Tactically Responsive Launch. The House Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2023 defense authorization bill says that “given the successful tactically responsive launch-2 mission, the Space Force should continue to broaden tactically responsive space efforts with a focus on rapid reconstitution and responsiveness.” HASC advises Space Force to consider creating a “Tactically Responsive Space” budget line “and would require a report on planned tactically responsive space activities,” per the bill language in Section 1603. On June 13 last year, Space Force launched a Tactically Responsive Launch-2 (TacRL-2) technology demonstration satellite from a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket. Such responsive launch may become useful, if a critical U.S. satellite sustains damage and becomes inoperable. Space Force has said that its Space Safari program office, which is to integrate mature technologies quickly to respond to needs, supported TacRL-2 as the office’s first mission.
186 F-22s. The HASC bill would prohibit Air Force retirements of Lockheed Martin F-22s below the fleet number of 186 unless such planes are “no longer mission capable and uneconomical to repair because of aircraft accidents or mishaps.” To accelerate modernization, the Air Force requests a retirement of 33 older Block 20 F-22s in fiscal 2023. By fiscal 2030, HASC directs the secretary of the Air Force to equip all F-22s with Block 30/35 features or other more advanced mission systems, sensors, and weapons.
Unique Mission Set. Boeing says that it has worked closely with the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment on enhancements for the several dozen AH-6 and MH-6 “Little Bird” helicopters but that any outlines of what may come in Block IV would depend on the Army’s decision on whether to go ahead with Block IV, or, possibly, to retire the helicopters. “The Little Bird performs a very specific and unique mission for 160th SOAR,” said Mike Spencer, head of marketing for Boeing Defense Systems’ Vertical Lift division.

Iron Defender. U.S. and United Arab Emirates (UAE) naval forces started the annual Iron Defender 10-day maritime training exercise on June 13. The exercise focuses on maritime security operations, mine countermeasures and harbor defense, the Navy said. Over 600 U.S. personnel from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are participating in Iron Defender. Participating U.S. vessels include the USS Momsen (DDG 92) destroyer, USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3) expeditionary sea base, USNS Catawba (T-ATF-168) Powhatan-class tugboat, as well as the Coast Guard cutters USCGC Robert Goldman (WPC 1142) and USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318).

ITEP Supply Chain. The House Armed Services Committee wants the Army to provide a report to Congress with details on the supply chain for its future Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) helicopter engine, according to a copy of the panel’s markup of the next defense policy bill obtained by Defense Daily. “The committee notes that ensuring a stable supply chain for ITEP should be a priority,” the committee writes. GE Aviation is currently developing the ITEP engine, which will be the future engine for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft as well as the Army’s AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The directive in the HASC chairman’s NDAA mark calls for a report from the Army by April 1, 2023 analyzing the supply chain for ITEP, to include identifying each engine component manufactured domestically and internationally, information on how COVID-19 impacted the supply chain, potential supply chain vulnerabilities and how the Army plans to minimize vulnerabilities for parts produced overseas. 

New Rheinmetall Tank. Germany’s Rheinmetall unveiled its new tank offering, the KF51 Panther, at this week’s Eurosatory defense trade show in Paris. “In developing the KF51, Rheinmetall not only set out to modernize existing main battle tank concepts. Starting from scratch, it completely reconceived the platform. The KF51 Panther can be easily updated and equipped with the latest capabilities and functions. Its advanced, modular, open NGVA system architecture enables iterative development, which can then be updated in harmony with innovation cycles. The KF51 is the first representative of a new generation of combat vehicles,” the company said in a statement. Rheinmetall also detailed its 130mm Future Gun System for the KF51 Panther, which it said offers “superior firepower against all current and foreseeable mechanized targets.” The Future Gun System consists of a 130mm smoothbore gun and an auto-loader that can hold 20 rounds, according to Rheinmetall.

National Defense Strategy. Colin Kahl, the under secretary of defense for policy, has said an unclassified version of the new National Defense Strategy (NDS) could be released in “the coming weeks or months” and would be tied in with the rollout of the new National Security Strategy. “We hope in the coming weeks or months we’ll be releasing the NDS, the unclassified version, whenever the National Security Strategy is also released. And I think that’ll allow folks that are listening in to kind of get a further peek under the hood,” Kahl said during a Center for New American Security discussion. To date, the administration has submitted a classified version of the NDS to lawmakers while only releasing a one-page summary document to the public.

DC3 Task Order. Peraton’s Perspecta Enterprise Services subsidiary said on June 17 it has been selected for the DoD Cyber Crime Center’s (DC3) Technical, Analytical, and Business Operations Services (TABO) task order, worth potentially up to $562.9 million over five years. The deal was awarded through GSA’s Alliant 2 contracting vehicles. Under the task order, the company is tasked with supporting DC3 by providing “digital forensics, multimedia forensics, technical solutions development, cyber analytics, and vulnerability sharing” services, according to an announcement. “We are honored that DC3 has entrusted us to support its critical missions across a range of complex technical and operational domains. We look forward to providing our integrated capabilities across the cyber, defense and intelligence domains to help DC3 address an evolving and complex threat environment,” Roger Mason, president of Peraton’s space and intelligence sector, said in a statement. 

V2X Close at Hand. Vectrus, Inc. shareholders last week approved the company’s merger with the Vertex Company, clearing a major hurdle way for the combined company to soon operate under a new name, V2X, Inc., which will trade on the NYSE under the stock ticker symbol, VVX. The companies announced the merger in March, saying it would create a $3.4 billion government services and mission solutions provider. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close early in the third quarter.

Space and Defense Deal. Karman Space week & Defense last partnered with technology company Cornerstone Research Group (CRG) to acquire the MG Resins family of technologies, a deal Karman said would significantly expand its work in integrated composite systems for space and defense applications. The MG family of resins were developed by CRG for ultra-high temperature materials needed for space, missile and hypersonic applications. “The MG Resin carbon-carbon technology, along with other CRG-developed resin systems, will serve as the launch point for Karman’s broader move into advanced material sciences,” Karman CEO Tony Koblinski said. Karman was backed by the private equity firm Trive Capital on the acquisition.

New C-UAS RFI. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate last week issued a Request for Information for “technologies on or over the horizon” to counter unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS). DHS also wants information on facilities for doing radio frequency spectrum measurements of C-UAS, both to validate that RF emissions accord with manufacturer’s claims and to document power levels to ensure that counter-drone deployments don’t “adversely interfere with the national air space, the public, and federally owned frequency bands.” As for actual C-UAS, S&T wants information on systems that can be deployed from manned, unmanned and tethered aircraft that can detect, track identify and/or mitigate drone threats.

London Tech Collab. The U.S. Navy’s London, U.K.-based NavalX Tech Bridge on June 13 celebrated the opening of a new innovation hub. The U.S. Navy’s NavalX has developed 18 national and international Tech Bridge locations, designed to help better connect the Navy with startups, small businesses, academia, nonprofits and private capital in a way that they are not normally part of the service’s development and acquisition process. The Navy said this London location’s innovation hub will sponsor dialogue, joint investment and cooperative development between the U.S. and U.K. navies. “The opening of the London Tech Bridge’s innovation hub represents a new way for great minds to come together in a unique atmosphere, share ideas and technologies, and foster more effective research collaboration,” Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Lorin Selby said at the event. The London Tech Bridge (LTB) was originally launched in late 2020. The Navy said the LTB’s new hub and location will conduct its first ‘Tea and Tech’ event in June, beginning a monthly session with industry in specific technology areas, allowing the companies to pitch ideas and technology to the U.S. and U.K. navies.

LPD-29. The Navy christened the future USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29) amphibious transport dock ship at HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division in Pascagoula, Miss., on June 11. The ship is named after a Medal of Honor recipient for actions during a World War II kamikaze attack. LPD-29 is the last Flight I San Antonio-class ship but features some improvements as a transition ship to the Flight II variant ships, starting with the future USS Harrisburg (LPD-30). LPD-29 will be the 13th overall San Antonio-class ship.

3rd Fleet. Vice Adm. Michael Boyle relieved Vice Adm. Steve Koehler to be commander of U.S. 3rd Fleet on June 17. Koehler has led the 3rd Fleet for just over a year and is now set to become director for Strategy, Plans and Policy, J-5, Joint Staff, and be appointed as senior member of the Military Staff Committee. Boyle is now the 32nd commander of 3rd Fleet, based in California. Adm. Samuel Paparo, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, presided over the ceremony and boasted that Boyle “arrives as prepared as any commander in Third Fleet’s history. He will carry on, continue and lead to ever higher heights the work of this superb team.” Boyle previously served as director of maritime operations at Pacific Fleet since June 2020 and before that had posts including commander of Navy Region Korea and Naval Components U.S. Forces Korea, commander of Carrier Strike Group 12, and director of International Engagements at the Office of Chief of Naval Operation, N52.

DDG-122. The Navy is set to christen the future USS John Basilone (DDG-122) Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer during a ceremony at shipbuilding General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works in Bath Maine on June 18. The ship’s namesake is a Medal of Honor recipient for action during the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. This is the second ship to honor Basilone, after a Gearing-class destroyer that served from 1945 to 1977.

DDG-121. The USS Frank E. Petersen, Jr. (DDG-121), the Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke-class Flight IIA guided-missile destroyer, arrived at its homeport, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on June 13 after finishing its maiden voyage from Charleston, S.C., where it was commissioned. DDG-121 will be part of Destroyer Squadron 31.

AUKUS Support. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said on June 17 he selected Rear Adm. David Goggins, the Program Executive officers for Attack Submarines (PEO SSN), to be his Special Assistant in support of the Australia – United Kingdom – United States (AUKUS) partnership. The AUKUS effort aims to have the U.S. and U.K. help Australia buy nuclear-powered submarines to replace its current conventionally-powered submarine fleet. “Dave comes to us at a critical time in the consultation period of AUKUS and is the right person to spearhead the analysis of the submarine development production and testing efforts. Under his leadership, I’m confident the AUKUS team will help meet the objective of determining the best path toward equipping the Royals Australian Navy with a nuclear-powered, conventionally-armed class of attack submarines by March 2023,” Del Toro said in a statement. The secretary also said in this role Goggins will lead the planning and standup of the Navy efforts to implement whatever approach Australia chooses at the end of the initial 18-month exploratory period helping it decide how to pursue the submarines.