NASSCO Starts Work on Fifth Expeditionary Sea Base

By: Sam LaGrone, USNI News

“General Dynamics NASSCO started work on the fifth mobile sea base to act as a lily pad for Marine, special operations forces and Navy mine countermeasure aircraft, the company announced.

The latest in the U.S. Navy’s Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD)/Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) program began construction on Wednesday following an award of $106.2 million long lead contract for the program in June.

“The ship, ESB 5, is the fifth to be added to a contract between NASSCO and the U.S. Navy that originally called for two Expeditionary Transfer Docks: USNS Montford Point (T-ESD-1) and USNS John Glenn (T-ESD-2),” read the announcement.”

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Navy, Marines to Test, Stretch Aviation-heavy USS America Before Deployment

By: Gidget Fuentes, USNI News

“The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit will experiment with two different mixes of aircraft during at-sea training exercises before leaving with amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) for its first overseas operational deployment, officials told USNI News last week.

America is the first of two ships designed without a well deck for employing landing craft but with spacious decks for aircraft, repair and aviation fuel storage that will support more aviation missions than the Navy’s existing fleet of big-deck amphibious assault ships.

“We have a plan to experiment with two different kind of basic configurations for the first two at-sea periods, so by the third one, we are going to go ahead and try to validate what we think… our load plan is going to be,” Col. Joseph Clearfield, commander of the 15th MEU, said in a Jan. 19 interview.”

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Update to Navy Unfunded Priorities List Emphasizes Readiness; Would Add More Super Hornets, Additional Amphib

By: Megan Eckstein, USNI News

“The Navy wants $2 billion in additional funding this year for much-needed ship maintenance and fleet operations, and would also buy two dozen Super Hornets and an additional San Antonio-class amphibious warship if money were made available, according to an early January draft wish list obtained by USNI News.

While the list is not as official as the February 2016 Unfunded Priorities List from which it stems, it is meant to be a conversation-starter with Congress and the new Trump Administration on the Navy’s needs for today and in the near term, a senior service official told USNI News on Tuesday. The main message of that conversation is that current readiness must be addressed first, with acquisitions wishes being addressed afterwards with whatever funding may remain, a senior Navy official told USNI News.”

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Cyber Maximizes Combat Power

By: George I. Seffers, SIGNAL Magazine

“Synchronizing cyber with other domains—air, land, sea and space—is still a challenge, but the situation is improving, Lt. Col. Mark Esslinger, USAF, U.S. Pacific Command Joint Cyber Center, asserted during the AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific conference November 15-17 in Honolulu.

Col. Esslinger served on a panel of cyber experts. Panelists agreed that the authorities to conduct cyber operations—along with policies, doctrines, tactics, techniques and procedures—still need to be defined. “The cyber mission force is still maturing, and the combatant commands are learning to integrate their capabilities,” Col. Esslinger offered.”

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In Between Carriers, 11th MEU, Makin Island ARG Are Busy In 5th Fleet

By: Gidget Fuentes, USNI News

“The new year began with no U.S. aircraft carrier and carrier strike group on watch in the Middle East.

The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group returned home two days earlier, having spent four of its seven-month deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet region conducting missions and strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria after 10 days of operations from the Mediterranean while in U.S. 6th Fleet.

The late-November exit of Eisenhower (CVN-69) from the Persian Gulf created a carrier gap that remains today, pending the arrival of USS George W.H. Bush (CVN-77). Bush left Norfolk, Va., on Jan. 21 and today was transiting the Atlantic on course for the Mediterranean.

But the volatile Middle East region wasn’t devoid of U.S. military projection from the sea. For almost two months – and through the nation’s transition to a new administration – the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, aboard the three-ship Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, has been standing post.”

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Mattis Orders Comparison Review of F-35C and Advanced Super Hornet

By: Sam LaGrone, USNI News

“Defense Secretary James Mattis is ordering a Pentagon review to compare the capabilities and cost between the emerging carrier-based Lockheed Martin F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter and an upgraded version of the Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, according to a memo obtained by USNI News.

The three-paragraph directive orders Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work to, “oversee a review that compares F-35C and F/A-18 E/F operational capabilities and assesses the extent that F/A-18E/F improvements (an advanced Super Hornet) can be made in order to provide a competitive, cost effective, fighter aircraft alternative.”

The memo also directs Work to look at the overall F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program to find opportunities to significantly reduce cost while maintaining the requirements for the program.”

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U.S. Navy Seeks Industry Input To Help Mold NGEN-R Contract

By: Julianne Simpson, SIGNAL Magazine

The sea service will release draft RFPs in the coming months for the massive IT program.

“The defense industry will get a chance to scrutinize and help shape one of the U.S. Navy’s flagship information technology programs when the service releases in the coming months its draft requests for proposal for the mammoth Next Generation Enterprise Networks Recompete (NGEN-R) multibillion-dollar contract.

Already, industry feedback contributed to the contract being parsed into two major segments and a shift from the current single-source delivery model to a multisource delivery model, Navy officials shared Wednesday at the third in a series of industry days. One segment is end-user hardware (EDHW) and the other is service management, integration and transport (SMIT). The NGEN-R contract is the follow-on procurement of information technology services for the Navy and Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI).”

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Summary of the Navy’s New Force Structure Assessment

“Navy’s Force Structure Assessment (FSA) was developed in an effort to determine the right balance of existing forces, the ships we currently have under construction and the future procurement plans needed to address the ever-evolving and increasingly complex threats the Navy is required to counter in the global maritime commons. This FSA assumes that the future plans for our Navy, in ship types and numbers of ships, continues to replace the ships we have today with ships of similar capability and in similar numbers as we transition to the future Navy – it does not address potential options that may come out of the ongoing review of the potential Future Fleet Architecture studies that were directed by Congress and completed in October 2016. As we evaluate the options presented in these studies and move to include them in our plans for tomorrow’s Navy, this FSA will need to be updated to reflect those changes that are determined to be most beneficial to meeting the Navy’s missions of the future.”

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New Measurement System Can Help Navy Conserve Energy

By: Julianne Simpson, SIGNAL Magazine

“Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), with support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), have developed a portable measurement system to precisely and inexpensively monitor the amount the electricity used by individual household appliances, lighting fixtures and electronic devices.

The system was developed by MIT professor Dr. Steven Leeb and one of his graduate students, Dr. John Donnal, a former U.S. Army captain. Five postage stamp-sized sensors are placed above or near power lines coming into a house and are designed to be self-calibrating—enabling them to automatically pinpoint the strongest electrical signals.

The system can distinguish between each type of light, appliance and device based on unique signatures; which ones turn on and off; and how often and at what times. Users can then view the real-time data on an app and focus on specific time segments—revealing when, for example, a refrigerator goes into its defrost cycle.”

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A Big Role for Small Satellite Terminals

By: Sandra Jontz, SIGNAL Magazine

“The U.S. Navy’s investment in its own fleet of high-altitude, long-range unmanned aerial systems called Tritons marks a detour from the military’s longtime use of satellite technology to connect its arsenal of big platforms such as Global Hawks and Predators.

The communications payloads for the family of drones are built to leverage primarily X-band military frequencies, a revolutionary undertaking. The X band has been around since the beginning of satellite communications (SATCOM), but it has gone hand in hand with mammoth antennas and point-to-point services—until now. The Navy’s pursuit of the new pilotless aircraft is one example of sweeping changes transforming the satellite industry that could vastly improve Defense Department intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.”

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