Sea Air Space 2022. The Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space expo, the largest U.S. maritime conference, is occurring April 4-6 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor, Maryland. Speakers include many Navy, Marine Corps and congressional leaders. The event boasts over 340 exhibitors and expects over 15,000 attendees this year. 

New NDIA Leader.

NDIA said on March 31 that David Norquist, the former deputy secretary of defense during the Trump administration, will be the association’s next president and CEO. “It is an honor to be selected to serve as President and CEO of NDIA,” Norquist said in a statement. “As a nation, one of our core strategic advantages is the innovative character of our defense industrial base. Our long-term national security depends on government effectively capitalizing on that strength and I look forward to assisting in that effort.” Norquist will succeed Hawk Carlisle, who announced plans to depart his post last month after leading the organization for the last five years. Before serving as deputy secretary of defense, Norquist was the department’s comptroller from 2017 to 2019.

Off the Scale, While Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost told House Armed Services Committee lawmakers on March 31 that the Boeing KC-46A is now able to refuel F-22 and F-35 fighters—an addition that allows the Pegasus to refuel 85 percent of Air Force planes, Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Ala.) said he’s not satisfied. “Zero of the KC-46s are fully mission capable, and we’ve only had 56 of the 179…delivered so they’re well behind in production,” he told Van Ovost. “I’m frustrated about this plane…These planes can’t be used for refueling so many of our aircraft. You were saying 85 percent. Well, that 85 percent, if I’m in the other 15 percent, and I’m up in the air, that makes a huge difference. We’re having to rely more and more on these KC-10s and KC-135s, and I think it’s embarrassing for this country to have a 60-year-old plane to put a crew in that plane to risk their life to go up to refuel these planes. I think it’s just off the scale, and we need to do more about it. There’s more of a demand now for the air refueling considering the Indo-Pacific situation we’re in than we have available.”

…A330? Van Ovost said that the KC-46s have allowed KC-10s and KC-135s to depart from their usual CONUS training and other missions to deploy forward, including missions in support of Ukraine. While she acknowledged that allied militaries’ Airbus A330s have refueled U.S. planes, she said she would leave it up to the Air Force to determine future tanker acquisition plans, in response to Carl’s query on whether the Air Force should buy A330s to bolster the U.S. military’s aerial refueling. The center of Carl’s district is Mobile where Airbus has a commercial plant and where Lockheed Martin and Airbus plan to team to build an A330 variant “LMXT” tanker, if the Air Force moves forward with its plans for a KC-Y bridge tanker and chooses LMXT.

SIOP. The Navy’s FY ‘23 budget request includes $1.7 billion for the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan (SIOP), an eight percent increase from $1.6 billion in the enacted FY ‘22 budget. SIOP is the service’s $21 billion 20-year plan to recapitalize and overhaul its four public shipyards that maintain and repair the nuclear-powered vessels. The FY ‘23 funds are divided into $1.26 billion in military construction, $357 million in operation and maintenance, and $119 million in other procurement. Budget documents noted the construction funds are specifically divided into $503 million for multi-mission dry dock extensions at Portsmouth, N.H.; $478 million for the Dry Dock Saltwater System at Norfolk, Va.; $88 million in planning and design; and $621 million in Dry Dock 3 replacement at Pearl Harbor.

E-2D Crash. A Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft attached to Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 120 crashed into the ocean near Wallops Island and Chincoteague, Va., on March 30, One crew member was found dead in the aircraft and two were injured. The Navy said the incident is under investigation. On March 31 the Navy said salvage planning efforts are underway to retrieve the aircraft.

DDG-127. The keel for the future USS Patrick Gallagher (DDG-127) Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyer was ceremonially laid at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) on March 30. The ship is named after a Marine who received the Navy Cross during the Vietnam War. A keel laying ceremony recognizes when two significant pieces of the hull are welded together and joined, making a major portion of the ship’s shape. DDG-127 will be the last Flight IIA destroyer, with all following ships set to be Flight III ships. BIW is also in production on the future Carl M. Levin (DDG-120), John Basilone (DDG-122), Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG-124), Louis H. Wilson Jr. (DDG-126), William Charette (DDG-130), and Quentin Walsh (DDG-132).

Task Force 61/2. The Navy on April 1 said U.S. 6th Fleet stood up Task Force 61 Naval Amphibious Forces Europe/2d Marine Division (TF-61/2) on March 16. The task force aims to help synchronize command and control of deployed Navy and Marine Corps amphibious forces and also advance the integrated Marine Corps capability in the 6th Fleet area of operations.  The service said Task Force 61/2 is executing the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ concept for Stand-in Forces to generate small, highly versatile units that integrate the Marine Corps and the Navy. Maj. Gen. Francis Donovan, commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, led Marines and Sailors from the II Marine Expeditionary Force to Naples, Italy, as members of the new task force. Task Force 61/2 will oversee a variety of operations including Amphibious Ready Group-Marine Expeditionary Group (ARG-MEU) operations, port visits and exercises, contingency planning and reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance (RXR) operations. The Navy said that more than command and control synchronization, the task force “operationalizes Marine Corps forces critical new concepts” via training and experimentation, providing naval and joint force commanders with dedicated multi-domain RXR capabilities.

T-AO 212. A future John Lewis-class replenishment oiler will be named the USNS Ruth Bader Ginsburg (T-AO 212) after the second woman Supreme Court Justice who died in 20020, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said on March 31. “She is a historic figure who vigorously advocated for women’s rights and gender equality. As Secretary of the Navy, it is my aim to ensure equality and eliminate gender discrimination across the Department of the Navy. She is instrumental to why we now have women of all backgrounds, experiences and talents serving within our ranks, side by side with their male Sailor and Marine counterparts,” he said. This follows the naming convention in the class to honor people who promoted civil and human rights. T-AO 212 will be the eighth ship of the class, which transfers fuel to carrier strike groups. The ships carry up to 162,000 barrels of oil, significant dry cargo, aviation capability, and travel at up to 20 knots. They are built by General Dynamics’ National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO).

DDG-89. The Navy awarded BAE Systems’ San Diego Ship Repair an $89 million contract on March 28 to execute fiscal year 2022 depot modernization for the USS Mustin (DDG-89) destroyer. This work will include maintenance, modernization and repair. The contract includes options that, if exercised, would raise the total value to $95 million. Work is expected to last through November 2023. The announcement said the contract was competitively procured but did not disclose the total number of proposals or other participants.  Funds for the work obligated at the time of award are split between $66 million or 74 percent in the fiscal year 2021 Navy other procurement account, $17.5 million to almost 20 percent in the FY ‘22 Navy other procurement account, and $6 million or almost seven percent in the FY ‘22 Navy operations and maintenance account. $6 million will expire at the end of this fiscal year. 

ENVG-B. L3Harris said on March 30 it has delivered 1,500 more of its Enhanced Night Vision Goggle–Binocular (ENVG-B) systems to the Army’s 10th Mountain Division unit. The company noted it has now delivered over 9,000 ENVG-B devices to date. “The ENVG-B continues to be the most advanced night vision goggle ever developed for and fielded by the US Army,” Lynn Bollengier, L3Harris’ president of integrated vision solutions, said in a statement. “With this delivery, the U.S. Army has received more than 9,000 combat-ready L3Harris systems, which are directly supporting operational needs and real-time threats facing our close combat forces.” Both L3Harris and Elbit Systems of America provide ENVG-B systems to the Army. Service officials told reporters this week the Army’s FY ‘23 budget request includes no procurement or research and development funding for ENVG-B. 


Amentum’s Leadership. Amentum last week announced its senior leadership team following its acquisition in February of PAE. At the top, John Heller, who was president and CEO of PAE, is now CEO of Amentum. Charlie Mathis, who was formerly the chief financial officer at Science Applications International Corp. until he was hired in January for the same job at Amentum, is still CFO. Patricia Munchel, who was the head of human resources at PAE, is now chief people officer at Amentum and Stuart Young retains the job of general counsel at the company. Finally, the company said that Chico Molin, who was president of PAE’s National Security Solutions business unit, is now chief information officer.

Palantir’s New Advisers. Data technology company Palantir last week announced its first federal advisory board to “provide their expert perspectives on today’s defense, intelligence, and homeland security challenges,” the company said. The board members include Christine Fox, a former acting deputy defense secretary, retired Army Gen. Carter Ham, who commanded U.S. Africa Command, former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, retired Adm. William McRaven, who led U.S. Special Operations Command, and retired Coast Guard Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger, who was the vice commandant of the service and also served as administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. Jeh Johnson, who was secretary of homeland security during the last year’s of the Obama administration, will also join the advisory board meetings.

Gender-Neutral. The Transportation Security Administration last week introduced new gender-neutral standards for checkpoint screening and identification of passengers, including enhancements coming later this year the algorithm used in body scanners for privacy protection and to locate potential threats on a person. Using $18.6 million in new appropriations, TSA said it is working with Leidos, the manufacturer of the ProVision Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) systems, to update the gender-based algorithm with one that is more accurate and advances civil rights and improves the traveler experience. Currently, the AIT scanners show operators either a generic outline of a man or woman, depending on who is being screened, and highlight the location of an anomaly on the image, allowing for a quick secondary search, such as a pat down.

…Make Your Mark. Another part of its move toward gender neutrality includes allowing applicants for TSA’s PreCheck trusted traveler program to mark their gender option with an “X.” This change begins this month and is irrespective of the gender on a person’s identification documents. In February, TSA changed its checkpoint standard operating procedure to remove gender considerations when validating a person’s identification at airport security checkpoints.