Capitol Region Radar. Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies on Aug. 17, Commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command Gen. Glen VanHerck explained an unfunded priorities list request aids in domain awareness. The command’s fiscal year 2022 unfunded priorities list requested $27 million to start a National Capital Region cruise missile radar system. VanHerck said it is tied to improved domain awareness. “That radar would give us, in the National Capital Region, domain awareness. Today is challenged by cruise missiles…which have very low radar cross sections that fly about 500 mph and 500 feet or below. That challenge is to the existing systems that we have, not only in the National Capital Region but across Canada and North America,” VanHerck said. He characterized this potential project as providing a “proof of concept” that can be useful in continuity of government, nuclear response, and other strategic decision making options.

…NGI. VanHerck also said his top priority is maintaining the schedule for the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI), set to improve upon the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Systems’ missile interceptors. “I am concerned that we must develop and field it on time. It’s currently on track for 2028. The Department with the Missile Defense Agency has established a contract mechanism that will reward the timing of the fielding of the NGI and the capability and so that’s good. That’s my top priority, to make sure I can address the capability and capacity,” of advancing threats form places like North Korea. 

…SLEP. While waiting for NGI to develop and come online, VanHerck said the currently underway GMD Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) on existing Ground-based Interceptors (GBI) is “crucial” in the interim. “SLEP is the first time the Missile Defense Agency has really pulled out Ground Based Interceptors out of the ground and done an end-to-end test of the system where they look at each and every component.” He said that will give DoD “crucial reliability data where we can now predict future reliability.” VanHerck argued that potentially gives him the ability to change shot doctrine, possibly extending the utility of the current set of GBIs. This means the military may determine it can fire fewer interceptors at each incoming missile to ensure at least one destroys the missile.

FTUAS White Papers. The Army’s Program Manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems office confirmed to Defense Daily that a request for white papers will be released shortly to kickstart the competitive prototyping effort for its Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) program. The Army recently approved requirements for the FTUAS program, which looks to find a replacement for its Shadow drones, after the service spent more than a year evaluating four potential offerings to inform requirements development. A downselect decision for systems to participate in the competitive prototyping phase is set to be made in the third quarter of FY ‘22, according to PM UAS. A decision to select one vendor for FTUAS production is slated for FY ‘25.

CWMD Awards. The Department of Homeland Security Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office has made two awards totaling a combined $27 million for personal radiation detectors for use by the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration personnel. The largest award, a $19.9 million task order to Thermo Fisher Scientific, is to provide the company’s RadEye spectroscopic detectors for CBP and TSA. The CWMD Office previously awarded Thermo $26.1 million in task orders for the pager-sized devices that continuously monitor the environment to alert the user of a threat when natural gamma and neutron levels are above normal. The new task order allows CBP to accelerate fielding of the remainder of its detector ahead of schedule. A $6.7 million task order to William F. Hawk Consulting is for 2,364 detectors developed by Polimaster for use in the maritime environment will be used by the Coast Guard. CWMD in 2020 awarded the consulting firm its first task order for 3,001 of the Polimaster radiation detectors.

HII Bags Alion. Huntington Ingalls Industries last Thursday completed its $1.7 billion acquisition of Alion Science and Technology from the private equity firm Veritas Capital, a deal the company says will help it better meet the Navy’s evolving needs for future ships and capabilities. The acquisition more than doubles the size of HII’s Technical Solutions segment. Alion’s capabilities are in advanced engineering and research and development in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, military training and simulation, cyber and data analytics. Alion is expect to generate about $1.6 billion in sales in 2022.

Novetta with Accenture. Accenture’s federal business last Thursday closed its acquisition of Novetta, adding a new national security portfolio to the company that will be led by Tiffany Gates, who was president and CEO of Novetta. Novetta, which boosts Accenture Federal Services’ capabilities in advanced analytics, cybersecurity and cloud engineering, has about 1,300 employees. Accenture Federal already had 11,000 employees. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Novetta was a portfolio company of The Carlyle Group.

PMA-262. The program manager position at the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-262) changed hands during a ceremony on Aug. 12. Rear Adm. Brian Corey, head of the program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, presided over a ceremony in which Capt. Dan Mackin transferred leadership to Cmdr. Josh Guerre. Mackin oversaw the Triton’s first deployment to Guam in 20020 and the aircraft’s recent first test flight with upgraded multi-intelligence capability. Guerre most recently served as chief of staff for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (AIR/Ground ) at the Pentagon. He previously served as the P-8 Integrated Product Team (IPT) lead responsible for the aircraft development sustainment and production and before that started his acquisition career at PMA-262 as the Triton air vehicle IPT lead and later as class desk engineer overseeing the Triton’s first test flight and completion of envelope expansion. PMA-262 is responsible for development, production, fielding and sustainment of high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aircraft systems.

LCS-31. Fairbanks Morse shipped two 16-cylinder engines to the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin to be installed on the future USS Cleveland (LCS-31), the company said Aug. 17. LCS-31 will be the 16th Freedom-variant LCS. In 2019, the company was awarded a contract to build and deliver the Main Propulsion Diesel Engines for the ship. The company noted its engines power more than 80 percent of the Navy’s ships for medium-speed applications. Fincantieri builds the ships under prime contractor Lockheed Martin.

UUV Center. General Dynamics’ Mission Systems opened a new Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) Manufacturing and Assembly Center of Excellence at its Taunton, Mass., facility on Aug. 13. This center is a repurposed manufacturing space the company plans to use for manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing capabilities for the company’s Knifefish and Bluefin family of smaller UUVs. The center of excellence is set to use a portion of the Taunton 500,000-plus square feet facility. Beyond this UUV work, that facility develops communications capabilities for the U.S. Army as well as engineering, manufacturing and production support for GD Mission Systems programs. The Knifefish is a medium-class mine countermeasures (MCM) USV that detects, classifies and identifies buries and high clutter environment mines while the Bluefin units provide various underwater sensor capabilities for defense, commercial, and scientific customers.

New Lab. Northrop Grumman said this week it has opened the new Missile Defense Futures Lab (MDFL) in Huntsville, Ala., to test and field missile defense system parts. It said this lab uses custom-built servers for “comprehensive modeling, simulation and visualization capabilities to foster innovation and collaboration between developers and warfighters.” The company notes the MDFL will support missile defense systems engineers with research, modeling and simulations as well as developing tracking software. Beyond the Huntsville location, the MDFL has distributed facilities in Boulder, Colo.; Chandler, Ariz.; Colorado Springs, Colo; McLean, Va.; Morrisville, N.C.; and Baltimore.

Armed Overwatch. U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets from the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) are conducting armed overwatch over Kabul, as the U.S. continues to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghans, DoD said. The armed overwatch flights, which also include other aircraft, presumably including U.S. Air Force jets, are to provide close air support for U.S. operations, if needed. The Pentagon has a goal of airlifting 5,000 to 9,000 people per day out of Kabul but has yet to meet that goal due to required processing time for civilians who want to leave Kabul and Taliban checkpoints, which have turned back some number of Afghans trying to reach Kabul International Airport.

Minuteman III Data. The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center’s Minuteman III program office at Hill AFB, Utah said that it has contracted with Arlington, Va.-based Sabel Systems  to create a “Teamcenter” hub “to consolidate and organize data, enable enterprise-wide workflows, and visualize the health of the ICBM fleet.” Teamcenter is creating 3-D drawings of Minuteman III subsystems and components that missile wing maintainers will be able to use. AFNWC said that, while it would not be cost effective to move the entire program for the 400 Minuteman IIIs to a digital environment “in the sunset phase” of the Minuteman III lifecyle, “there are specific targets of opportunity with sufficient return on investment to justify investment.”

…Smooth Sustainment Transition. AFNWC said that “perhaps the greatest opportunity for Teamcenter is to facilitate a smooth sustainment transition across the ICBM enterprise as Minuteman III phases out and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) ICBM phases in over the next 18 years.” While the first GBSDs may be fielded around 2030, Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee’s Readiness Subcommittee, has introduced a bill to pause GBSD development and instead extend the Minuteman IIIs’ service life to 2040 in order to save tens of billions of dollars.

$777 Million. Rocket Lab is set to become Rocket Lab USA, Inc. and to start trading on the NASDAQ exchange with the ticker RKLB on Aug. 25 after the company’s merger with Vector Acquisition Corp., the purchase arm of Vector Capital–owned by tech venture capital mogul, Alex Slusky. Vector Acquisition Corp. said that at its annual meeting on Aug. 20  the board of directors approved the merger, and the holders of less than three percent of Vector Class A ordinary shares are redeeming them in connection with the merger—redemptions that will lead to a cash infusion for Rocket Lab USA, Inc. of some $777 million. “Rocket Lab has created a sustainable, affordable and innovative path to space, a feat once considered nearly impossible,” Slusky said in an Aug. 20 statement.