29 May 15. The Pentagon on Friday said it would talk to U.S. lawmakers about approving a possible three-year block buy of Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets beginning in fiscal 2018 that would include U.S. purchases and international buyers. U.S. Defense Undersecretary Frank Kendall told reporters such a deal would not constitute a formal “multiyear buy,” but would still require congressional approval. He said such a deal would allow the U.S. military and international buyers to drive down costs by benefitting from economic order quantities when annual orders of the jet reach around 150 planes a year. He said the F-35 program was meeting or exceeding performance, cost, schedule milestones set during a 2011 restructuring of the program. (Source: Reuters)
28 May 15. No Acquisition Strategy yet for LCS frigates. Details of the new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) frigate program’s acquisition strategy are still being reviewed, the US Navy said, and the service will likely fall more than a month behind a deadline to submit the strategy to senior Pentagon officials. In his directions last year to the Navy to develop an enhanced, frigate version of the LCS, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the service to submit an acquisition strategy to the office of the secretary of defense (OSD) by May 1. Left open, however, were exactly what details the strategy would include. Navy officials have not committed to specifying what details would be provided, and they continue to evade a commitment.
“The Navy has drafted an acquisition strategy framework that outlines plans for the frigate’s design and procurement,” Cmdr. Thurraya Kent, spokesperson for the service’s acquisition directorate, said earlier this month. “It has also prepared an assessment for forward and back-fitting LCSs with frigate capabilities where it makes the most sense. Both of these actions are pre-decisional and are being reviewed by senior Navy leadership prior to submission to OSD.
“The Navy will not comment publicly on specific elements of the acquisition strategy or assessment,” Kent added. “However, the Navy looks forward to continued dialogue with Congress through the coming months on the latest developments of the frigate acquisition process.”
LCSs beginning with hull number 33 are now officially referred to as frigates, a decision announced in January by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. Not yet clear — and perhaps something that might be in the new acquisition strategy — is whether the next eight LCSs to be ordered, hull numbers 25 through 32, will be classed as frigates or LCSs. The Navy is working to backfit many features of the LCS frigate into earlier ships, including the eight interim ships, but the design of the frigates remains an ongoing effort.
“Pre-preliminary design and system selection for the frigate will be completed in October 2015,” Chris Johnson, a spokesman with the Naval Sea Systems Command, said May 28. “Preliminary and contract design will occur after pre-preliminary design, ultimately resulting in a technical package that will support a shipbuilding contract in FY 2019.”
Numerous questions about the ships’ designs remain to be answered, including the selection and configuration of armament and sensor packages. (Source: Defense News)
26 May 15. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center Certifies SpaceX for National Security Space Missions. Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, Commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space, has announced the certification of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s (SpaceX) Falcon 9 Launch System for national security space missions. SpaceX is now eligible for award of qualified national security space launch missions as one of two currently certified launch providers. The first upcoming opportunity for SpaceX to compete to provide launch services is projected to be in June when the Air Force releases a Request for Proposal for GP