F-35A Engines. The U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command (ACC) said that it is working with the F-35 Joint Program Office and Pratt & Whitney to resolve supply and maintenance issues with Pratt’s F135 engine for the F-35A, as such engines have had to enter maintenance earlier than expected due to delaminations of coatings on the engine’s turbine blades–delaminations which have caused the engines to run hot. ACC also said that it is reducing the number of airshow appearances for the F-35 demonstration team, as the latter flies combat-coded operational aircraft and ACC wants to have enough available F135 engines for the F-35A to meet deployment and training requirements. An F-35 alternate engine program, using the F136 engine by General Electric and Rolls Royce, ended in 2011.

OMB Director Nominee.

Neera Tanden, President JoeBiden’s nominee for Office of Management and Budget director, told lawmakers last week that improving federal IT modernization and cyber security efforts will be among her top priorities, if confirmed. “Obviously, we have multiple challenges in technology, one is cyber security. The recent SolarWinds incident tells us that we have a lot of work to do,” Tanden said, during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “One of the big differences between the United States and other countries is the fact that our government can be woefully inefficient and ineffective because we don’t really use technology effectively.” Tanden said she would work with Biden on his proposal for a “significant increase”  in funding for the Technology Modernization Fund and IT Oversight and Reform Fund.

HASC Subcommittee Vice-Chairs. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, on Feb. 12 announced the vice-chairs for each of the subcommittees. The list is as follows: Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) for Tactical Air and Land Forces; Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) for Military Personnel; Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) for Readiness; Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) for Seapower and Projection Forces; Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.) for Strategic Forces; Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) for the new Intelligence and Special Operations; and Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) for the new Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems.

Lord to Chertoff. The strategic advisory firm The Chertoff Group has added a seasoned hand, former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, as a senior advisor. Prior to Lord joining the senior ranks of Defense Department during the Trump administration, she previously led Textron’s Textron Systems defense business. The Chertoff Group says Lord will provide counsel on defense programs, homeland security and critical infrastructure protection. “Ellen’s deep background in aerospace and defense, both in the government and private sectors, coupled with her business acumen will add immense value to our clients,” says Michael Chertoff, co-founder and executive chairman of the firm and Homeland Security Secretary during the last four years of the Bush administration.

…More People News. Elbit Systems of America, the U.S.-based division of Israel’s Elbit Systems, has added three new board directors, including a new chairman, Robert Johnson, who is also chairman of aerospace supplier Spirit AeroSystems. The other new board members include John “Chris” Inglis, who retired from the Defense Department in 2014 as deputy director of the National Security Agency, and Richard Edwards, who recently retired as an executive vice president of Lockheed Martin International. Robert Magnus, Joe Reeder and Ronald Hite recently retired from Elbit Systems of America’s Board. And BlueHalo, a small defense company that is owned by Arlington Capital Partners, has named Katie Selbe as its chief operating officer. She most recently was senior vice president and general manager of Alion Science & Technology’s Cyber Network Solutions Group.

UK Pathfinder. Lockheed Martin has put California-based ABL Space Systems under contract to provide a rocket for Lockheed Martin’s first United Kingdom vertical satellite launch, scheduled to take place in Scotland next year under the U.K. Pathfinder Launch program. The launch is to be the first U.K. commercial launch for ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket. ABL Space Systems is a developer of low-cost launch vehicles and systems for the small satellite industry.

Russia Learning. Over the past five years Russian cyber operators have advanced their cyber-hacking skills, demonstrated by the successful breach of government and private sector networks via the software supply chain, says Dmitri Alperovitch, a cyber security expert. Hacks of U.S. government networks in 2014 and 2015 by Russia’s foreign intelligence agency were “noisy” and discovered quickly, likely leading them to be stealthier by compromising software supply chains, he tells the House Homeland Security Committee. “I believe that this is the Russians’ new way of doing business in cyber operations, and I suspect we will continue to see this new approach for years to come,” he says. Alperovitch expect China’s intelligence services to learn from Russia’s successful exploits.

U.S.-Turkey. U.S. and Turkish naval forces conducted joint integrated surface, air and subsurface warfare exercises in the Black Sea on Feb. 9. U.S. Navy participants included the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Donald Cook (DDG-75), USS Porter (DDG-78), and a P-8A Poseidon from Patrol Squadron (VP) 46. Turkish participants included frigates TCG Orucreis (F 245) and TCG Turgutreis (F 241), and two Turkish F-16 fighters alongside reconnaissance aircraft. The Navy said these maneuvers enhance the tactical proficiency of the ships and aircraft via precision command and control and communication. DDG-75 and DDG-78 are two of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces – Europe destroyers based in Rota, Spain and entered the Black Sea on January 23 and 28, respectively.

DDG-1002. The Navy announced Feb. 8 it intends to award a sole source contract to Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding Division for the combat systems availability (CSA) work on the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002), the third and final Zumwalt-class destroyer. The service said this CSA will include complex government furnished equipment installs that mirror construction-type efforts. Moreover, all hull mechanical and electrical operation responsibilities will be performed by the CSA contractor. DDG-1002 is under construction at prime contractor General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works in Maine and is set to be commissioned after the combat systems are installed. This differs from the two previous Zumwalt-class ships in that once their hulls were completed, they went through trials and delivery before adding combat systems.

Engine Order.  The Navy awarded Raytheon Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney a $49 million contract modification on Feb. 8 for one conventional take-off and landing and two short take-off/vertical landing F135 engines to support F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Block Four developmental testing program for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and non-U.S. Department of Defense participants. The work is expected to be finished by January 2023. Funds obligated at time of award are divided into $3.7 million in FY ’20 Air Force research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) accounts; $2.5 million in Navy FY ’20 RDT&E accounts; and $1 million in non-DoD participant accounts, with $6 million expiring at the end of this fiscal year.

MIWEX IJA 2021. The U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) started Mine Warfare Exercise (MIWEX) 1JA 2021 off the coast of Japan on Jan. 28, the Navy said Feb. 7. MIWEX is part of an annual series of exercises between the U.S. and Japanese naval forces that sims to increase proficiency in mine countermeasures operations between the two. MIWEX IJA is a nine-day exercise during which the participants work together to clear a route for ships through a simulated minefield using unit-level mine warfare tactics like mine hunting, detection and neutralization. In the exercise, U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians, assigned to expeditionary mine countermeasures capability of Task Force 75, are embarked on JMSDF Uraga-class mine warfare command ship JS Uraga (MST 463), working alongside members of the JMSDF.

Base Renaming Commission. The leaders of the Congressional defense committees and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced their appointments to the eight-person commission tasked with recommending changes and developing a plan for removing the names of military installations named after Confederate leaders. Austin selected former Vice Chief of Naval Operations Ret. Navy Adm. Michelle Howard, former Marine Corps Commandant Ret. Gen. Bob Neller, Dr. Kori Schake, AEI’s director of foreign & defense policy, and Ret. Brig. Gen Ty Seidule, emeritus professor of history at the U.S. Military Academy. The lawmakers selected Ret. Army Gen. Thomas Bostick, the first Black graduate of West Point, Lonnie G. Bunch III, the secretary of the Smithsonian, businessman Jerry Buchanan and Rep. Austin Scott (D-Ga.). The commission will submit its plan to Congress in 2022, and the Pentagon must implement the recommendations by Jan. 1, 2024.