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By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Air Force has awarded the contract to carry its national security satellites to SpaceX.

The $130 million firm-fixed price contract for evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV) services will utilize SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket to deliver Air Force Space Command’s 52 satellite, known as AFSC-52, into orbit.

Scheduled for late 2020, the launched will originate from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

SpaceX had to demonstrate the capabilities of its Falcon 9 rocket several times before the Air Force certified that launch vehicle, but military officials apparently acquired enough data from the Falcon Heavy’s single launch and the Falcon 9’s track record to give their go-ahead for AFSPC-52.

SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy launch went viral when the payload consisted of launching Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster sports car into a solar orbit past the reach of Mars, far below the payload capacity of 63.8 metric tons.

Work on the project will be performed in Hawthorne, California; the Kennedy Space Center; and McGregor, Texas.

The launch will support the Air Force Space Command’s “mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities to our nation while maintaining assured access to space,” Lt. Gen. John Thompson, Air Force program executive officer for space and commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center.

“On behalf of all of our employees, I want to thank the Air Force for certifying Falcon Heavy, awarding us this critically important mission, and for their trust and confidence in our company,” said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. “SpaceX is pleased to continue offering the American taxpayer the most cost-effective, reliable launch services for vital national security space missions.”

SpaceX’s first substantial military contract was awarded in 2016, when the Air Force tapped Elon Musk’s company to launch a GPS III satellite aboard its Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX was the sole bidder for the launch.

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a $4.2 million contract to BAE Systems to develop specialized software that will aid military planners in understanding and addressing the dynamics that drive conflicts around the world.

The idea is to use technologies to “model different political, territorial and economic tensions that often lead to conflicts” and will help “planners to avoid unexpected outcomes,” according to the BAE website.

BAE is developing software called Causal Modeling for Knowledge Transfer, Exploration, and Temporal Simulation (CONTEXTS). The CONTEXTS software , the first-of-its-kind, is intended to create an interactive model of an operational environment, allowing planners to explore the causes of a conflict and assess potential approaches.

“Military planners often conduct manual research and use limited modelling tools to generate models and evaluate conflict situations, which are extremely time consuming and labor intensive,” said Chris Eisenbies, product line director of the Autonomy, Controls, and Estimation group at BAE Systems. “To break down these barriers, CONTEXTS will use reasoning algorithms and simulations with the goal to give planners a quicker and deeper understanding of conflicts to help avoid unexpected and counter-intuitive outcomes.”

BAE Systems, Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of BAE Systems plc, an international defense, aerospace and security company.

Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, BAE Systems, Inc. provides support and service solutions for current and future defense, intelligence, and civilian systems; designs, develops and manufactures a wide range of electronic systems and subsystems for both military and commercial applications; produces specialized security and protection products; and designs, develops, produces, and provides service support of armored combat vehicles, artillery systems, and munitions.

DARPA’s mission is to invest in breakthrough technologies. Working with innovators inside and outside of government, DARPA has repeatedly delivered on that mission, transforming concepts into reality. Besides game-changing military capabilities, the results have included the Internet, automated voice recognition and language translation, and consumer-friendly Global Positioning System receivers.

By Debbie Gregory.

If you’re ready to steer your company towards government contracting, there are a few important steps to make sure you follow to increase your chances of success.

Make sure you have registered on System for Award Management (SAM), the database used by the government to find qualified contractors, and where larger contract-holders, and small business teaming partners seek qualified subcontractors. To do so, you will need the following:

– Your DUNS Number, Legal Business Name, and Physical Address from your Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) record. (If you don’t already have one, you can request a DUNS Number for FREE from D&B.)

– Your Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and Taxpayer Name associated with your TIN. Review your tax documents from the IRS (such as a 1099 or W-2 form) to find your Taxpayer Name.

– Your bank’s routing number, your bank account number, and your bank account type, i.e. checking or savings, to set up Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).

Identify who will be buying your services and research your customer. You can research potential agency customers online to learn about what goods and services they are looking for so you’re able to narrow down which ones to target. Many agencies post their procurement forecasts, identifying what contract requirements they are seeking.

Check out www.fbo.gov, an online listing of government contracts that detail all contracts with a value exceeding $25,000. Another available resource is www.usaspending.gov, a site that details how government money is spent, what agency is issuing awards and who the federal government is buying from.

While it can feel overwhelming at times, securing a government contract can be very lucrative. Be ready to put in the time and energy, and stay persistent in your efforts. For companies aspiring to become government contractors, there’s a lot to learn. But the benefits of government contracting are worth the challenge, creating new customers and accelerating your business to the next level.

By Debbie Gregory.

“AQ Delta” is the U.S. Air Force’s new office that will streamline its weapons, platforms and networks procurement system.

Under Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper, the acquisition process will identify programs that will keep the acquisition process running smoothly.

Dr. Roper is responsible for and oversees Air Force research, development and acquisition activities totaling an annual budget in excess of $40 billion for more than 465 acquisition programs.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced the program during a May 4th town hall at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Roper had previously spearheaded the creation of the Strategic Capabilities Office, a cornerstone of the Third Offset initiative, which envisioned a modern arsenal of swarming unmanned air vehicles, hypersonic weapons and autonomous systems. During his tenure as SCO Director, Dr. Roper served on the Department’s 2018 National Defense Strategy Steering Group, Cloud Executive Steering Group and Defense Modernization Team. That office now has an uncertain future since Roper’s departure in February.

Wilson has touted the Air Force’s progress in improving its procurement approach, often pointing to additional acquisition authorities, rapid prototyping endeavors and even the service’s “Light Attack experiment” ongoing at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Accelerating how the Air Force acquires new weapons isn’t the only item on the agenda; the service is rethinking maintenance as well.

Roper has hinted that the Air Force may be more open to competing sustainment or upgrade contracts, allowing additional companies to compete for upgrades on current programs, which are often automatically dedicated to the firm that originated them.

“I would like to be able for a system to continually compete, replace and upgrade, all the different components,” Roper said earlier this month.

Wilson endorses the idea.

“In general, competition helps to drive up performance and drive down cost, and so competition works.”

By Debbie Gregory.

The Defense Department has resumed accepting deliveries of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter after resolving a disagreement with Lockheed Martin over who should pay to fix the corrosion issues on a couple hundred jets.

It is still unknown as to who will ultimately be left with the repair bill. Spokesmen from Lockheed and the F-35 Joint Program Office declined to comment on whether the company or government will be held financially responsible.

The problem of corrosion in fastener holes that were drilled and not corrected or properly treated was originally identified last September. Defense Department officials felt the Pentagon shouldn’t be held wholly responsible for paying to retrofit planes due to Lockheed’s mistake, leading it to partially freeze deliveries during the negotiations.

The majority of the F-35s with the production defect causing corrosion around fastener holes will be repaired within two years.

Michael Friedman, a Lockheed spokesman, said an agreement was reached on correcting the problem but did not disclose who will end up paying the bill.

“The Pentagon has resumed accepting F-35 aircraft, following an agreement between the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) and Lockheed Martin to effectively and efficiently address the F-35 hole primer issue,” Friedman said.

Lockheed released a statement saying deliveries had resumed following an agreement between the F-35 JPO and the company to “effectively and efficiently” address the issue.

“All F-35 production continued during the delivery pause, and Lockheed Martin remains on track to meet its delivery target of 91 aircraft for 2018,” the company said.

“As a complex development program, whether it’s this program or any other program, things are going to happen in the production line and we’re going to address them as they come along,” said Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson.

The fifth-generation fighter jets, which are Lockheed’s flagship weapons system, account for about 25 percent of its revenues.

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