F135 Engine Repair. The Navy said on Nov. 15 that Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) was recently activated as a Department of Defense second depot source of repair (DSOR) for the F135 engine, which powers the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The first DSOR for the F135 was previously designated in 2012 and completed activation in 2014 at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. The Navy said before the FRCSE sees an initial power module, artisans will need to go through a three-phase training and maintenance qualification and certification process by engine maker Pratt & Whitney. The training process is set to start in January 2023. Ultimately, FRCSE is expected to induct its first power module by April 2023, with the next arriving two weeks later. FRCSE will also renovate its existing engine test cell and build a new engine facility via military construction. The new building is expected to break ground in 2016 and be completed by 2028.

Atlantic Carriers. The Navy said five NATO ally aircraft carriers are operating in regularly scheduled activities in the Atlantic Ocean, North Sea and Mediterranean Sea in November. Participants include the Carrier Strike Groups supporting the French Navy Charles De Gaulle, the Italian Navy ITS Cavour, the United Kingdom Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth, and U.S. Navy’s USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) and Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78). “This occurrence presents an opportunity for Allied nations to coordinate credible combat power throughout the Euro-Atlantic Area and showcases NATO cohesion and interoperability,” the Navy said in a statement Nov. 17. The service said the forces are operating in their own mission objectives, but cooperation “shows unity towards the collective defense of the Alliance,” and these assets are coordinated with the Standing NATO maritime Groups 1 and 2. “Five carriers within our operating area presents a further opportunity to consolidate our approach to air defense, cross-domain cooperation and maritime-land integration,” Vice Adm. Keith Blount, commander of NATO Allied Maritime Command, said in a statement.

LHA-7 Repair. The Navy on Nov. 17 awarded Titan’s Continental Maritime of San Diego a $29 million contract for the maintenance, modernization and repair of the USS Tripoli (LHA-7) America-class amphibious assault ship during a fiscal year 2023 selected restricted availability. “The scope of this acquisition includes all labor, supervision, facilities, equipment, production, testing, and quality assurance necessary to prepare for and accomplish the Chief of Naval Operations availability for managing critical modernization, maintenance, training, and inactivation programs,” the contract announcement said. The contract includes options that, if exercised, would raise the total value to over $33 million. Work is expected to be finished by February 2024. The contract was procured competitively with three offers received, but the Navy did not disclose the other two offerors.

Remote Sensing Boost. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency has doubled the value of its multi-award contract for remote monitoring of economic indicators to $60 million, according to BlackSky Technology, one of five recipients of the original five-year $29 million award in September 2021. The other awardees include BAE Systems, Ball Aerospace, Continental Mapping Consultants, and Royce Geospatial Consultants. So far, BlackSky says it has won $14 million in combined awards in the first year of the contract. The commercial analytic providers give NGA insights into the flows of raw materials, fuels, vehicles and other products and goods to monitor economic activity globally.

People News. Northrop Grumman’s board has elected Arvind Krishna as a new director, increasing the size of the company’s board from 13 to 14 members. Krishna, who is chairman and CEO of IBM, will receive an annual cash retainer of $140,000 and an annual equity grant of $175,000 in deferred stock units payable at the conclusion of his board service, or earlier, as he specifies. Moog has initiated a leadership transition, with current chairman and CEO John Scannell planning to retire as CEO on Feb. 1, 2023. Scannell will be succeeded as CEO by Patrick Roche, who is currently executive vice president and chief operating officer. Battelle has appointed retired Navy Adm. Kirkland Donald to succeed John Welch as chairman of the non-profit science and technology company. Donald is also the chairman of HII. Finally, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has appointed Elizabeth Kolmstetter as its first chief people officer, in charge of talent management, and employee engagement and development. She joins CISA from NASA, where she was director of the Workforce Engagement Division.

Deals. Curtiss-Wright Corp. last week said it acquired United Kingdom-based Keronite Group for $35 million in cash, a deal that broadens the company’s capabilities in surface treatments. Keronite, which has 45 employees and is expected to generate $9 million in sales this year, provides Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation surface treatment applications to protect against corrosion, wear and heat for the defense, commercial aerospace, and industrial vehicle markets, and semiconductor manufacturing. Bigeye, which has a data observability platform, last week said it has received an investment from In-Q-Tel, marking the company’s first step into the federal sector, with the goal being to support national security missions. In-Q-Tel, a government-funded venture capital firm, invests in commercial startups with technologies of interest to the intelligence community. “Our investment in Bigeye is aimed at delivering data observability tools that enable our government partners to maximize the value of their data assets,” says A.J. Berone, partner at IQT.

…Epirus Invests. The Australia-based counter-drone company DroneShield last week said it has received a $2.5 million investment from Epirus Inc., giving the U.S.-based directed energy company a 4.1 percent interest in DroneShield. The investment expands Epirus’ “partner ecosystem” to “strengthen our respective capabilities and enhance our mutual market effort” as well as enlarge the company’s “global footprint as we seek further market expansion,” an Epirus spokeswoman told Defense Daily. DroneShield said it will use the investment to scale up ready inventory and long-lead items to quickly fulfill anticipated orders and continue to build up its engineering and operations. The partnership will also allow both companies to collaborate on their respective “complementary technical competencies…including DroneShield’s drone detection and soft defeat systems, with Epirus’ hard defeat solutions,” said DroneShield CEO Oleg Vornik.

Antarctic Bound. The Coast Guard’s lone heavy polar icebreaker, the Polar Star, last Wednesday departed its homeport in Seattle for Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze, a joint annual military mission to resupply the U.S. Antarctic stations. The Polar Star will be used to break a navigable channel through ice, which can be 21-feet thick, to allow fuel and resupply ships to reach McMurdo Station.

SAIC/Army IT. The Army has awarded SAIC a contract worth up to $757 million to continue providing software development and management services for the Army Enterprise Service Desk, the company said on Nov. 14. “We are excited to help the U.S. Army develop an IT enterprise management platform that will replace its legacy systems and provide a better, modernized user experience,” Bob Genter, president of SAIC’s defense and civilian sector, said in a statement. “SAIC’s proven capabilities in cloud migration, software engineering and IT managed services provide solutions that align with the Army Enterprise Service Management Framework and will enhance IT service delivery across the Army.” Along with continuing existing services, SAIC said it will also optimize Army Enterprise Service Management Framework service delivery processes and expand the functionality provided by the software as a service (SaaS) environment via optional capabilities.” The work also includes migrating legacy IT service management systems to more modern platforms using ServiceNow. 

Dutch CH-47Fs. Boeing said on Nov. 14 it has delivered the 20th CH-47F Chinook to the Royal Netherlands Air Force, which concludes the country’s update of its heavy lift helicopter fleet. “Our continuing partnership with the Royal Netherlands Air Force exemplifies the value of a modern and versatile Chinook fleet. These state-of-the art aircraft will significantly improve their defense and humanitarian assistance capabilities,” Ken Eland, Boeing’s H-47 program manager, said in a statement. The Netherlands, which has operated Chinooks since 1995,  purchased 14 new CH-47Fs in 2016 via the U.S. foreign military sales process. Boeing noted that in 2017 the Netherlands signed an agreement to upgrade their remaining six CH-47Ds to the modern F-model aircraft to ensure commonality across its fleet of 20 Chinooks. “This is a milestone for us. We have newer radios and newer equipment which help our pilots operate better in different environments than we do already,” Lt. Col. Wil van Rijn, the Dutch Ministry of Defence’s senior system integrator for Chinooks, said in a statement.

Switzerland/PAC-3 MSE. The State Department on Nov. 15 approved a potential $700 million deal with Switzerland for up to 72 of Lockheed Martin’s Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC) 3 Missile Segment Enhanced (MSE) missiles. Along with the PAC-3 MSE missiles, the deal also includes missile round trainers, launcher stations, heater controls, spare parts and classified missile repair and return services. “The proposed sale of the PAC-3 MSE missiles will enhance the capability of Switzerland’s Patriot missile defense system. Switzerland will use the Patriot system and missiles to defend its territorial integrity and for regional stability,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency wrote in a statement.

Armaments Directors Meeting. Bill LaPlante, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official, hosted the second National Armaments Directors meeting in Brussels on Nov. 18, which once again brought together representatives from member nations of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, NATO and the EU to discuss supply chain and production opportunities and ideas related to weapons being provided to assist Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion. The Pentagon said the meeting included discussions on four key areas: ground-based, long-range fire, air defense system, air-to-ground capabilities and sustainment support. “In each area, the U.S. delegation and international partners shared progress toward mapping current global production capacity of key capabilities and component parts, and identifying associated supply chain and production constraints,” the Pentagon wrote in a readout of the meeting. “The discussion set the stage for member countries to collaborate on increasing production and identifying opportunities to create interoperability between systems.” The group plans to meet again in early 2023, according to the Pentagon.

Guertin Nominated. The White House officially nominated the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) Nickolas Guertin, to be the next Navy acquisition chief, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN-RDA). The White House first announced its intention to nominate Guertin in September. He has served as head of DOT&E since December 2021. Previously, from 2011 to 2016 he served in the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (DASN RDT&E). If confirmed, Guertin will be the first Senate-confirmed ASN-RDA since James Geurts served through the end of the Trump administration. The Biden administration has used two officials as acting ASN-RDA since it came into office.