DISA Data Strategy. DISA said on Aug. 30 it has released its new Data Strategy Implementation Plan (IPlan) detailing how the office will go about improving its data integration and utilization, to include a goal of leveraging data as a “strategic asset.” “The IPlan will guide how DISA will manage and exploit data as a critical asset to deliver agile digital capabilities to the nation’s warfighter and achieve information dominance,” Carolina Kuharske, DISA’s acting chief data officer, said in a statement. DISA said the implementation will ensure data assets are visible, accessible, understandable, linked, trusted, interoperable and secure. The IPlan is aligned with data strategy goals established by the DoD CIO under the Pentagon’s larger Data Strategy, and includes four lines of effort based around data architecture and governance, advanced analytics, data culture and knowledge management.
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, announced his resignation from Congress effective Aug. 31 as he focuses on his campaign for governor of Florida. “When I first took office nearly six years ago, I vowed to defend our veterans, bring jobs to Florida, fight climate change, and put people over politics. As I close out my time in Congress, I could not be prouder of the work we’ve done to uphold those promises – passing legislation to support our veterans, expanding solar energy in the Sunshine State, securing millions in direct funding for community projects, and returning over $6 million in earned benefits to the people of Pinellas,” Crist said in a statement. Crist, who has represented Florida’s 13th Congressional district since 2017, also served on the House Appropriations Military Construction and Veteran Affairs Committee. He was previously governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011 and is now running again to unseat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Crist was a Republican until running unsuccessfully for Senate in 2010 as an Independent, and then joined the Democratic party in 2012.
SASC GOP Comms. Marta Hernandez, communications director for Senate Armed Services Republicans, announced on Aug. 31 she is leaving her current role and is set to become the Aerospace Industries Association’s new senior director of communications. “After nearly 12 years, the time has come for me to leave the hallowed halls of Capitol Hill for a new opportunity. Today is my last day with the Senate Armed Services Committee,” Hernandez wrote in her announcement.
1,000 Engines. Raytheon Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney said that it has delivered the 1,000th F135 production engine for the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter and that the company commemorated the delivery at its Middletown, Conn., plant with company officials and those from the F-35 Joint Program Office and with House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). “Pratt and Whitney employs more than 11,000 people in East Hartford and Middletown,” DeLauro said in a Sept. 1 statement. “Countless jobs are supported by the aerospace industry in the region, and remains a core part of growing our state’s economy. You have my word that I will always fight to keep these jobs in Connecticut!”
…Enhanced Engines. Pratt & Whitney said that its F135 Enhanced Engine Package (EEP) has “ample design margin” to allow for the envisioned Block 4 upgrades for the fighter and that EEP will save $40 billion in lifecycle costs. The Pentagon is mulling a way forward on the future engine for the F-35. Another proposal on the table is the Advanced Engine Transition Package (AETP), which would involve an estimated $6.7 billion for the development of a new power plant. General Electric and Pratt & Whitney have received AETP contracts. “Since delivering the first [F135] production engine in 2009, P&W has invested more than half a billion dollars in capital, process improvements and cost reduction initiatives to support the production ramp and reduce the average unit cost of the F135 by more than 50 percent,” Pratt & Whitney said.
Defense Industrial Base. James McAleese, the head of defense consultancy McAleese & Associates, is to hold a forum on Sept. 7 to discuss his programs’ forecast for next year’s fiscal 2024 DoD budget request and how the U.S. competition with China, semiconductors and the tight labor market are affecting prime contractors, the defense industrial base writ large, and the Pentagon. The newly enacted CHIPS and Science Act aims to reshore U.S. semiconductor manufacturing. Just two companies, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and Taiwan-based Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), have built computer chips below 10 nanometers. Such sizes are required for DoD-desired artificial intelligence features.
Reusable Electron? Rocket Lab USA, Inc. said that it has test fired a reused Rutherford first stage engine in an effort to make Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle “the world’s first reusable orbital small rocket.” SpaceX has been a leader in reusable rockets with its Falcon launch vehicles. Such reusable rockets could significantly reduce U.S. Space Force launch costs. “Rocket Lab conducted the full duration, full-thrust test fire of the refurbished Rutherford engine earlier this week at the company’s engine test facility,” Rocket Lab said on Sept. 1. “The engine was previously successfully launched to space and returned to Earth during Rocket Lab’s recent recovery mission, ‘There And Back Again’, launched on May 2, 2022. The mission was the first time Rocket Lab attempted a mid-air capture of Electron’s first stage, using parachutes on the rocket to slow its descent from space before a helicopter plucked the rocket from the sky as it approached Earth’s surface. The Electron stage was ultimately released for a soft ocean splashdown, before it was collected by vessel and returned to Rocket Lab’s production complex.”
People News. BAE Systems, Inc., has named Guy Montminy as its senior vice president for finance, effective Sept. 5, succeeding Scott Howat, who served in the position since 2016 and is departing to spend more time with his family, and pursue his outside passions,” the company said last week. Montminy, who will report to BAE Systems, Inc. CEO Tom Arsenault, previously served as an adviser on company initiatives and before that was president of the Platforms and Services sector. BAE Systems, Inc. runs the North American operations of Britain’s BAE Systems. Phase Four, a startup that develops and produces next-generation electric propulsion solutions for small satellites, has named former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to its board. Before leading NASA, Bridenstine served in the House as a Republican representing Oklahoma’s 1st District.
Polar Star Trials. The Coast Guard’s lone heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star, has completed sea trials as part of the second phase of its five-year service life extension program (SLEP), which is scheduled for completion in 2025. Remaining work under phase two will be completed by Sept. 30, freeing the 399-foot cutter for its annual Operation Deep Freeze deployment to Antarctica to break ice in support of a U.S. science mission there. The second phase of the SLEP began on April 8 and includes installation of two machinery control systems to recapitalize the main propulsion control and monitoring system that was installed in 2013 when the ship was reactivated. The work also includes upgrades to all galley equipment.
Temporarily Relieved. The Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area Commander last week reported that the commanding officer of the national security cutter James (WMSL 754), Capt. Marc Brandt, was temporarily relieved of his duties on Aug. 26 due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command the ship. The loss of confidence is related to a mishap aboard the cutter while underway, the service said, adding that no personnel were injured. Vice Adm. Kevin Lunday, commander of the Atlantic Area, appointed Capt. John Driscoll to assume temporary command of the high-endurance cutter pending the results of an investigation into the mishap. Brandt has been temporarily assigned to the Atlantic Area.
Screening Concerns. After conducting covert tests, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General last week reported several concerns related to screening of checked bags by the Transportation Security Administration at U.S. airports. “We identified vulnerabilities with TSA’s screener performance, associated procedures, and screening equipment,” says an unclassified one paragraph summary of the report. The report says TSA has concurred with the three recommendations made by the IG.
CVN-80 Keel. On Aug. 27 the U.S. Navy and HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding marked the ceremonial keel laying of the third Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier, the future USS Enterprise (CVN-80). The ship’s sponsors are Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky. The keel unit section of the ship will support the forward half of the carrier when it is fully assembled. CVN-80 will be the ninth U.S. Navy warship to bear the name and is expected to replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), which is set for inactivation in 2029. The previous Enterprise, CVN-65, was the first nuclear-powered carrier and was retired in 2017. HII noted 20,000 pounds of steel from the previous carrier have ben incorporated into modules for CVN-80. Ultimately, over 35,000 pounds of steel from CVN-65 are expected to be used in CVN-80.
…Two Ships Buys. Before and during the ceremony, program manager for the Ford-class program, Capt. Brian Metcalf, argued a two-ship buy is the most efficient and cost-effective way for the Navy to buy these ships. CVN-80 and the future USS Doris Miller (CVN-81) were part of a two-ship buy that “has already allowed us to realize efficiencies in the early construction process. And building the aircraft carrier with fewer, but larger, pre-outfitted super-lifts has been a major improvement that contributes to streamlining the construction of CVN-80 over previous Ford-class hulls,” Metcalf said. Metcalf told reporters on Aug. 26 the service has provided the Office of the Secretary of Defense several scenarios for future buys, but that building two ships over eight years with four year centers plus three years of advanced procurement funding is optimal. While the Navy typically received two years of advanced funding, Metcalf said now they believe they need three years because “lead times have gone up nationwide.”
Guam Radar. The Missile Defense Agency awarded Lockheed Martin a $724 million undefinitized contract option to design, develop and deliver the Homeland Defense Radar (HDR)-G system to Guam. This includes deployable and distributable arrays and mission support systems. Work is expected to last from Aug. 29, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2027, with only one offer solicited and received. The HDR-G is directed to provide a 360-degree autonomous and cued acquisition “persistent precision tracking and discrimination to enhance the layered defense of Guam,” the award notification said. In July, MD said in a Request For Information that it planned to award this contract to Lockheed Martin unless an alternative source was offered. The MDA architecture to defend Guam will ultimately include the Aegis Combat System, Standard Missile (SM)-3 and SM-6 missiles, and the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).
FFG-62 Helos. Capt. Kevin Smith, program manager of the Constellation-class frigate, PMS 515, recently confirmed the frigate will be capable of deploying two manned helicopters, beyond the base assumptions.. The frigate specifications call for fielding one Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk and one MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter. “We could go to two MH-60Romeos, that’s one thing we talked about with respect to we have as far as launch and recovery, the capability to have two tracks for two [MH-60Rs] as well as two MQ-8s if you want to go that way. But, yes, we have that capability,” Smith told reporters on Aug. 29.
VCNO Franchetti. Adm. Lisa Franchetti was sworn in as the 42nd Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) during a ceremony on Sept. 2. Franchetti is taking over from Adm. William Lescher, who is retiring after 42 years of service. Lescher served as VCNO from May 2020 through August 2022. Franchetti was promoted to admiral by CNO Michael Gilday before changing office. She will be the second woman in the position after Adm. Michelle Howard became the first female four-star admiral and VCNO in 2014. Franchetti most recently served on the Joint Staff as Director for Strategy, Plans and Policy (J-5) since October 2020. Previously, she served as commander of U.S. Naval Force Korea; commander of Carrier Strike Groups 9 and 15; deputy commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe; deputy commander of U.S. Naval Forces Africa; Joint Force Maritime Component Commander; and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Development, N7.