Spooky Space Symposium? The annual Space Symposium has been rescheduled to be held Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, the foundation said Thursday. The conference was originally scheduled for March 30-April 3, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Registration fees paid to attend the 36th Space Symposium will be automatically transferred to the rescheduled program. Individuals choosing to not attend the rescheduled symposium are requested to notify support@spacefoundation.org to receive a full refund of registration fees paid.

SkyGuardian. GA-ASI said March 31 it has completed the first production MQ-9B SkyGuardian UAS for the Royal Air Force. First flight of that aircraft took place March 30 at the company’s Flight Operations Facility in El Mirage, California. The new SkyGuardian is a company aircraft that is being utilized for ground and flight testing to collect airworthiness certification data starting with flight loads and aircraft performance testing, the company said. The results from the tests will form the Type Certification Exposition needed to achieve the Military Type Certificate for the Protector platform. Belgium and Australia have also expressed interest in the Reaper variant.

Space. The Space Force has awarded L3Harris Technologies a $23 million contract to modernize and sustain critical space infrastructure used by the military to keep track of activities and objects in space, the company announced Wednesday. The current estimated value for the Maintenance of Space Situational Awareness Integrated Capabilities (MOSSAIC) contract is $1.2 billion over 10 years. L3Harris will provide sustainment services for current and future ground-based space domain awareness sensors and space battle management command and control capabilities. MOSSAIC is a follow-on program to the Systems Engineering and Sustainment Integrator program, which L3Harris won in 2002.

JASSM-ER. The Air Force on Wednesday awarded Lockheed Martin a $818.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for JASSM Lot 17 and 18 production.  The contract provides for 360 Lot 17 JASSM-Extended Range (ER) missiles; 40 Lot 17 Foreign Military Sales (FMS) JASSM-ER missiles; and 390 Lot 18 JASSM-ER missiles, per the notice. Work will be performed in Orlando, Florida, and is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2024. Fiscal 2018 missile procurement funds in the amount of $767.4 million and FMS funds in the amount of $50.7 million will be obligated at the time of award.

Bulgarian F-16s. Lockheed Martin has been awarded $512 million to build eight F-16 Block 70 aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force, per a Thursday contract notice.  Work will be completed in Ft. Worth, Texas; and Greenville, South Carolina, and is expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2027. The Air Force Lifecycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is serving as the contracting activity.

KC-46. The Air Force upgraded an existing fuel leakage issue on the KC-46 program to a Category-1 deficiency last week because the issue was creating “a lot of extra work” and couldn’t be resolved in the field, Air Force Acquisition Chief Will Roper told reporters on Thursday. The fuel leaking is a production quality deficiency and thus different from the design deficiencies reported for issues such as the tanker’s Remote Vision System or boom design. Contractor Boeing has already begun repairing aircraft since the issue was discovered in July 2019, Roper said. “I’m confident in Boeing’s leadership and their ability to address it,” he said. “They are treating it seriously.”

LPD-28. Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., launched the future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) on March 28. The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship was first transferred from the land level facility to the dry dock on March 7 to prepare for the floating off. In the launch, the dry dock was flooded until the ship floated off the blocks. The Navy uses the 684-foot long LPDs to embark, transport, and land elements of 650 Marines via landing craft or air cushion vehicles. They also have a flight deck that can operate CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys. The company is also currently building the future USS Richard M. McCool (LPD-29) and Harrisburg (LPD-30). LPD-28 and 29 will serve as transition ships to the first LPD-17 Flight II ship, LPD-30.

LHD-4. The Navy awarded BAE Systems a $200 million firm-fixed-porice contract to undertake the USS Boxer’s (LHD-4) docking and selected restricted availability. The Boxer is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. This contract work will occur in San Diego and includes a combination of maintenance, modernization, and repair services for the ship. The award includes options that, if exercised, would raise the total contract value to $207.5 million. Work is expected to be finished by December 2021. The Navy said the contract was competitively procured with two offers received, but did not disclose the other offeror.

Hornet Engines. The Navy awarded General Electric a $215 million modification on March 30 to procure 48 F414-GE-400 install engines and engine devices for the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft. Work will mostly occur in Lynn, Mass. (59 percent), and Hooksett, N.H. (18 percent), and is expected to be finished by August 2022. The full award amount was obligated at time of award via FY 2020 Navy aircraft procurement accounts and none will expire at the end of this fiscal year.

RAMs. The Navy awarded Raytheon a $146 million contract on March 30 for Rolling Airframe Missile Block 2/2A Guided Missile Round Pack and spare replacement parts. The RAM is designed to provide anti-ship missile defense for naval platforms and is a cooperative program between the U.S. and Germany. The Block 2 variant aims to counter anti-ship cruise missile threats. The contract includes options that, if exercised, will raise the total contract value to $353 million. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (68 percent), Germany (three percent); Saudi Arabia (26.2 percent), United Arab Emirates (1.6 percent), Egypt (0.8 percent), and Turkey (0.2 percent). Work will mostly be split among Ottobrunn, Germany (44 percent), and Tucson, Arizona (35 percent), and is expected to be finished by June 2025. The contract was not competitively procured.

Roosevelt. Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly relieved Capt. Brett Crozier, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), from duty on April 2. During a press conference, Modly said it was because Crozier showed “extremely poor judgment” in how he sent a message to his chain of command asking for more resources to treat and isolate sailors who were contracting the COVID-19 virus. Crozier sent a four-page letter over an unclassified network to his chain of command but also 20 to 30 other people, Modly said. The letter was leaked to The San Francisco Chronicle. Modly said he did not know who leaked the letter, but “what I will say is that he sent it out pretty broadly, and he didn’t take care that it couldn’t be leaked.” Modly also said the letter demonstrated poor judgment in the middle of a crisis, creating doubts about the ship’s ability to go to sea if it needs to.

…Hill Response. Less than an hour after Modly’s press conference, the House Armed Services majority leadership released a statement denouncing the swift dismissal. “While Captain Crozier clearly went outside the chain of command, his dismissal at this critical moment – as the Sailors aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt are confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic – is a destabilizing move that will likely put our service members at greater risk and jeopardize our fleet’s readiness,”  wrote HASC Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Subcommittee Chairs Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.). The letter said relieving him of command was “an overreaction.” The lawmakers also said they are worried this will have a chilling effect on commanders throughout DoD.

Army Inventions. The Army Research Laboratory funded over 140 inventions in 2019, supporting scientific projects at non-profits and research universities that may now be applied to larger programs. The announcement earlier this week highlighted inventions such as a miniature remotely accessible self-driving car robot at Arizona State University-Tempe, high-performance ladder polymers for membrane gas separation at Stanford University, photonic quantum computing using entangled squeezed state clusters at the University of Arizona, and methods for stable, long-term culture of engineered human pancreatic tissue in vitro for disease modeling, therapeutic drug discovering/screening and disuse engineering at Harvard University. “We cultivate entrepreneurs and facilitate scientific breakthroughs that will provide commanders with opportunities to build game-changing future technology programs. These inventions demonstrate that. We’re excited to see the impact they will have for the Army of the future,” Barton Halpern, director of the Army Research Office, said in a statement. 

Army Reserve CoS. The Army has selected Brig. Gen. Robert Cooley to serve as the next chief of staff of the Army Reserve. Cooley, who is currently commander of the 353rd Civil Affairs Command, Staten Island, New York, will succeed Maj. Gen. Marion Garcia. As chief of staff, Cooley will be responsible for the Army Reserve Headquarters-Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Army Reserve Staff-Fort Belvoir in Virginia and Army Reserve Staff-Fort Knox in Kentucky.

Marines’ Ground Robots. FLIR has received a $18.6 million order from the Marine Corps to deliver more than 140 of the company’s Centaur unmanned ground vehicles. Marine Corps Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams will use the Centaur ground robots to assist in performing hazardous tasks, including disarming improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance. “Centaur gives the Marines a multipurpose, mid-sized UGV that will complement the FLIR PackBot, SUGV and FirstLook robots we continue to provide to the Corps,” David Ray, president of FLIR’s government & defense technologies business. The Centaur order was placed under the Man Transportable Robotic System Increment II contract vehicle, a multi-year program of record that was established under a $150 million deal with the Army in 2017. 

Space Force #2. The Space Force personnel numbers are officially up to two, as Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond swore in Chief Master Sgt. Roger A. Towberman on Friday at the Pentagon. Towberman will serve as the senior enlisted adviser to the Chief of Space Operations and Secretary of the Air Force on all issues regarding the welfare, readiness, morale, proper utilization and progress of the Space Force enlisted force and their families. He previously served as U.S. Space Command’s senior enlisted leader since August 2019; prior to that he was Air Force Space Command’s command chief based at Peterson AFB, Colorado.

Stepping Up Again. Building on its initial steps to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Lockheed Martin is doubling its accelerated payments to its supply chain to $106 million to help these companies cope with the unfolding crisis. Lockheed Martin Chief Marillyn Hewson also said the company has hired nearly 1,000 new employees the past two weeks, is advertising for 5,000 open positions, and is paying upward of $500 to employees that have to show up to a Lockheed Martin or customer site during the pandemic. The company will also donate $2 million in personal protection equipment (PPE) to first responders and health care workers, has donated PPE to local hospitals, and has begun to produce face shields and is providing engineering support of initiatives to accelerate production of PPE equipment.

New Coast Guard FRC. The Coast Guard on April 2 accepted delivery of its 38th Fast Response Cutter, the Harold Miller. The 154-foot vessel will be the third of three FRC’s stationed in Galveston, Texas. Bollinger Shipyards, the prime contractor for the FRC, is expected to build and deliver 62 of the vessels. The multi-mission FRCs conduct drug and migrant interdiction, ports, waterways and coastal security, fishery patrols, search and rescue, and national defense.