Oshkosh Deal. Oshkosh Corp. is acquiring the vehicle engineering and product development company Pratt Miller in a $115 million deal that that will organize the business as a wholly owned subsidiary of Oshkosh’s defense business. Pratt Miller, best known for its products and expertise in the motorsports market, also supports the defense and automotive markets and has capabilities in next-generation technologies. “The acquisition will allow Oshkosh to capitalize on Pratt Miller’s automotive technology and advances in emerging growth segments, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous and connected systems, and electrification,” says John Bryant, president of Oshkosh Defense. “Together, we will bring these technological innovations to our customers, reducing costs and improving speed to market.” The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.

Polar Cutter Comms.

The Coast Guard last Thursday awarded L3 Harris Technologies a potential $9 million contract for the design, testing and production of the communication management system (CMS) for the service’s three planned Polar Security Cutters. The initial value of the award is $2.7 million for the first of the heavy icebreakers. The CMS provides classified and unclassified switching systems, common end-user terminals and software for connectivity among radios, modems, cryptographic equipment, classified communication capable user terminals, recording devices and internal voice network equipment.

Abrams Award. General Dynamics Land Systems has received a $4.6 billion contract from the Army for deliveries of Abrams tanks, the Pentagon said on Dec. 18. The deal covers Abrams M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 (SEPv3), which is an upgraded version with improved power generation and distribution with an increased margin to accept future technologies. Work on the deal is expected to be completed by June 2028.

Support for Cyber. House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said one of his ongoing priorities for the Department of Homeland Security is to continue to make sure it gets more funding for its cyber security missions. The committee in the coming Congress will “make sure we continue to plus up the cyber mission of the agency, which on a daily basis grows and grows,” Thompson said last Thursday during a virtual forum hosted by the Atlantic Council on DHS reform.

AMPV. BAE Systems said on Dec. 18 it has officially delivered a vehicle for each of the five variants of the new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle to the Army. The most recent handover included a delivery of the Medical Treatment variant. In September, BAE Systems delivered the first AMPV to the Army, which was a Mission Combat variant. The other three variants include General Purpose, Mortar Carrier and Medical Evacuation vehicles.

Return On Investment. DoD’s “business” of warfare does not depend on corporate measures of return on investment (ROI), according to Air Force Chief Scientist Richard Joseph. “One of the questions I’m often asked by the Air Staff is what the ROI on research is, and I say to them, ‘What’s the ROI of the F-35? What’s the ROI of the B-21? What’s the ROI of the F-22?’ It’s an improper question,” Joseph says. “It’s, ‘What’s the value of it?’ We don’t buy these systems for a return on investment that we can measure. It may be the value to deterrence, that kind of thing.”

SSN-798. Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) hosted a keel authentication ceremony for the future Virginia-class attack submarine Massachusetts (SSN-798) on Dec. 11. The event was held virtually without an audience due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This marker is the official construction kickoff of a vessel. SSN-798 will be the 15th Virginia-class submarine under a teaming agreement between prime contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat and HII. Construction started in in March 2017 and is currently about 50 percent complete. It is set for delivery in 2023.

LCS. The Navy awarded BAE Systems a $25 million modification on Dec. 18 to exercise an option to accomplish post shakedown availability (PSA) for one unnamed Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship in 2021. The announcement said the work would occur in Mayport, Fla., where the Freedom-variant ships are homeported. Work is expected to be finished by September 2021.

PSNS&IMF. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday visited the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) for the first time since becoming CNO to learn about workforce challenges and planned Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program upgrades. During his tour, Gilday and senior officials discussed planned upgrades to dry docks, how the yard trains new employees, and how Dry Dock 3 can be expanded to accommodate Ford-class carriers, including an overview of the timeline and costs.

DDG-118. The future USS Daniel Inouye (DDG-118) started getting underway for builder’s sea trials, shipbuilder General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) said Dec. 16. The company noted DDG-118 is the first BIW sailing down the Kennebec River in two years and entails extensive plans and protocols to protect riders against transmission of COVID-19. “It represents our future as a shipyard, not just because this ship is an important and much-needed asset for the U.S. Navy fleet, but also because it demonstrates the commitment by our workforce and company management to increase our shipbuilding rate to two ships per year, a crucial part of our Three Year Schedule Recovery Plan that is well underway,” the company said in a statement.

200,000 Combat Hours. Northrop Grumman said that its Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) gateway system has 200,000 combat hours in more than 15,500 missions since its first deployment with the U.S. Air Force in October 2008. Roshan Roeder, vice president of the company’s communications, airborne sensors and networks division, said that BACN “is one of the first battle-tested gateway systems to enable warfighters and platforms to effectively communicate and securely share data across all branches of the Department of Defense.” BACN, carried on four EQ-4B Global Hawk Block 20 drones and three E-11A modified business jets, is a high-altitude, airborne communications gateway that translates and distributes multi-domain imagery, voice and tactical data for missions, such as airdrop, convoy, humanitarian assistance, close air support, and theater air control systems operations.

…Joint Urgent Operational Need. Northrop Grumman said that it accelerated BACN development and delivered the first system to the Air Force “in only nine months” in 2008 in response to a joint urgent operational need. “Improvements to the BACN system include enhancing data rates by 10 times, integrating new automation software to streamline communications and improve situational awareness, and implementing new military standard communications protocols,” the company said. “Northrop Grumman is investing in developing low size, weight and power gateway systems which are designed to enable communications and cross domain translations between multiple beyond line-of-sight and line-of-sight networks and datalinks—inclusive of 5th to 4th, generation capabilities. The development of these systems includes a focus on multi-level secure and integrated functions such as cloud computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, next generation data links and the use of third-party software and sensor solutions.” BACN has had a mission availability rate of more than 98 percent, Northrop Grumman said.

Newest Member. Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond is set to become the newest member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Dec. 20–the first anniversary of the U.S. Space Force. On Dec. 21, Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, the chief of staff of U.S. Space Command–the combatant command supplied by Space Force–is to discuss key issues affecting the newest COCOM with the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, including competition in space from other nations, partnerships with commercial companies, and the Space Force’s relationship with the Intelligence Community. The Space Force is to become the 18th member of the IC and is to establish the Space Systems Command for the acquisition of space systems next year.

Space Intel. The U.S. Space Force is developing its plan for the National Space Intelligence Center (NSIC), which will likely draw on expertise from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. “Initially, what we looked at was that NASIC had a couple of squadrons that wholly focused on space,” Lt. Gen. Nina Armagno, the director of staff for the Space Force, told the Washington Space Business Roundtable. “The initial thinking was wouldn’t it be reasonable to take those two squadrons that focus wholly on space and bring them over into the United States Space Force. Well, it’s just not that simple because they are so synergized with NASIC today. So we have to put a reasonable plan together. We have to do this deliberately. We have to understand exactly what the consequences may be for separating two squadrons out and potentially some other activities that occur at NASIC, but the ultimate goal is to create space intelligence that a new warfighting domain demands. We really need an activity–and ultimately a center–focused on intelligence for space, and we are working very closely with NASIC, with the intelligence community, and with Congress to ensure everyone understand, and everyone is on the same sheet of music, and the plan itself is in work right now.”

New Army Lab. The Army is readying to open its new Vehicle Innovative Powertrain Experimental Research (VIPER) later this month with plans to begin operations in January. The VIPER lab will be used to work on next-generation rotorcraft transmissions projects. “The flexibility of VIPER is what makes it unique compared to other existing testbeds that usually focus on one gearbox platform. The ability to reconfigure the drive and load absorption motors within the test stand in order to connect to different gearboxes gives us the ability to conduct a wide-range of exploratory research projects and demonstrations,” Ryan Emerson, the Army Research Lab’s lead for propulsion sciences research projects, said in a statement. The VIPER lab will house “two 1,000-horsepower inputs and a 2,000-horsepower output to absorb the main mass, plus 250 horsepower to absorb the tail rotor,” according to the Army.

XM813 Deal. Northrop Grumman has received a new deal from the Army to deliver 95 of its XM813 Bushmaster Chain Guns to be integrated on Stryker. Deliveries are expected to begin in early 2022. The order was placed as part of the Stryker Medium Caliber Weapon System 30mm Lethality Upgrade program. “We are committed to ensuring our U.S. warfighter remains ahead of emerging threats, and the XM813 will deliver overmatch and greater standoff range for Stryker crews,” Jennifer Zonneveld, Northrop Grumman’s director for Bushmaster Chain Guns, said in a statement.

National Spectrum Consortium. The Pentagon has awarded the National Spectrum Consortium a five-year, $2.5 billion deal to continue managing projects to develop next-generation technologies, to include furthering 5G networking progress. “By bringing industry, academia and the government together, the NSC will tackle the toughest spectrum-related technological challenges facing our nation and the world.  We are excited and ready to continue the development of innovative dual-use technologies that support our warfighters and American jobs,” Tony Melita, NSC’s executive director, said in a statement. NSC includes nearly 400 U.S. companies and universities, with members working on projects “to develop dual-use technologies across a range of advanced technologies that rely upon electromagnetic spectrum from machine learning to autonomous navigation to next generation radio access networks.” 

ISV Facility. GM Defense said on Dec. 17 it is renovating one of its existing facilities to support production of the Army’s new Infantry Squad Vehicle. The company said construction at the 75,000-square-foot-facility in Concord, North Carolina, will continue through the spring, with the first ISVs expected off the new production line in April. GM Defense was awarded a $214.3 million deal to produce ISV in June, its first major award since the company was reestablished in 2017. “As GM Defense ramps to full-rate production, the facility will help to manufacture 649 ISVs and will support the production of up to 2,065 vehicles with additional authorization over eight years,” the company wrote in a statement.

Directed Energy. Epirus, Inc. said on Dec. 17 it received $70 million in Series B funding allowing them to advance operations beyond counter unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS). Epirus develops software for high-powered microwave (HPM) applications for defense and commercial customers. The investment was led by Bedrock Capital and included L3Harris Technologies, Piedmont Capital Investments, 8VC, Fathom Capital, and Greenspring Associates. Earlier this year, Epirus received an agreement to provide Northrop Grumman’s C-UAS system-of-systems solution with Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) capability.

Executive Moves. Shipbuilder and professional services company Huntington Ingalls Industries said that its chief financial officer (CFO), Christopher Kastner, has been promoted to the new position of chief operating officer, and that Thomas Stiehle, CFO of the company’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division, will become the new corporate finance chief. The appointments are effective Feb. 12, 2021. HII President and CEO Mike Petters said the moves will help the company to execute on its $45 billion backlog, taking advantage of Kastner’s “deep understanding of our business” and Stiehle’s “strong financial background.” Separately, BWX Technologies, which provides nuclear solutions to the U.S. Navy, has appointed former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson to its board. Richardson retired from the Navy in 2019.