Another Fine. The Federal Aviation Administration last Thursday said it has fined Boeing $6.6 million related to regulatory compliance and enforcement actions. The agency assessed a $5.4 million penalty against the aerospace and defense company for failing to meet obligations under a 2015 settlement with Boeing related to changing its internal processes to improve and prioritize regulatory compliance. Boeing also agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle two FAA enforcement actions, both related to an agency program that allows aircraft manufacturers to take certain actions without seeking government approval. The fines are a pittance compared to a $2.5 billion penalty Boeing agreed to in January with the Justice Department to resolve the U.S. government’s investigation into the company’s 737 MAX passenger aircraft.

I’ll Take Your Vanguards and Raise You Three.

While the U.S. Air Force has three Vanguard programs–Skyborg attritable drones, Golden Horde swarming munitions, and Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3)–under development by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and L3Harris Technologies, the service may soon have more. “I look forward to keeping this pipeline moving and energized with a steady flow of Vanguards coming and going,” says Air Force Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, the director of AFRL. “At any given time in the coming years or in the future, we could have three to six Vanguards. I’m really looking forward to the time where we have the pipeline greased so that we can add new Vanguards or that we get to the point where we have failed fast or graduated some of the other ones. On the Skyborg program, for example, in the coming year we’re going to take some progressive steps in the crawl stage. We are looking to take the components of the autonomy, fly it in some very rigorous test capability, such as the Orange Flag flights coming up this summer, and then look to slowly add capabilities, measure, learn from our successes, and then keep the program going.”

FirstSource III in Sight. The Department of Homeland Security last Thursday issued another draft solicitation for its upcoming FirstSource III small business information technology multiple award contract based on industry feedback. DHS wants comments and questions to the latest draft request for proposals by March 10 and is expecting to release the final solicitation around April 6. The RFP was expected last year and then again earlier this year but DHS continues to work with industry before it is ready to issue the final solicitation. Meantime, given delays in the program and to ensure there isn’t a lapse in service between the ongoing FirstSource II contract and the follow-on, DHS said it will extend the FirstSource II contracts for one-year until March 31, 2022.

Cyber Diplomacy. A bipartisan group of House members last week introduced the Cyber Diplomacy Act that would establish an Office of International Cyberspace Policy within the Department of State to spearhead U.S. leadership internationally in cyberspace and ensure the internet is open, reliable and secure. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), one of the co-sponsors on the bill, said last Friday that the U.S. has been missing an “ambassador like position on cyber security that could negotiate with other countries and allies particularly, certain norms and standards within cyberspace.” McCaul was speaking as part of a cyber security panel hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies to discuss the ongoing breach of a number of federal and private sector networks likely committed by Russian hackers. Other co-sponsors of the bill include Republicans Mike Gallagher (Wis.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), and Democrats James Langevin (R.I.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.) and Bill Keating (Mass.).

Program Elements. While U.S. Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) was unable to get defense authorizers to agree to an AFMC proposal to consolidate Science and Technology/Advanced Technology Development (S&T/ATD) program elements and go from 13 program elements (PEs) to five in the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, AFMC will try again this year to get Congress to agree to reduce the number of PEs to provide more flexibility for ATD funds and “bang for the buck,” AFMC Commander Arnold Bunch Jr. said. The proposal is to allow AFMC to transfer funds among PEs to facilitate the funding of multi-disciplinary technologies. AFMC said that it “looks forward to working with the congressional defense committees on future fiscal constructs that better enable transformative technology pursuits across disciplines and domains while maintaining all appropriate congressional oversight and authorities.”

…Full Transparency. AFMC said that its goal “is to maintain research across all technical disciplines while accelerating and simplifying the process to bring those disciplines together when necessary to respond with multi-disciplinary solutions” and that “an amended resource structure may boost our ability to pursue technologies that support multiple warfighting domains, and do so in full transparency with our congressional partners.” The 13 current Air Force ATD PEs are Advanced Materials for Weapon Systems, Sustainment Science and Technology, Advanced Aerospace Sensors, Aerospace Technology Dev/Demo, Aerospace Propulsion and Power Technology, Electronic Combat Technology, Human Effectiveness Advanced Technology Development, Conventional Weapons Technology, Advanced Weapons Technology, Manufacturing Technology Program, Battlespace Knowledge Development and Demonstration, Advanced Spacecraft Technology, and Maui Space Surveillance System.

UISS. The Navy awarded Textron Systems a $34 million modification for engineering and technical support for the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) program. This UISS program aims to provide Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) with a capability to provide mine countermeasure sweep system, targeting acoustic, magnetic and magnetic/acoustic combination type mines with high area coverage rate in a small, lightweight package that minimally impacts the host LCS. “The UISS program will satisfy the Navy’s need for a rapid, wide-area coverage mine clearance capability, required to neutralize magnetic/acoustic influence mines,” DoD said in the contract announcement. This work will be split between Hunt Valley, Md. (70 percent), and Slidell, La. (30 percent), and is expected to be finished by March 2022.

HII. Huntington Ingalls Industries announced three promotions in its Technical Solutions division: Grant Hagen as vice president of business operations, Jaime Orlando as vice president of communications, and Chris Walton as vice president of information technology. They assume the new roles on March 1 and will continue to support Andy Green, executive vice president of HII and president of HII Technical Solution. Hagan currently serves as senior director of business excellence and more recently began overseeing Technical Solutions’ quality and facilities functions after having led the strategic integration of Hydroid and Spatial Integration Systems’ autonomy business. Orlando is currently the senior director of communications while Walton is the senior director of information technology and chief information officer.

LHD-6. Contractors started the process to remove the USS Bonhomme Richard’s (LHD-6) island on Feb. 23 as part of the on-going inactivation availability. The Navy decided to scrap the fire-ravaged ship after deciding it was too costly to fix or convert it to a new use versus building other ships. The service said removing the island will improve the ship’s structural integrity and readiness to be towed. This process will reduce the tower height down to just above the flight deck. Salvage contractor SMIT Americas is conducting the work under a current contract. The Navy said the final timeline for owing and dismantlement is still being determined and investigations of the fire are still ongoing.

CVN-73. The Navy awarded Huntingto Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding a $31 million modification on Feb. 25 for supplemental overhaul, modernization, repair and maintenance work for the Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH) of the USS George Washington (CVN-73). Work will occur in Newport News, Va., and is expected to be finished by May 2022.

Aegis. The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin an $8 million modification on Feb. 25 to exercise an option for Aegis Combat System Engineering Agent (CSEA) efforts for the design, development, integration, test and delivery of Advanced Capability Build 20. Under this contract, the Aegis CSEA develops, integrates, tests and delivers computer program baseline Advanced Capability Builds (ACBs) and supports Technology Insertions, which are a replace and and/or upgrade of combat system computing hardware and associated middleware/firmware. The CSEA also develops engineering products to support ship integration, support developmental and operational test events, develop training and logistics products and provides field technical support for Aegis baselines. This work will occur in Moorestown, N.J., and is expected to be finished by December 2021.

Amentum Support. Amentum won a $43 million task order to support the Navy’s Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PEO U&W), Aerial Targets Program Office (PMA-208) and Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, the company said Feb. 23. In this role, the company will provide technical program management and logistical life cycle support for surface combatants and multi-service targets, range and training programs under a five-year task order. The task order was awarded under the Responsive Strategic Sourcing for Services indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (RS3 IDIQ) contract vehicle. Amentum will specifically provide “experts focused on acquisition and production, maintenance planning, repair, supply support, test equipment, operations and use, technical data, training and training support, program development, facilities, designing interface, packaging, handling, storage and transportation in support of the effort,” the company said.

P-8A. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Raytheon Technologies a $74 million contract on Feb. 19 to provide 23.4 APY-10 radar system production kits and related support to the P-8A Poseidon aircraft for the U.S. Navy and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will mostly occur in McKinney, Texas (72 percent); Andover, Mass. (seven percent); and Dallas, Texas (six percent) and is expected to be finished by August 2025. $28 million in fiscal year 2020 Navy aircraft procurement and $47 million in FMS funds were obligated at time of award, with none expiring at the end of this fiscal year. This was not competitively procured, in accordance with regulations.

NGAD. The Office of Naval Research on Feb. 19 awarded Raytheon Technologies a $13 million three-year contract with one-year option period for Next Generation Air Dominance Enablers technology development. This covers development of “advanced fan aerodynamics to provide an ultra-high specific flow fan.” The announcement said this will be performed via the design of a number of fan configurations to “optimize the aerodynamics providing increased mass flow through the fan while maintaining or improving the efficiency and operability.”  The configurations will be tested in a scale model facility to validate the designs and the technology is ultimately aimed at increasing thrust production in the same size engine. Work will be split among East Hartford, Conn. (77 percent); South Bend, Ind. (16 percent); and Windsor Locks, Conn. (seven percent) and is expected to be finished by February 2024. If the option is exercised, it would run concurrently with the base period. This was competitively procured via a Long Range Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). ONR noted since proposals are received throughout the year the total number of proposals received is unknown.

Maritime Security Certificate. The Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) School of International Graduate Studies is beginning a new in-resident maritime security certificate program in the wake of the releases of the Tri-Service maritime Strategy and Chief of Naval Operations Navigation Plan. The program, announced Feb. 22, aims to “further educate our international naval officers on maritime domain challenges.” The Navy said the new program will focus on maritime security aspects including strengthening relationships with allies and partner countries with both international and U.S. students at NPS learning together. The program is set to begin in the 2021 fall Quarter.

FLIR Dubai Facility. FLIR Systems said on Feb. 22 it has officially opened a new facility in Dubai. The announcement coincided with the IDEX international defense trade show in Abu Dhabi. FLIR said the new 33,000-plus square foot facility “will house state-of-the-art service and repair capabilities,” including two service labs “designed to meet the unique needs of the company’s Industrial and Defense Technologies businesses and products.” “During my recent travels to the UAE, I visited our facilities and met with teams in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I was impressed by their collaboration, as well as their technology innovation and deep focus on the customer experience. With this large new space, FLIR now presents a single face to our industrial and defense customers in an important part of the world where business is growing,” FLIR Systems CEO Jim Cannon said in a statement.

NSA/Zero Trust. The NSA has published a new cyber security product urging its partner to utilize ‘Zero Trust’ security models on their networks. The product demonstrates how partners can deploy Zero Trust security principles to secure networks and better protect data. “The Zero Trust model eliminates trust in any one element, node, or service by assuming that a breach is inevitable or has already occurred. The data-centric security model constantly limits access while also looking for anomalous or malicious activity,” the agency wrote in a statement. The NSA is specifically recommending that Zero Trust models be considered for the Pentagon and its defense industrial base’s networks and systems.

Colin Kahl Hearing. The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on March 4 to consider Colin Kahl’s nomination for under secretary of defense for policy. Kahl, who is currently the Steven C. Házy Senior Fellow at Stanford University, previously served as deputy assistant to the president and national security adviser to the vice president during the Obama administration. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the SASC chairman, said Kahl’s confirmation hearing will be an “absolutely critical and crucial” opportunity to explain his positions on areas that have caused some concern with Republican lawmakers. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the panel’s ranking member, has specifically cited concern with Kahl’s role in creating the Iran Nuclear Deal. “Hopefully he can get through. I think he’s a very talented individual, no question about that, and he’s got great experience,” Reed told reporters. “I think he brings to the job several key factors. One, knowledge. Two, experience. And three, he’s had a long relationship with the president and I think that will help the department in terms of working more closely with the White House.”