May 13, 2024

Global Military Spending Reaches Record Levels

Military Spending

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A Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report says military spending across the globe in 2023 reached the highest levels ever recorded by a major global think tank, reports The Hill. “Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2023” says that $2.4 trillion was spent last year, a 6.8% increase from 2022. It is also the ninth consecutive year of increased military spending.

US DefSec Lloyd Austin headed to Capitol Hill last week to make the Defense Department’s fiscal 2025 budget request, reports Air Force Times. The FY 2025 budget is about $849.8 billion.

Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), both members of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, believe the military needs more money, despite a budget cap imposed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, reports Breaking Defense.

Some senators are worried about the Department of Veteran Affairs plans to cut employees, reports Air Force Times. The lawmakers are asking appropriators to include safeguards against inadequate staffing in their plans for the department’s budget next fiscal year.

The US Navy is offering big bonuses this year in an effort to retain its aviation officers, reports Navy Times. More than $200,000 is available to officers serving as aviation department heads this year, but they must agree to stay in uniform for up to seven more years.

The 2024 Presidential Primary Election will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, May 14. Primary mail-in ballots that have been received and counted in the Southern Maryland counties are surpassing the number of voters who have shown up in person during the first several days of early voting, reports Southern Maryland News. Early voting ended Thursday. Data from the Maryland State Board of Elections shows that about 4.57% of those eligible in Calvert voted in person, 3.42% in Charles, and about 5.72% in St. Mary’s. Polls will be open May 14 in Maryland from 7am to 8pm.

Airbus has acquired drone maker Aerovel, reports C4ISRNET, in an attempt to bolster its tactical unmanned systems business. Airbus hopes to compete for Defense Department programs such as Replicator. Aerovel makes the Flexrotor small tactical drone. It can take off and land vertically as well as provide intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capabilities on land or at sea.

The Pentagon gave some details last week on how it would fund the Replicator program and what exactly would be procured, reports Defense News. DoD hopes to field thousands of the drones by next August, according to Deputy DefSec Kathleen Hicks. She said the first items in Replicator’s shopping cart would include AeroVironment’s Switchblade-600 loitering munition, a batch of uncrewed surface vehicles and another unspecified set of counter-drone systems.

The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit chief Doug Beck is already outlining his goals for the next version Replicator 2.0, reports Defense News. The lead innovation officer wants a bigger, faster, and better funded repeat of Replicator.

NATO’s drone surveillance hours surged last year, reports C4ISRNET. The NATO intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance force logged 30% more flight hours in 2023 than the prior year. The drones are modified to meet NATO information-sharing and communication requirements and are outfitted with surveillance sensors. Together, the force can cover more than 62,000 square miles a day.

The Hill reviewed the US State Department’s foreign aid spending in fiscal 2023. Aid to Ukraine topped the list at $78.3 billion, followed by $21.6 billion for Israel.

The US Indo-Pacific Command has a new commander, reports Navy Times. ADM Samuel Paparo became the 27th commander of the Asia-focused command during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor, HI, late last week. Paparo, who recently served as head of the Navy’s US Pacific Fleet, relieved ADM John Aquilino, who has led the combatant command since 2021.

The US Army is the first big contract for Beltsville, MD-based ION Storage Systems with what the company calls a “solid state battery,” reports WTOP News via Maryland Matters. The battery’s key component is made out of ceramic. But while the material might be the same thing used to make dishes, it is extremely flexible while showing marked improvements in several ways over the more common lithium ion batteries that power so many things currently.

Some members of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee want an update on plans to make the federal government an employer of choice for military and foreign service families, reports Federal News Network. They specifically are asking the largest federal agencies about how many of their employees hold jobs while teleworking overseas, as part of the Domestic Employees Teleworking Overseas, or DETO, program.

A new agreement between the Pentagon and State Department reached a few weeks ago strengthens the DETO program for military spouses, Air Force Times reported at the time. The agreement will ease some restrictions for federally employed military spouses who want to take their careers with them when moving overseas.

Marines have been banned from using personal cellphones and other devices during training exercises, armed duty, high-risk training, and aviation operations, reports Military Times. An order signed by Commandant GEN Eric Smith, tightens the service-wide rules about the devices, citing a host of risks the technology can cause.

The maker of the Swiss Army Knife announced it plans to begin offering pocket tools that don’t contain blades, reports Capital News Radio. A company official said that rising violence in certain parts of the world has prompted some governments to crack down on what types of blades people can brandish in public, possibly making it harder for consumers to carry the company’s iconic red multitools.

Lexington Park resident Ralph Gough was honored for his 50 years of service with the Disabled American Veterans St. Mary’s Chapter 26, reports Southern Maryland News He began with the organization in 1974 after being medically discharged from the military.

Warrior Canine Connection, a Maryland-based nonprofit, trains service dogs to provide recovery care for veterans and military families. The group showed off its work to officials from the VA and the Department of Health and Human Services last week during a live puppy cam, reports Marine Corps Times. Puppies are trained to help veterans manage mental health.

A Veterans Affairs Inspector General report reveals errors leading to $10.8 million in improper bonuses at the VA, reports Navy Times. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mike Bost (R-IL) called the report’s findings disturbing, accusing VA leaders of knowingly misusing the money in incentive pay awards to benefit senior department officials instead of retaining in-demand staff. The controversy stems from bonuses doled out to senior executives as part of the $117 million Critical Skill Incentive Payments program authorized by Congress.

Contracts:

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory LLC, a not-for-profit university affiliated research center, Laurel, Maryland, has been awarded a ceiling $515,000,000 modification (P00005) to previously awarded indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract HR001122D0001 with cost-plus-fixed-fee term and completion task orders contemplated for essential research, development, and engineering capabilities. The modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $740,000,000 from $225,000,000. Work will be performed in Laurel, Maryland, with an expected completion date of November 2026. Contract task orders can extend an additional 12 months until November 2027. No funds are being obligated at the time of award. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity.

Aurora Flight Sciences, Manassas, Virginia, has been awarded an $8,310,000 modification (P00009) to cost-plus-fixed-fee contract HR0011-23-C0013 to extend the current work under the Liberty Lifter program. Work will be performed at Manassas, Virginia (16%); Cambridge, Massachusetts (14%); Arlington, Virginia (14%); Indianapolis, Indiana (14%); Clackamas, Oregon (14%); Astoria, Oregon (14%); and Vancouver, Washington (14%), with an expected completion date of Jan. 31, 2025. Fiscal 2023 research and development funds in the amount of $8,310,000 are being obligated at time of award. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity (HR0011-23-C0013).

Eccalon LLC, Hanover, Maryland, was awarded a $22,751,128 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for data encryption. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed in Hanover, Maryland, with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2025. Fiscal 2010 procurement, defense-wide funds in the amount of $22,751,128 were obligated at the time of the award. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W911NF-24-C-0055).

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., McLean, Virginia, was awarded a $20,222,085 modification (P00056) to contract W911S0-18-C-0004 for contractor support for exercises, training and logistics. Work will be performed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 14, 2024. Fiscal 2024 operation and maintenance, Army funds were obligated at the time of the award. Army Field Directorate Office, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is the contracting activity.

General Dynamics Information Technology Inc., Falls Church, Virginia, is awarded a firm-fixed price, firm-fixed-price-level-of-effort, and time-and-materials hybrid contract (HQ0034-24-C-0042) valued at $45,472,928. The purpose of the contract is to provide case analysis and investigative support services to assist in military commission cases in all aspects of pre-trial investigations, trials, and court activities. Fiscal 2024 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $1,993,367 are being obligated at time of award. The total if all options are exercised is $45,472,928.00. The work will be performed in Arlington, Virginia, and McClean, Virginia. The estimated contract completion date is May 10, 2029. Washington Headquarters Services, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity.

HDR Architecture, Inc., Arlington, Virginia, is awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (HQ003424D0004) valued at $30,000,000 to perform architectural and engineering services in support of design and construction activities related to government planning, programming, and project execution. No funds are being obligated at time of award. The total if all options are exercised is $33,000,000. The work will be performed at the Pentagon Reservation, Arlington, Virginia; Washington Headquarters Services, Alexandria, Virginia; and Raven Rock Mountain Complex.

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