F-35C Engine Transfer. The Navy’s USS Carl Vinson

(CVN-70) aircraft carrier conducted a vertical replenishment at sea on March 6, simulating the ability to transfer an F135 jet engine for the F-35C fighter from a supply ship on board the carrier using helicopters. This entailed two helicopters transporting a load simulator measured to match the weight of the engine power module from dry-cargo ammunition ship USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4). The Navy said this provided proof-of-concept that carriers can receive critical parts to maintain the F-35C at sea. In vertical replenishments, aircraft use underbelly slings to move loads from Military Sealift Command ships to Navy vessels. This test case used a Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma and Marine Corps. CH-53E Super Stallion. This comes after a February exercise simulating delivering an F135 engine from a shore-based location to the carrier via the CMV-22B Osprey.

Army Cash Infusion. The Army is discussing potentially requesting a $600 to 900 million cash infusion for its working capital fund to help offset increased costs required to keep production lines running during the pandemic, an official told lawmakers on March 19. “We’re working that inside the Army and with OSD. But there’s almost no doubt in our mind that in the next six to eight months we will need a cash infusion to keep the Army working capital fund solvent to the level where it can continue to produce the readiness it produces today,” Lt. Gen. Duane Gamble, the G-4 deputy chief of staff, told the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. “Today, we’re not in bad shape. We are concerned and we are watching it closely.” Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), the subcommittee ranking member, noted both the Air Force and Navy received CARES Act funding to increase cash balances over the last year to offset the COVID impact, but the Army did not.

…Navy Shipyard Sustainment. Vice Adm. William Galinis, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, told the lawmakers the service is working on a new plan called Naval Sustainment System-Shipyards to make use of advanced data analytics to better inform critical shipyard sustainment decisions. “We are committed to doing this with a sense of urgency across our enterprise. NSS-Shipyard is a significant departure from our previous practices. Leveraging the best commercial practices, we’re incorporating these into our shipyards and are embracing a new culture built on honest assessments informed by data and coupled with a bias toward action,” Galinis told the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. The new plan pulls from the similar NSS-Aviation plan established by NAVAIR, and will work to support the ongoing 20-year Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan. Galinis said NSS-Shipyard will include development of a 15-year public sector maintenance plan that could be released within the next month.

RPA Major Command. The Air Force should consider combining remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) squadrons under dedicated wings and numbered air forces–a move that would eventually lead to an Air Force major command for RPAs, per a report this month by the Center for Strategic and International Studies–Rethinking the Role of Remotely Crewed Systems in the Future Force. “While the other services do not yet have as many remotely crewed units as the Air Force, they may want to begin experimenting with organizational structures to help alleviate some of the cultural challenges these systems may experience when integrated into the force in larger numbers,” the study said.

Mobile Projected Firepower. The Army currently has one of its two offerings for the Mobile Protected Firepower light tank competition in a soldier vehicle assessment at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, with the second offering set to start the assessment later this year. The Army did not specify which offering between BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems is currently at Ft. Bragg. Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems, said the soldier vehicle assessment will gather critical data to inform a source selection decision in summer 2022. “We have two competitors. They have very different offerings, in terms of what their capabilities are, which makes for interesting choices. So the soldier feedback we get through the soldier vehicle assessment and, ultimately, the limited user test that data will feed the competition and will be very important,” Dean said during the virtual AUSA Global Force Next conference.

Army Vehicle Electrification. The Army says it could have a light vehicle demonstrator by 2025 to showcase the potential for full vehicle electrification, as the service anticipates taking a gradual approach in moving away from wholly combustion engines. “I’m not saying that’s a system that would be fielded but certainly a system that we could put in the hands of soldiers and have them operate and get their feedback so we help shape the requirements and then drive towards a solution set for our tactical systems,” Alfred Grein, acting director of the Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center, said during this week’s virtual AUSA Global Force Next conference. Grein said the most significant challenges in the move to vehicle electrification are cooling concerns for combat vehicles and finding more rapid methods of recharging on the battlefield. “The environments we operate in are significantly different than what the commercial sector is dealing with, so there are other factors that we have to consider,” Grein said.

National Cyber Director. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki last week told reporters that the Biden administration is currently reviewing the role for a new National Cyber Director, a new position mandated by Congress to oversee coordination of the federal government’s cyber security activities. She says the White House is in “the middle of a 60-day review” on how the “role should be approached.” Psaki said “addressing cyber, ensuring there’s an across-government approach is a priority for the president and something that he feels there’s a role for many components of the federal government to play. So, we’re going to pursue that role and ensure that we’re approaching it in the right way, given, in a way that will address the threats we’re facing.”

Trident II Award. The Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs awarded Lockheed Martin a $559 million modification to exercise options under a previously awarded contract for Trident II (D5) missile production and deployed systems support. The Trident II is a nuclear-armed submarine-launched ballistic missile deployed on Ohio-class submarines and British Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines. Work is expected to be finished by September 2026.

South Korea/Hellfire Sale. The State Department on March 19 approved a potential $36 million deal with South Korea for AGM-114R Hellfire missiles supplied by Lockheed Martin. The foreign military sale would cover 288 missiles. The State Department said South Korea “intends to use these Hellfire missiles to supplement its existing missile capability and current weapon inventory for its AH-64E aircraft.”

Energy Security. The Department of Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) has initiated three new research programs to protect the nation’s energy system from cyber and physical threats with a focus on global supply chain security vulnerabilities, electromagnetic and geomagnetic interference, and working with universities on research and talent development. CESER is working with Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in the Cyber Testing for Resilient Industrial Control System program on analytics to test digital tools used by energy sector partners for security issues and identify and address potential vulnerabilities within industrial control systems before they can be exploited. In April, CESER will announce a funding opportunity in support of partnerships between U.S. universities and industry for cyber and physical solutions.

Another Cyber Bill. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) last week introduced a new bill authorizing the Department of Homeland Security to work with a university-based consortium to help state and local first responders and officials with training, exercising, and developing information sharing programs for cyber security. The National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act requires DHS to work with the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium, which includes the Univ. Of Texas San Antonio, Texas A&M, the Univ. of Arkansas, the Univ. of Memphis and Norwich Univ. The bill also requires DHS to work with NCPS to help state and local authorities incorporate cyber security risk and incident prevention and response into existing state and local emergency plans and continuity of operations.

People. Science Applications International Corp. has appointed Dr. Garth Graham to its board of directors. Graham is director and global head of Healthcare and Public Health Partnerships at YouTube, which is owned by Google, and a former deputy assistant secretary of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. SAIC’s board now has 10 members. The Department of Homeland Security has named Lynn Parker Dupree as its news Chief Privacy Officer/Chief Freedom of Information Act Officer effective March 22. She joins DHS from Capitol One where she served as director of Governance and Controls in the Data Ethics and Privacy Office. Dupree also served at DHS for four years during the Obama administration as special assistant to the Chief Privacy Officer and then special assistant to the General Counsel.

Out with the Old, In with the New. The Coast Guard’s last operational 378-foot Hamilton-class high-endurance cutter, the Douglas Munro, returned home to Kodiak, Alaska, on March 13 following a 49-day deployment in the Bering Sea. The cutter, which was commissioned in 1971, is scheduled to be decommissioned later this year. On March 19, the Coast Guard commissioned its ninth high-endurance National Security Cutter, the 418-foot Elmer Fowler Stone, at its homeport in Charleston, S.C. The Coast Guard has contracted with Huntington Ingalls Industries for 11 NSCs to replace 11 Hamilton-class cutters.

Rare Earth News. General Atomics says its Electromagnetic Systems business will begin negotiations with the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office for a financial award to construct and operate a rare earth element separation and processing demonstration plant, part of the U.S. government’s plans to bolster the domestic supply chain for critical materials used in producing advanced weapons and other high-technology products. The company says the plant will demonstrate the separation and purification of rare earth oxides derived from ore removed from Rare Element Resources, Ltd.’s Bear Lodge deposit in Wyoming. Bear Lodge has rare earth elements used in high-strength permanent magnets, electronics, fiber optics, and laser systems for health, defense and commercial applications. The department last week announced a $30 million funding availability for research to ensure a domestic supply of critical elements and materials.

CVN-76 Repairs. The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center marked the 50 percent complete milestone for the selected restricted availability on the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) in Yokosuka, Japan on March 10. CVN-76 arrived at the facility in November 2020 after a six-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific region. The project officially started in January. Major work completed thus far includes non-skid replacement on the flight deck and hangar bay, aircraft elevator repair, and various valve and component repairs.

MQ-25A Basing. The Navy last week released the final environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact for home basing of the MQ-25A Stingray carrier-based unmanned aircraft tanker at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu, Calif. The assessment concerned proposed actions to establish facilities and functions at Point Mugu to support home basing and operations of the Stingray. Under the proposal, the Navy would home base 20 Stingrays; construct a hangar, training facilities, and supporting infrastructure; perform air vehicle maintenance; provide training for operators and maintainers; conduct approximately 960 Stingray annual flight operations; and station about 730 personnel, plus their family members. Based on the analysis in the assessment, “the Navy finds that implementation of the Proposed Action will not significantly impact the quality of the human environment. Therefore, an environmental impact statement is not required,” the service said.

Osprey Award. The Navy awarded the Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office a $182 million modification on March 18 for production and delivery of two CV-22B Osprey aircraft for the Air Force. This mod also covers post-production repairs in support of the MV-22B Common Configuration Readiness and Modernization Program for the Navy variant. Work will largely be split between Fort Worth and Amarill, Texas, and Ridley Park, Pa., and is expected to be finished by March 2025.

Tomahawk  Contract. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Raytheon Technologies a $29 million modification March 17 adding scope to a previous contract to procure full rate production Lot 17 Block Five Tactical Tomahawk all-up round vertical launch system missiles and associated warranties for the Navy. Work will largely occur in Tucson, Ariz., Pontiac, Mich., El Segundo, Calif., and Gainesville, Va., and is expected to be completed in December 2023

LPD-25 Work. The Navy awarded Titan Acquisition Holdings’ San Diego Shipyard a $32.5 million contract for a combination of maintenance, modernization and repair of the USS Somerset (LPD-25) to execute fiscal 2021 selected restricted availability. This award includes options that, if exercised, would raise the total value to $38 million. Work will occur in Sand Diego and is expected to be finished by June 2022. The contract was competitively procured using full and open competition with two offers received. The San Diego Shipyard used to be known as Continental Maritime of San Diego.