Best and Final Offer. The U.S. government and Lockheed Martin submitted an F-35 best and final offer on to the Finnish government for the latter’s HX fighter competition to replace the country’s fighter fleet of 55 Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornets. Boeing is offering its Super Hornet and Growler for the fray while Eurofighter is bidding its Typhoon, Dassault its Rafale, and Saab its Gripen E. “The F-35 offering is a total package that includes F-35A aircraft and a sustainment solution tailored to meet Finnish security of supply requirements to support all operational needs if in a closed border scenario,” Lockheed Martin said. Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program general manager, said that “the F-35 will provide Finnish industries high technology job opportunities that no other competitor can offer.” Lockheed Martin said that its F-35 offering is “the most affordable solution for the Finnish Air Force’s future fighter fleet as the only 5th Generation fighter at the cost of 4th Generation aircraft.”

Navy Path.

During a virtual Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment event last week, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday laid out the near-term shipbuilding path the service is on, assuming funding “remains stable and fairly predictable.” Under these conditions, Gilday expects by 2025 all Virginia-class Block III and Block IV submarines will be delivered and “we’ll be at the cusp of delivery on Virginia-class Block Vs.” Similarly, the Navy is deploying its first F-35C squadron on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) this summer and by 2025 will have six squadrons of the aircraft in six wings “and be that much closer to a fourth-fifth-gen mix, again with weapons, with range, speed, with respect to the [Lockheed Martin Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) and Northrop Grumman AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM)].”

…Navy Sats. The Navy plans to transfer 13 satellites it operates to the Space Force while maintaining parts of its research laboratories that work on space issues, Gilday said during the event. Gilday said the satellites belong with the Space Force and that cooperation has been seamless. The space research lab work is staying in-house “for the sole reason that, as you can imagine in a Navy research laboratory there’s a lot of cross cutting work that goes on across a number of different disciplines.” He said the Navy and Air Force are developing agreements that give the other service more say in what work the Navy does, “but we’re not upsetting the workforce or we’re not upsetting that command and control…but we’re still focused on mission and not on ego with respect to who owns what.”

…Space Personnel. Gilday also said he and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond have a “handshake agreement” to transfer the first Navy officers to the Space Force and it will follow a more rigorous process over time. While the Navy does not have a formal space community, “we do have what we call a cadre and those people are identified based on education or experience in commands like STRATCOM or both.” Gilday said there is always some friction with this kind of change, “but I just haven’t experienced much as a service chief with respect to that transformation.”

Hypersonic R&D. The DoD Science and Technology Executive Committee selected the Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Naval Center for Space Technology Surface Morphing and Adaptive Structures for Hypersonics (SMASH) proposal as the winner of the 2021 Applied Research for Advancement of S&T Priorities program award competition.  The SMASH program aims to improve hypersonic systems’ performance, lethality, and durability by implementing adaptive geometry and smooth, flexible surfaces to enable superior lift, maneuverability, and efficiency over conventional more rigid boost-glide missiles, air-breathing cruise systems, and interceptors, DoD said. NRL will lead a three-year $45 million program that includes a DoD research team from various service research laboratories and academic partners.

Apaches/Black Hawks. The Army is planning to award the final multi-year deals for its Apache and Black Hawk helicopters in March 2022 and mid-FY ‘22 respectively, officials told reporters on April 30. “Because we’re in the negotiations there is still some room for exactly what the final quantities are [going to be]. In both cases we’re trying to maintain as much flexibility for the Army as well as provide as much clarity as we can to each of our industry teammates, so that when we execute the negotiations we do so with a clear understanding of what the requirement is,” said Brig. Gen. Rob Barrie, the Program Executive Officer for Aviation, noting that negotiations with Boeing and Sikorsky will take place over the course of this year. Barrie has said previously the move to sign final multi-year deals for Apaches and Black Hawks is part of the service’s shift to Future Vertical Lift as its priority.

Colin Kahl. The Senate on April 27 voted to confirm Colin Kahl as the next under secretary of defense for Policy, with a 49-45 vote along party lines. Kahl, who served as the national security adviser to then Vice President Joe Biden during the Obama administration, faced contentious opposition from GOP lawmakers during his confirmation process to include scrutiny over previous social media posts criticizing the Trump administration and for his role in crafting the Iran Nuclear Deal. A final vote on Kahl’s nomination was expected to end in a tie requiring a tiebreaker vote from Vice President Kamala Harris until absences from several Republican lawmakers made that unnecessary. “Dr. Kahl’s vast experience within the Department’s Policy office, at the White House, as well as his work with think tanks and academia, make him uniquely qualified for this position. He is the right person to head up the Policy team as we work to address the national security challenges presented by our number one pacing challenge – China, and to effectively deter nation-state threats from Russia, Iran and North Korea, while disrupting terrorist threats to our homeland emanating from various locations around the globe,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement following Kahl’s confirmation.

Expanding the Envelope. The Coast Guard is continuing evaluations of technologies in a maritime environment to enable small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) detect and avoid obstacles and aircraft in flight so they can fly beyond visual line of sight. The service published a notice in April 27 Federal Register saying it is considering entering into cooperative research and development agreements with Scientific Applications & Research Associates, Iris Automation Inc., and Echodyne to use their technologies to flight test and evaluate “sUAS under a wide variety of simulated but realistic and relevant real-world maritime operational scenarios, such as: Law enforcement; search and rescue; and maritime environmental response.” The service also invited other non-federal entities to potentially participate with their technologies. The Coast Guard began evaluating detect and avoid technologies for BVLOS sUAS operations last year.

AUSA Annual Meeting. AUSA announced last week it is planning to hold its annual meeting this fall in Washington, D.C. with limited in-person attendance. Event organizers are also planning to hold some aspects of the event online, and are preparing for a virtual meeting option for those who prefer to participate remotely. “Working closely with the Army, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and District of Columbia government, there are understandably many uncertainties due to COVID-19. The possibility remains that circumstances could again make it legally and practically impossible for AUSA to hold its Annual Meeting in-person. We are evaluating how we might restructure this year’s event with virtual components. At a minimum, in-person attendance will likely be limited by health and safety restrictions,” organizers wrote in a statement. Last fall’s conference was held virtually due to the pandemic. AUSA will release additional updates in the coming months.

Navy Assignments. The Navy announced several new assignments on April 30. Rear Adm. William D. Byrne Jr. is assigned as director of warfare development, N72, in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OCNO). Byrne currently serves as vice director, Joint Staff. Rear Adm. Douglas Perry will be assigned as director of the Undersea Warfare Division, N97, at the OCNO. Perry is currently serving as commander of Submarine Group Nine. Capt. Christopher  Kijek was selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half) and will be assigned as director, Operations and Plans, N3, at the OCNO. Kijek currently serves as executive assistant, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Rear Adm. (lower half) Douglas Verissimo will be assigned as director of the Assessment Division, N81, in the OCNO. Verissimo is currently serving as commander of Carrier Strike Group Nine. 

…More Assignments. The Navy also announced that Rear Adm. (lower half) Craig Clapperton will be assigned as commander of Combined Joint Task Force, Cyber with the U.S. 10th Fleet. Clapperton currently serves as commander of Carrier Strike Group Twelve.  Rear Adm. Ronald Copley is also being assigned director of the National Maritime Intelligence Integration Office and commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence. He is currently deputy director of Operations at the National Security Agency.

THAAD Award. The Missile Defense Agency awarded Raytheon Technologies a $243 million modification for a single AN/TPY-2 radar to support a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Battery, DoD announced on April 21.  The units are labeled radar number 13 to support THAAD battery number eight. MDA could not provide details by publication but the FY 2021 defense budget bill added an additional $319.6 million over the department’s request for an eighth THAAD battery. This modification raises the total value of the overall THAAD contract from $1 billion to $1.2 billion. Work will last until December 2024.

Award to VTG. Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific (NIWC-PAC) awarded VTG a $116 million prime contract to provide C4ISR engineering and production services for its Network Integrations Engineering Facility (NIEF), the company said. The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract have a five-year performance period. The NIWC-PAC NIEF focuses on the rapid design and integration of commercial and government off-the-shelf products for military applications. VTG will provide the NIEF with procurement, fabrication and integration of C4ISR end items like production units, ancillary kits, sub-systems, assemblies, sub-assemblies, modules and spares. VTG said these end items cover a “full spectrum of C4ISR systems for surface ships, submarines, and shore-based applications.”

Cubic Update. Cubic Corp. says its shareholders last Tuesday approved the company’s pending acquisition by the private equity firms Veritas Capital and Evergreen Coast Capital, keeping the transaction on pace to close during the second quarter of 2021. The deal still requires regulatory approvals. The transaction is valued at $3 billion, including the assumption of debt.

Global Coast Guard. Three Coast Guard cutters last week spent time operating in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, working with NATO allies and partner nations to conduct routine patrol operations and maritime domain awareness. The 418-foot National Security Cutter Hamilton transited into the Black Sea on April 27, operating with the U.S. Navy’s Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) and the Turkish navy. The Hamilton’s crew conducted a passing exercise and cross-platform helicopter operations with the Turkish navy’s Yavuz-class frigate TCG Turgutreis (F 241). Separately, the Coast Guard 154-foot Fast Response Cutters Moulthrope and Goldman put into Athens for a routine visit and key leader engagements before a planned underway exercise. The FRCs are headed to their homeport in Bahrain to support the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia.

Name Change. Fairbanks Morse, which makes engines for ships, rail systems, and industrial applications, and provides military aftermarket services, has changed its name to Fairbanks Morse Defense. The company says the change reflects it’s “emphasis on service to its military and commercial maritime customers while also enhancing its ability to quickly respond to its current customer base with a broader range of aftermarket service solutions.”

Space Domain Awareness. NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation’s (ACT) Innovation Hub at Old Dominion University at Norfolk has opened its biannual innovation challenge focusing on the improvement of space situational awareness through the collection and analysis of relevant information, assessing any disruption of space based services, and visualizing space domain information. ACT’s Innovation Hub is collaborating on the challenge with NASA, the European Space Agency, France’s Space Command, and the innovation agencies of Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Industry and academia winners may receive $8,500 and have a chance to demonstrate their solutions. The head of ACT, French Air Force Gen. Andre Lanata is to visit U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 5-6.