NewsBrief August 20, 2021

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: August 20, 2021

DOD Can Improve Processes for Monitoring Long-Standing Issues

(GAO@100) DOD conducted several reviews of its nuclear forces in 2014-2015, leading to hundreds of recommendations to improve leadership, morale, and more. We found that DOD has made headway implementing recommended changes. However, some of its measures of progress need reassessment. For example, we found that a measure of the work environment—its command climate survey—contained unreliable data. Additionally, DOD created a new nuclear oversight organization but has not defined specific roles and responsibilities for it or how it will communicate with key organizations. Read More

Northern Command using data platform to better detect incoming threats

(fedscoop) The combatant command in charge of protecting the U.S. homeland has a new weapon in that fight: data. A recent series of experiments hosted by U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tested the military’s ability to use artificial intelligence to comb through data to detect incoming threats. The tech is aimed at increasing the precision with which the command can detect, and thus protect, against new kinds of missiles that can travel at multiples of the speed of sound, as well as smaller vehicles like drones. “Data exists; what we are doing is making that data available,” Gen. Glen VanHerck said of the effort. Read More

Air Force AI-driven drone program makes step into the future

(Federal News Network) The Air Force is moving one of its high-profile, experimental initiatives closer to becoming a program of record; further solidifying the service’s push to create new, advanced capabilities to counter near-peer competitors. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center announced Monday that it awarded up to $13.2 million in contract options to KRATOS and up to $7 million to General Atomics for the further development of its Skyborg Vanguard program. Skyborg is a prototype of networked drones that fly with fighter pilots and detect potential air and ground threats. The drones use sensors to analyze imminent danger, identify striking options and make decisions based on established rules of engagement through the use of artificial intelligence. Read More

Army readying a laser that can shoot down drones

(fedscoop) The Army completed testing of a laser that can hardness directed energy to shoot down adversarial small drones, a service official told reporters Wednesday. The tests at Fort Sill in Oklahoma this summer demonstrated the Army’s combat use of a laser it has been developing for the past two years. The laser — the Directed Energy-Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) — is the first the Army has developed for countering new threats like unmanned aerial systems. By fiscal 2022, the Army plans to have four of the lasers in use. “This is the first combat application of lasers for a maneuver element in the Army,” Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, director for hypersonics, directed energy, space and rapid acquisition, said in a statement. “The technology we have today is ready. This is a gateway to the future.” Read More

Cloud driving ‘sea change’ in federal data utility, says State’s cloud director

(fedscoop) The advent and ubiquity of cloud computing in the federal government has largely increased the focus of federal officials — particularly senior leaders — in leveraging data as an asset, according to Brian Merrick, head of cloud programs at the State Department. In an interview with FedScoop, Merrick said there has recently been “a sea change” in the way officials think about data, due in large part to the shift in models from data tied to an application to one with a more openly architectured environment where data can freely flow between applications. Read More

NASA’s cloud push is motivated by data constraints

(fedscoop) NASA’s move to the cloud is in large part to accommodate the data it’s receiving from space and accelerate resulting innovations, rather than simply migrate applications to a more secure environment. The agency operates satellite ground stations worldwide that are part of its IT footprint, and its Data Acquisition Processing and Handling Network Environment (DAPHNE) project aims to connect them to a commercial cloud. NASA has spent billions of dollars to date trying to address the growing challenge of transmitting data from next-generation satellites and overseas ground stations to make scientific discoveries, and the global scale of many cloud providers is hard to replicate. Read More

Mars helicopter Ingenuity soars through challenging 12th flight on Red Planet

( NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity made its 12th Red Planet flight on Monday (Aug. 16), during which the little chopper served as eyes in the sky for its larger companion, the Perseverance rover. The flight was designed to serve as reconnaissance for the rover’s continuing explorations of a region dubbed South Séítah, according to a flight plan NASA posted before the attempt that called the sortie “ambitious.” Read More