Norway FMS. The State Department on June 28 approved a potential $293 million foreign military sale with Norway for up to 580 RTX-built GBU-53/B air-launched, precision-guided glide bombs. The new FMS case follows up an previously approved $18.9 million deal for 20 GBU-53/Bs, with Norway now set to receive up to 600 of the glide bombs. “The proposed sale will improve Norway’s capability to meet current and future threats by bolstering operational readiness while enhancing air and defense capabilities with a modernized weapon to support the new F-35A fleet,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

XM30 Deals.

The $1.6 billion awarded to General Dynamics Land Systems and American Rheinmetall Vehicles to continue on the Army’s Bradley replacement competition is split between $768.7 million for the former and $812.6 million for the latter, according to the Pentagon’s June 27 contracts announcement. The Army announced on June 26 it had selected the two companies to move onto the detailed design and prototype build phases for the XM30 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle, formerly known as Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle. GD Land Systems and American Rheinmetall beat out bids from Oshkosh Defense, BAE Systems and armor supplier Point Blank Enterprises, which had all been participating in the previous concept refinement phase. The Army is planning to award a production contract for XM30 to either GD Land Systems or American Rheinmetall in 2027.

Tester Challenger. Former Navy Seal Tim Sheehy is running to represent Montana in the U.S. Senate, becoming the first Republican to officially announce a challenge Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the three-time incumbent and the upper chamber’s top defense appropriator. Sheehy, who is the founder and CEO of Bridger Aerospace, has already picked up the endorsement of Republican Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte and several GOP senators, including Sens. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton, (R-Ark.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). Tester’s seat is one of several Democrats consider critical to retain the party’s Senate majority, along with races in Arizona, Ohio and West Virginia.

New Army CIO. The Army announced on June 26 it has tapped Leonel Garciga to be the service’s next chief information officer. Garciga will succeed Raj Iyer, who stepped down from the post earlier this after serving as the Army’s first civilian CIO. “Garciga will spearhead the Army’s technological transformation efforts, ensuring the effective management and utilization of information systems across the organization,” the Army said in a statement. “Having led the Army Intelligence Community CIO for four years, Garciga’s extensive experience in developing innovative solutions and driving digital advancements will play a pivotal role in enhancing the Army’s capabilities in an increasingly complex and rapidly evolving digital landscape.” Garciga, a Navy veteran, has also previously served as the chief technology officer and senior adviser on technology for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

MQ-9A Disaster Response. The California Air National Guard (CA ANG), the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and General Atomics conducted a demonstration of the Rosetta Echo Advanced Payloads (REAP) communications pod on an MQ-9A on May 25. “During natural disasters, it’s fairly common for first responders and residents of affected areas to lose cellular communications due to downed infrastructure,” General Atomics said on June 30. “The REAP Pod provides potentially lifesaving communications infrastructure from an aircraft, ensuring lines of communication remain open between providers of emergency services and those desperately needing assistance.” The demonstration involved the REAP pod’s bridging VHF/UHF networks, functioning as a P25 repeater, connecting mobile networks and providing FirstNet high-speed broadband wireless and emergency 911 cellular connection. “As California heads into its heavy wildfire season, the REAP Pod on CA ANG MQ-9As will provide needed communications to support CAL FIRE’s rescue efforts,” General Atomics said.

Space Cargo Delivery. The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit is seeking novel approaches to the space delivery of cargo. “The ability to rapidly re-constitute space-based capabilities or re-supply payloads or cargo at precise locations for time-sensitive logistics (in-space or terrestrially) is a critical but…non-existent capability that contributes to sustained U.S. economic leadership in space, and builds an enduring advantage that may be leveraged during times of crisis or conflict,” DIU said. Affordable delivery at scale “requires solutions that leverage reusable or serviceable technologies to move a wide variety of cargo where it is needed, when it is needed,” per DIU. “Awarded companies will prototype autonomous delivery for one or more of three distinct modalities: from Earth to a mission-designed orbit or trajectory in space, orbital return from space to the Earth to a precise point of recovery, and through space from one orbit to another.” The U.S. Air Force Rocket Cargo Vanguard program, begun in June 2021, is exploring the feasibility of delivering 100 tons of cargo anywhere on the globe within an hour.

Global Hawk Flight Testing. As the U.S. Air Force moves to retire the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk to pave the way for more survivable reconnaissance drones, the 452nd Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, Calif., said that it held a “sunsetting” event on June 9 for its RQ-4s to mark the completion of the squadron’s 15-year flight test effort. Maj. Mark Johnson, the squadron’s RQ-4 test team lead, said that the Global Hawk “joins the likes of the X-1, the X-15, and the XB-70 as boundary breakers and record setters” and that “much like these well-known aircraft, the RQ-4 was indeed an experimental aircraft and one that challenged aviation standards.” Air Force Materiel Command said that “production and flight test on the RQ-4 family of aircraft continues at the 412th Test Wing’s Air Force Operating Location Plant 42.”

Taiwan FMS Proposals. The State Department last Thursday approved two potential foreign military sales (FMS) to Taiwan, one valued at $332 million for 30mm ammunition and related equipment and the other worth $108 million for spare and repair parts for wheeled vehicles, weapons, and other related elements of program support. The 30mm ammunition will include high-explosive incendiary tracer rounds, multi-purpose and training rounds. Northrop Grumman is the contractor for the AB44 ammunition and General Dynamics is the contractor for AB51 and AA90 ammo. The proposed sale will contribute to the sustainment of Taiwan’s CM34 armored vehicles, State said. For the spare and repair parts, the Defense Logistics Agency will determine the vendors that provide the parts. The US-Taiwan Business Council welcomed the sale for both the munitions and sustainment of legacy equipment, but said in a statement the “Biden Administration’s narrow perspective on the threat from China—which does not appear to include planning for responding to grey zone incursions or to blockade and quarantine scenarios—is inhibiting the island’s effort to maintain its ongoing force modernization.”

No Deal on Early Starts. So far it appears that the House Armed Services Committee and possibly its counterpart in the Senate did not include a legislative proposal by the Biden administration to allow the Defense Department to kick-start new programs early in the development stages even if Congress has not agreed to annual budget for DoD. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, who outlined the proposal to media, industry and Congress this spring, said it would allow up to $300 million in early design work rather than wait up to 18 months or longer to begin new program developments while the department prepares its budget submission to Congress and then waits for appropriators to complete their work.

NSC 10 Nearly Ready. HII last Friday said its Ingalls Shipbuilding division has successfully completed builder’s sea trials of the 418-foot national security cutter Calhoun (WMSL 759), which will be the Coast Guard’s 10th NSC when it is delivered in the third quarter of 2023. The trials tested propulsion, auxiliary equipment and other systems. So far, HII has delivered nine NSCs to the Coast Guard, which is procuring 11 of the high-endurance cutters.

ML Learning Day. The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL), which performs research, development and validation of solutions to detect and mitigate threats from explosive devices in Transportation Security Equipment, will host a machine learning (ML) industry day on Aug. 31 to “disclose, discuss, and receive feedback on a proposed framework of automatic threat detection algorithms incorporating ML. The TSL is managed by the Science and Technology Directorate and the industry day will be held at the Transportation Security Administration’s headquarters in Northern Virginia. The TSL, working with TSA, will use the results of the industry day to finalize a “roadmap” for developmental training and testing, and validation and certification of TSE algorithms that incorporate machine learning.

Pending Awards. The Transportation Security Administration says it plans to award contracts to Analogic, Integrated Defense & Security Solutions, and Smiths Detection for technical engineering services, materials and enhanced capability development of the companies’ respective checkpoint computed tomography (CT) systems. TSA previously awarded each company contracts for their CT systems, which are used to scan carry-on bags at airport security checkpoints in the U.S.

…On-Person Screening Help. Separately, the TSA has issued a Broad Agency Announcement seeking concept papers to improve on-person screening (OPS), which the agency’s officers perform using either walk-through metal detectors or advanced imaging technology (AIT) body scanners. The BAA seeks papers in two tracks, the first covering walk-through metallic and non-metallic screening systems, detection algorithms that support in-motion screening, synthetic data generation and/or automated data annotation tools, and OPS open architecture integration, and the second track being wideband technology that enhances currently fielded AIT systems. Ultimate technology solutions must align with plans to integrate with other checkpoint systems, be cybersecure, enable open architecture-based enhancements, increase security, reduce manpower, and speed passenger throughput.

Cyber Priorities. The Biden administration last Wednesday outlined its cybersecurity priorities for federal departments and agencies to prioritize in their fiscal year 2025 budget requests, which are due to Congress in early 2024. The five priorities, which are discussed in a June 27 memorandum from Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and Acting National Cyber Director (NCD) Kemba Walden, are defending critical infrastructure, disrupt and dismantle threat actors, shape market forces to drive security and resilience, invest in a resilient future; and forge international partnerships to pursue share goals. When agencies prepare their proposed budgets, OMB and the NCD Office will review them to identify gaps and solutions to those gaps and let the agencies know whether their proposals align with the national cybersecurity strategy and policies.

FFG-65. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro recently announced the fourth future Constellation-class guided-missile frigate FFG-65 will be named the USS Lafayette. The ship will be named after American Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette, who was posthumously made an honorary citizen by Congress in 2002. Previous ships named after him included a sidewheel ironclad ram, a transport ship and a ballistic missile submarine (SSBN-616). Del Toro announced the name while visiting Paris, France on June 29.

Navy Targets. The Navy awarded Silver Ships Inc. an $8 million modification on June 23 to acquire another 49 High Speed Maneuvering Surface Target (HSMST) craft and accessories, service manuals, spare engines and deployment spares. Work will occur at the company’s facility in Theodore, Ala., and is expected to be finished by March 2025.

EPF-15. Austal USA marked the official start of construction of the future USNS Point Loma (EPF-15) in a keel laying ceremony on June 27 at its Mobile, Ala., shipyard. EPF-15 will be the second Flight II EPF that Austal USA builds. The Flight II variant incorporates a Role 2E enhanced medical capability. The company said the catamaran ship design “provides inherent stability to allow surgeons to perform underway medical procedures in the ship’s operating suite.” The ship also includes a flight deck able to support V-22 operations and launch and recovery of an 11 meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat. Austal USA is currently building two of these EPF Flight II ships with a third also under contract. The Flight II ships’ medical facility are meant to augment the future Expeditionary Medical Ships based on the EPF design that will feature more comprehensive hospital ship operations.

Marines Get MQ-9A. A Marine Corps squadron in June successfully flight tested and certified to operate the MQ-9A to allow for surveillance and extending networks. The Marine Corps’ Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 (VMU-3) successfully tested and flew its first General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper on June 21 at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. The aircraft is specifically used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. VMU-3 received its first aircraft in late April and is set to “showcase” a ready aircraft later this summer as it transitions away from the Boeing Insitu RQ-21 Blackjack UAV.

…Network Extension. On Twitter, Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger commented this milestone shows the service “has reimagined a big-wing UAS strike platform & created a unique capability that provides ISR & network extension to air and surface platforms AND dispersed ground forces—Marines, joint force, allies, and partners—all on an aggressive timeline.”

Norfolk Shipyard. Capt. James Modman relieved Capt. Dianna Wolfson as the 111th commander of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard during a ceremony on June 29. The Norfolk shipyard is one of the four government-owned and operated naval shipyards that performance maintenance and upgrades on the Navy’s nuclear-powered attack submarines, ballistic missile submarines and aircraft carriers. The Navy said that under Wolfson, the yard finished 23 fleet maintenance aircraft carrier availabilities on time, 65 emergent repairs and two voyage repairs early or on time, and the Fleet Maintenance Submarines (FMB) off-yard team completing five Continuous Maintenance Availabilities on-time or early as well as completing four emergent repairs and 18 voyage repairs early or on time. Wolfson is now moving on to be the Fleet Maintenance Officer with U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.

LCAC-107. The Navy accepted delivery of the Textron System Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) 107 on June 28 in New Orleans, La. The Navy said delivery followed the craft finishing acceptance trials from the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey. The SSCs are built with similar configurations and dimensions as the older legacy LCACs they are replacing to work within current amphibious ships like the Expeditionary Sea Base and the Expeditionary Transfer Dock ships. The LCACs are able to carry a 60 to 75 ton payloads and largely transport weapons, equipment, cargo and assault personnel. Textron is in serial production on LCACs 108-119.

Lockheed’s NGI Suppliers. Lockheed Martin recently named three small business suppliers it is using in its Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) program work via the DoD mentor-Protégé Program that encourages primes to be mentors to help small businesses develop technical and business capabilities. Lockheed Martin is working with Marotta Controls, Space Information Labs (SIL), and Valley Tech Systems (VTS) “to support the maturation of advanced engineering and technology capabilities,” the company said. This includes capabilities like model-based engineering and the digital thread.  The Montville, N.J.-based Marotta focuses on sub-systems for the aerospace and defense sector; Santa Maria, Calif.-based SIL designs, manufactures and environmentally qualified Lithium-Ion Intelli-Pack batteries, AFTU and space-based range flight units for aerospace platforms; and the Folson, Calif., and Reno, Nev.-based VTS specializes in aerospace propulsion. Lockheed Martin said it is working with the three companies as subcontractors to develop, mature and field hardware in support of NGI via DoD’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

2,000 Trident Rockets. Northrop Grumman marked the manufacturing of 2,000 solid rocket motors for the nuclear-armed Trident II D5 submarine launched ballistic missile on June 22. This entailed the completion of first stage A1000 and second stage B1000 motors. The company noted it has built over 800 first-stage tactical motors, over 800 second-stage tactical motors, more than 370 third-stage tactical motors since assuming this work scope in 1996, and cast over 86 million pounds of propellant for the D5 motors. Northrop Grumman works under prime contractor Lockheed Martin out of the former’s Magna, Utah facility.