COMSATCOM Plan. The Space Force will have additional details regarding its plan to acquire commercial satellite communications as a service this summer, Clare Grayson, the head of the service’s COMSATCOM office, said Wednesday at the annual SATELLITE conference. The “transformational” plan will demonstrate how the new service intends to procure and deliver commercial SATCOM capabilities to the warfighter to enable greater flexibility and take advantage of commercial industry technology, she said.
Senate Race. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced March 9 that he plans to run for Senate, taking on Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.). Bullock ran for the Democratic nomination for president between March 2019 and December 2019. He was elected as Montana’s governor in 2012 and was reelected in 2016. Daines was elected to office in 2014, and currently serves on the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, and on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Ejection Seats. The Air Force plans to award Collins Aerospace a new contract for over 2,900 ejection seats by this summer, service officials said in written testimony ahead of a March 10 HASC TacAir Subcommittee hearing. The next-generation ejection seats will be placed on the F-15, F-16, F-22, A-10, and B-1 aircraft, and will provide enhancements including height and weight accommodations for female aircrew members; passive restraints and new parachutes reducing spinal and extremity injury risk; and modularity to decrease aircraft maintenance downtime. The Air Force expects to award the contract in July 2020 and start F-15 qualifications at the end of 2021. “While fielding priority and schedule are subject to funding availability, we are seeking ways to incorporate them in the F-15EX as soon as possible. Next Generation Ejection Seats will begin fielding in tactical aircraft in FY ’23,” the testimony said.
Air Force One Recap. The Air Force began modifying the first of two Boeing 747-8 aircraft to become the next VC-25B Air Force One planes in late February, AFMC said on Wednesday. The VC-25B modifications to the 747-8 aircraft will include electrical power upgrades, a mission communication system, a medical facility, executive interior, and autonomous ground operations capabilities. The work is being performed at a Boeing facility in San Antonio, Texas.
Space Symposium. The Space Foundation said Friday that the 36th Space Symposium will be postponed. It was scheduled to be held March 30-April 2 in Colorado Springs. “We did not make this decision lightly and fully understand the impact to all across the space community,” Thomas Dorame, the foundation’s vice president of Washington strategic operations, wrote in an email obtained by Defense Daily. “However, after consulting with our partners, the community, and public officials, we felt it was the right decision based on the challenges with the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic — prioritizing the health and safety of all.” The foundation is working to identify a new date for the conference this year.
ESB-4. The Navy commissioned the newest Expeditionary Sea Base, the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4) during a ceremony in Norfolk, Va.,on March 7. ESB-4 was built by General Dynamics NASSCO, aims to support various maritime mission and is designed around the core capabilities of aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging support, and command and control. The ESBs have an aviation hangar and flight deck that includes four operating spots able to land V-22 and MH-53E equivalent helicopters. The ship’s mission deck is reconfigurable and can store embarked force equipment like mine sleds and rigid hull inflatable boats.
LCS-30. Austal USA conducted a keel laying ceremony on March 10 for the future Littoral Combat Sip USS Canberra (LCS-30) at the company’s shipyard in Mobile, Ala. A keel laying is the ceremonial start of ship construction. LCS-30 will be the 15th Independence-variant LCS built by Austal. The Navy plans for the ship to be homeported in San Diego along with the other Independence-variant LCSs.
Zumwalts. Top Navy officials confirmed the status of the three Zumwalt-class ships in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Seapower subcommittee on March 4. Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts and Deputy Chief Of Naval Operations For Warfighting Requirements And Capabilities Vice Adm. James Kilby reported the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) is on track for final delivery at the end of March, followed by continued testing and post-shakedown availability to support reaching the Initoial Operational Capability by September 2021. The USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) is undergoing combat system installation and is expected to be finished in July 2020 followed by additional combat system activation and tests. The future USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) is over 87 percent complete at General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works shipyard, and the hull, mechanical and engineering delivery is planned for December 2020.
AARGM. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a $165 million modification option on March 12 to procure Lot Nine full-rate production Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missiles (ARRGMs). This mod will convert Advanced Guided Missle-88B High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles into 253 AGM-88E ARGM all-up rounds for the Navy and two Captive Air Training Missiles for Germany. Work will be split between Northridge (80 percent) and Ridgecrest, Calif. (20 percent) and is expected to be finished by March 2023. At the time of award $159 million in FY ’20 Navy weapons procurement, $4.6 million in FY ’19 Navy weapons procurement, and $1.25 million in Foreign Military Sales funds was obligated.
CIWS. Naval Sea Systems Command awarded Raytheon a $110 million modification on March 11 for MK 15 Close-in Weapons System (CIWS) upgrades and conversions, system overhauls, and associated hardware. Work will mostly occur in Louisville, Ky. (29 percent), Tucson, Ariz. (20 percent), and El Segundo, Calif. (9 percent) and is expected to be finished by October 2023. The full funding was obligated at time of award and was not competitively procured, but $61.5 million of the funds will expire at the end of this fiscal year.
Installation Energy. The Department of the Navy (DoN) published its new installation energy strategy on March 11, focused on delivering uninterrupted reliable power. The service said Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly signed it on Feb. 28 and it “reflects the DON’s emphasis on addressing energy gaps impacting warfighter readiness using all methods of power generation.” It directs the DoN to increase mission capability by integrating a higher degree of energy security via reliability, resilience, and efficiency consistent with the department’s Energy Security Framework.
Business Notes. Science Applications International Corp. said its $1.2 billion pending acquisition of the federal business of Unisys has cleared the federal Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period and is expected to close “promptly.” Aerojet Rocketdyne said its board has authorized the repurchase of up to $100 million of the company’s shares over a period up to 18 months. Finally, TriMas Corp. has acquired RSA Engineered Products, which designs, engineers and manufactures air ducting products, connectors and flexible joints primarily for aerospace and defense engine bleed air, anti-icing and environmental control system applications. RSA, which has $32 million in annual sales, was a portfolio company of Merit Capital Partners and Cornerstone Capital Holdings.
5G Security. President Trump last Thursday signed into law the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 (H.R. 4998), which prohibits the use of federal funds from being used to purchase communications equipment or services posing national security risks. Sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the act includes provision to ensure the federal government can share information about supply chain security with carriers, and creates a reimbursement program to remove and replace equipment that was manufactured by entities posing a national security risk. The bill is aimed at securing the nation’s telecommunications supply chain from companies like China’s Huawei.
Schultz on PSC. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said the exclusion of long-lead funding in the fiscal year 2021 budget request won’t impact the schedule for the Polar Security Cutter (PSC), the Coast Guard’s new heavy icebreaker. Given that shipbuilder VT Halter Marine is still in the detailed design phase of the PSC and steel won’t be cut on the first vessel until 2021, Schultz told Defense Daily that it’s “a little bit premature” to have the long-lead funds for the third vessel, adding that there is “momentum” for the program and he expects an out-year budget to include the start-up funding for the third icebreaker.
…All in on Cyber. The Coast Guard is seeking $33 million in FY ’21 to expand its cyber operations, including 190 personnel, which the commandant told reporters is the biggest investment in people in the budget request. The funds are for “some offensive enabling capabilities, it’s for defensive cyber, it’s for cyber professionals on the waterfront in our sectors” in the nation’s 22 economic and strategic ports, some trainers and the “first judge advocate to work in that cyber domain,” he said in a brief media gaggle following the March 10 hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security to examine the budget request.
Northrop Grumman/HAMMR. Northrop Grumman said on March 11 it recently completed a successful demonstration of its Highly Adaptable Multi-Mission Radar (HAMMR). The demo, which was held at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, involved mounting the HAMMR system on a Humvee and utilizing the capability as an “on-the-move” integrated air and missile defense sensor to track UAV targets. “This first-of-its-kind demonstration validated the sense on-the-move capability in concept for the Department of Defense’s IAMD enterprise and proved that this capability can be developed and fielded to warfighters much sooner than anticipated,” Mike Meaney, the company’s vice president for land and maritime sensors, said in a statement. HAMMR is intended to provide a short to medium-range X-band 3D radar that utilizes the Active Electronically Scanned Array AN/APG-83 F-16 fighter radar for a ground-based role.
Army G-2/LEO. The Army’s top intelligence officer last week detailed the service’s path for Low Earth Orbit capabilities, noting future efforts will rely on partnerships to leverage partners’ satellites that can establish the necessary architecture for multi-domain operations. Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the Army G-2 deputy chief of staff, said the service is engaged with the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence on being able to “leverage those assets that are up there now.” “In the Army that I know and grew up in, we’ve never really built rockets and launched satellites. I don’t think that’s a core competency for us. And when I think of the expense of that, it would get pretty hard to do,” Berrier said. “I don’t see us in the rocket-building, satellite-building business. I see us leveraging partnerships that we already have to make the architecture better.”