April 26, 2019

DefSec Carter Hits House, Senate ‘Micromanagement’

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Monday night, the White House issued a veto threat against the draft defense bill that just went to the House floor, which takes an $18 billion bite out of the Overseas Contingency Operations fund. Tuesday afternoon, Defense Secretary Ash Carter blasted both the House draft of the National Defense Authorization Act and the Senate version, albeit for different reasons: The House over the budget, the Senate over sweeping reorganizations to the Pentagon, Breaking Defense reports. Speaking at the annual Sea-Air-Space conference outside of Washington, DC, Carter focused on what he called “unhelpful micromanagement” from the Hill, according to Defense News.

Three weeks after a prominent member called the size of the F-35 Joint Program Office “disturbing,’ the Senate Armed Services Committee has proposed to disband the organization just as an $8 billion follow-on modernization program is taking shape, FlightGlobal reports. The committee’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2017 approved May 16 would eliminate the JPO after the Lockheed Martin fighter transitions to full rate production two years later. Management responsibilities would be divided by variant, with the US Air Force taking over procurement and modernization of the F-35A and the US Navy gaining the same powers over the F-35C and the Marine Corps’ F-35B.

Long-awaited rules to guard contractor systems containing nonpublic government data against hackers have been finalized. Federal officials describe the regulations as one step in a series of cybersecurity regulatory actions for civilian and defense suppliers, NextGov reports. In developing the regulations, “the focus of the final rule is shifted from the safeguarding of specific information to the basic safeguarding of certain contractor information systems,” William Clark, director of the Office of Governmentwide Acquisition Policy, said in the regulation, which was released Monday.

The intelligence community, both in screening individuals for clearances and screening facilities against security threats, spends enormous amounts of time and money trying to limit threats to the enterprise, taking some concerns to ridiculous extremes, National Intelligence Director James Clapper told a GEOINT 2016 audience. For example, his hearing aids, which have a Bluetooth capability, require a security exemption. Initial alarm over mysterious electronic signals being broadcast from a new intelligence facility dissipated when it was discovered that several vending machines were indicating they needed to be refilled. Mr. Clapper is proposing broadening intelligence sharing with close allies and returning the focus to human behavior. “We need to move beyond defending ourselves against vending machines and hearing aids,” Mr. Clapper said drily, according to a Breaking Defense report.

An Aviation Week & Space Technology analysis questions who owns what proprietary technology when government begins handing off portions of its portfolio to contractors, as with NASA’s reliance on Boeing and SpaceX for transportation to the International Space Station. “NASA is a civil space agency set up to use technologies originally developed for military purposes in peaceful pursuits for the benefit of ‘all mankind,’ as the famous Apollo 11 plaque states,” the analysis reads. “The line begins to blur, though, when the agency starts buying services instead of providing them.”

US Naval Air Systems Command plans to fly a Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey aircraft in June with a 3-D printed part, but significant regulatory and procedural hurdles remain before such new fabrications can be widely used, says Elizabeth McMichael, who leads the additive manufacturing and digital thread integrated product team for NAVAIR, IHS Jane’s 360 reports.

The Navy’s V-22 Osprey program is working toward fielding an aerial tanking capability for the Marine Corps’ MV-22B tiltrotor assault transports by 2018, says Col. Daniel Robinson, V-22 program manager, according to Seapower. The Navy also is assessing possible new weapons and electronic warfare systems for the Osprey, Col. Robinson says.

The Air Force has long discussed using swarms of miniaturized drones for attack and surveillance missions, but as its adversaries build more sophisticated weapons to counter traditional platforms, the service is responding with a new strategy to field tiny, flying bots to take down enemy defenses, Defense News reports.

The Navy has signed off on buying and deploying small reconnaissance drones that can be tube-launched from submarines and unmanned underwater vehicles, Defense Tech reports. California-based AeroVironment Inc., a maker of small unmanned aircraft systems, announced this week at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space exposition at National Harbor, MD, that the Navy had decided to go with its “Blackwing” drones following successful testing last year.

It’s 100,000 laps around Earth and counting for the International Space Station, CBS reports. The space station reached the orbital milestone, 17 ½ years in the making, Monday morning. NASA said these 100,000 orbits amount to traveling more than 2.6 billion miles. That’s equivalent to 10 round trips to Mars, or almost one way to Neptune. Each orbit takes about 90 minutes; 16 orbits comprise a station day.

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