Headlines – March 27, 2019

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News

Capitol Hill tries to deny Pentagon use of $1B for border wall –
The Pentagon’s announcement that it would reprogram $1 billion in counterdrug funding to support the border wall was rejected March 26 by the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, setting up a possible fight over which branch of government has final authority on how that money can be spent.
 
Pentagon to move forward on limits for transgender troops, as the final legal hurdle falls –
The Pentagon’s new transgender policy cleared a final legal hurdle March 26, meaning new limits on whether troops who identify as other than their biological sex may serve may be implemented within weeks.
 
 

Business

Palantir wins competition to build Army intelligence system –
The Silicon Valley company’s win caps a contentious fight with a Beltway giant.
 
Oshkosh rolls out new JLTV as Army talks cuts –
The Army may be buying fewer Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, but manufacturer Oshkosh is still so confident in its armored 4×4 that it’s rolling out a new variant here at the AUSA Global trade show: a JLTV ambulance the company developed at its own expense.
 
Austal nets $261.8M for work on next two Expeditionary Fast Transport ships –
The contract, announced Monday by the Department of Defense, includes the design and construction of the 13th and 14th EPF ships, as well as long-lead-time material for their construction.
 
U.S. Army, Raytheon complete preliminary design review of DeepStrike missile –
The U.S. Army and Raytheon are moving ahead with the first flights tests of the new DeepStrike surface-to-surface missile later this year after successfully completing preliminary design review of the system.
 
U.S. State Department approves sale of Sky Guardian drones to Belgium –
The U.S. State Department has given the green light for Belgium to buy MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones from General Atomics, a deal that could be worth about $600 million.
 
French envoy presses Germany on stalling arms exports –
France’s ambassador to Germany is pushing Berlin to loosen its restrictive stance on arms exports to Saudi Arabia, arguing Europe’s fledgling defense identity depends on it.
 
Navy’s $7.8 billion destroyer now due for delivery 5 years late –
The first ship in the U.S. Navy’s $23 billion program to build a new class of destroyers is scheduled for a September delivery — more than five years later than originally scheduled and 10 years after construction began on the stealthy vessels built by General Dynamics Corp.
 
 

Defense

How U.S. Army cut programs to boost lethality –
Last year, the U.S. Army’s leaders hunkered down and examined all of its programs to make decisions about when to pare back legacy weapons to make way for new and modern big-ticket items that fit more squarely with the service’s focus on lethality.
 
Pentagon sustains budget for arming local anti-IS forces amid U.S. pullout –
As the U.S. administration celebrated the capture of the last IS-held territory in Syria this weekend, James Jeffrey, the special representative for Syria engagement and special envoy for the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition, added his voice to the list of officials who have walked back expectations of a complete withdrawal from the country.
 
U.S. B-52H bombers train with Japan Air Self Defense Force over East China Sea –
The U.S. Air Force has been stepping up its bomber missions over Asian waters in recent months.
 
Joint U.S.-Afghan operation leaves Taliban fighters, civilians dead –
A raid coupled with U.S. airstrikes targeting Taliban fighters ended with five civilian deaths, including one child, the U.S. military said on March 26, one day after a United Nations report found an earlier coalition strike may have killed more than a dozen civilians.
 
Army transforming RCO to tackle and quickly field complex tech –
The Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, formerly known as the Rapid Capabilities Office, is undergoing more than just a name change, but rather a transformation at its core, the acting director of the organization told Defense News in a March 11 interview at RCCTO’s headquarters in the underbelly of the Pentagon.
 
Expanded Army modernization strategy due out in April –
A complex take on how the Army will operate using next-generation equipment against threats is expected in April, the under-secretary of the Army told Defense News in an interview just ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Ala.
 
Here’s Army’s next chief of staff, pending Senate confirmation –
U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville has been nominated to become the 40th Army chief.
 
U.S. Army to prioritize long-range missile capability to go after maritime targets –
The U.S. Army’s future long-range missile will first focus on defeating maritime targets from land once a baseline version is established, according to Col. John Rafferty, who is in charge of the service’s long-range precision fires modernization efforts.
 
Army’s $2.3B wish list would speed up future helo buy, boost lethality efforts –
The Army’s $2.3 billion unfunded requirements list — or wish list — sent to Capitol Hill includes money to speed up the service’s plan to buy a future long-range assault helicopter earlier and would boost lethality efforts such as outfitting more Stryker combat vehicles with a 30mm gun.
 
Extended-range cannon to get autoloader within five years –
The Army is developing an Extended-Range Cannon Artillery system and will start building prototypes by the end of the year, but moving beyond the first iteration, the service is planning to add an autoloader starting in 2024, according to Col. John Rafferty, who is in charge of the Army’s Long-Range Precision Fires modernization programs.
 
We need Turkey to buy Patriot’ missile defense system – acting Pentagon chief –
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said March 26 that he wanted NATO ally Turkey to remain in the F-35 fighter jet program, but added that Ankara needed to buy the Patriot missile defense system.
 
Trump’s Space Corps proposal has right stuff, Shanahan tells Congress –
A day after House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said he plans to scrap the Trump administration’s Space Force proposal, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs defended that proposal.
 
This is how border deployments are affecting Army readiness –
About 4,700 active and reserve soldiers are on the U.S. border with Mexico in support of President Trump’s efforts to stem illegal immigration, but according to Army senior leaders, the unexpected mobilization late last year hasn’t impacted the service’s overall readiness.
 
Delayed report on Green Beret deaths in Niger may be subpoenaed from DOD –
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan faced questions about the October 2017 Niger ambush March 26, as lawmakers struggled to understand when final decisions on reprimands and awards will be made.
 
Combat readiness of Army brigades improving but hasn’t reached service’s goal, Milley says –
More than half of the Army’s brigade combat teams have achieved top levels of preparedness to fight a major ground war, the service’s top general said Tuesday, noting only three brigades were considered fully prepared to fight in 2015.
 
Pentagon’s plan to decommission an aircraft carrier looks half-baked and dead on arrival –
The Pentagon’s decision to decommission the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman appears to be sputtering and dying in a wave of skepticism and resistance from lawmakers.
 
Why the carrier USS Ford is delayed again –
After a string of successes in the yard, there’s been setback with ongoing efforts to get the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford ready for sea, Navy leaders told lawmakers on March 26.
 
This is why Big Navy is getting bigger –
Thanks to President Donald Trump’s latest budget request, Big Navy is poised to get even bigger, adding roughly 21,000 officers and sailors to the sea service by the end of fiscal year 2024.
 
Navy: Lack of sub parts slowing down maintenance, new construction –
A competition for material between submarine construction and submarine maintenance is contributing to slowdowns in both, the Navy’s acquisition chief told USNI News.
 
USS Gerald Ford delivery delayed due to extensive nuclear propulsion, weapons elevator repairs; Carrier won’t be ready until October –
Unforeseen problems in repairing USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) will push delivery of the carrier back to the fleet by three months, into October, Navy officials told a House Armed Services Committee panel on March 26.
 
Air Force wish list includes more F-35s, tankers … and some money for advanced tech to confuse Russia and China –
Twelve additional F-35s and three KC-46 tankers rank among the Air Force’s wish list of items it would like to have, but couldn’t afford in its fiscal year 2020 budget.
 
 

Veterans

VA recommends dropping legal challenge over ‘blue water’ Navy veterans benefits –
Veterans Affairs leaders will not recommend appealing a federal court ruling to award disability benefits to thousands of Vietnam veterans who claim exposure to cancer-causing chemical defoliants during ship deployments off that country’s coastline, officials confirmed March 26.
 
VA secretary denies reports he’s looking for another job –
Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie pushed back March 26 against reports that he launched an internal campaign to become the next secretary of defense.
 
VA to announce decision on new Agent Orange presumptive conditions –
Three years after a scientific body recommended that the Department of Veterans Affairs consider adding three conditions — bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson’s-like symptoms — to the list of qualifying diseases tied to Agent Orange, affected veterans may soon find out whether they are eligible for disability compensation and VA health care.