Disaster Relief Deal Reached, But Shaky Road Ahead. The Senate on Thursday passed a $19.1 billion disaster aid package by a vote of 85-8, but the House failed to pass the bill before leaving for Memorial Day recess after Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) blocked what would have been a unanimous vote Friday. The bill, which is now tabled until at least next week, provides $381 million to repair damage caused by Hurricane Florence to installations including Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, both in North Carolina. It includes $670 million to the Air Force for damages caused by Hurricane Michael and floods that occurred in 2019, and will begin the rebuilding of Tyndall AFB, Florida, and repair facilities at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. The Coast Guard would receive $526 million to repair and upgrade Coast Guard facilities damaged by recent disasters and provide for response and recovery operations costs.

Senate Confirmations. The Senate on Thursday confirmed Army Gen. Mark Milley to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville to become the next Army chief of staff. Adm. William Moran was also confirmed to be the next chief of naval operations, succeeding Adm. John Richardson.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the Army, before the 2018 Army Navy Game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dec. 8, 2018. The U.S. Military Academy cadets from West Point won 17-10. (DoD Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

Air Force Promotions. The Senate also approved to promote Air Force Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch to the rank of general, as he is set to become the next Air Force Materiel Command commander May 31. Lt. Gen. Marshall “Brad” Webb, current AFSOC commander, was approved to become the next AETC commander, succeeding the current commander, Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast. F-35 Deputy PEO Maj. Gen. Eric Fick was approved to receive his third star and assume the PEO leadership from Vice Adm. Mat Winter. Maj. Gen. Marc Sasseville, deputy director of the Air National Guard, has been approved for promotion to lieutenant general, and become the next commander of Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region; and commander, First Air Force (Air Forces Northern), Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. Maj. Gen. David Nahom was approved for a third star and will become the next deputy chief of staff for Air Force plans and programs at the Pentagon. He currently servces as director of programs, Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Programs.

New SATCOM System for C-17s. Honeywell announced Monday it was selected to provide its JetWave satellite communications system for 70 C-17 aircraft as a part of the DoD’s Fixed Installation Satellite Antenna program. The beyond-line-of-sight communications system will support and improve the en route communication capabilities for the Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster III fleet. The initial order of 10 JetWave systems will be delivered by June 2019, with the overall program running through 2021, Honeywell said. Booz Allen Hamilton is the primary contractor on the project. Honeywell was contracted in 2017 to install the JetWave system an Australian Air Force C-130J aircraft; and that agreement was expanded in April 2019 to include five additional Hercules aircraft.

Space X Vs. the Air Force. Space X has filed a lawsuit against the Air Force, challenging the service’s October 2018 decision not award a development contract to the company for a new launch vehicle. The lawsuit was filed May 17 but made public May 22. Northrop Grumman, ULA and Blue Origin all received multi-million-dollar contracts to support development of their new rockets for potential use for future national security space launches under the Launch Services Agreement (LSA) program. In the bid protest, Space X said the LSA decision “violates the requirement competitive procedures,” and calls for suspension of further LSA investments and for the government to reevaluate Space X’s proposal. The lawsuit adds that the company previous filed a complaint regarding LSA in December 2018, which the Air Force denied this past April.

GA Satellite Arrives Ahead of Air Force Launch. GA-EMS said May 20 that its Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite arrived at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral to complete launch preparations in anticipation of the Air Force’s Space Technology Program 2 (STP-2) flight on Space X’s Falcon Heavy rocket. The satellite hosts multiple payloads for customers including NASA and AFRL. STP-2 is currently scheduled to launch June 22. “The arrival of the OTB spacecraft at Cape Canaveral marks the start of final preparations and integration on board the Falcon Heavy in anticipation of the launch, bringing our hosted payload customers that much closer to executing their missions,” said Scott Forney, GA-EMS president in a release. “This will be our first OTB satellite launch, and we are extremely excited to be delivering new technology demonstrations into orbit that will help drive future space exploration.” 

More KC-46 Deliveries. Boeing said May 20 that three more KC-46A tankers were delivered to the Air Force over the weekend, with 11 aircraft delivered to date. One tanker was delivered to McConnell AFB, Kansas, while the other two went to Altus AFB, Oklahoma. Boeing plans to deliver 36 KC-46 aircraft to the Air Force in 2019.

FMS Missile Refurbishment. The Air Force on Thursday awarded Raytheon a $355.4 million firm-fixed-price, IDIQ contract for AGM-88B High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM)/Replacement Exchange In-Kind (REIK) for HARM Control Section Modification (HCSM). The contract provides for the refurbishment of live AGM-88Bs and conversion of AGM-88B into Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM-88B) for approved FMS countries. Work will be performed in Tuscon, Arizona, and is expected to be complete by 2027. The contract involves FMS programs with Qatar, Taiwan, and Bahrain, but additional countries may be added after contract award. FY ‘19 Foreign Military Sale funds in the amount of $76 million are being obligated on a delivery order at the time of award.

NATO Cyber Opportunities. NATO’s cyber agency over the next 18 months will announce $1.8 billion in future contract opportunities, officials said on May 20. Officials from the NATO Communications and Information Agency briefed industry officials on new programs at this week’s NITEC conference in Oslo, Norway. For satellite communications, the agency plans to contract out $212 million to support NATO operations from 2020 to 2034. The office is also looking to refresh it cyber security technology with $144 million in projects. NCI Agency is also planning for up to $22 million toward nuclear command and control services, $11 million for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear functional services and a $19 million contract for joint ISR capabilities.

PacStar/Marine Corps. PacStar said May 21 the Marine Corps awarded a deal worth potentially $48 million to use the company’s Secure Wireless Command Post for sending classified information between smartphones and tablets. The SWCP system is intended to provide network infrastructure, encryption and cyber security for the Marine Common Handheld (MCH) program. “PacStar SWCP small form factor enables U.S. Marine Corps to leverage the power of smart mobile devices at the very edge of the network for mission critical warfighting operations. This new program selection helps us deliver on PacStar’s mission to deliver secure wireless everywhere,” PacStar CEO Peggy Miller said in a statement. MCH will serve as a digital information processing and display system for Marines’ end-user tactical communication devices.

GD/Cubic. General Dynamics Mission Systems said May 22 it plans to integrate its TACLANE-Nano Type 1 encryptor with Cubic Mission Solutions’  DTECH M3X portable network stack. Company officials said the decision arrives as customers have expressed interest in providing warfighters with more secure communication capabilities in a smaller, lighter product. “We listened to our customers and heard that in addition to needing trusted and secure communications when mobile, they are also demanding increased performance in a low SWaP product,” Brian Morrison, a General Dynamics Mission Systems vice president, said in a statement. Cubic’s DTECH M3X is considered the lowest SWaP portable network stack currently available, small enough to be carried in a backpack, according to GD officials.

Mack Defense Trucks. Mack Defense at the end of the May will showcase the new armored cab for the M917A3, the Army’s future dump truck, for the first time at an industry trade show in Johnstown, Pa. “The new armored cab is a key survivability feature that exceeds the Army’s blast requirements, while maintaining all interior features of the commercially available Mack Granite model, on which it is based,” officials said in a statement. The first M917A3 trucks are set to be delivered to the Army by early June to begin 40 weeks of testing. Mack Defense previously said the company expects to receive an additional order for up to seven vehicles in the armored cab configuration. Later this month at a trade in show Ottawa, Ontario, Mack Defense will also showcase the Medium Support Vehicle System Standard Military Pattern trucks it is currently delivering to the Canadian military.

‘First of Many.’ National Security Adviser John Bolton told Coast Guard Academy graduates that the service’s soon-to-be-built Polar Security Cutter (PSC) is “but the first of many icebreakers the president plans to introduce to rebuild” the nation’s aging fleet of polar ice breaking ships. The Coast Guard plans to acquire at least three PSCs, which are heavy icebreakers, and eventually three new medium polar icebreakers, although plans could change once the first PSC is delivered around 2024 and begins operating. “And soon with the hope of the new polar security cutter, the Coast Guard will lead the way in reasserting American leadership in the Arctic, which has been neglected far too long,” Bolton said May 22 at the commencement address. “Armed with these new innovative tools, the Coast Guard will enable a year-round persistent U.S. presence in the polar regions.”

…Counter to China and Russia. Bolton said the coming persistent presence by the Coast Guard will “challenge growing Russian military influence in the Arctic and push back China’s illegitimate claim to near-Arctic status as well as its use of diplomacy against Arctic nations.” The U.S. and its Arctic allies want the region to be “low tension, where no country seeks to coerce others through military buildup or economic exploitation,” adding that international commercia activity is okay but “we need to reserve Arctic governance for Arctic nations.”

New Cutter Delivered. The Coast Guard has taken delivery of its 34th Fast Response Cutter, the USCGC WILLIAM HART, which will be homeported in Honolulu. The 154-foot Sentinel class cutters patrol for up to five days and are used for migrant and drug interdiction, ports, waterways and coastal security, search and rescue operations, fishery patrols and national defense. The HART will be commissioned in September. The Coast Guard is acquiring 58 FRCs from Bollinger Shipyards.

Rapid DNA Success. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said a pilot evaluation begun earlier this month using technology that can quickly determine familial relationships demonstrated success on its first day in stopping adult illegal immigrants from claiming children accompany them as theirs. On the first day of the Rapid DNA pilot, “we had 12 adults come forward and say, ‘It’s not my child,’” McAleenan told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on May 23. “First day of the pilot in one location.” He said so far in fiscal year 2019 DHS has encountered 3,500 cases of fraud in family relationships or adults claiming to be unaccompanied children. He also said that there haven’t been many cases though of the same child being smuggled into the U.S. twice by different adults but said it is happening.

RDT&E. Naval Sea Systems Command awarded John Hopkins University Applies Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) a $2.35 billion contract ceiling increase modification on May 17 for research, development, engineering, test, and evaluation (RD&E) for programs through the Defense Department. This raises the contracts ceiling to over $7.1 billion. Funds will be obligated on individual task orders for efforts in core competency areas approved for JHU/APL: strategic systems test and evaluation; submarine security and survivability; space science and engineering; combat systems and guided missiles; theater air defense and power projection; and information technology (C4ISR/IO); and simulation, modeling, and operations analysis. This contract announcement noted the award sets a higher potential ceiling value, but does not guarantee new funds under the contract. Work will occur in Laurel, Md., and is expected to be finished by September 2022.

JPALS. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded Raytheon a $235 million contract on May 22 for low-rate initial production (LRIP) of 23 Joint Precision Approach and Landing Systems (JPALS). JPALS is a GPS-based precision landing system to guide aircraft to carriers and amphibious assault ships. The contract also procures three production and installation engineering development model unit upgrade kits, engineering change proposals, and associated data, The work will mostly occur in Fullerton, Calif., and is expected to be finished by August 2023. In all, $49 million in FY ’19 shipbuilding and other procurement funds were obligated at award time. The contract was not competitively procured.

Super Hornets. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Boeing a $164 million modification on May 17 for the service life modification (SLM) of up to 10 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets. The work will extend the operational life of the aircraft from 6,000 to 10,000 flight hours. Boeing clarified this award will fund the standup of a second SLM line in San Antonio, Texas, complementing the first line set up in St. Louis, Mo., last year. This contract work will be split between St. Louis and San Antonio and is expected to be finished by May 2021. Funds will only be obligated as individual task orders are issued. “The Service Life Modification program is making great strides as we’ve already inducted seven Super Hornets into the program, and will deliver the first jet back to the Navy later this year,” Dave Sallenbach, Boeing program director, said in a statement. The company said the San Antonio line is scheduled to get its first Super Hornet in June and a total 23 aircraft over the life of the contract. The Navy currently has over 550 Super Hornets in the fleet. Boeing said an option for FY ’20 would cover up to 35 total aircraft.