Defense Business Brief: Shutdown averted; Ship-launched hypersonic defenses; Reagan Forum on deck; and more.
There will be no government shutdown, at least for another two months. The House and Senate each passed a continuing resolution that funds the government through Feb. 18. Should Congress fail to pass an appropriation bill (or another CR) by then, it will be the fifth-longest stretch without a defense appropriations bill since at least 1977. All five have been within the past 11 years. The record was set in fiscal 2017, when 216 days passed before a defense appropriations act was finally passed, according to Center for Strategic and International Studies data.
Also on Congress’ to-do list: Raise the debt ceiling. The U.S. risks reaching its debt limit sometime between Dec. 21 and Jan. 28, 2022, the Bipartisan Policy Center warns.
Coming up: The Reagan National Defense Forum begins tonight in Simi Valley, California. It’s the first in-person edition since 2019 for the annual conference, which draws senior defense officials and CEOs from the largest defense firms. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is the headliner. The full agenda is here and you can register to watch the sessions for free here.
Vaccine-mandate lines being drawn: Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden told CNBC this morning that the company would implement the Jan. 18 contractor COVID-19 vaccine mandate. “We certainly have some employees who are opposed to the mandate, [but] we are implementing it in a compliant way with the executive order,” Warden said. “The vast majority of our people have gotten vaccinated and are looking forward to continuing to do the important work of our nation. At the same time, we're talking to the administration to support the industry in making tough decisions about what we do with a small portion of the workforce that is not vaccinated after Jan. 18.”
Warden’s comments come after shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries said it would suspend the vaccine mandate until the Pentagon includes its contract with the company. General Dynamics has signaled it’s taking the same approach, however Raytheon and United Launch Alliance are among the companies who have implemented vaccine mandates on their own. Trade groups are pushing the Biden administration to allow for regular testing of unvaccinated workers.
Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet has been eliminated from Canada’s competition to replace its older Hornets. The Lockheed Martin-made F-35 and Saab-made Gripen are the two remaining jets in the competition.
Wanted: a ship-launched interceptor that can shoot down hypersonic missiles. Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon all received contracts to design competing versions of such a thing on Nov. 19 from the Missile Defense Agency. “Interceptors will be fired from Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense destroyers using the standard Vertical Launch System (VLS) and will also integrate with the modified Baseline 9 Aegis Weapon System to detect, track, control, and engage hypersonic threats in the glide phase of the missile's flight,” MDA said in a statement. The interceptor would be specifically designed to shoot down hypersonic missiles gliding back to Earth from space.
Groups urge Congress to close the “revolving door.” In a letter to the leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, more than two dozen public interest groups pushed for reforms that would put limits on government officials going to work for industry and industry executives going to work at the Pentagon.
Next week: Make sure you register for Outlook 2022—what we’re calling the Defense One Summit these days. SecDef Austin is headlining, but you’ll also hear from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, and many others. I’ll be moderating a discussion with Wall Street equity analysts about their outlook for the aerospace and defense market on Wednesday. Register to watch (for free!) here.
MITRE appointed Chris Fall, a former Energy Department official, its vice president of applied sciences. The new position at MITRE Labs will “lead core research and development in emerging technology domains, including quantum computing, material science, synthetic biology, and space.”
Lockheed Martin has named Robert Lightfoot, a longtime NASA official executive, vice president of its space division, effective Jan. 1, 2022. He will replace Rick Ambrose who is retiring in March.
From Defense One
Former Air Force Weapons Chief Tapped as Pentagon's Lead Arms Buyer // Marcus Weisgerber
Bill LaPlante has spent the past six years working on military-related tech.
Defense Industry Asks White House to Allow COVID Tests to Substitute for Vax Mandate // Marcus Weisgerber
Nation's largest military shipbuilder says it won't comply until mandate is written into a contract.
Key Pentagon Posts Remain Vacant Amid Supply-Chain Crisis // Marcus Weisgerber
The Biden administration has not even nominated a defense undersecretary of acquisition and sustainment.
The NDAA Likely Won't Become Law Until 2022. That's 'Not The End of the World' // Jacqueline Feldscher
The Pentagon does not need the must-pass bill to operate, experts say.
China Wants to Write the Tech Rules for 5G. Experts Say That's a Big Problem // Patrick Tucker
Beijing is stacking international standards bodies with factions that care more about national loyalty than sound practice, experts say.
DHS Reveals Next Research Interests // Alexandra Kelley
The Department of Homeland Security wants industry comment on AI, biohazard tracking, and more.
Range Limits, Enemy Snooping Are Leading Naval Services to More Virtual Training // Caitlin M. Kenney
And the Marines want virtual foes that fight more like their real enemies.
US, S. Korea to Write New War Plan to Counter N. Korean Nukes, Missiles // Tara Copp
During visit, defense chiefs also expected to announce Seoul will test for long-awaited operational control of joint forces in 2022.