USSTRATCOM. Air Force Gen. John Hyten will officially turn over command of U.S. Strategic Command to Vice Adm. Charles Richard Nov. 18, per a Wednesday release. The change of command ceremony will take place following a dedication ceremony for USSTRATCOM’s new command and control facility at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. Hyten has been Senate-confirmed to become the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley are scheduled to attend the ceremony.

Starliner Test. Boeing successfully tested a pad abort test of the CST-100 Starliner Nov. 4, marking a key milestone in its path to achieving a first crewed launch next year. The two-minute test was designed to simulate a launch pad emergency at the Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Only two out of three parachutes meant to help the Starliner land back on Earth actually deployed during the test. The company deemed that acceptable for test parameters and crew safety, but affirmed in a Monday statement that it will investigate the data to see what happened to the third parachute. Boeing is scheduled to perform the first uncrewed launch of the Starliner no earlier than Dec. 17, with the first crewed mission expected in spring 2020. The spacecraft is being developed under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program to eventually transport up to seven crew members to the ISS and private space stations, and to be launched by a ULA Atlas V rocket.

U.S.-Finnish SSA. Leaders of the Finnish Air Force and U.S. Space Command signed an MoU for space situational awareness between the two countries Nov. 4, the Finnish government said Monday. The MoU will allow the U.S. and Finnish militaries to exchange public space situational awareness for efforts including protection against space debris and collision mitigation. U.S. Space Command “is actively working with allies and partners to promote peace and deter aggression and, if necessary, fight and win,” the command said in a Monday statement via Twitter. “A signed Memorandum of Understanding between Finland and the U.S. on #SSA cooperation highlights that commitment.”

New SECAF First Base Visit. New Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett visited F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, for her first official base visit Oct. 27, U.S. Strategic Command said Tuesday. The visit helped to provide her with a greater understanding of the U.S. military’s nuclear mission as she visited the missile training facility U-01 and the base’s missile procedure trainer. Barrett has continued her travels this week with a stop in San Francisco for the Air Force’s space pitch day and in San Antonio, Texas, before returning back to D.C.

New AFGSC Deputy. Air Force Global Strike Command welcomed Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton as the new deputy commander Oct. 28. Cotton previously served as commander and president of Air University at Maxwell AFB, Alabama; prior to that, he served as the commander of 20th Air Force at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. He also serves as deputy commander of Air Forces Strategic-Air for U.S. Strategic Command in his new role.

Norway Declares IOC for F-35A. Less than a week after the first Norwegian F-35A arrived in country, Air Chief Brig. Gen. Tonje Skinnarland declared initial operating capability following a November deployment transferring aircraft and equipment from Ørland Air Station to Rygge Air Station, per a Wednesday news release. Norway is now the third European nation to declare IOC for its F-35s, following the United Kingdom and Italy. Next year, Norway’s F-35As will deploy to Iceland for NATO-related air-policing efforts, the nation said.

F-35 Hearing. The HASC subcommittees on readiness and tactical air and land forces will hold a joint hearing Nov. 13 on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and will question Pentagon and industry officials on the program’s sustainment, production and affordability challenges. Government witnesses scheduled to appear include: Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment; Robert Behler, director of operational test and evaluation; Air Force Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, F-35 JPO program executive officer; and Diana Maurer, GAO director of defense capabilities and management. Industry witnesses scheduled to appear include Greg Ulmer, F-35 vice president and general manager at Lockheed Martin, and Matthew Bromberg, president of military engines at Pratt & Whitney.

MUUV Day. The Navy plans to host an Industry Day on the future award of a modular, open systems, and open architecture Medium Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (MUUV) from Dec. 2-3 in the Washington, D.C., area. It will be hosted by Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants – Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office (PMS 406) and NAVSEA 06 Expeditionary Missions Program Office (PMS 408). The service plans to launch MUUV from surface and undersea platforms and is leveraging the Mk 18 Mod 2 Kingfish and Razorback UUV programs.

ESB-6 Engines. General Dynamics awarded Enpro Industries’ Fairbanks Morse Engines a contract to build and deliver the four main propulsion diesel engines for the sixth Expeditionary Sea Base ships, ESB-6. ESB-6 will be built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego while the engines will be built in Fairbanks’ Beloit, Wis., facility. The company said each engine is rated at 6,480 kW and will deliver a total 25,920 kW of installed power. Fairbanks noted the engines feature a Common Rail technology that increases power output, improves engine responsiveness, reduces weight, lowers fuel consumption, and has improved emissions. A Fairbanks spokesperson told Defense Daily all four engines will ship via rail at the same time, which is expected in the third quarter of 2020 while the engines are planned to be operational in the ship by the second half of 2021. The spokesperson also said the typical timeline for installation of the engines is within two months after delivery and Sea Trials demonstrating the engines within six months after delivery.

Sub Dry Docks. The Navy issued a presolicitation request for information (RFI) about floating dry docks to support maintenance of all classes of nuclear submarines at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. The service’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIO) Program Manager of Ships (PMS 555) “is interested in understanding if floating dry docks are a viable and cost effective alternative to graving docks for conducting docking evolutions” at Pearl Harbor, the RFI says. The solicitation specifically seeks to identify procurement cost, life cycle cost, timeline for construction, lifting and handling capabilities, ballasting control systems, mooring requirements, blocking requirements, and structural requirements for a floating dry dock production facility that can dock nuclear submarines. The Navy said the concept is to perform 80 percent of the tasks in a production facility and reduce excessive workforce movement. The concept specifically looks to cover the larger Virginia-class Block V submarines with the Virginia Payload Module.

T-EPF-12. The Navy plans to christen the latest Expeditionary Fast Transport, the future USNS Newport (T-EPF-12), during a ceremony on Nov. 9 at shipbuilder Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Ala. EPFs can carry 600 short tons of military cargo up to 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. It can operate in shallow-draft ports and interface with roll-on/roll-off facilities to offload a combat-loaded M1A2 Abrams tank. It also has a flight deck for helicopter operations.

LCS-22 Acceptance. The future USS Kansas City (LCS-22) finished acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico, shipbuilding Austal USA said Nov. 4. LCS-22 is the 11th Independence-variant LCS to reach this point. In acceptance trials an Austal industry team executed comprehensive tests to demonstrate to the Navy successful operation of the ship’s major systems and equipment. This is the last major milestone in the ship before delivery. Austal said LCS-22 will be the third ship the company is delivering to the Navy in 2019. Austal is currently building five other LCSs: the future USS Oakland (LCS-24) is launched and preparing for trials, final assembly is underway for the future USS Mobile (LCS-26) and Savannah (LCS-28), and modules for the future USS Canberra (LCS-30) and the future Santa Barbara (LCS-32) are under construction in the module manufacturing facility.

DDG-125 Keel. The keel of the first Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), was ceremoniously laid and authenticated on Nov. 7 at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. Official fabrication started in May 2018, but authentication symbolizes the joining of modular components and is a ceremonial beginning of a ship. As the first Flight III, DDG-125 will feature the SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar to better defend against missile threats. The Pascagoula shipyard is also currently building the Flight IIA destroyers Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG-121), and Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123).

DHS (Acting Chief?) Nominee. The Senate on Tuesday afternoon is scheduled to resume consideration of Chad Wolf to Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans at the Department of Homeland Security. Once confirmed, Wolf is expected to be to be named as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, taking over for Kevin McAleenan, the current acting chief of DHS whose departure is imminent. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in July favorably reported Wolf’s nomination to the Senate floor for consideration on a 10 to 4 vote, with Democrats Tom Carper (Del.) and Krysten Sinema (Ariz.) joining eight Republicans in support. The four no votes were all Democrats, including ranking member Gary Peters (Mich.) and presidential candidate Kamala Harris (Calif.).

TSA Self-Check. How would you like to essentially self-screen yourself at an airport checkpoint? If so, the Transportation Security Administration hopes to examine the possibility. TSA, along with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, has issued a Request for Information seeking potential solutions that could be “rapidly developed to detect weapons and organic threat items hidden on passengers” while they are divesting their carry-on bags and other items at an Automated Screening Lane. “Just like self-checkout at grocery stores, self-tagging checked baggage, or ATM machines, many patrons prefer an experience that they can complete all by themselves, at their own pace,” TSA and S&T say in the RFI. “Personal screening stations would increase the overall passenger screening throughput.” Responses are due by Dec. 4.

New OBIM Procurement. The Department of Homeland Security Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM] plans to host a new competition next year for the next phases of its advanced biometrics platform, called the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) system that is currently being developed by Northrop Grumman. The company is expected to deliver the first increment of HART next spring, which will coincide with the initial operating capability of the system that stores and matches fingerprints, face and iris images for its customers, which are primarily DHS components. OBIM plans to issue a Request for Proposals in January for the Mission Systems Lifecycle Support (MSLS) portion of HART and award a contract in June. Under the MSLS procurement, OBIM additional biometric modalities will be incorporated into HART as will a slew of other capabilities and features. HART is replacing the aging and costly IDENT system, which currently stores more than 259 million unique identities.

Marines’ Force Design. The Marine Corps’ new commandant continued his messaging this week on his push to reimagine the future force’s growing competition with China and Russia, saying his ultimate goal is to move toward a “threat-informed capability-based force design.” Gen. David Berger held a discussion at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where he is an alumnus, on the Marine Corps’ force posture. “We can no longer design the force based on our capabilities or a single threat. We have to now account for multiple high-level threat and develop not just the capabilities and the capacity but also the concepts for how we’re going to use our force,” Berger said. “We are designed, in other words, for a competition that’s behind us not in front of us, and that’s driving the Marine Corps to redesign our force.” Berger said his view the Marine Corps will have to move toward a Navy-based, distributed force design to compete with Russia and China’s operational and technological advancements.

NATO Cyber Opportunity. NATO’s technology and cyber group is soliciting proposals for enhanced hardware and software cyber security capabilities, the first business opportunity under its new program to modernize its information and security systems. The initial program is worth about $22.1 million, with a contract to be awarded at the end of 2020 and the work to start in early 2021. “The first project, Urgent Obsolescence Management, aims to uplift all systems that will reach their end of life within the current execution timeframes. Subsequent projects will continue to refresh ageing assets and will add enhanced capabilities, in particular in the area of cyber security situational awareness and decision support,” NATO Communications and Information Agency officials wrote in a statement. 

Marine Corps AI. The Marine Corps has tapped software company Uptake to use the company’s artificial intelligence solution to enhance predictive maintenance of its M88 Recovery vehicles. “Uptake will leverage M88 asset data to provide preventive maintenance strategies and insights into M88 vehicle health. This will improve the Marine tactical commanders’ decision-making while increasing the operational availability of the M88 fleet, and reduce both maintenance costs and hours to ensure vehicle readiness for successful deployments and safety,” company officials wrote in a statement. The agreement with the Marine Corps was worked through the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit. This is Uptake’s second military vehicle AI task order, after previously receiving a deal to provide a similar service for the Army’s Bradleys. 

Cyber Task Order. Parsons has received its first task order under a new Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific cyberspace operations contract. The potential $11.7 million deal, which includes a one-year, $2.2 million base award and four one-year options, is for Advanced Video Activity Analytics (AVAA). Parsons was selected for the overall NIWC Pacific cyberspace operations contract vehicle in May 2019, with a multiple-award deal potentially worth $710 million. “AVAA is Parsons’ server-based capability that integrates computer vision analytics from disparate sources into a single processing pipeline, selects the best solutions from across the artificial intelligence/machine learning domain, and combines them into a single solution,” the company wrote in a statement.

DoE Cyber. Booz Allen Hamilton said on Nov. 7 it received a seven-year $116 million deal from the Department of Energy to provide advanced cyber analysis and security services. Under the deal, the company will conduct penetration testing on enterprise network assets, operate an incident response and monitoring program, provide risk and vulnerability assessments and assist the department with incident responses. “Our deep bench of cyber analysis and security experts will provide the Department of Energy with state-of-the-art capabilities that will help achieve the Department’s mission and strategic goals,” Mark Gamis, Booz Allen Hamilton’s senior vice president, said in a statement. 

LTAMDS. Mercury Systems said Nov. 8 its signal processing and radio frequency were selected by Raytheon to be included in its work on the Army’s Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense program. Under LTAMDS, Raytheon will deliver a next-generation radar for the Patriot defense system. “Since 2009, Mercury has been a strategic supplier for Patriot and we continue to deliver best-of-breed technologies and rapid deployment services that improve nearly every aspect of the system,” Didier Thibaud, COO of Mercury Systems, said in a statement. “Now with LTAMDS, our customer can count on Mercury to continue supplying affordable secure and safety-critical processing subsystem solutions providing our military forces with a strategic and tactical advantage.”

Coast Guard USV Pilot. At the behest of Congress, the Coast Guard next summer plans to conduct a one-month evaluation of at least one commercially-available, autonomous unmanned surface vehicle (USV) system in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii to enhance maritime domain awareness. For the pilot, the Coast Guard seeks USVs with sensors that can alert to illegal, unreported and or unregulated fishing activity. The Coast Guard also wants the USV systems to be low cost and have minimal logistics footprint. “Department of Homeland Security entities, including the Coast Guard (CG), have limited surface and aerial assets to cover 12.2 million square miles of maritime territory in the Pacific Ocean, so with limited resources the CG needs to use intelligence and technology to ensure they are using the assets the most efficient way possible,” the Coast Guard said in a Nov. 7 solicitation.