Saudi Arabia FMS. A group of House Democrats have released a statement criticizing the Biden administration’s decision to move forward with a potential $650 million AMRAAM missile deal with Saudi Arabia while Riyadh continues offensive air operations in the Yemeni Civil War. Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Colin Allred (D-Texas), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and Andy Kim (D-N.J.) also said they would work to include provisions in the final version of the NDAA that would bolster efforts to end the war in Yemen. “The announced transfer of up to $650 million in advanced munitions to the Saudi Air Force is intended to serve defensive purposes and protect against further Houthi airborne attacks. But the only way to truly protect people in the region is to bring the war in Yemen to an end. The conflict has now claimed thousands of lives and remains a devastating humanitarian disaster,” the group wrote. “While the administration has suspended offensive weapons sales, it continues to provide logistical support and spare parts that permit an escalation of offensive Saudi Air Force operations in Yemen. That needs to stop. We urge the administration to review the efficacy of its offensive weapons freeze and consider additional steps to bring about a cessation of airstrikes against belligerents in Yemen’s civil war.”

5G. Lockheed Martin and Keysight Technologies said on Nov. 10 they are collaborating on a 5G testbed for military applications that will be used to test advanced telecommunications capabilities. The two companies said the testbed reached initial operational capability in July and since then has been employed for emulating, testing and validating 5G Open Radio Access Network and Non-Terrestrial Network communications tools. “Lockheed Martin is leveraging expertise in the commercial sector to scale, adapt and integrate 5G technology rapidly and affordably across mission-critical operations across land, sea, air, space and cyber domains.” Dan Rice, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for 5G.MIL programs, said in a statement. “Keysight’s end-to-end 5G test platforms, widely used commercially, provide an opportunity to develop customized solutions that meet the stringent requirements of the defense industry.”

Project Convergence. Gen. Mike Murray, head of the Army’s modernization-focused Futures Command, has said he was satisfied with the level of participation from joint partners at this fall’s Project Convergence. “Absolutely. Starting with today and going back to last December when we stood up a three-star level joint board of directors with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. And then we added the Space Force about two months later. This whole exercise design, with the data collection plan to what technologies would participate to how we were going to do things, was a joint decision going forward. So I’m incredibly satisfied with the level of joint participation in this exercise, all the way from planning to execution,” Murray told reporters at the conclusion of the event. This was the Army’s second Project Convergence event, with the service looking to bolster contributions from the other services before bringing in international partners for next year’s iteration. “It’s about maintaining the same level of participation we had today and then build in the coalition part,” Murray said of Project Convergence ‘22.

Fighting Fire. There are two new entrants in the forest firefighting business, bringing their technology prowess to what seems like a worsening problem every year, particularly in the western U.S. Defense contractor Lockheed Martin and NVIDIA, developer of graphics processing units used in gaming and other markets, have teamed to build “the world’s first AI-centric lab dedicated to predicting and responding to wildfires,” said Anthony Robbins, vice president of federal for NVIDA, in a Nov. 9 blog post. The AI development lab will be based in Silicon Valley. He says the companies are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control using AI and digital-twin simulation.

…Lockheed’s Contribution. In October, Lockheed Martin Chief James Taiclet said his company has all the assets to offer “firefighting-as-a-service” to a federal customer. For the partnership with NVIDIA, Lockheed Martin will apply its AI-based planning and orchestration platform, Cognitive Mission Manager, “that combines real-time sensor data about the fire with other data sources on fuel vegetation, topography, wind and more to predict the fire’s spread,” said Robbins. “The CMM provides course-of-action recommendations to the incident command teams to decrease response time and increase effectiveness of wildfire suppression and humanitarian actions.”

A New Beginning. The Department of Homeland Security on Monday launches its new human resource system for attracting and retaining cybersecurity talent, the Cyber Talent Management System (CTMS). The DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency sees the CTMS, which has been in the works for the past six or seven years, as a new way to hire by allowing the department to pay closer to market salaries, more quickly onboard new employees, and provide additional compensation for extensive overtime and mission impact. Hiring is a key focus area for Jen Easterly, the director of CISA.

New Cyber Funding. President Biden on Monday is expected to sign into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will provide $1 trillion in spending on various infrastructure projects around the U.S., including more than $1 billion in funding for cybersecurity. The bill includes $1 billion in grant funding over four years to help state, local, tribal and territorial governments thwart cyber attacks and modernize their information systems. The bill includes another $100 million over five years for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to respond to significant cyber incidents to federal and non-federal entities and $21 million to help staff the Office of the National Cyber Director within the White House. Another provision of the bill requires CISA and the Environmental Protection Agency to identify public water systems that, if impaired by a cyber-attack, would seriously impact public safety.

International Relations. In the cyber arena, the Biden administration has been working to strengthen partnerships with America’s allies and last week was a good demonstration of those efforts. Last Monday through Wednesday, White House Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber and Emerging Technologies Anne Neuberger was in Brussels to meet with European Union and NATO officials to discuss cybersecurity and emerging technology policies and ways to bolster national and NATO resilience in cyberspace. And Vice President Kamala Harris, after meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, announced collaborative initiatives including U.S. support for the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, which is a voluntary commitment by countries to work to advanced cybersecurity and preserve the open, interoperable, secure and reliable internet, the White House said.

GBSD First-Stage. Northrop Grumman said that it met a “key manufacturing milestone” in August for the U.S. Air Force’s next generation ICBM, the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD). The company said that it performed the first insulation and case wind of the GBSD first-stage rocket motor that month. Northrop Grumman leads a GBSD team composed of Aerojet Rocketdyne, Bechtel, CAE, Clark, Collins Aerospace, General Dynamics, HDT, Honeywell, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, Lockheed Martin and Textron Systems. Northrop Grumman is building the first and second stages of the three-stage GBSD solid rocket motor, while Aerojet Rocketdyne is building the third stage. Steve Lunny, vice president of the GBSD program at Northrop Grumman, said in a statement that the August test “further demonstrates the maturity of our first-stage solid rocket motor design, manufacturing process, tooling and business systems.” The first-stage motor is to undergo testing “to validate tooling and manufacturing processes as well as pressure-testing to ensure structural design integrity,” the company said.

Navy Leaders. Adm. Ben Key succeeded Adm. Tony Radakin as First Sea Lord of the U.K. Royal Navy on Nov. 8. During his tenure, Key is expected to see the lead ships of the Type 26 and Inspiration-class/Type 31 vessels enter the water. On Key’s first day in office he spoke with Chief of Naval Operation Adm. Mike Gilday via teleconference to discuss continued collaboration and cooperation. 

T-EPF 13. The Navy plans to christen the Spearhead-class future USNS Apalachicola (T-EPF 13) during a Nov. 13 ceremony in Mobile, Ala., where it is being built by shipbuilder Austal USA. This will be the 13th expeditionary fast transport ship of its class. These vessels are operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and are meant to transport up to 600 short tons of military cargo at a range of 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. They include a flight deck for helicopters, can operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways and can carry and off-load an M1A2 Abrams main battle tank. “Apalachicola, like the other ships in the EPF class, will provide our warfighters the necessary high-speed sealift mobility and agility to accomplish any mission. I am thankful for this ship and its crew who will serve our nation for decades to come,” Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said in a statement on Nov. 12.

SSN-796. The Navy plans to christen the newest Virginia-class attack submarine, the future USS New Jersey (SSN-796), in a ceremony on Nov. 13 at the Huntington Ingalls Industry shipyard in Newport News, Va. New Jersey is the fifth Block IV Virginia-class submarine built. SSN-796 will be the third Navy vessel named after the state of New Jersey following a battleship commissioned in 1906 and a fast carrier escort and shore bombardment platform commissioned in 1943. 

HII. Huntington Ingalls Industries named Grant Hagen the president of its Technical Solutions division’s cyber and electronic warfare business group, the company said on Nov. 8. In this role, Hagen will succeed chief operating officer Terri Walker-Spoonhour, who was serving as acting president of the business group. Hagen previously served as senior vice president of business operations at HII Technical Solutions.

EuroTrophy. Israel’s Rafael, Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and General Dynamics European Land Systems said on Nov. 11 they have agreed to form a new joint venture, called EuroTrophy, that will focus on marketing and producing Rafael’s Trophy Active Protection System for the European market. The companies said EuroTrophy, which will be based in Germany, is expected to be officially approved and established by the end of this year. “The establishment of a European joint venture for Trophy is a strategic milestone for Rafael, which speaks volumes of the confidence that European companies have in Trophy as a life-saving system. Germany was the first European nation to choose Trophy to protect its [main battle tanks], joining the U.S. Now with the establishment of EuroTrophy, we are confident that additional European countries will join the growing family of Trophy users, to protect their troops and assets from the growing challenges and threats on the battlefield,” Yoav Har-Even, CEO of Rafael, said in a statement.

50 and Counting. Boeing said that it has delivered its 50th KC-46A Pegasus tanker to the U.S. Air Force. The 50th is the first for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL), N.J., which is to replace its KC-10s with KC-46s by 2024. The Air Force said that JB MDL is “the first and only joint base with KC-46 lead operations.” The Air Force said that it picked JB MDL to receive the KC-46 in 2017 because the joint base met all operational mission requirements laid out in the Air Force’s tanker recapitalization strategy. “The installation, with co-located operations between active and reserve components, expects to receive 15 additional aircraft during fiscal year 2022, with nine more planned for fiscal year 2023,” the Air Force said.