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Defense

Northrop Awarded More than $400 Million for Global Hawk Support

March 27, 2013
George I. Seffers

Northrop Grumman Corp., Aerospace Systems, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded an estimated $433,518,021 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for contractor logistics support for the RQ-4 Global Hawk fielded weapon system. The contracting activity is the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

DISA Lays Groundwork for Commercial Cloud Computing Contract

March 26, 2013
By Max Cacas

One of the U.S. Defense Department’s top information technology officials says work is beginning on a multiaward contract for commercial cloud computing services, but the official says he has no timeline or total value for the business.

Researchers Develop Technology for Tailor-Made, Multipurpose Robotics

March 25, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, are continuing to develop a robotic technology that can transform into a virtually infinite number of shapes. In fact, the breakthrough has led to some surprising spin-off projects, including research into aircraft control actuators and medical devices.

MIT first announced the caterpillar-size device last November after the original effort, which was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was completed. The original Programmable Matter project resulted in a device called a milli-motein, a name inspired by its millimeter-size components and a motorized design resembling proteins that fold themselves into complex shapes.

The technology could one day allow warfighters to design and build robotic systems on the fly to meet specific challenges—maneuvering through the space inside walls to gather reconnaissance information, for example. Now, the technology is being further developed in another DARPA project, the Maximum Mobility and Manipulation program, which seeks to improve the capability of robots to traverse tough terrain and to grasp or manipulate objects. “What our group has been doing is looking at how to apply our technologies for building structures from digital composite technology,” reports Ara Knaian, a visiting scientist at MIT, who helped design the unique electro-permanent motor that drives the milli-motein technology.

Cyber Investigators Analyze South Korea Malware

March 25, 2013

The malware that infiltrated computer systems across South Korea’s banking and television broadcast industries on March 20 shares similarities with the Shamoon program used last year to wipe clean the hard drives of 30,000 Saudi Aramco workstations, according to experts at General Dynamics Fidelis Cybersecurity Solutions. Investigators at the company’s newly-opened cyber forensics laboratory in Columbia, Maryland, say the malware is not a Shamoon variant, but that the two programs share some characteristics.

Company officials acknowledge the speculation that North Korea launched the attacks but did not comment on the program’s origin. It is not unusual, they say, for a criminal group or nation to use malware that deliberately mimics attacks used by others. Doing so, of course, casts suspicion elsewhere, helping to mask the malware’s true origins. “A number of commercial firms were hit with a somewhat similar attack. It was not Shamoon. But the techniques were somewhat similar,” says Jim Jaeger, the company’s vice president of cybersecurity services.

Cyber lab personnel identified the South Korea malware as “239ed75323.exe,” a malicious file capable of wiping data in disk drives. One of the areas it targets is the disk’s master boot record, without which a computer cannot load its operating system. The program writes a pattern to the disk that repeats the word “HASTATI.” Hastati is an apparent reference to a class of infantry in the armies of the early Roman Republic that originally fought as spearmen and later as swordsmen. The malware did not overwrite the entire disk, so some data can be recovered. The cyber lab experts posted their initial findings in a blog the day after the attacks.

 

Guest Blog: Budget Impact on Developing COTS Systems

March 25, 2013
By Michael Carter

The current driving force in the military and defense environment is to keep legacy systems operating longer, or the replacement of legacy systems with new systems that emulate one or more legacy systems with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology. However, there is insufficient budget to fund development of these COTS systems, and the burden of development falls upon private industry. The current sequestration environment adds another burden on industry to perform to the needs of the military, but without the benefit of nonrecurring engineering (NRE) costs being reimbursed. Programs although already funded (but not the NRE, as it is not initially funded) are being put on hold, cancelled, or are in a state of non-deterministic outcome.

Military and defense program managers and private industry face an uphill battle to find the intersection of needs, available resources and the expenditure of development costs. Small companies are at a distinct disadvantage when they develop technology to support the replacement of legacy systems when they are forced to use their own development resources without compensation and are not awarded a contract for production.

Whether a fixed-price, cost-plus, or IDIQ contract, the above scenario is increasingly commonplace in the face of budget constraints and sequestration. The burden on small companies doesn’t stop there; military program managers are also demanding engineering support without compensation for engineering-sustaining efforts, again without the presence of a production contract.

Although many systems are characterized as COTS, there are demands on the developer to perform military environment qualification testing, again without funding and no guarantee of a production contract.

EDO to Upgrade Magnetic Minesweeping System

March 25, 2013
George I. Seffers

EDO Corp., Panama City, Fla., is being awarded a $10,984,400 firm-fixed-price contract to build and deliver one MK-105 Mod 4 Magnetic Minesweeping System for the Airborne Mine Countermeasures Program. This system upgrade provides a significant reliability and performance improvement to the current MK-105, increasing the Navy's capability to conduct quick response, high-speed airborne mine countermeasures for the next decade. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Panama City, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Airtec to Provide ISR Support to U.S. Army Southern Command

March 25, 2013
George I. Seffers

Airtec Inc., California, Md., is being awarded a $12,500,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) services in support of the Army's Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). The contractor will provide ISR services utilizing two contractor-owned, contractor-operated aircraft, with government furnished property previously installed on the aircraft. The Naval Air Warfare Center, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Receives Electronic Warfare Funding

March 25, 2013
George I. Seffers

Lockheed Martin Corp., Liverpool, N.Y., is being awarded a $27,399,999 modification to previously awarded contract to exercise and restructure the fixed-price-incentive-options for the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 2 System long-lead-material to firm-fixed-price options. SEWIP is an evolutionary acquisition program to upgrade the existing AN/SLQ-32(V) Electronic Warfare System. The SEWIP Block 2 will greatly improve the receiver/antenna group necessary to keep capabilities current with the pace of the threat and to yield improved system integration. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

CACI to Support Counter-IED Efforts in Afghanistan

March 21, 2013
George I. Seffers

CACI-Wexford Group International, of Vienna, Va., is being awarded a $17,918,192 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Joint Expeditionary Team Counter-IED (C-IED) operational support services. The contract will provide rapidly deployable expertise in all aspects of C-IED operations to support U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The contracting activity is the Joint IED Defeat Organization Contract Operations, Arlington Va.

Defense Threat Reduction Agency Awards Biomimetic Contract

March 21, 2013
George I. Seffers

Sanofi Pasteur VaxDesign Corporation, Orlando, Fla., is being awarded a $15,106,789 cost-plus fixed-fee, incrementally-funded contract for research and development services for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to further optimize and utilize the invitro biomimetic immune system. The contract award was a direct response to DTRA's Chem-Bio Broad Agency Announcement. The contracting activity is Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Fort Belvoir, Va.

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