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14 Jan 22. Russia Trying to Develop Pretext for Ukraine Invasion, DOD Official Says. Russia has deployed “a group of operatives” into Ukraine to foment a pretext for another invasion of that country, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said during a news conference today. Kirby hastened to say that the U.S. government still believes there is room to solve the problem of the Russian build-up on Ukraine’s border diplomatically. “No one wants to see another invasion and incursion of Ukraine,” he said. “We still … believe that there’s time and space for diplomacy.” Still, if Russia does invade its neighbor, the United States “will continue to provide security assistance to Ukraine to help them better defend themselves,” Kirby said.
Kirby said the Russian operatives are a part of Russia’s playbook that was used in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea and later illegally annexed the area. Kirby could not give many details, but said the United States does “have information that indicates that Russia is already working actively to create a pretext for a potential invasion, for a move on Ukraine.”
The Russian operatives are pre-positioned in Ukraine to conduct “what we call a false flag operation — an operation designed to look like an attack on … Russian speaking people in Ukraine, again, as an excuse to go in.”
The United States also has information that Russia is fabricating Ukrainian provocations in state and social media as some sort of pretext for invasion, he said. “We’ve seen this kind of thing before out of Russia,” he said. “When there isn’t an actual crisis to suit their needs; they’ll make one up. So we’re watching for them.”
There were also cyberattacks on Ukrainian government websites. Kirby said it is too early to attribute those attacks on Russia, but noted that it is also in the Russian playbook.
Kirby wouldn’t go into much detail on the operatives themselves, but noted that Russia often “hybridizes” their personnel drawing them from their intelligence communities, their security services or their military.
There are American forces in Ukraine working to advise and assist the Ukrainian military. There are less than 200 Florida National Guardsmen assigned to the mission.
Kirby said the United States believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has not decided on invasion yet. But if there is an incursion, force protection for American personnel remains paramount. “We will make all the appropriate and proper decisions to make sure that our people are safe in any event,” Kirby said.
In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said there is room for diplomacy to work. He had met with Russian officials as part of the NATO-Russia Council at the alliance headquarters. “We had a very serious and direct exchange on the situation in and around Ukraine and the implications for European security,” he said. “There are significant differences between NATO allies and Russia on these issues. Our differences will not be easy to bridge. But it is a positive sign that all NATO allies and Russia sat down around the same table, and engaged on substantive topics.”
One Russian demand is that Ukraine not become a member of NATO.
“Ukraine is a sovereign nation,” Stoltenberg said. “Ukraine has the right to self-defense. Ukraine is not a threat to Russia. Russia has the biggest land power in Europe. They are one of two major nuclear powers. They have invested heavily in new, modern capabilities over the last years.”
Russia has also said Ukraine threatens Russia. The secretary general said Russia continues to illegally occupy Crimea and controls the separatists in eastern Ukraine. “The whole idea that, … Ukraine threatens Russia is absolutely to put the whole thing upside down,” he said. “It is Russia that is the aggressor. It is Russia that has used force and continues to use force against Ukraine.
“This crisis is making of Russia,” he continued. “And therefore, it is important that they de-escalate.” (Source: US DoD)
14 Jan 22. DOD Technology Chief Emphasizes People, Teamwork. The Defense Department’s chief technology officer is emphasizing people and teamwork as the avenue to keep America’s technological edge.
Heidi Shyu’s, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, priority goal is to become more mission focused, she told the Defense Writers Group yesterday. “I want to leverage the incredible amount of technology innovation that’s across our nation to be able to solve difficult operational challenges,” she said.
To do this, Shyu wants to build a foundation to get the right people to work on these cutting edge projects. “We’ve got to attract talent … (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) talent to build a future technical workforce,” she said. It is more than simply hiring people, it also means building the laboratories, test areas, facilities and infrastructure needed to enable their work.
Finally, the “piece that’s critically important for us to shape the future is teamwork,” she said.
This is more than simply teamwork within the department — although that is important. Shyu wants to leverage the larger “innovation ecosystem.” This includes defense contractors, university affiliated research centers, federally funded research centers, “and, of course, our allies and partners. I am a firm believer that by working together, we can solve the toughest challenges,” she said.
Shyu is the latest DOD technology chief that wants to bridge the department’s “valley of death.” This refers to the time between development of a capability and its inclusion in a program. Too often, promising technologies get dropped in this period. Shyu said the valley of death is still a problem. Outreach is one way she hopes to bridge the valley or fill it in.
“I have been engaging with small companies because they’re the guys that are suffering the valley of death,” she said. “I’ve held small company roundtables … to talk about what are the biggest impediments that they see in terms of working with the DOD.”
Shyu has devised a strategy she is presenting to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on “how to pave over this valley of death, or at least build a bridge.”
She said different payment strategies may be part of this strategy. “I’m going to figure out a … mechanism to leverage the venture capital fund and be a lot closer tied to them at the DOD level,” she said.
Communication alone is a way forward. She noted that at the end of her meetings “they actually made a request: Namely, to stay engaged with me, to make sure we have these monthly dialogues.”
Shyu has also met with allies and partners on technology and capabilities needed. “I’ve engaged with quite a few allies and partners to date, and at each one of our meetings, we talk about what are the areas of interests that they have, and versus our interests,” she said. “If there’s an intersection in terms of interest areas, and then we basically go down to the next layer of the folks working for me, they then form a working group to literally hammer out the details of the exchange of information.”
The countries include Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, Israel and many others. (Source: US DoD)
14 Jan 22. U.S. bill would block defense contractors from using Chinese rare earths. A bipartisan piece of legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate on Friday would force defense contractors to stop buying rare earths from China by 2026 and use the Pentagon to create a permanent stockpile of the strategic minerals. The bill, sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, and Mark Kelly, an Arizona Democrat, is the latest in a string of U.S. legislation seeking to thwart China’s near control over the sector.
It essentially uses the Pentagon’s purchase of billions of dollars worth of fighter jets, missiles and other weapons as leverage to require contractors to stop relying on China and, by extension, support the revival of U.S. rare earths production.
Rare earths are a group of 17 metals that, after processing, are used to make magnets found in electric vehicles, weaponry and electronics. While the United States created the industry in World War Two and U.S. military scientists developed the most widely-used type of rare earth magnet, China has slowly grown to control the entire sector the past 30 years.
The United States has only one rare earths mine and has no capability to process rare earth minerals.
“Ending American dependence on China for rare earths extraction and processing is critical to building up the U.S. defense and technology sectors,” Cotton told Reuters.
The senator, who sits on the Senate’s Armed Forces and Intelligence committees, described China’s evolution into the global rare earths leader as “simply a policy choice that the United States made,” adding that he hoped fresh policies would loosen Beijing’s grip.
Known as the Restoring Essential Energy and Security Holdings Onshore for Rare Earths Act of 2022, the bill would codify and make permanent the Pentagon’s ongoing stockpiling of the materials. China temporarily blocked rare earth exports to Japan in 2010 and has issued vague threats it could do the same to the United States.
To build that reserve, though, the Pentagon buys supply in part from China, a paradox that Senate staffers hope will abate in time.
The rare earths production process can be highly pollutive, part of the reason why it grew unpopular in the United States. Ongoing research is attempting to make the process cleaner.
Cotton said he has talked to various U.S. executive agencies about the bill, but declined to say if he had talked with President Joe Biden or the White House.
“This is an area in which Congress will lead, because many members have been concerned about this very topic, regardless of party,” he said.
ENCOURAGE DOMESTIC OUTPUT
Most members of the nascent U.S. rare earths sector praised the bill, though some worried defense contractors could continue to ask for waivers to buy Chinese rare earths even after 2026.
The Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group for Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N), Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and other U.S. aerospace and defense companies, declined to comment on the bill.
“Well placed policies such as this one get us closer to the target of onshoring this critical supply chain,” said Marty Weems, North American president of Australia-based American Rare Earths Ltd (ARR.AX), which is developing three U.S. rare earth projects.
MP Materials Corp (MP.N), which operates the only U.S. rare earths mine and relies on Chinese processors, said it appreciates “ongoing efforts by the Department of Defense and broader U.S. government to secure the domestic rare earth supply chain and promote free and fair competition.”
The bill, which the sponsors expect could be folded into Pentagon funding legislation later this year, offers no direct support for U.S. rare earths minersor processors.
Instead, it requires Pentagon contractors to stop using Chinese rare earths within four years, allowing waivers only in rare situations. Defense contractors would be required to immediately say where they source the minerals.
Those requirements “should encourage more domestic (rare earths) development in our country,” Cotton said.
The Pentagon has in the past two years given grants to companies trying to resume U.S. rare earth processing and magnet production, including MP Materials, Australia’s Lynas Rare Earth Ltd (LYC.AX), TDA Magnetics Inc and Urban Mining Co.
Kelly, a former astronaut and a member of the Senate’s Armed Services and Energy committees, said the bill should “strengthen America’s position as a global leader in technology by reducing our country’s reliance on adversaries like China for rare earth elements.”
The bill only applies to weapons, not other equipment the U.S. military purchases.
Additionally, the U.S. trade representative would be required to investigate whether China is distorting the rare earths market and recommend whether trade sanctions are needed.
When asked if such a step could be seen as antagonistic by Beijing, Cotton said: “I don’t think the answer to Chinese aggression or Chinese threats is to continue to subject ourselves to Chinese threats.” (Source: Reuters)
13 Jan 22. OFAC Targets Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Individuals Supporting Weapons of Mass Destruction and Ballistic Missile Programs. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated five Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) individuals allegedly responsible for procuring goods for the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile-related programs. These actions are in line with U.S. efforts to prevent the advancement of the DPRK’s WMD and ballistic missile programs and impede attempts by Pyongyang to proliferate related technologies. They also follow the DPRK’s six ballistic missile launches since September 2021, each of which violated multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs). OFAC designated a Russia-based DPRK national, Choe Myong Hyon, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382 (“Blocking Property of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators and Their Supporters”) for having provided, or having attempted to provide, goods or services in support of the Second Academy of Natural Sciences (SANS). The SANS was designated by the U.S. Department of State on August 30, 2010, pursuant to E.O. 13382, and subsequently by the UN on March 7, 2013, for its involvement with or provision of support for the DPRK’s weapons programs. The SANS has subordinate defense-related procurement and proliferation entities that it uses to obtain commodities and technology to support the DPRK’s defense research and development programs.
Choe Myong Hyon is a Vladivostok-based representative of a SANS-subordinate organization. In his role as a chief representative of a SANS-subordinate organization, Choe Myong Hyon has worked to procure telecommunications-related equipment from Russia for DPRK companies. Today’s action also targets four China-based DPRK WMD representatives of SANS-subordinate organizations pursuant to E.O. 13382. Sim Kwang Sok is a Dalian-based chief representative who has worked to procure steel alloys for his DPRK headquarters. Kim Song Hun is a Shenyang-based representative who has worked to procure software and chemicals for the DPRK. Kang Chol Hak is also a Shenyang-based representative who has procured goods for his DPRK headquarters from Chinese companies. Pyon Kwang Chol is the deputy representative of a suspected cover company for a SANS-subordinate organization located in Dalian, where he was first assigned to work in 2014. In a related action, the Department of State designated DPRK national O Yong Ho, Russian national Roman Anatolyevich Alar, and Russian entity Parsek LLC pursuant to E.O. 13382 for having engaged in activities or transactions that have materially contributed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery by DPRK. As a result of these actions, all property and interests in property of the individuals and entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons. In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals or entities designated today may themselves be exposed to designation. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the individuals or entities designated today could be subject to U.S. correspondent account or payable-through sanctions. Click here for further identifying information on the designated individuals. (Source: glstrade.com)
12 Jan 22. Biden imposes first sanctions over N. Korea weapons program after missile tests. The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed its first sanctions over North Korea’s weapons programs following a series of North Korean missile launches, including two since last week. The sanctions targeted six North Koreans, one Russian and a Russian firm Washington said were responsible for procuring goods for the programs from Russia and China. The U.S. Treasury said the steps aimed both to prevent the advancement of North Korea’s programs and to impede its attempts to proliferate weapons technologies. The United States also proposed that five of those individuals also be blacklisted by the United Nations Security Council, which would need consensus agreement by the body’s 15-member North Korea sanctions committee. read more The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has sought unsuccessfully to engage Pyongyang in dialogue to persuade it to give up its nuclear bombs and missiles since taking office in January last year. U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States remained committed to pursuing diplomacy with North Korea.
“What we have seen in recent days … only underscores our belief that if we are going to make progress, that we will need to engage in that dialogue,” he told a regular news briefing.
The Treasury Department said the sanctions followed six North Korean ballistic missile launches since September, each of which violated U.N. Security Council resolutions.
South Korea, a U.S. ally that has pushed Washington to back more engagement with North Korea, said it did not believe the move meant that Biden’s administration had hardened its position.
“We think the U.S. measure reflected the existing U.S. position that implementing sanctions is also important, together with dialogue,” a South Korean foreign ministry spokesperson told a briefing.
U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said the moves targeted North Korea’s “continued use of overseas representatives to illegally procure goods for weapons.”
North Korea’s latest launches were “further evidence that it continues to advance prohibited programs despite the international community’s calls for diplomacy and denuclearization,” Nelson said in a statement.
It said the State Department had designated Russia-based North Korean Choe Myong Hyon, Russian national Roman Anatolyevich Alar and the Russian firm Parsek LLC for “activities or transactions that have materially contributed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery.”
It said Choe Myong Hyon, a Vladivostok-based representative of North Korea’s Second Academy of Natural Sciences (SANS), had worked to procure telecommunications-related equipment from Russia.
Four China-based North Korean representatives of SANS-subordinate organizations – Sim Kwang Sok, Kim Song Hun, Kang Chol Hak and Pyon Kwang Chol – and one other Russia-based North Korean, O Yong Ho, were also targeted.
Sim Kwang Sok, based in Dalian, had worked to procure steel alloys and Kim Song Hun, who was based in Shenyang, software and chemicals, Treasury said.
In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that between at least 2016 and 2021, O Yong Ho had worked with Parsek LLC and Alar, the firm’s director for development, to procure multiple goods with ballistic missile applications, including Kevlar thread, aramid fiber, aviation oil, ball bearings, and precision milling machines.
ROCKET FUEL MIXTURES
Blinken said Alar also provided O Yong Ho with instructions for creating solid rocket fuel mixtures.
“The procurement and supply relationship between O Yong Ho, Roman Anatolyevich Alar, and Parsek LLC is a key source of missile-applicable goods and technology for the DPRK’s missile program,” his statement said.
It also said O Yong Ho had worked to procure items including aramid fiber, stainless steel tubes and ball bearings from “third countries” it did not name.
North Korea’s U.N. mission, Russia and China’s embassies in Washington and the Russian firm did not respond to requests for comment.
North Korean media said leader Kim Jong Un observed the test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday, the second in less than a week after he vowed in a New Year speech to bolster the military with cutting-edge technology.
Tuesday’s test came hours after the U.S. mission to the United Nations, joined by Albania, France, Ireland, Japan and the United Kingdom, condemned last week’s launch and called on U.N. states to fulfill sanctions obligations.
U.N. resolutions ban North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear tests and impose sanctions.
Anthony Ruggiero, a sanctions expert in the former Trump administration that failed to persuade Kim to roll back his nuclear program despite unprecedented engagement, called the new sanctions “a good start.”
However, he said the Biden administration had allowed a reversal of sanctions pressure and added: “Biden needs to continue the designations to increase the pressure on the Kim regime.”
Price did not respond when asked why no Chinese individuals or entities were targeted, or specifically when asked if China and Russia were doing enough to enforce sanctions, but stressed the importance of all U.N. states doing so, while adding: “Obviously we’ve not seen all of that.”
Wednesday’s actions freeze any U.S.-related assets of those targeted and prohibit all dealings with them. (Source: Reuters)
10 Jan 22. For their next acts, former Trump administration DoD officials look beyond traditional defense contractors. It wasn’t until after Ryan McCarthy left his post as U.S. Army secretary that he discovered a company with technology he had spent years wishing existed.
During his time at the helm of the Army, McCarthy knew the service needed a cloud architecture that could operate at the tactical edge of the battlespace and control assets such as unmanned ground vehicles and drones. But “I never found the technology” to do that, he told Defense News in an exclusive interview.
McCarthy retired from government service in January 2021 after serving as Army secretary since September 2019, when then-Army Secretary Mark Esper was promoted to defense secretary. McCarthy had previously served as Army undersecretary, then as acting secretary until Esper was confirmed in late 2017.
Now McCarthy has joined the boards of several technology firms. While many former military officials sign on with major defense contractors, McCarthy has eschewed the brand names in favor of mostly smaller and nontraditional companies.
“It’s hard to leave an institution that you love,” McCarthy said, “but at this stage in my life, I was looking a lot for culture, as in: Where were the people that had similar interests and good chemistry, and where I had the most opportunity to provide advice, to add value, and where was the focus of their business, how did they want to contribute?”
Indeed, McCarthy is one of several former Trump administration Pentagon leaders to join less traditional companies since completing government service. The moves align with an increased focus by the Defense Department on transformative technologies — from artificial intelligence to 5G networks to hypersonic weapons — and a far more aggressive push to reach smaller technology companies and startups.
Byron Callan, a defense analyst at Capital Alpha Partners, told Defense News the trend reflects a changed environment that started with Silicon Valley outreach under Obama administration Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
“You didn’t have that in some of these prior cycles,” Callan said. “There just wasn’t this cohort of smaller … techie startup people who really need a lot of help.”
Jerry McGinn, the executive director of George Mason University’s Center for Government Contracting and a former DoD official, told Defense News that at larger prime contractors, “it’s harder for you to go into a place where you can really move the needle.”
At a smaller company, on the other hand, board members are “making decisions with the company management on business strategy. You get more hands on, you get more of the ability to really shape the company and its direction.”
Looking to disruptive tech
Together with Esper, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley (who is now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville (who is now Army chief of staff), McCarthy helped establish in 2017 a new four-star command — Army Futures Command — tasked with rapidly modernizing the Army.
Creation of the command was touted as disruptive and an attempt by the Army to break out of its long-term pattern of failure when it came to adopting new technologies and weapon systems.
Knowing that he was departing, even as the Army was in the midst of this new transformation, McCarthy said he wanted his next step to correspond with that unfinished business.
Following a suggestion from a former colleague, McCarthy looked into Tomahawk Robotics, a company in Melbourne, Florida. He thought the business might have the answer to connecting assets through a cloud at the tactical edge.
“They have a technology [called Kinesis] that can command and control various sets of drones, from very low-end to high-end,” McCarthy said. It’s “able to fuse all of the information right there at the edge so that at the company-grade level, you could have one individual company commander and command group there [that] could operate and bring all of those different data points together into one common sight picture.”
“It was incredible,” he said. “I was like: ‘I’ve been looking for you guys.’ ”
McCarthy was so impressed, he agreed to join Tomahawk Robotics’ board of directors. Though the company is small, it has won a series of contracts with the Navy and the Marine Corps, and it is now starting work with the Army to demonstrate its technology.
“It’s really going to transform how human beings can work with robots and unmanned systems because today if you did it, you’d have eight to 10 people operating your 10 different drones on a target,” McCarthy said. “[The] Kinesis common control system is going to really be an [artificial intelligence]-edge processor.”
McCarthy continued to meet with both large defense firms and nontraditional companies in the early months of 2021 as he planned his new career outside of government. He was most drawn to companies specializing in artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomy and low-Earth orbit satellites.
He next agreed to join the board of Scout Ventures, the venture capital firm that owns Tomahawk. Both venture capital and private equity firms, he noted, “find all these very talented entrepreneurs and really good ideas, and they become the mechanism to bring all these good ideas to life.”
Discovering nontraditional talent has been a challenge and a focus for the Army. When McCarthy oversaw the service, Army Futures Command set up the Army Applications Laboratory at the Austin, Texas-based Capital Factory, a space meant to connect entrepreneurs with investors.
McCarthy has also joined the board of Austin-based Striveworks, an artificial intelligence and machine-learning technology company that initially developed algorithms for predictive analytics in electronic trading.
For example, if a bomb goes off in an oil field in Saudi Arabia, one of the company’s algorithms can quickly calculate how fast and how much supply would go offline as well as how it might affect global trading, McCarthy said.
“Why can’t we do something like that with targeting? You have all your assets stacked and racked worldwide. You’re in the middle of a firefight in Iraq or Afghanistan, wherever you are in the world. Why can’t you develop a solution in seconds?” he said. “Why does it take 20 minutes? How do we get technology to help us crunch the data faster to tee up options for a commander to help make a decision?”
Striveworks has already won contracts with U.S. Special Operations Command, McCarthy added.
In late 2021, McCarthy joined the board of a more traditional contractor: CACI International. The company has aggressively made acquisitions to strengthen its portfolio of products, he said.
“I liked the portfolio of the company,” he said. “If you look at where they are positioned in digital solutions or cyber and space — [those are the domains that are] going to be tested the most over the next decade and [have] the capabilities that combatant commanders are going to need in order to really win in a competition space and be able to support national objectives, because in near-peer competition that’s all phase zero.”
McCarthy said the slate of companies in which he’s involved reflects what he learned while in government.
“AI, robotics, autonomy, LEO satellites: Those things are very interesting to me. I tried to work on a lot of that when I was in the government because … at the end of the day, I was listening to commanders, [asking] what do they need. It was less about my own personal view but more of how to answer the mail of the most important customer — the Department of Defense, the warfighters — and help them with capabilities to give them the technological margin they need to win,” he said.
McCarthy is not the only former DoD official who sought work apart from big defense contractors. Esper in the spring of 2021 joined the board of Epirus, which was founded in 2018 and offers a counter-unmanned aircraft system swarm capability that caught the eye of the armed services.
(It’s worth noting both McCarthy and Esper worked for big defense contractors in the past. McCarthy worked, most notably, on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program at Lockheed Martin, while Esper was a senior executive at Raytheon Technologies.)
Former Navy acquisition chief James “Hondo” Geurts last month joined Esper on the Epirus board, along with retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph Reynes, who most recently served as deputy chief of operations at Headquarters Allied Joint Force Command in the Netherlands. Geurts previously worked as the acquisition executive for U.S. Special Operations Command; he was notorious for rapidly finding and delivering the latest technology to the force.
Meanwhile, former Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper is now chief executive of Volansi, a commercial drone delivery company. He previously served on the board there. And over the summer, he announced he would become an adviser to the British Royal Air Force.
Roper was a champion of attracting commercial companies while heading Air Force procurement. For instance, he oversaw the creation of AFWERX, an Air Force program that focuses on awarding deals to startups and nontraditional contractors.
When Roper was tapped to lead Volansi, he noted in a statement how some commercial vendors bring “speed and agility historically absent in government procurement.”
“Volansi is uniquely positioned in the commercial UAV market because of their focus on cargo and logistics, both huge components of modern militaries. I am excited to help them think through opportunities to bring on-demand, life-saving capabilities to men and women in uniform,” Roper said at the time.
The Silicon Valley-based firm and Sierra Nevada Corporation announced a teaming agreement last month to compete for the second increment of the Army’s Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System program, which aims to replace the Shadow drone with a runway-independent aircraft.
Ellen Lord, who served as undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment in the Trump administration, joined the boards of Denver, Colorado-based Voyage Space Holdings and of AAR, a provider of aviation services for both commercial and government operators.
Before serving under the administration, she was president and chief executive of Textron Systems.
“If you think about where you get the most bang for your buck,” Callan said, “it’s going to be the smaller startups because they really do need the most help at kind of navigating, and that’s ultimately what these board members are going to do.”
But, Callan added, he’s curious if these former top officials can help companies break into significant DoD sales.
“This is the start of a process, but I think the real proof of it will be in two or three years’ time with these guys. Have they been able to bid for programs? And if they win, all that experience and knowledge and the connections have paid off.” (Source: Defense News)
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