Dividend Hike, Share Repurchases. The Lockheed Martin board of directors has authorized an 8 percent
dividend increase to $2.80 per share. The increased annual dividend of $11.20 per share “implies a 3.3 percent
current dividend yield, furthering its peer leading position as well ahead of the peer average of 2.0 percent,” per a report from Jefferies Equity Research analyst Sheila Kahyaoglu. The company’s board of directors’ approval of a $5 billion share repurchase “continues [Lockheed Martin’s] strategy  of returning excess cash to shareholders through a balanced approach to the dividend and share repurchases over the same period,” the report said.

…Trimming F-35?

Lockheed Martin could run into head winds in the year ahead, as the U.S. Air Force could trim its planned buy of 1,763 F-35As in half, per the report. The F-35 accounted for 28 percent of Lockheed Martin sales last year. “2022 could have a slightly higher level of uncertainty given the budget and F-35 outlook,” according to the report, which forecasts a “flat margins outlook in the 11 percent to 11.1 percent range vs. 11 percent outlook for 2021.”

New SAIC CISO. SAIC announced on Sept. 23 it has hired Kevin Brown as the company’s new chief information security officer. Brown was previously senior vice president for SAIC’s information security business before becoming vice president of Raytheon’s information security business and, most recently, CISO of medical device firm Boston Scientific. In his new role with SAIC, Brown will lead the company’s cyber security strategy. “Kevin is a seasoned cybersecurity professional who has experience working at SAIC as well as other leading technology and manufacturing companies. His knowledge of cybersecurity operations and the threats that cyber professionals face on a daily basis positions Kevin as the expert SAIC needs to protect the critical systems and data for our company as well as our customers. We are pleased to welcome him back to SAIC,” Nathan Rogers, SAIC’s chief information officer, said in a statement.

Bahrain Unmanned. Bahrain military leaders committed to partnering with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) to quicken the integration of new unmanned systems into regional maritime operations on Sept. 23. Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of NAVCENT, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, briefed Bahraini leaders on the latest NAVCENT unmanned surface, underwater and aerial vehicles active at Naval Support Activity Bahrain. “We have an enduring strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Bahrain and our mutual commitment to advancing new unmanned systems demonstrates us strengthening the partnership in a new way. This initiative enables us to expand maritime domain awareness on, above and below the water and enhance regional deterrence,” Cooper said. This comes after  NAVCENT began Task Force 59 earlier in September to help rapidly integrate unmanned systems into 5th Fleet operations.

…Task Force 59. The Navy also announced that in October, Bahrain will be the first regional partner to collaborate with Task Force 59 on a manned-unmanned teaming exercise to specifically help evaluate unmanned surface vessels. The service said this at-sea event will begin a series of maritime exercises integrating manned and unmanned systems during operations with regional and coalition partners.

Permanent Magnets. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security has begun an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to determine the effects on U.S. national security from imports of Neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets, which are used in the building of fighter aircraft, missile guidance systems, electric vehicles, wind turbines, computer hard drives, audio equipment and MRI devices. “Interested parties are invited to submit written comments, data, analyses, or other information to BIS by November 12, 2021,” the department said. “This is the first Section 232 investigation initiated under Secretary Raimondo’s leadership, and is consistent with a recommendation by the White House in the Biden-Harris Administration’s 100-day supply chain reviews to evaluate whether to initiate this investigation…If the secretary finds that NdFeB permanent magnets are being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security, the Secretary shall advise the President in her report on the findings of the investigation. By law, the Secretary of Commerce has 270 days from initiation, until June 18, 2022, to present the department’s findings and recommendations to the president.”

Afghanistan C2. The U.S. Air Force’s Kessel Run software development unit said that the Air Force component of U.S. Central Command used the Kessel Run and Leidos-developed Command and Control Incident Management Emergency Response Application (C2IMERA) to aid the command and control required for the evacuation of 124,000 U.S., Afghan and allied personnel from Afghanistan. Air Force Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, the Ninth Air Force (AFCENT) commander, said in a statement that “Kessel Run’s C2IMERA application served as a reliable, adaptable tool as we planned and executed this complex, historic operation.”

…No More Spread Sheets? Kessel Run said that it was able to update the C2IMERA software in four days to permit “real-time, theater-wide awareness of key logistics and NEO [noncombatant evacuation operations] support information,” including “aggregated views of base level data for decision making, and understanding of the operational environment.” Air Force Capt. Maurice Morrell, Kessel Run’s program manager for the C2IMERA team, said that “prior to the [Afghanistan] capability request, AFCENT and their installations were relying on typical manual processes like excel spreadsheets – which works in many cases – but is inefficient and does not provide ability for distributed access, data aggregation, or visualization capabilities.” The Air Force uses C2IMERA at more than 40 installations and is to add another 20 this year.

HASC Afghanistan Hearing. The House Armed Services Committee has announced it will hold a hearing on September 29 to discuss the Afghanistan withdrawal with senior Pentagon officials. HASC will hear from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command on the end of the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan. The hearing will occur a day after SASC brings in the same three witnesses for an open session on the Afghanistan withdrawal. 

T-45 Crash. Two pilots were injured after ejecting from a Navy jet trainer that crashed in a residential area in Lake Worth Texas on September 19. The instructor and student pilot were flying a T-45C Goshawk trainer assigned to Training Air Wing 2 at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, conducting a routine training flight. They departed from Corpus Christi International Airport and the T-45C crashed around 11 a.m. local time. The instructor is in stable condition while the student naval aviator is reported in serious condition but with injuries not life threatening. The Navy said the aircraft crashed down in a civilian neighborhood, damaging at least three homes and the incident is under investigation.

Harvest HAWK +. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced Sept. 20 the Tactical Airlift Program office’s  (PMA-207) KC-130J integrated product team completed full operational capability of the Harvest Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit (HAWK) Plus (HH+). The tenth and final aircraft modified to this new configuration was delivered to Fleet Marine Forces on Aug. 26, the NAVAIR said. These modifications are part of the Marine Corps’ KC-130J Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Weapons Mission Kit program, which started in 2015. It aims to improve the existing KC-130J Harvest HAWK system by integrating the MX-20 electro-optical/infra-red multi-sensor imaging system and adding a door-mounted missile employment capability. NAVAIR’s prototype systems division at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. modified the first six aircraft and Sierra Nevada Corporation in Colorado Springs, Co. modified the last four. Five HH+ aircraft were delivered to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport (VMGR) 352 in Miramar, Calif. and four aircraft to VMGR-252 in Cherry Point, N.C. One aircraft will remain at VX-20 in Patuxent River for Block 8.1 and future HH+ testing.

Engine Supercomputing. DoD selected a Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) project to be included in this year’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) Frontier Project portfolio. This uses supercomputers in simulations to test naval aviation engines before physical tests occur in a lab. This means engineers can use computers to simulate things like sand ingestion in helicopter engines to improve performance in harsh environments without adding risk to physical engines, aircraft and personnel in live tests. “Leveraging advanced computer simulations will help reduce cost and save time during the development of expensive aircraft, weapons, and subsystems and reduce risk during in-person testing – this can be game-changing for programs across our services,” NAWCAD Commander Rear Adm. John Lemmon said in a statement. DoD designates a few computationally intensive projects in research, development, test, evaluation and acquisition as Frontier Projects that promise engineering outcomes not achievable without HPCMP resources.

ENVG-B Order. The Army has placed a $54 million order with Elbit Systems of America to continue deliveries of the next-generation Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular (ENVG-B) devices. Last October, Elbit Systems of America and L3Harris each received production contracts worth potentially $442 million for the ENVG-B program of record. Elbit America’s latest deal, announced on Sept. 23, is the Army’s second delivery order under the production deal, with deliveries to run through February 2023. “Elbit America’s ENVG-Bs provide warfighters with unprecedented situational awareness during limited visibility conditions, increased lethality through faster target acquisition, and other game-changing advantages on the battlefield,” Raanan Horowitz, the company’s CEO, said in a statement.