Stone Sea Trials. The Coast Guard’s newest National Security Cutter (NSC), the Stone (WMSL 758), successfully completed acceptance sea trials and will be delivered to the service in early November, according to shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries.
Stone will be the ninth Coast Guard NSC in service of a current planned buy of 11 of the high-endurance cutters. The sea trials took place over two days in the Gulf of Mexico where the 418-foot ship proved its systems. The Coast Guard said it will review the results and work with HII to address any outstanding items that need to be completed before delivery.
Reform Oversight, Reform DHS. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told the House Rules Committee last Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security needs to be reformed, not dismantled, and that to do so requires reforming congressional oversight of the department. Just as previous Republican and Democratic chairs of the committee have argued, Thompson said his committee needs to have comprehensive oversight of DHS rather than sharing it with other congressional committees. “This lack of consolidated jurisdiction has left DHS without strong direction, and we are seeing how it contributes to chaos under the Trump administration,” he testified. “In the absence of focused leadership from Congress, including consistent reauthorization of the department, secretaries have been able to carry out wrong, ineffective, and dangerous policies.”
CISA Award. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security has awarded a potential $13.5 million, five-year contract to Endyna, Inc., to provide a vulnerability disclosure platform and related services to protect federal civilian networks. The platform, which will launch in early 2021, will allow federal agencies the option of using a centrally-managed system to receive vulnerability information from the public and other agencies to strengthen the security of their internet accessible systems. Endyna, which is based in Northern Virginia, in 2018 began providing a similar platform to the Defense Department under a subcontract to Bugcrowd, Inc.
Army Discontinues. The Army said Friday it is discontinuing both its Asymmetric Warfare Group and the Rapid Equipping Force, noting the move aligns with the service’s shifting focus from counter-insurgency operations to future large-scale combat operations. Both organizations are expected to be deactivated by September 2021, with resources and personnel from both groups to be reallocated to other areas of the operational force. “The Army established these units to rapidly identify material and non-material solutions to operational challenges encountered during the counterinsurgency fight in Afghanistan and Iraq,” officials wrote in a statement. “As our focus changes to great power competition and large-scale combat operations, Army analysis indicated that the personnel and resources could best be utilized in building the operational fighting force.”
Lockheed Ups Dividend. Lockheed Martin will increase its quarterly dividend by 20 cents, or more than 8 percent, to $2.60 per share in the fourth quarter of 2020. The company’s board has also authorized the purchase of up to an additional $1.3 billion of the company’s stock under its share repurchase program, which is now up to $3 billion.
People. Army Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier became the 22nd Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency last Thursday, succeeding Army Lt. Gen Robert Ashley who is retiring. Berrier, who was previously assistant chief of staff of Army intelligence, was confirmed by the Senate in July to lead DIA. Britain’s defense and government contractor Serco Group has announced that board member John Rishton will become chairman next spring when current chairman Sir Roy Gardner steps down. Rishton is a former CEO of Rolls-Royce. Serco also said that Gordon Foster will become the company’s chief financial officer later this month, succeeding Gary Shankman who is retiring. Foster has been the CFO for Northern Virginia-based global contracting firm Constellis the past two years and before that was CFO for Maryland-based federal services firm ASRC Federal.
Gas Stations in Space. The San Francisco-based Orbit Fab is looking to collaborate with the U.S. Space Force in providing satellite refueling. “Orbit Fab is building gas stations in space,” said Orbit Fab CEO Dan Faber. “Every year about $10 billion of value gets destroyed because satellites run out of fuel, or there’s a glitch and they haven’t got fuel to become useful, or we’re clogged up with space junk and we haven’t got the fuel to get out of the way, or we just don’t have the flexibility to do new things to change to an adapting market or an adapting environment. We need fuel in orbit.” Orbit Fab fueling ports are going through qualification testing via an AFWERX Phase 2 project, Faber said.
ESB-4. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Sept. 29 said the Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary sea base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4) will be based at the Souda Bay military base in Crete, Greece. “It’s literally the perfect choice in light of the facility’s strategic location and it’s symbolic of a defense partnership that will continue to expand and to grow,” Pompeo said during joint press statements with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis while visiting Crete. Pompeo added security cooperation with Greece is “especially important as Russia continues to destabilize the region, especially in Libya.”
…Effective Now. The Navy said in a statement this change in homeport from Norfolk, Va. to Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay was effective Oct. 1. “Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams provides a new capability in the theater, which enhances our interoperability with our partners across the spectrum of maritime operations. The unique design of the ship fosters inter-service operations with our U.S. Marine Corps and Special Operations communities, which improves our ability to ensure maritime security and stability,” Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander of U.S. Sixth Fleet, said in a statement. The service noted due to this extended overseas assignment, Military Sealift Command will conduct routine maintenance on it as existing facilities at NSA Souda Bay and other overseas ports. NSA Souda Bay serves as a naval logistics hub for U.S. 6th Fleet.
DDG-75. Forward Deployed Regional Maintenance Center (FDRMC) detachment Rota recently completed a Surface Incremental Availability (SIA) on the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) five days ahead of schedule, the Navy said Sept. 30. DDG-75 is one of the four forward deployed Aegis-capable destroyers homeported in Rota, Spain helping with both ballistic missile defense and regional security efforts and exercises in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility. FDRMC commanding officer Capt. Gustavo Vergara said with this early delivery, they have completed all four of their FY ’20 availabilities on time. The Navy said an SIA is part of the planned maintenance cycle that aims to keep ships responsible by allowing numerous depot and intermediate-level work items to be completed. The DDG-75 SIA was finished in 55 days.
SSN-752. The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Pasadena (SSN-752) arrived at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) on Sept. 28 for the first shipyard’s first Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA) in a decade. This work will require about 11,3000 workdays to replace, repair and overhaul components throughout the vessel. The Navy noted the project’s team has spent months streamlining the work package and started early work over the last five months at Naval Station Norfolk to work on job that did not require being in a dry dock, like battery change-out and upgrading radar systems. At the same time SSN-752 is at NNSY, the shipyard is also working on USS George H.W. Bush’s (CVN-77) Drydocking Planned Incremental Availability, USS Harry S Truman’s (CVN-75) Extended Carrier Incremental Availability, and USS San Francisco (SSN-711) is undergoing a conversion into a Moored Training Ship.
F-35s. Naval Air Systems awarded Lockheed Martin a $710 million modification on Sept. 28 to procure economic order quantities of material in support of F-35 low rate initial production Lots 15, 16, and 17 for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-Defense Department participants, and Foreign Military Sales customers. Work will mostly be split between Fort Worth, Texas (60 percent) and El Segundo, Calif. (14 percent), and is expected to be finished by May 2026. $260 million in fiscal year 2020 Air Force aircraft procurement funds, $245 million in Navy FY ’20 aircraft funds, $142 million in non-DoD participant funds, and $62 million in FMS funds were obligated at time of award.
GMD Work. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) awarded Boeing a $249 million modification on Sept. 28 to a previously awarded Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) development and sustainment contract (DSC). The current DSC work covers development, fielding, test, systems engineering, integration and configuration management, equipment manufacturing and refurbishment, training and operations and sustainment for the GMD weapon system and associated support facilities. Under this new undefinitized mod, MDA is executing the Service Life Extension program (SLEP) upgrade of the GMD’s Ground Based Interceptors (GBIs), the upgrade and repair of specialized production equipment necessary to support SLEP activities, systems engineering to support Capability Enhancement-I fleet readiness, cybersecurity activities, and the production of a payload to support system testing requirements. This mod increases the total contract, including options, from $11.52 billion to $11.768 billion. Work will occur in Huntsville, Ala.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Chandley, Ariz., and is set to last through December 2022.
UAE THAAD. The Missile Defense Agency awarded Raytheon Technologies a $213 million sole-source contract on Sept. 25 to provide one Prime Power Unit and five years of sustainment services for two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Army/Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control-Series 2 (AN/TPY-2) radars for this contract to the United Arab Emirates. This contract falls under a Foreign Military Sales case. Work will occur in Woburn, Mass., some services will be provided in-country, and the work is expected to be finished by September 2025.
G/ATOR. The Marine Corps awarded Northrop Grumman a maximum ceiling $249 million basic ordering agreement (BAA) to procure sustainment engineering and logistics services for the Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) on Sept. 29. The BAA covers engineering changes; technical refresh; studies and analyses; and support services like contractor logistics, depot lifecycle, software support activity, diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages. Specific work locations will be determined via individual task orders, which are expected to be finished by September 2025. No funds were obligated at time of award, but will be provided with task orders. This award was not competitively procured pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulations.
Nuclear Propulsion. The Navy awarded Fluor a $1.1 billion modification on Sept. 30 to exercise a fiscal year 2021 option for naval nuclear propulsion work at the Naval Nuclear Laboratory. Fluor currently operates the laboratory, which comprises the Department of Energy’s locations and personnel responsible for developing advanced naval nuclear propulsion technology, provides technical support for naval nuclear reactors, and trains sailors to operate the reactors. Work will occur at the laboratory’s sites in in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Schenectady, N.Y.; and Idaho Falls, Idaho, and is expected to be finished by September 2021.
Trident II. The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $498 million modification on Sept. 30 to a previously awarded unpriced letter contract for Trident II (D-5) missile production and deployed systems support. The Trident II is the nuclear weapon-armed submarine-launched ballistic missile fired by U.S. ballistic missile submarines. Work will largely be split between Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Kings Bay, Ga.; Bangor, Wash.; and Sunnyvale, Calif. Work is expected to last through September 2026. The maximum value of this modification, including the base and all option items, if exercised, is $1,2 billion This contract is being awarded to the contractor on a sole-source basis under U.S. Code regulations.
Bringing Cavalry to a Tank Fight. The California-based OffWorld is interested in military space applications for its industrial robots, now used for mining and construction applications. “From a security perspective and an expansion into space perspective, we’re caught in a very vulnerable time as a nation in the U.S.,” said OffWorld CEO Jim Keravala. “The challenges are that we have immediate goals terrestrially to protect the warfighter and support our security assets, and we have expanding goals subsequently that we’re missing out on in terms of bringing a bunch of cavalry to a tank fight.” Keravala said OffWorld is able to network hundreds of industrial robots together for repair and other machine learning-enabled tasks that help keep personnel out of harm’s way.
JADC2. The Army and Air Force have officially signed a two-year collaboration agreement to formalize the two services’ work on the Joint All-Domain Command and Control effort. Army Chief Gen. James McConville and Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown, the new Air Force chief, met on Sept. 29 to discuss how to synchronize efforts to develop new areas for data sharing that will enable JADC2’s sensor-to-shooter network. The initiative brings together the Army’s work on Project Convergence, which looks at rapidly sharing data between its future capabilities, and the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System, aimed at analyzing and transmitting data at machine speeds.
HEROES Act. The House Democrats on Thursday evening passed their $2.2 trillion pandemic relief package by a vote of 214 to 207. The bill, which has likely no shot of passing in the Senate, does not include appropriated funds to cover the defense industry’s COVID-related claims. Senate Republicans have indicated support for a $1.6 trillion measure. The House bill does include $2.5 billion for defense: $1.4 billion to cover the salaries of on-base employees, $705 million for the Defense Health Program for pandemic-related medical equipment and $320 million for personal protective equipment.
Palantir/Army AI. Palantir has received a two-year, $91 million deal to develop artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities for the Army Research Laboratory. “In keeping with our founding mission, we strive to bring best-in-class software to support our nation’s armed forces, as they fulfill their critical role of keeping us safe. We are excited to enable the Army Research Laboratory’s efforts to iterate quickly with users in the field and deliver mission impact much faster than traditional approaches,” Akash Jain, Palantir’s president for U.S. government business, said in a statement. Palantir said its work will include using its software platforms “to integrate and manage all relevant data, prepare the data in uniform and open formats, and curate data to train AI models.”
DoD Data Strategy. The Pentagon has completed its new data management strategy and expects to release the document within the next 30 days, according to DoD CIO Dana Deasy. The strategy is expected to outline the department’s pathways to becoming a more “data-centric” organization, specifically how to best manage massive amounts of data to most effectively train future artificial intelligence algorithms. “In there, I think it starts to get at…what are our guiding principles, what are the goals when we say words like we want to become a data-centric organization and how do you do that. This strategy document outlines our thinking and approaches around that,” Deasy told reporters.
DIA Data. Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $690 million task order, placed under a GSA contract vehicle, to build a data management system for the Defense Intelligence Agency. The company is tasked with building a new big system for the Transforming All-Source Analysis with Location-Based Object Services (TALOS) program, which will include managing the Machine-Assisted Rapid-Repository System (MARS). “Transforming current databases housing foundational military intelligence into multi-dimensional, flexible and rigorous data environments, MARS will create a military intelligence environment that will be accessed for up-to-date information by the Intelligence Community and warfighters,” the company wrote in a statement.
Esper/Milley Test Negative. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have both tested negative for COVID-19, according to Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman. Both Esper and Milley met with President Trump on Sunday at the White House, with the president having tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday evening. Hoffman also said there has been no change to DoD alert levels as a result of the president’s positive test. “The U.S. military stands ready to defend our country and interests. There’s no change to the readiness or capability of our armed forces. Our national command and control structure is in no way affected by this announcement,” Hoffman said in a statement.