Networked, Collaborative Weapons. While the U.S. Air Force has decided not to pursue an acquisition track for the Golden Horde Vanguard program, Air Force Gen. Arnold Bunch, the head of Air Force Materiel Command, said that Golden Horde will inform Air Force weapons efforts. “We have not finalized what will be the next [collaborative] weapon,” he said. “What we’ve demonstrated is the ability to do that collaborative nature and networking. Right now, we’re not foreseeing that immediately moving into a ‘program of record.’ What we are looking at is taking the modeling and the capabilities that we’ve been able to demonstrate, as we’ve done this, and use that within our Program Executive Officer for Weapons portfolio and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Munitions Directorate to be able to bring in new ideas or new capabilities and model those and do some experimentation in a virtual environment so that we can determine what the gain out of that system may be, and then we will look for future ways that we can work that into a ‘program of record.’”

Launch Delay. The U.S. Space Force’s (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles AFB, Calif. said on June 4 that it has delayed the previously scheduled June 23 Cape Canaveral launch of Atlas V 551 Space Test Program (STP)-3 in order “to evaluate launch vehicle readiness.” SMC and the United Launch Alliance (ULA), which builds the Atlas V, have not announced a new launch date. Space Force launched the fifth Lockheed Martin Space Based Infrared Geosynchronous Earth Orbit missile warning satellite (SBIRS GEO-5) on May 18. ULA said that the performance of the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL 10 engine during the SBIRS GEO-5 launch was normal, “leading to a very precise payload insertion,” but that “we observed nozzle oscillation during the flight.” ULA and USSF are “diving into this observation to understand the oscillations before the next flight of this configuration” for STP-3, ULA said.

Dell Nabs DoD ESI. The Pentagon on June 4 awarded Dell a $2.5 billion deal for work on the Department of Defense Enterprise Software Initiative (DOD ESI) program. The single-award firm-fixed-price blanket purchase agreement was competitively awarded with two bids received, according to the department. “The DOD ESI streamlines software licensing acquisition and provides information technology products that are compliant with DoD technical standards and represent the best value for the DOD. This DOD Enterprise Software Agreement (ESA) will provide commercially available perpetual licenses, software assurance, user-based subscription licenses to include Microsoft 365, Microsoft Azure, and client access licenses among others,” the department wrote announcement. 

Army Network Funds. Lead Army officials last week discussed the service’s $500 million increase in the recently released FY ‘22 budget request for network modernization efforts, citing it as a critical piece to continue fielding the first new capability drop, or CAPSET 21. “The budget dropped last week. I’m sure we’re all certainly watching that. A little bit of a decline overall for the Army. But if you look at, from a modernization perspective, [there’s] a lot of continued investments in our modernization…and certainly, from a network perspective, you even saw an increase on our tactical network. So you see the senior leadership in the Army is committed to what we’re doing here within the network,” Brig. Gen. Rob Collins, program executive officer for command, control, communications-tactical, said during an industry day for the Army’s forward-looking CAPSET 25 effort. During the event, officials noted the $2.7 billion in the budget quest for the Network Cross-Functional Team (CFT) is the most for any of the modernization-focused CFTs.

Oshkosh on MCWS. Following its win last Thursday of the Army’s potential $942 million Stryker Medium Caliber Weapon System (MCWS) program, Oshkosh Defense noted its solution includes integrating a 30mm weapon system based on partner Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ SAMSON family of turrets. “The Oshkosh team brought together best-in-class capabilities for weapon system design, manufacturing, and integration to provide a highly capable solution that meets the Stryker MCWS program requirements today and offers the flexibility to upgrade tomorrow,” Pat Williams, the company’s vice president for U.S. Army and Marine Corps programs, said in a statement. “Our experienced team looks forward to supporting the Stryker program office to quickly field this capability to the warfighter.”

Amphibs. The Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries a $303 million contract on May 28 for planning yard support for several amphibious vessels including the San Antonio-class (LPD-17) amphibious transport dock ships, Wasp and America-class (LHD-1/LHA-6) amphibious assault ships, Whidbey Island and Harpers Ferry-class (LSD-41/49) dock landing ships, and Blue Ridge-class (LCC-19) amphibious command ships.  The award includes options that, if exercised, would raise the total value to $724 million. Work is expected to be finished by May 2028. DoD said the contract was competitively procured with two offers received but did not disclose the other competitor.

Checkpoint Work. Leidos last Thursday won a potential five-year $470.7 million contract to provide deployment services to the Transportation Security Administration for checkpoint screening equipment. The agency says over the next five to six years it plans to replace about 2,200 carry-on baggage scanners, 1,000 body scanners, 5,000 explosive trace detectors, and 1,600 bottled liquid scanners with next-generation technology. Leidos will be responsible for shipping, rigging, installation, relocation, decommissioning of checkpoint screening equipment and peripherals at airports, TSA labs and other locations.

Northrop Grumman Flares. Northrop Grumman has received a potential five-year, $80 million deal to provide illuminating flares that will be used for the Army’s Hydra-70 rockets built by General Dynamics. The deal covers production of M257 visible spectrum flares, the M278 infrared spectrum illuminating flare and the newly designed M278A1 infrared spectrum illuminating flare. Northrop Grumman said the flares will provide “greater tactical battlefield illumination in both the visible and infrared spectra.” “For decades we have been an industry-leading provider of high-performance tactical illumination that soldiers rely on. This technology greatly enhances target detection and identification by providing an artificial light that illuminates the battlefield using visible or infrared light,” Charlie Precourt, the company’s vice president for propulsion systems, said in a statement.

LCAC-102 Delivered. The Navy accepted delivery of the third next generation Textron Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), LCAC-102, on June 3. Delivery came after it successfully completed acceptance trials with the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey. The SSC program is currently in serial production on LCACs 103-115, with the vessels meant to replace the Navy’s current fleet of LCACs reaching the end of their service lives. The LCAC-100 class vessels are meant to operate for 30 years and transport 60 to 70 tons of surface force weapons, systems, equipment, cargo and personnel to over-the-horizon distances on land from amphibious ships and mobile landing platforms.

Corporate News. Lockheed Martin has elected Patricia Yarrington, recently retired from Chevron Corp. as its chief financial officer, to its board of directors. She will serve on the board’s Audit Committee, and Management Development and Compensation Committee. General Dynamics said its board has authorized the company to repurchase an additional 10 million shares of company stock. Finally, pureplay cybersecurity company FireEye has agreed to sell its FireEye products business, including the FireEye name, to a consortium led by private equity firm Symphony Technology Group for $1.2 billion in cash. Following the sale, which is expected to close by the end of 2021, Mandiant will focus on its Mandiant Solutions threat intelligence, managed defense and controls-agnostic software business, serving enterprises, governments and law enforcement agencies worldwide.

LCS-30 Christening.The Navy plans to christen the newest Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Canberra (LCS-30) during a ceremony on June 5 in Mobile, Ala., the service said June 4. The even-numbered Independence-variant LCSs are built by Austal USA in Mobile. LCS-30 will be the 15th Independence-variant. “Tomorrow we christen the second USS Canberra named for the great capital city of Australia, our stalwart ally and superb naval partner,” acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker said on June 4.

Coast Guard Small Boats. The Coast Guard has awarded small contracts to Blackfish Solutions, Gravois Aluminum Boats (Metal Shark Boats), Inventech Marine Solutions, and MetalCraft Marine US to each build a single over-the-horizon cutter boat (OTH V) for demonstration purposes. Once evaluations are completed, the Coast Guard plans to award a single contractor about $100 million to produce up to 200 OTH Vs over 10 years for deployments across the service’s fleet of national security cutters (NSCs), fast response cutters, offshore patrol cutters, polar security cutters, and legacy medium endurance cutters. The 26-foot-long high-speed craft will carry up to 13 people, have a top speed of 38 knots, and include improvements in waterjet propulsion, upgraded integrated navigation and automatic identification systems, and a shock monitoring system to provide the crew with real-time information about wave impacts on the vessel.

…Final Delivery. The Coast Guard has taken deliver of its 12th and final 35-foot long-range interceptor (LRI) II, which are deployed on the service’s first nine 418-foot high-endurance NSCs. Built by MetalCraft Marine, the LRI IIs provide their host ships with a long-range over-the-horizon capability and stern launch and recovery. The craft include a semi-enclosed cabin, a range of 240 nautical miles, and have a top speed of 40 knots. The Coast Guard is initiating an LRI III program to support NSCs 10 and 11 and eventually to replace the LRI IIs when they reach the end of their service life.

Border Surveillance Aircraft. Customs and Border Protection is requesting $28.4 million in fiscal year 2022 funding for a new variant of its Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA)—which is currently configured for maritime and aerial surveillance—for land interdiction missions along U.S. borders. So far, CBP has received funding for 29 MEAs, which are built by Sierra Nevada Corp. and are based on Textron’s King Air 350-CER twin-turboprop aircraft. “The MEA program has a highly efficient record of detection and surveillance missions,” CBP says in budget documents. The agency plans a full and open competition for the new aircraft variant.

Navy Chiefs. On June 3 U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday met with his British and French counterparts in a trilateral maritime discussion in Toulon, France. During the meeting, Gilday, First Sea Lord of the United Kingdom Royal Navy Adm. Tony Radakin and Chief of the French Navy Adm. Pierre Vandier signed a trilateral cooperation agreement reaffirming their commitment to deeper cooperation and interoperability. During the meeting, all three chiefs visited the FS Charles de Gaulle and HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers at sea. This meeting built on a previous virtual discussion between all three navies last June.