Defense Business Brief: In-person SAS2021 a go; Earnings recap; Black Hawk upgrade and more.
The trade show circuit returns to in-person operations next week with the Navy League’s Sea Air Space convention at National Harbor in Maryland, just outside the Washington Beltway. There’s lots of anticipation for the event, especially among a defense industry thirsty to network and get back to some semblance of normalcy. Sea-Air-Space 2020 was among the first conference casualties at the beginning of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, #SAS2021 will open amid a spike in new COVID-19 cases, particularly in largely unvaccinated regions of the U.S., some of which happen to be where there’s a lot of shipbuilding: Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.
What we’re watching. The size and composition of the future fleet has been hotly debated of late. Expect to hear senior Navy leaders talking about the types of ships and capabilities they believe are needed in the future fleet to counter Chinese and Russian advancements. There will surely be talk about the carrier air wing of the future, and we’ll be listening intently to hear how officials are thinking about the new fighter that will one day replace the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Mark your calendars: Defense One Technology Editor Patrick Tucker is moderating a panel on Joint All-Domain Command and Control with senior Navy officials and top industry executives on Monday morning. I’ll be moderating a session on Wednesday morning that will explore the Navy’s future intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance needs and unmanned advancements.
To mask or not to mask. The Pentagon recently mandated troops, employees, and contractors wear masks, whether they’re vaccinated or not. But masks will not be required at the conference next week, a Navy League spokeswoman tells us. “We’re following local and CDC guidelines on the show,” she said in an email. “Since Prince George’s County is only listed as a moderate risk on the CDC website, we’re going with the local regulations, which recommend masks for unvaccinated people and do not do so for those that have been fully vaccinated.” As I told you a few weeks ago, do what makes you comfortable. The Pentagon moves to Health Protection Condition Bravo.
Be sure to check out Defense One throughout the week for the latest news from the show, as well as daily video analysis from our team of reporters and editors.
Earnings recap. Lockheed Martin reported a $225 million loss on a classified Aeronautics division program that is still in development, but is expected to “ultimately...turn into production” for multiple “customers,” executives said. Maybe it’s the new Next Generation Air Dominance fighter? A new drone? Something else? Who knows.
Boeing’s quarterly earnings call focused nearly exclusively on its commercial airplanes business and returning the 737 Max to passenger service. That said, its earning statement actually touted “the absence of a charge on the KC-46A Tanker program as compared to second quarter 2020.”
Making moves. Leidos named former U.S. Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security official Thomas Michelli cyber operations and cybersecurity strategic account executive, where he will be “responsible for enhancing business growth across the company’s cyber-related portfolio of programs, services, and solutions.”
From Defense One
Defense Companies Not Weighing Vaccine Mandates, Yet // Marcus Weisgerber
There have been some informal discussions about requiring the shot.
Lockheed Loses $225M on Secret Project, Lowers F-35 Production Forecast // Marcus Weisgerber
Company will press ahead on aeronautics project in hopes of turning it into a profitable production program.
DOD Reimposes Mask Mandate Inside Pentagon, Other Bases Near 'Substantial' COVID Transmission // Bradley Peniston and Tara Copp
Troops, employees, contractors, and others must wear masks indoors on Defense Department facilities in the Pentagon and these areas.
AI Gives 'Days of Advanced' Warning in Recent NORTHCOM Networked Warfare Experiment // Patrick Tucker
A new test of information dominance concepts shows how rapid data sharing can accelerate warfare.
How AI Is Revealing the Secrets of Iran's Nascent Centrifuge Factory // Patrick Tucker
Satellites can't directly observe the underground facility, but analysis of its surroundings yields a progress report.
White House Asks CISA, NIST to Set Cybersecurity Performance Goals for Critical Infrastructure Operators // Mariam Baksh
The initiative will not result in mandatory measures for the private sector, but the administration hopes to signal its commitment to cybersecurity and maybe get a little help from Congress on that front.
Wildfires Are So Dangerous Now that the National Guard Prepares for Them Like Hurricanes // Tara Copp
For West Coast units, there's no wildfire season anymore. 'It's really a fire year now,' top general says.
Biden's 6-Month Clock On Russia-U.S. Nuke Talks Starts Now // Jacqueline Feldscher
Officials met for the first time in Geneva on Wednesday. They're set to come together again in September.