McCarthy In. Defense Secretary Mark Esper officially swore in Ryan McCarthy as the new secretary of the Army Oct. 10. McCarthy previously served as Undersecretary of the Army and had been acting Army secretary since Esper was elevated to Pentagon chief this summer. The Senate is expected to confirm Barbara Barrett as new Air Force secretary the week of Oct. 14.

B-52s to UK.

The Air Force deployed B-52 Stratofortresses from the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB to RAF Fairford, England on Oct. 10. While there, aircrews will conduct integration and interoperability training with European allies and partners, Air Force Global Strike Command said in a Thursday release. “This deployment will exercise Air Force Global Strike Command’s ability to conduct bomber operations from a forward operating location in support of USAFE and U.S. EUCOM mission objectives,” the release said.

New Mexico. HASC Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) joined a delegation of congressional members for a tour of Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, on Oct. 8, HASC Member Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) said in an Oct. 9 release. The delegation toured the solar capabilities on base and was briefed on the dual mission of the Air National Guard to respond to emergency and natural disasters, and also explored next-gen satellite technology being developed by AFRL at Kirtland. “Today’s trip has underscored for me just how important the state of New Mexico is to our national security,” Smith said in the release.

2020 HASC Member Challenger. Retired Navy commander Phil Ehr announced Oct. 8 that he will challenge Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) as a Democrat in the 2020 elections. A naval flight officer who flew reconnaissance missions during the Cold War, Desert Storm and post 9/11 operations, Ehr retired in 2008 after 26 years in the Navy. Gaetz has represented Florida’s First District – which includes Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field and Pensacola NAS – since 2017. He is a HASC member who sits on the subcommittees on tactical air and land forces and military personnel.

Space X Launching to Polar. The Air Force will support a planned Space X launch to polar orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, 45th Space Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess said Oct. 9. Polar launches typically take place at Vandenberg AFB, California, and will likely remain the main site for launches to that orbit into the future, he added. But supporting the Space X launch from the Eastern Range promotes the service’s goal of increased flexibility for its launch ranges, Schiess noted. A notice on the Argentinian government website confirms planes to launch SAOCOM 1B, an Earth observation satellite, from Cape Canaveral by the end of 2019. Space X signed a contract with Argentina’s space agency in 2009 for two Falcon 9 launches; SAOCOM 1A was successfully launched in October 2018 from Vandenberg AFB.

DEFIANT Test. Engineers from Sikorsky and Boeing recently joined the Army to perform wind tunnel testing that supports development of the SB>1 Defiant military helicopter demonstrator at the Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Complex at Moffett Field in California. The goal of the test at the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex was to validate the aerodynamic performance and flight mechanics of the aircraft, which is being built for consideration in the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program. The testing was conducted throughout the first half of 2019 and concluded in mid-June, per an Oct. 8 release.

NASA UAS Demo. GA-ASI said Oct. 7 it has signed a cooperative agreement with NASA to perform a demonstration flight in 2020 that would address challenges that currently prevent commercial UAS operations in the National Airspace System. GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPA will demonstrate its ability to provide a variety of services via onboard and “virtual” sensors, including infrastructure inspection, agricultural monitoring and topological surveys, as well as natural disaster monitoring and maritime surveillance. The team completed the critical design review in September.

HAC Chair to Retire. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said Thursday that she would not seek reelection after the 2020 election. She first joined the House in 1989 and sits on the HAC subcommittees on homeland security; state, foreign operations and related programs; and labor, health and human services, education and related programs. “I will continue working as hard as ever – with the same optimism and energy – through the end of this term in Congress,” she said in a statement.

Merger Blessings. Shareholders have approved United Technologies Corp.’s acquisition of Raytheon, with the deal expected to close in the first half of 2020 pending receipt of required regulatory approvals. Plans call for UTC’s aerospace and defense businesses to merge with Raytheon to create Raytheon Technologies Corp. Terms of the deal also require the completion by UTC to separate its Otis and Carrier segments. Shareowners from both companies approved the acquisition in special meetings.

Nielsen Appointment. President Trump appointed former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to be a member of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which advises the White House on physical and cyber risks to critical infrastructure and how to reduce those risks and improve security and resiliency. Nielsen, who is expert in cyber security matters, served as the Homeland Security Secretary for 14 months until she resigned in April. The NIAC consists of senior industry officials and state and local government representatives.

NSC Launch. Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries earlier this month launched the Coast Guard’s ninth National Security Cutter (NSC), the Stone, which is scheduled for delivery in fiscal year 2021. The Coast Guard is funded to buy 11 418-foot Legend-class NSCs.

Impersonations. Foreign operators trying to influence America’s democratic process are impersonating U.S. citizens and political on various social media platforms, according to a senior executive with the cyber security firm FireEye. “We’ve watched Russia do this. We’ve watched Iran do this,” said Sandra Joyce, the head of Global Intelligence for the California-based company. “They’re even interacting with voters. Can you imagine that you read something published in a major newspaper only to learn that it’s not a concerned citizen from Texas, it’s an influence operator from Tehran.” Joyce, speaking at FireEye’s annual Cyber Defense Summit, said, “The slow erosion of our democratic principles in the way in the way in which we elect officials, it should be of highest concern.”

CNO to 6th. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday is set to visit the Navy’s 6th Fleet area of operations from Oct. 14-19, the Navy said. While there, Gilday will visit Regional Seapower Symposium (RSS) in Venice, Italy and conduct fleet engagements in Rota, Spain and Naples, Italy “to see first-hand the work Sailors are doing in this dynamic area of operations,” the Navy said in a statement. Gilday is scheduled to give the keynote address at RSS, at an event featuring over 30 heads of navies in attendance. The theme for the symposium is “Shaping our Navies for the Blue Century,” with an aim to identify the possible future of modern navies, considering both conflicts and threats of the maritime domain, the Navy added.

LCS-27. Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine began construction on the future Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship USS Nantucket (LCS-27) in a ceremony in Marinette, Wis., On Oct. 9. LCS-27 will be the 14th Freedom-variant ship and is one of six ships in construction and test phases at the Marinette shipyard.

LPD-30. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer named the next San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock the future USS Harrisburg (LPD-30), after the Pennsylvania city, the Navy said Oct. 10. LPD-30 will be the first Flight II San Antonio-class ship, featuring improvements and replacing the aging fleet of LSD-41/49 Whidbey Island-class ships. The future Harrisburg will be built at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.

F-35 Support. Naval Air Systems Command awarded United Technologies Corp. a $325 million contract on Oct. 4 to provide material and support equipment for depot maintenance facilities, non-recurring sustainment activities, services, and planning for depot activations. This also covers providing two F135 full-scale high-fidelity mockup engines and four modules for test cells in support of the F-35 program. The F135 engine, built by United Technologies’ subsidiary Pratt & Whitney, powers the F-35. Work will mostly occur in Oklahoma City, Okla. (43.75 percent); East Hartford, Conn. (20 percent); and locations outside the continental U.S. (20 percent) and is expected to be finished by January 2023. This award combines purchases for the Air Force (44 percent, or $142 million), Marine Corps (16 percent, or $51 million), Navy (11 percent, or $37 million), non-DoD participants (27 percent, or $87 million) and Foreign Military Sales (two percent, or $8 million). The contract was not competitively procured.

HII School. Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding opened its new Shipbuilder Academy site in a ribbon-cutting ceremony near Gulfport, Miss., on Oct. 10. The academy was first established n 2016 at the Ingalls’ Maritime Training Academy with the goal of providing students with a foundation in the maritime industry and fill a current industry skills gap. HII is now expanding the program to this new site in partnership with the Gulfport School District at the re-purposed Gaston Point Elementary School in Mississippi. The company noted the program is starting its fourth year, has expanded to Mobile County, and enrolls students for eight high schools along the Gulf Coast. The new facility will expand to three more high schools.

Hack the Army 2.0. The Pentagon has tapped HackerOne to run the Army’s second bug bounty program, designed to bring in ethical hackers to find flaws in the service’s public-facing websites. “Opening up the Army’s cyber terrain to the hacker community is exactly the type of outside-the-box, partnership approach we need to take to rapidly harden and better defend our most foundational weapons system: the Army network,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, head of Army Cyber Command, said in a statement. This will be HackerOne’s ninth bug bounty program since launching “Hack the Pentagon” in 2016, and operating subsequent efforts with the Army, Air Force and the Marine Corps. The first “Hack the Army” resulted in over 100 discovered vulnerabilities and $100,000 in prize money awarded to the hackers. The next Army ethical hacking program will run from Oct. 9 to Nov. 8 and cover more than 60 publicly accessible web assets.