Inside a nuclear weapons base; L3 boosts undersea portfolio; Free drinks at AFA conference and more.

By Marcus Weisgerber

September 14, 2017

Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota is a great place to take the pulse of America’s nuclear forces. Just 50 miles south of Canada, airmen stand perennial watch alongside B-52 bombers and about one-third of the country’s intercontinental ballistic missiles.

I hitched a ride to Minot this week with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who traveled here against a backdrop of North Korean nuclear tests and the Pentagon’s own preparations for an uber-pricy nuclear overhaul. Read about Mattis’ visit here, and when you come back, I have some fresh tech and businessy tidbits for you:


You’ve reached the Defense One Global Business Brief by Marcus Weisgerber. I’m currently in Omaha, Nebraska. Today I’ll visit U.S. Strategic Command. As always, send tips, feedback and random thoughts to or on Twitter @MarcusReports. Check out the Global Business Brief archive here, and tell your friends to subscribe!

From Defense One

Searching for $1 Billion: Inside the Pentagon's Struggle to Match Trump's Air Force One Boast // Marcus Weisgerber

Details emerge about Boeing's cost-saving pitches at Mar-a-Lago, and what Air Force leaders are really planning to cut. First to go: aerial refueling.

You Can Protest, But You Can't Hide From Government Facial Recognition (For Much Longer) // Dave Gershgorn

Artificial intelligence is giving rise to unprecedented capabilities for surveillance.

DARPA Wants to MacGyver the Internet Using Only What's in Troops' Pockets // Frank Konkel

The research agency wants to tap the computer power of the devices warfighters already have to network anywhere.

A New Mission for Tomahawk: Sinking Ships

In this week’s episode of  “New Missions for Old Weapons”, Raytheon will “begin integrating a new multi-mode seeker into the Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile.” The project — being led by the Pentagon’s Rapid Capabilities Office — is in response to an “urgent fleet requirements for defeating emerging maritime threats worldwide,” Raytheon said in a statement. The company is expected to deliver the missile in 2022.

L3 Boosts Underwater Portfolio

L3 Technologies has acquired Adaptive Methods, a systems engineering firm that “delivers Undersea Warfare (USW) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities for U.S. military.” It’s the latest such acquisition for the New York-based firm, which purchased underwater drone maker OceanServer earlier this year. In recent months, companies have been positioning themselves to compete for anticipated military deals in underwater drone market.

Thales Finalizes Purchase of Big Data Firm

Thales completed its acquisition of Guavus, a real-time big data analytics company. We told you about this deal back in May. Guavus will be part of Thales’ Defense & Security division.

Who’s at Next Week’s AFA Conference

It’ll be Heather Wilson’s first appearance as Air Force secretary at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. The event typically sees some type of major announcement. Tons of Air Force four-stars will be there, along with lots of joint speakers: SecDef Mattis; Gen. Lori Robinson of NORTHCOM; Gen. Darren McDew, TRANSCOM, Gen. John Hyten, STRATCOM; Lt. Gen. Charles Brown, CENTCOM; and F-35 program manager Vice Adm. Mathias Winter.

Tuesday Night at AFA: Have a Drink On Me

No joke! I’ll be hosting a Defense One Cocktails & Conversation event on the sidelines of the Air, Space and Cyber conference. We’re assembling an awesome panel of Air National Guard leaders to talk about the Air Force’s role in homeland defense. Here’s who will join me for the discussion:

Here’s a primer of some of the challenges being faced by the Air National Guard, which largely fly old fighter jets to protect the nation’s skies. I got a first-hand look at the high operational tempo at these small National Guard bases last year, including a ride in the back of an F-15 Eagle. The event runs from 4:45 to 7 p.m. on Tues., Sept. 19, and it’s free. Register here.

What They're Reading

Mattis, on his plane: On the flight from Andrews Air Force Base to Minot, SecDef was spotted with the Defense Intelligence Agency’s latest edition of “Russia Military Power.”

Missileers, in their bunkers eight stories underground: Warriors and Citizens: American Views of Our Military by Jim Mattis and Kori Schake. The book was spotted on a shelf behind the console where two officers would turn the switches to launch ICBMs.

By Marcus Weisgerber // Marcus Weisgerber is the global business editor for Defense One, where he writes about the intersection of business and national security. He has been covering defense and national security issues for more than a decade, previously as Pentagon correspondent for Defense News and chief editor of Inside the Air Force. He has reported from Afghanistan, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, and often travels with the defense secretary and other senior military officials.

September 14, 2017