Headlines – February 24, 2021

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Top Senate Republican has ‘serious concerns’ over Pentagon policy pick-
The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee has “serious concerns” over the nomination of Colin Kahl, President Joe Biden’s pick to run the Pentagon’s policy shop.
 
GAO: Pentagon didn’t fully evaluate costs, readiness effects of deploying troops to border-
The Pentagon did not fully evaluate potential costs and effects on readiness before deploying troops to the U.S.-Mexico border during the Trump administration, a watchdog report said Feb. 23.
 
 

Business

Low-key U.S. presence opens doors for Israel, China-
In the midst of all the intense activities at the International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi — including the buzz generated by the first-ever presence of an Israeli pavilion — exhibitors and participants could not help but notice one big thing was missing: the high-level U.S. official delegations.
 
Elbit to export Iron Fist system to the Netherlands-
BAE Systems Hägglunds has chosen Israeli firm Elbit Systems to provide the Royal Netherlands Army with the Iron Fist active protection system for CV90 armored vehicles under an $82 million contract announced this week.
 
An unexpected way to accelerate Egyptian-Emirati cooperation? IDEX-
Any visitor to the IDEX trade show here would notice the Egyptian booth exhibiting three major defense producers from the African country: the Ministry of Military Production, the Arab Organization for Industrialization and Arab International Optronics.
 
From lasers to missiles, IDEX exhibitors are determined to counter drones-
While some companies at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference are showing off their drones — as surveillance aircraft, loitering munitions or swarms — a few have countermeasures on display, including high-energy laser systems and smart missiles.
 
Why would Russia’s Kalashnikov make a NATO-friendly assault rifle?-
Firearms manufacturer Kalashnikov is exhibiting its new AK-19 rifle for the first time outside of Russia during an arms trade show in the United Arab Emirates.
 
Israel to buy two KC-46 tankers, with plans for more F-35s, weapon systems-
Israel will purchase two Boeing KC-46 tankers as part of a letter of offer and acceptance announced Feb. 22. Israel’s Defense Ministry said it is also pursuing additional F-35 fighter jets (beyond the 50 it already has agreed to buy), more helicopters, advanced munitions and other weapon systems.
 
Germany orders Israel’s Trophy active protection system for its Leopard 2 tanks-
The German and Israeli defense ministries have signed an agreement for the purchase of the Rafael-made Trophy active protection system for the Bundeswehr’s Leopard 2 tanks, the two governments announced Feb. 23.
 
Lockheed, government negotiating new ‘skinny’ F-35 sustainment deal-
Lockheed Martin and the U.S. government are working out a down-scoped version of the F-35 Performance-Based Logistics concept the company pitched 18 months ago, but the goal is still to get the fighter’s operating cost to $25,000 a year by 2025, in fiscal year 2012 dollars.
 
Leidos moves to buy Gibbs & Cox in $380M deal-
Defense contractor Leidos is making a bid to buy the almost hundred-year-old ship design firm Gibbs & Cox in a $380 million deal, the company announced in a Feb. 23 earnings call.
 
Marine Corps awards OTA for long-range sea drone-
The Marine Corps has selected shipbuilding company Metal Shark to develop a long-range unmanned surface vessel.
 
New T-7A jet trainer flight test could happen this year-
Testing of the next model of the Air Force’s new jet trainer aircraft could happen before the end of 2021, or in early 2022, said Boeing officials Feb. 23.
 
UK reveals Puma replacement plan-
The United Kingdom is set to replace its Westland-Aerospatiale SA 330E Puma HC2 rotorcraft with a new aircraft type via its New Medium Helicopter (NMH) requirement.
 
 

Defense

Air Force’s MQ-9 Reapers are now conducting missions from Romania-
The Air Force conducted MQ-9 Reaper missions from Romania for the first time this month, after basing a squadron of the drones there in January.
 
Lack of Pentagon nominees could be harbinger of slow process-
A month after the inauguration of Joe Biden as president, nominations for dozens of top Pentagon jobs have yet to be announced — and it may be quite some time before those roles are filled with confirmed individuals.
 
Navy looking to slash budget of its internal oversight office-
In recent years, the Naval Audit Service has reported that overseas personnel were not prepared to respond to a biological, radiological or nuclear incident given the protective equipment on hand.
 
U.S. Navy moves ahead with light torpedo programs-
The U.S. Navy is getting ready for testing and other milestones throughout this year for its lightweight torpedo and very lightweight torpedo programs.
 
Navy tests autonomous aerial supply drone from its newest supercarrier-
The Navy hopes that small resupply drones could revolutionize its at-sea logistics chains for carriers and other warships.
 
Air Force to begin assembly of airborne laser-
The Air Force Research Laboratory is set to receive the first major assembly of one subsystem needed for its airborne laser, although it’s pushed back the first test to fiscal 2024.
 
 

Veterans

VA secretary promises ‘urgency’ in implementing new Agent Orange presumptive benefits rules
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough on Feb. 23 promised an “urgent” review of new rules regarding presumptive benefits status for Vietnam veterans suffering from serious illnesses related to toxic chemical defoliant exposure, but offered no specific timeline for when veterans may see those changes put in place.
 
VA secretary promises diverse leadership team, but can’t say when they’ll be in place-
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough vowed that his leadership team at the federal bureaucracy will reflect the diversity of America’s veterans but offered no timeline for when other key senior posts at the department will be filled.
 
GAO calls for stop to VA’s electronic medical record rollout until early problems get fixed-
The federal government’s watchdog agency has recommended that the Department of Veterans Affairs postpone the rollout of its electronic health records system until problems encountered in the initial deployment are fixed.
 
 
 

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