M-SHORAD Fielding. The Army announced on April 23 has fielded the first Mobile Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) systems, delivering four systems to the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment in Ansbach, Germany for further testing. The M-SHORAD system is a mission equipment package supplied by Leonard DRS that is integrated by General Dynamics on select Stryker vehicles and is designed to defend against unmanned aircraft systems, rotary-wing and fixed-wing threats, as well as cruise missiles. The Army said it is planning to field 144 systems to four battalions through the rest of the year. Future variants of M-SHORAD will also incorporate directed energy capabilities.
Underlayer. The head of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) said a U.S.-based missile defense underlayer beyond the Ground based Interceptors in the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system make sense, but said they should not be focused on just one threat. “I think there’s tremendous value in looking at the possibility of an underlayer…as we go forward there will be additional capabilities developed to hold our homeland at risk and an underlayer would give us additional capacity and capability to do that,” NORTHCOM and North American Aerospace Defense Command Chief Gen. Glen VanHerck said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on April 14. However, he underscored that “if we do create an underlayer or additional sensors and capabilities to support that, it should not be focused on a single threat such as a ballistic missile. A layered defense of the homeland should focus on everything from small [unmanned aircraft systems] all the way to ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and everything in between.” VanHerck said the U.S. cannot afford to build stovepiped systems with capabilities only towards a narrow threat. “We need to look more broadly at these systems to achieve affordable solutions to defend the homeland.”
Safe in Space. Lockheed Martin Chief James Taiclet says that despite the success of upstarts like SpaceX and other companies in the space market, his company is in a secure position. Taiclet told analysts during Lockheed Martin’s first quarter earnings call last Tuesday that at least 80 percent its space revenue is in the “national security space and strategic missile defense” areas, which is not where new competitors are challenging the long-time stalwarts. The rest of the company’s space business is in exploration, where Lockheed Martin has a “franchise position” on the Orion deep space exploration spacecraft. Whether Lockheed Martin teams with the new commercial players or competes against them, “We’re going to play, and we’re going to be there,” he said.
…Standards and Testing. During the call, Taiclet also dove into Lockheed Martin’s 21st Century Warfare Strategy, which includes leading efforts for a 5G network architecture for U.S. military forces and making sure the company enables its major platforms in all domains connect “seamlessly” to this architecture. The defense industry will have to work with its customers so they can be “comfortable” with the standards and software defined network protocols that are proposed, he said. Taiclet also said the industry needs to work with its government customers and speeding up the weapons development process. In the area of hypersonics, industry and its customers are already there, he said, citing that “We look for 80 percent-20 percent splits on success on all test points and metrics” before moving on to the next test. If the goal is 99 or 100 percent success at each point, “that will be too slow to get this done. So, there’s a sequential design test paradigm change, frankly, that we have to work with our customers to achieve there too.”
Drone Swarms. Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the United Kingdom’s chief of the air staff, was in Washington, D.C. last week to speak with U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown and U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations John “Jay” Raymond. Wigston said that the U.K., like the U.S., was looking into swarming drone concepts. “The experience faced by Saudi Arabia at the moment with attacks coming from the Houthi regime in Yemen and elsewhere has absolutely caught my attention and other air chiefs around the world’s attention,” he said. “This is something we’re putting a lot of effort into…At the same time, I’m not just talking about that in a defensive context. One of the things I have determined to introduce also is, at pace, our own ability to swarm a network of drones that I will use to overwhelm enemy air defenses as part of a combat air tactical formation, which will be a mix of piloted aircraft, remotely piloted combat aircraft, unpiloted autonomous combat aircraft and Loyal Wingmen, and swarming drones. That’s the mix of the future that we’re looking at that will start to happen this decade and within 20 years will have transformed the nature of the combat air battlespace.”
…No More C-130s. Like the U.S. Air Force, the Royal Air Force (RAF) faces a challenge with legacy aircraft, but the RAF has laid out ambitious plans to retire the BAE Systems’ BAe146 by 2022 and the Lockheed Martin C-130 by 2023, as the RAF increases the capacity of the Airbus A400M Atlas to operate with Boeing C-17s and Airbus A330 Voyager tankers. In addition, the RAF plans to retire older Eurofighter Typhoons and BAE Systems’ Hawk trainers by 2025. The C-130 “has given decades of remarkable service,” Wigston said. “But I have a choice now with the A400M Atlas transport, which has great performance, is a modern, digitally enabled platform that absolutely can play a number of roles in the modern battlespace in the way that [for] the C-130 is increasingly difficult to do.”
LCS-26 Commissioning. The Navy announced it will commission the future USS Mobile (LCS-26) Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) on May 22 in Mobile, Ala. The ship was built by Austal USA in Mobile and launched in January 2020. The ship will later be homeported at Naval base San Diego, Calif. with other Independence-variant LCSs.
…And DDG-123. The Navy plans to christen the newest Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, the future USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123), during a ceremony in Pascagoula, Miss. on April 24. This Flight IIA destroyer will be the 73rd destroyer of its class and is one of 20 currently under contract for the DDG-51 program. The ship will be homeported in San Diego, Calif. It is the second ship named after the second Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps in 1911 and the first living woman awarded the Navy Cross. Former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will deliver the ceremony’s principal address.
MMSC Engine. Fairbanks Morse announced it shipped a PA6B STC engine to the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard. The engine will be installed on the first Royal Saudi Naval Forces’ Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC). The MMSC is based on the U.S. Navy’s Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the MMSC project while it is built at Marinette Marine. Four MMSC ships will ultimately be built at Marinette. The Fairbanks Morse diesel engines have a power range of 4,200 to 8,100 mechanical kilowatts and feature a redesigned connecting rod, crankshaft, cylinder head, and liner with an anti-bore polishing ring.
Booz Allen/Rainmaker. Booz Allen Hamilton announced on April 20 it has been selected to work as the primary developer for the Army’s Rainmaker data fabric solution. The company says data fabric “will enable currently incompatible systems across joint mission spaces to seamlessly share, secure and synchronize data required to coordinate complex combat operations.” The system, which has been worked out of Army labs to date, is likely to be a key piece of the Army’s contribution to the Joint All Domain Command & Control (JADC2) concept and is set to be experimented with at this fall’s second annual Project Convergence demonstration. “This program will further strengthen the Army’s ability to harness data and information to achieve tactical, operational and strategic objectives across multi-domain operations, and facilitate future modernization efforts like those envisioned by JADC2,” Michael Davenport, head of of Booz Allen Hamilton’s C5ISR business, said in a statement.
Arnold Defense/Thales. Arnold Defense has announced its rocket launchers have been certified to fire Thales’ FZ90 2.75-inch rockets. The certification was achieved following a live fire demonstration at armaments manufacturer Dillon Aero’s test range in Arizona in January where Thales’ rockets were fired from Arnold Defense’s LAU and M-Series air-to-ground launchers as well as its MLHS and FLETCHER ground-to-ground launchers. “Arnold Defense has always positioned itself as ‘rocket agnostic’ allowing the user to select from a range of certified rocket systems to suit their specific needs or their in-service inventory,” the company wrote in a statement.
New Space Business. Sierra Nevada Corp. has created a new commercial space business, Sierra Space, with a “space-as-a-service” business model, to include its Dream Chaser spaceplane and plans for the “first free-flying commercial space station.” SNC, which is based in Nevada, said Sierra Space has more than $3 billion in active contracts and expects sales to exceed $4 billion within the decade. “In this fast-growing and competitive marketplace, the SNC robust contracts profile and expanding backlog provide valuable tailwinds and momentum,” said Fatih Ozmen, CEO and owner of SNC.
Nominations. The Senate confirmed Adm. John Aquilino as the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command by unanimous consent on April 21. Aquilino was nominated by the Biden administration for this role in March after previously being chosen by the Trump Administration in December. Aquilino previously served as commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet since May 2020 and before that as commander of 5th Fleet. Aquilino succeeds Adm. Phil Davidson, who is expected to retire. Separately, on April 21 Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the president nominated Rear Adm. (upper half) William Houston to be appointed vice admiral and assigned as commander of Naval Submarine Forces, Submarine Forces Atlantic Fleet, and Allied Submarine Command. Houston currently serves as director of Undersea Warfare Division, N97, within the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
People News. Parsons Corp. has elected Carey Smith as its new CEO, effective July 1, succeeding Charles “Chuck” Harrington, who is retiring after nearly 40 years with the company. Smith is currently president and chief operating officer and is also a board member. Harrington will continue to serve as executive chairman. Raytheon Technologies has elected former NASA astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris to its board. Harris is currently CEO of the venture capital firm Vesalius Ventures. President Joe Biden last week nominated Dr. Stacey Dixon to be principal deputy director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. She currently deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Biden also nominated Frank Rose to be principal deputy administrator for National Nuclear Security at the Department of Energy. Rose, a former assistant secretary of state for arms Control, Verification and Compliance, is a senior fellow and co-director of the Center for Security Strategy, and Technology in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution.
ASD (SO/LIC) Nominee. President Joe Biden has nominated Christopher Maier to serve as the next assistant secretary for special operations/low intensity conflict. Maier is currently the office’s principal deputy and has served in national security roles across five presidential administrations, the White House noted. “In this role, he advises the Secretary of Defense on all special operations, irregular warfare, counterterrorism, and information operations policy issues, and oversees all special operations administrative matters,” the administration wrote in a statement. Maier also previously led the Pentagon’s Defeat-ISIS Task Force and served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combating terrorism during the Obama administration.
…Transgender DoD Nominee. Biden has also nominated Shawn Skelly to be the Pentagon’s assistant secretary for Readiness and who, if confirmed, would be the highest ranking openly transgender official at the department. Skelly, a former Naval aviator, served as special assistant to the Pentagon’s top acquisition official and the coordinator of the Warfighter Senior Integration Group during the Obama administration. Skelly, who is currently vice president of the Out in National Security advocacy group, was a vocal opponent of former President Trump’s push to ban transgender service members.
…Additional DoD Noms. The president has also nominated Brenda Sue Fulton to be the Pentagon’s assistant secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs and Deborah Rosenblum to serve as assistant secretary for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense. The White House noted that Fulton helped found Knights Out and OutServe, which it said were key organizations in the battle against the department’s former “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Rosenblum currently serves as the executive vice president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, “a non-profit dedicated to transforming global security by driving systemic solutions to nuclear and biological threats,” according to the White House.