Telework Forever! A strong majority, 81 percent, of Defense Department information technology and program managers surveyed want the department to allow more frequent use of teleworking even after the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic ends, according to the results of a survey done by MeriTalk. The study, Meeting the Mobile Mission: Secure Collaboration for National Defense, said 90 percent of DoD IT and program managers are teleworking at least part time. Respondents to the survey said they have taken a number of actions to bolster work-from-home security, with 53 percent increasing the capacity of virtual private networks, 51 percent configuring home WiFi according to best practices and ensuring devices have the latest patching, and 43 percent providing telework-specific security training for the IT workforce. On the downside 85 percent say they have experience challenges collaborating remotely and 61 percent said remote collaboration leaves department networks, clouds, and endpoints vulnerable. Eighty-four percent of IT managers and 83 percent of program managers also said they have taken security shortcuts while doing business, including using personal devices and cloud or file sharing account.
HASC/Army Amendments. The House Armed Services Committee added an amendment to its newly approved FY ‘21 NDAA directing the Army to brief on modeling and simulation efforts to support next-gen combat vehicle programs. The Army has previously detailed plans to build the initial phase of its restarted Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program around digital designs, with plans to award up to five contracts for “simulated” prototypes. HASC also approved amendments directing the Army to brief on its Air to Ground Networking Radio program, its strategy for fielding new UH-60V Black hawks, as well as plans to use artificial intelligence and machine learning for its missile defense systems.
Gone. Boeing’s top communications official, Niel Golightly, last Friday resigned after an employee brought to the company’s attention an article he wrote when he was 29 questioning whether women should serve in combat. “My article was a 29-year-old Cold War Navy pilot’s misguided contribution to a debate that was lie at the time,” Golightly, who is now in his 60s, said in a statement. “My argument was embarrassingly wrong and offensive. The dialogue that followed its publication 33 years ago quickly opened my eyes, indelibly changed my mind, and shaped the principles of fairness, inclusion, respect and diversity that have guided my professional life since.” Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun said he “discussed at length the article” with Golightly “and its implications for his role as the company’s lead spokesman,” adding that he “greatly” respects him “stepping down in the interest of the company.” Boeing has started a search for a new communications chief.
New Board Members. Parsons Corp. has named two new board members, Darren McDew, a retired Air Force general who completed his 36-year military career as commander of U.S. Transportation Command, and Dave Wajsgras, a former executive with Raytheon. McDew and Wajsgras “will be invaluable in expanding our core markets, broadening our software and hardware technology, and growing our transactional revenues,” Chuck Harrington, chairman and CEO of Parsons, said in a statement. In addition to leading USTRANSCOM, McDew also had assignments at the White House, Pentagon and Capitol Hill. Wajsgras most recently was president of Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services segment until the company’s merger with United Technologies. At one time, he also was Raytheon’s chief financial officer.
Done Deals. Maxar Technologies has completed its $140 million acquisition of 3D data and analytics firm Vricon, which will allow it to better integrated Vricon’s 3D imagery capabilities with its solutions. Separately, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions completed its $35 million acquisition of satellite antenna manufacturer ASC Signal from Communications & Power Industries. The deal broadens Kratos’ space ground systems business with ASC’s earth station antennas.
A-10 SAR. The House Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2021 Defense Authorization Bill includes an amendment by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) to direct Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett to brief the committee by March 1 next year on “the status and any known findings from the operational utility evaluation of integrating” Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) capability on the A-10 close air support aircraft. The committee “believes the Air Force could take further steps to reduce aircrew risk and enhance the aircraft’s capability to perform close air support in adverse weather and low-visibility environmental conditions,” according to Bishop’s amendment. The Air Force is conducting an operational utility evaluation by integrating SAR capability on A-10 aircraft and evaluating workload impacts on A-10 aircrews.
TH-73A. Instructor pilot training for the new TH-73A Advanced Helicopter Training System began in June, the Navy said June 30. Last month, the first two instructor pilots from Training Air Wing 5 receiving classroom and hand-on experience at Leonardo’s AgustaWestland Philadelphia facility. Leonardo won the competition for the new Navy training helicopter in January. The new Navy trainer helicopter is scheduled to reach Initial Operational Capability in 2021.
LCS-24. The Navy accepted delivery of the future USS Oakland (LCS-24) Littoral Combat Ship during a ceremony on June 26 at Austal USA’s facility in Mobile, Ala. LCS-24 is the 22nd LCS and 12 Independence-variant LCS. Delivery of the Oakland marks the Navy having 300 ships in its inventory, the service said. The ship is next set for commissioning in early 2021. Four other Independence-variant ships are under construction at Austal’s shipyard: the future Mobile (LCS-26), Savannah (LCS-28), Canberra (LCS-30), Santa Barbara (LCS-32), and Augusta (LCS-34). Two more ships are waiting for start of construction: the future USS Kingsville (LCS-36) and Pierre (LCS-38). LCS-26 is planned to be delivered this year.
ESB-6. General Dynamics’ National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) started construction on the fourth Expeditionary Sea Base, ESB-6, on June 25, the Navy said on June 29. As an ESB, the ship has modular capabilities to support various missions including special operations, airborne mine counter-measures, and humanitarian support. ESBs have a range of 9,500 nautical miles and can travel at up to 15 knots and feature a flight deck, hangar with two aviation operating spots to handle MH-53Es, and ordnance storage. All ESBs were made commissioned naval vessels in 2019 to let them conduct a broader and more lethal mission set. NASSCO is also under contract to build ESB-7, with an option for ESB 8.
F-35C. The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $361 million not-to-exceed undefinitized modification on June 29 to procure four F-35C carrier-variant Lot 14 Joint Strike Fighters. Work will mostly occur in Fort Worth, Texas (63 percent) and Segundo, Calif. (14 percent) and is expected to be finished by May 2023. $170 million in FY 2020 naval aircraft procurement funds were obligated at time of award, with none set to expire this fiscal year.
…And More. Separately, the Navy also awarded Lockheed Martin a $68 million not-to-exceed modification on June 29 in an advance acquisition contract to procure long lead materials, parts, components and support needed to maintain on-time production and delivery of nine lot 16 F-35A aircraft for the Netherlands, seven F-35A semiconductors, and two F-35B aircraft for Italy. Work will be split among Cameri, Italy (24 percent), Fort Worth, Texas (22 percent), El Segundo, Calif. (11 percent), Warton, U.K. (seven percent) and various other U.S and international locations. The work is expected to be finished by May 2025. Non-DoD participant funds in the full award were obligated at time of award, with none expiring at the end of this fiscal year.
Dynamic Mongoose. Several NATO members are participating in the Dynamics Mongoose 2020 exercise in the northern Atlantic Ocean from June 29 – July 10. Participants include naval forces from Canada, France, Germany, Iceland, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. as part of a NATO Allied Maritime Command-led (MARCOM) exercise. U.S. forces participating includes the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG-80), Virginia-class attack submarine USS Indiana (SSN-789), and two P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft based out of Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy. The exercise is designed to provide intermediate and advances anti-submarine warfare training opportunities at the unit and task group level while also building interoperability and strengthen allied force relationships. As with other recent naval exercises, to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the exercise is taking place exclusively at sea.
UTIC. The national Undersea Technology Innovation Consortium (UTIC) said June 29 26 of its member organizations have thus far received 31 Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) awards to provide prototype technology solutions valued at over $230 million total. Now, twice per year, the Navy identifies technology needs to UTIC members who can respond with white papers with proposed solutions the government may use. UTIC has over 300 members from 36 U.S. states. UTIC generally helps contractors, suppliers, academia and others work with the government to develop undersea and maritime technology for defense purposes.
DDG-64. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Carney (DDG-64) left Naval Station Rota, Spain on June 27, concluding its time as a Forward Deployed Naval Forces-Europe (FDNF-E) asset. The USS Roosevelt (DDG-80) replaced DDG-64 as the first of four Rota-based destroyers being rotated away. The Carney first deployed to Rota in 2015 as one of the first destroyers deployed for forward deployed missile defense purposes. Carney is not scheduled to return to its former homeport in Mayport, Fla.
Missile Defense. Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., the contractor for the U.S. Air Force XQ-58A Valkyrie Low-Cost Attritable Strike Demonstrator, said that it has received $30 million in contracts for command, control, computing, communication, combat, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems focused on missile defense. Eric DeMarco, president of Kratos Defense, said that the awards represent Kratos’ position “as a disruptive leading technology systems, products and intellectual property company, including our focus on unmanned jet drones, space and satellite communications, microwave electronics, next generation jet engines for tactical systems, missile defense and hypersonic vehicles.”
Army Tablets. Leonardo DRS has received a $104 million order from the Army to continue delivering Mounted Family of Computer Systems (MFoCS) II, new rugged tablets to run the service’s next-generation battle command platform. “These cyber-hardened systems have more than 20 years of experience built into them and are a key component of the Army’s Mounted Computing Environment while continuing to enable the service’s network modernization efforts to deliver next-generation Mounted Mission Command capability,” Bill Guyan, senior vice president of Leonardo DRS’ Land Electronics business, said.
MLRS Launchers. Lockheed Martin has received a $226 million deal from the Army to recapitalize 44 more Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) M270 launchers. The process of overhauling to the latest M270A2 launcher includes upgrading the system with new engines, improved armored cabs and the new Common Fire Control System. “The complete restoration and upgrade to our combat-proven MLRS will return the system to a zero-time condition and ensure the M270-series launcher remains highly effective and reliable to serve our Army customer through 2050,” Gaylia Campbell, vice president of Precision Fires and Combat Maneuver Systems for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in a statement. Lockheed Martin last received a deal in 2019 to recapitalize 50 MLRS launchers.
Space Guard Proponent. Chief of the National Guard Bureau Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel believes the nascent U.S. Space Force probably should have a National Guard component, saying a Space National Guard would bring “unit equipped force structure” that could grow the capacity of the new service in time of war. “I do believe that there is advantages to taking the model of the National Guard and leveraging that and creating a Space National Guard component of the Space Force,” he said last Friday during a virtual event hosted by the Brookings Institute. Lengyel, who is retiring soon, said the capacity of parent services can’t be increased with “individual augmentees and single people.” He added that officer training and development in the Army and Air National Guard is the same as in “our parent services and that has got to remain the same as part of the Space Force.” Lengyel also said the Air National Guard has been supporting the Air Force space mission for 25 years.