A Metrea Strategic Mobility KC-135 refuels a U.S. Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint in June 2023.

A Metrea Strategic Mobility KC-135 refuels a U.S. Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint in June 2023. Metrea

Defense Business Brief: Satellite defender buys electronics firm; Nuke spending to rise; An Air Force first; and more

NEW TODAY: LightRidge Solutions, the satellite-defense company created by the combination of Geost and Ophir, has acquired Trident Systems, a maker of electronics for numerous types of military systems.

It’s the latest expansion for LightRidge, which specializes in payloads that can ward off enemy attack or interference. Trident makes “highly reliable, resilient, and open-architecture space electronics encompassing multi-function, radio-frequency processors, software-defined radios, on-board processors, and data storage solutions for demanding U.S. national security space missions.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

‘LightRidge will continue to build on Trident’s track record of innovation and investment in new solutions, leveraging an expanded base of engineering and science talent, and will further increase Trident’s production capacity,” the company said in a statement. “As part of LightRidge, Trident will be able to offer a broader range of high performance yet affordable sensing and computing solutions in small size, weight, and power packages. These mission-critical systems are used in a variety of multi-domain defense and commercial applications, including space domain awareness/space control, laser communications, and the survivability of stealth aircraft.”


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The military’s nuclear programs will cost $756 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s an average of more than $75 billion per year—and it’s up 19 percent from the last time CBO did decade-long nuclear spending projections.

“That total includes $305 billion for operation and sustainment of current and future nuclear forces and other supporting activities; $247 billion for modernization of strategic and tactical nuclear delivery systems and the weapons they carry; $108 billion for modernization of facilities and equipment for the nuclear weapons laboratory complex and for modernization of command, control, communications, and early-warning systems; and $96 billion for potential cost growth in excess of projected budgeted amounts,” CBO said.

The Defense and Energy departments are responsible for funding the military’s nuclear efforts. 

A U.S. federal judge ruled last week that Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard could proceed. The Federal Trade Commission, which had sued to block the deal, said it would appeal the court’s ruling. While the acquisition of the Call of Duty series isn’t immediately related to the U.S. military, a number of defense deals are amid or expecting regulatory review, including:

  • L3Harris Technologies’ $4.7 billion acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne;

Of note: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has argued that the FTC is overstepping its regulatory authority under its Biden-appointed chairperson, Lina Khan, by unnecessarily challenging mergers and acquisition solely on the basis of size.

HawkEye 360, a startup that specializes in space-based radio frequency data and analytics,  announced it has closed a $58 million funding round that will be used “to develop new space systems and expand analytics that support high-value defense missions.”

The company, which has 21 satellites in orbit, plans to use the additional money “to drive our next steps in innovation,” HawkEye 360 CEO John Serafini said in a statement.

The funding round was led by BlackRock and Manhattan Venture Partners, as well as existing investors Insight Partners, NightDragon, Strategic Development Fund, Razor’s Edge, Alumni Ventures, and Adage Capital.

“It speaks volumes that these leading investment firms are confident in the future of RF geospatial intelligence as a critical defense technology,” Serafini said.

Startup DroneShield received a $33 million order from “a U.S. government agency,” the Australian-based company announced. The “record” deal “consists of DroneShield equipment and multi-year services.”

A privately owned KC-135 tanker successfully refueled two U.S. Air Force aircraft during a military exercise, according to Metrea. It marks the first time the Air Force has used a commercially operated tanker, something that is commonly done by the Navy and Marine Corps during training flights.

Last month, Metrea Strategic Mobility flew four aerial refueling support missions for RC-135 and E-3 aircraft during Exercise Resolute Hunter. “The total included 13 boom contacts and nearly 90,000 pounds of fuel offloaded, providing both aerial refueling training for the RC-135 and E-3 crews, and enabling them to extend their participation in the Resolute Hunter exercise, the company said.

In 2021, the Air Force said it would allow privately owned tankers to supplement the military’s aerial refuelers.

This Week:

  • Lockheed Martin reports second-quarter earnings on Tuesday. The five other large defense primes report quarterly earnings next week.
  • The Aspen Security Forum kicks off Tuesday.
  • The American Enterprise Institute hosts an event about spectrum management.

Making Moves

  • Lockheed Martin has named Shelly O’Neill Stoneman senior vice president of government affairs effective Aug. 28. She comes to Lockheed from BAE Systems where she was senior vice president of government relations.
  • Lockheed also named Christopher Wronsky senior vice president and chief human resources officer effective Sept. 1. Wronsky, a 35-year Lockheed employee, succeeds Greg Karol, who is retiring.
  • The Biden administration will reportedly nominate Derek Chollet, a senior State Department official, to be defense undersecretary for policy. He would replace Colin Kahl, who is stepping down from the position after more than two years on the job.