The Insider

August 23, 2017 -- 3:43 PM

Following two collisions of Navy guided-missile destroyers in the past three months, the House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing next month focused on the underlying problems.

The Sept. 7 hearing will be hosted by both the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces and readiness subcommittees, according to a statement.

Naval Surface Forces commander Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden and John Pendleton, the defense force structure and readiness issues director for the Government Accountability Office, will testify on problems associated with the Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and the John S. McCain (DDG-56).

Both ships are Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and were built by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works.

House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee Ranking Member Joe Courtney (D-CT) told Inside Defense today he would like information from GAO on the Navy's maintenance of ships based overseas. The congressional watchdog has closely followed this topic.

Courtney said the collisions involving the Fitzgerald and McCain seem "systemic," and lawmakers may opt to "beef up" provisions in the next defense authorization bill.

Subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman (R-VA) said he supports the Navy's operational pause, according to an Aug. 23 statement provided to Inside Defense.

"I believe that there are even more basic causes for this systematic operational failure of our fleet, to include a demanding operational tempo, limited training opportunities and inadequate funding to support basic needs," according to Wittman. "I look forward to conducting a detailed review of ongoing Navy operations to ensure the basic safety of our sailors and sufficient forces for our national security."

August 23, 2017 -- 3:11 PM

The Navy will finalize a comprehensive, long-term sealift recapitalization plan and assess the effects of widely distributed operations on the Combat Logistics Force, following a Government Accountability Office report recommending those actions.

The recapitalization plan should incorporate "leading practices for capital planning . . . providing a framework with established criteria to assess options, specifying how projects will be prioritized, [and] ensuring strategic linkage to DOD sealift requirements," the Aug. 22 GAO report stated. The Defense Department concurred with the recommendation.

"The sealift recapitalization strategy that has been developed [in November 2016] includes a three-phased plan that extends the service life of select vessels, acquires a limited number of used vessels, and a new construction, common-hulled shipbuilding program," according to DOD's response, which was signed by Allison Stiller, who is performing the duties of the Navy acquisition executive.

Stiller noted the Navy is coordinating with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Transportation Command and the Transportation Department's Maritime Administration. She also noted DOD's proposal for the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill included language authorizing the purchase of used ships, which is "a critical leg of the sealift recapitalization strategy. Once the legislative approval is confirmed, the recapitalization effort can proceed, and the overall plan be solidified."

The GAO report also recommended the Navy assess "the effects of widely distributed operations on the size and composition of the combat logistics force." DOD concurred with this recommendation as well.

DOD's response stated that while the FY-16 National Defense Authorization Act mandated a similar assessment be conducted, that particular assessment called for future analysis.

"The Navy is continuing to work with the United States Pacific Fleet and Military Sealift Command to identify capability gaps associated with dispersed operations," according to DOD's response.

A House report accompanying the 2017 NDAA mandated the GAO report.

August 23, 2017 -- 2:19 PM

Batteries for combat vehicles, foreign military sales and more highlight this Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest.

Inside Defense recently spoke with a senior executive from battery maker Saft:

Saft zeroes in on military vehicles programs

Battery maker Saft is focusing on lithium-ion batteries for military vehicles, pitching them for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

The Marine Corps' AAV survivability upgrade effort has been approved:

Marine Corps approves AAV survivability upgrade effort for low-rate initial production

The Marine Corps has approved the survivability upgrade effort of its legacy amphibious vehicle to enter low-rate initial protection, according to an official.

The Pentagon is changing the way it processes foreign military sales:

DOD plans to update initial delivery metric for foreign military sales

The Defense Department plans to change the goal for how much time it takes to deliver the first item under a foreign military sale, as DOD argues the current metric "does not provide a complete picture," according to a recent government audit.

Some news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

McCain cyber doctrine finds home in FY-18 defense authorization bill

A long-awaited U.S. cybersecurity "doctrine" proposal from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) has been introduced as part of the fiscal 2018 defense authorization bill, according to congressional sources, detailing powers and processes the United States can employ to deter and respond to foreign cyber threats.

News from this week's Inside the Navy:

F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to replace legacy Hornets at NAS Oceana

The Navy plans to transition 62 F/A-18A/C/D Hornet aircraft in its fleet and reserve squadrons based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia to F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft beginning as early as 2018.

Document: NAS Oceana F-18 transition draft environmental assessment


Congress approves $9.7M in funds preventing Knifefish stop-work order

The Navy has not stopped work on the unmanned undersea vehicle Knifefish because Congress approved $9.7 million in reprogramming funds this fiscal year to continue program integration and testing efforts.

Navy buying 'proven laser weapon' system for destroyers

The Navy is looking to buy a 60-150 kW high energy laser weapon system with an integrated counter intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance laser for non-destructive dazzling capabilities against unmanned aerial vehicle-mounted sensors, according to a Federal Business Opportunities notice.

Document: Navy's HELIOS solicitation


News from this week's Inside the Army:

2nd SBCT alerted for EDRE ahead of NTC rotation

The Army's Lancer Brigade has spent the past several months building readiness ahead of a combat training center rotation designed to test its abilities against a near-peer adversary.

Army to continue metal matrix composite research for lighter vehicles

The Army's next milestone in examining metal matrix composite technology as a potential vehicle lightweighting solution is to develop additional brake drums for testing, according to one of the service's engineers.

August 23, 2017 -- 2:03 PM

The Littoral Combat Ship Coronado (LCS-4) this week conducted a successful live-fire test of the Harpoon Block 1C missile off the coast of Guam, striking a surface target at a distance beyond the vessel's visual range.

The MQ-8B Fire Scout and MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, both part of Coronado's rotary-wing air detachment, provided targeting support for the harpoon missile.

The LCS' "ability to pair unmanned vehicles like Fire Scout with Harpoon missiles to strike from the littoral shadows matters -- there are over 50,000 islands in the arc from the Philippines to India; those shallow crossroads are vital world interests," Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, Task Force 73 commander, said in a statement.

Coronado's successful test follows the ship's test fire of the Harpoon in July 2016 during the Rim of the Pacific Exercise.

"USS Coronado's success in a real-world deployment of the Harpoon missile system is a result of how we are changing the way we operate and think about LCS," Capt. Lex Walker, Destroyer Squadron-7 commodore, said in a statement. "By focusing on how a deployed LCS fits in the larger maritime domain with regional partners, we are ensuring a secure and cooperative regional environment while increasing the ship's capabilities."

August 23, 2017 -- 12:25 PM

SOS International said today it has named John Avalos chief operating officer.

Avalos joins the defense and intelligence contractor from Booz Allen Hamilton, where he was vice president of business development for four years. He also spent a decade at BAE Systems, including serving as vice president of its intelligence and security sector.

Avalos spent more than eight years in the Army, SOSi said.

August 23, 2017 -- 11:52 AM

Gryphon Technologies said this week it has named former Professional Services Council executive Jerry Punderson chief operating officer.

In his new role, Punderson "will oversee the execution and management of all Gryphon government contracts," according to the engineering services firm.

Punderson was senior vice president of defense and intelligence at PSC. He previously was senior executive at Naval Sea Systems Command. As NAVSEA's senior civilian contracting official, Punderson oversaw a range of procurement programs, including SeaPort-e, a large services contract vehicle.

August 23, 2017 -- 11:07 AM

The Navy recently determined Huntington Ingalls Industries will get a contract to restore the damaged destroyer Fitzgerald (DDG-62).

The service will award the contract before the end of this fiscal year, according to a Navy statement.

"The start date, scope, cost and the time required to fully restore the ship have not yet been determined," the statement reads.

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works built the Fitzgerald and the ship was commissioned in 1995. Ingalls Shipbuilding is the only other shipbuilder besides BIW that builds guided missile destroyers.

"Given the complexity of the work and the significant unknowns of the restoration, the Navy determined that only an Arleigh Burke-class shipbuilder could perform the effort," according to the service. "Only HII has the available capacity to restore USS Fitzgerald to full operational status in the shortest period of time with minimal disruption to ongoing repair and new construction work."

Further, the Navy is evaluating proposals to award a contract for the heavy-lift transport of the Fitzgerald from Yokosuka, Japan, to the continental United States.

On June 17, the Fitzgerald was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal.
"In addition to the restoration effort, the Navy intends to incorporate previously planned modernization efforts into the availability that were to have taken place at SRF-JRMC Yokosuka in 2019," according to the service.

Ingalls Shipbuilding has a history of repairing damaged Navy ships, including the frigate Stark (FFG-31) and the guided-missile destroyer Cole (DDG-67), according to the company.

"Ingalls and all of its employees regret the tragic circumstances that will bring the ship to Pascagoula," Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias said in a statement, "but it is an honor and a privilege to work with the Navy to return the ship to the fleet in the shortest time possible."

August 23, 2017 -- 10:18 AM

The head of the Navy's U.S. 7th Fleet has been relieved of his command following a spate of ship mishaps over the past several months, the service announced today.

U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift relieved Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command," according to a Navy statement.

Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer, who has already been nominated and confirmed for the position and promotion to vice admiral, will assume command immediately.

Earlier this week, the destroyer John S. McCain (DDG-56) collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC off the coast of Singapore, resulting in 10 sailors going missing. On June 17, the destroyer Fitzgerald (DDG-62) collided with a cargo tanker off the coast of Japan, resulting in the deaths of seven sailors.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson subsequently ordered an operational pause for all fleets worldwide, and directed a comprehensive review to determine the root cause of the recent collisions.

August 23, 2017 -- 10:15 AM

The Defense Department announced the appointments of several senior officials Tuesday.

Addison Davis has been selected to be principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations, and environment, according to a Pentagon statement.  Davis was previously chief executive officer for the U.S. Army Reserve and served as deputy assistant secretary of the Army for environment, safety, and occupational health.

Charles Drummond has been selected to be deputy assistant secretary of defense for force education and training, according to DOD. Drummond was most recently branch head of Navy education strategy and policy.

Richard Landolt, a retired rear admiral, has been selected to be the defense adviser to the NATO ambassador, DOD states. Landolt was most recently executive director of public safety for the city of Mobile, AL.

Matthew Shipley has been selected to be deputy assistant secretary of defense for force readiness, according to DOD. Shipley was most recently military legislative assistant to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Previously, Shipley served for 20 years in the Navy.

John Stopher has been selected to be director of the principal DOD space adviser's staff, according to the statement. Stopher was previously budget director for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

August 22, 2017 -- 5:16 PM

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was tight-lipped Tuesday on the number of additional U.S. troops slated to be sent to Afghanistan following President Trump's decision to increase operations there.

"I'd prefer not to go into those numbers right now," he said during a Baghdad press conference. "The first thing I have to do is level the bubble and account for everybody who's on the ground there now, the idea being that we're not going to have different buckets that we're accounting for them in, to tell you what the total number is."

Mattis said the White House has, however, set a ceiling on the number of troops who can be sent. Capitol Hill sources say lawmakers expect as many as 4,000 additional troops to be sent to reinforce the 8,400 the U.S. has in Afghanistan now.

Mattis said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford was crafting a final plan for Afghanistan.

"There is a number that I'm authorized to go up to," Mattis said. "It may or may not be the number that's bandied about up until now. I've got to get the plan in from the chairman, and you saw that I directed him to get it to me here right away. . . . Let me look at the plan that the military brings me.  We've given them the strategic goals. They now have to line up the different things they have to do, and assign troops to each one of those efforts."

August 22, 2017 -- 12:59 PM

Funding for President Trump's Afghanistan strategy and more highlight this Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest.

Lawmakers are waiting for more details regarding President Trump's Afghanistan strategy:

Trump's new Afghanistan plan to be injected into already complicated budget fight

President Trump's new plan to increase U.S. operations in Afghanistan was greeted with support from GOP lawmakers, but the total number of additional troops remains vague and could complicate an already stressful budget environment when Congress returns Sept. 5.

The Air Force has awarded next-generation ballistic missile development contracts to Boeing and Northrop Grumman:

Boeing, Northrop win GBSD TMRR contracts

Boeing and Northrop Grumman will progress to the technology-maturation and risk-reduction phase of the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent competition under contracts worth more than $300 million apiece, the Defense Department announced Monday.

The Navy's top uniformed officer briefed the press yesterday on the recent spate of warship collisions:

CNO expects industry to play a role in fleet review

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said he expects the defense industry to play a key role in the fleet review he has ordered in the wake of a collision of the destroyer John S. McCain (DDG-56) with a merchant vessel off the coast of Singapore that has left 10 sailors missing.

More Navy destroyer news:

Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer design is 91 percent complete

The design for the Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is 91 percent complete as the Navy is wrapped up in continued contract negotiations with General Dynamics Bath Iron Works for DDG-126 and DDG-127.

News on the Army's Future Fighting Vehicle program:

PEO GCS utilizing Future Fighting Vehicle work in S&T efforts

The Army's program executive office for ground combat systems is "continuing to work with" concepts developed in the service's Future Fighting Vehicle program, according to the head of the office.

August 22, 2017 -- 12:05 PM

Don Godwin has been named vice president of business management and chief financial officer for Newport News Shipbuilding, parent company Huntington Ingalls Industries announced today.

Godwin will assume his new role Sept. 5 and report to shipyard President Jennifer Boykin. He succeeds Mike Helpinstill, who is joining the HII corporate staff as vice president of strategic transactions, according to a company statement.

Godwin most recently served as CFO of Hitachi Data Systems Federal. He has also worked as CFO at Harris Corp. and its predecessor companies.

"In addition to Don's strong financial background and business operations experience, he brings a unique, external perspective that will be critical to our business transformation into the digital shipbuilding world," Boykin said in the HII statement.

August 21, 2017 -- 2:10 PM

The CNO's latest action in the wake of the most recent destroyer collision and more highlight this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest.

The most recent collision between a Navy destroyer and a merchant ship has led to the service's top uniformed officer wanting to know why such incidents are on the rise:

CNO orders operational pause for fleets worldwide, directs comprehensive review

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has ordered an operational pause for all fleets worldwide, and directed a comprehensive review to determine the root cause of recent collisions.

The Army is looking at the defense industry's ideas for upgrading the service's M113 armored personnel carrier:

Army eyes 'rodeo' for upgrades to M113s in EAB

The Army intends to hold a "rodeo" to assess the reliability of industry offerings to upgrade the M113 armored personnel carrier for echelons above brigade.

The Navy is looking to pay for internal service bills via a procurement tax in FY-19:

Navy plans to implement tax in fiscal year 2019 across all programs

The Navy plans to institute a procurement tax across every program in the fiscal year 2019 budget, according to multiple sources.

The Army will be buying fewer Black Hawk helicopters:

Army commits to 20 percent fewer Black Hawks than originally planned in new multiyear deal

The Army is executing a multiyear procurement contract for H-60M utility helicopters that obligates the government to buy 51 fewer helicopters than the service proposed to Congress when it sought authorization for a five-year deal, offsetting the cuts in part with foreign military sales.

The Navy's MUOS satellite program has been delayed:

MUOS constellation schedule breached over operational deficiencies

The Navy postponed declaring full operational capability for the Mobile User Objective System, causing a schedule breach in the program's baseline, according to a Selected Acquisition Report obtained by Inside the Navy.

August 21, 2017 -- 1:09 PM

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) said today "more forceful action is urgently needed to identify and correct the causes" of two recent Navy ship collisions.

"I expect full transparency and accountability from the Navy leaders as they conduct the associated investigations and reviews," McCain said in a statement, referring to the worldwide operational pause ordered by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.

The pause follows a collision between the destroyer John S. McCain (DDG-56) and merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21 at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time. The collision, which has left at least 10 sailors missing and five injured, was the second such accident in three months. On June 17, the destroyer Fitzgerald (DDG-62) collided with a cargo tanker off the coast of Japan, resulting in the deaths of seven sailors.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) tweeted Aug. 21 that the Senate Armed Services Committee "must hold a hearing to get answers on why these collisions are happening."

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) in a statement said: "While I support the Chief of Naval Operations operational safety standown of the fleet, I believe that there are even more basic causes for this systematic operational failure of our fleet to include a demanding operational tempo, limited training opportunities and inadequate funding to support basic needs. I look forward to conducting a detailed review of ongoing Navy operations to ensure the basic safety of our sailors and sufficient forces for our national security."

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) noted in a statement that the McCain collision was "the fourth serious Naval accident this year. We ask a lot of our men and women in the Navy. The time they spend at sea is increasing, while their ships age and their funding gets cut. These are just the conditions that can lead to an increase in the kinds of accidents we are witnessing. At a time of increasing threats, two military services have now had to take a knee to review safety and training procedures. That is unprecedented, and no way to protect America. Congress has a duty to provide our Sailors with the additional resources they so clearly need, and to do so immediately. To do any less, while these Sailors are doing so much for us, would be immoral."

August 21, 2017 -- 11:53 AM

The Navy issued a request for information about 81 mm mortar systems, according to an Aug. 17 Federal Business Opportunities notice.

The mortar system should be compatible with an 81 mm mortar tube; contain a semi-active laser; and be able to acquire fixed and slow moving targets during day and night, according to the notice.

A laser designator for use with the semi-active laser "must be capable of being mounted on a weapon, hand held, or projected from an air asset onto target," the notice states.

The deadline to submit white papers is Sept. 18.