Startup Advice for Congress. Congress can do more to help startups in the national security arena by “making more bets” on these venture capital-backed companies “by taking just a tiny percent of the $1 billion budget and allocating more toward early-stage startups,” Sassie Duggleby, co-founder and CEO of Venus Aerospace, a Houston-based startup developing a reusable hypersonic spaceplane, said last week. Duggleby said that she was “told by” a high-level Defense Department official that “if they had to make a bet between Venus or one of the major primes, that they would pick the prime because they knew they wouldn’t get fired if something went wrong.” Speaking during a webinar hosted by the Silicon Valley Defense Group, Duggleby said Congress needs make DoD risk averse “so that they can make those bets.”


The National Reconnaissance Office plans to launch the SILENTBARKER/NROL-107 NRO/U.S. Space Force mission on Aug. 29 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. ULA is a Boeing/Lockheed Martin partnership. The SILENTBARKER satellites are to improve significantly the space domain awareness provided by the six Northrop Grumman Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program satellites, four of which launched between 2014 and 2016, and the last two of which launched on Jan. 21 last year.

Australia FMS. The State Department said on Aug. 18 it has approved a potential $975 million deal with Australia for 22 Lockheed Martin-built HIMARS launchers. Under the deal, Australia is also set to receive 190 GMLRS rockets, also built by Lockheed Martin. “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States. Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific. The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

JWCC. The Pentagon has now awarded 13 task orders totaling $200 million to date under its new Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) enterprise cloud computing program to Google, Oracle, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, the head of the Defense Information Systems Agency said on Aug. 16. Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner, the DISA director, told attendees at the AFCEA TechNet Augusta conference that there’s 45 packages coming together for upcoming JWCC task orders, nine of which are associated with the Pentagon’s work on the C-JADC2 command and control strategy. “A lot of work has gone on with JWCC. I think that’s a success story with all that we’ve been able to do,” Skinner said. The update follows DISA’s announcement in late March that it had awarded initial task orders to the four JWCC vendors worth $3.8 million each. The potential $9 billion JWCC program is aimed at giving the DoD globally-available cloud services across all classification levels and for all warfighting domains.

DDG-128. HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division in Pascagoula, Miss., successfully launched the Navy’s third Flight III Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, the future USS Ted Stevens (DDG-128), the company said on Aug. 15. DDG-128 is the 76th overall destroyer of the class and is named after former senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) who served as a pilot in World War II. HII has delivered 35 DDGs thus far and has four Flight III destroyers under construction and six more recently awarded. DDG-128 is next set to be christened during a ceremony on Aug. 19 in Pascagoula. 

CG-53 Decom. The Navy held a decommissioning ceremony on Aug. 10 at Naval Base San Diego for the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG-53). CG-53 was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., and commissioned in 1987. The ship was named in honor of the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. The ship is being inactivated and will be towed to the Navy’s Inactive Ship’s facility in Bremerton, Wash., where it will be placed in a Logistic Support Asset (LSA) status.

Decom After Five Years. The Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship USS Sioux City (LCS-11) was decommissioned in Mayport, Fla., on Aug. 14 after serving for only five years. The ship deployed four times with the U.S. Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Fleets. LCS-11 was built by Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin and commissioned in late 2018. The ship type was originally meant to serve for up to 25 years. The Navy said it planned to decommission the ship in 2022 as part of the FY ‘23 budget request. Like other ships of its class, LCS-11 has a defect with its combining gear, limiting its top speed without a fix. The service aims to move funding to other priorities while acknowledging the LCS ships have not lived up to their hope and original missions. The ship now moves to a Foreign Military Sales status where it can be sold to partner countries.

SSN-805. Navy and General Dynamics Electric Boat officials conducted a keel-laying ceremony for the future Virginia-class submarine USS Tang (SSN-805) on Aug. 17. SSN-805 will be a Block V submarine and the 32nd overall Virginia-class boat. The submarine is named after a family of fish but also a World War II submarine. The Block V variants will be the first submarines including the Virginia Payload module that allows them to field more missiles.

NAVSEA Warfare Centers. Capt. Thomas Dickinson succeeded retiring Rear Adm. Kevin Byrne to assume command of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Warfare Centers during a ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard on Aug. 11. Dickinson previously served as principal military deputy and chief operating officer for Director, Surface Ship Maintenance, Modernization and Sustainment (SEA 21) as well as Commander for the Navy Regional Maintenance Center. Byrne led the Warfare Centers since April 2020. The Warfare Centers conduct research, development, test and evaluation efforts for the future Navy and provide in-service engineering and logistics support for operational surface and submarine vessels. Dickinson previously succeeded Byrne as commander of the USS Barry (DDG-52) and eventually served as AEGIS BMD Weapon Systems Program Manager at the Missile Defense Agency and executive assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition from August 2021 to 2022.

3D Printing. The Navy announced the crew of the USS Bataan (LHD-5) Wasp-class amphibious assault ship recently finished the first metal 3D part fabrication and replacement for a de-ballast air compressor (DBAC). The Navy underscored this occurred five days after the printer was installed on the ship. The ship specifically built a sprayer plate part of a DBAC, which is used to force pressurized air through saltwater tanks and discharge accumulated saltwater. The tanks are filled to lower draft and launch amphibious operations. The Navy said producing this plate at-sea “bled the ship to mitigate the time spent obtaining a replacement assembly.” The printer used includes a Phillips Additive Hybrid system, which integrates a Meltio3D laser metal wire deposition head on a Haas TM-1 computer numerical control mill. These parts allow the system to both add and subtract material from a printing project.

Operational Hack-A-Sat. During the fourth annual Hack-A-Sat competition as part of the DEF CON 31 hacking conference in Las Vegas, Nev., on Aug. 11-12., the Department of the Air Force said that it “made history with a successful and first-of-its-kind capture-the-flag hacking competition on an operational satellite” to help improve military satellite cybersecurity. This year, hackers tested their skills against The Aerospace Corp.’s Moonlighter 3U cube satellite, created with U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) for cyber exercises to advance cyber security research. Launched on June 5 to the International Space Station as part of the SpX-28 commercial resupply mission, Moonlighter “was deployed into low Earth orbit on July 6 and was commissioned just in time for its first mission to host the Hack-A-Sat 4 final event,” SSC said. Col. Neal Roach, SSC’s director of engineering and integration for space domain awareness and combat power, said in an SSC statement that Moonlighter is “the first and only hacking sandbox in space.”

Small DoD Drone Award. Autonomous drone developer Darkhive last week said it has received a $1 million award from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to enhance the capabilities of its drones for DoD strategic initiatives. Darkhive said they are partnering with the office’s Innovation and Modernization team. “They provide really phenomenal programs and resources for small businesses like ours to build, test, and evaluate our products in relevant field operations environments,” John Goodson, Darkhive’s CEO, said in a statement. Darkhive has previously received awards from the Air Force’s AFWERX technology directorate and the DoD Defense Innovation Unit.

New EDS RFP. The Transportation Security Administration last week issued a Request for Proposals for up to 33 medium-speed explosive detection systems (EDS) that would be deployed at eight U.S. airports scan checked bags for explosives. The contract will have a base-year and seven one-year options. Leidos and Smiths Detection are the suppliers of medium-speed EDS to TSA. Proposals are due by Sept. 6.

HII Hunting Kit. HII’s Mission Technologies division has released a cyber threat hunting kit called SABERHUNT that is designed to search for, detect and counter malicious activity on federal and mission partner nation networks. SABERHUNT works on traditional networks, cloud, or hybrid environments, HII said last week. The kit can be transported in airline-approved carry-on cases. HII’s team for SABERHUNT includes Dell Technologies, Secure Enterprise Engineering, Gigamori, VMware, and World Wide Technology, Inc.

New A&D Advisory Team. The boutique aerospace and defense investment bank KAL Capital Markets has formed a new advisory team, Critical Technologies Venture and Growth, which will provide advisory services on raising capital, mergers and acquisitions, and strategy to critical and emerging technology founders in the defense and space arena. The advisory team will be led by KAL founders Trevor Bohn and Ryan Murphy, and new director Trevor McKinnon.

DHS HQ Infusion. The Department of Homeland Security is getting $288 million through the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act to further construction for its headquarters facilities at the St. Elizabeths campus in Southeast Washington, D.C. The new funding will be used to support the relocation of the headquarters of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a new 1,500-space parking garage. DHS said the new offices will create space for 6,500 personnel. St. Elizabeths was selected in 2007 as the DHS headquarters site and the Coast Guard in 2010 was the first agency to move there.

U.S., ROK, Japan Summit. The U.S., South Korea and Japan on Friday at Camp David in Thurmont, Maryland held the first-ever standalone summit among the leaders of the three nations. At a press conference following the meeting, President Biden detailed the group’s discussions on bolstering defense cooperation efforts. “This is a new era in partnership between Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States,” Biden said. “We’re elevating our trilateral defense collaboration to deliver an Indo-Pacific region that includes launching annual multi-domain military exercises, bringing our trilateral defense cooperation to unprecedented levels. We’re doubling down on information sharing, including on [North Korea’s] missile launches and cyber activities, strengthening our ballistic missile defense cooperation and , critically, we’ve all committed to swiftly consult with each other in response to threats to anyone of our countries from whatever source it occurs.”

Tech Collaboration. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol also noted the three countries agreed to expand collaboration among their respective national laboratories on research and development efforts and work on emerging technologies. “We decided to broaden our collaboration in the field of cutting-edge technologies to secure future growth engines, specifically in AI, quantum, bio and next-generation telecommunications and space sectors. Cooperation among our three countries will deliver powerful synergies,” Yoon said at the press conference, via English translation.