The Insider

By John Liang
January 26, 2023 at 1:55 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a Pentagon directive on autonomy in weapon systems, Army multiyear contracts and more.

An updated Pentagon directive "establishes policy and assigns responsibilities for developing and using autonomous and semi-autonomous functions in weapon systems, including armed platforms that are remotely operated or operated by onboard personnel":

Pentagon releases long-awaited refresh to policy for autonomy in weapon systems

The Defense Department has released its updated autonomous weapon systems policy, accounting for the "dramatic, expanded" vision for artificial intelligence in the future of the U.S. military and clarifying the previous iteration of the document.

Document: DOD directive on autonomy in weapon systems

The Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act gave the Defense Department permission to use multiyear contracts for munitions such as Stingers, Javelins, Patriot Advanced Capability Missile Segment Enhancement interceptors and 155mm Excalibur rounds, among others:

Army contracts lasting multiple years will be part of ramped-up production efforts for Ukraine

As part of the Army's efforts to ramp up production of weapons and equipment in Ukraine, the service will utilize contracts that last multiple years, approval for which came in this year's defense authorization legislation, according to the Army's top acquisition official.

Boeing and General Dynamics discussed their quarterly earnings this week:

Boeing starts to stanch bleeding in defense sector; records fresh losses in Q4

A rebound in commercial jet deliveries boosted Boeing’s revenue for the fourth quarter of 2022 but lingering supply chain woes and a struggling defense business unit led the company to record a net loss of $663 million.

GD reports strong growth but continued challenges in submarine production

General Dynamics executives recorded a "good year in a difficult environment," with record growth in the company's Marine Systems sector, but said labor and supply chain problems remain a significant challenge for submarine production.

In case you missed it, the United States has reversed its policy and will now send main battle tanks to Ukraine:

U.S. sending 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine

Following Germany's decision to deliver 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, the Biden administration has announced it will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to aid the fight against Russia.

By Nick Wilson
January 26, 2023 at 1:02 PM

The Marine Corps has reactivated a base on the island of Guam Thursday in an effort to establish an increased forward presence in the Indo-Pacific and strengthen ties with Japan and other allies in the region.

Known as Camp Blaz, the base is located on Guam’s northern plateau where it will serve as a “strategic hub as the Department of Defense realizes the vision of the 2022 National Defense Strategy,” a service announcement states.

According to the release, the location was selected during the 2012 Bilateral Agreement between the U.S. and Japan under the Defense Policy Review Initiative which established a framework for the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

Camp Blaz is intended to act as a strategic outpost to promote collective defense in the region, and as a training ground for U.S. and allied forces.

“Forward, persistent presence is key to the regional security and stability in the Indo-Pacific. Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz is a critical part of that. More than that, it shows our undivided relationship with the Government of Japan,” said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger in a statement included in the release.

New construction of the base is partially funded by the government of Japan. Camp Blaz is the first newly constructed Marine Corps base in almost 70 years. It will house approximately 5,000 Marines.

The service first established a Guam presence in 1899 with Marine Barracks Guam. The base was reactivated in 1946 after World War II, and operated until it was deactivated again in 1992, according to the release.

By Audrey Decker
January 26, 2023 at 11:29 AM

As industry invests in various cloud solutions to support the U.S. military, Microsoft announced yesterday that its Office 365 applications are available in the secret domain.

Microsoft, which is one of the four vendors that received a contract for the Defense Department’s up-to-$9-billion multicloud environment, Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, already has secret and top-secret classification for its Azure Government cloud solution.

Cloud service offerings from all four JWCC vendors have won DOD provisional authorization for data categorized as the Impact Level 5 security requirement, which protects data for controlled unclassified information, national security systems and more. A subset has clearance for the top classification level, IL6, which is reserved for information up to the secret level.

Office 365 Government Secret is the only cloud-based set of productivity and collaboration tools to have achieved IL6, Microsoft said, which allows “national security mission leaders to, for the first time, leverage a full cloud experience to not only collect, process and operationalize data, but to enable cloud-based collaboration and communication in the classified environment as well.”

This release of Office 365 Secret capabilities includes Exchange, Outlook and Microsoft 365 apps.

By Michael Marrow
January 26, 2023 at 11:05 AM

Ahead of a planned transfer of civil space traffic management services from U.S. Space Command to the Commerce Department, officials are asking industry for further feedback to help define the scope of space situational awareness (SSA) services, according to a request for information posted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today.

The Office of Space Commerce (OSC) plans to offer basic space situational awareness services free of charge through a new space traffic system but is still struggling to delineate between basic and more advanced services that would be excluded. The RFI asks the space community -- such as industry, academia and legal experts -- for input on how to define the scope for that space safety system, called the Traffic Management System for Space (TraCSS).

“Basic SSA safety services can include additional services that significantly increase the safety, stability and sustainability of the space environment. However, OSC will also consider whether the provision of such services will negatively impact the U.S. SSA industry,” the RFI says.

“The precise demarcation between these basic SSA safety services and other advanced services is driven by present SSA needs and market dynamics,” it continues. “Given the rapid acceleration of technological advances, OSC is committed to continue to observe changes in the marketplace and its underlying technologies, and consider how these developments, along with SSA service needs, might shift the demarcation between basic and advanced services as time goes on.”

The RFI then lists 14 services that are under consideration for inclusion in TraCSS, ranging from access to a database of satellite attributes to warnings about space weather. Nine other identified services would be excluded, such as optimized recommendations for satellite maneuvers.

The RFI says responses are due Feb. 27 and was first reported by Breaking Defense.

Mandated by a 2018 presidential decree known as Space Policy Directive 3, the transition comes as the number of commercial and military orbital hardware is expected to skyrocket, with the directive instructing Commerce to adopt civil space duties and DOD to retain focus on military systems.

The two departments have since struck a memorandum of agreement laying out a transition framework, which created two working groups that are respectively working to clarify responsibilities and craft a data sharing agreement. OSC Director Richard DalBello previously said that work is expected to conclude this spring.

By John Liang
January 25, 2023 at 4:14 PM

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) has announced the Republicans that will sit on the panel as well as those who will chair subcommittees.

"Our committee has the crucial task of improving our national defense at a time when our nation is faced with unprecedented threats from our adversaries -- including an increasingly aggressive China," Rogers said in a statement. "Our members bring valuable insights and knowledge to the critical decisions made by our committee."

The subcommittee chairmen will be:

  • Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) -- committee vice chairman and tactical air and land forces subcommittee chairman
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) -- strategic forces
  • Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS) -- seapower and projection forces
  • Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) -- cyber, innovative technologies and information systems
  • Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) -- military personnel
  • Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) -- intelligence and special operations
  • Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) -- readiness

The new Republicans on the committee include:

  • Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL)
  • Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC)
  • Rep. Brad Finstad (R-MN)
  • Rep. Dale Strong (R-AL)
  • Rep. Morgan Luttrell (R-TX)
  • Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-VA)
  • Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY)
  • Del. James Moylan (R-Guam)
  • Rep. Mark Alford (R-MO)
  • Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL)
  • Rep. Rich McCormick (R-GA)

Rogers also said he intends "to create a special panel to oversee servicemember quality of life which will be led by Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE). We are committed to supporting our servicemembers and their families."

By John Liang
January 25, 2023 at 2:29 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on U.S. Abrams tanks being shipped to Ukraine, Lockheed Martin's quarterly earnings and more.

The U.S. government's decision to send tanks to Ukraine marks a sharp change in attitude, as just last week the Pentagon said it didn't want to send Ukraine a system the Ukrainians can't repair or sustain:

U.S. sending 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine

Following Germany's decision to deliver 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, the Biden administration has announced it will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to aid the fight against Russia.

Lockheed Martin held its quarterly earnings call this week:

Lockheed Martin touts strong finish to 2022 in earnings call

Lockheed Martin executives touted a strong fourth quarter during a year-end earnings call Tuesday, claiming each of the company's business areas met or exceeded expectations set for 2022.

. . . as did Textron:

Textron executives confident in profitability of FLRAA despite looming protest

In spite of a recent bid protest, Textron executives said during a fourth-quarter earnings call Wednesday that they believe the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft contract award will be a "terrific boon for the business" over the next few years.

The Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit released its annual report today:

Pentagon's Silicon Valley outreach team highlights increased transitions in FY-22

More than doubling the number of transitioned programs from last year, the Defense Innovation Unit touts its success in switching commercial, emerging technology prototypes to full production deals for the Defense Department in a new report.

Document: DIU's annual report

The Government Accountability Office released a new report on the Navy's Columbia-class submarine program this week:

Navy to improve Columbia schedule monitoring as auditors warn of potential delays

The Navy will take steps to improve its schedule risk oversight of the Columbia-class submarine program and the resulting risks to the nuclear shipbuilding enterprise, in line with advice from government auditors who warn that no risk analysis has been performed on the lead submarine's construction schedule.

Document: GAO report on the Columbia-class submarine program

The Pentagon's top weapons tester disclosed an unreported test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system last year:

MDA conducted non-intercept GMD test in 2022 to assess addition of new capabilities

The Missile Defense Agency last year conducted a test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, not previously reported, that was designed to assess capabilities to defend against threats to the United States from a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile.

Document: DOT&E's 2022 annual report

By Nick Wilson
January 24, 2023 at 1:19 PM

The Navy League of the United States is encouraging increased investment in shipbuilding, marking the procurement of Columbia-class submarines and Light Amphibious Warships top priorities for the Navy and Marine Corps.

The maritime security-focused non-profit held an event on Tuesday discussing its annual Maritime Policy Statement for 2023-2024, which provides recommendations to the Navy and Marine Corps as well as the U.S. Merchant Marine and Coast Guard.

Speaking at the event, retired Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris outlined the report’s top recommendations for the Navy as fielding the next generation of ballistic missile submarines to replace the ageing Ohio class, followed by maintaining fleet readiness and lethality and increasing the Navy’s budget to fund an “aggressive shipbuilding plan.”

For the Marine Corps, the document recommends prioritizing the fielding of Light Amphibious Warships (LAWs), long-range precision fires including Tomahawk and Ground-Based Anti-Ship Missiles (GBASM), and developing resilient command, control, communications and computers (C4) and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

The report supports the Navy’s force readiness goals and Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 initiative, and acknowledges the growing threat posed by China and challenges including climate change, labor shortages and delivery and maintenance delays.

Panelists at the event also discussed the importance of providing a “stable budget” to communicate enduring demand for ships and weaponry to industry.

By John Liang
January 24, 2023 at 12:45 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from Raytheon Technologies' quarterly earnings call, a new Space Force "watch list" for wayward contractors and more.

We start off with news from today's Raytheon Technologies earnings call:

Raytheon announces realignment of business units

Raytheon Technologies announced in an earnings call this morning that it is reorganizing its business units -- promising to relieve "friction" in the company.

The head of Space Force acquisition spoke this morning at the 2023 Defense and Intelligence Space Conference:

Calvelli calls for stepped-up use of contractor watch list

CHANTILLY, VA -- In a warning to industry, Space Force acquisition chief Frank Calvelli said today that he would resurrect a years-old contractor watch list to drive discipline in acquisitions and name companies that are performing poorly.

On Jan. 13, Lockheed Martin "achieved first light" from the Directed Energy Interceptor for Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense System, an event designed to measure the laser's optical performance against the system design parameters:

Lockheed advances project to proffer 50-kilowatt laser alternative for M-SHORAD

Lockheed Martin has activated a 50-kilowatt high-energy laser designed for ground forces air defense, a key developmental milestone in the company's prototype design of a directed energy weapon for the Army's Stryker vehicle and an important step toward giving the government a viable alternative for a planned competition against incumbent Raytheon.

More news from the latest annual operational test and evaluation report:

Pentagon tester calls MPF progress 'satisfactory,' cites 'vulnerabilities'

The Pentagon’s top weapons tester has recommended fixes to the Army's Mobile Protected Firepower system -- including mitigating toxic fumes inside the light tank -- which is making "satisfactory" progress toward operational effectiveness.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity interviewed a top Pentagon cyber official last week:

Bostjanick: CMMC program moves forward as 'deliberative' process for rulemaking continues

Companies should continue preparing for the launch of the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program as the process to finalize rulemaking continues, according to program director Stacy Bostjanick, who spoke with Inside Cybersecurity in a wide-ranging interview.

By John Liang
January 24, 2023 at 9:28 AM

Mercury Systems announced this week it has hired Vivek Upadhyaya to be the company's vice president of finance.

Upadhyaya will "lead the corporate finance team and be responsible for forecasting and analysis as well as internal management reporting," according to a company statement.

Upadhyaya was most recently chief financial officer, treasurer and chief information officer of Leonardo Electronics U.S., a subsidiary of Leonardo. Before that, he was CFO and interim president and CEO of IAI North America, the U.S. subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries.

From 2012 to 2019, Upadhyaya was vice president of financial planning at Orbital ATK, which was acquired by Northrop Grumman during that time. He has also held finance roles with Honeywell International, Medtronic and Amgen, according to Mercury.

By Nick Wilson
January 23, 2023 at 3:37 PM

The Navy will hold an industry day next month to explore the use of unmanned aircraft systems that are contractor owned and operated for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

According to a notice released Monday, the Navy wants to expand industry partnerships, using Contractor Owned Contractor Operated (COCO) services for present and future UAS combat and contingency missions.

The Navy plans to release a request for information following the virtual industry day, which will take place on Feb. 23.

The Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office will use the industry day to “present plans for current or future procurements to representatives from industry seeking to provide COCO ISR services in support of DOD, [Other Government Agencies] and combat and contingency operational requirements,” the release states.

“This Special Notice is related to support activities for land-based and ship-based operations to provide reliable delivery of sensor data,” the announcement continues, adding that prospective contractors would be responsible for all inputs needed to produce around-the-clock ISR data, including personnel, non-developmental UAS equipment, operations, maintenance and spares.

A list of current UAS ISR performance requirements includes National Defense Authorization Act compliance, an operational range of up to 75 nautical miles with a single air vehicle and full-motion video and electronic warfare sensors.

By Ben Dupont
January 23, 2023 at 2:36 PM

The Pentagon's top business management advisory group will meet early next month with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to discuss several defense and national security strategies.

According to a Jan. 20 Federal Register notice, the Defense Business Board meeting, taking place on Feb. 1, will include briefings from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley who will discuss "Current Events in National Security" and Army Secretary Christine Wormuth will talk about "Key Challenges to Recruiting, Retention and Readiness."

The meeting will also include sections on "What the Department is doing to Speed the Transition of Cutting-edge Technology to the Battlefield" and "Building the Fleet of the Future Despite the Industrial Challenges."

In addition to the Feb. 1 proceedings, which are classified, "The Board will begin in open session on Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to 12:35 p.m."

By John Liang
January 23, 2023 at 1:40 PM

The bulk of this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from the Pentagon's latest operational test and evaluation report.

We start off with a look at DOT&E's evaluation of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program:

DOT&E: F-35 Block 4 testing 'deficient,' JSE conclusion date 'at risk'

The F-35 Joint Program Office's efforts to upgrade jets with Block 4 software are "deficient" and its goal of concluding Joint Simulation Environment testing later this year is "at risk," according to a new Pentagon report.

. . . followed by the Marine Corps' Amphibious Combat Vehicle program:

ACV-C effective as a stationary command post, but not as a mobile one, DOT&E report says

The Marine Corps' Amphibious Combat Vehicle is operationally effective as a stationary command post, but not as a mobile one, according to an annual report from the Pentagon's chief weapons tester.

. . . the Army's Stryker Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station-Javelin program:

DOT&E recommends more testing for CROW-J vehicles

The Army should establish a failure review board for the Stryker Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station-Javelin to understand why tank-killing technology, mounted on a wheeled vehicle and which commanders say is urgently needed, did not pass muster during operational testing, according to the Pentagon's top weapons tester.

. . . the Air Force's newest training aircraft:

T-7 FRP re-baselined to FY-26, DOT&E report says

The T-7 Red Hawk's schedule has been re-baselined to support a milestone C decision in fiscal year 2024 and a full-rate production decision in FY-26, according to a report from the Pentagon's chief weapons tester.

. . . the Army's Integrated Visual Augmentation System:

Top weapons tester urges Army to fix IVAS deficiencies

In an annual testing report released Friday, the Defense Department's chief weapon tester is calling on the Army to fix deficiencies with the Integrated Visual Augmentation System that were discovered during during demonstrations last year.

. . . the Ford-class aircraft carrier:

DOT&E: Flight system reliability challenges continue for Ford

The first-in-class aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) continues to struggle with the reliability of its flight operations systems, according to an annual report from the Pentagon's chief weapons tester.

. . . the Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter:

Navy's Super Hornet infrared sensor plagued with continual delays

Operational testing of the Navy's newest version of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet infrared sensor has been pushed back to the second quarter of fiscal year 2024 -- marking another delay in the program.

. . . and hypersonic weapons:

DOD readies first-ever East Coast long-range offensive hypersonic weapon test

The Defense Department is readying a first-ever hypersonic weapon test over the Atlantic Ocean, preparing to launch a rocket from Florida that will loft a glide vehicle thousands of miles into the open water in a high-stakes assessment that aims to validate design of a new, two-stage booster paired with the ultra-fast maneuvering payload.

Last but by no means least, a non-DOT&E-report-related story on zero-trust systems:

Can zero trust be done in the cloud? NSA will hack cloud vendors to find out

Starting this spring, "red team" hackers from the National Security Agency, and potentially hackers from the military services, will attack four Pentagon cloud service providers' zero-trust systems in each of the companies' cloud infrastructures.

By Dan Schere
January 23, 2023 at 12:27 PM

The Army plans to replenish the 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles it is sending to Ukraine starting in fiscal year 2025 with the newest version of the vehicle, according to a service official.

The Pentagon announced on Jan. 6 that it would be sending 50 of the M2A2 version of the vehicles to Ukraine as part of a $3 billion security assistance package. This was the first time the United States had included Bradleys in a Ukrainian aid package since the beginning of the Russian invasion nearly a year ago.

According to a statement from Army spokeswoman Ellen Lovett provided to Inside Defense last week, the service will begin receiving M2A4 Bradley replacements starting in FY-25. All replacements will have been received by FY-26, she said.

Last week, DOD announced another Ukrainian military aid package worth $2.5 billion, which includes 59 Bradleys.

The M2A4 Bradley is a medium armored vehicle that is completely digital and provides cross-country mobility, mounted firepower, communications and protection to mechanized infantry, according to the Army. It has upgraded engine and transmission, better track and improved torsion bars, road arms and shock absorbers.

The first unit to be equipped with an M2A4 Bradley was a Third Infantry Division unit at Ft. Stewart, Ga, and the service plans to acquire 700 of them through 2029, The Army Times reported in April 2022.

Last week, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said that the service should avoid purchasing “new, old stuff” when replenishing weapons and supplies that have been included in Ukrainian aid packages.

The Bradley will eventually be replaced by the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle. Five companies submitted proposals for the detailed design and prototype build and test phases of the competition late last year.

The Army expects to issue up to 3 contracts for these phases of the OMFV competition in the third quarter of FY-23, according to Ashley John, a spokeswoman for the Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems.

By Tony Bertuca
January 23, 2023 at 5:00 AM

Think tanks around the Washington area are scheduled to host several national security discussions this week, while senior Pentagon officials speak at a space conference.

Monday

The American Enterprise Institute hosts a conversation with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on U.S. military readiness.

The National Security Space Association hosts the Defense Intelligence and Space Conference in Chantilly, VA. The event runs through Wednesday.

Tuesday

The Air Force Association hosts a discussion with the deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, and with the commander of the Twentieth Air Force, Air Force Global Strike Command.

Wednesday

The Heritage Foundation hosts a discussion with the CEO of Lockheed Martin on U.S. weapons supply chain issues.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion with former Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on Arctic security one year after the war in Ukraine.

Thursday

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on “fielding transformational capability without transforming acquisition."

By Thomas Duffy
January 20, 2023 at 1:42 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest leads off with the latest annual report from the Pentagon's testing shop, some satellite news, how AI is being used to observe the war in Ukraine, and news on space acquisition.

The Pentagon's top tester released his latest report:

DOT&E publicly releases single weapons assessment following transparency criticisms

The office of the Defense Department’s chief weapons tester has publicly issued a single annual report today, reversing course from the previous year in which it produced a second, non-public report for Congress containing “controlled unclassified information” on the performance -- or lack thereof -- of major weapon systems.

Satellite communications should be getting some improvements:

New SATCOM framework charts path to ‘resilient enterprise’

The Defense Department has established a three-phased, multiyear approach for modernizing command and control capabilities for satellite communications, according to a comprehensive plan released Wednesday by the office of DOD Chief Information Officer John Sherman.

The Defense Department is using AI to track events in Ukraine:

Pentagon using ‘AI tools’ to predict future aid for Ukraine

Touting the efficiency of the Pentagon’s ability to provide lethal aid to the frontlines in Ukraine, one top official said the Defense Department is using artificial intelligence to bring disparate data together and figure out what the Ukrainian military will need next.

The space acquisition executive talked this week about buying principles:

‘Simple formula’: Calvelli drills down on space acquisition principles

In his effort to reform the way the Pentagon buys satellites and their ground systems, Space Force acquisition chief Frank Calvelli said recently that four principles were key to driving speed in projects, refining a list of tenets he released in October.