The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense

Markup Madness. The full HASC will hold its annual day-long session for marking up the defense authorization bill this Wednesday, two weeks before the SASC starts its work on the same policy-setting legislation. The SASC subcommittee markups will start May 22, with the Seapower, Readiness and Management Support, Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Airland, and Personnel subpanels. On May 23, the Strategic Forces subcommittee will hold its markup. All of the SASC markup sessions, with the exception of the Readiness and Management Support subcommittee’s, will be closed to the public. The full SASC plans to start its markup of the combined bill on May 23, with the goal of finishing May 24. Yet, as it has in past years, the committee has scheduled a tentative markup session on May 25–the day before the Memorial Day weekend–in case debate continues into a third day behind closed doors.

One Unfunded. The Pentagon has identified one–and only one–unfunded requirement not covered in its FY ’13 budget request: a “pressing” intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment requirement for Special Operations Command (SOCOM). “The High Definition Full Motion Video (HD FMV) with electro-optical, infrared and short wave infrared (EO/IR/SWIR) is an urgent requirement that was not fully quantified until after the FY ’13 president’s budget was finalized,” SOCOM Commander Adm. William McRaven writes to HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.). The equipment’s estimated cost in FY ’13 is $143 million, McRaven writes, adding the command has a plan to cover $37.1 million in needed FY ’12 funding. The SOCOM letter, from April 9, is the only one Smith received from the Pentagon citing any so-called unfunded requirements not included in the Pentagon’s FY ’13 budget. All of the military services, breaking with tradition, told Smith they have no unfunded requirements this year.

Navy Numbers. Three HASC subcommittee chairmen don’t want the Navy to alter its rules for counting the Battle Force ships to make the service’s fleet seem larger to the public than it is. Reps. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Todd Akin (R-Mo.), and Rob Wittman (R-Va.) send Navy Secretary Ray Mabus a May 1 letter pointing to comments from Mabus and Navy Under Secretary Robert Work that the Navy may change its ship-counting method. The congressmen–who chair the Readiness, Seapower, and Oversight and Investigations subcommittees–specifically ask if the service may start counting Patrol Coastal Ships and Hospital Ships as part of the Battle Force. “Given that Congress is tasked by the Constitution to ‘provide and maintain a Navy,’ we trust that any changes to how the Battle Force is counted will be executed in full consultation with the Executive Branch so that a mutually agreeable outcome can be achieved,” they write.

Governors’ Defense. HASC Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) asks for the nation’s governors to share how the potential “sequestration” cuts to the Pentagon’s budget–which could total $500 billion over nine years starting in January–would impact them. “The committee would greatly appreciate any insight and concerns that you and other governors could share regarding the impact of potential defense sequester cuts to the Guard for both your state and national missions,” McKeon writes on April 30 to Dave Heineman and Jake Markell, the chairman and vice chair of the National Governors Association. The HASC chairman also says he is concerned the Pentagon’s beefed-up request for Air National Guard funding in FY ’13–which Defense Secretary Leon Panetta unveiled last month, after governors across the nation objected to larger Guard budget cuts the Pentagon initially proposed in February–still is not “satisfactory.” He tells the governors’ group it has his “commitment to make sure your concerns are considered during Congress’ legislative efforts this year” regarding Air National Guard funding.

Gates’ Jolt. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates is now on Starbucks’ Board of Directors, serving on its Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, the coffee company announces May 2. Gates’ “unique global perspective and more than four decades of distinguished public service will complement and strengthen our board as we accelerate our global growth and expand our commitment to the communities where we do business all around the world,” says Starbucks Chairman, President, and CEO Howard Schultz in a statement. Gates, who retired as defense secretary last June, is the chancellor of the College of William & Mary in Virginia. Gates says he has “Starbucks to thank for keeping me caffeinated through many long days and nights during my years in Washington,” and states he will help the company “navigate our increasingly complex world in the years ahead.”

A year early. The latest Virginia-class (SSN-774) attack submarine was delivered to the Navy last week nearly a year ahead of schedule and at the fastest rate so far for any of the ships in the class, according to Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). The Navy took control of the USS Mississippi (SSN-782) from General Dynamics’ Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Conn., on Wednesday. The vessel was completed in 62 months, setting a record for the program, NAVSEA says. “It should not be missed that with this one year early, under cost, delivery came the most complete, combat-ready Virginia-class submarine yet delivered,” Rear Adm. David Johnson, the Navy’s program executive officer for submarines, says. Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding yard in Virginia teams with Electric Boat to build the submarines. The Virginia-class program experienced massive delays and cost overruns in the early stages of the program 10 years ago. The Mississippi is scheduled for commissioning June 2 in Pascagoula, Miss.

Another ship. The Navy also accepted delivery last week of the final Arleigh-Burke-class (DDG-51) destroyer under the original procurement plan for the ships, NAVSEA says. General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works facility in Maine turned the USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112) over to the Navy on Friday. Lt. Michael Murphy was a Navy SEAL who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan. He was the first SEAL to receive the award since the Vietnam War, the Navy says. The DDG-112 completed acceptance trials in March. The Navy elected to restart production of the DDG-51 guided missile and missile defense destroyers as it limited its buy of the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class to three ships and scrapped plans for a next generation class of cruisers. The Navy is currently seeking congressional approval for a multi-year contract for nine DDG-51s, during which the service plans to transition to the first Flight III version of the ships, which are slated to receive a more powerful radar. The first restart ship, the DDG-113, is scheduled for delivery in 2016. Three more are already under contract.

ONR UAV. The Office of Naval Research says its Flexrotor vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is entering the next phase of its development after the awarding of a contract for an upgraded propulsion system for transitioning the UAV from vertical to cruising flight. The contract was awarded to Aerovel Corp., a developer of miniature robotic aircraft in Washington state. The small UAV has a design that includes an oversized propeller with controls similar to a helicopter for vertical take-off and landing, but the wings of a conventional aircraft for horizontal flight. “With Flexrotor, the two biggest benefits to sailors and Marines would be the ability to do extended maritime surveillance from a ship, and to do so with a small footprint,” John Kinzer, ONR program officer for air vehicle technology, says. ONR says the UAV would only occupy about half the space on a ship needed by other UAVS.

Acquisition: The Series. The first publication in a multivolume series on the history of the acquisition of major weapons systems by DoD is out. “Rearming For The Cold War 1945-1960” is written by DoD author Elliot Converse, who looks at changes in policies, organizations and processes. The series is under the auspices of the Historical Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The volume for the first time, combines histories of OSD and the military services. The 655-page volume drills deeply into the subject, including the evolution of the term “acquisition” in the late 1950s. The discussion includes the political context, the origin and outcomes of acquisition reform, the role of the private sector and the development of the acquisition workforce. As well, there are multiple footnotes, endnotes and a select bibliography as well as tables, charts and appendices. 

New Relationship. Eaton Corp. says it has entered a creative new relationship with Purdue University as a founding member of the Center for Technology Development that launched in January. The membership reflects Eaton’s recognition that many of the world’s most advanced industrial research and development projects are taking place in university classrooms and laboratories. Eaton, American Axle and Manufacturing, and John Deere, the three founding members, will each contribute $50,000 a year for the next three years to help start the center, which provides members with a diversified set of resources to carry out research and development, direct problem-solving and feasibility studies for future products. “Eaton sees great potential in developing people and building our knowledge and skills base through collaborative projects,” says Brad Morton, president of Eaton’s Aerospace Group and a Purdue mechanical engineering technology graduate.

Improved Security. Boeing completes the first delivery of its tactical cross-domain technology, eXMeritus HardwareWall, to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) for integration into the Ground Control Station (GCS) of the Predator/Reaper Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV). The delivery is part of a contract from GA-ASI that includes additional deliveries of HardwareWall and associated information assurance and engineering support. eXMeritus HardwareWall improves the ability of intelligence analysts and warfighters to securely access videos and imagery from the MQ-1Predator and MQ-9 Reaper. “Our customers acknowledge that one of the most important challenges today is the need for better collaboration on mission planning and execution,” says Jonathan Moneymaker, director, Boeing Intelligence Systems Group. “Our solution provides fast, secure transfer of real-time Predator information, enabling greater collaboration and information sharing across multiple secure networks.” This contract is part of the U.S. Air Force’s GCS Modernization Program. Predator and Reaper provide tactical and strategic intelligence to operational commanders worldwide.

New Army Reserve Chief Confirmed. Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Talley last week was confirmed by the Senate for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and assignment as the Chief of the Army Reserve and Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command. As the Chief of the Army Reserve, Talley will be the principal staff adviser to the Army Chief of Staff on all Army Reserve Affairs and will command all Army Reserve troop program units worldwide, a total of 205,000 soldiers and over 12,000 civilians. Talley replaces Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, who has held the position since May 25, 2006. Talley will be promoted to lieutenant general on June 9 just before Stultz relinquishes command at a ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the Headquarters, US. Army Reserve Command. Then Talley will immediately be sworn-in as the 32nd Chief of Army Reserve. Most recently Talley served as the commanding general, 84th Training Command(Unit Readiness), Fort Knox, Ky., As a citizen-soldier, Talley is president and CEO of Environmental Technology Solutions (ETS Partners), and an Adjunct Professor at The Johns Hopkins University in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering. He will step down as CEO before the June 9 ceremonies.

A Million Plus. The Transportation Security Administration says it has now screened more than one million travelers through its risk-based screening initiative, PreCheck. The initiative was rolled out last year and will likely accelerate as more airlines and airports are permitted by the agency to allow select passengers to be eligible for the expedited screening process.

Virginia’s Minutemen. The State of Virginia is creating a Minuteman Team that will provide the public and private sector infrastructure in the state with quick response capabilities in the event of a cyber security emergency, Virginia’s Secretary of Technology Jim Duffey says at Defense Daily’s Cyber Security Summit last week. The cyber security team will consist of Virginia-based National Guardsmen with support from Northrop Grumman, which is the prime contractor for an ongoing information technology consolidation across the state’s agencies. Duffey says he is working to have the Department of Homeland Security let the Minuteman Team become a pilot project that could provide lessons learned and best practices for other states.