Senate Confirms. The Senate on July 22 confirmed six nominations for Pentagon officials. The list of confirmations included Heidi Shyu for undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, Caroline Krass for DoD’s general counsel, Ely Ratner for assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, Shawn Skelly for assistant secretary of defense for readiness, Gina Ortiz Jones for Air Force under secretary and Meredith Berger for assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations, and environment.

Staff Help.

The Senate last Thursday by unanimous consent approved a bipartisan bill that would enable White House National Cyber Director Chris Inglis to hire temporary staff from federal agencies and departments on a non-reimbursable basis. Inglis, who was confirmed by the Senate in June to the new position, still needs help from Congress before he can staff up his office. The bill allows detailees to serve for up to three years in the office. The House must also pass the bill. Inglis is responsible for overseeing coordination and implementation of national cybersecurity policy and strategy.

…More Cyber Help. A bipartisan group of Senators led by the top Democrats and Republicans on the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees have introduced a bill that authorizes the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to have the lead federal role in identifying and responding to threats against critical infrastructure networks. The DHS Industrial Control Systems Capabilities Enhancement Act (H.R. 1833) passed the House last Tuesday and was introduced in the Senate on Thursday. The bill also requires CISA to provide technical assistance to public and private sector entities to help them identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in their industrial control systems, and directs the agency to share information on cyber threats with users of these systems.

Big DTRA Award. CACI International won a $1.4 billion recompete to continue providing support to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) through a single award task order that has a one-year base period and four one-year options. CACI said the task order continues and expands its previous work as part of the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization’s Focused Support/Decisive Effort. “CACI’s understanding of DTRA’s critical mission spans more than 14 years,” said John Mengucci, CACI president and CEO. The company will provide a wide range of analytical expertise to help with mission solutions to counter and deter threats.

People News. Northrop Grumman has created the new position of chief sustainability officer and named Michael Witt to the position effective Aug. 9. Witt previously worked at chemicals company Dow Inc. and will report to Kathy Warden, chairman, president and CEO of Northrop Grumman. Sierra Nevada Corp. has hired Tom Vice as CEO of the company’s new Sierra Space commercial space subsidiary. Vice most recently was CEO for Aerion Corp. and before that led Northrop Grumman’s $11 billion Aerospace Systems segment, where he was in the mix to succeed Wes Bush as chief of Northrop Grumman, a job that ultimately went to Warden. L3Harris Technologies has named Alan Clements, a retired Air Vice Marshal who served 35 years in the Royal Australian Air Force, to lead L3Harris Australia as corporate vice president. Science Applications International Corp. has appointed Allison Patrick, who previous was with Maximus and Accenture’s Federal Services business, as vice president of its Department of Homeland Security business. Patrick succeeds Amy Rall who is now CEO of Linkware Group. Finally, Telos Corp. has named Mark Bendza as is chief financial officer. He previously headed investor relations at Honeywell International.

Electronic Attack. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Bill directs the secretary of the Air Force to brief the congressional defense committees by Dec. 15 on the service’s electronic attack systems. Last month, the Air Force established the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing under Air Combat Combat Command to focus on offensive electronic warfare. Such Air Force capabilities have atrophied since Operation Desert Storm in 1991, said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, adding that, while defensive EW sufficed in wars against foreign violent extremists, it will not against the technological power of Russia and China.

…Bomber Force Structure. The SASC bill also tells the secretary of the Air Force to conduct a study on options for maintaining 225 bombers after 2050 and to submit the study results to the congressional defense committees with the service’s fiscal 2023 budget request. Last month, Air Force Lt. Gen. David Nahom told Congress in prepared testimony that the service plans to neck down to a two-bomber future fleet of 76 upgraded Boeing B-52s and 149 Northrop Grumman B-21 Raiders. Nahom said that the next five to seven years are critical for the bomber force, as the service brings on the B-21. A possible force structure availability gap looms in the next decade to 15 years, as the service retires its Boeing B-1B and Northrop Grumman B-2s and upgrades the B-52s.

Base Defense. AeroVironment, Inc. said on July 22 that it delivered its Puma 3 AE drones for the defense of Air Force bases earlier this year and that it will deliver spare parts to the service for the company’s Raven drones by November. The deliveries come under a nearly $16 million contract with the Air Force, AeroVironment said. Trace Stevenson, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager for small unmanned aircraft systems, said in a statement that “the combat-proven Puma 3 AE and Raven are versatile, rugged and reliable tactical unmanned aircraft systems designed to provide the United States Air Force Security Forces with the enhanced situational awareness and mission effectiveness they require when safeguarding bases.” The 15-pound Puma 3 AE and the 4.2 pound Raven feature advanced imaging, AeroVironment said.

Cruisers. Speaking before a Senate Appropriations Committee defense subcommittee hearing this week, a Navy official said two cruisers added to the service’s divestment request are driven more by maintainability than strictly affordability. “Cruisers are ships that we value greatly and were originally designed for 30 years. So of the ships that we’re considering divesting of in this budget – many of those were presented in the last budget, two are presented in this budget – Hué City and Anzio. So those are not what I’d say totally affordability driven,” Vice Adm. James Kilby, Deputy Chief Of Naval Operations For Warfighting Requirements And Capabilities, said. “They’re maintainability driven and relevance driven. There are some other investments, though, that we talked about that are younger, that we could get some more service life allowance, that we made a decision based on their capabilities, that they would be less relevant, but there’s certainly hull life left on those,” he added.

MK 41 VLS. The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $231 million modification on July 20 to definitize the previous initial award and procure another 70 MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) modules and ancillary equipment for Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Constellation-class frigates. This award combines purchases for the U.S. government (80 percent) with Australia (13 percent) and Spain (seven percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work is expected to be finished by July 2025. The initial undefinitized contract was awarded in February 2020 to Lockheed Martin for $233 million in MK 41 VLS launcher module assemblies, modernization kits and spare components with purchases divided into the U.S. Navy (74 percent), South Korea (18 percent), Finland (four percent) and Germany (four percent). 

India Helos. The U.S. and Indian navies marked the induction of the first two Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk into the Indian Naval Fleet during a ceremony at Naval Station North island on July 16, the Navy said July 22. The ceremony is part of an initiative that also includes training for Indian aircrew and maintainers to operate and maintain the helicopter. The MH-60R is primarily geared toward surface and subsurface warfare as well as search and rescue operations, vertical replenishment, personnel transport, and medical evacuation. In coming years the Navy expects to help prepare Indian Navy personnel to maintain the helicopter, with Indian Navy members arriving in the U.S. in August to start training on the aircraft.

Shark Hunt. Commander of Task Force 69 (CTF-69) started the multinational Exercise Shark Hunt 2021 in the Northern Atlantic on July 23. This iteration of the event includes three allied submarines, four surface ships, including the Arleigh Burke-class USS Roosevelt (DDG-80), and seven aircraft. Participants include the U.S., U.K., Canada and France. The Navy said Shark Hunt develops complex and challenging warfare capabilities “to enhance the participants’ interoperability and proficiency in air, surface, and subsurface anti-submarine warfare skills.” The exercise is being led by U.S. 6th Fleet, based in Naples, Italy.

L3Harris Order. L3Harris said on July 30 it has received a delivery order to supply 33 of its WESCAM MX-GCS digital above-armor sighting system for Moog Inc.’s Reconfigurable Integrated-weapons Platform (RIwP) turret used on the Army’s Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) system. Deliveries to Moog will begin this year. The mission equipment package for M-SHORAD, which is supplied by Leonardo DRS, includes the Moog RIwP turret, the XM914 30mm cannon and M240 machine gun and Stinger and Hellfire missiles, all of which is ultimately integrated by General Dynamics on a Stryker vehicle. “Our U.S. Army M-SHORAD Inc. 1 solution integrates the next-generation capabilities soldiers require to address the threats and challenges they face while accomplishing their mission. The L3Harris sighting system, when integrated onto Moog’s RIwP turret, will provide unmatched performance backed by the reliability of the proven WESCAM MX-Series of sensors,” Sean Stackley, L3Harris’ president for integrated mission systems, said in a statement. 

SB>1 Defiant Test. Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky and Boeing said on July 22 its SB>1 Defiant technology demonstrator helicopter recently conducted a successful load carrying test lifting a 5,300-pound GMLRS rocket training load. SB>1 Defiant is the companies’ platform serving as a tech demonstrator informing the eventual Defiant X co-axial rigid rotor helicopter they are offering for the Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program. The load-carrying test took place last week at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Sikorsky-Boeing team noted the weight of the load lifted is equivalent to an Infantry Squad Vehicle or hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition.