Update the No-Fly List. Following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of angry citizens wrongly believing that President Trump was the victim of a stolen election, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) wants some new names added to the U.S. government’s list of potential terrorists so they aren’t allowed to fly. “Given the heinous domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol yesterday, I am urging the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use their authorities to add the names of all identified individuals involved in the attack to the federal No-Fly List and keep them off planes,” Thompson said in a Jan. 7 statement. “This should include all individuals identified as having entered the Capitol building, an intrusion which threatened the safety of Members of Congress and staff and served as an attack on our Nation.”
Austin Confirmation Hearing. The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Jan. 19 for Lloyd Austin III, president-elect Joe Biden’s nominee and retired Army four-star general, to serve as his secretary of defense. Before Austin can be confirmed, however, he must receive a congressional waiver because he has not been out of the military for the required seven years. SASC is holding a Jan. 12 hearing on “Civilian Control of the Armed Forces” as a precursor to Austin’s confirmation hearing. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said he also wants to hold a hearing with Austin on January 21 before the Senate votes on his confirmation. Biden’s decision to pick Austin, who would be the first Black Secretary of Defense if confirmed by the Senate, has faced scrutiny from some lawmakers over concerns for having a recently retired general leading the Pentagon. Austin, who retired from the military in March 2016, oversaw operations against ISIS during his time leading U.S. CENTCOM, was the vice chief of staff of the Army from 2012 to 2013 and led the effort to withdraw combat forces in Afghanistan in 2011. Since retiring from the military, Austin joined the board of Raytheon.
Durkovich on Biden NSC. President-elect Joe Biden last Friday named 21 key appointments to his incoming National Security Council, including former Department of Homeland Security Official Caitlin Durkovich, who will be senior director for Resilience and Response. Durkovich, who is currently on the DHS Agency Review team for the Biden Transition, last year co-wrote a report on the future of DHS arguing that the department should have a stronger leadership role in responding to pandemics, that it needs more resources for cyber security and election security, maintain efforts on counter-terrorism, aviation and border security, maritime security, and disaster response, while also tending to morale and management challenges. Pretty much the waterfront. During the Obama administration, she was the assistant secretary for Infrastructure Protection, which is now within the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
Port Security Law. President Trump on Jan. 5 signed into law the Securing America’s Ports Act (H.R. 5273), which requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop a plan to scan all commercial and passenger vehicles entering the U.S. at land ports of entry using large-scale imaging technology. The act, which was introduced in 2019 by former Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small (D-N.M.), says the port security plan shall inventory the current non-intrusive inspection systems, provide cost estimates to achieve 100 percent scanning, and the impact on wait times at the border from the increased scanning. Currently, DHS scans about 15 percent of commercial vehicles and 1 percent of passenger vehicles entering the U.S. and plans to boost those rates to 72 and 40 percent, respectively, in the next few years.
Lehman Deal. The private equity firm J.F. Lehman & Company in late December acquired CTS Engines, a provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul services for mature aircraft engines in the air cargo and military end markets worldwide. Florida-based CTS does end-to-end engine overhauls, component repairs, and return-to-service testing for engine owners and operators. CTS’ lead financial adviser was William Blair and Lincoln International served as co-adviser.
DDG-129. Huntington Ingalls Industries said its Ingalls Shipbuilding division started official fabrication of the future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Jeremiah Denton (DDG-129) on Jan. 7. This start of fabrication marks the first 100 tons of steel have been cut. The ship is named after a former U.S> Senator and Vietnam War veteran who was awarded the Navy Cross while a prisoner of war. Other HII destroyers currently under construction include the future Frank E. Peterson Jr. (DDG-121), Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123), Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125) and Ted Stevens (DDG-128).
RFCM. BAE Systems won a $4 million contract from the Navy to conduct a “quick-turnaround demonstration” of a new radio frequency countermeasure (RFCM) system for the P-8A Poseidon aircraft, the company said Jan. 5. This pod-mounted RFCM system is a high-power, lightweight system that aims to add a new self-protection capability to next-generation Navy aircraft. The company said this rapid response comes from collaboration among small focus teams who developed an innovative approach to the design and fabrication of the system’s mechanical parts. The company will design, build, integrate and ship the RFCM in five months, followed by two months of flight testing on Poseidons, with testing expected in early 2021. RFCM consists of a small form factor jammer, high-powered amplifier, and the AN/ALE-55 Fiber-Optic Towed Decoy.
MQ-25. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Boeing a $198 million modification on Dec. 29 to provide for the integration of a ground control station that provides command and control capability in support of the MQ-25 unmanned aircraft carrier-based tanker for the Navy. Work will largely occur in St. Louis, Mo., and is expected to be finished by August 2024. $30 million in FY ’20 research and development funds was obligated at the time of award, all of which will expire at the end of this fiscal year.
F-35 Parts. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Lockheed Martin a $904 million modification on Dec. 30 to procure long lead materials, parts, components and support necessary to maintain on-time production and delivery of 133 Lot 16 F-35 aircraft. This covers F-35s for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, non-Department of Defense participants, and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will primarily occur in Fort Worth, Texas (57 percent); El Segundo, Calif. (14 percent); and Warton, U.K. (nine percent); and is expected to be finished by May 2026. The funding is split between $271 million in FY ’21 Navy aircraft procurement; $279 million in FY ’21 Air Force aircraft procurement; $228 million in non-DoD participant; and $126 million in FMS funds all obligated at the time of award.
F-35 Support. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.3 billion undefinitized contract on Dec. 28 to procure recurring logistics service for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter systems for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-DoD participants, and FMS customers. It specifically covers ground maintenance activities, action request resolution, depot activation activities, automatic logistics information system operations and maintenance, reliability, maintainability and health management implementation, and support, supply chain management and activities to provide and support pilot and maintainer initial training in support of in-service F-35s. Work will mostly occur in Fort Worth, Texas (61 percent) and Orlando, Fla. (24 percent), and is expected to be finished December 2021. Funding obligated at the time of award was split into $100 million in FY ’21 Air Force funds, $50 million Marine Corps FY ’21 funds, $23 million in Navy FY ’21 funds ,$6.5 million in Air National Guard funds, $88 million in non-DoD participant funds, and $44 million in FMS funds.
Super Hornet Engines. The Navy awarded General Electric a $220 million modification on Dec. 22 to exercise an option procuring 48 F414-GE-400 engines and engine devices in support of the F/A-18 Super Hornet production aircraft for the Navy. The work will mostly occur in Lynn, Mass. (59 percent), and Hooksett, N.H. (18 percent) and is expected to be finished by August 2023.
Aegis FMS. The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems a $731 million contract on Jan. 5 for various technical Aegis destroyer in-service support. This covers engineering and technical services for Aegis in-service combat systems engineering, ship integration and test engineering, computer program maintenance, integrated logistics support and planning and in-country support for multiple international partners employing Aegis. The Navy announcement added this provides “in-service lifetime support efforts, including engineering, technical and logistical support related to the maintenance and modernization of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Aegis Combat System and Aegis weapon system equipment and computer programs.” The contract includes options that, if exercised, would raise the total value to $750 million. It includes FMS sales with Japan, Australia, South Korea, Norway, Spain and Canada. Work is expected to be finished by December 2024.
$95 Billion. The Teal Group is projecting more than $95 billion in military drone production over the next decade. The study “estimates that UAV production will increase from current worldwide UAV production of $5.6 billion annually in 2020 to $14 billion in 2029, totaling $95.5 billion in the next 10 years.” Military UAV research spending would add another $64.5 billion over the decade, per The Teal Group study, World Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems, Market Profile and Forecast 2020/2021. “New technologies and increased trade are coming together to drive the UAV market growth,” said Philip Finnegan, Teal Group’s director of corporate analysis and a co-author of the study. “The next generation of systems is being developed at a time when trade is growing thanks to liberalized US export rule, cheap Chinese exports and strong demand for armed UAVs. The Teal Group study predicts that the U.S. will account for 80 percent of military worldwide research and development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) spending on drone technology over the next decade and 40 percent of military procurement. Much of the U.S. RDT&E spending is to develop the next generation of systems that can survive in contested airspace.
Hack The Army. The Pentagon’s Defense Digital Service and HackerOne on Jan. 6 launched the third iteration of the Army’s program to have ethical hackers identify vulnerabilities in its networks. Hack the Army 3.0 is DoD’s 11th bug bounty program to date, where ethical hackers are paid for each vulnerability disclosed. “Bug bounty programs are a unique and effective ‘force multiplier’ for safeguarding critical Army networks, systems and data, and build on the efforts of our Army and DoD security professionals. By ‘crowdsourcing’ solutions with the help of the world’s best military and civilian ethical hackers, we complement our existing security measures and provide an additional means to identify and fix vulnerabilities,” Brig. Gen. Adam Volant, Army Cyber Command’s director of operations, said in a statement. Hack the Army 3.0 will run through Feb. 17.