Supply Chain Task Force. The House Armed Services Committee has established a new bipartisan task force to review industrial supply chain challenges and identify potential threats and vulnerabilities. Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) will chair the new Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force. Lawmakers have recently expressed concern, particularly, with regards to domestic semiconductor manufacturing supply chains and a need to reduce reliance on foreign production. The task force will last three months, with an option to extend an additional three months, and will also include Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.).

Sheltering the B-21.

U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command and the program office for the future Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider stealth bomber are testing prototype Environmental Protection Shelters for the aircraft at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., to determine the “most cost effective and affordable designs” that could be used across all three B-21 Main Operating Bases–Ellsworth, Whiteman AFB, Mo., Dyess AFB, Texas, the depot, and possibly forward operating locations, the Air Force said. The shelters are to help protect the low-observable materials on the aircraft, extend the life of the aircraft and reduce required maintenance by limiting ultraviolet light exposure, limiting snow accumulation and melt, and limiting icing/de-icing operations. Such shelters may also aid in more rapid sortie generation than requiring the planes to be removed from hangars.

Second Flight. The Air Force Golden Horde Vanguard program said that it had a second flight test on Feb. 19, this time using four Collaborative Small Diameter Bombs (CSDBs), a Boeing GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb modified with networked collaborative autonomy payloads by the Air Force Research Laboratory and Scientific Applications & Research Associates, the prime contractor and provider of the home-on-GPS-jam seeker; L3Harris, the provider of the Banshee 2 networked software defined radio; Georgia Tech Research Institute, builder of the radio antenna, collaborative autonomy processor and algorithms; and Boeing, integrating the new technologies into its SDB-I weapons. AFRL used two CSDBs during the first flight. A third and final CSDB flight test is scheduled this spring.

CISA Supply Chain Work. After extending the charter in January for another six months of its Information and Communications Technology Supply Chain Risk Management Task Force, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency last week outlined four new or updated lines of effort. These include a working group to focus on policy and legal changes to give the private sector liability protection to promote information sharing about suspect suppliers, a group to work with the small and mid-sized business community to understand their needs and provide help with federal supply chain guidance, another group to work with non-federal agencies, academia and non-government organizations to use the task force’s products to meet their needs, and a working group to help chief information and security officers learn lessons from recent software supply chain attacks.

Corporate News. Huntington Ingalls Industries has name Kari Wilkinson the be president of its Ingalls Shipbuilding segment, effective April 1, succeeding Brian Cuccias who is retiring. She will report to Chris Kastner, HII’s chief operating officer. Wilkinson joined Ingalls in 1996 as an associate naval architect, and since 2016 has been vice president, program management, responsible for profits and losses for all elements of program execution and as the chief liaison to the Navy and Coast Guard for all ships in the division’s portfolio. Before that, Wilkinson was a ship program manager for the San Antonio-class LPD program. Cuccias has led Ingalls since 2014. General Dynamics is increasing its quarterly dividend by just over 8 percent to $1.19 per share from $1.10 effective on May 7, marking the 24th straight year the company has increased the dividend. And augmented reality technology company Red 6 has named Will Roper, former assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, as a member of its advisory board. Roper will provide expertise to support Red 6’s Airborne Tactical Augmented Reality System.

Switching Jerseys. Veteran defense industry spokesman Tim Paynter is leaving Northrop Grumman for a similar role at BAE Systems. Paynter started his career at Northrop Grumman in 2005. He moved to EADS North America (now Airbus) from 2008 to 2012 before returning to Northrop Grumman. Paynter, who starts at BAE on March 15, will be vice president of external media. At Northrop Grumman, Vic Beck, a retired one-star admiral who has been with Northrop Grumman for over six years, will be stepping in as the primary media contact.

ESB-6. Fairbanks Morse delivered four FM 6L48/60CR engines to General Dynamics NASSCO to be used on the future Expeditionary Sea Base USS John L. Canley (ESB-6), the company said March 2. The ship will be operated by Military Sealift Command and is designed to serve as a mobile sea base to help deploy supplies and forces. “Our common rail technology solution is one of the most fuel-efficient and reliable maritime power solutions available and will generate significant cost savings for the U.S. Navy over the operational lifetime of the engines,” George Whittier, Fairbanks Morse CEO, said in a statement. The engines are rated at 6,480 kW and are expected to deliver a total 25,920 kW of installed power. The company highlighted the engines use common rail technology to deliver high fuel efficiency. Fairbanks Morse is set to start construction on engines for the next ship, ESB-7, later in 2021, which NASSCO is also contracted to build.

IDECM. The Naval Air Systems Command awarded L3Harris Technologies a $72 million modification on March 3, exercising an option to procure another 19 full-rate production Lot 18 Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (IDECM) AN/ALQ-214 A(V)4 onboard jammer systems for F/A-18 aircraft. This award also provides for procurement of 11 weapons replaceable assembly (WRA)1 A(V)4 receiver/processors as well as 13 WRA2 A(V)4 modulators for Navy Supply Systems Command. Work will largely occur in Clifton, N.J. (59 percent); San Jose, Calif. (14 percent); and San Diego (seven percent) and is expected to be finished by August 2024.

Sonobuoys. Naval Air Systems Command awarded ERAPSCO a $71 million modification on March 3 to exercise an option to deliver a maximum of 20,000 additional AN/SSQ-125 production sonobuoys for the Navy and Foreign Military Sales customers. The contract announcement said the sonobuoys will support “annual training, peacetime operations and testing expenditures and maintaining sufficient inventory to support the execution of major combat operations determined by the Naval Munitions Requirements Process.” Work will be split between De Leon Spring, Fla. (51 percent), and Columbia City, Ind. (49 percent), and is expected to be finished in March 2023. No funds are obligated at the time of award but will be obligated on individual orders as they are issued. The Navy uses these sonobuoys for anti-submarine warfare and deploys them from fixed or rotary wing aircraft or a surface vessel.

MSC. The Navy’s Military Sealift Command awarded Patriot Contract Services a $40 million contract on March 4 for the operation and maintenance of eight government-owned large, medium-speed, roll-on, roll-off vessels. This award covers the ships USNS Watson (T-AKR 310); USNS Sisler (T-AKR 311); USNS Dahl (T-AKR 312); USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR 313); USNS Charlton (T-AKR 314); USNS Watkins (T-AKR 315); USNS Pomeroy (T-AKR 316); and USNS Soderman (T-AKR 317). These are vehicle cargo ships. Work will occur around the world and is expected to be finished by March 2026. The announcement noted the maximum value for this contract, including the base period and four option years, is $455 million. $11 million in Navy working capital funds and $30 million in transportation working capital funds were obligated for fiscal year 2021 at the time of award. DoD said the contract was competitive procured with six offers received, but did not disclose the other competitors.

D5 Guidance. The Navy awarded the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory a $208 million contract on Feb. 26 to produce Trident II (D5) Strategic Weapon System MK6 Guidance Equivalent Units. The Trident II is the Lockheed Martin submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) currently deployed on U.S. Navy Ohio-class submarines and U.K. Vanguard class submarines. Work will be split among Cambridge, Mass. (30.5 percent); Clearwater, Fla. (20.6 percent); Pittsfield, Mass. (43.25 percent); and McKinney, Texas (5.7 percent); and is expected to be finished by July 2025. Funding is split between $204 million in Navy fiscal year 2021 weapons procurement and $3 million in United Kingdom funds, all obligated at time of award with none set to expire at the end of this fiscal year. This contract was a sole-source acquisition pursuant to regulations.

LHA-9. The Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) an $80 million undefinitized contract action on Feb. 26 for long lead time material (LLTM) in support of the Amphibious Assault Ship Replacement (LHA(R) Flight 1 ship, LHA-9. This is the fourth increment of LLTM work awarded to HII under the original contract. This work covers procurement of LLTM for LHA-9, which is the fourth America-class amphibious assault ship and set to be the second LHA(R) Flight 1 variant. HII first won a $187 million contract for LLTM in May 2020. Work is expected to be finished by February 2024.

Coyote Targets. The Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a $55 million modification on Feb. 26 to exercise an option to procure 18 Lot 15 full-rate production GQM-163A Coyote Supersonic Sea Skimming Targets. This includes 14 for the Navy, three for the Missile Defense Agency, and one for Japan. These targets are used in support of the development, operational test and evaluation of major weapons systems, particularly missile defense systems. The award also procures associated technical and administrative data in support of full rate production Lot 15 deliveries. Work is expected to be finished by December 2024.

Tethered Drone Deal. COMSovereign Holding Corp. last week said it acquired Israel-based tethered drone developer Sky Sapience for $12.7 million, instantly giving the Dallas-based communications technology company an installed base of global customers that have the tethered aerial rotorcraft platforms. Sky Sapience’s customers include Israeli security forces, the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and more. COMSovereign says the fiber optic tether that links the drones to the ground enables the use of advanced surveillance payloads simultaneously with 4G and 5G airborne networks.

Hermes Drone Contract. Israel’s Elbit Systems said on March 2 it has received a deal worth around $300 million to deliver its Hermes 900 drone to an unnamed country in Asia. The deal is expected to include deliveries over a period of five years. “There is a continuous demand for integrating unmanned systems to cope with a growing variety of operational needs. Our operational portfolio of autonomous capabilities, in all domains of operation, positions us competitively to address these needs,” Bezhalel Machlis, the company’s CEO, said in a statement.