The Insider

By Briana Reilly
November 16, 2021 at 5:41 PM

As the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements looks toward the future, he sees a need for three improved weapons as part of the service’s force design and modernization efforts: “a better air-to-air weapon, a better ship-killing weapon and a better surface-to-air missile killing weapon.”

“Those are the things we gotta have, and we’re pursuing those as fast as we can,” Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote said today.

The weapons -- which Hinote said “could really make things different for us in a good way” -- were among a list of priorities he highlighted during a Center for a New American Security online discussion as he previewed “where we’re going” in the years ahead.

While officials await new platforms like the KC-46 tanker, the B-21 bomber and the Block 4-equipped F-35 fighter, which will have broader “fusion and processing” and cloud-populating abilities, Hinote noted the possibility of developing some of the three weapons he mentioned between now and “a 2027 timeframe,” adding that officials “think we’ve got to get [those weapons] in a very short amount of time.”

Other shorter-term efforts could include bolstering “realistic training” and strengthening military supply chains, he said.

He also repeatedly stressed the need for data sharing, as he acknowledged that fully enabling Joint All Domain Command and Control may not come by 2027. Pointing to the importance of a broad communications network to connect capabilities and platforms and share data among them via an edge cloud, in which officials use that information “as we need to, to affect our missions.”

“The first thing always is, how are we going to get the data from where it is to where it needs to be?” Hinote said. “And there seems to be some real movement in that area that I’m very excited about.”

In the long term, Hinote predicted the shifting of some missions away from fixed runways, the movement of others toward “very, very long-range and [those] kept at a very high state of readiness,” and further missions instead occurring in space.

“That doesn’t have to be destabilizing,” he said of the changes. “It might actually be more stabilizing when it comes to great power competition than say some of the vulnerabilities that both sides have today.”

By Thomas Duffy
November 16, 2021 at 12:54 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest starts off with the Defense Department once again missing its goal on a financial audit, news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity, a leading CEO has some views on the defense industry, a report on aerial refueling, and more.

The Defense Department has come up short on a full accounting of its finances:

DOD again fails to achieve clean audit

As expected, the Defense Department, for the fourth consecutive year, failed to achieve a clean financial audit of its approximately $3.2 trillion in total assets.

Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord said DOD remains committed to achieving a clean opinion in the coming years, though he would not commit to doing so in 2027, a date set by the previous administration.

News from DOD’s cybersecurity program:

CMMC accreditation body plans changes for assessor training, following Pentagon shakeup of program

The independent accreditation body behind the Pentagon’s cyber certification program is in the early stages of altering its training credential offerings to meet the needs of the Defense Department as DOD shifts toward self assessment for CMMC level one, according to CMMC-AB CEO Matthew Travis.

Northrop Grumman’s CEO has some thoughts on the defense business:

Northrop CEO wants more co-development with U.S. allies, doesn’t expect further consolidation

The chief executive of Northrop Grumman said today she would like to see increased partnership on defense acquisition programs between the United States and its foreign allies, especially when it comes to developing weapon systems.

The Hudson Institute released a report on aerial refueling:

New report calls for modernized aerial refueling ground architecture, C3 capabilities

A new report from the Hudson Institute proposes that as the Defense Department seeks to modernize its aerial refueling architecture to meet growing demands and posture for future conflicts in China and Russia, it should broaden its investment to not only include the aerial tanker force, but also ground infrastructure and command, control and communication capabilities.

The newest PAC-3 missile had a successful test:

After 2020 misfire, PAC-3 MSE demonstrates first launch by IBCS, start of fleet surveillance

The Army’s most advanced Patriot interceptor knocked down ballistic missile targets this month during a key reliability test, an event that marked the first successful launch of a PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement by the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) as well as the beginning of a field surveillance program for the growing guided-missile fleet.

By Tony Bertuca
November 15, 2021 at 6:57 PM

The Senate is taking procedural steps necessary to begin debating the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill, advancing the stalled, must-pass bill that has been signed into law for 60 consecutive years.

The Senate on Wednesday will vote on a cloture motion that, if successful, will allow for a vote on a motion to proceed to floor debate on the bill, according to a statement from the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I am pleased that we are moving ahead,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) said.

“Our nation faces a complex and evolving range of security threats, and we must provide our military men and women with the resources they need to maintain our national defense,” he continued. “Enacting the National Defense Authorization Act is critical to this endeavor, and the floor debate is a crucial part of the process.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who, along with other Republicans, has criticized Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for not moving the bill sooner, said in a statement he is pleased the legislation is now progressing.

“As the global threat map grows more dangerous, I’m glad the Majority Leader finally took a key step forward on this year’s National Defense Authorization Act -- a bipartisan bill that takes care of our troops and gives them the authorities and resources they need to defend the country,” Inhofe said. “China continues unabated to accelerate its historic military modernization and Russia pushes the envelope at every turn, so it’s time for the Senate to do its job from start to finish -- with what I hope is an open amendment process. Today, we are one step closer to going to conference and enacting this must-pass bill -- just as we have for the last 60 years in a row.”

Senators have already proposed hundreds of amendments, though the vast majority are unlikely to receive votes as Senate Armed Services Committee leaders in past years have agreed to restrictions that would speed the process.

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the $778 billion defense authorization bill in July, and it was filed for consideration on the Senate floor in September. The House passed its version of the bill Sept. 23 and is waiting on the Senate to enter conference committee negotiations.

By Courtney Albon
November 15, 2021 at 5:15 PM

The Commander of U.S. Space Command has confirmed that Russia conducted an anti-satellite test earlier today, striking one of its own satellites and creating a debris field in low-Earth orbit that will “continue to pose a threat to activities in outer space for years to come.”

Gen. James Dickinson said in a press release the direct-ascent ASAT missile test demonstrates “a deliberate disregard for the security, safety, stability and long-term sustainability of the space domain for all nations.”

The test, which struck Russia’s COSMOS 1408 satellite, has so far created 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris, and SPACECOM estimates it will generate “hundreds of thousands of pieces” of smaller debris.

The debris presents what will likely be a decades-long risk to human spaceflight operations as well as satellites operated by the U.S. and other countries. SPACECOM is working to track the trajectory of the debris and communicate information to other countries as they seek to protect their on-orbit space assets.

Dickinson said the capabilities Russia demonstrated today are an attempt to “actively deny access to and use of space” by the U.S. and its allies.

“Russia's tests of direct-ascent anti-satellite weapons clearly demonstrate that Russia continues to pursue counterspace weapon systems that undermine strategic stability and pose a threat to all nations,” he said.

Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) called the test "reckless" and "deliberately provocative" in a statement today and encouraged the Biden administration to make it clear to the Russian government "in no uncertain terms, that this is unacceptable."

"This dangerous test has put at least 1,500 trackable objects in close proximity to countless commercial and government satellites that we rely on to keep our economy moving and our country safe -- not to mention the international space station, an enduring symbol of international cooperation," Inhofe said.

By Tony Bertuca
November 15, 2021 at 3:36 PM

President Biden today announced his intent to nominate National Security Agency Inspector General Robert Storch to be Defense Department inspector general, according to a White House announcement.

Storch, the first IG at the NSA to be appointed by a president, was nominated to that post by former President Trump and assumed his current responsibilities in January 2018.

“He has worked with the team at the NSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to enhance the impact, the independence, and the transparency of the office’s work, including the creation of its independent public website, and the now-regular public release of unclassified versions of its Semiannual Reports to Congress with a number of underlying reports and summaries,” the White House said.

Prior to becoming the IG at the NSA, Storch worked at the inspector general’s office at the Justice Department, serving for several years as deputy IG.

The Pentagon has not had a Senate-confirmed IG in place since January 2016.

Sean O’Donnell, the IG for the Environmental Protection Agency, is currently the acting DOD IG, put in place in April 2020 by Trump after the demotion of Glenn Fine, who had been acting in the position since January 2016.

Fine resigned amid fierce criticism of Trump, who removed several inspectors general over a period of weeks in the spring of 2020.

Prior to losing his bid for reelection, Trump nominated Jason Abend for the DOD watchdog post. At the time, Abend was a senior policy adviser at Customs and Border Protection and was criticized by lawmakers during his confirmation process for having never served as an IG before. He was never confirmed by the Senate.

Meanwhile, Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for the DOD IG’s office, said O’Donnell’s designation as acting inspector general expires at the end of this month.

By Thomas Duffy
November 15, 2021 at 1:41 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a new Defense Science Board task force, a recent Army artillery test, and more news from the Army’s Project Convergence 21 event.

The DSB is going to be looking into new Pentagon research projects:

New task force would advise Pentagon CTO on emerging research developments

The Pentagon’s chief technology officer is establishing a new Defense Science Board Task Force to provide a “quick study” report on emerging hardware and materials and advise on research developments, according to a new Defense Department memo.

The Army tested new cannon artillery projectiles last week:

Army tests two different ERCAs at Project Convergence

YUMA PROVING GROUND, AZ -- The Army used two different prototypes of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery at Project Convergence 21, one from the set that will be used for rapid fielding and one with a government-designed autoloader, service officials said Nov. 9.

Production of the PAC-3 missile is ramping up:

Lockheed Martin doubling PAC-3 MSE production capacity in 2022 to meet demand

Lockheed Martin is readying to ramp up production of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement interceptors in 2022 with a new manufacturing line that -- when paired with beefed up supplier agreements -- will double the annual output of the new guided missiles.

And finally, the Army tested a new technology to give soldiers a better view of the battlefield:

Army tests IVAS for air assault at Project Convergence

YUMA PROVING GROUND, AZ -- An air assault portion of the Project Convergence 21 experiment showed that the Integrated Visual Augmentation System could provide soldiers with a better picture of the battlefield, if they have stable access to a high-bandwidth network, a service official told reporters Nov. 9.

By Tony Bertuca
November 15, 2021 at 11:41 AM

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), one of the longest serving senators in U.S. history, announced today he would not run for reelection in 2022, creating a potential opening at the head of one of the most powerful committees in Congress.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the committee, is also retiring in 2022, meaning a significant realignment will occur at the appropriations panel regardless of the outcome of next year’s elections.

For Democrats, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) would be next in line for the job, while Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) could end up leading the committee should Republicans win a majority next November.

In a statement released today, Leahy, currently the longest-serving sitting member of the Senate, said it is time to “pass the torch.” He was first elected in 1974, and by the time he retires will be the third longest-serving Senator in U.S. history.

“It is time to come home,” he said.

Leahy joked that his approach to appropriations over his career has been simple: “Help all states in alphabetical order -- starting with the letter V, Vermont.”

By Tony Bertuca
November 15, 2021 at 9:05 AM

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is preparing to bring the annual defense authorization bill to the floor this week for a vote, according to a letter he sent to Senate Democrats.

Schumer said “it is likely” the Senate considers the $778 billion defense authorization bill this week. Republicans have been especially critical of Schumer for not moving the bill more quickly through the Senate, though Democrats have made their displeasure clear as well, particularly House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA).

The defense bill, Schumer said, will likely contain a separate bill aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness with China and securing critical supply chains. Schumer also said Democrats will seek to have an amendment to repeal the 2002 authorization for the use of military force in Iraq.

Senators have already proposed hundreds of amendments, though the vast majority are unlikely to receive votes.

The Senate, he said, will need to pass another stopgap continuing resolution to keep the government funded past Dec. 3.

He added that the Senate will move President Biden’s massive “Build Back Better” bill to address tax, social safety net and climate issues, though negotiations continue.

Additionally, he told his colleagues to be ready to cast votes for presidential nominees, sometimes at “inconvenient times.”

“Keep your schedule flexible for the remainder of the calendar year,” he said. “I am confident we can get each of these important items done this year.”

By Tony Bertuca
November 15, 2021 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at several events and conferences this week.

Monday

The Brookings Institute hosts a discussion with the chief executive of Northrop Grumman on the future of the defense industrial base.

The Ascend space conference begins and runs through Wednesday.

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on supply chain disruptions.

Tuesday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on the "ever-shrinking fighting force."

The Center for a New American Security hosts a discussion with the Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements.

Wednesday

The Naval Submarine Symposium begins and runs through Thursday.

Thursday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion with the Missile Defense Agency’s program executive for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense.

Cyber Defenders holds its "Changing Face of Collaboration" event.

By John Liang
November 12, 2021 at 2:10 PM

Mercury Systems this week announced the completion of its acquisition of Avalex Technologies.

Mercury bought Gulf Breeze, FL-based avionics company Avalex "for all cash, subject to net working capital and net debt adjustments," according to a Nov. 8 statement.

"We're pleased that this transaction was completed on schedule; the next step is executing a seamless integration," said Mark Aslett, Mercury’s president and CEO. “The acquisition is directly aligned with our strategy and will enable us to address and enable the growing demand for digitally converged solutions in the C4I and platform/mission management markets. We welcome the Avalex team to the Mercury family.”

By John Liang
November 12, 2021 at 1:33 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army's recently concluded Project Convergence event and more.

We start off with our coverage of this year's Project Convergence:

Army tests two different ERCAs at Project Convergence

YUMA PROVING GROUND, AZ -- The Army used two different prototypes of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery at Project Convergence 21, one from the set that will be used for rapid fielding and one with a government-designed autoloader, service officials said Nov. 9.

Army tests IVAS for air assault at Project Convergence

YUMA PROVING GROUND, AZ -- An air assault portion of the Project Convergence 21 experiment showed that the Integrated Visual Augmentation System could provide soldiers with a better picture of the battlefield, if they have stable access to a high-bandwidth network, a service official told reporters Nov. 9.

Army includes seven battlefield scenarios in Project Convergence

YUMA PROVING GROUND, AZ -- The Army included seven different scenarios at the Project Convergence 21 experiment that wrapped up this week, that were designed to illuminate how new technology will alter doctrine for the future battlefield, an official said Nov. 9.

Followed by coverage of the Navy's effort to adapt the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft to the carrier onboard delivery role:

Navy anticipates CMV-22B initial operational capability in 2021

The Navy believes the CMV-22, the new tiltrotor aircraft which will deliver cargo to aircraft carriers, will reach initial operational capability before the end of December, a service spokeswoman told Inside Defense.

Last but by no means least, some air and missile defense news:

Lockheed Martin doubling PAC-3 MSE production capacity in 2022 to meet demand

Lockheed Martin is readying to ramp up production of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement interceptors in 2022 with a new manufacturing line that -- when paired with beefed up supplier agreements -- will double the annual output of the new guided missiles.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
November 11, 2021 at 5:26 PM

General Dynamics European Land Systems, Rafael and Krauss-Maffei Wegman have formed a joint venture to sell and maintain Rafael's Trophy active protection system in Europe, the companies announced Nov. 11.

The joint venture, EuroTrophy, will be based in Germany, and it could be established by the end of the year if it passes antitrust clearance, according to a press release from the companies.

“With EuroTrophy we will make a significant step into an important adjacent market for military vehicles since advanced protection technologies will play a crucial role for crew survivability in the future,” Alfonso Ramonet, president of GDELS, said in the press release. “The establishment of a joint company in Germany is also a clear sign of our commitment to our German and European customers and to international industrial cooperation.”

Rafael partnered with Leonardo DRS to provide the Trophy APS for the U.S. Army’s M1 Abrams tanks, which are built by General Dynamics’ American ground vehicle division. Rafael and Leonardo announced in January they had completed Trophy deliveries for the Abrams.

By Jaspreet Gill
November 11, 2021 at 3:14 PM

The Pentagon next month will formally launch its delayed new office responsible for accelerating the adoption of its "zero-trust" cybersecurity program, a senior Defense Department official said Wednesday.

The office, originally planned to launch in October, will “rationalize” and prioritize all network environments and set each one of them on a path to implementing zero trust over the next several years, David McKeown, deputy DOD chief information officer for cybersecurity, said during a C4ISRNET CyberCon event.

The United States continues ”to be attacked by a very persistent set of adversaries,” McKeown said. “We have sort of eliminated the low-hanging fruit, an unpatched server or an application or website that has a vulnerability. We’ve really done a very good job of taking away the easy paths and they’ve had to up their game and become more sophisticated in how they get on our networks.”

The zero-trust concept aims to prevent data breaches by assuming no trust for any user or divide on a network. McKeown said the SolarWinds supply chain cyberattack accelerated DOD’s push for zero-trust.

“When we look at the SolarWinds attack, for instance, where we all trusted a piece of software that was developed by a vendor, we all brought it into our network, and then we thought it was a good piece of software, but it was compromised and it started beaconing out and we have to be able to detect something like that,” McKeown said. “So not only the external compromises, but the internal malicious behavior and potential supply chain risks need to be looked at. And we feel like zero trust is the only solution out there right now that gives us a fighting chance on detecting these folks that may have a foothold on our network or this anomalous software that we’ve allowed in.”

The new office will be under the direction of the DOD chief information officer, McKeown added.

By John Liang
November 11, 2021 at 2:14 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army's Project Convergence, military training aircraft and more.

We start off with coverage of the Army's Project Convergence event that took place this week:

Army includes seven battlefield scenarios in Project Convergence

YUMA PROVING GROUND, AZ -- The Army included seven different scenarios at the Project Convergence 21 experiment that wrapped up this week, that were designed to illuminate how new technology will alter doctrine for the future battlefield, an official said Nov. 9.

News on military training aircraft:

Future tactical surrogate aircraft may replace the T-45 in Navy training

The Navy could replace the T-45 Goshawk aircraft with an advanced tactical trainer, according to a recent request for information.

Air Force, Navy to consider possibility of joint tactical trainer program

The Air Force and the Navy "will evaluate the possibility" of a joint program to field an advanced tactical trainer as both services review industry responses to recent requests for information.

Lawyers surveyed by our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity are questioning whether the Pentagon’s decision to update the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is an effective approach:

Attorneys: New CMMC approach shows evolution to strengthen defense contractor cyber posture, recognizing potential barriers

The evolution of the Defense Department's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program reflects a response to concerns from the defense industrial base, according to attorneys, who said recent major changes show the Pentagon is taking into account pre-existing mechanisms for contractor compliance with cyber standards and is considering how the program can be implemented effectively.

More cyber news from the Marine Corps:

Russell: Marines need to improve training to prepare for cyber fight

The Marine Corps needs to improve its personnel system to succeed in the cyber domain and new areas of warfighting, according to service documents and officials.

Last but certainly not least, a quick look at a new Government Accountability Office report on missile defense:

GAO: DOD did not break law directing 2020 missile defense policy overhaul

The Defense Department did not violate the law in 2020 when it overhauled missile defense policies and governance rules, federal investigators ruled in a new report requested by Congress.

Document: GAO report on missile defense

By Courtney Albon
November 11, 2021 at 11:01 AM

The Air Force Research Laboratory on Wednesday awarded Utah State University's Space Dynamics Laboratory a contract worth up to $1 billion to provide research and development support for a range of space and nuclear advanced prototype efforts.

The indefinite delivery, indefinite-quantity Space & Nuclear Advanced Prototypes, Experiments & Technology (SNAPET) contract funds work to advance sensor and system development, modeling and simulation, experimentation, data analysis and sensor and system validation.

The sole-source arrangement runs through November 2026, and the contract announcement notes “there is congressional interest pertaining to this acquisition.” Work will be conducted in North Logan, UT and Albuquerque, NM, which is home to AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate.