L3Harris Technologies in Virginia.

L3Harris Technologies in Virginia. Celal Gunes / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Defense Business Brief: Space Command to stay in Colorado; House and Senate pass NDAA; Some personal news; and more.

JUST IN: The Biden administration will keep U.S. Space Command in Colorado, the Pentagon announced just a little bit ago, reversing a Trump administration decision to move it to Huntsville, Alabama. You can read our breaking news coverage here.

Despite what anyone tells you, all basing decisions, small and large, are political. They are power poker chips held by whoever occupies the White House. Remember, it’s not just the hundreds or thousands of military and civilian personnel who relocate, it’s spouses and families who ultimately put money into the local economy and spur growth.

Thinking ahead to the 2024 presidential election, Colorado voters matter more to President Biden than Republican-heavy Alabama.

And just like that, Aerojet Rocketdyne is owned by L3Harris Technologies. The deal closed quickly after we learned last Wednesday evening that the Federal Trade Commission would not challenge the deal. 

Since then, L3Harris executives have pledged to remain a merchant supplier of rocket motors to whoever wants them,—not block access as some had feared, —and to invest in Aerojet so it’s a viable supplier for years to come.

It took just 221 days from the deal’s announcement in December until its closure on July 28. By comparison, there were 400 days between Dec. 21, 2020, when Lockheed Martin said it would buy Aerojet, and Jan. 25, 2022, when the FTC said it would sue to block the deal.

It also marks the end of one of the most unique defense contractor websites. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s former website Rocket.com redirects to an L3Harris website.


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Programming note: The Defense Business Brief is following Congress’ lead and taking August recess, but will return on Sept. 5, which is also the day lawmakers return to Washington. I’ll be spending time with my daughter, who is now six months old and teething. I envision some visits to the National Zoo and even more to watch the planes from Gravelly Point. It goes without saying that I’m grateful to work for a company that offers parental leave to all of its employees who are new parents.

This means that between now and Thanksgiving you’ll see some different bylines on the Defense Business Brief, but you’ll still get plenty of the news, analysis and commentary that you expect. I’ll be popping in for the Air Force Association and Association of the U.S. Army annual conferences, so you’ll still be hearing from me too.

The House and Senate each passed versions of the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act before the aforementioned August recess, but that doesn’t mean they will pass a unified bill before fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. The House version of the bill includes legislation on controversial social issues, while the Senate version does not.  FWIW, the White House has issues with both versions of the bill—and it has outlined its gripes with the Senate version and the House version. Despite its beef, neither of the statements of administration policy threaten a presidential veto.

Leidos entered a “strategic collaboration agreement with Microsoft aimed at leveraging each company’s unique strengths in the market to accelerate artificial intelligence transformation for new and existing customers in the public sector,” Leidos announced Monday. “A near-term priority for co-development is in the area of generative AI solutions to support organizational efficiency, enhanced productivity, and cross-domain applications.”

It’s the latest tie-up between a defense company and a commercial tech company. Last year, Lockheed Martin announced a “landmark” partnership to use Microsoft’s classified cloud.

The Defense Information Systems Agency has chosen Palantir to support coordination between federal and commercial licensees of the 3450 - 3550 MHz spectrum band, the company announced Monday. Palantir will provide its software to automate the process. More here.

Next week: The Space and Missile Defense Symposium kicks off in Huntsville.

Making Moves

  • President Biden has nominated Gen. David Allvin to be the Air Force chief of staff. Allvin, who is the vice chief, would replace Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown, who has been nominated as chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
  • Biden also nominated Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be the chief of naval operations. If confirmed. Franchetti, who is the vice CNO, would be the first woman to lead a branch of the military. Vice Adm. James Kilby has been nominated to be the vice CNO.
  • Biden has also tapped Adm. Samuel Paparo, the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, to lead U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.