Long Range Fires. Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told lawmakers on May 27 each of the services will have a role in providing long range fires in the future, with individual roles to be refined as DoD continues to work through its Joint Warfighting Concept. Milley’s comment was in response to a question during a budget hearing from Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) on recent “inter-service squabbles” regarding development of new long range fires capabilities. “I see it as a manifestation of how threatened the services feel in a constrained budget [environment]. But long-range fires are crucial to any conflict, particularly with what we’re looking at now with near-peer adversaries,” Womack said. Milley responded that it will be important for all of the services to have some form of long range fires capability to present adversaries with “multiple problems to solve simultaneously,” adding that “Each of them bring a unique and distinct capability to integrate into the Joint Warfighting Concept of the future.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2022 budget request supports the Navy’s ongoing 20-year, $21 billion Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan, which he called a “great initiative” during a hearing on May 27. “When you see the budget you’ll see that we’re continuing to invest in this initiative and we will continue to do so throughout,” Austin told lawmakers. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), who has previously pushed for SIOP to remain a priority for the next defense authorization bill, pressed Austin on ensuring the budget addresses lingering infrastructure challenges. “Despite their critical role, our public shipyards have been chronically underfunded. Oftentimes, they’re relying on infrastructure dating back to the early 20th century. That lack of funding has led to several potential points of failure at our yards,” Kilmer said. He also recently suggested that parts of SIOP could be included the Biden administration’s infrastructure package.
ABMS Increase. The U.S. Air Force’s fiscal 2022 budget requests $204 million for the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS)—an increase of $46 million over the fiscal 2021 enacted amount. ABMS is the Air Force’s component of the Pentagon’s Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, the military internet of things, which is to accelerate decision making. The Air Force budget request said that ABMS “will also provide nuclear forces with rapid, multi-path transmissions that will transform NC3 [nuclear command, control, and communications] from a Cold War-era relic into a C2 network operating at speeds our adversaries cannot match.”
BAMS-D Milestone. The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk Broad Area Maritime Surveillance-Demonstrator (BAMS-D) system on April 13 achieved over 40,000 flight hours since entering service with the Navy in 2009 in support of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, the company said May 27. The Navy originally bought five BAM-Ds from the Air Force for a six-month demonstration deployment before moving on to the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system. Iran shot down one of the unmanned RQ-4 aircraft in 2019. While the BAMS-D remain in service, the Navy completed the first year of an early operating capability deployment of its replacement, the MQ-4C.
C-17 Synthetic Training. Boeing said it will continue training Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots, loadmasters, and engineers through 2040 via a new $348 million Synthetic Training Service (STS) contract that features digital training, advanced simulation and desktop training devices at Boeing’s C-17 International Training Centre (ITC) in Farnborough. The training contract also “includes development of two new engineering training devices that employ the latest technology for practical maintenance training on a C-17 wing engine and the main landing gear assembly,” Boeing said. Since 2014, Boeing has provided aircrew and engineering training support for the RAF’s C-17 Globemaster III fleet, which first arrived in the United Kingdom in 2001. The RAF has eight C-17s and is one of nine global operators.
Spanish FMS. The State Department approved a possible $110 million Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Spain for follow-on Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) for MQ-9A Block 5 aircraft and related equipment. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of the sale on May 24. The sale covers CLS including contractor provided MQ-9A Block 5 aircraft components, spares and accessories, repair and return, software, simulator software, and various training and logistical support. DSCA said Spain would use this FMS to improve its capability to meet threats by ensuring the operational readiness of the Royal Spanish Air Force and its MQ-9A fleet that provides intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support. The prime contractor is General Atomics.
NASA Cyber Review. Bipartisan leadership on the House Science, Space, And Technology Committee has tasked the Government Accountability Office with reviewing NASA cybersecurity risks for sensitive data related major projects and spaceflight operations, with the assessment focused on adherence to best practices, inclusion of cybersecurity requirements in contracts, actions the agency can implement with its contractors to bolster cybersecurity, how well NASA works with interagency partners, and compliance with existing standards and practices for managing contractor cybersecurity protections. “GAO and NASA’s OIG have reported on longstanding weaknesses in NASA’s processes for addressing cybersecurity threats,” the House members wrote in a May 27 letter to GAO. “The extent to which these ongoing weaknesses have impacted the agency’s ability to protect its most sensitive data, especially data tied to its major space development projects and spacecraft and human spaceflight operations, is not well understood.”
T-AO 208. The Navy announced on May 21 that construction on the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208) began at the General Dynamics-National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO). The T-AO 208 will be a John Lewis-class replenishment oiler ship operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command. “USNS Robert F. Kennedy will provide significant contributions to the fleet, serving as the primary fuel pipeline to refuel ships at sea. The building of the John Lewis-class ships marks an important milestone in enhancing our Navy’s fleet capabilities and providing critical support to our Sailors,” John Lighthammer, Support Ships, Boats and Craft Acting Program Manager, Program Executive Office, Ships, said in a statement. The John Lewis-class will recapitalize current T-AO 187 class replenishment oilers and is based on commercial design standards. GD-NASSCO is also currently in production on USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205), USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206) while USNS Lucy Stone (T-AO 209) and USNS Sojourner Truth (T-AO 210) are under contract.
REMUS 300. Huntington Ingalls Industries announced on May 25 that the Navy ordered two REMUS 300 unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). Duane Fotheringham, president of the Unmanned Systems business group in HII’s Technical Solutions division, said the Navy has been using REMUS UUVs for over 20 years. The company previously unveiled the REMUS 300 UUV in April, noting it is two-man portable, can descend to 305 meters, includes endurance options of up to 30 hours, has a removable one terabyte hard drive, and can reach speeds of up to five knots. It has swappable energy modules that range from 10 – 30 hours of endurance. HII underscored it has open architecture and modularity to allow it to use various kinds of payloads and capabilities. Delivery of the commercial REMUS 300s is scheduled for mid-2022.
Mercury Acquires Pentek. Defense electronics supplier Mercury Systems last week acquired Pentek, a designer and manufacturer of ruggedized, high-performance commercial off-the-shelf software-defined radio and data acquisition boards, recording systems and subsystems for commercial and defense applications. Mercury said the $65 million acquisition strengthens its work in its core radar, electronic warfare markets and adds to its capabilities in mixed-signal products. Mercury said New Jersey-based Pentek will add about $20 million in sales in its fiscal year that ends July 1, 2022, and will be immediately accretive to adjusted earnings per share.
Gone Private. The private equity firms Veritas Capital and Evergreen Coast Capital Corporation last week completed their acquisition of the defense and transportation solutions company Cubic Corp. for $3 billion, including the assumption of debt. Cubic, which had been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock ticker symbol “CUB,” is now private. The company will remain based in San Diego. Cubic said the transition is expected to be seamless for its customers and employees.
OPC Keel Authenticated. The Coast Guard and Eastern Shipbuilding Group last week authenticated the keel for the second Offshore Patrol Cutter, the Chase, which is in the early stages of construction. The ship’s sponsor is Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), who is also the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Homeland Security subcommittee, which provides funding for the Coast Guard. The Chase is expected to be delivered in 2023.
Coast Guard Operations. The Coast Guard Legend-class national security cutter Hamilton last week concluded more than a month of operations in support of the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet, conducting engagements with the Navy, allies and partners in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. On the way to Europe, the Hamilton escorted two Coast Guard Sentinel-class fast response cutters (FRCs), the Charles Moulthrope and Robert Goldman, which arrived last week at their new homeport onboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain. The FRCs are the first two of six planned to be attached to Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, forward deployed with Commander, Task Force 55. The vessels will replace Coast Guard Island-class patrol boats deployed to Bahrain.
INCSEA. Delegations from the U.S. and Russian navies held the annual Prevention of Incidents On and Over the Waters Outside the Limits of the Territorial Sea (INCSEA) consultations on May 25 in Moscow. This professional discussion reviews implementation of the agreement and reaffirms a commitment to the risk reduction dialogue. The last scheduled INCSEA consultation did not occur in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultations address air-to-air intercepts of both countries’ aircraft in international airspace as well as interactions between their ships in international waters that occurred in the past year. The INCSEA agreement was established in 1972.
Space De-Classification. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, a member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), said that U.S. Space Force (USSF) Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond “has done a great job” in de-classifying the space activities of potential U.S. adversaries and asked officials at a HASC hearing on May 24 the significance of the U.S. effort to make the general public and U.S. allies more aware of such matters. USSF Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson told Turner that “our over-classification and tendency to overclassify is still a little bit of the vestige of the Cold War mindset and the fact that we had such incredible and exquisite capabilities that others didn’t.” Thompson testified that the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) recently published “very good unclassified products” on threats to U.S. systems. “Because of the fact that we now need to operate more broadly in coalitions, we need to make sure that our leaders and the public are aware of our capabilities, our threats, and what we’re doing about it,” he said. “We’ve made some significant steps in that regard, more to go.”