The Insider

By John Liang
July 10, 2020 at 2:16 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has extensive coverage of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee's fiscal year 2021 military spending bill, specifically from the report accompanying the legislation obtained by Inside Defense.

We start off with appropriators' proposals to kill the Pentagon's Overseas Contingency Operations account as well as their criticism of the Defense Department's use of COVID-19 funds on weapons builders and not personal protective equipment:

House committee ready to kill Pentagon's OCO account, calling it an 'abject failure'

Powerful House appropriators want to eliminate the Pentagon's controversial Overseas Contingency Operations account and return the department to annual supplemental funding requests, potentially sending defense officials scrambling to fill multibillion-dollar budget holes, according to documents obtained by Inside Defense.

House lawmakers whack Pentagon for spending CARES Act funds on contractors instead of PPE

House appropriators are criticizing the Defense Department for spending most of its COVID-19 relief funds propping up weapon systems manufacturers, rather than bolstering the U.S. supply of personal protective equipment.

Here is our coverage of appropriators' Navy allocations:

House appropriators aim to stop retirements of first four LCS

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee is moving to prohibit the Navy from decommissioning the first four Littoral Combat Ships, calling the move "shortsighted" and directing the Pentagon to consider upgrading and deploying the ships to South and Central America.

House panel mandates details on public shipyard maintenance work, cuts funding

A House panel is proposing deep cuts to the Navy's fiscal year 2021 request for ship maintenance, repair and modernization, admonishing the service for its execution of a private contracted ship maintenance pilot program that aims to help address persistent and substantial maintenance delays that hamper the Navy's ability to restore readiness.

. . . followed by the Joint Strike Fighter:

House appropriators concerned about F-35 transition from ALIS to ODIN

Although the House Appropriations defense subcommittee is recommending full funding for the F-35 Autonomic Logistics Information System, lawmakers are calling out the program office for failing to develop a system that meets requirements and directs the Defense Department to ensure a smooth transition to the replacement capability.

. . . and the Air Force:

House lawmakers slam USAF's financial management of hypersonics prototyping efforts

A House panel is criticizing the Air Force's management of its hypersonics prototyping program -- pointing to skyrocketing costs and poor budget planning as evidence of the military's broader lack of discipline executing Middle Tier Acquisition authorities.

House appropriators slash ABMS on-ramp budget, criticize program execution

House appropriators are recommending cutting most of the fiscal year 2021 funding the Air Force proposed for Advanced Battle Management System on-ramp events while also criticizing the service's nontraditional execution of the program.

. . . as well as space funding:

House appropriators urge Air Force to accelerate establishment of space acquisition executive

House appropriators are pushing the Air Force to move quickly to create a separate acquisition executive for space -- direction that comes as the Air Force in recent months has slowed down those plans, opting to focus on crafting a new acquisition system before committing to an organizational structure.

House appropriators reject DOD gambit to shift HBTSS to SDA

A third congressional defense oversight committee is objecting to the Pentagon's fiscal year 2021 proposal to put the Space Development Agency in charge of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor, a development that could keep the Missile Defense Agency running the project.

Last but certainly not least, we have an interview with the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center's Detachment 5 director:

Air Force testers developing new standards to experiment with artificial intelligence

Air Force testers are developing a first-of-its-kind, systematic approach to guide experimentation with artificial intelligence and autonomous airborne vehicles and fill a need within the defense community for a set of principles for officials evaluating these new technologies.

By Ashley Tressel
July 10, 2020 at 12:01 PM

The Army wants an autonomous-capable replacement for select variants of the Palletized Load System, Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck and M915 Truck Tractor and has released a request for information to assess industry's ability to provide one.

"The current fleet of heavy tactical wheeled vehicles, which includes the PLS, HEMTT, and M915 Tractor, are no longer aligned with current technology," an RFI posted today states. "The USG is seeking information from vehicle manufacturers able to provide a contemporary replacement for our aging fleet leveraging the advancements available within industry. The feedback and information received in response to this RFI will inform our acquisition strategy for the next generation of heavy tactical wheeled vehicles.”

The Next Generation Future Truck would be "a purpose-built, multi-axle, ruggedized, fuel-efficient wheeled vehicle with a dedicated payload area configured to mission requirements" and gives commanders "flexibility to conduct both semi-autonomous and autonomous transportation operations," according to the notice.

"The purpose of modernizing the current fleet is to improve force protection, efficiency, and throughput," the RFI states. "Integration of autonomy features will enhance force protection through iterative autonomy technology maturation, which will eventually allow for fully autonomous navigation. This capability reduces soldier vulnerability by providing an option to deliver supplies based on real-time demand, independently and simultaneously, to multiple outposts via varied routes. Leveraging commercial investments in autonomy and Army technology currently in development for Leader-Follower, throughput will be increased while also providing increased manpower flexibility."

The NGFT would replace the PLSA1, HEMTTA4 and M195 line haul.

The Army desires five variants of the NGFT: a "Wrecker variant" to recover and evacuate Stryker, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, and other tactical wheeled vehicles up to 40 tons; an "LHS Heavy variant with crane" to transport a NATO and M3 CROP demountable cargo bed with up to 16 tons of cargo payload; a "Tractor variant" operable with the M870 equipment hauler with payloads of 40 tons, M871, M172 and M872 line haul, M967 tanker, M1062 tanker, future tanker (8,200 gallons), and commercial standard trailers; a "Tanker variant" with a 2,500 gallon threshold or objective fuel payload greater than 2,500 gallons; and a "Cargo Bed variant with crane" capable of a minimum of 5,500 pounds at 20 feet of extension carrying a payload of up to 22 tons or greater.

Responses to the RFI will be accepted through Aug. 24.

By Justin Doubleday
July 9, 2020 at 4:05 PM

The Pentagon is reviewing the use of military forces during protests against police brutality earlier this summer, with the first such investigation expected to be completed in the coming days.

During a House Armed Services Committee hearing today, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he has directed Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to conduct a "full after-action review" of the Defense Department's involvement in quelling protests in late May and June in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of the Minneapolis police.

The review is to be completed by the end of this month and will cover "issues that drew public concern, such as the use of helicopters and reconnaissance aircraft in support of civilian law enforcement or National Guard ground forces," Esper said.

Separately, McCarthy is currently reviewing the results of an investigation into the use of a DC National Guard UH-72 helicopter that hovered at low altitude over a group of protesters in Washington, DC, on June 1.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said he expects the results to be released within the next few days following a Defense Department inspector general review.

The Air Force inspector general's office is also investigating the circumstances surrounding the use of Air National Guard RC-26 aircraft to support civil authorities June 2-3, according to Esper.

Meanwhile, 60,000 service members, mostly National Guard, have been deployed over the past few months to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Esper said he would follow up with lawmakers on whether DOD will require supplemental funding to cover the costs of recent deployments in response to COVID-19 and civil unrest.

"We've been keeping careful counting of the dollars," Esper said. "That's obviously something we need to come back to you on to make sure we understand what those numbers are and how material they are to the budget."

'Aggressively pursuing leaks'

Esper also railed against leaks of both classified and unclassified information, in response to alleged "illegal leaks" of an intelligence report concerning Russia placing bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Esper said multiple intelligence agencies could not corroborate the report.

"The illegal leaks are terrible," he said. "They're happening across the government, particularly in the Defense Department."

The Pentagon has launched an investigation "to go after leaks, whether it is of classified information or unclassified information that is sensitive, and also unauthorized discussions with the media."

"We are aggressively pursuing leaks in the Defense Department," he said.

Esper said he has also initiated "a new effort to remind people of OPSEC," short for operational security.

By Marjorie Censer
July 9, 2020 at 3:29 PM

NuWave Solutions, recently acquired by private-equity firm AE Industrial Partners, sees opportunity to expand its data management, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence work to the commercial and federal civilian markets, according to its new chief executive.

In an interview with Inside Defense last week, Reggie Brothers said NuWave expects its technology to be useful to the healthcare and energy markets.

Both are "areas where there's a lot of data and where there's really a need to predict what could happen," he said.

The federal civilian market is also a target, according to Brothers, who most recently was chief technology officer at Peraton and has also worked as under secretary of science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security.

NuWave today focuses primarily on the defense and intelligence markets, according to Brothers.

He said AE's ownership provides resources for the company to consider acquisitions and to pursue internal research.

"What you find right now, when money is tight, that internal research goes away, but that internal research is what really helps you go to the next level," Brothers said, noting that NuWave is also seeking to expand its relationship with universities.

By John Liang
July 9, 2020 at 3:00 PM

Inside Defense has obtained the report that accompanies the House Appropriations defense subcommittee's version of the fiscal year 2021 defense spending bill.

Read the report here.

Stay tuned for further coverage.

By John Liang
July 9, 2020 at 2:15 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the defense industry's need for additional funding to pay for COVID-19 costs and more.

The chief executives of BAE Systems, Boeing Defense, General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls Industries, L3Harris Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies and Textron are telling the Pentagon more money will be needed to pay for COVID-19 costs:

Defense executives say they will submit anticipated section 3610 costs this week

In a new letter sent to the Pentagon this week, eight of the largest defense contractors say they are preparing their estimated costs related to COVID-19 relief legislation and warn the Pentagon will need additional funding to cover these expenses.

In related news, Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord recently spoke about COVID supply chain challenges:

Pentagon acquisition chief calls to 're-shore as much as possible' in wake of COVID supply chain challenges

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord says the United States should "re-shore" the production of key capabilities like microelectronics after the COVID-19 crisis exposed weaknesses in the Defense Department's supply chain.

The Navy is developing fleet concepts of operations based on the large and medium unmanned surface vessels' initial capabilities that would include missile defense:

Navy mulling BMD mission for unmanned surface vessels

The Navy is considering tasking its new unmanned surface vessels with the ballistic missile defense mission, a move that could free up guided-missile destroyers and push the service toward the more distributed fleet it is seeking.

Nand Mulchandani, who took over as acting Joint Artificial Intelligence Center director last month, recently dispelled a perception that major technology firms will not work with the Defense Department:

Pentagon AI director says DOD has 'overwhelming support' from Google, major tech companies

The Pentagon is working with major U.S. technology companies on a range of artificial intelligence projects, including software to help streamline warfighting operations, according to the head of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

The Army is asking Congress to reprogram nearly $24 million to boost fiscal year 2020 accounts of three projects: a hit-to-kill variant of the Excalibur guided artillery round, a new long-range variant of the Precision Guidance Kit, and the XM113 Increment 2 high explosive munition:

Army seeks nearly $24M to boost Long Range Precision Fires munitions projects

The Army is looking to increase funding this summer for a trio of munitions projects for the service's top modernization priority -- the Extended Range Cannon Artillery system, including bolstering funds for an effort that seeks to satisfy U.S. Army Pacific Command's desire for a Multi-Domain Cannon Artillery capability.

By Courtney Albon
July 9, 2020 at 10:24 AM

A planned contract award to Raytheon for the GPS IIIF Operational Control Segment is delayed four months to February 2021, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center announced today.

The presolicitation notice, released Wednesday, does not offer details on the reason for the delay. It follows a sources-sought notice issued in May 2019 that indicated the service would select OCX incumbent Raytheon to develop the follow-on capability.

The service notes that its market research has confirmed Raytheon is the only provider that can meet its OCX IIIF requirements without introducing additional cost and schedule risk.

"It is likely that award to any other source would result in substantial duplication of cost to the government that is not expected to be recovered through competition and unacceptable delays in fulfilling the agency's requirements," this week's notice states.

OCX IIIF will support GPS IIIF satellites, which Lockheed Martin is on contract to develop. The effort will involve upgrades to Raytheon's Block 1 and 2 capabilities and require utilizing the program's existing development tools.

The notice doesn't indicate what new capabilities will come with OCX IIIF, but says the system "must satisfy the requirements for regional military protection, rapid warfighting effects, navigation signal-based satellite status information, unified S-band telemetry, tracking and commanding, and support for future GPS IIIF payloads."

By Ashley Tressel
July 8, 2020 at 3:07 PM

The Army is planning to conduct a 155 mm mobile howitzer shoot-off next year, according to a recent notice.

An industry notice posted today states the project manager for towed artillery systems will solicit, negotiate and award multiple firm-fixed-price contracts for a 155 mm Mobile Howitzer Shoot-Off Evaluation in the second quarter of fiscal year 2021.

"Each vendor will be responsible for transporting a qualifying 155 mm mobile howitzer system and providing support during the evaluation period," the notice states.

The service expects to release an RFP before Oct. 1 and vendors will have 30 days to submit their proposals.

Awards are planned for the first quarter of FY-21.

By Jaspreet Gill
July 8, 2020 at 2:39 PM

The Army has awarded PacStar a contract to deliver communications equipment to support the Expeditionary Signal Battalion-Enhanced program, the company announced yesterday.

PacStar will deliver its 400-Series modular platform "to enhance agile and reliable tactical communications for the expeditionary-style warfare units increasingly relied upon by [the Defense Department’s] organizations," according to its press release.

The 400-Series platform will provide units with lightweight communications equipment like the PacStar 463 Radio Gateway, 128 GB RAM and viral routing.

PacStar did not disclose how much the contract is worth.

The ESB-E, a more agile version of the ESB, supplies uninterrupted mission command and reduces reliance on Warfighter Information Network equipment.

The program "supports the Army’s modernization effort to unify the network by providing assured network transport in congested environments," the press release states. "The ESB-E's tactical network communications support will enable a more lethal, mobile and hardened joint and coalition force, helping the Army retain overmatch against increasingly capable adversaries."

The service in 2018 selected Ft. Bragg, NC, as its ESB-E pilot unit, according to a 2019 Army press release.

The Army's Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical and the Network Cross-Functional Team are working together to provide prototype, commercial off-the-shelf equipment for the ESB-E program.

The service is using soldier feedback to inform ESB-E network design and is scheduled to start fielding ESB-E capability sets by 2021, according to the Army press release.

By John Liang
July 8, 2020 at 1:48 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee's FY-21 defense spending bill along with a recent interview with the new CEO of BAE Systems' U.S. business unit.

We start off with coverage of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee's fiscal year 2021 defense spending bill:

House appropriators to debate defense spending bill featuring several hot buttons

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee is poised to consider a fiscal year 2021 defense spending bill that funds Pentagon modernization to the tune of $244.7 billion, but also sets the stage for confrontation with the White House over the border wall and the names of military bases.

. . . including Air Force news:

House appropriations panel recommends full funding for KC-46, rejects MQ-9 production shutdown

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee’s mark of the fiscal year 2021 defense spending bill would fully fund KC-46 tanker procurement, add money to maintain the MQ-9 Reaper production line and support the Space Force’s three requested National Security Space Launch services.

. . . as well as Navy news:

House appropriators fund second Virginia-class sub, several additional aircraft

A House subcommittee wants to provide the Navy with funding to purchase two Virginia-class fast-attack submarines as well as extra money for several select aircraft programs.

Inside Defense recently sat down with the new CEO of BAE Systems' U.S. business unit:

BAE working group weighing future of work post-pandemic

BAE Systems' U.S. business now has a committee assessing the future of work at the company given the changes brought by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to BAE's new chief executive.

Last but certainly not least, some cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

GSA contract vehicle for small businesses could impact CMMC program

The General Services Administration has released a final request for proposals for small businesses that want to provide IT services to agencies that could have lasting repercussions for contractors wanting to do business with the Defense Department and civilian agencies, according to a leading contract lawyer.

By John Liang
July 7, 2020 at 2:01 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on COVID-19's impact on defense contractors, plus coverage of missile defense and cybersecurity.

We start off with recent guidance from Kim Herrington, the acting principal director of defense pricing and contracting:

Pentagon issues guidance to contract officers to assess COVID-19 costs and impacts

The Pentagon's chief pricing official has issued new guidance to acquisition program managers on how to assess the costs and impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on defense contractors, noting that additional funding has not yet been appropriated by Congress to reimburse companies for pandemic-related hardships or delays.

Document: DOD's guidance on assessing COVID-19 impacts and costs

On to missile defense, specifically the Next Generation Interceptor program as well as a follow-on effort to the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA system:

MDA allowing industry to propose key developmental milestone dates for NGI

The Missile Defense Agency is mandating a single specific milestone only for the Next Generation Interceptor program -- emplacement of a new ballistic missile defense interceptor in the ground at Ft. Greely, AK, in 2028 -- and is otherwise allowing bidders to propose developmental milestones on the way to initial fielding.

House panel wants DOD to consider new anti-ship cruise missile project with Japan

The House Armed Services Committee last week adopted a provision that would direct the Defense Department to explore co-development with Japan of a new guided missile, a follow-on to the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA ballistic missile interceptor developed by the two nations.

Finally, coverage of DOD's latest cybersecurity efforts:

House authorizers seek DOD plan for avoiding conflicts of interest in new cyber certification program

The House Armed Services Committee’s fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill includes a reporting requirement for the Pentagon to brief lawmakers on its plan for avoiding conflicts of interest in the new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program.

Air Force implementing new cybersecurity process across weapon programs

Air Force operational testers are starting to execute a new, iterative cybersecurity process that, once transitioned to the acquisition community next year, will enable program managers to evaluate vulnerabilities throughout the lifecycle of their weapon systems.

NIST releases final draft of data standards foundational to Pentagon cyber certification program

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a new draft to guide the Defense Department on how to define controlled unclassified information requirements for industry, in line with the maturity levels of the Pentagon's cyber certification program.

By Justin Doubleday
July 6, 2020 at 4:28 PM

The State Department has given the green light to five potential foreign military sales collectively worth nearly $8 billion, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced today.

In a series of announcements released today, DCSA said the State Department has approved the following potential FMS cases:

  • A deal for Argentina to buy 27 M1126 Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles and related equipment for an estimated $100 million. The prime contractor on the deal would be General Dynamics Land Systems.
  • A sale of eight MV-22 Block C Osprey aircraft and related equipment to Indonesia for an estimated $2 billion. The prime contractors would be Bell Textron and the Boeing Company.
  • A deal in which Israel would purchase 990 million gallons of petroleum-based products, including JP-8 aviation fuel, diesel fuel and unleaded gasoline, for an estimated $3 billion. “U.S. vendors will be selected using a competitive bid process through the Defense Logistics Agency Energy for supply source(s),” according to DSCA.
  • A sale of six UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and related equipment to Lithuania for an estimated $380 million. The principal contractors on the potential deal would be Sikorsky Aircraft Company and General Electric Aircraft Company.
  • A request from France to purchase three E2-D Advanced Hawkeye Aircraft and associated equipment for an estimated $2 billion. France currently operates the E2-C, according to DCSA. The principal contractor would be Northrop Grumman Systems Corp.’s Aerospace Systems.
By Justin Katz
July 6, 2020 at 2:59 PM

The Navy is seeking industry applications for live demonstrations of unmanned aerial systems at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, later this year, according to a new public notice.

The service is especially interested in UAS that do not require dedicated launch or recovery equipment.

“This technology demonstration will be used to evaluate the state-of-the-art in relevant technologies, inform future acquisition strategies, and satisfy merit-based competition requirements for potential Other Transaction (OT) awards for prototyping,” according to the notice.

“Any awarded OTs have the potential to become a part of a future program of record estimated to be worth up to $1 billion,” the notice continues.

The demonstrations, planned for November and December, will be hosted by IMPAX, an organization formed by an agreement between the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division and the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

The Navy plans to solicit information about industry UAS through this month and by Aug. 21 will invite companies to the live demonstrations.

By Thomas Duffy
July 6, 2020 at 2:30 PM

Today’s INSIDER Daily Digest includes news on a Senate Huawei ban, the Army’s MQ-1 Gray Eagle UAV, congressional action on the Space Force and the Army’s simulation program.

An amendment to the fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill filed this month would delay the statutory ban on federal contractors using products and services from Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese technology companies until August 2021:

Senate proposal to delay Huawei ban faces stiff opposition from China hawks

U.S. industry is urging lawmakers to delay a looming ban on the government contracting with companies that use certain Chinese products, but it's unclear whether a Congress keen on taking a hard line against China will consider the proposal.

Congress is pushing back after the Army's fiscal year 2021 budget request showed zeroed-out procurement funding for the Gray Eagle:

House, Senate lawmakers concerned with temporary halt, lack of funding for Army's MQ-1 Gray Eagle

House and Senate lawmakers are pushing to fund the Army's MQ-1 Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system after concerns that a temporary halt to the program will result in increased costs and requirement delays.

The Air Force produced earlier this year a draft report on Space Force acquisition, but lawmakers aren’t satisfied:

House panel's mark raises concerns about Space Force acquisition reform proposals

The House Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill, which the panel approved last night, includes several amendments related to space acquisition programs -- including one that questions the Air Force's efforts to craft an alternate Space Force acquisition system.

House lawmakers included a provision in defense authorization legislation seeking a briefing on the service’s plan "to continue to integrate virtual training and simulations into its future force design decisions”:

House panel pushes Army briefing on simulations, virtual training

The House Armed Services Committee is directing the Army to submit a briefing on virtual training and simulations through legislation passed yesterday.

By Justin Katz
July 6, 2020 at 10:31 AM

The Navy expects its new training helicopter, the TH-73A, to reach initial operational capability in 2021, according to a service statement.

The service has not previously disclosed an IOC date for the program. In the same statement, the service said Leonardo has begun training instructor pilots.

Separately, the Pentagon’s annual omnibus reprogramming request said the Navy had $24 million available for reprogramming as a result of TH-73A “contract savings.”