July 14, 2024

Firms to Pay $13B in Whistleblower Suit

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Two firms contracting with the Pentagon’s massive Defense Transportation Coordination Initiative agreed to pay the government $13 million to settle allegations of overbilling exposed by two whistleblowers, Government Executive reports. The California-based companies, Menlo Worldwide Services and Estes Forwarding Worldwide, agreed to resolve a lawsuit brought in 2013 under the False Claims Act.

Operation of the Sicily site of the US Navy’s Mobile User Objective Systems — a massive communications and data transmission system — is hung up while local opposition to the electromagnetic waves it produces winds through the Italian court system. MUOS provides encrypted, safe communication; the Sicily station is key to US operations and security in the Mediterranean region, Defense One reports.

A DoD statement identified the Navy Seal killed by ISIS in Iraq on Tuesday as Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Charles H. Keating IV, 31, of San Diego, CA.

A coalition of countries battling Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq pledged to pour more resources into the fight, after coming under strong pressure from Washington for greater contributions. An Agence France-Presse report in Defense News says the promise came after a meeting in Stuttgart of defense ministers from countries involved in the anti-Islamic State coalition.

The United States and Russia have reached a deal to extend a fragile ceasefire in Syria to the besieged city of Aleppo. The agreement, finalized late Tuesday and effective at 12:01 am Wednesday, comes after days of frantic negotiations between the two countries, The Hill Reports. The State Department already reports “an overall decrease in violence” in and around Aleppo in the hours since the agreement took effect.

The Air Force plans to arm its drones and fighter jets with high-tech laser weapons able to incinerate enemy targets from the sky, service officials said. Aircraft-launched laser weapons could eventually be engineered for a wide range of potential uses, including air-to-air combat, close air support, counter-UAS (drone), counter-boat, ground attack, and even missile defense, officials told Scout Warrior. (With video simulation)

The Air Force is pressing forward with a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper upgrade that would allow the widely fielded armed aircraft to takeoff and land automatically, FlightGlobal reports. This is a capability already inherent in the US Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle system, but the air branch has been slow to adopt it. Automatic takeoff and landing would make training Reaper pilots easier, said Col. Travis “Flare” Burdine, the Air Force’s division chief for remotely piloted aircraft operations at the Pentagon.

Increasing weight of Army helicopters limits whether than broadening options for a commander, Defense Daily reports. US Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker Commanding General Maj. Gen. William Gayler said aircraftft have gained weight “for all the right reasons,” including new technology designed to protect crew or passengers. But the increased weight decreases maneuverability, available ammunition and the number of warfighters the aircraft can hold.

In a New York Times essay, a Yale law professor examines why an Army captain is suing President Obama, contesting the legality of the war against the Islamic State.

Elbit Systems successfully demonstrated the BrightNite system in a series of night flights. BriteNite enables utility helicopters to perform Degraded Visual Environment missions in more than 90 percent of the nights, Defense Update reports by delivering the essential data directly to both eyes of the pilot. The demonstration flights carried out in Israel involved dozens of pilots from different nationalities and services.

The Washington Post analyzes the mess that is federal hiring and why some of the best people aren’t tapped for available jobs.

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