to two competitors with plans to downselect to one later.
India S-400. During his confirmation hearing to become commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) on March 23, Adm. John Aquilino said while India purchasing the Russian S-400 missile defense system is not preferable, it might be better to offer alternatives as opposed to considering sanctions like with Turkey’s purchase of the system. He leaves it to policymakers to decide what to do, but said “I think we certainly should understand where we are with India and potentially the encouragement angle and providing alternatives might be a better approach.” He also noted India “has had a longstanding relationship with the Russians for security cooperation and for military equipment.” Aquilino committed to working to encourage India to shift to consider more American equipment both because it is better and it generates interoperability.
…Agrees On PDI. Under questioning by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Aquilino confirmed he agrees with current INDOPACOM commander Adm. Philip Davidson on Pacific Deterrence Initiative priorities. “As I’ve looked at PDI, Adm. Davidson’s strategic, very thoughtful approach aligned with this committee has identified the foundational capabilities needed to do deterrence and it would have to be sustained to ensure that we can execute this on a longer term.” Aquilino also agreed the idea of adding an Aegis Ashore system to Guam would be a “top priority” for him as well. While he did not have data on the delays to Aegis Ashore in Poland or Japan’s scrapping it, “if confirmed I will certainly look into that and determine. It’s not the first one we’ve put in so I would hope there would be some learning and the ability to stay on cost and schedule would be easier.”
…Agrees On PDI. Under questioning by Sen. Mazi Hirono (D-Hawaii), Aquilino confirmed he agrees with current INDOPACOM commander Adm. Philip Davidson on Pacific Deterrence Initiative priorities. “As I’ve looked at PDI, Adm. Davidson’s strategic, very thoughtful approach aligned with this committee has identified the foundational capabilities needed to do deterrence and it would have to be sustained to ensure that we can execute this on a longer term.” Aquilino also agreed the idea of adding an Aegis Ashore system to Guam would be a “top priority” for him as well. While he did not have data on the delays to Aegis Ashore in Poland or Japan’s scrapping it, “if confirmed I will certainly look into that and determine [potential cost issues]. It’s not the first one we’ve put in so I would hope there would be some learning and the ability to stay on cost and schedule would be easier.”
…Navy NGAD. When asked by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) about the timeline of the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) initiative to develop the next aircraft after the F-35, Aquilino said, “I don’t have a sense of that exact date, I think they are looking at IOC in 2030 or 2031.” He also argued in order to compete with China, the sixth-generation aircraft is needed to operate from aircraft carriers to be “able to enter and operate in those contested spaces. It’s critical to the deterrence needed.”
…Red Phone. Under questioning from Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), Aquilino said neither he nor the head of INDOPACOM have a direct line of communication to their counterpart in the Chinese government in case of a crisis or mistake. “I do not have a direct communication with my counterpart. I know Adm. Davidson has advocated for that ability at his level and I know the chairman does have a connection that he can utilize. If confirmed, I would continue to advocate for that connection to ensure there is an ability to de-escalate if there were an event and the ability to not let it go out of control.” He added that kind of communication could be effective if the connection was someone with decision-making authority.
Supply Chain Security. Semiconductor chip maker Intel Corp. last week announced it will spend $20 billion to build two new factories in Arizona, a move that will help strengthen the domestic supply chain for a critical technology. “Intel’s announcement is a great example of the benefits that come from investing in domestic semiconductor manufacturing capabilities,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “We can create jobs, strengthen our national security as well as the security and resiliency of our supply chains. And we welcome additional announcements on U.S. manufacturing commitments by other firms as well.” Expanding domestic production of critical materials and technologies is a focus area of the Biden administration as it seeks to lessen reliance on foreign sources of supply, particularly in China.
Corporate News. Teledyne Technologies said last week it has completed all permanent financing for its pending acquisition of FLIR Systems. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. Teledyne said it closed a $3 billion offering of investment grade bonds to help fund the $8 billion cash and stock acquisition. Aerojet Rocketdyne last week paid its stockholders $5 per share in a special cash dividend related to its pending acquisition by Lockheed Martin, a deal that is expected to close in the second half of 2021. The transaction still requires regulatory and other approvals.
People News. Canada’s CGI last week named Stephanie Mango as its new president of CGI Federal, a U.S.-based business with 7,000 employees that provides information technology and business consulting services for defense, civilian, healthcare and intelligence customers. Mango most recently served as senior vice president of the Security, Assistance, Justice and Health Business Unit. InVeris Training Solutions has appointed Al Weggeman as its new CEO, effective April 5. He most recently was president of Block Engineering, a chemical detection systems company, and before that led the former L3Technologies Security and Detection Systems business. Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief during the Trump administration, has joined the boards of two companies. Lord is the chair of the advisory board of Exiger, which provides tech-enabled compliance and risk management solutions, and she is on the board of Voyager Space Holdings, which provides capabilities and services for space exploration. And Will Roper, the Air Force’s former acquisition chief, has joined the board of Vita Inclinata, which provides autonomous stabilization systems for aircraft hoists and canes.
V-22 Milestone. Bell and Boeing said on March 24 their V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft has achieved more than 600,000 flight hours. “There is no other aircraft in the world capable of matching the unique capabilities of the Osprey. The 600,000 flight-hours represent countless tactical, logistical and humanitarian assistance missions, and the dedication of the men and women who maintain and operate the aircraft every day to keep it an advanced aircraft,” Kurt Fuller, Bell’s V-22 vice president, said in a statement. There are currently 400 V-22 aircraft operated by the Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
Technology Presentations. The Pentagon’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO) has announced it will hold virtual meetings with selected companies in the fall to hear proposals on new technologies to support the department’s full range of modernization priorities. “RRTO is looking for highly innovative technologies that have the potential to provide leap-ahead capabilities against near-peer adversaries and fill gaps in critical joint mission needs no later than 2028,” officials wrote in the notice. Technology areas of interest include AI and machine learning, autonomy, cyber, directed energy, fully-networked command, communication and control, hypersonics, microelectronics, quantum computing, space technologies and 5G telecommunications. Applications to detail relevant technologies are due by April 21.
Counter-Mortar Radar RFI. The Marine Corps has released an RFI seeking industry’s input on solutions for a Future Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar to improve on the current AN-TPQ-49 system. “The Marine Corps is interested in readily available radars with increased capabilities designed to perform expeditionary 360–degree counter rocket, artillery, and mortar radar with potential to ingest future Unmanned Aerial Systems detection requirements,” officials wrote in the RFI. Preferred capabilities for any offering would include the ability to sense and track UAS, provide multi-mission capabilities to operate in a counter-fire or counter-UAS mode, be able to be integrated with U.S. and partner nation capabilities weapons, be smaller and lighter weight than the current system, have a maximum detection range greater than or equal to 10km and have a circular error probability of no more than 100 meters for one round, or no more than two rounds greater than 75 meters. The Marine Corps said it has an approved acquisition objective for 100 radars.
SMET Deliveries. General Dynamics Land Systems is getting set to deliver the first Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) ground robots to the Army in April for final testing. Tim Reese, the company’s development director for U.S. Operations, told Defense Daily low-rate initial production for SMET will begin late this summer, with plans to work toward full-rate production around the early 2022 timeframe. “Given that the SMET program is a major new capability for the Army’s light forces, there will be a lot of learning over these five years. General Dynamics Land Systems expects to collaborate with the Army during that window as soldiers and units receive their SMETs and employ them across a wide spectrum of operations. We are proud and excited to see our innovative ground robotics get into soldiers’ hands,” Reese said. General Dynamics was awarded a $249 million deal last July to deliver ground robots able to carry up payloads of up to 1,000 pounds, or about nine soldiers’ worth of equipment, as well traveling up to 60 miles over the course of 72 hours.
F-16 Support. BAE Systems received an up to $600 million, 10-year Air Force contract for F-16 support equipment for “multiple Foreign Military Sales (FMS) countries” on March 25. The Air Force said in the contract announcement that it has obligated $457 million for F-16 support for Bulgaria, which has announced a buy of eight new Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft. BAE has done F-16 upgrade work for 130 F-16s in South Korea, and BAE has said that Lockheed Martin picked the company to build new F-16s’ Digital Flight Control Computers and head-up displays for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Defense analysts estimate that BAE supplies up to 40 percent of F-16 mission computers.
Disbanded. Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, last Friday said that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has disbanded the existing bipartisan Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC), which provides independent advice recommendations to the secretary. Katko criticized the move, saying it “sends the message that this administration has no intention of upholding a bipartisan, unifying approach to securing our homeland.” He added that the “HSAC is not intended to be an echo chamber for what the current DHS secretary wants to hear.” On the HSAC’s website, the only members listed are Obama era appointees William Bratton and Karen Tandy, the chair and vice chair respectively, and William Webster, chair emeritus, who was appointed in 2003 during the administration of George W. Bush.
…Under Review. A DHS spokeswoman told Defense Daily that Mayorkas will do “a comprehensive review” to see how the council “can be best leveraged to advise the department and advance its broad mission.” The HSAC will continue to be bipartisan but when it returns in full, it will have a “diverse membership representative of America and the communities DHS serves,” she said in an email reply to queries. Adding and removing members isn’t new and the move was made “in consultation with HSAC leadership,” she added. Mayorkas will work closely with the HSAC moving forward, she said. The council typically meets quarterly to discuss and review ongoing work. Last November it submitted final reports on biometrics, economic security, quantum information science, and reducing risk in the information and communications technology supply chain.