DoD ‘Night Court.’ Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters on Wednesday he wants to initiate a “defense-wide review process” to find funds across the department that can be shifted from lower priorities over to modernization and reform efforts, similar to the “night court” process he started in his previous role leading the Army. “The goal of this review is to identify time, money and manpower that can be reallocated to our highest priorities in support of the [National Defense Strategy],” Esper said. The process is currently focused on DoD’s fourth estate entities, which include offices such as the Defense Intelligence Agency, DISA and the National Reconnaissance Office. Esper said his goal is to expand the process to other areas of the DoD enterprise, including the individual services. The Army’s recent “night court” process resulted in finding $33 billion it plans to shift from low priorities to modernization programs over the next five years. 

Khanna’s Priorities.

HASC Member Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday that he would like to see the Defense Department put the extra funds authorized for defense spending under the 2019 Bipartisan Budget Act go toward artificial intelligence and emerging tech R&D. Congress voted in July to cap FY ’20 defense spending at $738 billion, an increase over the House-approved NDAA topline of $733 billion, but less than the Senate-passed NDAA’s $750 billion limit. “I wouldn’t like to see the budget be that high,” the progressive Democrat said. “If you ask me specifically, now that we have $5 billion more dollars in defense … what could we do, I would say we need to be investing in artificial intelligence and quantum computing, and in research on the new generation of technology to tackle climate change.” Khanna said he would want the extra funds to go “significantly” to agencies such as DARPA “that are on the forefront of thinking through new technology” and that would help the U.S. stay ahead of China.

DIU Networks. Defense Innovation Unit, the Pentagon’s emerging technologies office, is looking for industry partners to provide cyber penetration testing for its own networks. DIU’s Washington Headquarters Service Directorate released a problem work statement on Aug. 26 specifically seeking lastwall penetration testing, red teaming, team training and active defense services. The 12-month contracts are targeted toward small businesses, which DIU specified as companies worth $27.5 million or below. 

Marine Corps Antenna. The Marine Corps released an RFI on Aug. 28 to start the search for a new antenna to be integrated on remote weapon stations that will allow Low Altitude Air Defense (LAAD) gunners to more effectively interrogate adversary aircraft. The RFI is seeking industry solutions for Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) antenna that must be interoperable with the A-MANPADS Mark XIIA IFF Interrogator Set AN/PPX-4(V)1. Marine Corps officials said the capability must be a directional antenna that can transmit and receive frequencies between 900 and 1200 MHz.

2020 Election. SASC Member Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that she was dropping out of the race to become the Democratic candidate for president in 2020. She was the fourth candidate to drop out of the race in August, after she failed to qualify for the third Democratic debate taking place Sept. 12. Ten candidates qualified for that debate; 20 people are still running.

Republican Challenger in CA. Rep. TJ Cox (D-Calif.) will see a challenge in 2020 from the incumbent he beat in 2018. Former Rep. David Valadao, a Republican, was elected to Congress in 2012 and narrowly lost to Cox in the 2018 midterm elections. He said Thursday that he would run again to regain his seat.

Boeing F-15QA-related Contract. The Air Force awarded Boeing a not-to-exceed $500 million firm-fixed-price, IDIQ single award contract for the Qatar Emiri Air Force F-15QA aircrew and maintenance training. “This contract will provide F-15QA aircrew and maintenance training to support the QEAF,” according to the award notice. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, and move to Qatar in 2021. It is expected to be completed August 2026. This was a sole-source requirement as Boeing has been country-designated as the sole-source provider for the F-15QA program. FMS funds in the amount of $262.1 million are being obligated at the time of award.

Air Force Award. The Air Force on Wednesday awarded Rolls-Royce Corp. a $47.9 million delivery order for a previously awarded contract option for C-130J propulsion long-term sustainment. Work will be performed at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, and other various locations supporting C-130J propulsion long-term sustainment and is expected to be completed when the last engines are delivered, according to the award notice.  FY ‘19 aircraft procurement funds in the amount of $47.9 million are being obligated at the time of award.

B-2s in Iceland. U.S. Air Forces in Europe said Thursday that a B-2 recently landed in Iceland for the first time, to conduct hot-pit refueling at Keflavik Air Base, the nation’s Coast Guard base. “The purpose of the flight was to conduct theater familiarization for aircrew members and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to allies and partners through the global employment of our military forces,” the release said. U.S. Air Force F-16 aircraft from Spangdahlem AB, Germany, also deployed to the Icelandic base in July.

RKV. A top Pentagon official this week said it may change the acquisition strategy that led to the recently canceled Redesigned Kill Vehicle, where the government acted as systems integrator. “I think we are rethinking that acquisition strategy, no firm decisions have been made, but typically in my experience, when the government directs certain sources, vs letting the market play out, it doesn’t serve the government well and it doesn’t serve industry well,” Under Secretary if Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord said during a press conference on Aug. 26. She also addressed concerns about competition with new models for the Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI), which delivers a kill vehicle close to a target missile. “I think that we have a lot of opportunity for competition with GBI,” Lord added.

Navy Counsel. President Trump announced the nomination of Robert Sander to be General Counsel of the Department of the Navy on Aug. 26. Sander currently serves as Principal Deputy General Counsel for the Department of the Army and Acting General Counsel of the Army during the General Counsel’s absence. Previously, he served as Senior Associate General Counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and as a Trial Attorney in the Counterterrorism Section of the United States Department of Justice, National Security Division.

Maritime Tomahawk. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Raytheon a $349 million contract for Phase 2 of the Maritime Strike Tomahawk Rapid Deployment Capability for completion of the Phase 1 design and integration efforts plus test and evaluation. This version of the Tomahawk is designed to be launched from both ships and submarines. The Navy and Raytheon are updating the missiles to help it best hit moving targets at sea. Work will mostly occur in Tucson, Ariz., and s expected to be finished by February 2023. The contract was not competitively procured in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulations.

Jammer. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Raytheon a $74 million modification to procure pre-operational support for the Next Generation Jammer-Mid Band pod on Aug. 27. The support lasts through completion of the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase and development, test and evaluation (DT&E) activities. It also covers organizational-level maintenance, repair, supply chain management, and material support for equipment being delivered under the EMD contract. It also includes “associated peculiar support equipment/test, measurement, and diagnostic equipment” to support DT&E. Work will mostly occur in Forest, Miss., and Dallas. It is expected to be finished by December 2021.

Hill Press on DHS CWMD. Top Republican and Democrats on the Senate and House Homeland Security Committees want answers from the Department of Homeland Security about reported cuts and changes to key programs aimed at countering weapons of mass destruction. In an Aug. 30 letter from the committee chairs and ranking members to James McDonnell, assistant secretary for CWMD, they cite a July Los Angeles Times report that DHS has “quietly dismantled or cut back multiple” programs established post-9/11 to counter WMD. “This reporting raises serious concerns that the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office may be struggling with its mission, which is to plan for, detect, and protect against the importation and use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials in the United States and to protect against an attack using such materials,” they tell McDonnell. The senators and congressmen want a response from McDonnell by Sept. 19.

Successful Partnership. The Department of Commerce last week recognized the U.S.-based defense business of France’s Thales Group with an Export Achievement Award by entering new international markets through a partnership between the company and the department’s U.S. Commercial Service. Mike Sheehan, CEO of Thales Defense and Security, Inc., said that “The connections our company made at the Commerce Department’s TradeWinds mission in India are helping us sell U.S. manufactured equipment into the South Asian market.” He also said that “The company’s international sales are on pace to increase over 50 percent compared to last year thanks to support from the U.S. Commercial Service and others.”

Business Briefs.  Northrop Grumman last week broke ground on a new facility near Hill Air Force Base, Utah, that will service as its headquarters for the new ICBM program, Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD). Northrop Grumman is the only competitor gunning for GBSD after Boeing, which built the current arsenal of Minuteman III ICBMs decades ago, pulled out of the competition. Northrop Grumman says its GBSD headquarters could add 2,500 jobs in Utah, building on its current contingent of 5,100 employees in the state. The Air Force is currently expected award the GBSD contract in the third quarter of 2020. Separately, Science Applications International Corp. has added two new board members, Carol Goode, a human resources advisor based in the San Francisco Bay region, and Yvette Kanouff, a partner and chief technology officer at the Silicon Valley-based venture capital and private equity firm JC2 Ventures. The appointments expand SAIC’s board to 10 directors.

Ransomware Uptick. Ransomware attacks were up 118 percent in the first quarter of 2019 with new virus types and attack techniques being detected, says the cyber security firm McAfee in a new threats report. The new ransomware family is called Anatova, which McAfee says is “designed to cipher all files before requesting payment from the victim.” What hasn’t changed, despite the development of new “sophisticated attack techniques,” is that “attackers are still highly dependent on human interaction and social engineering,” says the report.