Ford Elevators. Last week Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said seven of the 11 planned Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWEs) on the USS Gerald R. Ford will be certified and operating by the end of the year while speaking at a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments event. AWE “has obviously received the most attention because it’s been sort of a disaster up until now, to be frank. But we are getting after that problem and we’re probably going to have seven of these elevators by the end of this year of the 11.” Four are currently certified and Modly noted the next three are completed but are going through a certification process. Once the three are done, “we’ll be able to have full range down to the very lowest weapons compartments that we have on the ship. Those are the ones that are fore and aft that go all the way down.”

…Kennedy Crew. Modly said “We’re also going to make some decisions about Kennedy and how we might want to bring some crew from the [second Ford-class carrier] Kennedy over to the Ford to help get her up to speed more quickly.” He noted he planned to visit the Ford on Jan. 31 to see how the carrier is working in person. “A lot of the material condition stuff that was a concern to me when I went to the ship, visited it – I’ve been there a couple times already — that’s really getting exercised extremely well.”

HASC Ike. Four members of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) joined Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke to embark on the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) at sea on Jan. 27. Lawmakers included HASC Seapower Chairman Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), HASC Readiness Chairman John Garamendi (D-Calif.), HASC Seapower Ranking Member Wittman (R-Va.), and HASC Readiness Ranking Member Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.). The HASC members observed flight operations; received a briefing on the carrier strike group 10 capabilities; and specific Group 10 readiness, integrations and operations issues.

AFRICOM Space Force Collab. AFRICOM Commander Army Gen. Stephen Townsend told members of SASC that his command also plans to invest “heavily” in space infrastructure and is working closely with the recently established U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command. Townsend said during a Thursday FY ’21 budget posture hearing that China and Russia have begun standing up new facilities in his region, with China having somewhere between 13 and 16 space facilities on the African continent, while the Russians have five or six. “Everything we do, of course, on the continent has ties to space, and not only on our side, but on our adversaries’ side as well,” Townsend said.

Impeachment Impact. The impeachment proceedings of the past month have caused delays for scheduled DoD briefings on Capitol Hill. When the Space Force was established Dec. 20, 2019, the FY ’20 NDAA directed service officials to brief Congress on the standup progress every six weeks. But while Jan. 31 marks six weeks exactly since the Space Force was established, no briefing had been scheduled yet, SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told Defense Daily on Thursday. “It is hard to move around when everyone is zeroed in on that one issue,” he said. He added that it was “fairly accurate” to presume that as long as the impeachment trial continues, a briefing won’t be scheduled.

One Fewer Dem Candidate. Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney announced Friday that he is suspending his campaign to become the Democratic candidate for president. “I leave this race with a profound sense of gratitude to the voters who shared with me their hopes and concerns for our magnificent country, in admiration for the other contenders for the nomination and proud of the work we did to change the debate,” he said in a statement. His departure means 11 candidates are left vying for the Democratic nomination as the Iowa caucuses are scheduled to take place Feb. 3.

Georgia Senate Race. Two new contenders have entered Georgia’s 2020 Senate race. Rep Doug Collins (R-Ga.) announced Wednesday that he would challenge Sen. Kelly Loeffler in November. Loeffler was selected by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired late last year following multiple health issues. Collins has served four terms in Congress thus far, and also serves as a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Meanwhile, the Rev. Raphael Warnock announced his candidacy on Thursday to run as a Democrat in the Georgia Senate special election.

Successful NRO Launch. Rocket Lab successfully launched an NRO payload aboard its Electron rocket late Thursday evening East Coast time from its Launch Complex-1 in New Zealand. The launch was the company’s 11th Electron mission and the first launch of an NRO payload from New Zealand, Rocket Lab said in a Friday statement. The NRO payload was successfully deployed to its final orbit, and Rocket Lab also successfully conducted a guided re-entry of the rocket’s first stage down to sea level for the second time.

New Satellite Facility. Northrop Grumman has begun building expanded satellite manufacturing facilities in Gilbert, Arizona, the company said Friday. Northrop Grumman held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday for the new space, which includes a 100,000 square-foot addition to double the company’s production capacity and complement the current facility with a new 120,000-foot administrative and engineering building.

U.K./Huawei. Lawmakers this week expressed concern over the United Kingdom’s decision to allow Chinese technology firm Huawei to participate in its future 5G telecommunications efforts. “I’m deeply troubled by the U.K. government’s decision to allow Huawei to build components of the country’s 5G network. The risks Huawei poses are well-documented and impossible to ignore; once the door is opened, they may also prove impossible to contain,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chair of the select committee on intelligence said in a statement. Congress has moved to ban the federal government from purchasing tools from Huawei and other Chinese companies over fears that they could be used to compromise U.S. networks. “While the U.K. believes that they can mitigate the risk posed by Huawei’s access to their network, in 5G there is no sure way to isolate the core network from other components. Granting Huawei access to any part of a country’s network opens access to the whole network, providing a potential door to the Chinese government. This decision will inevitably complicate America’s ability to share information with our closest ally,” Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), leaders of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a joint statement. 

GD Training Deal. General Dynamics has received a new deal from the Army, potentially worth $883 million, to continue supporting the service’s Live Training Transformation (LT2) program. Work on the latest deal covers enhancing and maintaining the LT2 product line, to include the software architecture and training framework. LT2 is the Army’s program to provide common training instrumentation architecture for its combat training centers and live training ranges. GD was first awarded the LT2 support contract in 2009, and last received a $415 million deal in 2015 to continue work on the program. The latest deal runs through January 2028. 

No Turkey, No Problem. Lockheed Martin said congressional plus-ups for production of F-35 fighters will mostly make up for aircraft it would have sold to Turkey had the country not been expelled from the program last summer due to its decision to acquire a sophisticated Russian missile defense system. On top of that, international demand for the aircraft continues to grow, Ken Possenriede, Lockheed Martin’s chief financial officer, said June 28 on the company’s year-end earnings call. “So, I think from a revenue side, it’s well in hand,” he said.

…Supply Chain Progress. Turkish aerospace suppliers provide around 1,000 parts to the F-35, but the U.S. government’s decision to push Turkey out of the program meant that Lockheed Martin had to find alternative suppliers by this March. Possenriede said “almost all supply out of Turkey” is on track to be removed by March, but, he added, “There will be a handful of suppliers that we continue to work with through Dec. 20th.” Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin’s chairman, president and CEO, said on the call that overall, the company has its F-35 issues with Turkey “well solutioned.”

Ransomware Help. The National Institute of Standards and Technology last week issued two draft practice guides to help organizations prepare for and combat ransomware attacks on their networks. The guides, created with the help of the business community and cyber security vendors, are focused on “methods to effectively identify assets that may become targets of data integrity attacks” and on “detailed methods and potential tool sets that can detect, mitigate, and contain data integrity events in the components of an enterprise network,” NIST says. Ransomware attacks, which have included a number of high profile incidents impacting local governments, are being used by cyber criminals to lock individuals and organizations out of their networks and data until they pay a ransom.

C-37 Contract. The Air Force on Thursday awarded Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. (GAC) a $127.4 million contract to deliver two C-37B aircraft for VIP transport. The new contract expands the fleet size to 16 aircraft and the new platforms will be delivered by the end of fiscal year 2021, per the Air Force. The delivery order is the second award against the GAC IDIQ contract awarded in September 2019, an award vehicle providing an effective and responsive instrument for the processing of multiple customer requirements across the federal government requiring Gulfstream aircraft and sustainment services, the service said in a Friday statement. “This IDIQ contract provides a great opportunity for the Air Force and other agencies to add capability to their fleets in a responsive, cost effective manner,” said Brig. Gen. Ryan Britton, PEO Presidential and Executive Airlift.  “The program team awarded the contract a mere 15 business days from receipt of FY ’20 funding.  We expect this will set a trend to deliver affordable capability faster.”

T-38 Rewinging. The Air Force awarded Israel Aerospace Industries an IDIQ contract work up to $240 million for new wings for its T-38 fleet, per a Thursday contract notice. IAI has provided upgraded wings for the service’s T-38 trainer jet since at least 2015, and four offers were received for the competition, the service said. Work will be performed in Lod, Israel, and is expected to be completed by January 2033. Fiscal 2020 consolidated sustainment activity group working capital funds in the amount of $34.4 million are being obligated at the time of award.

Leidos Closes Dynetics Deal. Leidos has completed its $1.7 billion cash acquisition of Alabama-based Dynetics, which will operate as a subsidiary of Leidos and continue to be led by David King, the company’s CEO. Dynetics has capabilities in hypersonic weapons, small glide munitions, directed energy, space solutions, unmanned and counter-unmanned aircraft systems, intelligence and electronic warfare, and radar. “This combination adds innovative capabilities in our targeted growth areas, while expanding our secure agile production capabilities, secure agile manufacturing, and increasing our penetration with key customers,” says Roger Krone, chairman and CEO of Leidos.

AFRL Propulsion Work. The Air Force on Friday awarded Jacobs Technology Inc. a $225.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for rocket and propulsion technology research at Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Per the notice, the contract will provide on-site research and development to AFRL across “a wide spectrum of propulsion-related areas.” Work will be performed at Edwards AFB, California, and is expected to be complete by early 2028. Two offers were received. Fiscal 2019 and 2020 research, development, test and engineering funds in the amount of $197,000 are being obligated at the time of award.

Trident II. On Friday the Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $474 million contract for Trident II (D5) life extension work. The contract specifically covers the Life Extension 2 Strategic Systems Programs Alteration Advanced Development Program effort. Work will largely occur in Denver, Colo. and is expected to be finished by September 2026. The Navy obligated $3 million at time of award, with none set to expire at the end of this fiscal year. The contract was awarded on a sole source basis.