New Start Limits. The U.S. Air Force plans to increase the number of nuclear capable bomber bases from two to five and to field a future bomber fleet of at least 220 bombers, including 145 Northrop Grumman B-21 Raiders or more, are worrisome signs that could lead the U.S. to exceed the New START 60 nuclear-capable bomber limit by 2028 unless the U.S. restricts the fielded number of nuclear-equipped B-21s by then to 20—the current number of B-2s, according to Hans Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists. The 5th Bomb Wing’s B-52s at Minot AFB, N.D., and the B-2 stealth bombers at Whiteman AFB, Mo., have nuclear capability, but Air Force plans call for adding three more bases for nuclear weapons storage. The service is to replace non-nuclear B-1Bs at Dyess AFB, Texas, and Ellsworth AFB, S.D., with the nuclear-capable B-21s and for reinstating nuclear weapons storage capability for the B-52s at Barksdale AFB, La. The Air Force denuclearized the B-1B fleet in 2011.

…Military Justification.

Kristensen holds that “it is difficult to imagine a military justification for such an increase in the number of nuclear bombers—even without New START” and that “in the short term, the incoming Biden administration should commit the United States to not increase the number of nuclear bombers beyond those planned under the New START treaty, and it should urge Russia to make a similar declaration about the size of its nuclear bomber force.”

Moving On. David Albritton, a long-time communications professional with the Navy and defense industry, has left his job leading General Motors’ defense business to return to the communications profession, this time as vice president, Global Communications for Public Sector & Vertical Industries at Amazon Web Services. Albritton was with GM for five years, the last two as president of GM Defense, which the company stood up in 2017 after largely exiting the industry 20 years earlier. Albritton is being succeeded by Tim Herrick, vice president of GM’s Global Product Programs, who will be dual-hatted as interim president of GM Defense. Under Albritton, GM Defense notched its first significant contract win over the summer, an award for the Army’s Infantry Squad Vehicle.

…Moving Up. Lockheed Martin last week said that Paul Lemmo, the company’s vice president of Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors, will become president of its Sikorsky aircraft business unit in January, succeeding Dan Schultz, who is retiring. Lemmo, a 33-year veteran of the company, has led Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors since June 2018, and has also served in Lockheed Martin’s corporate office as senior vice president for Corporate Strategy and Business Development. Lemmo will be succeeded by Jon Rambeau, currently vice president of C6ISR. Stephanie Hill, head of Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems segment, said the company’s talent development programs “allows for smooth and seamless transitions and ensures we continue to support our customers’ missions without disruption.”

High Achiever. The Transportation Security Administration said it exceeded its small business contracting goals in fiscal year 2020 for the first time in the agency’s 19-year history, awarding 30.7 percent of funding to small businesses versus a goal of 23 percent. The agency exceeded its small business targets in all categories, including disadvantaged business, HUB Zone business, service-disabled veteran, and women-owned. “TSA obligated $576 million for various types of U.S.-based small businesses to deliver necessary equipment to all of TSA’s federalized airports nationwide,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “Our partnership with small businesses was critical in helping us quickly secure personal protective equipment, including acrylic barriers, to protect the TSA workforce and airline travelers against the spread of COVID-19.”

Mission Success. Despite restrictions preventing researchers from traveling due to COVID-19, the Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) found a workaround this summer for its annual Arctic Technology Evaluation, employing crew members aboard the medium-endurance cutter Campbell to evaluate five technologies during a two-month deployment. The ship’s crew, with remote support from the RDC, field-tested the Insight Mini Thermal Monocular and AN/PSQ-20 Monoculars for improved law enforcement and ice detection at night, the Iridium Certus Terminal for internet access to maintain multimedia and telephone communications with the Atlantic Area, the Long Range Acoustic Device 500X-RE for enhanced communication with vessels up to 500 yards away, the Handheld Glare Helios laser for stand-off hailing, and the FiFish remotely operated vehicle for underwater inspections in cold weather and polar environments. Final results from the testing are due at the end of the year.

AWACS Record. This month, the U.S. Air Force’s 968th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron and the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) exceeded 50 consecutive combat missions for the Boeing E-3G Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS)—a string that surpasses the previous record of 34 in August, according to Air Forces Central (AFCENT). “Maintaining a consecutive combat mission record requires flying and maintenance squadrons to meet every theater air tasking order while balancing aircrew and maintenance requirements,” per AFCENT. The E-3G Block 40/45 is the largest upgrade in AWACS history, the Air Force said, and equips the planes with modern computers and avionics, a single target/single track capability and an improved human-machine interface for time-critical targeting designed to increase combat effectiveness and reduce fratricide.

CUAS Radar System for THOR. The Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Tactical Power Microwave Operational Responder (THOR) is getting a new counter unmanned aerial system (CUAS) radar system from Black Sage, a CUAS solutions provider. CUAS radars, Black Sage’s DefenseOS software, the Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control (FAAD C2), and THOR will work together to target and defeat drones. The DefenseOS system from Black Sage uses open architecture command and control software for easy integration of new CUAS sensors.

BAE Systems/Sweden. BAE Systems Hägglunds has received a new contract from Switzerland to provide upgrades required to keep the country’s fleet of CV9030 vehicles in service until 2040, the company said on Nov. 18. The life-extension deal covers the entire 186-vehicle fleet. BAE Systems, which manufactures the CV9030, is tasked with installing new active damping technology on the vehicles, “which reduces wear and tear, minimizes through-life repair costs, improves speed in terrain and ride comfort.” The program also includes fitting the vehicles with a new 360-degree surveillance system. The company will also integrate an enhanced electronics architecture that will support adoption of additional emerging technologies in the future. 

Security Device. The Army on Nov. 18 released an RFP for its program to find Next Generation Load Device-Medium (NGLD-M), modernized cryptographic key load devices to enable delivery of information with the highest levels of security classification. NLGD-M will be a 10-year, $850 million program with the Army planning to award up to two contracts in late fiscal year 2021. “The NGLD-M replaces the fleet of legacy fill devices including the aging Simple Key Loader (SKL), which the Army began procuring 15 years ago. The NGLD-M will be an NSA Type 1 certified, ruggedized, battery-powered, hand-held device used to manage and transfer cryptographic key material and mission planning data,” Mike Badger, the program’s product manager, said in a statement. Responses to the RFP are due by Dec. 23.

Tata Tests Positive. Anthony Tata, the official performing the duties of the Pentagon’s top policy job, has tested positive for COVID-19. Tata, and several over top Pentagon officials, met with Lithuanian Minister of Defence Raimundas Karoblis on Nov. 13. On Nov. 19, Karoblis informed the department that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. During his visit, Karoblis also met with Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller and the secretaries of the Army, Air Force and Navy. The Pentagon said all officials who were in contact with Karoblis have been tested and officials will notify if there are any further positive results. Tata is now isolating at home for 14 days, according to officials.

Columbia SSGNs. Program Executive Officer for Columbia Rear Adm. Scott Pappano last week said the Columbia-class hull makes sense to use for a potential future guided missile submarine (SSGN). What he has learned from the converted Ohio-class SSGNs is “certainly having the larger diameter hull is a perfect fit for a follow-on SSGN design,” Pappano said during the virtual annual Navy Submarine League symposium on Tuesday. The first four Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines were converted into SSGNs instead of being decommissioned in the early 2000s. Their extra cruise missile capability is planned to be succeeded by Virginia Payload Module-equipped Virginia-class attack submarines. “So without making any decisions for the Navy right now, certainly the Columbia hull form would be, I think, a very good model to build upon for a future SSGN…my guess is that if we determine that is a need in the future, that the Columbia would be the frame that we would go build that ship on.”

Virginia Subs. Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite announced the naming of two Virginia-class attack submarines on Nov. 17 after World War II boats: the USS Tang (SSN-805) and USS Wahoo (SSN-806). While attack submarines were originally named after fish, it later moved to cities and states. In contrast, Braithwaite has supported naming vessels after historical ships and submarines. “Naming Virginia-class submarines is a unique opportunity to reclaim submarine names that carry inspirational records of achievement,” Braithwaite said in a statement.

DDG-55. Naval Sea Systems Command awarded BAE Systems a $76 million contract to execute fiscal year 2021 docking selected restricted availability (DSRA) for the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Strout (DDG-55). The DSRA aims to maintain, modernize and repair the DDG-55 as a “long-term” docking availability. Under this contract BAE will provide the facilities and human resources capable of completing, coordinating and integrating multiple areas of ship maintenance, repair and modernization. The award includes options that, if exercised, would raise total value to $100.5 million. Work will occur in Norfolk, Va., and is expected to be finished by November 2021.  The contract was competitively procured with two competitors, but the Navy did not disclose the other bidder. BAE said its shipyard in January 2021 will begin the work, which includes drydocking the ship; performing hull, tank and mechanical work; installing upgraded electronic and electrical systems; and making other shipboard improvements.

LPD-23. The Navy’s Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC) successfully delivered the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD-23) on-time on Oct. 16, the service said Nov. 16. SWRMC worked with BAE Systems’ San Diego Ship Repair “to find cost-effective and innovative solutions during the availability to support on-time delivery of the ship,” Capt. David Hart, commanding officer of SWRMC, said in a statement.

CANES. BAE Systems disclosed on Nov. 11 it won contracts worth over $30 million to produce and integrate two task orders for the Consolidated Afloat Network Enterprise Services (CANES) for two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, a Virginia-class submarine, and two Blue Ridge-class command ships. Under the first task order BAE will produce fully integrated CANES racks for the command ships, which is expected to be finished by February 2022. In the second task order, BAE will produce fully integrated CANES racks for the two destroyers and the submarine, which are expected to be finished by March 2022. CANES enhances and consolidates five existing legacy network programs and serves as a single support framework for all command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) applications that need dedicated infrastructure to operate.