The Insider

By Justin Katz
April 18, 2019 at 3:11 PM

The four additional Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles programmed into the future years of the Navy's latest budget request are not guaranteed to be awarded to Boeing, which ostensibly won a competition last month to develop that vessel, according to the deputy program manager.

The service's fiscal year 2020 budget request shows the Navy procuring two XLUUVs in FY-23 and FY-24. Those vessels will be in addition to five prototypes awarded to Boeing earlier this year.

"The Navy always reserves the right . . . if we wanted to do another full competition at that point," Howard Berkof, deputy program manager for the unmanned maritime systems program office, told Inside Defense in an April 17 interview.

Berkof said the additional four vessels could be procured from Boeing or through a new competitive solicitation that would be open to other contractors.

Around the same time the service plans to procure the additional vessels, XLUUV "may" transition to a program of record, according to the service's budget justification documents.

The budget documents also state the Navy expects to receive the first vehicle by the end of FY-20.

By John Liang
April 18, 2019 at 2:49 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has the latest on acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan's potential nomination to the full position, the Air Force's science and technology strategy and more.

We start off with a deep dive into the issues acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan has been managing as he readies for the nomination:

Shanahan tackling major policy challenges as he awaits Trump's nod to run DOD

Speculation is mounting at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill that President Trump will nominate acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan to the full position upon the conclusion of an inspector general ethics investigation, which government officials said is expected soon.

Here's our coverage of the Air Force's latest science and technology strategy:

Air Force 2030 S&T strategy prioritizes rapid development, management reform

The Air Force intends to appoint a chief technology officer, use "vanguard" research programs and expand its workforce as part of a new strategy to revamp the service's science and technology enterprise by 2030.

Air Force to work with Congress on S&T shifts for FY-20 budget

The Air Force's new strategy for science and technology may cause changes in its fiscal year 2020 budget, according to the service's research and development lead.

Document: Air Force's 2030 S&T strategy

We have still more news from the recent Army Aviation Association of America's annual summit:

Army continues to shape future aircraft strategy

NASHVILLE, TN -- Army National Guard units will be among the first to receive the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, named the No. 2 priority of the Future Vertical Lift effort, according to the service's vice chief of staff.

Inside Defense chatted with Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper, who is pleased with Raytheon's improved performance on OCX:

Air Force considering OCX sustainment strategy as development continues

As Raytheon and the Air Force work to complete development of the next-generation GPS III ground segment, OCX, the service is beginning to plan for system sustainment and future capability insertion and is considering whether to compete that work or maintain Raytheon as its prime contractor.

By John Liang
April 18, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Inside Defense took a deep dive into the Navy's effort to retire one of its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers instead of undergoing a lengthy refueling process.

The plan to retire the Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) is raising questions about the Navy's adherence to a legal code mandating the service keep 11 aircraft carriers, as well as generating concerns about whether the Navy is discarding a valuable asset for untested new technologies. Moreover, it juxtaposes the service's long-term goal of growing the fleet to 355 vessels with a decision that eliminates a capable battle-force ship.

Check out the story here, available to all.

By John Liang
April 18, 2019 at 11:00 AM

The Defense Science Board will hold a series of closed meetings in the coming months to discuss its summer study on the "Future of U.S. Military Superiority," according to a new Federal Register notice.

During the meetings, attendees will "discuss classified ways in which the [Defense Department] can secure U.S. interests, manage escalation, and deter and counter adversary aggression, given a renewed great power competition,” today's notice states.

The meetings will take place May 14-15, June 12-13 and July 10-11. The DSB has been meeting monthly since the start of the year on this topic.

The study was commissioned last October by Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin, a new one-year project that reflects the continued angst of senior U.S. policymakers over how to address advances by China's and Russia's armed forces.

"I ask the Defense Science Board to develop creative ways and means beyond traditional weapon systems to achieve National Defense Strategy objectives," Griffin wrote in a two-page memo commissioning the study, calling for "novel employment and harmonization of existing whole-of-government capabilities."

Craig Fields, DSB chairman, and Eric Evans, MIT Lincoln Laboratory director, are co-leading the new study.

By John Liang
April 17, 2019 at 2:59 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has the latest on a new Pentagon directed-energy plan, Air Force Global Strike Command, a defense contractor's military helicopter pursuit and more.

The Pentagon has released a new plan aimed at focusing its directed-energy efforts:

New Laser Scaling Plan sets directed-energy efforts, FY-19 contracts

The Defense Department has set a new plan to achieve a ten-fold increase in directed-energy technology over the next decade with potential to power lasers for combat on land, at sea and in air and space and identified existing contract vehicles to begin executing this new Laser Scaling Plan with fiscal year 2019 funds.

The head of Air Force Global Strike Command spoke at a breakfast with reporters this morning:

AFGSC commander: B-1 return to flight 'a slow and steady process'

The Air Force's chief of Global Strike Command yesterday approved a plan to inspect the B-1B Lancer aircraft, following a stand down last month.

MD Helicopters recently filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for Arizona following a Government Accountability Office denial of the company's protest of the Army's decision to remove MD Helicopters from the FARA competition:

MD Helicopters takes FARA protest to court

MD Helicopters, denied by the Government Accountability Office, is taking the Army to federal court over the service's rejection of the company's proposal for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft competitive prototype.

Here is more of our coverage of the Army Aviation Association of America's annual summit:

Army aiming for autonomy in the cockpit

NASHVILLE, TN -- The Army needs to move away from ground control stations and put more autonomy in aircraft to fight in megacities, according to the service's project manager for unmanned aircraft systems.

Boeing makes case for Chinook Block II as Army proposes cancellation

NASHVILLE, TN -- Boeing is trying to convince lawmakers to preserve the Chinook Block II upgrade as the Army prepares to make a final decision on the program’s fate in two to three years, according to the service's vice chief of staff.

The Defense Department is seeking someone to lead the Defense Security Service:

Pentagon eyes candidates for next director of DOD's growing counterintelligence arm

The Pentagon has launched a search for the next director of the Defense Security Service, as the agency is set to significantly expand with the Defense Department's takeover of the federal background investigations mission and an increased focus on protecting technologies critical to U.S. national security.

Two California congressmen are worried the proposed Space Development Agency would cause job losses in their state:

California lawmakers concerned SDA puts SMC 'brain trust' at risk

Two California lawmakers said this week they're concerned the Pentagon's plan to create a new Space Development Agency duplicates the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center and could "undermine" the organization's "proven track record."

The Defense Department is developing contingency plans for the Joint Strike Fighter program if Turkey decides to go ahead with installing a Russian missile defense system:

Pentagon preparing for alternatives should Turkey be ousted from F-35 program

Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan has directed Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord to begin planning for alternative supply options for Turkish-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter parts in the event Turkey remains suspended from the program or is expelled for its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, according to a defense official.

More JSF news:

F-35 PEO: FY-20 budget informed by $10.5B C2D2 cost estimate

The F-35 joint program office estimates its Block 4 plan will cost $10.5 billion over eight years, plus an additional $2.8 billion to modify 441 jets to the new configuration.

By Justin Katz
April 17, 2019 at 9:29 AM

The Navy announced yesterday the destroyer Fitzgerald (DDG-62) successfully launched and moored pierside at Huntington Ingalls Industries' Pascagoula, MS, shipyard, where it has been undergoing repairs in a dry dock since January 2018.

“These repairs range from partial to complete refurbishment of impacted spaces to replacement of equipment such as the radar and electronic warfare suite. The ship is also receiving [hull, mechanical and electrical], combat system and C5I modernization upgrades,” according to the Navy's statement.

The ship collided with the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal in mid-2017, killing seven sailors and damaging the vessel on the starboard side above and below the waterline.

By Marjorie Censer
April 17, 2019 at 9:24 AM

Textron Systems and Bell, both units of Textron, today said sales in their most recent quarter dipped from the same three-month period a year earlier.

Textron Systems reported quarterly sales of $307 million, down nearly 21% from the same period a year earlier. The company attributed the decline to lower sales of its Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle and reduced unmanned systems sales.

The unit's quarterly profit reached $28 million, down 44% from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the Bell business reported quarterly revenue of $739 million, down 2% from last year, “primarily in lower commercial volume,” according to the company.

The unit's quarterly profit hit $104 million, up about 20% from a year earlier.

In a call with investors today, Scott Donnelly, Textron's chief executive, said the company is preparing a competitive offering for the Army's Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program.

He said the company will rely on technology it invested in for its 525 helicopter. Donnelly acknowledged the company has not talked much publicly about its proposal, but said “it's not going to be a secret for long.”

“We think we have some technology that's been validated that can meet that requirement with a much more cost effective, much more reliable conventional technology,” he said.

By Tony Bertuca
April 16, 2019 at 5:16 PM

The Pentagon comptroller wants all potential omnibus reprogramming requests for fiscal year 2019 to be submitted by April 22, according to a new memo.

"This request and suspense is earlier than previous years due to an appropriation received on time, and the necessity of support priorities with detailed decision options,” according to the April 11 memo signed by acting Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker.

"The department must identify risks associated with limited funding sources as early as possible to better prioritize requirements that most directly support the National Defense Strategy," the memo states.

Reprogramming has become a politically sensitive issue for the Defense Department recently, as many lawmakers have noted their displeasure with a unilateral $1 billion funding transfer to begin building 57 miles of fencing on the southern border.

The Pentagon is looking to reprogram as much as $1.5 billion more for border fencing, but has yet to identify potential sources.

Additionally, DOD is looking to defer up to $3.6 billion in military construction projects so the funds can be used to build border barriers. Senior Pentagon officials said the department has asked the military to submit lists of projects that can be deferred by May 10.

By John Liang
April 16, 2019 at 2:24 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has an analysis of the Navy's effort to retire one of its Nimitz-class aircraft carriers early, plus a story on acquisition reform and more.

We took a deep dive into the Navy's effort to retire one of its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers instead of undergoing a lengthy refueling process:

Navy faces Capitol Hill blowback on carrier retirement plan

Defense officials are facing an uphill battle to convince Capitol Hill they've made the right choice in seeking to retire a nuclear-powered, Nimitz-class aircraft carrier more than two decades before the end of its life expectancy.

The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee will soon release two bills intended to ease the backlog on a number of acquisition reforms:

Defense industry hopes Thornberry can break Pentagon's acquisition reform backlog

Defense industry advocates say they are waiting for the Pentagon to implement more than 150 acquisition reform measures passed into law several years ago, and they hope new legislation being drafted by House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX) will do something to break up the bureaucratic logjam.

The Navy is competing a contract to procure 130 TH-XX aircraft, also called the Advanced Helicopter Training System, which will be based on a commercial-off-the-shelf helicopter:

Navy seeking information from contractors for TH-XX training

The Navy earlier this month issued a request for information to identify contractors capable of providing ground-based training for the service's new training helicopter, dubbed TH-XX, according to a Federal Business Opportunities notice.

Inside Defense recently chatted with Brig. Gen. Anthony Genatempo, Air Force program executive officer for weapons and director of the armament directorate:

Weapons PEO: Air Force exploring Next-Generation Aerial Target options

The chief of the Air Force's weapons portfolio is surveying industry options for a Next-Generation Aerial Target that mimics adversaries' newer technology.

By Courtney Albon
April 15, 2019 at 5:09 PM

The Air Force announced today it has deployed the F-35A to the Middle East for its first operational deployment in the region.

“As the first deployment to the U.S. Air Force's Central Command area of responsibility, crews are prepared and trained for the AFCENT mission,” the service said in an April 15 press release. 

The jets are deployed at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.

By Justin Katz
April 15, 2019 at 3:47 PM

Huntington Ingalls Industries announced Friday it has received a $727 million advanced procurement contract modification from General Dynamics Electric Boat for Virginia-class Block V submarines.

The award brings the contract's total value to $1.04 billion, according to a company statement.

The additional advanced procurement funds will allow HII “to continue procuring long-lead-time materials,” said Dave Bolcar, Newport News’ vice president of submarine construction. “The start of early manufactured material is already underway for Block V submarines.”

The Block V subs will be the first to incorporate the Virginia Payload Module, which is “an 84-foot hull section with four additional payload tubes, each capable of carrying seven Tomahawk cruise missiles,” according to Navy budget justification documents.

The service is expected to award its fourth multiyear procurement contract for Virginia-class attack submarines this month, according to budget documents.

By Marjorie Censer
April 15, 2019 at 2:40 PM

Today's INSIDER Daily Digest begins with more news from last week's Space Symposium as well as the latest on an Army effort to meet urgent needs abroad.

Col. Robert Bongiovi, director of the Space and Missile Systems Center's launch systems enterprise directorate, said last week moving forward with the Launch Services Procurement plan is the Air Force's best option:

Air Force confident 'multiple providers' can meet LSP requirements

The head of the Air Force's National Security Space Launch enterprise says he's confident there are “multiple providers” that can meet the requirements to support its Launch Services Procurement strategy.

Lt. Gen. James Dickinson revealed the Army modernization project -- launched two years ago in response to a request from U.S. European Command -- in April 3 testimony on Capitol Hill:

Army fielding new ALPS to detect cruise missiles, aircraft, UAS

The Army has begun deploying a new prototype Long-Range Persistent Surveillance passive sensor developed to meet urgent needs from commanders in Europe, the Pacific and U.S. Central Command, launching a two-year campaign to provide improved capability to detect enemy cruise missiles, aircraft as well as unmanned aircraft systems.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon's Cost Analysis Program Evaluation office “is updating its initial estimate” of the costs of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, according to a service spokeswoman:

New GBSD independent cost estimate expected in June

The Defense Department is in the midst of a new six-month independent cost estimate of the Air Force's Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, a multibillion dollar effort to replace the service's Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Navy has just issued a new request for information for its Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare analysis of alternatives update:

Navy issues RFI to industry for OASuW analysis of alternatives

The Navy is widening its Next Generation Land Attack Weapon analysis of alternatives, releasing to industry a request for information about a separate analysis to develop the next increment of its air-launched, anti-surface missile, according to an April 12 Federal Business Opportunities notice.

By Courtney Albon
April 15, 2019 at 11:29 AM

The Air Force has awarded Boeing a contract worth up to $14.3 billion for B-1 and B-52 modernization and sustainment.

The 10-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, awarded Friday, will support “upcoming modernization and sustainment efforts to increase lethality, enhance survivability, improve supportability, and increase responsiveness.”

The award announcement does not specify the efforts included in the contract. The service awarded Boeing $1.2 million for the first task order.

By Tony Bertuca
April 15, 2019 at 5:00 AM

Congress is out this week, but several senior Pentagon officials are scheduled to make appearances around the Washington area.


The Heritage Foundation hosts an event on “deciphering” the Navy's budget.


The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion with Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran.


Textron executives are set to discuss the company's quarterly earnings.

By Marjorie Censer
April 12, 2019 at 2:32 PM

Today's INSIDER Daily Digest includes the latest on security clearances as well as Senate reactions to the Pentagon's Space Force plans.

The Pentagon is slated to take over managing federal background investigations -- but the Government Accountability Office is pushing for additional actions in preparation:

Government watchdog raises concerns about background investigations transfer to Pentagon

The Government Accountability Office is raising concerns about the Pentagon lacking a detailed plan for taking over the federal background investigations mission later this year, as the Defense Department seeks a big budget boost for the organization assuming the responsibility.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill yesterday, top Defense Department officials defended the need for a Space Force as senators lobbed questions:

Pentagon leaders meet stiff resistance from senators over Space Force

Senators from across the political spectrum flexed their oversight powers today when they questioned Pentagon leaders on their latest initiative to establish a new service that will defend against threats in space.

Also on the Hill this week was Hondo Geurts, who shared details about the Army's decision to delay a full-rate production decision on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle:

Geurts: JLTV full-rate production decision slated for May

A full-rate production decision for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is slated for May, according to the Navy’s acquisition chief.

Finally, we have news on the Pentagon's decision to conclude a research contract held by MITRE Corp.:

Pentagon: Canceling $7M annual contract with JASON scientists made 'economic sense'

The Pentagon's research and engineering directorate confirmed today it is effectively severing ties with an independent group of scientists known as JASON, as the Defense Department says it makes “economic sense” to end a studies program that cost about $35 million over the past five years.