The Insider

By John Liang
September 17, 2021 at 3:17 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Marine Corps organic fires munitions, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Army's Common Tactical Truck program and more.

The Marine Corps is looking to industry to provide expertise on how to conduct swarming and Automatic Target Recognition and Tracking and integrate these capabilities into loitering munitions:

Marine Corps searching for more autonomy out of its organic fires capability

The Marine Corps is looking to give more autonomy to its organic fires munitions, a technical approach that may allow the service to "swarm" a target.

The House Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill included a number of provisions aimed at reducing the cost to operate and maintain the F-35:

F-35 JPO, DOD creating options for more organic sustainment

As House lawmakers push the Defense Department to drive down the F-35's long-term sustainment costs, the head of the joint program office said this week the Defense Department is taking steps to secure more of the technical data rights that could create future options to shift toward a more government-managed, competitive approach to sustaining the Joint Strike Fighter enterprise.

Keep an eye out for a draft version of an abbreviated specifications document that will detail the capabilities of the Army's Common Tactical Truck program:

Army to release desired capabilities for Common Tactical Truck in FY-22

The Army plans to release more information in the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 about the desired capabilities for the Common Tactical Truck, the potential replacement for its cargo-hauling ground vehicles, according to a Sept. 16 service notice.

Our colleagues from Inside Cybersecurity have the latest on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

Pentagon internal review delays plans to release CMMC final rule in September

The Defense Department is not planning to release the final rule cementing the implementation of its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program in September, due to an ongoing internal review expected to conclude toward the end of 2021.

A new defense pact between the U.S., U.K. and Australia provides the framework for Australia to build between eight and 10 nuclear-powered attack submarines:

New U.S. submarine pact with Australia, U.K. triggers industrial base questions

The United States and the U.K. are entering into a new tripartite alliance with Australia in the Indo-Pacific region that will allow the Aussies access to sensitive U.S. technology to purchase nuclear-powered submarines for the first time.

The Congressional Budget Office released a report this week on the Navy's shipbuilding plans:

CBO: Navy must spend billions more each year to grow fleet under FY-22 shipbuilding plan

The Congressional Budget Office is estimating the Navy will have to spend billions more each year on shipbuilding to grow the fleet in line with the service's most recent shipbuilding plan that was released in June.

Document: CBO analysis of the Navy's FY-22 shipbuilding plan

The Marine Corps thinks it has a new use for the MQ-9 Reaper:

Marine Corps shifts Reaper's purpose to focus on 'great power competition'

The Marine Corps is shifting the purpose of the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial system to move away from counterinsurgency.

Lawmakers want the JASON panel to assess the multibillion-dollar Ballistic Missile Defense System:

Proposed legislation would charter new JASON assessment of U.S. missile defense limitations

New legislation would establish an independent assessment of the $202 billion Ballistic Missile Defense System, chartering the JASON private scientific advisory panel to identify limitations of the collection of radars, interceptors and battle management, command and control tools that are designed to protect the nation against a long-range, North Korean nuclear strike

By Courtney Albon
September 17, 2021 at 2:52 PM

Lockheed Martin today revealed it will bid the LMXT tanker for the Air Force’s forthcoming KC-Y bridge tanker competition.

The aircraft builds on the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport refueler -- the company’s bid for the KC-X competition that Boeing’s KC-46 ultimately won. The A330 is currently operating in 13 countries and is certified to refuel a slew of Defense Department aircraft, including the F-35, F-22, F-16 and A-10.

The LMXT features improved range and fuel offload capability, an open systems architecture and a multidomain operations node meant to increase situational awareness and allow the tanker to connect to the “larger battlespace,” Lockheed said in a press release.

"Lockheed Martin has a long and successful track record of producing aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, and we understand the critical role tankers play in ensuring America's total mission success," Greg Ulmer, Lockheed’s executive vice president of aeronautics, said in the release. "The LMXT combines proven performance and operator-specific capabilities to meet the Air Force's refueling requirements in support of America's National Defense Strategy."

The company is expected to release more details on the aircraft next week during the Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space and Cyber conference.

The Air Force issued a request for information in July seeking industry input on non-developmental refueling capabilities that could supplement the current tanker fleet by the end of this decade. The bridge effort is meant to fill a projected gap between the end of KC-46 production and the development of a follow-on Advanced Aerial Refueler.

The service has said it expects to buy 140 to 160 non-developmental tankers.

Air Mobility Command is still crafting requirements for the bridge effort and expects to finalize them later this year. The service plans to release a request for proposals in 2022.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
September 17, 2021 at 2:08 PM

The Army released a request for information this week to assess the digital engineering capabilities and preferences of potential contractors for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, the planned Bradley replacement.

Phases three and four of the OMFV acquisition, the digital design and prototyping phases, will begin in fiscal year 2023, and the Army wants prime contractors and subcontractors to use digital engineering to incorporate technological advances into the design.

“To maintain technological and readiness levels to outpace threats, it is critical to rapidly innovate, design, test and field and have the ability to rapidly insert new technology and capability,” the Sept. 16 request for information states. “OMFV is considering multiple options for the use of collaborative digital engineering (DE) environments for the execution of Phases 3 and 4 of the OMFV Program leading to full digital thread/digital twin capability in production including logistic products.”

The request for information asks about industry’s current capabilities and processes for digital engineering, both within individual companies and for collaboration between contractors. Other questions ask about the integration of digital design tools and logistics operations.

Responses to the request for information are due Sept. 30.

By Tony Bertuca
September 17, 2021 at 10:41 AM

President Biden intends to nominate Nickolas Guertin to be Pentagon director of operational test and evaluation, and John Sherman to be the Defense Department's chief information officer.

Geurtin most recently “performed applied research for government and academia in software-reliant and cyber-physical systems for the past four years at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute,” according to a White House announcement.

“Over his career, he has been in leadership of organizational transformation, improving competition, application of modular open system approaches, as well as prototyping and experimentation. He has also researched and published extensively on system design, testing and acquisition,” the White House said.

Meanwhile, Sherman most recently served as the acting DOD chief information officer and CIO for the intelligence community. Prior to that, he served as deputy director of the CIA’s Open Source Enterprise. He has also served as a deputy national intelligence officer on the National Intelligence Council.

By Jaspreet Gill
September 16, 2021 at 4:48 PM

The Defense Innovation Unit wants industry to submit proposals for innovative commercial technologies that accelerate attainment of defense capabilities, according to a notice posted today.

DIU is seeking “solution briefs” through its Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) solicitation that “will result in awards for prototype projects, which include not only commercially available technologies fueled by commercial or strategic investment, but also concept demonstrations, pilots, and agile development activities that can incrementally improve commercial technologies, existing government-owned capabilities, or concepts for defense application,” according to the notice.

The proposals should be directly related to DIU’s areas of interest: artificial intelligence, cyber, autonomy, space, human systems as well as advanced energy and materials, according to its website.

The CSO is open for five years and includes three phases: solution brief, pitch and full written proposal.

Solution briefs should identify the areas of interest and provide a summary of technologies.

“Identify whether the effort includes the pilot or demonstration of existing commercial technology (identified as commercially ready and viable technology), or the development of technology for potential defense application,” according to the notice. “If development or adaptation is proposed, identify a suggested path to mature the technology. Identify aspects which may be considered proprietary.”

By John Liang
September 16, 2021 at 2:13 PM

Boeing said today it has named Ziad Ojakli as the company's executive vice president of government operations.

In this role, effective Oct. 1, Ojakli will lead Boeing's public policy efforts, serve as the company's chief lobbyist and oversee Boeing Global Engagement, the company's global philanthropic organization.

Ojakli is succeeding Marc Allen, Boeing's chief strategy officer, who has served as interim executive vice president of government operations since June, according to a company statement.

Before joining Boeing, Ojakli was the head lobbyist for Softbank from 2018-2020. He also spent 14 years at Ford Motor Co. as group vice president, "where he led a global team that amplified the company's core business objectives and managed interactions with governments in 110 markets around the world," according to the Boeing statement.

Ojakli also served in the George W. Bush administration and was a staffer for Sens. Paul Coverdell (R-GA) and Dan Coats (R-IN).

By John Liang
September 16, 2021 at 1:44 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, unfunded priorities lists and more.

We start off with news on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program:

Fick: F-35 propulsion modernization plan expected in six to 12 months

The F-35 joint program office is working closely with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the services to develop options for future propulsion system modernization efforts and expects to mature an "end-state solution" within the next six to 12 months.

F-35 interim program review pushed to October, JPO still refining Joint Simulation Environment schedule

The head of the F-35 joint program office said today that a Defense Acquisition Board meeting slated for August to review the schedule to complete the Joint Simulation Environment and initial operational test and evaluation has been moved to October due to personnel issues within the Pentagon's acquisition and sustainment office as well as ongoing refinement of the program's schedule.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, each have offered competing amendments to the defense policy bill related to unfunded priorities:

House Dems target unfunded priorities lists

Two House Democrats have offered amendments to the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill related to the U.S. military's submission of unfunded priorities lists to Congress, with one provision aiming to eliminate them and the other proposing to restrict them.

The House Armed Services Committee is calling for a report with a sweeping scope on efforts by China to expand its presence and influence in the Western Hemisphere:

House wants comprehensive report from DOD on China's efforts to expand influence in Latin America

House lawmakers want a comprehensive assessment from the Pentagon of China's military, economic and diplomatic activities in Latin America and the Caribbean after the head of U.S. Southern Command earlier this year publicly warned of Beijing's stepped-up efforts to gain influence across the region.

Speaking at a George Mason University Center for Government Contracting event, Jesse Salazar, deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy, said he's "evaluating all possible options" to improve Defense Production Act Title III:

Salazar: Improving DPA Title III will strengthen industrial collaboration

The Pentagon's industrial policy chief said today he is looking at accelerating and improving the effectiveness of Defense Production Act Title III to strengthen industrial collaboration.

By Sara Friedman
September 16, 2021 at 10:56 AM

Leaders from the House Small Business oversight subcommittee are working to get an amendment into the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill that would direct the Pentagon to assess the small business impacts of the Defense Department's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program.

The amendment filed by subcommittee Chairman Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Ranking Member Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) addresses the costs small businesses will face to reach compliance with the CMMC program. DOD is rolling out the CMMC program over a five-year period and will require CMMC language in contract solicitations starting Oct. 1, 2026.

The lawmakers are asking for a review in three areas:

  • The estimated costs of complying with each level of the framework.
  • Any decrease in the number of small business concerns that are part of the defense industrial base resulting from the implementation and use of the framework.
  • An explanation of how the Department of Defense will mitigate the negative effects to small business concerns that are part of the defense industrial base resulting from the implementation and use of the framework.

The subcommittee held a hearing with representatives from the small business community on the impacts of the CMMC program in July.

At the time of the hearing, Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell told Inside Cybersecurity DOD will "look for avenues in which to reduce the costs to small businesses while keeping the integrity of the cybersecurity requirements" as part of its internal review of the CMMC program.

By Aidan Quigley
September 16, 2021 at 10:23 AM

Austal USA has selected Rusty Murdaugh, the company's chief financial officer and acting president since February, to lead the company permanently.

Austal USA announced Wednesday that its board of directors had selected Murdaugh as president effective Sept. 9.

The company is in the midst of a $110 million shipyard construction project that includes building a steel production line. Austal is positioning itself to compete for the Marine Corps' Light Amphibious Warship and Navy's follow-on shipyard contract for the FFG(X) frigate program.

Murdaugh replaced Craig Perciavalle, who resigned in February following an internal investigation into the company's Littoral Combat Ship program.

The investigation looked at three issues also being investigated by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission: "the write back of work in progress (WIP) attributable to the LCS program in July 2016, the procurement of certain ship components for use in connection with U.S. government contracts and charging and allocation of labor hours," the company said in a press release.

Austal stated it believes the July 2016 WIP appropriately adjusted sales and profit after the estimated cost to complete the remaining LCS vessels.

However, the company acknowledged some LCS valves did not meet the required specifications at the time of the procurement, and identified a misallocation of labor hours between vessels in the early stages of the program. The company asserted the total labor hours for the program were accurate.

Perciavalle had worked as Austal USA president since December 2012.

By John Liang
September 15, 2021 at 1:25 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on cybersecurity, the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System and more.

We start off with some cybersecurity news:

Inglis: Increased collaboration 'essential' in cybersecurity space

Increased collaboration between the public and private sector will be essential to identifying and mitigating threats in the cybersecurity space, the U.S.'s first national cyber director said yesterday.

The cost estimate for the first operational capability tied to the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System may not be ready until the first quarter of fiscal year 2022:

Air Force still finalizing cost estimate for first ABMS capability release

The cost estimate for the first operational capability tied to the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System, which officials previously said would be completed by the end of June, is not yet finalized -- a delay that comes as the service continues to work on overhauling its approach to the program.

The Pentagon's No. 2 uniformed officer spoke earlier this week about China's nuclear ambitions:

Hyten says China's nuclear buildup more worrisome than Taiwan scenario

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten said he has long been aware of China's rapid nuclear modernization, but only because he had access to classified information. Now, he said, non-governmental, open-source reports about China's construction of hundreds of new nuclear silos has given the public access to the threat he's long feared.

Lockheed Martin has nabbed a multibillion-dollar Joint Strike Fighter sustainment contract:

DOD awards Lockheed three-year F-35 sustainment deal worth up to $6.6B

The Defense Department today awarded Lockheed Martin an F-35 sustainment deal worth up to $6.6 billion across three years that could lead to a future performance-based logistics contract.

The Missile Defense Agency conducted a flight test of a Ground-based Midcourse Defense booster over the weekend:

MDA flight tests new 'selectable' booster that aims to improve homeland defense against North Korean ICBMs

The Missile Defense Agency executed a non-intercept flight test of a new Ground-based Midcourse Defense capability that aims to improve homeland defense against North Korean threats by optimizing engagement times of long-range interceptors by giving operators a new option to tailor the trajectory of guided-missile interceptors.

By Tony Bertuca
September 15, 2021 at 12:32 PM

House lawmakers have submitted more than 800 amendments to the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill scheduled to be considered on the floor next week.

The House Rules Committee will decide which amendments will be considered on the floor and which will be stripped.

Around 800 amendments were also submitted for the defense bill last year.

Staffers and analysts say the high number of proposed amendments is unsurprising as the defense bill has become one of the last must-pass legislative vehicles in a divided Congress.

Watch Inside Defense for in-depth coverage.

By Aidan Quigley
September 15, 2021 at 10:44 AM

(Editor's Note: This has been updated to reflect additional information from an AARGM official.)

The Navy has issued a $41.2 million contract to Northrop Grumman for Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range low-rate initial production Lot One.

The Navy awarded the contract to Northrop Grumman subsidiary Alliant Techsystems Operations on Tuesday. The contract represents the start of low-rate initial production for the AARGM-ER program.

The program, an upgrade to the AGM-88E AARGM, reached milestone C in late August. The Navy plans to integrate it on F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft, and the missile is compatible with the F-35.

The contract “provides for the production and delivery of 16 AGM-88G AARGM-ER All Up Rounds, six AGM-88G AARGM-ER Captive Air Training Missiles, four Common Munitions BIT Reprogramming Equipment Plus interface devices, initial spares, and required supplies and support,” according to the Navy’s announcement.

Work on the contract is expected to be complete in March 2024, and will primarily be performed in Northridge, CA.

The program completed its first live-fire event in July, launching from an F/A-18. The Navy is planning for initial operational capability in 2023, and the program is on track for IOC in September 2023, Keli Olea, AARGM team lead, told Inside Defense in a statement Wednesday.

The program plans to conduct developmental test events over the next year and half, followed by integrated and operational test events, Olea said.

The Government Accountability Office's June annual acquisition report stated the program's critical technology, a flame-retardant insulation for the rocket motor, was not fully mature when the program began development in March 2019.

The program told GAO it expected to demonstrate the technology is fully mature during flight testing in early 2021.

Olea said the flame-retardant insulation for the rocket motor is fully mature.

GAO reported design drawings were 98% complete as of July 2020. Olea said the program has now completed its design drawings.

By Aidan Quigley
September 14, 2021 at 5:09 PM

The Office of Naval Intelligence is focused on both the growing threat posed by China and pursuing technological advancements, Rear Adm. Curt Copley, the commander of ONI, said Monday.

Copley, speaking at the Intelligence and National Security Summit co-hosted by the

Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, said the service’s intelligence apparatus is pivoting from the Middle East and terrorism to Russia and China.

“We never took our eye off the adversaries we saw on the horizon, we never took our eyes off the Russians, and certainly as we saw Russia and China ascending, we have continued to track them,” he said. “And now, as strategic competition continues, we are really spending a lot of time re-aligning our talent and resources against those adversaries.”

Copley reiterated the Defense Department’s assessment that China is the country’s pacing threat, but noted the DOD is not taking Russia for granted.

Using technology to remain competitive is a top priority, Copley said.

“I’m very conscious that I am resource-constrained,” he said. “One of the things that gets us out of the resource constraint that [industry] can help us with is technology, when it comes to automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

Copley said automating workflows can free up analysts to re-orient to higher-priority needs.

By John Liang
September 14, 2021 at 2:00 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, China's nuclear ambitions and more.

Lockheed Martin has nabbed a multibillion-dollar Joint Strike Fighter sustainment contract:

DOD awards Lockheed three-year F-35 sustainment deal worth up to $6.6B

The Defense Department today awarded Lockheed Martin an F-35 sustainment deal worth up to $6.6 billion across three years that could lead to a future performance-based logistics contract.

The Pentagon's No. 2 uniformed officer spoke this week about China's nuclear ambitions:

Hyten says China's nuclear buildup more worrisome than Taiwan scenario

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten said he has long been aware of China's rapid nuclear modernization, but only because he had access to classified information. Now, he said, non-governmental, open-source reports about China's construction of hundreds of new nuclear silos has given the public access to the threat he's long feared.

The Missile Defense Agency conducted a flight test of a Ground-based Midcourse Defense booster over the weekend:

MDA flight tests new 'selectable' booster that aims to improve homeland defense against North Korean ICBMs

The Missile Defense Agency executed a non-intercept flight test of a new Ground-based Midcourse Defense capability that aims to improve homeland defense against North Korean threats by optimizing engagement times of long-range interceptors by giving operators a new option to tailor the trajectory of guided-missile interceptors.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report this week on the Pentagon's handling of congressional continuing resolutions:

GAO finds Pentagon can manage 'routine' continuing resolutions without major impact

The Government Accountability Office has found that the Pentagon can mostly manage its way through Congress' inefficient continuing resolutions without significant impacts to major defense acquisition programs.

Document: GAO report on CR

The Air Force is expected to complete a schedule risk assessment of the Air Force One replacement program in late 2021:

New VC-25B schedule baseline expected in late 2021, Air Force says

Air Force officials anticipate they will set a new schedule baseline for the Air Force One replacement program in "late 2021," though a service spokeswoman declined to share details on what the new timeline could look like, citing "ongoing discussions."

By Audrey Decker
September 14, 2021 at 11:23 AM

The Navy's MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aircraft conducted an aerial refueling test with the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter on Monday, the service announced today.

This is the third refueling test for the Boeing-owned MQ-25 aircraft. This summer, the Stingray completed air-to-air refueling tests with the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The test took place at MidAmerican Airport in Mascoutah, IL, according to a press release.

"Conducting refueling test missions with various aircraft allows the program to analyze data and determine if any adjustments to guidance and control are required," the press release states.

In the future, the MQ-25 will refuel every capable carrier-based aircraft, according to the Navy.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday recently said the Stingray is the Navy's first charge into the carrier airwing of the future.

After this flight, the MQ-25 will enter a modification period "to integrate the deck handling system in preparation for a shipboard demonstration this winter," the press release states.