S-97 Raider. Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky unit announced last week it has flown its S-97 Raider helicopter at an Army installation for the first time, demonstrating the aircraft for service officials at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. The S-97 Raider, which utilizes the company’s X2 co-axial rotor technology, is the basis for Sikorsky’s offering for the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program, the Raider X. Sikorsky is competing for FARA with Bell, which is offering its 360 Invictus design.

Jolly Green Testing.

The U.S. Air Force completed its developmental testing of the Lockheed Martin HH-60W Jolly Green II combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter on Apr. 13 at Eglin AFB, Fla. Such testing began in May, 2019 with the first flight of the HH-60W, which is to replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk in the CSAR mission. The Air Force said that the HH-60W integrated test team compiled more than 1,100 flight hours across six aircraft during the testing, which included aircraft performance, aerial refueling, live-fire, climate, data links, defensive systems and rescue hoist. Follow-on testing of the HH-60W is to begin next year with the CSAR Combined Test Force at Nellis AFB, Nev.

F-15EX. Raytheon Technologies is highlighting the role it plays on the U.S. Air Force F-15EX fighter by Boeing. Raytheon says that the F-15EX will have the ability to carry up to six of Raytheon’s AIM-9X infrared air-to-air missiles on its wings, 12 of the company’s AIM-120D Advanced Medium-Range Air to Air Missiles, and 16 Raytheon GBU-53/B StormBreaker weapons. In addition, the F-15EX is to have the Raytheon APG-82(V)1 active electronically scanned array radar and to be able to carry Raytheon’s Expeditionary Joint Precision Approach Landing System for landing in rugged terrain and bad weather and in communications-denied environments. In fiscal 2024, the Oregon Air National Guard is to take delivery of the first F-15EX, which is to be operational in 2025.

FORSCOM Chief on Budget Gen. Michael X. Garrett, commander of Army Forces Command, told reporters on April 16 he is not “overly concerned” that likely flat or slightly declining budgets in the coming years will have an impact on the service’s readiness. “We’ve had a couple of very good funding years as I’ve been in command. The future may be a little bit more challenging, I think, fiscally. What we’re going to have to do is make sure that we are as efficient as we can be here in the near future delivering readiness.” Garrett said receiving predictable, on-time funding will allow for FORSCOM to tailor its readiness requirements in a tighter spending environment. “Once you tell me what we have then we can tell you what we’re going to be able to deliver readiness-wise.”

MK 18 Award. The Navy last week awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Hydroid subsidiary a $75 million indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract to procure MK 18 Mod 2 Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Increment II Payload Upgrade hardware. Work will occur in Pocasset, Mass. and is expected to be finished by April 2026. The MK 18 Mod 2 Kingfish is currently used to find mine-like objects in the water and is deployed from surface vessels. The contract was not competitively procured.

LCS-24 Commissioning. The Navy intends to commission the future USS Oakland (LCS-24) Littoral Combat Ship on April 17 in Oakland, Calif. This will be a private event with limited audience due to public health concerns with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The event will be livestreamed for a larger audience. Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Oakland was built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. and was christened in June 2019.

SeaRAM Test. The Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship USS Charleston (LCS-18) conducted a successful test launch of the sea-based Rolling Airframe Missile (SeaRAM) during a live-fire exercise on April 8. The missile is designed to provide improved self-defense and extended keep-out range ca[abilities for a ship in hospital combat environments, the Navy said. “ It allows naval vessels to effectively engage in high-performance, supersonic and subsonic threats including sea-skimming, anti-ship missiles, high-speed incoming vessels, rotary and fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and other surface targets.”

Norwegian P-8A. The first Norwegian P-8A Poseidon fuselage arrived at aircraft builder Boeing’s facilities in Renton, Wash. on April 12. The fuselage came from Spirit Aerosystems, based in Wichita, Kansas. The P-8A is derived from the Boeing 737 Next-Generation commercial aircraft and is first assembled at the company’s Commercial Airplanes’ production line where the fuselage receives additional wiring and systems to support military components, equipment and operation. Thereafter, the aircraft is moved to Boeing’s defense, space and security unit to install military systems, undergo testing, and be delivered to military customers. The company expects to deliver the first of five ordered P-8As to Norway later this year. The aircraft will replace Norway’s fleet of six P-4 Orion and three DA-20 Jet Falcons to provide situational awareness on and below the ocean surface. Boeing so far has delivered 104 P-8s to the U.S. Navy as well as Australia, India, and the United Kingdom.

Bahrain AH-1Z. Bell announced on April 12 it hosted a delegation from Bahrain to mark the start of production on AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters it’s building for the country per a recent Foreign Military Sale. “We are honored to host the Kingdom of Bahrain and share this milestone in production for the AH-1Z. Today’s ceremony marks a new milestone in bringing the advanced capabilities of the Viper a step closer to the Kingdom of Bahrain,” Mike Deslatte, Bell’s H-1 program director, said in a statement. The FMS with Bahrain covers 12 Lot-16 AH-1Z aircraft, with deliveries to begin in late 2021, Bell said.

155mm Howitzer. Global Ordnance and Serbia’s Yugoimport announced on April 13 they conducted a successful accuracy test firing of an upgraded NORA B-52 M21 155mm self-propelled howitzer prior to demonstrating the system for the U.S. Army at an upcoming “shoot-off” evaluation. “It was an impressive system to see with the upgraded chassis and auto loader upgrade. The system performed flawlessly through the accuracy firing test. I am very excited to deliver the NORA B52 M21 to Yuma Proving Grounds for the Shoot Off. I am confident it will perform extremely well,” John Summers, Global Ordnance’s director of Programs, said in a statement.  The upcoming “shoot-off” will also feature systems from Elbit America and BAE Systems.

Quantum Computing Bills. Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) have introduced two bills to improve U.S. efforts in the global technology competition for quantum information science. One bill is aimed at improving workforce development in the quantum computing space while a second bill would bolster quantum computing efforts at the Pentagon “by utilizing existing partnerships, scholarships, and research programs.” “Hassan said “Quantum mechanics play a critical role in our national security and economy—and will be at the forefront of innovative defense technologies that will help to maintain our military edge over China. I am glad to join Senator Thune in introducing these bipartisan bills that will strengthen Department of Defense and Department of Energy efforts in quantum research and help encourage more young people to get into this critical field so that we can create jobs and keep America safe, secure, and free.”

The Cyber Workforce. Three senators last week reintroduced legislation aimed at bolstering the federal government’s cybersecurity workforce, an issue the government and Congress continue to struggle with. The Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act, which unanimously passed the Senate in the last Congress, creates a personnel rotation program so that civilian employees can move between government agencies to gain experience in multiple assignments and expand their professional network. The bill is sponsored by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).

The Next Hauwei. With the U.S. and some allied and partner governments working to exclude Chinese telecommunications equipment provider from their networks, two House Republicans from New York are concerned that China will fill the void with another company to spy on their adversaries. “Specifically, we are alarmed at the rise of Chinese technology company Xiaomi, which had recently launched several new high-end smartphones aiming to full the consumer-facing void left by Hauwei,” John Katko, the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee, and Andrew Garbarino, ranking member of the panel’s cybersecurity subcommittee, wrote in a letter last week to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “We share grave concerns that Xiaomi poses a significant threat to the privacy of any of its users through its lineup of smartphones, laptops, smart watches, and other consumer-facing products. In many ways, data has become the modern-day currency of homeland security and we must take threats to the data integrity of the free world seriously.”

U.S.-Japan. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday conducted a video teleconference with Japan Chief of Staff Adm. Hiroshi Yamamura on April 13, discussing ways to strengthen naval interoperability. “The alliance between the U.S. and Japan is a cornerstone of security and stability in a free and open Indo-Pacific. Adm. Yamamura and I remain committed to strengthening the bonds of our navies’ cooperation and friendship, and we stand ready, together,” Gilday said in a statement. “The discussion today with Adm. Gilday to promote naval cooperation and enhance alliance capabilities for deterrence and effective response is of great significance. The [Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force] and the U.S. Navy will continue to closely work together for a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” Yamamura said. 

…Gilday Visit. Gilday visited Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division in Newport News, Va. on April 14 to receive updates on major shipyard programs, investments in new facilities, and advancements with integrated digital shipbuilding. While there, the CNO visited the submarine construction complex to see modules and assemblies from the 12 Virginia-class attack submarines under construction as well as facilities where the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) is under construction and where the USS George Washington (CVN-73) is undergoing final outfitting and tests in its refueling and complex overhaul. “It was important for me to come here and see the work being done first hand. No doubt, Virginia-class submarines and our nuclear-powered aircraft carriers will be important parts of our future naval force,” Gilday said in a statement during his visit.