KC-46 Goes International. The KC-46 flight test program is conducting a test called Integrated System Evaluation (ISE) to evaluate worldwide operations and military utility of the aerial refueling aircraft. On Oct. 23, news outlet The War Zone reported a KC-46 flew from Eglin AFB, Florida, to Hickam AFB, Hawaii, and finally to Yokota Air Base, Japan. “The ISE will test the equipment interoperability, supportability, defensive capability, and operational capability of the aircraft in an operational environment,” said an Air Force spokesperson. The ISE lasts approximately 10 days and is 40 flight hours long.

GDIT Protest Denied. GAO has denied General Dynamics information Technology’s protest against the Army’s decision to dismiss the company’s proposal to work on a $785 million training contract. GAO said it has no basis to challenge the Army’s evaluation of GDIT’s proposal to offer training and support services for the Army Intelligence Center of Excellence at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Army officials originally decided to exclude GDIT’s proposal due to weaknesses in the company’s project management evaluation. “[The Army] concluded that GDIT’s proposal was flawed with regard to its staffing structure and key personnel; its task order modification procedures; its approach to the solicitation’s program flexibility requirements; its approach to the solicitation’s other than-normal working hours requirements; and its transition plan,” GAO wrote in its report. Contract award was planned for September but has not occurred yet. 

Hypersonic Giraffe. Saab is offering a new Hypersonic Detection Mode (HDM) feature for its Sea Giraffe naval radar. HDM aims to give a ship more time to act against a hypersonic target because it detects and tracks them faster than the current Sea Giraffe capability is able to. Saab said HDM furthers its track while scan technology, allowing track start within a fraction of a second for different types of targets in all conditions, including stealthy ones. HDM is optimized for the Sea Giraffe 4A Fixed Face fixed array configuration in the company’s S-band AESA radars.

Latvian Carl-Gustaf. Saab said it received a $19 million Latvian order for Carl-Gustaf ammunition on Wednesday. This order falls under a Swedish Defence Material Administration Framework Agreement wherein Latvia has the ability to order grenade ammunition. Latvia’s armed forces have used the Carl-Gustaf system for over 20 years. The Carl-Gustaf system is a man-portable anti-tank recoilless rifle.

Swedish Subs. The Sweden Royal Navy’s HSwMS Gotland submarine began sea trials at the Saab shipyard in Karlskrona on Oct. 19 upon finishing a mid-life upgrade to ensure service through 2025. The Gotland is the first of two Swedish submarines getting mid-life modification upgrades, which covers upgrading the Strirling Air Independent Propulsion engine for longer underwater durations, combat system upgrades, and replacing the optical periscope with an optronic mast. Over 20 of the upgraded Gotland systems will be featured in the new Saab A26 submarine being made for Sweden. The Gotland is over 203 feet long, has a crew of 25, and can stay submerged at sea for weeks.

Trident Juncture. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a press conference last week that the Trident Juncture NATO exercise will split participants into North and South forces who will take turns playing the role on an aggressor attempting to invade Norway and NATO defending forces. Stoltenberg said, “it will exercise our ability to reinforce an Allied country with troops and equipment from North America and from across Europe.” He added NATO intends to send a clear message to potential adversaries that while they do not seek confrontation, the alliance is ready to defend against any threat.

…Carrier and Exercises. The USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) will be participating with select ships from Carrier Strike Group Eight, the first carrier entering Norwegian waters since 1987, Stoltenberg said. He added that several other exercises will follow Trident Juncture: the deployment phase will provide training opportunities as part of Exercise Brilliant Jump; Poland will hold the regular Anakonda exercise after Trident Juncture with forces from 10 allies in the Baltic region; and Finland is using to presence of allied ships for its Exercise Northern Coasts.

…Russia Attends. Stoltenberg said Russia and Belarus have accepted invitations to send observers to Trident Juncture, as members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) n Europe. He added NATO briefed Russia on the exercise earlier this year during a NATO- Russia Council meeting. He argued NATO allies have respected transparency on military activities while Russia has not notified about any exercise since the end of the Cold War.

Navy Audit. Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly during a press call on Wednesday underscored the new Department of the Navy Business Operations Plan calls on prioritizing the findings of the upcoming financial audit. The Navy expects the audit to be completed by next month. Modly said he is still looking to bring personnel into the office of the Chief Management Officer (CMO) for help “figuring out how to prioritize those findings.” This includes those responsible for connecting with Office of the Secretary of Defense-level business reform efforts, looking at the business systems environment, and helping with data and digital strategy across the Navy Department. Modly said some of the positions are not filled but he is looking for highly qualified experts from the private sector to join the team for a few years. He expects the CMO team to reach 25-30 people.

No Competitive Threat. Raytheon Chairman and CEO Thomas Kennedy said the pending merger of Harris Corp. and L3 Technologies isn’t a big deal to his company in terms of future competition. “We don’t see a direct impact relative to the merger of the two companies,” he said last week on Raytheon’s third quarter earnings call. While Raytheon sees these companies in some competitions, it “turns out they are not our main competitors across our markets,” adding that “we are definitely pleased with the portfolio of advanced solutions we have.” If the merger between L3 and Harris is approved, it will create a $16 billion company with a wide range of capabilities in defense electronics, night vision systems, tactical radios, sensors, and detection systems.

M&A Activity. The total value of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the aerospace and defense sector through the first three quarters of 2018 was $30.3 billion, down 49 percent from a year ago, but still above the 10-year annual deal value average of $21.3 billion, the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a quarterly report on M&A activity. In the third quarter, 89 deals worth $5.9 billion were announced, with the largest transaction being Boeing’s $3.8 billion cash offer for 80 percent of Embraer commercial aircraft business, according to PwC. “A&D companies are focusing on acquisitions beyond portfolio reorganization and adding capabilities in high-growth emerging technologies, such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, and C4ISR,” PwC said.

Drone Restrictions. The Federal Aviation Administration has issued restrictions for operations of small unmanned aircraft systems near Navy and Coast Guard vessels operating around Naval Base Kitsap in Washington and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia. The FAA is acting at the request of the Navy and Coast Guard. The restrictions require operators to keep their drones at least 3,000 feet laterally and 1,000 feet vertically from the vessels. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence head, David Glawe, told a Senate panel that the Coast Guard is seeing more UAS activity where it is performing missions.

Innovation Lab. SAIC has launched its “Innovation Factory,” a virtual lab aimed at helping the federal government receive software and other solutions at the pace startup companies provide. SAIC manages the lab and is using its own technologies and those of open source software provider Red Hat, Inc. “SAIC’s Innovation Factory will address our customers’ IT transformation needs today and help them quickly and easily try out new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, and Internet of Things solutions, in order to be ready for the future,” according to Charles Onstott, SAIC’s chief technology officer.

ARCYBER Tatooine. The Pentagon’s Defense Digital Service said on Oct. 25 it is expanding its partnership with Army Cyber Command to help recruit more cyber talent. DDS will be opening a new workspace in Augusta, Georgia, dubbed “Tatooine,” to host tech teams, train cyber professionals and focus on innovative projects to foster interest in working with Army Cyber Command. “Tatooine will be a beacon for technical talent across the military–a place to write code and solve problems of impact. Through this partnership, we are setting our best technical warfighters against our toughest problems with support and training from our DDS software engineers and experts. Together, men and women in uniform and tech nerds are finding new ways to rapidly solve high-impact challenges,” DDS Director Chris Lynch said in a statement. Army Cyber is currently in the process of moving its headquarters to Ft. Gordon, also located in Augusta.

DISA In Utah. DISA held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 25 for its new Global Operations Center West located at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. “Today, we mark the culmination of an idea that began more than four years ago: a vision for a second operations center to perform standardized network operations using the same tools, privileges, tactics, techniques, and procedures as the DISA Global Operations Center located at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois,” Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, director of DISA, said during the ceremony. Officials at the Utah center will work in tandem with DISA Global Operations Center East to provide joint “active-active operations” to protect Department of Defense information networks. The two centers are led by Army Col. Lisa Whittaker.

Army 3D Printing. The Army Research Laboratory and National Center for Manufacturing Sciences launched the new Advanced Manufacturing, Material and Processes (AMMP) program in Aberdeen Maryland, on Oct. 26. AMMP will be focused on leading additive manufacturing initiatives, including 3D printing. Officials cited a need for 3D printing research that is required for “unprecedented speed in parts production, new weapon system design and materials, dramatic cuts in costs and delivery times, and point-of-need part manufacturing.” The new program will link Army technology officials with industry and academia to advance additive manufacturing programs.

35 Years and Counting. John Lewis, the production line manager of the Boeing AH-64 Apache line in Mesa, Ariz., has worked on the line for 35 years after getting his degree in industrial management, Lewis told Defense Daily in an interview on the line in Mesa. He has headed the line for the last 28 years and has seen some significant changes, including upgrades to the attack helicopter and the drop in work stations on the Mesa line from 22 to 12, as the production process got more efficient.