Polar Sentinel. The Coast Guard has named its first polar security cutter the Polar Sentinel, which is still being designed, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said last week. The ship, the first of at least three new heavy polar icebreakers, is expected to begin construction this year with delivery set for 2025. Halter Marine, which will build the POLAR SENTINEL, in late December received a $553 million contract for the second polar security cutter, which will be delivered in 2026. “It’s a state-of-the-art ship that requires exacting designs, complex steel work and systems integration,” Schultz said during his State of the Coast Guard address.

People News. Amentum has named John Heller as its CEO, effective March 28, succeeding John Vollmer, who has led the company since January 2020 and will continue as chairman. Heller previously was CEO of PAE Inc. for seven years until March 2021. George Pedersen, who co-founded ManTech in 1968, has retired his position on the company’s board and as chairman emeritus. Pedersen in 2017 stepped down as CEO of the company. Noblis said that Amr ElSawy, its president and CEO, will step out of his role as president and CEO in October, and will be succeeded by Mile Corrigan, who is senior vice president of the company’s Federal Civilian Solutions and has been named executive vice president. ElSawy has been CEO of Noblis the past 15 years. Textron Inc. has elected Richard Ambrose to its board, effective April 1. Ambrose was most recently executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Space segment and will retire from the company on March 1.

New Brand. UAV Factory, which was acquired in January 2021 by the private equity firm AE Industrial Partners, is now Edge Autonomy following its acquisition of Jennings Aeronautics last September. Edge Autonomy designs and manufactures a range of small unmanned aircraft systems, including gas and electric-powered with shorter and longer endurances, and vertical take-off-and-landing UAS. The new company is headquartered in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and its systems are used in 60 countries by government, commercial and academic customers.

Dividend Hike. L3Harris Technologies last Friday announced a 10 percent hike to its quarterly dividend, increasing the payment by 10 cents to $1.12 per share payable in late March. The increase raises the annual dividend by 40 cents to $4.48 per share and is the third double-digit increase to the dividend since Harris Corp. and L3Technologies merged in mid-2019. “This increase builds on the success of our capital returns program and reflects our confidence in L3Harris’ financial outlook,” said Christopher Kubasik, the company’s vice chairman and CEO.

Kuwait FMS. The State Department on Feb. 22 approved a potential $1 billion foreign military sale with Kuwait for the design and construction of a new Kuwait Ministry of Defense Headquarters Complex. Under the deal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would provide life cycle design, construction, project management, engineering services and support for the build of the new complex. “The overall project includes over twenty facilities, including primary headquarters facilities for both civilian and military leadership, as well as any and all engineering studies, designs, construction, and construction management services necessary in order to provide a fully functioning headquarters complex,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) wrote in a statement. Contracts for work on the FMS case would likely be competitive acquisitions, according to the DSCA.

Australia FMS. The State Department on Feb. 22 also approved a potential $122 million deal with Australia for Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) component systems to support the country’s upgrade of its large air mobility platforms, including C-17As, KC-30As, and C-130Js. Under the deal, Australia would receive 27 AN/AAQ 24(V)N LAIRCM System Processor Replacements and 30 Guardian Laser Turret Assemblies. “The proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing modern protection for large air mobility platforms. These countermeasures are crucial to defeating modern threats,” the DSCA wrote in a statement. Northrop Grumman and Boeing would serve as main contractors for the deal. 

Bell/Czech Republic. Bell said on Feb. 23 it has started production of the first AH-1Z Viper helicopter that will be delivered to the Czech Republic. Bell is building four AH-1Z Vipers and eight UH-1Y Venoms under a $650 million foreign military sale the U.S. approved with the Czech Republic in December 2019. “Bell understands what it means to execute a successful international program,” Mike Deslatte, Bell’s H-1 program director, said in a statement. “We understand the importance of providing the unmatched capability of the H-1 aircraft to our customers. Bell remains focused on producing exceptional combat aircraft and providing modern capabilities for the Czech Air Force as a partner in the H-1 program, along with the U.S. government.”

LCS-36. Austal USA marked the keel laying of the future USS Kingsville (LCS-36) Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship on Feb. 23 at its shipyard in Mobile, Ala. Keel laying is the formal recognition of the start of a ship’s construction. LCS-36 is one of 18 LCSs Austal is producing for the Navy.

…LPD-30. Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding division also authenticated the keel of the future USS Harrisburg (LPD-30) San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock in a ceremony, the company said Feb. 23. LPD-30 will be the first Flight II version of the San Antonio-class, which will replace the Whidbey Island and Harpers Ferry-classes of dock landing ships. HII has already delivered 11 San Antonio-class vessels and has three more under construction.

TAO-211. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said on Feb. 25 the future John Lewis-class replenishment oiler ship will be named the USNS Thurgood Marshall (TAO-211), in honor of the former Supreme Court Justice. It will be the first vessel named after Marshall. TAO-211 will be the seventh TAO awarded by the Navy. The first ship in the class, the USNS John Lewis (TAO-205), was delivered in 2021. The fleet oilers are designed to transfer fuel to the Navy’s carrier strike groups. They can carry up to 162,000 barrels of oil and have significant dry cargo capacity and aviation capacity. The ships travel at speeds up to 20 knots, are 742 feet long and have a full load displacement of almost 50,000 tons.

Ukraine Aid. While DoD has provided more than $2.7 billion in military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, according to the Stimson Center, it appears that much of the equipment provided in that amount has been relatively small–unarmed drones, counter-mortar radars, night vision goggles, small arms, radios, armored Humvees, and Javelin missiles by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. While the Obama administration prohibited lethal military aid to Ukraine, the Trump administration reversed that, and in 2018 DoD awarded Lockheed Martin and Raytheon a $307 million contract for Javelins for Ukraine, Australia, Estonia, Lithuania, Turkey, and Taiwan. The State Department approved the sale of 360 Javelins and their command launch units to Ukraine for $86 million in March 2018 and October 2019. In a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, 2019, Trump suggested that he would delay the provision of Javelins to Ukraine unless Zelensky’s government opened an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Full Accounting. DoD has so far not released a full accounting of the U.S. military equipment provided to Ukraine since 2014. The Pentagon has said that it does not want to give Russia a clear picture of Ukraine’s U.S.-supplied military inventory. Ruslan Stefanchuk, the speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, last month requested that Congress provide funding for more U.S. anti-tank weapons, in addition to anti-ship and air defense missiles, like the Raytheon Stinger, to allow Ukraine to defend itself against Russia. Maritime aid for Ukraine also may be coming. Last September and December, DoD awarded Bremerton, Wash.-based SAFE Boats International a $110 million contract for eight Mk VI patrol boats for Ukraine. The State Department had approved a sale of up to 16 of the boats to Ukraine in June 2020.

…More Lethal Aid. Of the more than $2.7 billion in military aid provided to Ukraine since 2014, $1.35 billion has come from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and $721 million from the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program, per the Stimson Center. Other U.S. funding sources for military aid to Ukraine include the International Military Education and Training and Cooperative Threat Reduction programs and the European Deterrence Initiative and the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement program. The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act extended the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative through fiscal 2022, increased the annual amount authorized from $250 million to $300 million, and authorized at least $75 million yearly in that amount for lethal aid. Ukraine has ranked as the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in Europe and the seventh globally.

Digital Shadow. Northrop Grumman said that it is developing a digital twin of its Bombardier CRJ-700 testbed aircraft. The company’s Digital Shadow testbed “will enable faster and more agile development, modification and testing of new capabilities across programs,” Northrop Grumman said. “Digital Shadow will test digital representations of sensors, such as fighter radars, in a realistic virtual environment on the aircraft that simulates current and future capabilities and collects performance data.” The company said that Digital Shadow “will enhance the ability to upgrade capabilities through software to stay ahead of evolving threats and reduce development and sustainment costs.” Northrop Grumman has been using the CRJ-700 to test the company design for the mission computer and sensors for the U.S. Air Force Stand-in Attack Weapon (SiAW) for anti-access/area denial environments. Northrop Grumman is competing against Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and L3Harris for the SiAW award.