New HII Sub Facility. HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division broke ground on Feb. 8 on a new facility to help support submarine construction, called the Multi-Class Submarine Production Facility. “The Multi-Class Submarine Production Facility is an intentional investment to accelerate our efforts to deliver the highest quality submarines our Navy needs,” Brandi Smith, NNS vice president of Columbia-class submarine construction, said in a statement. The company intends to use this facility for both the

Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and Virginia-class attack submarines (SSNs). HII also plans to start work on two other facilities later this year. This facility is jointly funded by both HII and the Navy. The company said it is an element of the $1.9 billion in capital investments HII is making at NNS from 2016 to 2025. While General Dynamics Electric Boat is the prime contractor for the SSBNs, NNS participates by designing and building six modules sections of each vessel as a subcontractor.

…In Other Shipbuilding News. Austal USA is marking the opening of its new waterfront ship repair facility in the San Diego metro area on Feb. 13. The 15-acre site in National City, Calif., just south of San Diego, is planned to provide ship repair, modernization and sustainment services for U.S. government ships. The site will be directly adjacent to Naval Base San Diego and will be focused around a newly-built dry dock designed to work with small surface combatant-sized ships and other small- to medium-sized vessels. Austal ordered the dry dock in 2021 after it won approval to assume the lease over the former Marine Group Boat Works facility.  The facility is expected to be fully operational by August 2023. Jay Stefany, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, and Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, commander of Naval Surface Forces/Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet will speak at the event.

CVN-79. The president and CEO of HII said the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) aboard the next future Ford-class aircraft carrier, USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), is on track. “We began testing in 2022, [it] remains on track and is progressing as planned through her test program, and we expect to enter into the combat systems test program later this quarter,” HII head Chris Kastner said Feb. 9 during a quarterly earnings call. He said the EMALS “is essentially built out.” Kastner also said CVN-79 is well into the test program, with distributed systems like potable water, air conditioning and ventilation “coming to life.” Kastner added CVN-79 “had a pretty solid year” and he described it as “what I call a four yards and a cloud of dust right there. Every week they’re executing on a lot of volume work. They met their commitments for last year, they’ve got a lot of work in front of them, but I have high hopes for success on that program.”

…And 2023 Milestones. Kastner also listed expected 2023 HII shipbuilding milestones to include the planned delivery of the Virginia-class submarine the future USS New Jersey (SSN-796), the first Flight III Alreigh Burke-class destroyer Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29), and the future Coast Guard National Security Cutter Calhoun (WMSL-759). Other HII naval milestones in 2023 include the planned float off of the Massachusetts (SSN-798) Virginia-class submarine, launch of the America-class amphibious assault ship Bougainville (LHA-8), planned crew move aboard CVN-79 and planned redelivery of the aircraft carrier  USS George Washington (CVN-73). Kastner said the refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of CVN-73 is 98 percent complete. He also said HII’s mission technologies business segment “expects to see continued growth resulting from our large opportunity pipeline, including several award decisions that we expect to be made in the first half of the year.”

DDG-101 Work. The Navy awarded Vigor Marine a $37 million contract for the maintenance, modernization and repair of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Gridley (DDG-101) on Feb. 9. The work will occur at Vigor’s facility in Everett, Wash., and is expected to be finished by October 2023. It includes options that, if exercised, would raise the total value to $40 million. This contract was competitively procured with four total offers received. The Navy did not disclose the other competitors, but other nearby options include General Dynamics NASSCO’s Bremerton shipyard and the Pacific Ship Repair facility, which helped conduct a pierside pre-deployment availability in June 2019.

LPD-29 EASR. The Navy said that in January a Raytheon Technologies-built Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) SPY-6(V)2 rotating S-band radar antenna landed on the newest San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, the future USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29). This marks the completion of EASR deliveries for the first ship to receive this version of the radar. The system and ship are headed for systems activation and testing as it is expected to undergo sea trials later this year. The SPY-6(V)2 has a common hardware variant for carriers and amphibious ships and aims to increase engagement and improve ship self-defense as part of the Ship Self-Defense System. LPD-29 itself is being built by HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss.

U.K. Missile Defense. A member of a Wilson Center panel on Russia and arctic issues suggested developing integrated air and missile defenses in places like the U.K. to help deter Russian military aggression in the region. “When we think about just military deterrence at first, I’m kind of of the opinion that the way you keep a potential aggressor from becoming aggressive with you is that you are bigger and stronger than they are,” Michael Petersen, director, of the Russia Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College, said at the event on Feb. 9. Given that Russia has shown it relies on conventional strikes against strategically important targets, deterrence can include hardening those targets via missile defense, rather than increasing bombers in the region, for example, Petersen said. He also said increasing undersea warfare and submarine capabilities in the region could be useful, given how Russian submarines have operated off the U.S. East Coast in recent years.

CACI CRADA. CACI has signed a five-year cooperative research & development agreement (CRADA) with the Army Space and Missile Defense Technical Center to work on “development of advanced payload technologies, space sensor applications, and resilient Positioning, Navigation & Timing” capabilities, the company said on Feb. 6. The new CRADA builds on CACI’s recent satellite launch to test a multi-mission payload with software-defined applications to enable “precise, resilient PNT and tactical signals intelligence (TacISR) capabilities while in low earth orbit,” the company said. “These payloads feature mission-proven, ground-based technologies that are tailored for the unique challenges of the contested space domain. They enable increased resiliency and security through low size, weight, and power software-defined applications. We look forward to working closely with the Army on this critical program to bolster our nation’s dominance in space,” Todd Probert, CACI’s president of national security and innovative solutions, said in a statement.

SASC Subcommittees. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) leadership on Feb. 7 announced the full slate of rosters, including chair and ranking members, for each of its subcommittees. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) will now lead the Airland Subcommittee while Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) remains the panel’s top Republican. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is the new chair of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) retaining the ranking member role. The Personnel Subcommittee has two new leaders, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) now serving as its chair and ranking member, respectively. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is the new chair of the Seapower Subcommittee, while Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) will lead the Readiness Subcommittee. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine) are the two subcommittee chairs to lead the same panels from the previous Congress, retaining their gavels for the Cybersecurity Subcommittee and Strategic Forces Subcommittee, respectively. 

Brussels Travel. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are scheduled to travel to Brussels next week to host the ninth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group on Feb. 14. Air Force Brig Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, announced the travel plans on Feb. 8, which also includes Austin’s attendance at the NATO Defense Ministerial Meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Feb. 15. The U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group gathers senior defense officials from about 50 countries to coordinate and provide updates on security assistance efforts for Ukraine in support of its fight against Russia’s ongoing invasion.

Defense Spending. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters he expects there will be “pressure” again to increase defense spending when marking up the president’s upcoming fiscal year 2024 budget request. “A tendency has been, over the past several years, to go higher than the president[‘s topline]. I think that pressure to go higher will be there,” Reed said during a Defense Writers Group discussion. “Obviously, we’re going to wait to see what the president does and then take his budget, as we did last year, and see where we need to respond to threats and to accelerate modernization and do a host of other things. And every budget involves very tough, difficult challenges.”

Reed On Spending Caps. Reed was also asked about the reported plan from House GOP leadership to cap FY ‘24 spending at FY ‘22 enacted levels, and expressed skepticism that such a proposal would gain traction in the Senate. “At the time, we’re in the midst of supporting an active conflict. At the time, we are seeing, at least, provocative behavior by the Chinese, in some respects. I don’t think that would be an appropriate number and I don’t think it will receive a lot of bipartisan support here in the Senate,” Reed said. Reed, however, echoed recent comments from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the new chair of the House Armed Services Committee, that Congress should be able to find savings at the Pentagon as it assesses the upcoming budget request. “It’s looking at systems that are no longer effective [and] looking at facilities that are no longer effective. All of that has to be done and I hope we can do it,” Reed told reporters.

Post-Hill Gig. Former Rhode Island Democratic House Congressman James Langevin has a new advisory position as a member of Paladin Capital Group’s Strategic Advisory Aboard, where he will advise on the private equity firm on cyber and national security issues. Langevin, who retired from the House at the end of the 117th Congress on Jan. 3, is widely respected for his cybersecurity policy expertise. Langevin “will help continue to position our team to identify and invest in digital solutions of absolute need for both the private and public sectors as they work together to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure,” Michael Steed, founder and managing partner of Paladin Capital, said in statement on Feb. 9.

…Goodbye. Paladin Capital the same day also issued a statement thanking National Cyber Director Chris Inglis for his service. Inglis’ imminent departure as the first NCD has been widely reported over the past month and he is expected to step down this week. Before he departs, the White House is expected to release a new National Cybersecurity Strategy. Early reporting on the strategy suggests the Biden administration will commit to a more regulatory approach with the private sector to bolster the cybersecurity posture of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

DoJ Inquiry. Northrop Grumman in late January disclosed a criminal subpoena issued by the Justice Department on Dec. 8, 2022 inquiring about accounting the company used to determine interest rate assumptions related to how it determined cost accounting standards for pension expense. It’s too early to predict the outcome of the inquiry, Northrop Grumman says in its annual 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that was released on Jan. 26. The filing says that the Defense Contract Management Agency in 2020 raised concerns that Northrop Grumman’s pension assumptions between 2013 and 2019 might not be compliant with CAS standards. Later that year, Northrop Grumman told the DCMA it disagreed. “As previously described, the sensitivity to changes in interest rate assumptions make it reasonably possible the outcome of the DCMA matter could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations and/or cash flows, although we are not currently able to estimate a range of any potential loss,” the company says in the 10-K.

Small Checkpoint CT Deal. Leidos last week said it has provided one of its ClearScan computed tomography (CT) scanners for a checkpoint security lane at Germany’s Frankfurt Airport. A Leidos spokesman told Defense Daily the company is exploring additional opportunities to support future checkpoint CT needs at the airport. The German deployment of ClearScan follows an announcement last November by Leidos and London’s London City Airport to deploy the company’s checkpoint CT systems at all the airport’s passenger screening lanes by this April. The airport says that the CT systems will allow passengers to leave their laptops and liquids in their carry-on luggage.

Minuteman III Test. An unarmed Boeing Minuteman III ICBM with a test reentry vehicle completed a routine test launch–the latest of more than 300–on Feb. 9 from Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) said. The Northrop Grumman LGM-35A Sentinel is to start replacing the Minuteman III in 2029. In the Feb. 9 test, the ICBM’s test reentry vehicle “traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands,” AFGSC said. “These test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.”

1,000 and Counting. BAE Systems said on Feb. 7 that it has delivered the 1,000th rear fuselage to Lockheed Martin for the F-35 fighter. BAE said that 1,500 employees build the rear fuselage, the first of which BAE delivered to Lockheed Martin in 2005, the company said. Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of the F-35 program, said in a BAE statement that the F-3 5 program pumps more than $49 billion into the United Kingdom’s economy and supports more than 20,000 jobs “in the U.K. supply chain, many of those based in the North West.” BAE said that its site in Warton, U.K., has an immersive simulation facility “that enables U.S. Marine Corps and U.K. F-35 pilots to complete dedicated training exercises ahead of deployment on the Queen Elizabeth class [aircraft] carriers.”