Former IG Guilty. Charles Edwards, 61, a former acting inspector general (IG) at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, last Friday pleaded guilty to stealing proprietary software and sensitive databases from the U.S. government after he left government service and founded his own company, Delta Business Solutions. The Justice Department on Friday said that Edwards stole software from the DHS IG’s office, and databases containing personal identifying information of DHS and U.S. Postal Service employees to develop a case management system that Delta could in turn offer to sell to government agencies. Edwards, who will be sentenced at a later date, also had access to software at the USPS, where he worked in the IG’s office prior to joining DHS.

People News.

Vice Adm. Frank Whitworth III has been nominated to be the next director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), succeeding Vice Adm. Robert Sharp, who has led the agency since February 2019. Whitworth, who must be confirmed by the Senate, is currently director of intelligence, J-2, on the Joint Staff. Ellen Lord, the former under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment during the Trump administration, has joined the board of GEOST, LLC, a developer of affordable small-to-medium-sized electrooptical and infrared sensors for national security missions in, and from, space. Lord, who led Textron Systems before becoming the DoD acquisition chief, will help the GEOST management team during an ongoing period of rapid growth. Science Applications International Corp. has appointed Jon Rucker as senior vice president of its Army Business Unit, overseeing a $1.2 billion business that provides engineering and information technology services supporting Army missions. Rucker previously was senior vice president of CACI International’s C3I Group and before that spent 20 years at Lockheed Martin.

Threat Hunting at MDA. The Missile Defense Agency plans to compete a contract for cybersecurity threat hunting services with a request for quote expected during the second quarter of fiscal year 2022 and an award anticipated in the third quarter. MDA first issued a Request for Information in 2019 for the cyber threat hunting services with a goal to discover advanced persistent threats, the sharing of cyber threat data with industry partners to improve their security posture and protect DoD and defense industrial base networks.

Academic Advice. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is reestablishing an advisory committee consisting of up to 30 members that will come from a broad range of U.S. schools and universities. The Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council will meet for two years, unless renewed by the secretary, and provide advice and recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security on matters related to homeland security and academia.

R&E Priorities. Heidi Shyu, the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, told reporters on Jan. 13 her official list of top technology priority areas is set to be released soon, potentially next week. Shyu cited trusted artificial intelligence and autonomy, integrated network system of systems, hypersonics and microelectronics as a few examples and noted the full list actually grew rather narrowing down from her predecessor’s list of 11 priorities. “I thought I could neck it down quite a bit, but I sort of failed and I think I ballooned it instead,” Shyu said. 

…New R&E Roles. Shyu also said new positions in her office, such as a director of sustainment technologies and director of processing and software, have not been officially established yet, and that more roles are likely to be created to match her technology priorities list. “Unfortunately, it’s a little on the slow side. You have to go through all the bureaucracy. But I’m on the cusp of the cusp of getting my reorg approved,” Shyu said. “What you’ll see when my technology strategy comes out, there are 14 areas that I’m going to focus on. So I’m going to be hiring folks, making sure that if there’s not a current person there then I’ll be hiring that person.” One such position is a director of “Next G,” who will focus on the technology space beyond 5G telecommunications. “What you really want to look at as well is what are the critically enabling technologies for 6G and possibly 7G that you want to develop today so you can shape the standards, because otherwise you’re just always playing catch up,” Shyu said.

Greece FMS. The State Department on Jan. 12 approved a potential $233 million foreign military sale with Greece for follow-on maintenance support for its Pratt & Whitney-built F100-PW-229 engines. The FMS would cover parts and services to support follow-on depot level maintenance and sustainment for the F-16 engines. “The proposed sale will improve Greece’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing greater depth of repair capability for engines on their F-16 Block 52+/52+ Advanced aircraft, sustaining their weapon system, and improving aircraft capability rates,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency wrote in a statement.

Defense Groups. A group of 11 defense-related associations sent a letter on Jan. 11 to congressional leadership urging rapid action to complete fiscal year 2022 spending bills, citing the financial impact of having to operate under a long-term stopgap funding measure. “It would be a devastating signal to send to our warfighters, their families, our allies and partners, and the dedicated industries that support them, if Congress cannot provide adequate funding for FY22 in a timely fashion,” the group wrote. “Again, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to expeditiously finalize all 12 full-year appropriations bills for fiscal year 2022 prior to the expiration of the current CR on February 18, 2022.” The letter was signed by the Aerospace Industries Association, Air Force Association, Association of the United States Army, Association of the United States Navy, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, Global Special Operations Forces Foundation, Marine Corps League, National Defense Industrial Association, National Guard Association of the United States, Professional Services Council, Reserve Organization of America.

Bollinger-GDEB. Bollinger Shipyards is set to build a new pontoon launcher for General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) to support construction and launching of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines, the company announced Jan. 10. The Pontoon Launcher will be 496 by 95 feet and concept and contract design was performed by the Bristol Harbor Group. Detail design engineering will occur at Bollinger’s Lockport, La., facility. The launcher is set to be delivered to GDEB’s  Groton, Conn., shipyard by 2024. “Bollinger Shipyards is excited to expand our ongoing relationship with Electric Boat and to continue to support the capitalization and infrastructure improvements that Electric Boat has undertaken in reshaping and modernizing its Groton shipyard,” said Bollinger Shipyards President and C.E.O. Ben Bordelon. Bollinger noted this was the company’s third contract with EB after winning an Ocean Transport Barge in 2019 delivered in 2021 and a Floating Dry Dock awarded in 2020, all to support Columbia-class construction and maintenance.

DDG-1002. The last Zumwalt-class destroyer, the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002), sailed away from the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard on Jan. 12. The Navy formally accepted completion of production and test activity from BIW. “The Navy’s acceptance of Hull, Mechanical and Electrical (HM&E) completion followed extensive tests, trials and demonstrations of the ship’s systems both at the pier and during sea trials last summer,” the company said in a statement. A June 2021 Government Accountability Office report said the Navy changed its delivery plan for the final Zumwalt-class vessel. It is expected to work with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding facility in Pascagoula, Miss., to install the combat system and the Navy will not take full delivery or commission the ship until this phase is complete. The report said the program manager said this may cause additional delays, but it will free up space at Naval Base San Diego and keep the service from moving the crew onboard until it is ready to operate. GD announced it completed builder’s trials for DDG-1002 last September.

…Other Construction. President of General Dynamics Bath Iron Works Dirk Lesko said this marks an important milestone. “The completion of our work on the most sophisticated surface combatant ever built is the culmination of more than two decades of dedicated effort by thousands of employees. Our Bath-built-best-built tradition will now fully focus on DDG-51s to support the mission of the Navy.” The company is under construction with the Flight IIA variant destroyers the future Carl M. Levin (DDG-120), John Basilone (DDG-122), Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG-124) and Patrick Gallagher (DDG-127) as well as the company’s first Flight III configuration destroyers Louis H. Wilson Jr. (DDG-126), William Charette (DDG-130) and Quentin Walsh (DDG-132).

A Numbers Game. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report this month on the availability of Department of the Air Force and Navy aircraft, other than the F-35, says that the Air Force listed 121 of 180 F-15Cs–67 percent—as available for duty in 2019. Yet, CBO says that the actual availability rate was just 40 percent, as the Air Force measure only included squadron-assigned aircraft, not those in depot maintenance or storage. That year, 31 of 304 total F-15Cs were in depot maintenance, while 93 planes were in storage, CBO said.

 … Faulty Systems. CBO said that it used the Air Force Reliability and Maintainability Information System (REMIS) and the Department of the Navy’s Decision Knowledge Programming for Logistics Analysis and Technical Evaluation (DECKPLATE) to calculate average fleetwide availability for the study. But REMIS “does not accurately track availability or flying hours for the F-35A, and the data CBO received from DECKPLATE on the F-35B and F-35C did not match other reports of the availability of those aircraft, so F-35s are not analyzed” in the study, CBO said.

COVID-19 Effects. CBO said that in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 fleetwide availability for Department of the Air Force and Department of the Navy aircraft increased and flying hours per aircraft declined with availability peaking for the Air Force in April 2020 and for the Department of the Navy in May 2020. “With the services flying fewer hours, more spare parts may have been available to complete maintenance, increasing the number of aircraft that were available,” CBO said. “Or fewer flying hours may have reduced the chances that available aircraft would experience problems and need repairs.” The availability rate for Air Force planes rose from 49 percent in February 2020 to a peak of 54 percent in April 2020, but then fell to 49 percent in September 2020 and in March 2021. For the Department of the Navy, aircraft availability rate rose from 41 percent in February 2020 to a high of 44 percent in May 2020 before falling to 43 percent in September 2020, CBO said.