Flying Cars in the Air Force? The Pentagon is looking at the feasibility of using commercially made flying cars to perform logistics missions. The Air Force’s top acquisition executive Will Roper told reporters at the AFA conference this week that the effort is connected to an AFRL program dubbed Agility Prime, which examined options to replace the CV-22 Osprey. “It was a low-hanging opportunity to broaden the team’s look into where commercial innovation is going in flying cars,” Roper said Sept. 16. He has requested an acquisition strategy with options to pursue a competition with industry, with the flying car effort expected to kick off this fall. “The task that I gave the team was to prepare a series of challenges from things that would involve smaller vehicles — maybe moving a couple of special aviators around to moving smaller logistics sets, ammo, meals, that kind of thing, into harm’s way — up to moving heavy logistics … all the way up to something that’s a bigger system.”
ANG F-35s. The Air National Guard received its first two F-35As at Burlington Air National Guard Base, Vermont, on Thursday, prime contractor Lockheed Martin announced Thursday. The first seven will arrive at Burlington ANG, Vermont in 2019, with 20 total scheduled to be based there, Lockheed Vice President for F-35 Business Development Steve Callaghan said Sept. 17 at the AFA conference. “The National Guard has historically gotten their airplanes … previously flown. Now for the Air National Guard, they’re going to be getting brand new production aircraft right off the line down in Ft. Worth,” he said. The Air National Guard is scheduled to receive at least 300 Joint Strike Fighters, he added.
Agile Condor. The Air Force awarded a contract to GA-ASI to demonstrate AFRL’s “Agile Condor” capability using a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper. Agile Condor is a high-performance computing architecture that will be used to demonstrate artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. “The ability to autonomously fuse and interpret sensor data to determine targets of interest is at the forefront of unmanned systems technology,” said David R. Alexander, GA-ASI president in a Sept. 16 statement. “The Agile Condor project will further enhance RPA effectiveness by specifically allowing a MQ-9 to surveil a large area of operations, autonomously identify pre-defined targets of interest and transmit their locations.” GA-ASI will integrate the Agile Condor capability over a 10-month period beginning in September. The flight demonstration phase will be used to experiment with the Agile Condor payload to determine the optimum artificial intelligence and machine learning methodologies to find, identify and track select targets.
EW Sustainment. L3Harris Technologies was chosen to conduct sustainment work on the AN/ALQ-172 electronic warfare system that protects the Air Force’s B-52s and C-130s from radar-guided threats, the company said at the AFA conference Sept. 16. “Hostile air defense systems are continually increasing in sophistication and presence around the globe,” said Ed Zoiss, President, L3Harris Space and Airborne Systems. “As the B-52 continues to be the centerpiece of U.S. strategic airpower, it is essential to continually modernize its EW capabilities to ensure it is able to defeat future threats.” L3Harris will redesign elements of the AN/ALQ-172 as part of wider efforts to increase the EW suite’s maintainability, reliability and effectiveness, the company said.
F110. GE Aviation’s F110 family of engines surpassed 10 million flight hours in September, the company said Sept. 16 at the AFA conference. The engine was first procured by the Air Force in 1984 and is currently powering about 70 percent of the service’s F-16 C/D fleet and 86 percent of F-15s delivered globally over the last 15 years, the company said. GE Aviation is pitching the F110 engine for the Air Force’s new prospective F-15EX fighter, should Congress approve the new procurement in the FY ’20 budget.
Japanese KC-46. Boeing began assembling Japan’s first KC-46A Pegasus aircraft Sept. 13, the company said Tuesday. An 82.4-foot- long wing spar was loaded in the company’s 767 production facility in Washington. Boeing was awarded a foreign military sale contract for one KC-46 aircraft and logistics services in 2017, then the Air Force exercised an option for a second aircraft in 2018. The first Japanese KC-46 is scheduled to be delivered in 2021.
JPALS. Raytheon said Sept. 16 that it recently conducted a rapid setup demonstration of a land-based expeditionary version of the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) system at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The demonstration – the second proof of concept in 2019 – showed how the GPS-based JPALS can be used to guide aircraft in austere environments. “The entire system was fully operational in 70 minutes on Day One and 50 minutes on Day Two,” said Matt Gilligan, vice president at Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business. “Raytheon is offering the U.S. and its allies fast and accurate precision landing systems that support operations from bare-base locations.”
Peregrine. Raytheon unveiled a new medium-range air-launched missile called Peregrine at the AFA conference. “Peregrine will allow U.S. and allied fighter pilots to carry more missiles into battle to maintain air dominance,” said Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president, in a press release. “With its advanced sensor, guidance and propulsion systems packed into a much smaller airframe, this new weapon represents a significant leap forward in air-to-air missile development.” Peregrine is being developed to be half the size and cost of current air-to-air missiles while delivering expanded range and effect, touting the use of additive manufacturing techniques and “readily available materials.” Raytheon currently produces the Air Force’s AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles.
Air Force IT Contract. The Air Force awarded General Dynamics Information Technology Inc., American Systems Corp., Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. and Polaris Alpha LLC a $427 million maximum ordering amount IDIQ contract Sept. 16 for the enhancements, modifications, integration, testing, demonstrations, deployments, maintenance and research and development of Global Application Research, Development, Engineering and Maintenance software baselines. The contract includes cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price orders. Work will be performed at Fairfax, Virginia; Chantilly, Virginia; McLean, Virginia; and Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is expected to be completed by Sept. 16, 2026. The award is the result of a competitive acquisition and four offers were received, per the award announcement.
F-15EX. Congress’ current plan to expect at least a short-term continuing resolution through mid-November should not impact Boeing’s plan to deliver two test F-15EX aircraft to the Air Force by 2020, should lawmakers approve the new program, Boeing Vice President and F-15EX Program Manager Prat Kumar told Defense Daily Sept. 17 at the Air Force Association conference. “To some extent, CRs have been there historically so we had anticipated something like this might happen,” he said. As long as the CR wraps up before the new year, “that shouldn’t dramatically impact this; of course, the earlier the better.” All four authorizing and appropriating committees have kept the eight-aircraft ask in their markups, which is optimistic news for Boeing, Kumar said. “As long as we are contracted sometime by early 2020, it shouldn’t affect our projected timeline.
Next-Gen Tanker. The Air Force expects to issue an Analysis of Alternatives related to KC-Z – the next-generation tanker coming after KC-46 – within the five year FYDP, Maj. Gen. Mark Cameron said Wednesday at the AFA conference. “I wouldn’t think we would have that before 2023 … somewhere in that timeframe would get us to when we need it so we can begin recapitalizing maybe as early as the 2030s, to have that process done,” he told reporters during an Air Mobility Command roundtable.
Space Command. New U.S. Space Command Commander Gen. John Raymond told reporters Tuesday that the new combatant command’s IOC and FOC declarations will be “conditions-based,” not time-based. “What we are doing is moving out with a sense of urgency toward that end, but we’re going to develop the conditions that we need” first, he said at the AFA conference. U.S. Space Command was stood up Aug. 29.
NDAA Conference. The leaders of the fiscal year 2020 defense authorization conference committee Sept. 19 said they have not decided any disagreements yet, but are hopeful they will approve a bill. HASC Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said they had not yet agreed on the form of a Space Force, only that “I think there is a bipartisan consensus that we need to place a greater emphasis on space. We want to do that in the most cost-effective way possible, and that’s what we’re going to talk about.” Smith added they would not commit to any particular resolutions on any disagreements, in part because they do not know what the outcome is yet, “that is the nature of a conference committee process.”
High-Risk Surface. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s report on the FY ’20 defense authorization bill finds the administration’s Future Surface Combat Force (FSCF) acquisition strategy “high risk.” The administration requested $80 million for continued studies and analyses for the FCSF, which includes a draft specification development of a Large Surface Combatant (LSC).The committee noted the Navy plans to begin procuring LSC in FY ’25, right on the tails of when the DDG-51 Flight III multi-year procurement program delivers its first ship in FY ’24. The panel instead recommends reducing the FSCF by $46.5 million.
…More Strategies. The committee directs the Navy acquisition chief to provide acquisition strategies for each element of the Navy’s Surface Capability Evolution Plan (SCEP) in the FY ’21 budget request. The panel noted the SCEP, including the LSC, is informing the FSCF. The Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management and Comptroller is also directed to provide cost estimates for each element of the SCEP in the FY ’21 budget request as well as certify full funding in the budget request for each acquisition strategy within SCEP elements.
Bahrain Patriot. Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa of Bahrain said Sept. 16 the country signed an agreement to purchase its first Patriot battery systems in public remarks before meeting with President Trump for a bilateral meeting. Last month, Patriot’s builder, Raytheon, said it signed a letter of offer and acceptance with the U.S. to buy the air and missile defense system. This letter allowed the U.S. government to start negotiations with Raytheon for system production. In May, the State Department approved a $2.5 billion Foreign Military Sale to Bahrain for 60 Lockheed Martin Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missiles and other equipment.
Space-Based Intercept. A top DoD official said the department has been analyzing the possibility of creating space-based missile defense interceptors, but has not made a decision yet. John Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, on Sept. 17 said it has been years since the capability was studied in a significant way and “I think we’re getting to the phase beyond feasibility to look at things like cost effectiveness and alternative solutions.” No decisions have been made yet, but the department is analyzing possibilities. Rood would not admit if the FY ’21 budget will include funds for space-based defenses, saying it is all currently pre-decisional. But, he added, “we’ll have at least a decision on what if any money to include in that budget request by that time.”
EB Columbia. General Dynamics Electric Boat broke ground on a new 200,000 square foot facility on Sept. 13 that will be dedicated to building the new Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine. Called the South Yard Assembly Building (SYAB), it will be on seven acres of the company’s property at its Groton, Conn., facility and is the largest company construction project in 45 years, GD Electric Boat’s President Jeffrey Geiger said. “The facility we break ground on today will enable Electric Boat to deliver the U.S. Navy’s number-one acquisition priority—the Columbia class—our nation’s next-generation fleet of ballistic missile submarines,” Geiger said in a statement. The company also plans to build a floating dock to launch Columbia vessels as well as expand and update other manufacturing spaces.
DDG-106. The Navy awarded General Dynamics’ (GD) National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) a $21 million delivery order from a multiple-award contract for selected restricted availability to perform depot-level maintenance on the USS Stockdale (DDG-106). NASSCO will conduct maintenance, alterations and modifications to update and improve the ship’s technical and military capabilities in San Diego. Work is expected to be finished by May 2020. The Navy said this order was competed with three offers received, although it did not disclose the others. Typically, alternative West Coast options are BAE Systems and Huntington Ingalls Inc.’s Continental Maritime.
UUVs. The Navy awarded Hydroid, a subsidiary of Norway’s Kongsberg, a $52 million modification to increase the ceiling for production support for the Mk 18 unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). Hydroid is building the Mk 18 Mod 1 and Mod 2 Kingfish using the Remus 100 and 600 UUVs. In April, the Navy awarded Hydroid a $23 million contract for production support for the Mk 18 UUV family of systems. The award raises the total value of the contract, if all options are exercised, to $100 million. Work will occur in Pocasset, Mass., and is expected to be finished by April 2024.
NGSW Technologies. The Army has started soliciting ideas for emerging technologies that could help enhance its Next-Generation Squad Weapons set to be rolled out in fiscal year 2023. The NGSW Innovative Designs & Engineering Assessment (IDEA) program looks for capabilities that could be applied to the future weapon itself, or its fire control and ammunition. “These technologies will be used for experimentation, technical evaluation, and/or assessment of operational utility focused on enhancing system performance, sustainment, and/or training,” officials wrote in a Sept. 17 notice. Army officials said vendors’ idea will be considered on a first come, first serve basis, and proposals will be accepted through the end of the year.
Election Security Funding. Senate appropriators on Sept. 19 voted to approve $250 million in funds to support state and local governments’ election security efforts ahead of the 2020 election. The new funding was approved as a bipartisan amendment to the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Bill. Amendment sponsors included the Senate Appropriations Committee’s top leadership, Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). The $250 million will go towards upgrading election technology, improving cyber security measures and ensuring election officials have improved means to prevent and mitigate potential cyber attacks.
Esper/Election Security. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said last week that election security measures will remain a key mission for the Pentagon. “Moving forward, I can consider election security an enduring mission for the Department of Defense,” Esper told attendees at a DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency conference. “The DoD’s interest in cyber is not only limited to military operations. More broadly, our adversaries are attempting to harm our economic prosperity and to undermine our democratic institutions.” Esper said DoD will continue to have a role in preventing misinformation campaigns, specifically citing elections and the lessons learned from the proactive approach taken during the 2018 midterms. During that time, Esper noted, the Pentagon expanded cooperation with DHS and FBI, developed new cyber exploitation capabilities and made use of new policies to conduct offensive cyber operations. U.S. Cyber Command and NSA also formed an interagency group to share information and resources.
…Esper On China/5G. During the same keynote address at the DHS CISA conference, Esper also said the Pentagon will continue urging allies to avoid working with Chinese telecommunications companies as partners look to implement 5G capabilities. “The [Chinese government] is perpetrating the greatest intellectual property theft in human history. Every Chinese company has the potential to be an accomplice in Beijing’s state-sponsored campaign to steal technology,” Esper said. “Nations that partner with Chinese firms put the security of their networks at risk.” The defense secretary added that having firms like Huawei and ZTE in allied networks could compromise military interoperability and intelligence sharing.