Future WGS Satellites?  The Air Force continues to evaluate Boeing’s proposal to build two additional Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellites after launching what was previously expected to be the final system in the constellation last month, AF SMC Commander Lt. Gen. John Thompson said Thursday at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Congress fully funded WGS 11 and 12 in the FY ’18 defense budget. “We have been working very, very closely with Boeing and our other industry partners and our warfighters to make sure that we adhere to the intent of Congress, but don’t do things the same old way we have always done with respect to procuring WGS satellites,” Thompson told reporters. The 10th WGS satellite was successfully launched March 15 aboard a ULA Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Icebreaker Concerns. The Coast Guard’s fiscal year 2020 budget request of $35 million for its new heavy icebreaker is insufficient for the purchase of long-lead time materials to maintain the program schedule, Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) said April 9th in his opening remarks at a House Homeland Security Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee hearing with the heads of the Coast Guard and Transportation Security Administration. Correa, chairman of the subcommittee, was referring to the advance purchase of materials for the second Polar Security Cutter (PSC). The Coast Guard is expected to award a contract for the detailed design and construction of the first PSC within a month and already has the funding. House staffers say the Coast Guard has told them it needs $100 million for long-lead materials for the second PSC or the ship’s schedule will be a risk. A Coast Guard spokesman told Defense Daily the budget request “supports program management with executing the PSC detail design and construction contract and maintaining the program schedule.”

Markups. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees this week released the committee markup schedule for the FY ’20 National Defense Authorization Act. The SASC committees will meet May 20-21, and the full committee will consider the chairman’s mark May 22-23. All meetings are closed expect for the SASC personnel subcommittee’s markup. The HASC committees will meet June 4-5, and the full committee will consider the chairman’s mark June 12. HASC markup meetings are open to Capitol Hill press.

Army Gen. Mark Milley, chief of staff of the Army, addresses the National Guard Association of the United States 138th General Conference, Baltimore, Md., Sept. 10, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill)

Official CJCS Leadership Nominations. The White House’s April 9 general officer nominations included the long-awaited official nomination to promote Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. U.S. Strategic Command Commander Air Force Gen. John Hyten was nominated to become the next vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced earlier that day at the annual Space Symposium in Colorado.

Marine Corps Moves. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Eric Smith was nominated to become deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration and commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.  Smith is currently serving as the commanding general, III Marine Expeditionary Force; and commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Japan, Okinawa, Japan.

New F-35 JPO Leader. Air Force Maj. Gen. Eric T. Fick was nominated to receive his third star and succeed Vice Adm. Mat Winter to become the next director, Joint Strike Fighter Program. Fick is currently serving as the F-35 JPO’s deputy director.

New NORAD Component Leader. Air Force Maj. Gen. Marc H. Sasseville was nominated to receive his third star and become the next commander for the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Command Region; and commander, First Air Force (Air Forces Northern), stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.  Sasseville is currently serving as deputy director of the Air National Guard. The Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR) provides airspace surveillance and control and directs air sovereignty activities for the continental United States.

EW Support. The Air Force has chosen Harris to continue to provide ground-based electronic warfare (EW) systems and infrastructure, the company said April 8. Harris will provide depot support and sustainment engineering, system upgrades and modifications along with studies and analysis, transition of future systems and operations support. “Harris will help maintain U.S. space superiority by providing electronic warfare systems support to Air Force Space Command anywhere in the world,” said Chris Forseth, vice president and general manager, Harris Space Superiority in a press release Monday.

Boeing Contract Award. Boeing was awarded April 1 a $91 million contract modification to a previously awarded contract for the Air Force’s Advanced Display Core Processor II Low-Rate Initial Production 3. The modification provides for the exercise of an option for the production and integration of the ADCPII boxes into the F-15 platform. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be complete by Dec. 28, 2021.

Raytheon Contract Award. Raytheon awarded April 8 a $70 million IDIQ contract for F-16 engineering services. The contract provides for engineering services, organic depot stand-up support, interim contract support, and production support of the F-16 Center Display Unit. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is expected to be complete by Feb. 28, 2025.

Defense Outlays. Pentagon spending in the government’s second quarter continued its robust pace for the fiscal year 2019 with procurement, research and development, and operations and maintenance outlays all up, Roman Schweizer, an analyst with the investment banking firm Cowen’s Washington Research Group, said in client note. Based on a release of government outlays by the Treasury Department, he said defense outlays in the second quarter were up 38 percent in R&D, 19 percent in procurement, and 7 percent in O&M, “well above our forecast.” The firm’s clients have been asking why the strong outlays haven’t shown up with similar sales growth among the defense prime contractors, noting that this may be a question for corporate managers when they begin reporting financial results later this month.

In-Q-Tel Investment. i-Blades, a Silicon Valley start-up that makes smart cases to enhance smartphones, has received a strategic investment from In-Q-Tel, a non-profit venture capital investor for the U.S. intelligence and defense communities. i-blades said the investment allows it to accelerate development of its technology for new public, private and command solutions. The company’s snap-on and snap-off smart phone cases work with any smartphone to expand its capabilities, such as providing more battery, more memory, more radios, more sensors, better audio and other features. “We see i-Blades as a key strategic partner in providing solutions that enhance government efforts to speed up time-to-market, lower costs, and simplify user learning,” said Eileen Tanghal, a partner for Investments at In-Q-Tel.

FireEye Expands in NoVa. Cyber security firm FireEye is expanding its footprint in Northern Virginia, opening a new facility in Reston that will be the focus of its Managed Defense operations for around-the-clock threat monitoring. Initially more than 300 employees will work at the location, which is the company’s largest security operations center, with room to expand further. The California-based company is also planning to move into new office space in Alexandra, which is home to its Mandiant cyber security consultants.

Virginia AP. Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division won a $727 million contract from General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) to continue procuring long-lead-time material for Virginia-class submarines, HII said April 12. The new award covers funding for an existing contract to support construction of Block V submarines. This raises the overall contract value to HII to $1.04 billion. The Virginia-class boats are built jointly by GDEB and HII NNS, with both companies building certain parts of each boat and taking turns building the reactor and performing final assembly.

LPD-29. The U.S. Navy and Huntington Ingalls Industries laid the keel for the future USS Richard M. McCool, Jr. (LPD-29) during a ceremony at the company’s Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard. This ceremony symbolically recognizes the joining of modular components and the beginning of ship construction. Fabrication of LPD-29 began in July 2018 and is expected to be delivered in 2023. LPD-29 and the finished USS Portland (LPD-28) will serve as transition ships to LPD-30, the first ship in the Flight II San Antonio-class ships that are replacing the Navy’s LSD-41/39 class ships.

DARPA PALS. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) biological technology office chose Northrop Grumman to prototype sensing capabilities in the Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors (PALS) program. PALS will use undersea organisms to passively detect and track threats. The contract will have the company develop biological sensing hardware with increased sensitivities for specific sensor modalities to reach a greater range. The system will also use artificial intelligence to observe patterns in the marine environment to help classify targets. Northrop Grumman will also work with Coda Octopus; Duke University; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and the University of Memphis.

Army Vice Chief. Lt. Gen. Joseph Martin, director of the Army staff, has been nominated to be the service’s next vice chief of staff. The president sent the nomination to the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 8. Martin would succeed Gen. James McConville, who is set to serve as the next Army chief of staff. McConville’s nomination to lead the Army arrived after Gen. Mark Milley, the current Army chief, was nominated as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Perspecta/DARPA Award. Perspecta said April 10 it has received a $5.7 million deal to continue its work on a DARPA program to develop real-time network restoration technology. Under the Edge-Directed Cyber Technologies for Reliable Mission Communication (EdgeCT) program, Perspecta has been designing an edge-based tool to defend critical networks against a range of cyber attacks, known as Distributed Enclave Defense Using Configurable Edges (DEDUCE). Additional work with this latest deal will focus on transitioning DEDUCE to a more broadly available offering. “We look forward to continuing to support DARPA in transitioning this innovative system to additional users to enable mission-aware service assurance,” Petros Mouchtaris, president of Perspecta Labs, said in a statement.

Army BLADE RFI. The Army on April 11 issued an RFI to gather information on industry’s ability to deliver a vehicle-based sensor capable of providing alerts to precision fire control radars, calling the effort the Ballistic Low Altitude Drone Engagement (BLADE) 360 Degree Detection System. Officials said the cueing sensor would be vehicle-mounted on platforms from Humvees and JLTVs to Bradleys and Strykers. An initial requirement for the BLADE systems is the ability to provide 360-degree detection of Group 1 UAS platforms, which the Army classified as systems weighing under 20 pounds. Responses to the RFI are due by May 10.

France/NATO Cyber. NATO’s largest live-fire cyber exercise of the year, Locked Shields, concluded this week with officials announcing that a team from France won the event. “The winning team excelled in availability, usability and providing services for the customer,” Lauri Luht, NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence’s head of cyber exercises, said in a statement. This year’s exercise involved 2,500 simulated cyber threats directed at 4,000 virtualized systems, including 150 attacks on complex IT systems. Locked Shields is NATO’s annual exercise to test information sharing capacities among partner nations and allow operators to test chains of command during virtual cyber attacks. The Czech Republic and Sweden received second and third place, respectively.