Space Force. More than 8,500 active-duty airmen within 13 eligible career fields volunteered to become the first members to transfer into the new Space Force. Approximately 6,000 members will be selected for transfer, the Space Force said in a Tuesday press release. Volunteers will receive a notification in July detailing the next step in the process, and transfers are expected to begin Sept. 1 and run through Feb. 1, 2021. About 16,000 military and civilians are currently assigned to the Space Force.
Blackjack. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded SA Photonics Inc. a $16.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Blackjack Track A (Payload) Phases 2 and 3 program. The Blackjack program is the agency’s effort to demonstrate key elements necessary for a global high-speed network in low-Earth orbit. Work will be performed in Los Gatos, Calif., and Redwood City, Calif., with an estimated completion date of March 2021.
Virtual RIAT. The biennial Royal International Air Tattoo in the United Kingdom was canceled this summer in the wake of COVID-19, but the RIAT team plans to still hold a free livestreamed show July 18-19. “Virtual Air Tattoo is aimed at giving viewers a flavour of the real event we had planned for 2020,” the event organizers said in a June 9 press release. “The broadcast will focus on flying display action, using footage from previous Air Tattoo displays and a unique twist with the inclusion of true ‘virtual’ displays flown on flight simulation programmes by skilled gamers from across Europe, including RAF eSports who will follow the broadcast with a special tournament.” The event will also feature a “behind the scenes” view of military aviation with content from the Royal Air Force, International Air Arms and aerospace industry representatives.
New DoD Policy, Intel Chiefs Nominated. The White House said Thursday that Anthony Tata, a retired Army brigadier general, has been formally nominated to become the next undersecretary of defense for Policy. If confirmed, Tata would replace John Rood, who resigned from the post earlier this year. Deputy Undersecretary for Policy James Anderson is currently performing the duties of the undersecretary. On Friday, the White House announced that Bradley Hansell was nominated to become the next deputy undersecretary of defense for Intelligence and Security. A retired Army Special Forces officer, Hansell is currently an associate director at Boston Consulting Group.
…Other People. The White House also nominated David E. Richardson to be the assistant secretary of Homeland Security in charge of the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. The office is currently being led by acting assistant secretary Gary Rasicot, who took on the job after James McDonnell, who is the last assistant secretary to lead the CWMD office, resigned last October. Redwire, a new space technology company formed by the private equity firm AE Industrial Partners through the acquisitions of Adcole Space and Deep Space Systems, has appointed Peter Cannito as chairman and CEO. Cannito is an operating partner at AEI. Finally, Northrop Grumman elected David Abney, the former CEO of UPS, as a director, a move that expands the company’s board by one member to 13. Abney, who will serve on the Audit and Policy Committees, will receive an annual cash retainer of $130,000, an additional $10,000 retainer for serving on the Audit Committee, and an annual equity grant of $160,000 in deferred stock units to be paid at the conclusion of his board service, or earlier, as specified by Abney.
New Air Force Leaders. The Defense Department announced several senior Air Force officers’ next roles in a June 9 release. Lt. Gen. Mark D. Kelly, currently the service’s deputy chief of staff for Operations at the Pentagon, is nominated to promote to general and to succeed Gen. James “Mike” Holmes as the Air Combat Command commander. Air Mobility Command Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost is nominated to become AMC commander and receive her fourth star, succeeding current commander Gen. Maryanne Miller. Maj. Gen. Charles Moore Jr., currently the director of Operations for U.S. Cyber Command, is nominated to promote to the rank of lieutenant general and become the next deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command.
… And More Nominations. Air Force Maj. Gen. Brian Robinson has been nominated to succeed Lt. Gen. Van Ovost as AMC deputy commander and receive his third star. Robinson currently serves as director of Operations, J-3, for U.S. Transportation Command. 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Commander Maj. Gen. Andrew Croft has been nominated to receive his third star and become the military deputy commander for U.S. Southern Command.
NASA Moves. Kathy Lueders will lead NASA’s Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate, the agency’s administrator Jim Bridenstine said last Friday. Lueders most recently served as program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew program, and she will be replacing Doug Loverro in her new role. Loverro, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Space Policy, resigned from the position in May after seven months on the job. “Kathy has successfully managed both the Commercial Crew & Commercial Cargo programs and is the right person to lead HEO as we prepare to send astronauts to the Moon in 2024,” Bridenstine said.
Deepgram Investment. Deepgram, which has developed an artificial intelligence-enabled platform for automatic speech recognition, has received a strategic investment from In-Q-Tel, the government backed private equity investor that helps fund start-ups to aid the delivery of innovative technologies to national security agencies. The value of the investment wasn’t disclosed. “Deepgram’s use of an AI-enabled, neural network architecture leveraging custom speech recognition models trained on vast amounts of audio data allows them to rapidly achieve much more accurate transcriptions for non-standard audio environments versus solutions like Google Voice and Apple Siri,” said George Hoyem, managing partner for Investments at IQT. The investment by IQT follows a recent $12 million venture capital-led investment in Deepgram.
A New Name. Galvion is the new name for the former Revision Military, which sold its protective eyewear business and its brand name last September to ASGARD Partners & Co. Galvion, which is based in New Hampshire and also has offices in Canada and the United Kingdom, provides head and torso protection systems, power solutions for soldiers on the battlefield, and batteries for large military vehicles. The company has defense customers in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Israel and elsewhere.
SASC/FLRAA. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s recently approved FY ‘21 defense authorization bill calls for the Army to receive an additional $5 million for its Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program. FLRAA is the Army’s program to find a replacement for its UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The Army recently selected Bell’s V-280 Valor and Sikorsky and Boeing’s SB-1 Defiant to move forward in the program. This is the second year in a row SASC has authorized additional funding for the Army’s Future Vertical Lift portfolio, and is one of the few areas in the summary of the FY ‘21 bill where the committee addressed a specific increase for an Army program.
Army Vaccine. Army medical researchers have selected a lead candidate for a COVID-19 vaccine that is set to enter human clinical trials later this year. Researchers from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research said their ferritin vaccine platform, narrowed down from two dozen prototypes, could potentially serve as a universal vaccine to protect against the current virus and future strains of coronaviruses. “Army Medical Research and Development Command is moving at unprecedented speeds in the effort to prevent, detect, and treat COVID-19. We are supporting the whole-of-government response with the scientific knowledge and expertise to combat this world-wide challenge,” Brig. Gen. Michael Talley, the command’s lead, said in a statement. “With the recent selection of this vaccine candidate, we believe we are one step closer to that goal.”
Directed Energy. The Army has selected Applied Technology Associates to provide the Independent Target Acquisition and Tracking System (ITATS) for its Directed Energy-Maneuver Short Range Air Defense. ATA is tasked with providing an upgrade suite of advanced electro-optical infrared sensors, target acquisition and tracking systems that will enable a directed energy weapon system to be integrated on a Stryker vehicle.
Navy Surge. The Navy is mobilizing 1,629 Reservists to support aircraft carrier and submarine maintenance at the four publish shipyards starting in July to help reduce maintenance backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Up to 25 percent of the production workforce has been unable to report to duty locations after Naval Sea Systems Command in March authorized leave for shipyard personnel categorized as high risk for the virus. The lower workforce means “shipyards have not been able to execute all their work and have built a backlog of work that, if left unchecked, would result in delays in returning ships to the fleet.” The Reservists called up are part of the Navy’s Surge Maintenance (SurgeMain) program established in 2015 and this is the first time this many have been activated at once. All Reservists will be on site by September and will be on one-year mobilization orders that may be changed.
Trilateral Navy. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday conducted a virtual trilateral maritime discussion on June 12 with his British and French counterparts, First Sea Lord, United Kingdom Royal Navy Adm. Tony Radakin and Chief of Naval Staff, Adm. Christophe Prazuck, French Navy. They conducted the engagement via a video teleconference and discussed advanced warfighting interoperability, shared maritime security issues, and areas to expand multilateral cooperation at sea.
Support Barge. The Navy awarded APTIM Federal Services LLC a $129 million contract on June 9 for the dismantlement and disposal of the Surface Ship Support Barge (SSSB). The SSSB is a “radiologically controlled” dockside refueling facility built from a converted Navy tanker used to disassemble spent nuclear fuel for shipment within a water pool. The Navy has been interested in dismantling the facility for years as it is now obsolete. The contract covers engineering planning efforts, dismantlement, transport and disposal of the SSSB. Work will mostly occur in Mobile, Ala. (65 percent), and is expected to be finished by June 2023. The Navy said the contract was competitively procured but with just one offer received.
F-35s. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Lockheed Martin a $368 million undefinitized contract modification to procure six F-35s and associated gear for Italy. It specifically includes five F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Lot 14 aircraft, one F-35B Lot 14, and associated red gear for Italy. The contract also authorizes the “common capability scope of work” at the Final Assembly and Checkout Facility in Cameri, Italy. Work will mostly be split among Fort Worth, Texas (35 percent); Cameri, Italy (28 percent); and El Segundo, Calif. (15 percent). Work is expected to be finished by June 2023. Non-DoD funds of $184 million will be obligated at time of award with none set to expire at the end of this fiscal year.
V-22. The Bell Boeing V-22 team recently delivered the 400th Osprey for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, Boeing said Wednesday. Current deliveries fall under a $5 billion multi-year procurement III contract running through 2024. These deliveries include variants for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and Japan.
Rota. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) FY 2021 defense authorization bill requires the Chief of Naval Operations and commander of U.S. European Command to submit a “detailed plan” to base two more destroyers at Naval Station Rota, Spain “as soon as practicable.” In February, EUCOM Commander and NATO Supreme Allied Commander-Europe Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters said previous funds allowed Rota to host two more destroyers. Four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are currently stationed there. The Rota ships were originally aimed at providing Aegis weapons systems for use in the European Phased Adaptive Approach missile defense system.
FY ‘21 Missiles. The SASC FY 2021 defense authorization bill executive report said it adds to the administration’s request with $26 million for 10 more Tomahawk missiles than the 155 requested, $35 million for 10 more Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM) than the 48 requested, “which will enhance our ability to blunt a Chinese offensive,” and $60 million for 36 Ground-Based Anti-Ship Missiles. The bill also moves $75 million for Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) production to additional LRASMs for the Air Force. The bill overall adds $49 million above the Trump administration’s $3.7 billion weapons procurement request.
Navy-Labor. The SASC bill also includes a provision championed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) establishing a joint Department of Labor and Navy Task Force on Shipbuilding Workforce. In a statement, his office explained it aims to assess trends within the shipbuilding workforce, ensure shipbuilders can benefit form existing Labor Department programs, and provide recommendations to stabilize the industrial base. The provision specifically authorizes the working group between the secretaries to better integrate programs, resources and expertise to strengthen the industrial base and find solutions to workforce fluctuations. The working group would be able to explore possible cost-sharing agreements allowing the Navy to fund the Labor Department’s workforce programs to support the shipbuilding workforce and review new contracting authorities that could allow the Navy to award flexible short-term contracts to prioritize work for unemployed, underemployed, or furloughed employees in the shipbuilding workforce.
Cyber Deal. Cyemptive Technologies has acquired Interpreting Technology, expanding its capabilities in forensic audits and compliance, which will help it with the Defense Department’s cyber security compliance efforts for contractors through the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cyemptive, which is based in Washington, says its technology preempts and removes cyber threats. Cyemptive also said the acquisition adds more than 250 customers.