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By Debbie Gregory.

Bethesda, Maryland based defense giant Lockheed Martin Corporation has secured a contract with the U.S. Air Force to develop a prototype of the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon. It is hoped that the hypersonic cruise missile will be able to travel at Mach 5 – five times the speed of sound. That means a hypersonic weapon can travel about one mile per second.

If the hypersonic conventional strike weapon is successful, it could result in a $928 million payday for the defense contractor over the course of the project’s lifetime. No end date has been set for the new contract.

“Both Russia and China are aggressively pursuing hypersonic capabilities,” said General John Hytens, the head of U.S. Strategic Command. “We’ve watched them test those capabilities.”

Lockheed Martin will be responsible for the design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon.

The development will take place in the northern Alabama city of Huntsville, which is dubbed the “Rocket City” as it was the birthplace of America’s rocket program.

The Pentagon’s research and development chief, Michael Griffin, has called hypersonic technology the Defense Department’s first priority.

“In my opinion, today the most significant advance by our adversaries has been the Chinese development of what is now today a pretty mature system for conventional prompt strike at multi-thousand-kilometer ranges,” he said.

A second hypersonic project being pursued by the Air Force is the Tactical Boost Glide system,  which is a boost glide craft  accelerated to high speed by a rocket before gliding unpowered to its destination.

Both projects are part of a program to develop advanced prototypes that can later be fielded on U.S. jets.

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Contract Administrator
Environmental Construction, Inc.

By Debbie Gregory.

Faced with criticism over how it awarded a contract to move computer systems to the Internet cloud, the Pentagon has slashed a nearly $1 billion contract down to no more than $65 million, while also scaling back the scope of the work. The revision will limit its use to only U.S. Transportation Command rather than the entire Defense Department.

The contract awarded to Herndon, Virginia-based REAN Cloud—an Amazon Web Services partner, has come under scrutiny by those who feel that the procurement wasn’t handled properly, charges that Pentagon officials strongly denied.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning said that after reviewing the contract, the Defense Department decided that “the agreement should be more narrowly tailored” so that Rean would build a prototype service for a single agency, the U.S. Transportation Command, instead of many agencies within the military.

Oracle filed a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office last month that called the procurement “an egregious abuse” of the procurement process for a contract that it charged was “shrouded in secrecy.”

Additionally, the Pentagon was criticized because the original contract was awarded by the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx ) which was created to procure the technology of Silicon Valley-type companies that mostly shy away from Pentagon work. DIUx is fast-moving to provide non-dilutive capital to companies to solve national defense problems, usually in under 90 days.

The procurement, a follow-on to a smaller competed contract, was awarded under an “other transaction authority,” a way for the Pentagon to procure goods and services quickly without being subject to the bureaucratic federal acquisitions process.

Critics of the “other transaction authority” process say such arrangements are not competitive and insufficiently transparent.

By Debbie Gregory

Potentia Labs, the developer of a unique interactive e-learning platform that teaches emotional wellness skills like resilience and mindfulness, has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to create a program specifically for veterans suffering from PTSD and depression.

Potentia Labs won the Department of Veterans Affairs Industry Innovation Competition.

Potentia works via an online platform and mobile app, concentrating on positive traits, such as resilience, confidence, optimism and mindfulness.

Dustin Milner, cofounder of Potentia, said that due to their military training, veterans often have trouble attending and sticking with traditional therapy.

Many veterans who are diagnosed with PTSD have trouble acknowledging weakness. By building on veterans’ existing strengths to help them become the best version of themselves, Potentia works on every area of psychological, social, and emotional well-being and performance. Backed by science, the tool is designed to provide experiences on a daily basis, and it only takes 3 to 5 minutes a day.

The connection to veterans is personal for the company, according to Milner. Cofounder Eric Lenhardt is an Army veteran who has undergone treatment for PTSD in the past.

Potentia’s first-of-its-kind app is packed with dynamic courses created by experts to help build skills like mental toughness and emotional agility—the tools everyone needs to navigate life, work, and family.

The company aims to customize and expand the platform by mixing together gaming technology, instructional design, and expertise from psychologists.

Beginning in July, 2018, the platform will begin an 18-month trial at a California VA center.

 

By Debbie Gregory.

If Lockheed Martin is able to deliver on its laser weapon system in development, the U.S. Air Force may boast a fleet of fighter jets that can shoot lasers from a small, compact cannon.

As part of the Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments (LANCE program ) the $26.3 million contract with the Air Force Research Lab should result in a weapon system that is not only compact, but also light enough to be mounted on fighter jets.

Currently, most of these systems are limited to ground and sea use due to their weight and size. Such is the case for the ground vehicle–mounted system that Lockheed Martin just delivered to the U.S. Army that can burn through tanks and knock mortars out of the sky.

Lockheed Martin will be adapting the system it developed for the Army to address the challenge of self-protection against ground-to-air and air-to-air missiles.

The program’s work will be divided among three subsystems: the Shield Turret Research in Aero Effects (Strafe) includes the beam control system; the Laser Pod Research and Development (LPRD) will power and cool the laser on the fighter jet; and finally, the LANCE laser itself.

“The ability of a helicopter or bomber or fighter jet to shoot down or sufficiently damage or distract an incoming missile could allow them to operate in places they haven’t been able to operate recently,” said military analyst Peter Singer.

Raytheon became the first company to destroy a target with a laser fired from a helicopter at White Sands Missile Range when an Apache AH-64 shot a truck from more than a mile away. Raytheon is also building a laser-firing, drone-killing dune buggy. Boeing has its own anti-drone laser cannon.

Under the terms of the contract, Lockheed Martin plans to test a high-energy laser weapon mounted on a fighter jet by 2021.

 

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