5th Fleet LCS. The head of 5th Fleet said he expects his command to get an odd-numbered Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) in 2022. “Planning’s underway for that, we’ll see what the timing looks like but I think we’re in a much better position today than we were last year and I’m very familiar with all the nuances from my last job at SURFLANT (Naval Surface Force, Atlantic),” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of 5th Fleet and Naval Forces Central Command, said during a Center for Strategic and International Studies event on Jan. 14. The vessel is expected to replace Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships and the Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships in 5th Fleet. Cooper said there is no comparison with the greater capabilities the LCS will bring including adding an MH-60 helicopter, Fire Scout unmanned helicopters, more kinetic strike capability, and greater range and endurance. He noted the Navy has over time already brought the logistics and sustainment components for the LCS to Bahrain, so they are ready to receive it today.

OPC Positioning. Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG), which is building the first four ships of the Coast Guard’s planned 25-vessel offshore patrol cutter (OPC) program, has completed a new $5 million aluminum superstructure fabrication and assembly hall at one of its Panama City, Fla., shipyards that will support multi-hull production of the program. The Coast Guard this year plans to award a new detail design and construction contract for the next 11 OPCs, with ESG competing against a number of contenders. At some point in the construction program after the new contract is awarded, the service plans to begin awarding contracts for two ships per year, up from the current one per year. ESG says the covered and controlled facility is designed to support peak production of two OPCs per year and is part of its commitment to prepare the shipyard to meet the Coast Guard’s needs for the OPCs.

Cyber Warning. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last Thursday told the U.S. Conference of Mayors that no matter how large or small their cities, they aren’t “immune” to a cyber-attack. “I would say regardless of the size and sophistication of your infrastructure, you really need to identify a person who could take charge of the cybersecurity portfolio because it is something that we all need to be vigilant about,” Mayorkas told the conference at its winter meeting. He also stressed the need for good cyber hygiene practices by employees and the large community to do things such as create strong passwords and back up computer systems. Mayorkas also highlighted that DHs has $1 billion in grant funds to help all U.S. cities improve their cyber defenses.

LHA-7. The amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) landed an F-35B Joint Strike Fighter for the first time on Jan. 11, the Navy recently said. The vessel has been operating and training the crew in preparation for the underway flight operation with Marine Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122, which features the F-35B. The vessel’s preparation work culminated in the fixed-wing certification for the ship. LHA-7 was commissioned in 2020 and is homeported in San Diego under the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3.

LHD-7. The Navy awarded General Dynamics NASSCO-Norfolk a $200 million modification on Jan. 20 to exercise options on a contract for the fiscal year 2022 docking selected restricted availability (DSRA) work on the Wasp-class USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7). Work will occur in Norfolk, Va., and is expected to be finished by June 2023. The funding is split between 88 percent in FY 2022 Navy other procurement funds and 12 percent in FY ‘22 operations and maintenance funds. The contracting activity is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center in Norfolk.

CVN-76. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) started a four-month selected restricted availability (SRA) at Yokosuka, Japan on Jan. 13 after completing a five-month deployment through the 5th and 7tth Fleet areas of operation. During the last deployment, the carrier sailed for almost 43,00 nautical miles. The Navy said employees from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, ship’s force and contractors will work to complete maintenance on the vessel. The Navy said early start to work has allowed the team to reduce risk by finding new work items early and expects the SRA to be finished later this spring.

AeroVironment Kit. AeroVironment said on Jan. 18 it has rolled out a new sensor-to-shooter kit that allows operators to instantly transfer target coordinates from the company’s line of small drones to its Switchblade 300 loitering missile systems. “Sensor to Shooter maximizes the operator’s ability to see first, strike first, combining the superior intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities of AeroVironment’s SUAS with the precision strike capabilities of the Switchblade loitering missile system,” Charles Dean, AeroVironment’s vice president for global business development and sales of UAS, said in a statement. AeroVironment noted the new kit works with its Puma 3 AE, Puma LE, Raven B or Wasp AE UAS capabilities.

Ukraine Support Bill. A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill on Jan. 19 that would authorize the president to enter into lend-lease agreements directly with Ukraine to help provide the country with more military equipment in light of Russia’s buildup of forces along Kyiv’s border. “The U.S. should be doing everything possible to assist our friends in Ukraine against Vladimir Putin’s shameless and illegal aggression,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said in a statement. “Expanding the United States’ ability to lend and lease critical equipment and capabilities would be an effective way to empower the Ukrainian people to fight and win against a strong Russian force. We need an overwhelming bipartisan vote and a presidential signature on this legislation without delay.” Lawmakers joining Wicker in co-sponsoring the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act include Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

PACTS III a Go. The Department of Homeland Security plans to continue its department-wide contract vehicle for Program Management, Administrative, Operations (Clerical), and Technical Services (PACTS) that provide prime contract opportunities to service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses. In a Jan. 20 letter to industry partners, DHS Chief Procurement Officer Paul Courtney says that “We expect to have an ongoing dialogue with you, our industry partners, as we work to finalize the scope and structure of the upcoming procurement.” Until the PACTS III awards are made DHS will extend the PACTS II contracts, he said. DHS awarded the $1.5 billion PACTS II contract vehicle in 2016 to 34 companies.

Threat Hunter. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is seeking applicants to head its Threat Hunt team, agency director Jen Easterly said on LinkedIn a week ago. The job will pay up to $246,000 annually, which Easterly points out is “pretty good for the government.” The job description on the federal USA Jobs website says the Associate Director for Threat Hunting “will develop and implement a cohesive strategy to identify, analyze, detect, and respond to significant cyber threats affecting the federal civilian executive branch; state, local, tribal, and territorial government; and U.S. critical infrastructure.” CISA is currently ramping up its cyber threat hunting efforts. The job posting is to fill a vacancy for a current position.

New QinetiQ US CEO. Britain’s QinetiQ Group last week named Shawn Purvis as president and CEO of the company’s U.S.-based business effective Feb. 16. Purvis, who is currently corporate vice president at Northrop Grumman in charge of its Enterprise Services, succeeds Mary Williams, who announced her departure last fall. Enterprise Services provides network, cybersecurity and application support for Northrop Grumman’s employees worldwide. Purvis previously was Northrop Grumman’s chief information officer. She joined the company in 2012 as vice president of the integrated intelligence systems business unit and before that served in management positions at Science Applications International Corp.

…More People News. Textron Inc. has appointed Shannon Hines as senior vice president, Government Affairs and Washington Operations, effective Feb. 22. She will report to Textron Chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly. Hines most recently was the Republican staff director for the Senate Appropriations Committee, serving as the top adviser to ranking member Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). Peraton has named Dan Ostrosky as senior vice president and chief procurement officer, working across the company on supply chain operations, strategic sourcing and subcontractor management. He will implement the company’s multi-year procurement strategy to reduce complexity and drive supply chain efficiencies. Previously, Ostrosky was a strategic adviser to Banbury Private Capital, advising on investments in the aerospace, defense and industrial sectors. He has also served as chief procurement officer at aerospace company Triumph Group.

Force Packaging. Since the Chinese anti-satellite test in 2007, DoD has evolved from a system-level approach for defending to a “force packaging” approach, using offensive and defensive capabilities, command and control, and intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, according to Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, the head of U.S. Space Force Space Operations Command. The Chinese ASAT test in 2007, the first such test since the end of the Cold War, “was the moment that the modern, contested, congested operationally limited environment of space—we really saw it, and it took off.”

 …Sending A Message. Russia’s anti-satellite test last Nov. 15 that destroyed a defunct Russian satellite confirms the wisdom of the creation of U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command, Whiting said. “Russia looked at what they were going to do—shoot down their own satellite above the International Space Station, create long-lived debris—and they still made the decision to do it to send a message to the world and the United States about what capabilities they were developing,” Whiting said. “The Russians have just validated the very reasons that have led to the creation of U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command.”

E-2D MYP 1. Northrop Grumman delivered the 51st and final Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye production aircraft, AA-52, under the Multi-Year Procurement (MYP) 1 contract, the company said Jan. 21.  MYP 2 aircraft deliveries are due to start this year. The company noted AA-52 features the Delta System/Software Configuration (DSSC) Build 3, which includes aerial refueling and a dwell-based tracker. Northrop Grumman said in a statement that this “provides an additional leap in operational effectiveness and technology for the E-2D.”