Counter Drone Expertise. The Coast Guard’s Maritime Force Protection unit provides counter unmanned aircraft system protection for the Navy’s nuclear submarine forces in the U.S., according to Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz. “Under delegated DoD authority, Coast Guard Reserve petty officers helped pioneer state-of-the art drone defense equipment at the Maritime Force Protection units in both Kings Bay, Georgia, and Bangor, Washington,” he said during the annual State of the Coast Guard speech on Feb. 20. “These Coasties provide counter-drone protection for U.S. Navy Ballistic Missile Submarines.” The counter-drone program is funded by the Defense Department, he added.

…New Cyber Strategy Coming. Schultz says that in 2020 the Coast Guard will “refresh” its cyber security strategy as the service finds itself more and more involved in thwarting cyber attacks. “We see an emerging vulnerability in the increasing cyber attacks targeting our ports,” he said. “Over the past year our new Cyber Protection Team has deployed to cities like New York and New Orleans to aid the intergovernmental response to malicious cyber attacks.” He said the new strategy will “better enable our operations.”

LSP Contract Award on Track. The Air Force remains on track to award two launch service procurement contracts by this summer, Will Roper, the service’s acquisition executive, told reporters on Friday. The service modified the request to accommodate a November 2019 ruling from GAO stating it would evaluate and select each vendor on its own merit, rather than select two providers as a combined “best value” approach. “The pair-wise selection, we really wanted to do because that’s how you would buy something in your personal life,” Roper said. “if you were buying two cars, you would pick the cars as a pair. GAO decided [we] needed to pick one, and then pick one, so we’ve modified the RFP and that’s what we’ll do.” United Launch Alliance, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, Blue Origin and Space X have stated plans to compete to become the U.S. military’s next launch service providers.

Successful Cyber Attack. Cyber attackers successfully used a spearphishing link to install ransomware on the operational technology of a natural gas compression facility for pipeline operations, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said on Feb. 18. The agency, which responded to the attack on the control and communications assets of the operational technology network, said some assets experienced a loss of availability, including human machine interfaces, data historians, and polling servers. There was no loss of operational control but the victim shut down operations for two days, which meant lost “productivity and revenue,” CISA said, noting the “victim’s emergency response plan did not specifically consider cyberattacks.” The facility told CISA that they didn’t have a response plan for cyber attacks due to “gaps in cybersecurity knowledge and the wide range of possible scenarios.”

Air Tractor Protest Rejected. The GAO largely dismissed Air Tractor’s protest that sought to overturn the Air Force’s intent to procure up to three Textron Aviation AT-6 turboprops as part of the service’s light attack experiment, according to a Feb. 10 decision. Air Tractor protested the service’s intent to sole-source the contract, stating in November 2019 that other aircraft warrant consideration. Air Tractor had partnered in 2017 with then-L3 Technologies, now operating as L3Harris, to offer the 802L Longsword turboprop as an off-the-shelf solution for the light attack experiment. The GAO dismissed the company’s protest as untimely, and noted that nothing in the experiment’s statutory language required the Air Force to conduct a competition. “The protest is dismissed in part and denied in part,” the report said.

A&D Acquisition. Cadence Aerospace, a portfolio company of Arlington Capital Partners, has acquired Kansas-based Premier Processing, a provider of surface finishing and special processing capabilities for aerospace and defense customers. The deal “allows us to significantly expand Cadence’s key capability set into the attractive special processing market, which has been a long-standing investment focus for both Arlington Capital and Cadence,” said Peter Manos, a managing partner at Arlington Capital. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ship Repair. The Navy awarded East Coast Repair & Fabrication LLC and Colonna’s Shipyard Inc. multiple award indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts worth up to $350 million total on Feb. 18 for ship repair, maintenance and modernization of non-nuclear surface ships at Norfolk, Va. The awards were given via a rolling admission solicitation process. This covers ships undergoing docking and non-docking Chief of Naval Operations-scheduled maintenance availabilities in Norfolk. The work will be procured via delivery order solicitations among the two contract holders. Each delivery order awardee will provide facilities and human resources capable of completing, coordinating and integrating multiple areas of ship work. Both companies qualify for work divided into two lots, with Lot 1 having a maximum ceiling value of $250 million and Lot 2 with a ceiling of $100 million. Work is expected to be finished by February 2021.

Trident II D5LE. The Navy conducted a single missile flight test of an unarmed life-extended Trident II (D5LE) missile from the Ohio-class USS Maine (SSBN-741) off the coast of San Diego on Feb. 16. The test on the Western Test Range followed the Maine’s Demonstration and Shakedown Operation test flight on Feb. 12. The Navy said this test validated performance expectations of the D5LE Strategic Weapon System (SWS) “and gathered additional data on the SWS’ reliability, accuracy, and performance factors.” The test marked the 178th successful missile launch of the Trident II D5 and D5LE systems combined.

EPF-12. Austal USA launched the future expeditionary fast transport USNS Newport (EPF-12) into the Mobile River on Feb. 20 at the company’s shipyard in Mobile, Ala. This marks the first U.S. Navy ship Austal has launched in 2020. Next steps for the vessel are sea trials and delivery, expected before the end of this year.

Mk 41 VLS. Lockheed Martin won a $233 million Navy undefinitized contract action to procure Mk 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) vertical launcher module assemblies, modernization kits and spare components. This award combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (74 percent) and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) for South Korea (18 percent), Finland (four percent), and Germany (four percent). Work will be split mostly among Baltimore (40 percent) and Indianapolis (36 percent) and is expected to be finished by March 2025. A total of $47 million in combined 2018-2020 U.S. Navy shipbuilding and FMS funding was obligated at time of award and will not expire this fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured but only one offer was received.

EMALS Depot. The Navy awarded General Atomics a $25 million delivery order to procure Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) Depot Planning Phase II efforts. This covers depot level logistics support analysis, engineering support for logistics, supportability analysis, maintenance planning, reliability maintenance, technical manual development and engineering support as it correlates to depot planning for the USS Gerald Ford (CVN-78) and USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79). The award also includes efforts required to complete depot planning EMALS logistics products necessary in support of an in-service EMALS. Work will mostly occur in San Diego and is expected to be finished by February 2022.

Air Force Seeks Consortium.  The Air Force released an RFI Wednesday related to setting up a new Digital Engineering Center of Excellence consortium. “The objective of this effort is to establish a state-of-the-art, end-to-end, sustainable collaborative research consortium supporting digital transformation for the Air Force and the aerospace industry,” the RFI said. About $250 million would be set aside over 10 fiscal years for the consortium, which would serve as an “idea accelerator” and “technology incubator” for industry members of all sizes to help the service mature digital engineering technologies for rapid deployment. Responses are due by March 24.

AMRAAM Software Contract. The Air Force intends to award Raytheon up to $125 million to deliver software updates to the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) inventory. The five-year IDIQ contract would run from October 2020 through the end of September 2026. “The only known responsible source that can satisfy this requirement is Raytheon Missile Systems because it possesses the required, specific, and detailed knowledge that could only be gained by years of experience in applying skills to the specific AMRAAM missile design,” the Air Force said in a Feb. 19 presolicitation notice.

Longbow Support FMS. Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman’s Longbow joint venture has received a $235.8 million deal from the Army to continue providing sustainment services for AH-64 Apache helicopter Longbow Fire Control Radar to international customers. The deal covers support for South Korea, Greece, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, UAE and the U.K. The five-year IQID contract includes program and logistics management, system modules repair, replenishing depot parts, field engineering support and training for the Longbow fire control radar. “With a tailored sustainment approach, customers have the flexibility to add services as needed based on fleet demands,” Jim Messina, Lockheed Martin’s program director for Longbow, said in a statement. “This contract also enhances LBL’s agility to achieve our customers’ sustainability requirements.”

JLTV. Oshkosh’s lead official for Joint Light Tactical Vehicles said last week the company is aware of the Army’s plan to stretch procurement of the platform to find savings and addressed the potential for an impact on the program. “The changes extend JLTV Full Operational Capability from the mid-2030s to the early 2040s.  While year-to-year funding instability hinders programs, the JLTV stands out as one of the relatively few major programs delivering on its promise. It is on schedule and under budget,” George Mansfield, the company’s general manager of joint programs, told Defense Daily in a statement. Mansfield also addressed the Army’s potential plan to bring in a second vendor to build JLTVs to drive down production costs when the program is due for a follow-on contract in FY ‘22. “Oshkosh Defense is well positioned to continue being the preferred manufacturer for the JLTV platform. Oshkosh has spent over a decade working closely with the Joint Program Office to optimize the vehicle design, manufacturing process and supply chain to ensure the highest level of protection and off-road mobility for our warfighter and the lowest cost for the taxpayer,” Mansfield said. 

SB-1 Defiant. Sikorsky and Boeing’s SB-1 Defiant co-axial helicopter, the companies’ offering for the Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program, is designed to be survivable and still complete missions if the tail of the aircraft is damaged in combat. “For the survivability piece, we can lose the whole back of this aircraft and still complete the mission as a helicopter. And a helicopter that can do 150, 170 knots. The whole back of the aircraft is all [electric actuators]. There are no hydraulics in the back,” Steve Weiner, chief enginer for X2 technology, told reporters. The back of Defiant features an eight-blade propeller than is designed to eventually push the helicopter at speeds above 200 knots. 

FVL Affordability. Sen Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters on Feb. 20 she will continue to advocate for the Army’s Future Vertical Lift plan to modernize its aviation fleet while pressing officials to ensure the program’s affordability. “We can’t be spending upwards of $60 million per airframe. If we do that, then we can’t field the modern airframes that we need to be out there in the force. So we’ll keeping very tight eyes on it.” Duckworth, who was in attendance for the first public flight demo of the Sikorsky and Boeing’s SB-1 Defiant helicopter, said the Army should aim to have a per hour flight below $10,000. 

ODIN. The Navy recently installed the first Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN) laser weapon system that can counter unmanned aerial systems, the service said Feb. 20. The ODIN was installed on the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG-105) during its Dry-Docking Selected Restricted Availability, which recently concluded. ODIN development, testing, and production was done by Navy experts at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division, who previously worked on the Laser Weapons System (LaWS). The service underscored ODIN went from an approved idea to installation within two and a half years.

Deterrence Funds. A senior Defense Department official is unsure if nuclear weapons modernization and deterrence funds should be segregated in the FY 2021 budget. “I’m not sure that the department is pressing Congress to do that. I used to work on Capitol Hill and the good news is you kind of segregate this pot of money for the nuclear deterrent, right?” the official said. “But on the other hand…you have this huge fund for nuclear modernization and it becomes a convenient target. So there are pros and cons to that particular approach.”

No Euro Nukes. The senior official also reiterated the U.S. has no intention of fielding the new submarine-launched W-76-2 lower yield nuclear weapon in Europe as a response to claims Russia violated the Intermediate Range Forces (INF) treaty, which the U.S. later pulled out of. “Our response to the Russian violation is a conventional response. We’ll respond with conventional cruise missiles and conventional ballistic missiles of the range that’s captured by the INF treaty. But we have no intention to make it nuclear capable, nor have we actually spoken to the allies about basing it on their territory.”

…W76-2 Support. However, the official said some U.S. allies thought the W76-2 lower yield warhead was an alternative to the U.S. withdrawing from the INF treaty. “They thought you can respond to the threat with the deployment of W76-2. So we actually have a lot of support, especially from our Asian allies., where we don’t actually forward deploy nuclear weapons.” The official acknowledged there can be “different points of view, you have parliaments that are anti-nuclear and so you have a broader discussion.”