USSF-67. The U.S. Space Force (USSF) may launch its USSF-67 mission from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on Jan. 12 aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Payloads will include Boeing’s Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM 2 (CBAS 2) communications satellite and the Northrop Grumman Long Duration Propulsive ESPA 3 (LDPE-3A) rideshare satellite hosting multiple experimental payloads. The first CBAS satellite launched in 2018. Based on Northrop Grumman’s ESPAStar satellite bus, the LDPE series is to transition to Northrop Grumman’s planned Rapid On-orbit Space Technology Evaluation Ring (ROOSTER) “freight train to space” after LDPE-3. Northrop Grumman said that the ESPAStar has hardware to enable five independent deployments per mission.

Drone Supply Chains. On Jan. 2, Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy said that Russia is “planning a prolonged attack” with Iranian Shahed drones. Russia’s “bet may be on exhaustion—on exhaustion of our people, our air defense, our energy sector,” Zelenskyy said. “Now is the time when everyone involved in the protection of the sky should be especially attentive.” In a Dec. 27 editorial in the Arabic-language

Asharq al-Awsat [Middle East] international newspaper headquartered in London, Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote that the United States must “attack [Iranian] drone supply chains, to include components made in the United States and by our partners, and sanction those companies that fail to comply.” Risch wrote that Congress “has so far failed to enact the Stop Iranian Drones Act [H.R. 6089], a powerful sanctions tool which would add Iran’s drone program to the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act” and that such an addition “is critical to demonstrate the political will to address this deficiency as soon as possible.” The House passed H.R. 6089 last April with 424 “yes” votes, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the bill in June, but the Senate has not voted on it.

F-15EX Air-to-Air. U.S. Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) said on Jan. 4 that two Boeing F-15EX Eagle II fighters from the 96th Test Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., recently began proving out the Eagle II’s capacity to carry 12 air-to-air missiles, four more than previous F-15s. On Nov. 29 over the Eglin Test and Training Range in the Gulf of Mexico, the F-15EXs fired a Raytheon Technologies AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile from weapons station 1 on the plane and an AIM-9X from weapons station 9. “The F-15EX Eagle II adds four additional missile stations located toward the wing tips,” AFMC said. “This [Nov. 29] mission provided the first test points for validating the expanded carriage and employment capabilities of the Eagle II. Both aircraft successfully released the missiles on separate passes against a target drone.  The releases were another milestone in the F-15EX’s developmental test program, but also incorporated many operational test objectives during the mission…With this success, these missile launches pushed forward the aircraft’s integrated developmental and operational testing here, where the F-15EX fired its first missile just nine months ago.” After the completion of initial testing, operational squadrons that receive the F-15EX will be able to use the “full load-out of 12 [air-to-air] missiles on the aircraft upon fielding,” AFMC said.

SNA. The Surface Navy Association’s 35th national symposium is taking place from Jan. 10-12 in Arlington, Va. The association notes the event will have over 80 exhibitors and over 3,000 attendees. Speakers will include Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday,  Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, Commander of Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command Vice Adm. William Galinis and other top Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard officers and officials. 

Counter-Drone Authorities. The fiscal year 2023 Omnibus appropriations package signed into law by President Biden in late December extends until Sept. 30 existing counter-drone authorities given to the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice in 2018. The current law allows DHS and DoJ to protect certain facilities in the U.S. from unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) The extension gives Congress time to continue to consider new legislation to expand the authorities, including authorizing the Transportation Security Administration to protect transportation infrastructure, including the ability to detect, track, identify, monitor and defeat small UAS threats. A Senate bill in the previous Congress would extend the counter-drone authorities to state and local law enforcers and critical infrastructure entities.

People News. Leonardo DRS in December announced two new appointments to its board of directors: Reggie Brothers, an operating partner at the private equity firm AE Industrial (AEI) Partners, and Eric Salzman, the CEO of Safeguard Scientific. Brothers, a former under secretary of homeland security for Science and Technology, until recently was CEO of AEI’s portfolio company Vincent Stewart, a retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen., on Jan. 1 resigned from Lockheed Martin’s board due to a change in his external job responsibilities. He was elected to the company’s board last July. iRocket, a developer of reusable small rocket engine technology, has appointed Christopher Marzilli to its board. Marzilli recently retired from General Dynamics, where he led the Technologies segment. Finally, Cubic Corp. has named Paul Shew as president of its Mission and Performance Solutions segment effective Jan. 9. He most recently was senior vice president and general manager for Integrated Defense Systems at Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions.

More Army C-UAS Work. Leonardo DRS last week said the Army in November 2022 awarded the company a $20 million modification to provide additional sets of the Mobile-Low, Slow, Small Unmanned Aircraft System Integrated Defeat System (M-LIDS) counter-drone system. The modification followed a $40 million contract the company received last October from the Army for M-LIDS, which are used to detect, identify, track and defeat small unmanned aircraft systems on the battlefield using electronic warfare and kinetic defeat capabilities. The new order is for kinetic defeat systems, which include the XM914 30mm cannon integrated on a Moog Inc. turret.

Northern Border Security. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators representing northern border states last week said they sent a letter to U.S. Budget Chief Shalanda Young asking the Biden administration to continue to seek funding in fiscal year 2024 for Autonomous Surveillance Towers (ASTs) and to increase deployments of the systems along the northern border. The Border Patrol already uses the Anduril Industries-built Cold Weather ASTs in two northern border sectors, allowing agents to take advantage of the autonomy the systems provide in identifying items of interest. The nine senators point out that most of the surveillance systems along the northern border require manual operation, which means constant staffing. The Dec. 19, 2022 letter was signed by Republicans John Hoeven (N.D.), Keven Cramer (N.D.), James Risch (Idaho), Mike Crapo (Idaho) and Steve Daines (Mont.), Democrats Jon Tester (Mont.), Tina Smith (Minn.), and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), and Angus King (I/D-Maine).

Geospatial Awards. Maxar Technologies last week said that it has received two new contract awards worth $35.8 million from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency to provide satellite data of Earth and software to allow customers to better query the company’s extensive database of commercial imagery products. Under a one-year award worth up to $22.5 million funded by NGA’s Janus Geography program, Maxar will build on its work delivering geospatial intelligence data “by characterizing land cover at high resolution over numerous previously unmanned areas,” the company says. Initial funding is for $11.3 million. The second award is worth up to $13.3 million and assists NGA’s Foundation Program with an enhanced application programming interface to query, discover and download Maxar products from the company’s 125-petabyte high-resolution commercial imager archive and deliver the data directly to the customer’s cloud account. The two awards were made in mid- and late September 2022, a Maxar spokesman tells Defense Daily.

Taiwan FMS. The State Department on Dec. 28 approved a potential $180 million foreign military sale with Taiwan for Volcano vehicle-launched anti-tank munition-laying systems. Under the deal, Taiwan would also receive M977A4 HEMTT cargo trucks, M87A1 anti-tank munitions and training munitions. “The proposed sale will improve the recipient’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a credible force capable of deterring adversaries and participating in regional operations,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency wrote in a statement. The principal contractors for the FMS case are Northrop Grumman for the production of munition canister mines and Oshkosh Defense for the HEMTT trucks.

Senate Army Caucus. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) will serve as a new co-chair of the Senate Army Caucus, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) announced on Dec. 29. Moran will succeed Republican Jim Inhofe, who retired from his Senate seat representing Oklahoma at the end of the last Congress. “Sen. Moran has long been a steadfast advocate for our military servicemembers, and I look forward to serving with him in this new leadership role. The Army is fundamentally a ‘People First’ organization, and the Senate Army Caucus is committed to supporting our soldiers, their families, and our Army civilians and veterans. Sen. Moran will be a tremendous partner in this endeavor,” Reed, who serves as the caucus’ other co-chair, said in a statement. Moran is currently the top Republican on the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. 

Army CIO Retiring. Raj Iyer, who served as the Army’s first civilian chief information officer, is set to step down from his post within the coming weeks. Iyer, a former executive at Deloitte, announced the move in a blog post on Jan. 4. During his time with the Army, Iyer oversaw the release of the service’s new Digital Transformation Strategy, which detailed a slew of new modernization initiatives and oversight efforts that aimed to maximize IT capability for the future. “With the completion of my contract with the Army, it is now time for me to return to industry where I can take on the next big challenge. I will watch the fruits of our work for many years to come from the outside with pride. While so much of what we accomplished is visible now, the biggest accomplishments will not be seen for a few more years. The Army is on a strategic sustainable path to transform for the Army of 2030,” Iyer wrote in his announcement.

Lot 23 Sidewinders. The Navy awarded Raytheon Technologies a $317 million modification on Dec. 22, exercising options for production of hundreds of Lot 23 AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. The modification includes 290 AIM-9X Block II All Up Round Tactical Missiles divided into 160 for the Air Force, 12 for the Army,  and 118 for Foreign Military Sales (FMS). It also covers 181 AIM-9X Block II plus All Up Round Tactical Missiles for FMS; 146 Block II Captive Air Training Missiles (70 for the Air Force, 76 for FMS); 178 All Up Round Containers (66 for the Air Force, 3 for the Army, 109 for FMS); and various associated spare and logistics parts and kits. The notice also said the mod includes non-recurring engineering associated with the Systems Improvement Program III transition to production activities. Work is expected to be finished by August 2026.

DDG-82 Repair. The Navy awarded BAE Systems’ Jacksonville, Fla., Ship Repair facility a $119 million contract action for the maintenance, modernization, and repair of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Lassen (DDG-82) during a fiscal year 2023 depot modernization period. The contract was awarded on Dec. 13 but DoD announced it on Dec. 22. The department said the scope of the acquisition includes all of the labor, supervision, facilities, equipment, production, testing, and quality assurance needed to prepare for and accomplish the CNO availability for managing critical modernization, maintenance, and repair programs. Work will occur in Mayport, Fla., and is expected to be finished by April 2024. The contract includes options that, if exercised, would raise the total value to $138 million but not extend the timeline. The announcement said while the contract was competitively procured, Naval Sea Systems Command only received the one offer.

One Australian MH-60R. The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $43 million modification on Dec. 23 exercising an option for one more MH-60R Seahawk helicopter for Australia. The award also includes one Australia “unique modification kit in support of modifying the MH-60R aircraft from standard Foreign Military Sales configuration to a unique configuration for the Commonwealth of Australia.” The work is expected to be finished by May 2026. This is a modification of a $504 million order for 12 Australia MH-60Rs, originally awarded in August. 

More Sonobuoys. Naval Air Systems Command awarded ERAPSCO and Lockheed Martin modifications exercising options to procure up to 36,000 AN/SSQ-125A series production sonobuoys for the Navy. The estimated total ceiling for all the modifications is not-to-exceed $222 million, with the two companies able to compete on individual orders. The companies have won multiple awards over the past year for thousands of sonobuoys. ERAPSCO is a joint venture of Elbit Systems’ Sparton Corp. and Ultra Electronics’ Maritime business unit, formerly called Undersea Sensor Systems Inc. (USSI). Work is expected to be finished by September 2025. No funds were obligated at the time of award, but will be provided on individual task orders as they are issued.