Checkpoint Boost. Senate appropriators in their version of the fiscal year 2021 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill recommend a handsome plus-up to the Transportation Security Administration’s request for checkpoint computed tomography (CT), providing $140 million, $111.1 million more than requested. House appropriators earlier this year in their markup of the DHS bill recommended $75 million for checkpoint CT. The Senate bill says $140 million will buy about 140 machines, although TSA in its first checkpoint CT contract with Smiths Detection is buying 300 of the carry-on baggage scanners for $97 million. The next CT contract is expected to be awarded next summer, with Smiths, Analogic, Integrated Defense & Security Solutions, and Leidos competing for the work.
…And CISA Too. The Senate bill would also significantly boost the budget request for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, recommending just over $2 billion for the DHS agency responsible for working with all levels of government and the private sector to strengthen the nation’s cyber posture. That amount is $271 million more than requested and $13.2 million above the enacted level for FY ’20, a year in which the agency bolstered resources for helping protect the recent presidential and congressional elections.
…Success. Speaking of CISA, the agency last Thursday evening along with a number of election stakeholders, issued a statement saying “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.” The statement, which includes the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees, said, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” It also highlights that in the states where results were close there are paper backups for each vote, allowing the counting of each ballot. The announcement coincided with media reports that Christopher Krebs, director of CISA, has told colleagues he expects the White House to fire him for his efforts to combat election disinformation. Last Friday, Bryan Ware, Krebs’ assistant for Cybersecurity, resigned from the agency after 10 months on the job, reportedly at the direction of the White House.
Coast Guard UAS Success. The Coast Guard last week said its small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) recently completed system operation verification testing for the National Security Cutter Bertholf, the sixth NSC to be equipped with the ScanEagle UAS system. Two more NSCs are due to complete ScanEagle installations in the first quarter of 2021. So far, the ScanEagles have completed more than 2,600 flight hours on 14 NSC patrols, supporting 53 interdictions, helping in the seizure of 48 tones of illegal drugs worth over $1.2 billion, and assisting in the capture of 132 narco-terrorists. The UAS have also been used to provide post-disaster damage assessment, aid in search and rescue efforts, and identify illegal Chines fishing vessels. The Coast Guard said it is conducting preliminary studies to explore using UAS across several of its surface, and potentially land-based, platforms.
Nacelle Testing. While the Air Force requested $122.3 million in fiscal 2021 for CV-22 modifications, the Senate Appropriations Committee recommends only $67.1 million due to concurrency issues with nacelle improvements for the aircraft—producing the improved nacelles without the needed testing. Bell and Boeing have sought to increase V-22 mission readiness rates by 10 to 12 percent through removing 8 of the 10 wiring interface boxes on the aircraft’s nacelles, changing wiring types, and through nacelle structural upgrades, such as latch changes. Mission readiness for the Marine Corps V-22 and the Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22 fell below 60 percent last year.
Biden Priorities. As a string of DoD and other national security officials have resigned or been fired, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Esper chief of staff Jen Stewart, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Joseph Kernan, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Anderson, and CISA Assistant Director for Cybersecurity Bryan Ware, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is to hold a discussion with Robert Work on Nov. 17 on how such departures affect the transition of President-elect Joe Biden and his national security priorities. Work is a former deputy defense secretary during the Obama and Trump administrations, a senior counselor for defense at CNAS, and the vice chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI).
Reducing Cost. The Air Force is to release an RfP next year for the Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC), an envisioned replacement for the aging Air Force E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) and Navy E-6B Mercury “Take Charge and Move Out” (TACAMO) aircraft by Boeing. The Air Force and Navy have been exploring options for a joint replacement of both nuclear command and control planes under SAOC, a recently re-designated ACAT 1D program. The latter category includes programs with an estimated research and development expense of $525 million or more than $3 billion in procurement in fiscal 2020 dollars. A report on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s fiscal 2021 defense funding bill said that the TACAMO “needs a replacement to ensure the critical communications link with our strategic nuclear forces is not diminished.” The committee report “urges the Navy to ensure that this mission continues and that a suitable aircraft design is utilized. Further, the Committee encourages the Navy to consider facilities and ground communication system upgrades that may be needed to support the follow-on TACAMO aircraft. The committee urges the Navy to utilize existing facilities and expertise to reduce the overall cost of the program.”
ESB-6. Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite said on Nov. 10 that a future Expeditionary Sea Base would be named the USS John L. Canley (ESB-6) in honor of retired U.S. Marine Sgt. Maj. John L. Canley, who was the 300th Marine Medal of Honor recipient for services in the Vietnam War in 1968. The Secretary announced this on the Marine Corps’ 245th anniversary “to honor a man who has exemplified all that has made our service strong, and our Nation thrive.” In June, General Dynamics’ National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), the ESB shipbuilder, started construction of ESB-6. The vessels have modular capabilities to support various missions, have a range of 9,500 nautical miles, can travel up to 15 knots, and feature a flight deck, hangar with two aviation operating spots to handle MH-53E helicopters, and ordnance storage.
LPD-21. The Navy awarded General Dynamics NASSCO a $138.5 million contract to execute USS New York (LPD-21) fiscal year 2021 docking selected restricted availability (DSRA). This work will cover a combination of maintenance, modernization and repair of LPD-21. The contract announcement noted this is a Chief of Naval Operations scheduled DSRA with a purpose to maintain, modernize, and repair the ship. This is a “long-term” docking availability and was solicited on a coast-wide basis. NASSCO will provide the facilities and human resources capable of completing, coordinating, and integrating multiple areas of ship maintenance, repair, and modernization for USS New York. This contract includes options that, if exercised, would raise the total value to over $161 million. Work will occur at NASSCO’s facility in Norfolk, Va., and is expected to be finished by June 2022. The Navy noted it received two competitive proposals for the solicitation but did not disclose the other offeror.
Air Threat Simulators. The Navy awarded Textron’s Airborne Tactical Advance Co. (ATAC) a $442 million contract on Nov. 4 to provide contractor-owned and operated Type III high subsonic and Type IV supersonic aircraft to Navy fleet customers “for a wide variety of airborne threat simulation capabilities in support of the Specialized and Proven Aircraft program, Contracted Air Services.” Work will be split among Newport News, Va. (44 percent), Point Mugu, Calif. (37 percent), Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii (14 percent), and Atsugi, Japan (five percent) and is expected to be finished by November 2025. No funds were obligated at time of award but will be released on individual orders as they are issued. The company explained it will provide up to 8,500 flight hours of fleet support air training services for five years under this contract. Training will be provided via ATAC’s fleet of Mirage F1, F-21 Kfir, and Mk-58 Hawker Hunter fighter aircraft. Work is expected to start in the spring of 2021.
Aegis. The Missile Defense Agency awarded Lockheed Martin a $724 million sole-source contract on Oct. 30 for full development and lifecycle engineering for the Aegis Weapon System (AWS). This specifically supports Aegis Baseline (BL) 5.4.1 (Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) 4.2) development; BL 9 (BMD 5.X) development; Aegis BMD In-Service support; BMD ground and flight test support; modeling and simulation support; Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex combat system engineering, testing, site support, modernization, technical and logistics support; and Aegis BMD ship installation and planning. This covers AWS fielding for destroyers, cruisers and Aegis Ashore configurations. Work will occur at the company’s facility in Moorestown, N.J., and is expected to be finished by February 2024. $45 million of this funding was obligated at the time of award, coming from fiscal year 2020 and 2021 research, development, test and evaluation as well as fiscal year 2021 defense-wide procurement and operation and maintenance funds.
…SM-3. The Missile Defense Agency also awarded Raytheon Technologies a sole-source contract on Oct. 30 worth up to a maximum $722 million to provide management, material and services associated with the sustaining engineering and product support services of the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) missile variants for the U.S. and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) partners. This contract is a hybrid of a fixed-price incentive firm-target, fire-fixed-price, cost-plus-incentive fee and cost-plus-fixed-fee and covers a nine-year ordering period from fiscal year 2021 to 2029. $7 million in fiscal year 2021 research, development, test and evaluation funds was obligated at award time.
PE Audit. The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General released an audit of the Navy Department’s actions to reduce physiological episodes (PEs) on Nov. 6, finding the Navy indeed took actions to reduce and mitigate PEs. The Navy experienced an increase from 13 PEs in FY 2010 to 165 PEs in FY 2017, leading to congressional and Navy leadership attention. The DoD IG particularly reviewed actions to reduce PEs in T-45 Goshawk trainers, F/A-18 A-D legacy Hornets, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, and EA-18G Growlers, which reported the highest number of PEs per 100,000 flight hours during this period. The Navy implemented 189 recommendations for these aircraft from Root Cause Corrective Action teams and plans to implement another 250. The Navy has thus achieved “consistent year-to-year reductions in PEs from FY 2017 through 2020.”
SASC Republicans. Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) both won their reelection bids this week after official votes counts were finalized in their respective states. The two Senate Armed Services Committee members were critical to Republicans’ chances of retaining control of the Senate in the next Congress. Tillis won a close campaign over Democrat Cal Cunningham, while Sullivan secured a victory over Independent challenger Al Gross. Control of the Senate will now come down to the two run-off elections in Georgia on Jan. 5, where SASC member Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) is facing Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) is up against Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock.
CA25. Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.), a former Raytheon executive, is locked in a virtual tie with Democrat Christy Garcia in his reelection bid for California’s 25th Congressional District. While Garcia gained a lead by just over 200 votes, as of the latest count on Thursday afternoon, the race is still too close to call. Garcia is a freshman member of Congress, where he’s held the seat since winning a special election in May to replace former Rep. Katie Hill following her resignation. While with Raytheon, Garcia was a business development manager for the company’s intelligence and space business.
Progressives/Next SecDef. Progressive House lawmakers are calling on President-elect Joe Biden to not nominate a defense secretary who has ties to defense contractors. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a former co-chair of the caucus, sent a letter to Biden urging him to break away from having senior DoD officials with close ties to the defense industry. The lawmakers cite former Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s time as a top Raytheon executive, Pat Shanahan’s work with Boeing and Jim Mattis’ time serving on the board of General Dynamics. The letter may be a signal of progressives’ stance on Michele Flournoy, Biden’s likely pick for defense secretary. Flournoy, who served as an under secretary of defense for policy during the Obama administration, has co-found the WestExec Advisors consultant group and she is currently on the board of Booz Allen Hamilton.
Hypersonics Test Range. Texas A&M University on Nov. 12 approved a two-phase plan for the construction of the hypersonics and directed energy testing range that will support Army modernization and experimentation efforts. The first phase of the new Ballistic, Aero-optics and Materials (BAM) Test Range, part of the George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex (BCDC) on its RELLIS Campus, will be construction of 500 meters of the testing range, with work to begin in April and be completed by the end of 2022. Phase one will cost $38.6 million, with this section to be operational while Phase Two construction is ongoing. Phase Two will cost $22 million to complete the full one-kilometer BAM Test Range, with work expected to conclude in late 2023 or early 2024. “BAM will be a world-class engineering feat. It’s one of the big reasons the nation’s military and defense industry are turning to us for innovation.” John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M System, said in a statement.