Cyber EO. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says that for President Biden’s forthcoming executive order on cyber security the “administration is working on nearly a dozen actions” with more details coming shortly. “The U.S. government will improve in the areas of detection, information sharing, modernizing federal cyber security, federal procurement, and federal incident response,” Mayorkas said on March 31 during an event hosted by RSA Security. “The federal government must lead by example at a time when the stakes are so high.”

…Cyber Quarterback. Mayorkas, twice in his speech, called the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) the “quarterback” for the federal governments and the nation’s efforts to bolster U.S. cyber defenses. He lauded CISA’s role in protecting the 2020 elections and as the nation’s risk adviser and said one of his priorities is to strengthen the agency’s ability to “execute its mission.”

Supply Chain Talk. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that senior White House officials plan to hold a meeting soon on the domestic supply chain, which is the subject of a Biden administration executive order and the president’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs investment plan. Asked by a reporter during last Thursday’s daily press conference if the administration is planning incentives and disincentives aimed at creating critical supply chains in the U.S., Psaki replied that the upcoming meeting will be hosted by National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. She also expects key Biden cabinet members to engage with Congress on the issue.

People News. Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator during the Trump administration and a former Republican member of Congress serving Oklahoma, has been appointed to Viasat Inc.’s board of directors. Viasat, a global communications company with a fleet of satellites and ground networks, says Bridenstine’s experience with space, aerospace and defense issues will provide the board with important expertise. Mathew Travis, a former deputy director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, has been appointed as the first CEO of the CMMC Accreditation Body (AB), an independent entity managing and administering assessment and certification related to cyber security standards for the defense supply chain through the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). Travis’ “organizational development skills as well as in-depth understanding of security and the federal government will enable us to continue to quickly ramp-yup AB operations and execute against our mission in the service of the nation’s defense,” says Karlton Johnson, chair of the AB board.

Deal News. Tyto Athene last week completed its acquisition of the defense information technology services business of AT&T. Terms of the deal, first announced in early March, were not disclosed. Tyto and AT&T will also team for opportunities in the Defense Department’s IT professional services market. Teledyne Technologies says its pending acquisition of FLIR Systems has cleared anti-trust reviews in Canada and Germany and is on track to close during the second quarter. The deal, which also was approved by U.S. regulators, still requires approvals from Poland, Turkey, China and South Korea.

Project Convergence. The Army has established a board of directors featuring a three-star official from each of the services that will work on planning and preparing requirements for the second Project Convergence (PC) demonstration this fall. During a Defense One discussion, Lt. Gen. Scott McKean, deputy commanding general of Army Futures Command, said the board of directors coincides with the Army expanding joint participation in this year’s PC event to demonstrate interoperability of future capabilities and command and control nodes across the services. “With this board of directors, the investment of the services to have the three-star general officer or flag officer involved in the planning and the preparation is what is the forcing mechanism to ensure that these different technologies that are being brought to bear, one, works the problems that we’re trying to work as a joint force but in some cases is also solving some of their own challenges,” McKean said. The inaugural PC ‘20 event last fall initiated the Army’s effort to look at establishing advanced “sensor-to-shooter” networks capable of passing targeting data in seconds rather than minutes.

‘Recipe For Disaster’ Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said this week that getting into an arms race with China would be a “recipe for disaster.” “The wrong way to look at it is we have to stay ahead of China, we have to retain our military edge. The right way we have to look at is we have to be strong enough, in all aspects, to deter what we don’t want China to do,” Smith said during a discussion with the Meridian International Center. Smith said the focus should be on harnessing advanced technologies, rather than proliferating weapons, and bolstering alliances and partnerships that would present a credible deterrence to China. “The beauty of deterrence is it’s easier than dominance. You don’t have to be totally in charge of everything. This is a minority viewpoint. The Armed Services Committee and most of the defense establishment and think thanks obsess about the dominance issue. I just think that given the rise of China, and given the way the world works now, one country being dominant is just hopelessly unrealistic,” Smith said. 

CLWS Sustainment. Boeing said on March 29 it has received a five-year, $2.5 million deal from the Marine Corps to provide sustainment services for its Compact Laser Weapon System (CLWS) units. The Boeing-built CLWS units are used to defend against UAS threats and are equipped with a  director and acquisition, tracking and pointing software. “We’re honored to continue our partnership with the Marine Corps. This will ensure that their systems continue to operate at the highest levels in defense of our warfighters,” Kurt Sorenson, Boeing’s program manager for CLWS, said in a statement. Boeing noted it recently increased the maximum beam power and reliability of the CLWS units to provide enhanced protection against “larger and more numerous threats at greater range, as well as enabling them to defeat threats more quickly and efficiently.”

MQ-4C. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a $99 million modification on March 26 to add one more low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot Five MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system. This raises the total Navy order of Tritons overall to 15 while the service plans to ultimately procure 68 production aircraft. This new contract work is expected to be finished by January 2025. $81 million in fiscal year 2021 Navy aircraft procurement funds and $10 million in fiscal year 2020 Navy aircraft procurement funds are obligated at time of award, with $8 million expiring at the end of this fiscal year.

HII Block V Sub. Huntington Ingalls Industries said it won a contract modification for the 10th Block V Virginia-class attack submarine as part of the General Dynamics-led team. On March 19, the Navy awarded GD a $2.4 billion modification for the 10th option submarine after being directed by Congress. The company revealed with this latest modification the total value of the Block V submarine contract is $9.8 billion, focused on the Newport News Shipbuilding division. Virginia-class submarine construction is generally split between General Dynamics and HII. The latter noted HII will build this final submarine, with construction planned to start in early 2024. 

Maritime Pre-Positioned. The Navy’s Military Sealift Command awarded Patriot Contract Services LLC a $25 million option on March 30  to extend and continue the operation and maintenance of eight government-owned by contractor-operated Watson-class large medium-speed roll-on, roll-off ships. The ships covered under this award include the USNS Watson (T-AKR 310); USNS Sisler (T-AKR 311); USNS Dahl (T-AKR 312); USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR 313); USNS Charlton (T-AKR 314); USNS Watkins (T-AKR 315); USNS Pomeroy (T-AKR 316); and USNS Soderman (T-AKR 317). The modification awards a 120-day extension for the period April 1, 2021 through July 29, 2021. “The vessels will continue to support the Military Sealift Command’s worldwide prepositioning requirements,” the announcement said. 

…And More. The Navy also awarded Crowley Government Services Inc. a $57 million 365-day bridge contract on March 31 for operation and maintenance of six government-owned maritime prepositioning force vessels managed by the service’s Military Sealift Command. This includes the USNS 2nd LT John P. Bobo (T-AK 3008); USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams (T-AK 3009); USNS 1st LT Baldomero Lopez (T-AK 3010); USNS 1st LT Jack Lummus (T-AK 3011); USNS SGT William R. Button (T-AK 3012); and USNS GYSGT Fred W. Stockham (T-AK 3017). These ships are specially configured to transport supplies for the Marine Corps maritime prepositioning force worldwide. Work will occur at sea worldwide and is expected to be finished by March 31, 2022. 

LCS-30. Austal USA launched the future USS Canberra (LCS-30) into the Mobile River at the company’s shipyard in Mobile, Ala., on March 30. This is the first ship the company launched in 2021 as well as the first from the company’s recently acquired dry dock. Austal USA builds the even-numbered Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship. The ship will next undergo sea trials before delivery to the Navy.

UISS. The Navy awarded Textron Systems a $13 million modification on April 1 to exercise an option to build one more low-rate initial production (LRIP) unit for the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) unmanned surface vehicle program. The UISS aims to help Littoral Combat Ships perform mine countermeasure sweep missions, targeting acoustic, magnetic, and magnetic/acoustic combination type mines. The system previously achieved Milestone C in February 2020 and subsequently a modification for an LRIP under a $22 million modification. This work will be split between Hunt Valley, Md. (70 percent) and Slidell, La. (30 percent) and is expected to be finished by September 2022.

Aegis. The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $67 million modification to exercise an option for the Advanced Electronic Guidance and Instrumentation System (AEGIS) — Combat System Engineering Agent efforts “for the design, development, integration, test, and delivery of the Advanced Capability Build 20,” DoD said on March 29. $61 million in FY 2021 Navy research and development funds, $4.5 million in FY ‘21 Navy operation and maintenance funds, and $2 million in FY ‘20 research and development funds were obligated at the time of award. 

RAM Block 2/2A. The Navy awarded Raytheon Technologies a $130 million modification to exercise options for fiscal year (FY) 2021 Rolling Airframe Missile Block 2/2A Guided Missile Round Pack, spare replacement components and recertification. This is divided into 66 percent for the U.S. military and 34 percent combined under Foreign Military Sales for Japan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Work will largely be split among Ottobrunn, Germany (44 percent); Tucson, Ariz. (35 percent); and Rocket Center, W. Va. (nine percent) and is expected to be finished by March 2024. 

Mine Hunting Sonar. The Navy awarded Raytheon Technologies a $66.5 million contract on March 31 to conduct the engineering, design, development, production, integration and testing to upgrade 10 legacy AN/AQS-20A mine-hunting sonars to the AN/AQS-20A Block II configuration, also called the AN/AQS-20C. Work will occur in Portsmouth, R.I., and is expected to be finished by August 2024. The contract was not competitively procured in accordance with federal acquisition regulations with only one responsible source, in this case the original producer.

4th Fleet. Rear Adm. (lower half) James Aiken has been selected for promotion to rear admiral (upper half) and assigned as commander of U.S. 4th Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces, Southern Command, based in Jacksonville, Fla. Aiken currently serves as commander of Carrier Strike Group Three.

…Japan. Separately, the Navy announced Rear Adm. (lower half) Carl Lahti will be assigned as commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Japan as well as commander of Navy Region Japan. Lahti currently serves as commandant of  Naval District Washington in Washington, D.C. 

…Korea. Capt. Mark Schafer was selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half) and will be concurrently assigned as commander of  Navy Region Korea, U.S. Naval Forces Korea, and Naval Component of U.S. Forces Korea. He currently serves as deputy, staff operations and plans for Joint Special Operations Command.

…INSURV. The Navy chose Capt. Randall Peck to be promoted to rear admiral (lower half) and assigned as president of the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). Peck currently serves as commanding officer of the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74).

NATO Comms. The NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency awarded Leonardo a $6 million contract in December to implement the next generation of equipment needed for the Broadcast, Ship-Shore and Maritime Rear Link System (BRASS) communications system, the agency said March 29. BRASS is used among NATO members to provide naval forces with strategic radio communications to connect national shore stations to cover areas, without NATO building and operating an infrastructure itself. The new project aims to give NATO standing naval forces and national units access to services previously only available via the Internet protocol (IP)-based networks on shore in a deployed BRASS IP Enhanced Systems (BRIPES). 

National Space Intelligence Center. The U.S. Space Force has a goal of establishing the National Space Intelligence Center (NSIC) by January of next year. NSIC, mentioned in Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond’s planning guidance last November, is to be co-located with the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio and is to focus on the space threats of potential adversaries. Two NASIC squadrons are to be re-assigned to NSIC, which is to provide “a framework for growth to meet anticipated demand for increased space intelligence at foundational, tactical, operational and strategic levels,” the guidance said.

Air Mobility Nodes. Air Mobility Command (AMC) is looking to make its aircraft, including the Boeing KC-46 and KC-135 tanker and the C-17 transport, nodes in the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) and larger Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) networks. Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, the head of AMC, said that the KC-46’s wing pod and a KC-135 pod could help provide command and control updates to forward deployed military forces or, alternatively, could provide secure processing or defensive capabilities. In an ABMS on-ramp last September, the C-17 antenna provided updated, beyond line of sight targeting data to a Lockheed Martin M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) on board the C-17–a capability that allowed the C-17 to land and offload the HIMARS, which then fired using the new targeting data before being re-loaded onto the C-17, Van Ovost said, adding that the capability makes HIMARS and the C-17 more survivable.