May 25, 2024

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Morning Coffee is a robust blend of links to news around the internet concerning the Naval Air Station Patuxent River Morning Coffee logoeconomic community. The opinions expressed here do not reflect opinions of the Leader’s owners or staff.

The Memorial Day Flowers Foundation, a national florist organization that has been placing Memorial Day flowers at gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery for over a decade, is calling for help. This year’s donations are 230,000 flowers short of the 310,000 goal. Military Times reports, the foundation needs to raise $150,000 before May 24 to purchase the additional flowers. Those wanting to volunteer can go to Arlington National Cemetery on May 28 from 9am to 5pm. Flowers will first be placed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then distributed to the wider cemetery grounds.

The Vietnam War Commemoration held three days of events on the National Mall last week as a symbolic “homecoming” for veterans of the divisive Vietnam conflict that claimed more than 58,000 American lives and triggered widespread anti-war protests, reports Military.com. “We are using ‘celebration’ in the context of giving Vietnam Veterans the ‘welcome home’ celebration they deserved, yet never received” from official Washington, said Navy CMDR Brian Wierzbicki, a Pentagon spokesman.

DefSec Lloyd Austin will be the commencement speaker at the US Naval Academy’s graduation and commissioning ceremony May 26 in Annapolis. Austin will address roughly 1,000 graduating midshipmen, who will go on to serve at least five years as Navy and Marine Corps officers, reports Navy Times.

The very sleek X-65, shown by DARPA in an artist’s rendering, seeks to enable active flow control using bursts of air rather than moving flight surfaces on the exterior of the wings and tail to control its flight, reports Air & Space Forces Magazine. “We’re developing to fly without traditional, exterior-moving flight controls” is how the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced its experimental X-65 on its social media accounts.

Using UN data and expert analyses, a calculation has been attempted of the minimum number of excess deaths attributable to the war on terrorism since 9/11, reports Stars and Stripes. The number has reached 4.5 million to 4.6 million across conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen with impacts “so vast and complex that” ultimately, “they are unquantifiable,” the researchers acknowledge. The report estimates 3.6 million to 3.7 million of the fatalities were “‘indirect deaths” caused by the deterioration of economic, environmental, psychological, and health conditions.

Funding to clean up toxic military sites is not keeping up with the rising costs of the work, potentially pushing back completion of the efforts by decades, reports Military Times. A new analysis released by the Environmental Working Group says the price tag for cleaning up the “forever chemicals” swelled by $3.7 billion from 2016 to 2021, to about $31 billion. But the Pentagon’s budget for the work rose only $400 million over that time period. An internal Defense Department study completed in 2022 found that the drinking water at 24 installations exposes about 175,000 service members a year to dangerous levels of chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses.

Errors, lapses in judgment, and poor communication resulted in contaminated drinking water aboard two aircraft carriers last fall, reports Stars and Stripes. In separate reports released this week, the Navy investigations pointed the finger at bilge water as the source of jet fuel contamination on USS Nimitz on September 16 and bacteria found aboard USS Abraham Lincoln on September 21 of last year.

In 1953, toxic chemicals had begun seeping through the ground into two of the eight water treatment plants on Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps base near Jacksonville, NC, reports Military.com. The contamination continued through 1987, mostly affecting the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point neighborhoods exposing a likely 1 million people. The government has extended no offer to the likely 1 million people exposed. Half that number have filed legal claims.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to send more than 1,100 National Guard soldiers and law enforcement officers to Texas to assist with border security between the US and Mexico, reports Military Times.

Dire predictions of border chaos when Title 42 expired have not come to pass, and President Joe Biden scoffed at the idea of sharing credit with Gov. Greg Abbott’s surge of National Guard troops. “Gimme a break,” he said in the Oval Office in a brief exchange with The Dallas Morning News.

The US national average Jet-A fuel price has fallen to $6.72 in May, down 26 cents when compared to April averages and down $1.32 from a year ago, according to a survey by the Aviation Research Group US. Aviation Week reports, the price declined in all eight FAA regions, with the largest decrease found in the Eastern and New England regions, with a drop of 53 cents from April. The smallest monthly decline was found in the Central region with a 4-cent decrease.

Defense News reports demand for munitions to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia and the resulting need to backfill US weapons stockpiles could put a significant strain on the development of the Pentagon’s hypersonic weapons programs. A report from the National Defense Industrial Association, released May 11, emphasizes that the shift from developing and testing hypersonic technology to fielding weapons in high numbers will require targeted funding from the Pentagon and a focused effort on shoring up the supply bases.

 The Biden administration will soon send Taiwan military weapons and equipment from its stockpiles which will require Congress to free up dollars to backfill that delivery. The FY23 defense authorization bill enables the administration to send $1 billion military in aid to Taiwan the same way weapon deliveries are expedited to Ukraine out of existing Pentagon supplies. DefSec Austin confirmed this week reports that the Pentagon is finally ready to use this power with a $500 million PDA package but provided no timeline.

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works laid the first keel of its Flight III Arleigh-Burke guided-missile destroyer, the company announced. USNI.org reports the future USS Louis H. Wilson (DDG-126) is named after Marine Corps GEN Louis H. Wilson Jr. The ship will be the first Flight III destroyer to be built by the Maine shipyard. The future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), built by HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding, is the first Flight III destroyer built for the fleet. Lucas is undergoing sea trials ahead of delivery later this year.

The US Navy and regional partners are bolstering the rotation of ships and aircraft in the Strait of Hormuz, reports Navy Times. Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard seized the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker Advantage Sweet in the Gulf of Oman on April 27 and the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Niovi in the Strait of Hormuz on May 3.

US fighter jets intercepted six Russian aircraft last week operating in international airspace near Alaska, reports Stars and Stripes. F-16 and F-22 fighter jets intercepted Russian aircraft that included TU-95 bombers, IL-78 tankers, and SU-35 fighter jets, according to officials with NORAD. The Russian planes remained in international airspace and did not enter US or Canadian territory. The flights occurred during several large-scale US military training exercises that are ongoing in Alaska.

More than 60 South Korean aircraft are taking part in large-scale aerial drills over the Korean Peninsula, reports Stars and Stripes, nearly a month after South Korea carried out similar training with the United States. Only South Korean aircraft are taking part in this week’s exercise, taking place a month after North Korea last fired a long-range ballistic missile that flew east for 620 miles. North Korea has fired 12 ballistic missiles in nine separate days of testing so far this year.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Wang Yi during talks in Vienna this week that the Biden administration is “looking to move beyond” tensions spurred by the US shooting down a Chinese spy balloon that traversed the continental US, reports Military.com.

The Navy, Army, and Air Force have all said they do not expect to meet their recruiting goals this year, according to a DoD release of a Vice Chiefs report last month. But, CNN reports, while the recruiting situation has become more dire over the last couple of years, the mission generally hasn’t changed for the Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s premier demonstration team, this year celebrating the team’s 70th anniversary. The intent hasn’t changed, according to the team’s current commander and Thunderbird #1 LT COL Justin Elliott, to “connect the American population to its military at a time when institutional trust was challenged.”

The US Coast Guard has fallen short of its recruiting targets for the last four years, reports Federal Times. As the military arm of Homeland Security, the maritime force guards 100,000 miles of coastline, secures ports, aids in defense readiness, and conducts critical search-and-rescue missions. The service is about 4,800 members short, according to its budget justification for fiscal 2024.

When the Space Force was established in late 2019, more than 1,000 Air National Guard members focused on space missions were left behind. They’ve come to be known as “orphan units,” left behind in an Air Force that is no longer technically responsible for training or equipping them. A debate about their future is still raging, leaving the airmen in limbo some three years later, reports Military.com.

Some defense and congressional officials believe the White House is laying the groundwork to halt plans to move US Space Command’s headquarters to Alabama in part because of concerns about the state’s restrictive abortion law, according to two US officials and one US defense official familiar with the discussions, reports NBC News.

Members of Colorado’s congressional delegation and the mayor of Colorado Springs said on Tuesday that they expect Space Command’s permanent location will be decided based on national security considerations, not abortion politics, reports Colorado Politics.

Some Senate Republicans are raising concerns about Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold on defense nominations over the Pentagon’s abortion policy, and publicly distancing themselves from the Alabama Republican’s approach, reports Politico, including Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the highest-ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee; Bill Cassidy (R-LA); and Susan Collins (R-ME).

Billions of dollars of veterans benefits could be imperiled if the US defaults on its debts, reports Military.com. About $12 billion in veterans benefits are expected to be paid out June 1 — the same day the Treasury Department has named as the earliest day a default could happen if Congress doesn’t act to avoid it. The full extent of the fallout is uncertain because of the unprecedented nature of a default.

Military.com gives brief bios of the five military veterans who became convicted serial killers: David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), Army; Gary Ridgway (The Green River Killer), Navy; Jeffrey Dahmer (The Milwaukee Cannibal), Army; Randy Kraft (The Freeway Killer), Air Force; and Dennis Rader (BTK), Air Force.

Contracts:

Huntington Ingalls Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia, is awarded a $65,803,613 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract N00024-16-C-2116 for continued engineering and technical support for CVN 80 and CVN 81. Work will be performed in Newport News, Virginia, and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2027. Fiscal 2023 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding in the amount of $1,800,000 will be obligated at the time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC, is the contracting activity (N00024-16-C-2116).

L3 Harris Technologies Inc. – Interstate Electronics Corp., Anaheim, California, is awarded a $15,798,147 cost-plus-fixed-fee and cost-plus-incentive-fee modification (P00016) for options under a previously awarded contract (N0003022C2001) to provide services and support for Flight Test Instrumentation systems. Work will be performed in Anaheim, California (55%); Cape Canaveral, Florida (31%); Washington, DC (8%); Barrow-in-Furness, United Kingdom (3%); and Groton, Connecticut (3%). Work is expected to be completed Sept. 30, 2025. Fiscal 2023 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funds in the amount of $4,449,557; and fiscal 2023 other procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $9,009,302 will be obligated at the time of award. No funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The total obligated dollar value of the modification is $13,458,859 and the total cumulative face value of the options being exercised is $15,798,147. This contract modification is being awarded on a sole source basis under 10 US Code 2304(c)(1) and was previously synopsized on the System for Award Management online portal. This contract award also benefits a foreign military sale to the United Kingdom. Strategic Systems Programs, Washington, DC, is the contracting activity.

Maersk Line Ltd., Norfolk, Virginia, was awarded a $12,335,276 modification (0001C9) to contract W52P1J-14-G-0023 to extend services for the Army Prepositioned Stock Four. Work will be performed in Yokohama, Japan, with an estimated completion date of March 16, 2024. Fiscal 2023 operation and maintenance, defense-wide funds in the amount of $2,000,000 were obligated at the time of the award. US Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, is the contracting activity.

Peraton Technology Services Inc., Chantilly, Virginia, was awarded a $25,000,000 hybrid (cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price) contract to collect, maintain, and deliver required data elements on selected models of Army aviation equipment, ground-combat systems, tactical wheeled vehicles, and ground-support equipment. Bids were solicited via the internet with three received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of May 23, 2028. US Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W911QX-23-D-0007).

Fairbanks Morse LLC, Norfolk, Virginia, is awarded $7,653,550 for a firm-fixed-priced, spares delivery order N00104-23-F-YA02 under previously awarded basic ordering agreement (N00104-22-G-YA01) for the purchase of the turbo supercharger E in support of the LPD main propulsion diesel engine. The delivery order does not include an option period. All work will be performed in Beloit, Wisconsin, and work is expected to be completed by October 2024. Working capital funds (Navy) in the full amount of $7,653,550 will be obligated at the time of award, and funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One company was solicited for this sole-source requirement pursuant to the authority set forth in 10 US Code 2304 (a)(1), with one offer received. Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, is the contracting activity.

Alliant Corp., Knoxville, Tennessee (W91237-23-D-0016); Axias Inc., Alexandria, Virginia (W91237-23-D-0017); Hunter Atlantic LLC, McLean, Virginia (W91237-23-D-0018); Legis-Pro2Serve, Atlanta, Georgia (W91237-23-D-0019); and MOCA Systems Inc., Boston, Massachusetts (W91237-23-D-0020), will compete for each order of the $10,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for various civil works, environmental and military projects. Bids were solicited via the internet with eight received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of May 14, 2028. US Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington, West Virginia, is the contracting activity.

Computer Technology Associates Inc., Encinitas, California, is awarded a $26,383,595 cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. This contract provides programmatic support for the F/A-18 EA-18G Integrated Product Team Management Information System Suite consisting of multiple applications and tools supporting business operation efforts to include planning, estimation, risk management, event scheduling (including flight test events), event tracking, project execution, project monitoring and control, and reporting. Work will be performed in Colorado Springs, Colorado (16.7%); Crowley, Texas (10.2%); Phoenix, Arizona (7.2%); Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (6.0%); Norman, Oklahoma (4.3%); Coopersburg, Pennsylvania (4.0%); Palmer Lake, Colorado (4.0%); Rocky Ford, Colorado (4.0%); Upper Marlboro, Maryland (4.0%); Bend, Oregon (3.2%); Danville, California (3.2%); Elkton, Maryland (3.2%); Gilbert, Arizona (3.2%); Kremmling, Colorado (3.2%); Miami, Florida (3.2%); Midvale, Utah (3.2%); New Albany, Indiana (3.2%); North Lauderdale, Florida (3.2%); Stanford, Kentucky (3.2%); Tewksbury, Massachusetts (3.2%); Lansing, Michigan (3.1%); Roseburg, Oregon (1.1%); and Dallas, Texas (0.2%), and is expected to be completed in May 2028. No funds will be obligated at the time of award; funds will be obligated on individual orders as they are issued. This contract was competitively procured as a small business set-aside; four offers were received. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, California, is the contracting activity (N68936-23-D-0032).

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