New BAE Spox. Caitlin Hayden was named communications leader at BAE Systems, Inc., the company said on Tuesday. She replaces Kristie Cunningham, who left the company in August. Hayden most recently served in the top communications job at AIA. Previously, she worked at Edelman in Washington and had several different jobs in the State Department.

STRATCOM Leader Confirmed.

The Senate confirmed Vice Adm. Charles Richard to become the next STRACOM commander Thursday evening. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) During wrap-up, Senator McConnell secured consent for confirmation en bloc of all nominations to the armed forces, including Charles, during wrap-up. Charles currently serves as Navy commander for Submarine Forces, Submarine Force Atlantic and Allied Submarine Command.

… And Exercise Completed. STRATCOM announced Thursday it has completed Exercise Global Thunder 20, a two-week exercise which included a Bomber Task Force mission in Europe. B-2 Spirit and B-52H Stratofortress aircraft launched from America, connected with deployed B-52Hs at RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, and integrated with key allied fighter aircraft over the skies of Europe, before returning to their home stations. During the mission, the U.S. and allies including Poland and the United Kingdom tested areas of mutual concern and fortified military collaboration.

HASC Member Out. Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) gave her final speech on the House floor Thursday after announcing her resignation from Congress late last week. Her HASC subcommittee seats will remain unfilled for the remainder of the term, unless California runs a primary election to replace her and a Democrat is elected, a source close to the committee told Defense Daily Tuesday. That Democrat would automatically assume her committee assignments, they said. The Speaker of the House could also in theory appoint a member of the caucus to fill the HASC slots on a temporary basis. Hill, who was elected in 2018, served California’s 25th District, which includes Edwards AFB.

OCO for Medicare. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has proposed elimination of OCO funding as one way to help fund Medicare for All, according to a document released Friday by her campaign. “As everything from more F-35s to massive bombs never used in combat have migrated into the OCO account, the Department of Defense has been spared from having to prioritize or live within its means,” she said in “Ending the Stranglehold of Healthcare Costs on American Families,” adding, “It’s not just bad budgetary practice — it’s wasteful spending.” Warren, a member of SASC and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020, says freeing up OCO would provide $798 billion over a 10-year period relative to current spending levels.

Senior Air Force Space Leaders Switching. The Defense Department on Friday nominated two Air Force Space Command flag officers to trade places. Air Force Space Command Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. John Shaw was nominated to become the next commander of the 14th Air Force at Vandenberg AFB, California. The current 14th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Stephen Whiting was nominated to take Shaw’s place at Peterson AFB, Colorado.

F-35. The Netherlands received its first F-35A Joint Strike Fighter in country Oct. 31. It arrived at Leeuwarden Air Base around 3:30 PM local time, arriving from Italy where it was built, per a Thursday press release from the Dutch Ministry of Defense. Eight Dutch F-35s are currently stationed in the United States to support test and pilot training activities. The nation has committed to procuring 46 F-35As for about $5.6 billion.

Elbit. Elbit Systems said Thursday that it has received a contract to provide a complete EW suite for new Portuguese KC-390 aircraft. The contract, worth $50 million, was awarded by the Portuguese Ministry of Defense and includes with a complete EW suite comprised of radar and laser warning systems, an IR missile warning system, countermeasures dispensing system, a directional IR countermeasures (DIRCM) system and active ECM (AECM) POD system. It spans a work period of five years.

Anti-Open Skies. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling for the withdrawal of the United States from the Open Skies Treaty. Cotton, who chairs the SASC Airland Subcommittee, said in a statement the treaty “could be more appropriately named the ‘Russian Spies Over America Treaty,’ … which invites Russia to fly spy planes over our houses while Putin violates the treaty by restricting U.S. flights over Russia.” Pentagon acquisition chief Undersecretary Ellen Lord recently confirmed to reporters that the Air Force is continuing to proceed with plans to recapitalize the two OC-135B aircraft that perform reconnaissance under the Open Skies Treaty even as lawmakers deliberate on whether to withdraw.

Ford Finishes PSA. The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) finished its post-shakedown availability/selected restricted availability on Oct. 30 as the ship returned to port at Naval Station Norfolk following sea trails. The CVN-78 PDA began July 2018 and covered still-ongoing work on the advanced weapons elevators, repairs to the main reduction gear, improvements to the throttle control system, upgrades to the advanced arresting gear, and other maintenance.

CVN-79. Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries flooded the future USS John F. Kennedy’s (CVN-79) dry dock on Oct. 29 in the leadup toward christening, expected in early December. Construction started on the Kennedy in 2015 at the Newport News shipyard. The Navy noted this launching of CVN-79 is about three months earlier than the original schedule.

Cost Challenges. Last week, Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said the Navy is running low on time to change procurement, build the future force, and meet the challenge of an expanding force like China while the current force costs too much. “We’ve sort of got ourselves in a little bit of a box because we only have a few large industries that can actually deliver and build what we need. Part of the problem we have with the carriers is we’ve only got one supplier for that. Who else are we going to go to?” Modly said shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries is a good partner, “but we get into situation like we are right now with the Ford. I think we can all see what happens when you only have one supplier and if they don’t perform – your ability to hold them accountable is very, very difficult & that’s a challenge that we have.” Everything is tied “over a very, very limited supplier base and we’re sort of running out of time to try and solve this and we need to get them to start thinking about how they do things faster, more efficienctly, cheaper, etcetera. And we also need to think about how we diversify the supplier base.”

…Carrier Cost. Speaking at a Military Reporters and Editors event, Modly also compared the 1980s 600-ship Navy when the average ship cost $1 billion in inflation-adjusted real dollars to the current 290-ship force that costs about $2 billion per ship. Moreover, in the 1980s, the carrier operating costs were about 14 percent of the overall Navy operating costs while now they are 31 percent. This includes the costs for both the carriers themselves and their air wings. “So we have to think about how we reverse that trend and the carrier’s a great analogy because it’s a big huge ship,” and like the carriers the Navy has to try to turn in a different direction on cost, Modly said.

…Frigate Base. Modly also noted the Navy is considering those supplier base issues in context of the upcoming guided-missile future frigate, FFG(X), award. “We need to make sure that that ship, when it comes in, helps us diversify our supplier base, that doesn’t further make it less competitive than it was before. And so we’re looking at all those factors as we make decisions in this regard.”

…But CR Frigate. However, Modly warned a longer continuing resolution (CR) without a final defense budget will, among other things, delay the Navy awarding the FFG(X). While he is “cautiously optimistic” Congress will recognize what they are doing and come to a resolution, under a CR many Navy targets are handicapped, “anything that you were looking at starting out this year from technology investments to things like awarding the new frigate, all those things will have to get put off. So it will have significant impact on us,” Modly said last week at Military Reporters and Editors event. The Navy issued the final request for proposals for FFG(X) in June with four known competitors: Austal USA, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Fincantieri Marinette Marine, and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works. The Navy’s FY 2020 budget documents said it expects to award the first vessel in July 2020.

Five-Year CVN Fix. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer this week said the service plans that it will probably take five years to get its aircraft carriers back on the normal model of maintenance and deployment schedules as six carriers are now in Norfolk for work. “We’ve bounded it with a plan that we have, but the minute a platform gets extended it’s like Mike Tyson said: a plan is really great until you get punched in the face,” Spencer said at a Heritage Foundation press roundtable. If a carrier is extended by combatant commanders then “it’s a freight train…and everything starts backing up. Those costs when things start backing up are almost logarithmic, the curve goes with time.” The current situation came about, in part, after “10 years of sailing the bottoms off of them. I’m giving myself a lot of wiggle room to say, yeah, plan on five years to get back on the full model.

…Impact Talks. Spencer praised former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, who started discussions with combatant commanders that acknowledged they have responsibility for their theaters, but asked commanders to “please understand the cost of when you ask for an extension, what it’s doing to your fellow combatant commanders. So the discussions are starting about impacts. At the end of the day that combatant commander has to weight the risks and we have to respond to it.”

LCS-22. The future Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship USS Kansas City (LCS-22) finished acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico in late October following a set of in-port and underway demonstrations. This varianbt LCS is built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. The Navy plans for LCS-22 to be delivered in early December. After the Kansas City is delivered and commissioned, it is slated to be homeported in San Diego, along with the other Independence-variant LCSs. “This level of performance is among the best I’ve seen for this class. We continue to see improvements in cost, initial quality and schedule, ship after ship,” Capt. Mike Taylor, LCS program manager, said in a statement.

…Other LCS work. Several other LCSs are under construction in Mobile: final construction is underway on the future USS Oakland (LCS-24), all modules for the future USS Mobile (LCS-26) have been erected, and modules for the future USS Savannah (LCS-28) are under construction, Austal is fabricating modules for the future USS Canberra (LCS-30),  and the company is preparing for construction of the future USS Santa Barbara (LCS-32), Augusta (LCS-34), Kingsville (LCS-36) and Pierre (LCS-38).

Aegis Upgrades. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) recently awarded Lockheed Martin a $140 million modification to support the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense program. This specifically covers additional upgrades to Baseline 5.4, flight test, ground test, post-certification engineering, in-service support, and future studies. This mod raises the total value of the Aegis contract from $3.024 billion to $3.164 billion. The award also includes a three-month option period that, if exercised, would rause the total cumulative value to $3.210 billion. Work will occur in Moorestown, N.J., and is expected to be finished by July 2020. If all options are exercised, the performance period will last through October 2020.

Northrop/CMU. Northrop Grumman and Carnegie Mellon University announced a new research agreement focused around robotics, human-machine teaming and autonomy projects. “This research agreement will allow us to move faster to initiate research projects across the breadth of the combined experience of Northrop Grumman and CMU,” Vern Boyle, the company’s vice president of advanced technologies, said in a statement. Northrop Grumman said five of the projects are aligned with Carnegie Mellon’s work on projects in support of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, currently focused on humanitarian aid and disaster relief initiatives. Carnegie Mellon was an inaugural member of the Northrop Grumman Cybersecurity Research Consortium, and the two organizations have collaborated on research efforts since 2010.

Guided Munitions. Saab and Raytheon have successfully completed guided flight tests to demonstrate their new semi-active laser guided version of the Carl Gustaf munition. The tests were performed at the Mile High Range in Sierra Blanca, Texas, and the Saab Bofors Test Centre in Karlskoga, Sweden, and demonstrated the shoulder-launched weapon’s new capability to meet extended ranges of up to 2,000 meters. Saab said the Sweden tests were held in September and included firing three total munitions that were guided using the semi-active laser. “The Guided Carl-Gustaf Munition is a next step in the evolution of the Carl-Gustaf system. It will be the most advanced Carl-Gustaf munition yet and will offer greater precision, minimize collateral damage and deliver outstanding performance with pin-point accuracy and multi-target capability,” Görgen Johansson, head of Saab’s Dynamics business area, said in a statement.

5G Test Locations. The Pentagon has announced the five installations that will host the department’s initial 5G experimental testing efforts, selecting Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, Hill Air Force Base in Utah, Naval Base San Diego in California and Marine Corps Logistics Base in Georgia. “The bases were selected for their ability to provide streamlined access to site spectrum bands, mature fiber and wireless infrastructure, access to key facilities, support for new or improved infrastructure requirements, and the ability to conduct controlled experimentation with dynamic spectrum sharing,” the Pentagon said in a statement. DoD officials announced recently the department plans to release a draft RFP in November to solicit industry’s proposals for 5G test opportunities across three use cases, dynamic spectrum sharing, augmented and virtual reality projects and Smart Warehousing tests. The uses cases will then be tested at each of the locations announced above. A final RFP is planned for December, pending Congress passing an FY ’20 Defense Appropriations Bill. 

FRC Joins the Fleet. The Coast Guard last month commissioned its 35th 154-foot Fast Response Cutter (FRC) Angela McShan, which is the third Sentinel-class cutter to be stationed in Cape May, N.J. The Coast Guard is acquiring 58 FRCs from Bollinger Shipyards. The vessels operate near the littorals for up to five days at a time. The craft perform a range of missions, including drug and migrant interdiction, ports, waterways and coastal security, fishery patrols, search and rescue, and national defense.

Congressional Holdup. A Department of State proposal for legislation to establish a new Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies Bureau has been under review for the past five months by the relevant congressional committees, a department official said. The proposed bureau will help the department “to fully work with our key like-minded partners on emerging technology issues and developing the strategies of the future because we’re not going to have all the solutions in the United States,” Robert Strayer, deputy assistant secretary for Cyber and International Communication and Information Policy at the State Department, told a Senate panel last week. The proposal is on hold by Republicans and Democrats in the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Strayer spoke at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and asked Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the committee chairman, to help “facilitate” the legislative proposal with his colleagues.

Healy Return. The Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the service’s only medium polar icebreaker, was scheduled to return to its homeport of Seattle on Nov. 2 following a three-month, 14,000 nautical mile deployment to the Arctic. “As the Coast Guard’s sole Arctic icebreaker, we forged new relationships, trained new Arctic sailors, and conducted high latitude research that will help forecast the impact of seasonal ice formation critical to maintaining the Arctic maritime domain,” Capt. Mary Ellen Durley, the Healy’s commander officer, said in a statement. The 420-foot ship spent 50 days above the Arctic circle in support of Coast Guard operations and scientific research missions sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Office of Naval Research.