Defense Watch: Future NCA Weapons, Mayorkas Confirmation, Taiclet Adds Chairman Role

Future NCA Weapons. The Air Force procurement of existing weapons, such as the Boeing GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, generally allows little deviation for the addition of new capabilities so it looks as if the Air Force will likely look more to adding networked, collaborative and autonomous (NCA) capabilities onto future weapons. In December, an Air Force F-16 released two collaborative small diameter bombs (CSDBs) in what the service said was the first flight demonstration of collaborative weapons. The CSDB uses a collaborative autonomy payload by California-based Scientific Applications and Research Associates, Inc. (SARA) to locate and prioritize targets. Col. Garry Haase, head of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s munitions directorate, said that the Air Force decided to modify an existing SDB to accelerate the Golden Horde flight demonstration.

On His Way. The Senate on Monday evening is expected to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas as the Biden administration’s Secretary of Homeland Security after the chamber invoked cloture to forward the nomination to a vote on confirmation. The motion to invoke cloture passed 55 to 42, with Republican Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah) and Dan Sullivan (Alaska) joining the 49 Democrats that voted in favor. The Mayorkas nomination is clouded by his intervention into an immigrant investor visa program on behalf of several Democrats during the early years of the Obama administration while he was director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Chairman of the Board. James Taiclet, who became Lockheed Martin’s president and CEO last June after Marillyn Hewson stepped down, will add the role of chairman come March 1 when Hewson retires as the company’s executive chairman and member of the board. Hewson will continue to serve the nation’s largest defense contractor as a strategic adviser to Taiclet through Feb. 28, 2022.

…New Aeronautics Chief. The company’s board also elected Gregory Ulmer, 56, as executive vice president of the Aeronautics segment, which he has been leading since Dec. 1 after Michele Evans took a leave of absence. Ulmer’s appointment is effective Feb. 1. Evans died earlier this year. Before becoming acting head of Aeronautics, Ulmer led Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program. Bill Brotherton, who has been acting general manager for the F-35 while Ulmer has been leading Aeronautics, will continue as the program chief in an acting role.

…Other People. Jim Bridenstine, who was administrator of NASA during the Trump administration, has joined the private equity firm Acorn Growth Companies as a full-time senior adviser. Oklahoma-based Acorn is a middle market firm that invests exclusively in aerospace, defense and intelligence. Before leading NASA, Bridenstine represented Oklahoma’s First congressional district in the U.S. House. He is a former Navy pilot. And the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, better known in Washington, D.C. as the Wilson Center, has named Ambassador Mark Green as president, director and CEO. Green joins Wilson after serving as executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership, and before that as administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development. He succeeds Jane Harman, who has led the center for 10 years after previously representing California’s 36th congressional district as a Democrat in the U.S. House.

DIU Cyber Investment. CounterCraft said it has received a contract with the Defense Department’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to advance its cyber threat detection and intelligence gathering capabilities. The Other Transaction Agreement with the DIU follows a recent investment by the non-profit venture capital firm In-Q-Tel in Spain-based CounterCraft to enable it to open a U.S. office. CounterCraft’s cyber deception platform creates a synthetic environment that tricks adversaries to believe they are on a target’s network while at the same time allowing the targeted entity to gather information about the attacker’s tactics, techniques and procedures. Using the OTA, the award to CounterCraft was made quickly. Under the contract, CounterCraft will provide its platform to DoD cyber security operators.

T-AKE 1. Military Sealift Command awarded Alabama Shipyard LLC a $20 million contract for a 76-calendar day shipyard availability for a regular overhaul/dry docking of the USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1) dry cargo/ammunition ship. The vessel delivers various supplies to ships at sea. The contract includes options that, if exercised, would raise the total contract value to $22 million. Work will occur in Mobile, Ala., and is expected to last through May 2021. The contract was competitively procured with three offers received, but DoD did not disclose the other competitors.

ATE Call. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Rapid Prototyping, Experimentation and Demonstration (RPED) team on Jan. 26 called for new academia and industry partners to participate in the next Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX)/Test-Exe (ATE) event. The Navy will accept participant applications through Feb. 28. The theme of this year’s exercises is Joint War at Sea. The service is particularly interested in technology areas including Resilient COMMS/data networks., alternative position navigation timing, UAV technologies, and autonomous tools. The main ATE event will occur in Lexington Park, Md., at Naval Air Station Patuxent River and its Webster Outlying Field from May 10-21.

NMT. The Navy awarded Raytheon Technologies a $20 million modification to produce, test and deliver fully integrated Navy Multiband Terminals (NMTs). This raises the total NMT contract value to $557 million. NMT is a “multiband capable satellite communications terminal that provides protected and wideband communications,” DoD said in the contract announcement Jan. 26. Work will largely be split between Largo, Fla. (54 percent), South Deerfield, Mass. (25 percent), and Stow, Mass. (13 percent), and is expected to be finished by May 2022.This sole-source contract was not competitive procured.

SSN-769. The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Toledo (SSN-769) arrived at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) on Jan. 21 for an engineering overhaul, the Navy said Jan. 29. The service said about 437,000 workdays will be needed to replace, repair and overhaul various components throughout the vessel.

…Dry Dock First. However, the Toledo will first be pierside for an “extended period” before moving to the dry dock because the dry dock is currently undergoing maintenance to upgrade its caisson, flood wall and piping. The dry dock maintenance is part of the larger Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP). “Due to the construction timeline on having Dry Dock 2 ready for us to dock, we decided to build a plan to get as much work finished as possible pierside prior to docking,” Deputy Project Superintendent Chad Waldroup said in a statement.

Ekranoplane MOA. The Flying Ship Company and LogistiWerx signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) providing for Flying Ship ground effect vessels to use LogistiWerx’s logistics solution, the companies said on Jan. 25. Flying Ship is developing ekranoplane-type surface vessels that will fly just over the water, aim to be 10 times faster than boats, and cost one quarter the price of planes. The concept is for fast and inexpensive delivery of time-critical goods. LogistiWerx incorporates new developments in telecommunications, operational software, autonomy, and hardware to support shippers and carriers. “The partnership with LogistiWerx is a major step forward for Flying Ship Company. Their logistics platform provides enormous benefits to our maritime vessels as we work toward full commercialization. We look forward to working with them to secure funding to bring this project to reality,” Flying Ship CEO Bill Peterson said in a statement.

Army Network CFT. The Army will soon have a new director leading its tactical network modernization efforts, naming Brig Gen. Jeth Rey as the next leader of the Network Cross Functional Team. Rey, the current J-6 at U.S. Central Command, will replace Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher. “[Brig. Gen.] Jeth Rey is the perfect choice to serve as the next director of the N-CFT. His years of experience as a Soldier, NCO, Warrant Officer, and Officer with a multitude of conventional and Special Operations Signal and Cyber assignments make him uniquely qualified to lead this critical modernization effort for the Army,” Gallagher said. Under Gallagher’s leadership, the Army began a process to drop in new capabilities every two years to begin overhauling the network while keeping up industry’s latest developments with network tools. Rey’s start date is not yet determined and there is no confirmation yet on Gallagher’s next steps, according to the Network CFT.

JLTV/Spike Missile. The Slovenian Armed Forces recently completed a successful test fire of Israeli-defense firm Rafael’s Spike long-range anti-tank guided missile from Oshkosh’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. “The demonstration displayed the enhanced capabilities of the Spike launch as a force multiplier for mobilizer land forces, enabling precision strikes against armored targets with improved precision at extended ranges and beyond-line-of-sight,” Oshkosh said in a statement. The Spike missile was fired from a Kongsberg Protector Remote Weapon Station mounted on the JLTV. Slovenia signed a contract in October to receive 38 JLTVS, with the first vehicles set to be delivered this year.  

Great Guns! The Transportation Security Administration says it detected twice as many firearms per million of passengers screened at airport security checkpoints in 2020 than in 2019, capturing 3,257 guns either on passengers or in their carry-on bags. That’s a big haul considering passenger traffic was down considerably for most of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency said its officers detected 10 guns per million passengers screened in 2020 versus five per million in 2019. In 2019, TSA found a record 4,432 firearms—87 percent of them loaded—at airport security checkpoints.

German Laser. German awarded a consortium consisting of MBDA and Rheinmetall to fabricate, integrate and support testing of a laser weapon demonstrator in a maritime environment, MBDA said Jan. 28. The company said the order value is in low double-digit million euro range, which equates to about $8 million to $11 million. The work will be shared roughly equally between the companies. MBDA will lead on tracking, operator console and linking the laser weapon demonstrator to the command and control system. Rheinmetall will lead the laser weapon station, the beam guiding system, cooling, and integration of the weapon system into the project container of the laser source demonstrator. The demonstrator is set to be built, tested, and integrated by the end of 2021, with trials planned aboard the German Navy frigate F124 Sachsen in 2022.

Space Importance. U.S. Air Force Maj Gen Chad Franks, commander of Air Combat Command’s (ACC) 15th Air Force at Shaw AFB, S.C., knows firsthand the importance of space to military systems and personnel. On March 28, 1999, then-Capt. Franks helmed an MH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter that rescued the pilot of an Air Force F-117 Nighthawk that Serbian forces had shot down seven hours earlier. “We would never have found him, if it weren’t for space,” Franks said. “Space provided that rapid location.”

…JADC2. While 15th Air Force units deploy on a regular basis, personnel stateside have been helping the service with the testing of Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and the service’s component of JADC2, the Advanced Battle Management System. “We gave iPads out to those that were going out in the field [for a recent ABMS exercise],” Franks said. “They were able to see exactly what was going on at the tactical level all the way up to the strategic level when it comes to supplies…and [things] that they needed. A lot of our JSTARS and AWACS units participate in the ABMS experiments. We’re trying to link the operators up with the acquisition officers so that we get a really good product that will be useful.”

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DDN Staff