Stinger Production. Doug Bush, the Army’s top acquisition official, said Friday he’s confident the service can ramp up production of both Stinger and Javelin missiles to replenish stockpiles. Bush noted Congress has provided funds in the Ukraine aid supplemental passed along with the FY ‘22 omnibus that will help refill those stocks, adding the Army will soon brief Congress on its plans for increasing production. On the Stinger, Bush said it’s in “very low-rate production” right now and mostly for foreign partners. “However, with enough funding and support from Congress which I believe we are going to have, we can accelerate that production for the United States in order to replenish stocks for what we provided to other countries,” Bush said during a Defense News

discussion. “I think the line can be accelerated from where it currently is, in regards to Stinger. We’re working through those exact issues right now.”

Javelin Production. On Javelin missile production, Bush said it’s in higher-rate production now “but it can go higher.” “That’ll be, again, working with our industry partners [and] support from OSD to help us if there’s any authorities we need to exercise, like the Defense Production Act. But there are ways to work through how to get, for example, long-lead items faster to enable faster production or just production at greater scale,” Bush said.

Vela Resigning. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, will resign from his seat within the next few weeks to take a position at a D.C-based lobbying firm, according to recent media reports. Vela, who has represented Texas’ 34th district since 2013, had originally announced last March that he would not seek reelection. HASC noted any decision to assign a new member to the committee to fill Vela’s spot would be determined by party leadership. Vela, who also sits on HASC’s Seapower and Projection Forces and Intelligence and Special Operations Subcommittees, is one of 31 House Democrats to announce plans to not seek reelection.

Boeing/Airbus. Boeing said Friday that Airbus has joined its team offering the H-47 Chinook for Germany’s program to find a replacement for its CH-53G heavy-lift helicopters. “We are pleased that Airbus Helicopters has joined our team of strategic partners on the H-47 Chinook program for Germany, and together we will provide the strongest offering to the Bundeswehr,” Mark Cherry, Boeing’s vice president and general manager of vertical lift programs, said in a statement. Boeing is competing against Sikorsky, which is offering its CH-53K platform, for the program. Germany plans to procure the eventual winner’s platform through the U.S.’ foreign military sales process. “The H-47 Chinook is a proven, mature program in service with many of our allies, and is the optimum solution for Germany with an excellent price-performance ratio,” Wolfgang Schoder, general manager of Airbus Helicopters in Germany, said in a statement.

Progressives/Defense Spending. Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chairs of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus, sent a letter to President Biden on Thursday urging him to “resist pressures to increase defense spending” with his FY ‘23 budget request. “Some of our colleagues will continue to seek virtually unlimited amounts of funding for the Department of Defense, no matter the Department’s own assessments of its needs for the coming fiscal year. This mission creep is dangerous to peace-seeking efforts, and it will continue to starve our domestic priorities of needed funding.” Ahead of the budget rollout on Monday, GOP members of the Armed Services Committees have called for a 5 percent increase in spending over inflation.

MQ-25 Audit. The Defense Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced it is starting an audit of the development and testing for the MQ-25 Stingray carrier-based unmanned tanker aircraft performance requirements. The OIG planned to begin the work in March. “The objective of this audit is to determine whether Navy officials are effectively managing the MQ-25 Stingray program to meet operational capability requirements and user needs,” the announcement said. The office said it may revise its objectives as the audit proceeds and will consider suggestions from management on revised or additional objectives.

DDG-125. The Navy planned to christen the first Flight III Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) destroyer, the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), during a ceremony on March 26 in Pascagoula, Miss. The ship has been built by Huntington Ingalls Industries there. This will be the 73rd overall DDG-51 and the first Flight III destroyer, which has upgrades centered around the AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) and its power, cooling and spacing requirements. The AMDR allows the ship to perform anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense at the same time, the Navy said. The Jack H. Lucas will be homeported in San Diego. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday is set to deliver the main address at the ceremony.  

YRBM Craft. The Navy awarded Conrad Shipyard LLC a $19 million contract on March 15 for the detail design and construction of up to eight Yard, Repair, Berthing, and Messing (YRBM) craft. The base work period lasts through November 2023. The contract includes options that, if exercised, would raise the total value to $143 million and last through December 2025. The Navy said the offer was competitively procured with six total offers but did not disclose the other competitors. The company said the barges provide temporary homes and workplaces for service members whose vessels are in port for repairs and maintenance. Conrad says it expects to deliver the first YRMB barge in late 2023 and if the options are exercised, peak production will occur from 2023 to 2025.

CH-53K. Biden administration’s nominee to be Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante last week recommended the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter undergo an independent scheduling estimate to solve issues from a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. During his confirmation hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) asked LaPlante how the CH-53K could move forward the fastest and most cost effective way possible, given a GAO report that criticized the program’s acquisition timeline and noted acquisition costs may increase. “I think the first thing that needs to be done if it hasn’t been done, is to do an independent schedule estimate. GAO has a very good references validations for doing independent schedule estimating…and see how it can be sped up, either with contractor incentives or other items.” Erik Raven, nominee to be Under Secretary of the Navy, also spoke at the hearing and said the CH-53K is very important to the Marine Corps’ ability to move Marines and supplies as part of their distributed operations concepts. “I see a good future for those capabilities. If confirmed, I would go forward and review the schedule for fielding this as well as testing and make sure that Marines have the capabilities that they need to do their job,” he said.

U.S.-Australia Refueling. A U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon and a Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A conducted the first operational Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) between those country’s aircraft on March 20, the Navy said March 23. Earlier in March, The U.S. P-8A along with Patrol Squadron 47 (VP-47) traveled to Royal Australian Air Force Base Edinburgh to support the Royal Australian Navy during their fleet certification period, consisting of exercises between U.S. and Australian units focused on anti-submarine warfare. This AAR event was coordinated to facilitate  interoperability between the two country’s militaries, the Navy said.

SecNav Europe. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro took his first trip to Europe in the position from March 14-22, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While there, Del Toro stopped in Madrid, Spain; Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy; Rome; Naval Station Rota, Spain; and London as well as an underway embarkation aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), deployed in the Sixth Fleet area of operations. While the Secretary was aboard the Truman, he observed tri-carrier operations with Italian carrier ITS Conte di Cavour (CVH 550) and French carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R-91) and discussed regional operations with Adm. Robert Burke, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. Del Toro boarded the French aircraft carrier to present a commendation award for their 2021 deployment in the 5th Fleet area of operations in support of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). While in Europe he met with Ministers of Defense and heads of navies of Spain, Italy and the U.K. “The continuing cooperation between NATO partners is crucial in supporting peace in the region and strengthening ties, especially considering the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. It is our enduring alliances with Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, and other countries, built on mutual interests, that we are able to reinforce security,”  Del Toro said during the trip.

Influence Capacity. Peraton is beefing up its influence operations, appointing executives to new positions in government and external relations, and the government services contractor has created its first employee-funded political action committee (PAC). Joe DeVooght, who most recently was senior director of government relations at Honeywell, is now Peraton’s vice president of federal congressional affairs, overseeing the company’s strategy on Capitol Hill and expanding engagement with members of Congress and staff. Scott Cooper, a Marine Corps veteran and non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council, was appointed vice president of strategic advocacy, engaging with think tanks, federally funded research and development centers and advocacy groups. Both executives will report to Mara Motherway, who Peraton hired last September to launch the company’s government and customer relations efforts. Peraton PAC will focus on aiding political candidates “who share Peraton’s business and policy priorities,” the company said.

…Handsome Cyber Award. Meanwhile, Peraton last week also said it had received a five-year, $254 million contract to provide a range of cybersecurity services to the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. The Diplomatic Security Cyber Mission Support Services contract includes incident management, threat analysis, and penetration testing. The contract is new work for Peraton. General Dynamics’ Information Technology business was the incumbent.

Coast Guard C2 Aircraft. The Coast Guard soon will take deliver of a new C-37B long-range command and control aircraft (LRCCA), CG 102, which will replace a similar aircraft the service currently leases. CG 102 will be the second LRCCA owned by the service to provide command and control to senior service and Department of Homeland Security officials to manage missions worldwide, and to ensure continuity of operations and for use during national emergencies. The C-37B is a converted General Dynamics Gulfstream G-550 that the company also serves as the systems integrator for. The aircraft is equipped with military and commercial communications for secure and non-secure voice and data in-flight. Delivery is scheduled in June.

Cyber Vigilance. A day after President Biden warned that Russia is mulling options for cyberattacks against the U.S., the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency last Tuesday convened a three-hour conference call with over 13,000 industry stakeholders to urge private sector organizations large and small to strengthen their cyber posture. Officials on the call, which also included the FBI, encouraged listeners to visits CISA’s Shields-Up website, which includes cybersecurity advisories, guidance for a heightened posture, recommendations for corporate leaders, tools, and a checklist for victims to respond to ransomware attacks.

Private Equity Deal. Stellex Capital Management last week said it made a platform investment in RTC Aerospace, a provider of complex machined components and assemblies for aerospace and defense applications. With the private equity investment in hand, California-based RTC and its new owner will work together on expanding the company through organic growth and acquisitions. “Our goal is to materially expand RTC’s market presence and continue being a trusted, industry-leading partner on blue-chip military and commercial platforms,” said David Waxman, managing director at Stellex. RTC’s products include hydraulic housings, landing gear components, aerostructures and missile assemblies.

New for the Cloud. Private equity firm Symphony Technology Group (STG) has launched Skyhigh Security, which is focused on cloud security requirements for large and small organizations. Skyhigh was split off from the former McAfee Enterprise cybersecurity company, which was acquired by STG last July. STG also acquired FireEye last summer from Mandiant and merged it with McAfee to create Trellix, which is focused on extended detection and response. “With the majority of data in the cloud and users accessing it from everywhere, a new approach to security is needed,” said Gee Rittenhouse, CEO of Skyhigh and the previous head of Cisco’s cybersecurity business. “Skyhigh Security has created a comprehensive security platform to secure both data access and data use via unified policies and data awareness.”

Old Iron. The fiscal 2023 budget request of the Department of the Air Force is likely to represent a desired inflection point for the department, as it tries to accelerate the retirements of older platforms with high sustainment costs to push more research and development and procurement funding for the rapid fielding of systems with lower sustainment costs and improved artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. Such future systems are to include low Earth orbit missile warning and space domain awareness satellites and drones quarterbacked by manned fighters, such as the sixth generation Next Generation Air Dominance, the F-35, or the F-22, and the B-21 Raider stealth bomber.

Colorado Expansion. On March 24, Northrop Grumman said that it has expanded its presence in Longbow Park in Boulder, Colo., with 23,680 feet of new office space to support the growth of the company’s Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Exploitation and Advanced Mission Systems programs. The new building will include a radio frequency laboratory. About 400 Northrop Grumman employees work at Longbow Park out of 2,200 across the state who support Air Force, Space Force, Missile Defense Agency, and intelligence community programs. “The aerospace ecosystem plays a critical role in Colorado’s economy, and the Polis-Primavera administration is committed to nurturing this dynamic, collaborative, and innovative industry,” Colorado Democratic Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera said in a March 24 statement issued by Northrop Grumman. “This is an exciting investment from Northrop Grumman that will bring more high-paying jobs to the state, further solidifying our position as the country’s number one aerospace employer per capita and epicenter for national security space.” Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis wants U.S. Space Command to stay in its temporary headquarters at Peterson Space Force Base, rather than move to Alabama, as the Air Force announced last year in what Polis has called a political move by the former Trump administration to curry favor with Alabama’s senators during Trump’s second impeachment trial.

Airborne High Frequency Radio Modernization. BAE Systems said that the Air Force has chosen the company’s Fort Wayne, Ind., plant to build software defined radios with support from FlexRadio for the service’s Airborne High Frequency Radio Modernization (AHFRM) program under a $176 million contract. The program is to provide a secure, modular, jam-resistant alternative to satellite communications. “The AHFRM solution maintains over-the-horizon communications while defeating jamming from potential threats in a drop-in compatible radio design that maximizes FlexRadio’s commercial off-the-shelf technology,” per BAE Systems. “Its scalability, modularity, and capacity provisions for future modernization needs and adjacent operational requirements.”

Space Symposium. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is to showcase some of its programs, including the Navigation Technology Satellite-3–one of four Department of the Air Force Vanguards, at the 37th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs from Apr. 4-7. The NTS-3 experiment “aims to make GPS more robust and resilient with added flexibility to help meet the technical challenges of tomorrow,” AFRL said. At the Space Symposium AFRL also will highlight its work on the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research Project (SSPIDR), Cislunar Highway Patrol System (CHPS), Tactically Responsive Space Access (TRSA) and Advanced Spacecraft Energetic Non-Toxic (ASCENT) propellant. CHPS is an experiment to demonstrate cislunar space domain awareness, while TRSA is to support rapid space launches and bolster the space launch industrial base. AFRL is also to discuss at the symposium the SpaceWERX Orbital Prime program, which advances commercially developed orbital technologies, including those for on-orbit repair and refueling, assembly and manufacturing, and orbtial debris removal.