09 May 14. A federal judge has lifted an injunction preventing the United Launch Alliance (ULA) from purchasing a Russian-made rocket engine, according to court documents. Judge Susan Braden lifted the injunction after officials for the US State, Treasury and Commerce departments indicated they found no reason to believe the purchase of RD-180 engines, used in ULA’s Atlas V rocket, violated government sanctions against a top Russian official. Braden put in the injunction in place April 30 over concerns between RD-180 manufacturer NPO Energomash and its connection with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who was placed on the sanctions list by the US government as a result of the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine. While dissolving the injunction, Braden asked that “If the Government receives any indication, however, that purchases from or payment of money to NPO Energomash by ULS, ULA, or the United States Air Force will directly or indirectly contravene Executive Order 13,661, the Government will inform the court immediately.” The injunction had been put in place following a lawsuit filed April 25 by upstart launch company SpaceX. That protest sought to challenge a US Air Force decision to award a block-buy contract for 36 launches to ULA. (Source: Defense News)
09 May 14. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is not pleased about the House Armed Services Committee’s mark-up of the fiscal year 2015 Defense Department budget request, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said. The committee, he said, disregarded many of DOD’s recommendations, including proposing to continue funding for the A-10 Warthog and rejecting a department request to limit military pay and conduct a new round of base realignments and closures. “Even before the threat of sequestration,” Kirby told reporters, “this department had to — and was — making some pretty difficult choices, as we knew we would have to when you come out of over a decade of war.” The secretary led a budget process this year and used the Quadrennial Defense Review and codification of the new defense strategy to craft the department’s request, Kirby said. This made for tough, difficult and strategic choices that took into consideration the world today and possible future threats. The budget as submitted calls for finding efficiencies and savings and preserving readiness, the admiral said. “Without speaking specifically to pending legislation, [Hagel’s] hope is that the Congress will see the wisdom in the strategic choices, the hard decisions that he has made,” Kirby said. “And his expectation is that they’ll be willing to make the same ones. “I can tell you that the secretary was certainly not pleased by the House Armed Services Committee mark-up of the budget,” Kirby continued. “He … resolutely stands by the budget that we submitted because it was strategic in tone and because it was tied to a defense strategy that made sense.” Kirby noted the budget process is still in its early phases. A final bill will not emerge from both houses of Congress for months and could change significantly. “The secretary certainly hopes that when it gets to the Senate and into conference, that the Congress will prove capable of seeing the wisdom, again, in the decisions that we’ve made and being willing to make those same tough choices and putting national security first over parochial interests,” he said.
08 May 14. US Army to field King Air-based VADER special mission aircraft. The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to install the Vehicle And Dismount Exploitation Radar (VADER) aboard a Beechcraft King Air 350ER aircraft, it announced in late April. The USD24.5 million contract will see Lockheed Martin install the Northrop Grumman-built radar, plus an aerial precision geolocation kit, onto the King Air aircraft by 18 March 2015. The US Army is the contracting authority. Designed initially for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) applications, VADER is de