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Daily News

September 29, 2020

The Air Force has conducted the first flight test of the MQ-9A Reaper carrying eight live AGM-114 Hellfire missiles -- twice the number it can currently hold -- to show the remotely piloted aircraft's ability to perform "persistent attack" operations in future conflicts.

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A bipartisan group of House authorizers has released its final report on U.S. national security strategy, calling for a whole-of-nation effort to confront the threat of a superpower China, including a wholesale review of the Defense Department's legacy systems and dramatically increased spending on emerging technologies.

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The Marine Corps is aiming to field a trimmed-down version of a new land-based, unmanned aerial system in fiscal year 2023, according to a Navy officer overseeing the aircraft's development.

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The Missile Defense Agency is launching a second layer to its counter-hypersonic portfolio with a new project that aims to develop a sea-based interceptor to defeat threats in the terminal phase -- an envisioned last-line of defense for the Navy against a new class of ultra-fast glide vehicles and cruise missiles being developed by Russia and China -- with plans to vet proposals by December and award initial contracts in early 2021.

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The Pentagon has finished an analysis of alternatives for the Survivable Airborne Operations Center -- a future platform capable of supporting nuclear command, control and communications operations -- and is preparing for the impacts of funding restrictions on the broader NC3 modernization enterprise under a continuing resolution.

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The Pentagon has launched a new initiative to improve how it approaches the exportability of defense technology to allied and partner countries.

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Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord said today the effort now underway to identify and re-shore critical defense technologies with fragile or foreign supply chains was enhanced by the global outbreak of COVID-19.

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September 28, 2020

Congress has granted the Pentagon approval to reprogram $1.6 billion to shore up the military's working capital funds, which have experienced shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Defense Department has released the interim final rule for its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, marking a major shift in how the Pentagon will evaluate cybersecurity for contractors who make up the defense industrial base.

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The Missile Defense Agency has granted Boeing Phantom Works a final attempt to demonstrate a 100-kilowatt class laser by spring of next year, an assessment that will determine whether the company's directed-energy project can be considered for inclusion in the Pentagon's Industry Laser Scaling roadmap for continued development, according to MDA.

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The Navy is on track to wrap up the operational testing for the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System on aircraft carriers this month.

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The XQ-58A Valkyrie drone is expected to be operational again next month following a mishap over the summer and will soon fly with a gateway communications pod that could enable F-22 and F-35 fighter jets to stealthily exchange data.

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September 25, 2020

A group representing a range of U.S. companies and industry associations opposes a variety of measures in the House and Senate defense authorization bills, including several provisions that would demand domestic sourcing for U.S. weapons programs and force companies to cut ties with Chinese suppliers.

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Defense contractors and telecommunications giants have been quietly meeting over the last several months to discuss how military systems and commercial wireless networks can co-exist in the electromagnetic spectrum, as the United States increasingly takes a sharing approach to making airwaves available for fifth-generation wireless networks.

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Army officials are holding in abeyance a recommendation to certify to lawmakers that the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle program is on a solid footing -- an endorsement withheld last year in the wake of production start-up challenges on the $15.4 billion program -- while keeping a close eye on results of upcoming tests of the new BAE Systems-built combat system.

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The Missile Defense Agency is pressing ahead with a project to develop a speed-of-light weapon to knock down maneuvering hypersonic vehicles, awarding Raytheon $9.7 million to advance work originally proposed two years ago on a Hypersonic Defense Weapon System concept and setting the project on a path to a potential Microwave Technology Testbed.

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Air Force Materiel Command is considering sending industry a second request for information to support market research into the multiple roles an MQ-9 Reaper replacement, or MQ-Next, can perform as a node within the joint all-domain command and control infrastructure.

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The Space Force announced today it has reached an agreement with SpaceX to launch two future GPS III missions with previously flown boosters -- the first National Security Space Launch missions to fly with a re-used first stage.

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Under the force structure suggested by a group of third-party analysts enlisted by the deputy defense secretary, the Navy would build a fleet consisting of nine aircraft carriers and more than 100 unmanned ships while projecting an effectively flat budget for the foreseeable future.

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Production for the CH-53K helicopter is progressing on schedule despite the COVID-19 pandemic, prime contractor Sikorsky says.

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