Truman Funds. The Navy acquisition chief James Geurts said since the president decided the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) will gets its refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) and not retire early, the service will work that in to the FY ’21 budget request. Speaking to reporters at the Navy league’s annual sea Air Space Expo on May 7, Geurts said it is not much of a fiscal issue for FY ’20 because any funding to prepare to retire or refuel CVN-75 “was a relatively low dollar amount, so it’s not a huge dollar swing in the ’20 budget itself. Most of the cost of that was closer to the RCOH.” While he was unwilling to comment on other officials giving diverging views on the RCOH change, he said, “we made some decisions with the budget going in. President made a decision upon further review on that, and we’re going to go off and execute it.”
Columbia Contract. Capt. John Rucker, program manager for the Columbia-class program, said on the program’s next contract will be the Block I construction contract. That is expected to cover the first two boats and “we will award that no later than Oct. 1, 2019 to build the ships on schedule,” Rucker said at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space Expo.
DDG-1000. Capt. Kevin Smith, program manager for the Zumwalt-class ships, said during the Navy league’s annual Sea Air Space Expo on Tuesday the Navy plans to test fire an SM-2 missile from the Self-Defense Test Ship (SDTS) using the Zumwalt combat system before firing the first SM-2 from the lead ship in the 2020 timeframe. Smith also noted the ship’s Advanced Gun System is still in “layup” without ammunition chosen. “We’re waiting for that bullet to come around to give us the longest range possible. But given that this is an offensive surface strike, the land attack part, we’re going to look at other capabilities, potentially, that we could use in that volume.”
…Space For Lasers. Smith also emphasized the DDG-1000 class has a largre margin in space, weight, power, and cooling capabilities. Given its service life, the Navy is looking at “what else we can bring to the table.” Installing a directed energy laser or hypervelocity gun weapon could be one option. Some of these weapons require a large burst of energy all at once. Smith said the Navy would have to modernize the ship to install the energy storage capacitors, but the DDG-1000s have the margin to add those kinds of systems.
Ship Margin. Vice Adm. William Merz, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems, this week said the service’s new vessels are being designed with extra margin in mind to accommodate directed energy and other future energy-intensive weapons. Speaking at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space Expo, Merz said extra space, weight and power and communications (SAWP-C) is so important that “what you’ll see in the new frigate and after that the Large Surface Combatant and the next SSN – we are putting a lot of focus in building in margin and enough power to take on these systems that we know we’re developing now but also what we may be pursuing in the future that we don’t know.” Since the Flight III DDG-51 destroyers and Virginia-class submarines are essentially full, the Navy aims to make future vessels more adaptable. “The whole idea is to turn it around, one deployment cycle, be able to reconfigure it, send it out to a different part of the world more tailored, configured to what it’s going to be up against.”
…Unmanned Pacing. Merz also said the Navy is not sure how long until unmanned vessels might be added to the ship count. “The reality is these stakes are high and we have to make sure the capability is real before we field it.” He said this does not mean the Navy is “pumping the breaks” on the capability, since the FY ’20 budget committed to nearly $3 billion in unmaned surface vessels alone. Merz said that amount “should be enough signal to industry that we’re very serious about this. And as soon as we can get this to a competitive environment, that should open up the window of the art of possible with these vessels.”
…And Demo First. Merz warned they still need to demonstrate how well unmanned vessels can operate. “Communications and navigation is pretty straightforward for an unmanned aerial system, but it’s a debilitating challenge for an undersea system as we come through it.” He said the Navy thinks that is all solvable “but we don’t want people to kind of hand wave away these engineering challenges because it’s going to take a lot of commitment and a lot of resources.” Merz noted the Navy is trying to stitch together a real capability out of the Navy’s efforts as well as progress from DARPA, the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), and industry “as quickly as we can.”
Trident Test. The Ohio-class USS Rhode Island (SSBN-740) ballistic missile submarine test launched an unarmed Trident D-5 missile on May 9. The Navy noted this was the 172nd successful test flight of the D-5 since it was introduced to the fleet in 1989. This was part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation, DASO-29, which the Navy said aims to “evaluate and demonstrate the readiness of the SSBN’s strategic weapon system and crew before operational deployment following its engineered refueling overhaul (ERO).” SSBN-740 finished its ERO in August 2018. The ERO extended the boat’s life by over 20 years and involved a refueling and upgrade.
DDG-133. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer named the future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer DDG-133 after former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.). Spencer said Nunn’s impact on the Navy and Marine Corps cannot be overstated. “His leadership in the Senate, specifically as the long-serving chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, helped streamline the military chain of command and strengthen our Navy and Marine Corps team,” Spencer said. Nunn also helped write the Department of Defense Reorganization Act and the Nunn-Luger Cooperative Threat Reduction Program that gave assistance to Russia and former Soviet states to secure and destroy excess nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. DDG-133 will be built by Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Miss.
New Cyber Commission. A bipartisan ground of senators on May 8 announced the launch of a new cyber security commission that will bring together a group of lawmakers, Intelligence Community leaders, and private sector experts to discuss strategies for future cyber policy. Sens. Angus King (I-Maine) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) will lead the new Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which was established under the most recent defense authorization bill. “Through the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, we’ll work to build a foundation that will not only defend our nation against ongoing cyber-attacks but also prevent attacks by adversaries who are considering launching assaults on our essential digital infrastructure,” King said in a statement. The group is tasked with providing policy recommendations, and eventually roll out a public report on requirements for future cyber security efforts. The 14-person commission also includes Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Rep Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), Deputy Director of National Intelligence Susan Gordon, Acting DHS Deputy Secretary David Pekoske and FBI Director Chris Wray.
TReX Industry Day. The Army’s National Security Technology Accelerator consortium announced it will host an industry engagement session on May 14 in Orlando for its Training and Readiness Accelerator (TReX) program. The industry day is part of a new quarterly effort with TReX to inform industry of Other Transaction Authority opportunities with Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation. TReX currently handles OTA opportunities for the Synthetic Training Environment and Persistent Cyber Training Environment programs.
New AETC Commander Nominated. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Tuesday that the White House has nominated Air Force Lt. Gen. Marshall B. Webb to become the next commander of Air Education and Training Command at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. Webb currently serves as commander of Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Florida. He would replace Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, who assumed the role of commander in November 2017.
… And New GO Promotions. Shanahan also announced Air Force Maj. Gen. David S. Nahom has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general, and assignment as deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, at Air Force Headquarters at the Pentagon. Nahom is currently serving as director of programs, for the deputy chief of staff of plans and programs.
SASC Members to Reauthorize DoD Mentor Protégé Program. SASC members Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced May 7 the Defense Small Business Advancement Act, meant to reauthorize and improve upon the Defense Department’s Mentor-Protégé Program, which expired in 2018. The program helps to encourage small and disadvantaged business participation in the DoD supply chain by encouraging mentorship from established Pentagon contractors. “This bill gives small businesses an opportunity to partner with larger defense companies who have the resources and experience to navigate the procurement process and compete for contracts, which will create good paying jobs in our communities and provide better products for the Department of Defense,” Heinrich said in a press release.
Successful Air Force R&D Launches. The Air Force announced May 7 it has successfully launched three DoD R&D satellites on Rocket Lab USA’s Electron rocket from Mahia, New Zealand May 4 and 5. The launches were the first of several planned in 2019 under the Rapid Agile Launch Initiative (RALI), organized by the DoD Space Test Program and DIU to competitively and rapidly award U.S. military launch service agreements with non-traditional industry. The experiments onboard the Rocket Lab USA launch will demonstration advanced space technologies and accelerate the fielding of future operational space capabilities, according to the Air Force.
F-35s to Reactivate Aggressor Squadron. The Air Force announced May 9 that it will reactivate the 65th Aggressor Squadron with 11 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters moving to Nellis AFB, Nevada. The move is part of a larger initiative to improve training for fifth-generation aircraft as directed by ACC Commander Gen. Mike Holmes. New aircraft are expected to arrive at Nellis AFB from Eglin AFB in Florida beginning in early 2022, after newly produced aircraft arrive at Eglin to replace them. Nine F-35As will come from Eglin, while two will be assigned from Edwards AFB, California, to join the Tactical Air Support Squadron at Nellis to allow additional training for the F-35as as close-air support assets. “This move will allow us to repurpose early production F-35s to help train Airmen for the high end fight,” said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson in a press release. The 65th AS previously flew F-15 Eagle aircraft, but was inactivated in September 2014.
Iron Dome procurement. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told the SAC-D committee May 7 he sees more opportunities to increase U.S.-Israeli missile defense cooperation as the Pentagon plans to procure two Iron Dome batteries from Tel-Aviv for the U.S. Army. “This is tactical missile defense, a capability that they have been able to deploy and mature [and] has broader use than just in Israel,” he said during an FY ’20 posture hearing on Capitol Hill. “I think the collaborative work between MDA and the Israeli defense forces has enormous benefit in the future and I would continue to invest in that capability.”
IARPA Leader Heading to NGA. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency announced May 9 that IARPA Director Stacey Dixon will become its new deputy director. “Dr. Dixon is a proven leader who has a deep understanding of NGA and the entire intelligence community, its current challenges and the bright opportunities that lie ahead,” said NGA Director Vice Adm. Robert Sharp in a Thursday release. “She has earned a stellar reputation for synthesizing complex national security problems, developing solutions, boldly leading enterprise operations and caring for people.”
KC-46 Passes Receiver Certification for F-35. Boeing announced May 9 that the KC-46A aerial refueler is now certified to refuel the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Pegasus aircraft passed Phase II receiver certification testing last December, after successfully demonstrating it can refuel aircraft including the F-16, the F-15, the KC-135, the C-17, the B-52, the F/A-18 and other KC-46s.
New Cyber Supply Chain Bill. The chair and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday introduced a new bill aimed to strengthen the cyber security of the federal information and communications technology supply chain by requiring agency officials with responsibilities for supply chain risk management be trained to identify and mitigate counterintelligence threats. The Supply Chain Counterintelligence Training Act was introduced by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and follows passage last year of a bill that originated in the committee to create a federal acquisition supply chain council to set IT supply chain security standards. “Counterintelligence training for the federal workers buying and selling goods and services for the government is critical at a time when our adversaries are seeking every possible entry point to breach our systems and steal information,” Johnson said.
Election Security Measure. Several House Democrats on Friday introduced a bill to protect U.S. election systems from cyber attacks and authorize the Director of National Intelligence to assess threats to theses systems six months before an election. Among the mandates in the Election Security Act (H.R. 2660) are a requirement for states to use paper ballots, the establishment of cyber security standards for vendors of voting systems, requiring the Department of Homeland Security and the Election Assistance Commission to issue recommendations to address threats, requiring the testing of election systems nine months prior to elections, creating a commission to protect U.S. democratic institutions and requiring the president to develop a strategy to protect these institutions. The bill was introduced by Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and John Sarbanes (D-Md.).
Parsons Goes Public. Parsons, the $3.6 billion technical solutions provider to U.S. government defense and security agencies and critical infrastructure communities, closed its initial public offering last week, raising $463 million in net proceeds. Parsons is trading on the New York Stock Exchange using the stock ticker symbol “PSN.”
In-Q-Tel Partnership. Data analytics firm Tamr, Inc. has entered into a strategic partnership with In-Q-Tel to help further development and deploy the company’s Unify enterprise data unification software systems. In-Q-Tel is a non-profit strategic investor that supports the development and delivery of advanced technologies to the U.S. intelligence community and Defense Department. “The U.S. intelligence and defense communities arguably face the most complicated and challenging data environments in the world, and we see Tamr as an essential capability to delivering better insights from data while also enabling improved data sharing across the community,” said A.J. Bertone, principal, Investments at IQT. The amount of the strategic investment wasn’t disclosed.
Senate Letter. Senate Democrats sitting on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittees for Defense and Military Construction collectively sent a letter May 10 to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, opposing the reprogramming of $1.5 billion for additional border wall construction. In the letter, they critique the fact that the transfer process has occurred for the second time in two months and express concerns that the reprogramming comes at the expense of relief for military bases recently impacted by natural disasters. “We note that the decision to notify us of the reprogramming comes the day after you testified before the Subcommittee on Defense, and hours after the announcement of the President’s intent to nominate you to be Secretary of Defense,” the letter said. “We look forward to hearing your views on how you intend to repair the damaged relationship between the defense oversight committees and the Department.”
Army IBCS. Northrop Grumman is expected to deliver the full set of 11 Engagement Operation Centers and 18 Integrated Fire Control Network (IFCN) relays required for limited user testing of the Army’s next-generation air and missile defense battle command platform by the end of July, according to the PEO Missiles and Space Project Manager. The Army received the first EOC for the IBCS platform on March 14, which has delivered to the Northrop Grumman Huntsville Manufacturing Center in Madison, Alabama. The deliveries meet the current program schedule, which is on track to move IBCS toward an operational test in 2020 and initial fielding in 2022. The 11 EOCs and 18 IFCN relays will be used for developmental testing, environmental qualification testing and limited user testing, according to a PEO Missiles and Space spokesperson.
Space Business. Leosat Enterprises announced May 6 that it has signed more than $2 billion in commercial agreements before launching a new low-Earth orbit constellation of KA=band communications satellites in partnership with Thales Alenia Space. “Whilst the list of companies launching ‘build it and they will come’ mega satellite constellations continues to grow, we believe that our commercial agreements … clearly demonstrate LeoSat’s unique solution is more than a vision,” said Mark Rigolle, CEO of LeoSat Enterprises. The company made the announcement at the annual SATELLITE show in Washington, D.C.