FRC Contract Boost. The Coast Guard plans to raise the contract ceiling with Bollinger Shipyards for its Fast Response Cutters by from 26 to 32 to accommodate demand for the 154-foot patrol craft for U.S. military needs in Southwest Asia. Bollinger built 32 FRCs under the original contract and the second contract for 26 gets the Coast Guard to its program of record, which is 58 ships. However, the Coast Guard has been operating six 110-foot Island-class patrol boats, which the FRCs are replacing, in support of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA). The Coast Guard recently commissioned its 36

th FRC. The first two FRCs for PATFORSWA will be hulls 41 and 42.

Space Force Cooperation. International participation with the new U.S. Space Force is part of equation as plans for the force are implemented, according to the Pentagon’s top spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman. Asked by a reporter about foreign government cooperation with the Space Force and whether the topic came up in a Jan. 15 meeting between Defense Secretary Esper and Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono at the Pentagon, Hoffman said it wasn’t discussed in the meeting and that right now Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, the chief of space operations for U.S. Space Force, “has a massive and incredibly well thought out and planned implementation process for” the force and that “International participation is part of that.” But he said during a Jan. 16 Pentagon media briefing, “I don’t know where it is in the timeline.”

People. The Senate last Tuesday confirmed Pete Gaynor to be the new administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, filling a spot that has been vacant for nearly a year after Brock Long resigned last February. Gaynor has been the acting administrator since Long’s departure. The Trump administration last fall withdrew Jeff Byard as its nominee to lead the disaster response agency. Also last week, Booz Allen Hamilton named Judi Dotson and executive vice president and lead of the firm’s National Security business effective April 1. Dotson, who will also join Booz Allen’s leadership team, has been with the company 31 years working with federal defense and civilian clients.

Two Fewer Democratic Contenders. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said Monday that he was suspending his campaign to become the Democratic nominee for president. Instead, Booker intends to seek reelection for Senate in the 2020 elections. He assumed office in the Senate in 2012. His announcement follows the Jan. 10 announcement by author Marianne Williamson that she was also suspending her campaign. Twelve candidates remain in the running for the Democratic nominee.

Polar Security Cutter. The Coast Guard’s program to replace its aging fleet of icebreakers remains on track to starting “cutting steel” next fall, Deputy Commandant Adm. Charles Ray told reporters Wednesday. The service is moving through the detailed design phase of the Polar Security Cutter program now, and continues to track 2024 for delivery “with incentives to move it to the left,” he said on the sidelines of SNA’s annual symposium.

ALIS Reinvented. The Defense Department is moving on from the F-35’s notoriously cumbersome autonomous logistics information system (ALIS) to a new model, the Pentgon’s acquisition czar Ellen Lord told reporters Tuesday. Lockheed Martin will also build the new system, called the Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN), she added. It will be based in the cloud and be designed “with the voice of the maintainer and the pilots at the forefront of the requirements list,” Lord said.

Boeing. Lord also told reporters that she expects Boeing to be “very forthcoming” with the Pentagon as the company moves through a series of struggles that have taken place over the past year on its commercial side, and the departure of former CEO Dennis Muilenberg in December 2019. “I think what Boeing needs to do is tackle this with the Department of Defense one program at a time and make sure they are very forthcoming in terms of answering any questions we have, replying to RFIs, RFPs, and I can only judge it by their performance with us,” she said. She added that she has always found Boeing Defense, Space and Security CEO Leanne Caret to be “one of the most forthcoming” industry leaders. A former Textron Systems CEO, Lord noted that the “shadow of the leader” of a company “is very, very long.”

GPS III. The Air Force’s first GPS III satellite has officially joined the GPS constellation and is active, the service said Wednesday. The satellite, dubbed SVN-74, was launched in December 2018. The second GPS III satellite was launched in August 2019, and is currently being managed by Lockheed Martin in preparation to be handed over to the Air Force. The third GPS III satellite is scheduled for launch in 2020 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

AFRL Leader Fired. Maj. Gen. Bill Cooley has been removed from his post as the commander of AFRL, Air Force Materiel Command Commander Gen. Arnold Bunch said in a Thursday statement. Cooley has been reassigned as a special assistant to the AFMC commander as the Air Force Office of Special Investigations looks into allegations of misconduct. “The Air Force takes any misconduct allegation seriously,” Bunch said in the statement. “I expect our leadership to uphold the highest standards and live up to the Air Force’s core values.” The AFMC leader appointed Brig. Gen. Evan Dertien as the new AFRL commander, Dertien most recently served as the Headquarters AFMC director of Air, Space and Cyberspace Operations was and previously AFRL’s vice commander from July 2016 to May 2017.

Geurts On Fleet Size. Navy acquisition chief James Geurts agreed with the Chief of Naval Operations that the Navy will need a bigger budget to achieve a fleet of 335-plus battle force ships. “I don’t think it would be reasonable to assume you could grow the Navy by 25 to 30 percent without some change in the budget,” Geurts told reporters during the Surface Navy Association symposium on Wednesday. He said his job is to maximize the output for resources in, so his first priority is saving up to tens of billions of dollars through things like new acquisition mechanisms and maximizing for resources in sustainment. “Again, if the country wants to move to a larger Navy, we’re going to have to figure out how to resource that and how that looks…we’re looking at what is that full range of options available to grow there and then that will come with resource trades and we’ll have to go work that through the process,” Geurts added.

…LSC Delay. Geurts was unwilling to comment on whether the Navy was considering a bridge capability between the last DDG-51 Flight III procurement and the Large Surface Combatant (LSC) program being shifted to the late 2020s, noting the budget will lay out the timeline and planning. However, he explained the Navy is examining where they want the capability to be and what enabling technologies are needed to get there. “Because we want to get there as quickly as we can but not before we’ve got all of the enabling technologies and activities in there.” As the Navy consults with industry on LSC, “our view right now is we’re trading a little of the immediate fielding time to get a little bit more robustness in the technology prototyping and interactions with industry and kind of refine what we’re going for as opposed to just getting out there a little bit ahead.”

…Learn From DDG. Geurts noted the Flight III ships are “awesome” and the service wants to get them into service and “make sure we can also learn from them and not get too much concurrency in there.” He  added the Navy is trying balance the speed of getting LSC into the fleet “with the right level of prototyping and learning from Flight III and getting that balance where it needs to be.”

…Navy Recoup CR. Geurts said thanks to the budget being passed the Navy expects to recoup delayed ship maintenance availabilities caused by the continuing resolutions. “Thankfully, we got a budget passed so that’s not going to be kind of a lingering challenge for us this year. So now it’s really about execution and continuing to make the improvements that we need to in our processes.”

…More Confidence. Geurts also said he is gaining confidence in the ship maintenance team and process. “I just came from a three-hour meeting with all the ship repair CEOs, the vice CNO and myself and Adm. Moore and really had a good frank dialogue of where we’re getting. The metrics and the availability on time is increasing in terms of on-time performance. That’s a great start. we have a long way to go yet.” Noting Rear Adm. Tom Anderson is now Director of Ship Maintenance and Modernization, he said, “the boldness with which they are making changes based on industry feedback is really pretty remarkable for me…Everybody on the waterfront is about on-time in full delivery. And so I am optimistic we’re in the right direction.” Geurts acknowledged it is still a complex system and it will take the Navy time to get where it needs to be on ship maintenance.

Helo Trainer. The Navy said Leonardo AgustaWestland won the $176.5 million contract to produce the new TH-73A Advanced Helicopter Training System program after winning on a best-value tradeoff basis. It noted there is are three one-year options in addition to the base time and initial 32 aircraft. The total contract value with options will reach $648 million to procure 130 aircraft. Helicopter deliveries are expected to last from 2020 through 2024.

…Navy Comments. “I’m proud of the aggressive work the team did to leverage the commercial industrial base to get this capability to the warfighters, and our nation, at the best value to the taxpayer.  This effort is key to ensure the readiness of our Naval Aviators for decades to come,” Navy acquisition chief James Geurts said in a statement Jan. 13.  Capt. Todd St. Laurent, naval undergraduate flight training systems program manager, added the TH-73A will serve rotary and tiltrotar training requirements into the foreseeable future, through 2050. “These new helicopters will ensure the Navy has capacity to train several hundred aviation students per year at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field in Milton, Florida,” St. Laurent said.

400-Ship National Fleet. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said the wide range of global security demands “requires a 400-ship national fleet” made up of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard assets capable of projecting lethal force and model maritime behavior. “As we have entered 2020, it has never been more critical that we renew our efforts to create a united, cohesive, and interoperable national fleet,” he said last Thursday night at closing banquet of the Surface Navy Association’s annual national conference. “This includes the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, as well as our Merchant Fleet that enables logistics support to any war effort.” Schultz pointed out that the Coast Guard, through its ongoing recapitalization effort, will have over 100 vessels, including National Security, Offshore Patrol, Fast Response and Polar Security Cutters capable of plying the world’s seas. The Navy has a goal of a 355-ship fleet.

DARPA/Lockheed Hypersonics. DARPA has awarded Lockheed Martin a $32 million deal for the Operational Fires (OpFires) Phase 3 Weapon System Integration program to develop a ground-launched system for future hypersonic weapons. The phase 3 deal covers the work developing initial requirements for OpFires through a critical design review in late 2021. Integrated flight testing for a hypersonic weapon prototype is expected to then begin in 2022. The OpFires program is expected to leverage DARPA-funded propulsion solutions. “The OpFires missile is critical to providing the U.S. Army with a highly maneuverable and rapid response solution capable of operating from unpredictable land-launch positions to suppress hostile threats,” Hady Mourad, director of tactical and strike missiles advanced programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in a statement. 

Hack The Army. The Army’s latest bug bounty program to pay ethical hackers to uncover flaws in public-facing websites led to the disclosure of 146 vulnerabilities. Hack the Army 2.0 took place from October to November and included 52 participating ethical hackers from the U.S., Canada, Portugal, Romania, the Netherlands and Germany. “Participation from hackers is key in helping the Department of Defense boost its security practices beyond basic compliance checklists to get to real security. With each Hack the Army challenge, our team has strengthened its security posture,” Alex Romero, a digital service expert with DoD’s Defense Digital Service, said in a statement. Hackers were paid out over $275,000 to reward their discoveries. This was the Pentagon’s ninth bug bounty event with HackerOne. The Army’s first ethical hacking competition discovered 118 vulnerabilities. 

McPherson/Long Range Fires. Acting Army Under Secretary James McPherson reiterated the service’s commitment to long-range precision fires as the top modernization priority during his confirmation hearing on Jan. 16. “Long-range precision fires is our number one modernization priority. The FY ’21 budget request that you’ll see will reflect that. That’s where the majority of our funding is going, both in [Precision Strike Missile] and in hypersonics,” McPherson told lawmakers. McPherson also affirmed that the Army is continuing to explore weapon system capabilities that extend beyond ranges previously banned by the INF treaty with Russia, now that the U.S. is no longer bound by the deal. “Our main thrust in there is our hypersonics. We will be fielding our first hypersonics battery in 2023. We have decided to station it on the West Coast. There’s a reason for that. It sends a message.”

Marines/Polymer Ammo. The Marine Corps has awarded MAC Technology a $10 million deal to help the force begin to transition toward polymer ammunition for its M2 machine guns. Polymer ammo is lighter than traditional brass casings, and officials said the goal is ultimately to also replace steel cans with polymer cans and traditional metal links to hold ammo with nylon links. Under the deal, MAC Technology will deliver a small quantity of polymer ammo in the fourth quarters of FY ’20 and FY ’21. The Marine Corps will then assess the ammo during an operational evaluation scheduled for the third quarter of FY ’21.