Win, Lose, Win. After first winning the contract, then losing it following protests by losing bidders, Amentum’s DynCorp International business unit once again has won a potential $1.3 billion contract to provide aviation maintenance and logistics services to Customs and Border Protection. If it holds, the contract has a one-year base period and nine one-year options to service the agency’s fleet of 211 fixed and rotary-wing assets, excluding P-3 and unmanned aircraft, which are serviced under separate contracts. DynCorp won the contract in 2018 only to lose it in May 2020 to PAE after PAE and Vertex Aerospace successfully protested and forced a recompete. After another protest round, DynCorp is back on top.

Overseas Arms Sales. As the Biden administration pledges to scrutinize the former Trump administration’s announced arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) is urging the new administration to ban arms sales to countries with significant human rights violations. CIVIC has given examples that it believes should fall under such a rubric, including the sales of spare parts for Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters to Egypt, as CIVIC said Egypt has used helicopters to surveil protest camps in Cairo and to facilitate the use of force against peaceful protesters from the camps. Another example cited by CIVIC was the late 2017 sale of 12 Sierra Nevada Corp./Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft to Nigeria despite the country’s bombing of a refugee camp in January 2017, which killed 200 civilians displaced by the Boko Haram terrorist group.

SASC/Hicks. The Senate Armed Services Committee has voted to advance Kathleen Hick’s nomination to serve as Biden’s deputy secretary of defense. “Dr. Hicks is a highly regarded national security and defense policy expert with extensive experience in government and the private sector. This committee has relied on Dr. Hicks’ expertise to shape defense policy and conduct oversight and I am pleased we are advancing her nomination to serve as Deputy Secretary of Defense with strong, bipartisan support. This position is critical to national defense and I hope the full Senate will confirm her as soon as possible, without needless delay,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the SASC chairman, said in a statement. The full Senate may take up a vote on Hicks’ nomination as soon as next week. 

HASC Vice Roles. Reps. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.) have been elected as the House Armed Services Committee’s vice chair and vice ranking member, respectively. Luria has most recently served as the vice-chair of the HASC Seapower Subcommittee. “In the last Congress I frequently commented on the caliber of the freshman members on our committee, and Rep. Luria was among them. In the 117th Congress, our members will benefit from Rep. Luria’s deep knowledge across the Committee’s jurisdiction, as well as her leadership, and I look forward to our work together,” Rep Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the HASC chairman, wrote in a statement. Wittman, meanwhile, has served as the top Republican on the Seapower Subcommittee. “He will be a fierce advocate to properly fund our military, modernize our forces, and counter threats from our adversaries. I am confident his deep understanding of the issues important to our armed forces and his experience leading the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee will be an invaluable addition to our leadership team,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the HASC ranking member, wrote in a statement. 

People. Perspecta says that Chairman and CEO Mac Curtis plans to retire once his company is acquired later this year by Peraton. General Dynamics’ board has elected Robert Steel as a director. Steel, 69, is a partner at the global financial services firm Perella Weinberg Partners and has served in the U.S. Treasury Department and as New York City’s deputy mayor for Economic Development. And Science Applications International Corp. has appointed Josh Jackson as senior vice president of its Naval Business Unit, managing a $1 billion customer portfolio. He has been with SAIC since 2002.

Hold On. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) last Thursday put a hold on the nomination of Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) to be Secretary of Commerce over concerns the Biden administration won’t maintain a prohibition on U.S. companies doing business with Chinese telecommunications company Huawei. Cruz tweeted that he will lift the hold once the administration “commits to keep the massive Chinese Communist Party spy operation Huawei on the Entity List,” referring to the Commerce Department’s list of companies restricted from doing business with U.S. firms. Raimondo’s nomination cleared the Senate Commerce Committee last week on a 21 to 3 vote with just Cruz and fellow Republicans Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and Rick Scott (Fla.) opposed.

Rare Earth Award. The Defense Department last week awarded Malaysia-based Lynas Rare Earths Ltd., a $30.4 million investment to establish processing capabilities in Hondo, Texas, for light rare earth elements. These elements are critical to defense and commercial technologies and the investment is part of the U.S. government’s strategy to increase domestic supplies and capabilities of rare earth elements, many of which are concentrated in China. DoD says that once the new processing plant is complete, Lynas will produce about 25 percent of the world’s supply of rare earth element oxides.

Future of GBSD. Kathleen Hicks, President Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of defense, told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee that she expects the administration to conduct a Nuclear Posture Review, as other administrations have done. One key question will be the future of the Northrop Grumman Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program. While Hicks said that she supports the nuclear triad and that ICBM modernization is crucial, arms control advocates are advocating a sharp cut or a cancellation of GBSD and associated programs to save more than $100 billion over the next decade. Jessica Sleight, program director at Global Zero, believes that GBSD “should be canceled, and the Biden administration should begin the process of retiring the ICBM leg.” Sleight said that the Biden administration should eliminate the plan to deploy the W87-1 warhead for GBSD and reduce requirements for plutonium pit production to 30 pits annually.

HII Staffing. Huntington Ingalls Industries on Feb. 2 announced retired Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller was named corporate vice president of customer affairs, succeeding Mark Fox upon his retirement later this year. Miller last served as commander of Naval Air Forces as well as commander of Naval Air Force with the U.S. Pacific Fleet starting in 2018 before retiring after over 30 years of service in December. In this new company role, Miller will be responsible for outreach to executive branch principals as well as the Navy fleet for the Newport News Shipbuilding portfolio. Miller will report to Mitch Waldman, HII executive vice president for government and customer relations.  “His extensive naval career provides him with a vast understanding and a wealth knowledge of our portfolio, as well as how they support the Navy’s missions. I am confident his expertise will be critical in continuing our company’s proven track record with collaborating with our Navy partners,” Waldman said in a statement.

More JCREW. Naval Sea Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman another $330 million modification on Feb. 3 to exercise options for the Joint Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare (JCREW) Increment One Block One (I1B1) dismounted systems, mounted systems, mounted auxiliary kits, operational level spares, depot level spares and engineering support services. JCREW is a jammer that seeks to defend against radio-controlled IEDs. The announcement noted this involves Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to Australia, with FMS funding of $116 million obligated at the time of award. Work will occur in San Diego and is expected to be finished by December 2022. Last July, the Navy awarded the company a $24 million modification largely covering Australian purchases due to be finished by June 2022.

SSN-725. The Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries a $12.5 million modification to continue performing the repair, maintenance and upgrade efforts on the Los Angeles-class USS Helena (SSN-725) attack submarine during its Dry-Docking Selected Restricted Availability (DDSRA). Helena’s maintenance is known for experiencing cost overruns and delays, pushing back maintenance on the poster child vessel for delayed submarine maintenance, the USS Boise (SSN-764). Work will occur at the company’s Newport News, VA facility and is expected to be finished by this April. The full award amount was obligated at time of award and will expire at the end of this fiscal year.

Carrier Maintenance. The U.S. Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Technical Solutions division a contract worth up to $175 million to provide aircraft carrier maintenance, training and planning support, the company said Feb. 1. The indefinitely delivery/indefinite quantity style award covers a five-year ordering term with a maximum possible value of $175 million. Under this award, HII will provide engineering services, maintenance and operator training, technical and repair services in support of maintenance and planning for an overhaul, modernization and repair of shipboard elevators, cargo-handling equipment and associated systems. This work will occur onboard U.S. carriers in Norfolk, Va.; San Diego; Bremerton and Everett, Wash.; Japan; and other fleet concentration areas yet to be determined.

Navy Sustainment. The Navy awarded Leonardo DRS a multiple award contract in December worth up to $211.5 million to supply system hardware and full life-cycle support for the Aegis and Ship Self-Defense System combat management systems, the company said Jan. 25. Under the cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, Leonardo DRS will specifically provide sustainment of the TI-16 Combat Systems Processing, Network, Storage and Display Hardware fielded across the surface ship fleet.  This includes the sustainment, manufacture, assembly, and testing of TI-16 hardware, spares; engineering services, procurement, and installation of ordinance alteration kits and related products.

F-15EX Test Pilot. Boeing Chief Test Pilot Matt “Phat” Giese planned on Feb. 6 to discuss his experience flying the F-15EX, which had its first flight on Feb. 2 with Giese at the controls in anticipation of “early delivery” of the first two jets to the U.S. Air Force this quarter, per Boeing. On Feb 2, Giese flew the plane for 90 minutes before returning to land at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. The Air Force plans to buy 76 F-15EXs across the Future Years Defense Plan. Overall, the service may buy 144 jets or more.

Army Applications Lab/Network. The Army Applications Lab has teamed with with Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team to find small businesses capable of creating “a fail-safe, crystal clear communications capability through Same Frequency Simultaneous Transmit and Receive (SF-STAR) technology to improve spectrum efficiency, reduce interference, and operate across environments that are congested, contested, and exposed to electromagnetic interference.” The new Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program looks to bring in non-traditional partners with technology concepts that could decrease Army spectrum usage by 50 percent. The Army will accept applications from Feb. 25 to March 24 to participate in the SF-STAR SBIR program.

AAL/Exoskeleton. The Army Applications Lab has also teamed up with the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team to find small businesses interested in participating in the Exoskeleton Sensor Data Fusion & Insight System (ExoSense) project. “Companies will propose ways to enhance, continuously analyze, observe, and directly monitor Soldiers’ movements, speed, and direction on the battlefield. Those versed in sensor fusion, data science, and human performance technologies, including those with no experience in government contracting, are highly encouraged to apply,” the Army wrote in the announcement. ExoSense is a Special Program Awards for Required Technology Needs (SPARTN), and applications will be accepted between Feb. 25 and March 24.

Chile FMS/SM-2s. The State Department has approved a potential $85 million deal with Chile for 16 SM-2 Block IIIA missiles. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on February 5 of the foreign military sale for the Raytheon-built missiles. “This proposed sale would support Chile’s anti-air warfare capabilities for the two recently transferred former Adelaide-class frigates to the Chilean Navy,” officials wrote in a statement. 

NATO Radios FMS. The State Department has approved a potential $65 million deal with the NATO Communications and Information Agency for over 500 AN/PRC-158 Manpack UHF SATCOM radio systems. “This proposed sale will ensure NATO warfighters have access to the latest C3I systems and technologies, and will be interoperable with U.S. forces. An updated UHF TACSAT radios in the hands of NATO allies and partners will offer significant C3I capabilities at all echelons, from the operational level down to the lowest small unit tactical formation. These capabilities increase secure communication effectiveness and efficiency and enhance military decision making,” officials wrote in a statement.