More Supply Chain Help. L3Harris Technologies is making more than $100 million in accelerated payments to its small suppliers in 45 states to help sustain the defense industrial base amid the coronavirus pandemic. The payments began last week to companies that provide products and services to L3Harris’ work in support of the Defense Department, government agencies, U.S. allies and other customers.

…F-35 Help Too. The accelerated supplier payments will also help with L3Harris’ support of the F-35 fighter program. “Bringing these payments forward gives us assurance in keeping the supply chain stable, supporting our sub-tier vendors, staff and families,” says Evan Cramer, CEO of Custom Aerospace Machine, an L3Harris supplier. “The accelerated payment will also allow us to continue to invest in our strategic growth plan, with our move to a new 52,000 square-foot facility, in support of the pending F-35 full-rate production schedule.”

Lockheed Martin Relief Update. Lockheed Martin, which early on stepped up support for its suppliers during the ongoing pandemic, last Friday said it has spent $256 million of a planned $450 million in accelerated Pentagon progress payments in support of its suppliers. Moreover, the company has advanced more than $155 million of its own funds to small and vulnerable businesses in its supply base and this week will begin hosting webinars for its suppliers to make sure they have access to the resources they need and understand the options available to them. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has hired more than 1,700 new employees and is advertising more than 4,000 open positions. Lockheed Martin has also added $5 million to its charitable contributions for COVID-19 relief after already spending $10 million toward these efforts in the past few weeks.

Boeing Changes. Boeing is giving the Chief Financial Officer more responsibility, putting him in charge of a newly formed group Enterprise Operations, Finance & Strategy, which consolidates teams overseeing manufacturing, supply chain and operations, finance, enterprise performance, corporate audit, strategy, enterprise services and administration. Boeing said the new group, which stands up May 1, will drive “consistent lean principles” across the company and its supply chain, and also focus on the health of the company’s production efforts and supply chain during the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

…More Moves. As part of the consolidation and streamlining, Boeing said that Jenette Ramos, senior vice president of Manufacturing, Supply Chain & Operations, will take on a new role in a special assignment supporting Smith and Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun. Boeing is also consolidating its legal and core compliance programs into a single organization led by Brett Gerry, chief legal officer and executive vice president of Global Compliance. The company said the new organization will enable a more integrated and more focused approach to compliance and allow it to be more proactive in addressing new legal and compliance obligations as global regulations become more complex. Tim Keating, who runs Boeing Government Operations, will also take on responsibility for the company’s Global Spectrum Management activities to ensure safe and compliant use of radio frequency spectrum in Boeing products and operations. Diana Sands, senior vice president of the Office of Internal Governance and Administration, has decided to retire from the company later this year.

Interim COVID-19 Bill. Congress passed H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, this week as the fourth bill related to COVID-19 relief. The $484 billion bill provides additional funding for hospital and coronavirus testing, and to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses. Defense and aerospace trade associations lauded the bill’s passage and specifically its aid to small businesses. “Small business is not just the engine of economic growth, but the engine of American innovation,” said the National Defense Industrial Association in a Thursday statement. “It is the key to the supply chains that deliver the superior capabilities and services that keep our warfighters advantaged globally.”

Alternative Space Acquisition. The Pentagon’s report on alternative acquisition for space is in the final review process and will be submitted to Congress in the “very near term,” Space Force Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David “DT” Thompson said in a Thursday webinar hosted by Space News. The report was due to Congress March 31 but had been delayed as defense officials turned their focus toward the COVID-19 coronavirus. Thompson reiterated previous leaders’ assertions that the report will be “groundbreaking” and will offer “a new, more agile, more responsive acquisitions system” for the Space Force.

Red Flag Alaska Canceled. Pacific Air Forces has canceled the second annual Red Flag Alaska 20-2 exercise, which was scheduled for June 11-26 at Eielson AFB and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The PACAF-sponsored exercise was intended to provide realistic training in a simulated combat environment with primary flight operations over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex. An Air Force statement released Wednesday noted the exercise was canceled in accordance with the Defense Department’s ongoing travel restriction through June 30.

Nomination. President Trump on Friday announced his intent to nominate Shon J. Manasco to become the next undersecretary of the Air Force. Manasco currently serves as the assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs, and is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. He previously served as executive vice president and chief administrative officer for USAA, and as senior vice president and chief human resource officer for Constellation Energy.

THAAD. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy Robert Soofer said the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is being considered as a U.S. missile defense underlayer in defense against North Korean threats while the Next Generation Intercetor for the larger Ground-based Midcourse Defense system is taking several years to develop. “THAAD is also going to be tested–I’m not sure when–the idea is to give THAAD an ability and it’ll have a much smaller defensive footprint than even the SM-3 IIA but that’s definitely in the mix,” he said at the Hudson Institute. Soofer noted it performs best for smaller defensive regions rather than the U.S. mainland. “Certainly, it performs better when deployed in Guam against a medium-range system and in Hawaii against something that’s less than an ICBM threat. So definitely, THAAD is going to be part of the architecture, if it works.”

Aegis. The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $519 million undefinitized contract on April 22 to procure international Aegis fire control loop development, Solid State S-Band Radar Processing Group, tools and test equipment and spares for five new multi-mission frigates supporting the Aegis combat system. This covers the Aegis version Baseline 9C.2. This contract involves Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to Spain, with $91 million in FMS funding obligated at time of award. Work will mostly occur in Moorestown, N.J., and is expected to be finished by April 2030. The announcement said the contract was not competitively procured in accordance with U.S. Code authority for an international agreement.

Inclining. The Navy conducted a weighted inclining experiment with the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) on April 16. The experiment aims to calculate the ship’s weight and center of gravity, with information used to determine the ship’s stability in a variety of design loading conditions. While the procedure occurs frequently on smaller ships like destroyers, it is relatively rare for a carrier. A.J. Bierbauer, the deputy chief engineer for shipbuilder Newport News Shipbuilding, said carriers usually only conduct three inclining experiments over their service life. “As the ship gets older, there will be alterations made to her, and as is the case with many ships, they tend to get heavier through the years. This test will help establish the baseline weight for the life of the ship,” Bierbauer said. Generally, the initial test occurs during new construction phase, then after the ships Refueling and Complex Overhaul, then when it is inactivated. “The end result data set from the incline test and the sally test will validate the damage control stability characteristics of the ship,” Cmdr. Homer Hensy, Ford’s chief engineer, said in a statement.

Warfare Centers. Rear Adm. Kevin Byrne took command of Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) and Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) on April 20, relieving Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage. Ver Hage served in the position since April 2019 and will now become commander of Navy Regional Maintenance Center  and Director of Surface Ship Maintenance and modernization. Previously, Byrne served as the major program manager for Surface Ship Modernization (PMS-407) at NAVSEA.

F-35B Engines. The Navy awarded Raytheon Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney (PW) Engines a $111 million modification option on April 21 to produce and deliver four engines for F-35B aircraft. This specifically calls for four PW F135-PW-600 propulsion systems for the Marine Corps’s short take-off and vertical landing F-35B. Work will mostly be split between East Hartford, Conn. (51.7 percent) and Indianapolis (38.8 percent) and is expected to be finished by July 2022. The full award amount was obligated at time of award and none will expire at the end of this fiscal year.

MQ-9A. Marine Corps personnel conducted their first operational flight of an MR-9A Reaper Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) in the Middle East on March 20, the Navy said April 16. Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 (VMU-1) took control of a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) company owned/operated aircraft supporting forward deployed Marines with oversight from the company team. VMU-1 is leasing the Reaper “to fulfill its urgent needs request for persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) in Afghanistan,” the Navy said in a statement. The Navy underscored VMU-1 will be “the test bed and incubator to provide crucial information, lessons learned, requirements, tactics, techniques, and procedures that will aid in the USMC efforts for the successful acquisition and fielding of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Expeditionary (MUX) Group 5 capability.”

Cyber Deal. Perspecta Labs has received a five-year deal worth up to $14.5 million to develop a suite of machine learning capabilities for defensive cyber operations. The Army’s C5ISR, Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate has tasked Perspecta with delivering new cyber tools “that are autonomous, secure, easy to deploy and configure, adaptive and resilient to adversarial deception.” Perspecta’s defensive cyber capabilities are intended for “rapidly deploying and retraining containerized cyber sensors that detect both known and unknown vulnerabilities, attacks and malware.”

Face Masks. The Army’s 82nd Airborne Division has teamed up with North Carolina State University on a partnership to produce more than 100,000 face masks to assist with pandemic response efforts. North Carolina State’s Nonwovens Institute has developed a unique filtration material that it will provide to the 82nd Airborne Division that will be used to help manufacture face masks that can protect military medical workers and soldiers participating in the fight against coronavirus. “The material is effective in filtering out viruses and bacteria and can still be cut and sewn using traditional techniques,” the Army wrote in a statement. 

UAE FMS. The State Department has approved a $150 million deal with the United Arab Emirates to provide spare parts for the country’s fleet of AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook aircraft. The foreign military sale was placed under the Cooperative Logistics Supply Support Agreement (CLSSA) with the UAE. “This sale is consistent with U.S. initiatives to provide key partners in the region with modern systems that will enhance interoperability with U.S. forces and increase security,” Defense Security Cooperation Agency officials wrote in a statement.

Blackjack. DARPA has awarded Lockheed Martin a $5.8 million contract for the first phase of satellite integration on the Blackjack program, the company announced Friday. Blackjack is meant to demonstrated the viability of a global high-speed network in LEO, with development, test and launch expected to occur over the next two years. Lockheed will define and manage interfaces between Blackjack’s bus, payload and the autonomous, space-based command-and-control center known as Pit Boss. The contract also includes testbed validation of internal and external vehicle interfaces. Work will primarily be performed in Lockheed’s facility in Sunnyvale, California. “Lockheed Martin has built and integrated a variety of payload types and sizes for every type of mission and we bring all of that experience to the Blackjack program,” said Sarah Reeves, company vice president of missile defense programs. “This is an exciting new approach to plug-n-play design for LEO and we are up for the challenge.”

Global ASNT. The Air Force on Friday awarded Raytheon a $117.5 million contract modification one  global aircrew strategic network terminal (Global ASNT) for nuclear command and control. The modification brings the total cumulative value of the contract from $542. 6 million to $660.2 million. Work will be performed in Largo, Florida, and is expected to be completed by June 24, 2022. Fiscal 2020 other procurement funds in the amount of $117.5 million are being obligated at time of award. The Global ASNT will use EHF and Advanced EHF waveforms to supply protected communications to nuclear bomber, missile, and support aircraft crews in non-permissive environments.