The Insider

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.

By John Liang
November 10, 2021 at 1:46 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, the Air Force's KC-46 refueling tanker, the Army's Project Convergence and more.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity covered a recent Pentagon "Town Hall" event on the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

Pentagon officials outline changes to cyber certification program, rulemaking processes

Cyber leaders at the Defense Department provided an overview of key changes to their Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, CMMC 2.0, at a "Town Hall" on Tuesday with details on upcoming rulemaking processes and how the effort will allow for more public engagement.

Two KC-46 airborne refueling tankers are now officially based in the northeastern United States:

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst receives first two KC-46 tankers

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NJ -- The Air Force’s only active-duty air refueling base in the Northeast corridor received its first two KC-46 tankers on Tuesday.

Senior Army officials attended the service's Project Convergence event this week:

Army to consider cutting force structure to pay for modernization

YUMA PROVING GROUND, AZ -- The Army could consider reductions to its force structure in the coming years to free up needed dollars, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said Nov. 9.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently announced that one X-61A Gremlin drone had been successfully recovered by a C-130 in the air:

Dynetics' Gremlins lead: 'One more deployment' all that's needed to demo multidrone recovery

Following the long-awaited demonstration of the airborne retrieval system for a single X-61A Gremlin drone, Dynetics' team lead for the program anticipates officials will need just "one more deployment" to showcase multidrone recovery and move onto the effort's fourth phase.

The Navy has identified several areas where the service is searching for unmanned undersea technology solutions:

UTIC hosts undersea technology prototyping industry day

Navy leaders and defense companies discussed opportunities for undersea technology prototyping at an industry day last week.

By Briana Reilly
November 10, 2021 at 1:14 PM

The Army-led Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office is planning to hold a two-part demonstration next spring centered on a directed-energy, ground-based aerial denial system and another defensive capability to detect, track, identify and defeat sUAS threats from a given location.

Details for the upcoming third demonstration, slated for April 2022 at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, were shared with industry in two separate notices posted Tuesday, as well as an Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office press release.

For the first focus area, the high-power microwave aerial denial system, officials are seeking solutions to leverage “focused Electromagnetic Pulses from a fixed ground location at various ranges with energy sufficient to destroy or defeat Unmanned Aerial Systems over the air,” per the notice. The listing stresses such attacks should not produce jamming, but rather physical damage to targeted areas that will terminate the UAS’ operations.

Meanwhile, the second notice calls for providing of "C-sUAS as a Service," a contractor-owned, government-operated effort containing a full C-sUAS kill chain that’ll be deployed in defense of a one-mile-wide and two-mile-long fixed location, with the JCO evaluating the CaaS’ “ability to protect key locations over three days, per vendor.”

That listing also directs respondents to submit a multiyear business model, which the JCO will evaluate “to understand the CaaS total cost of ownership” for potential Defense Department customers. Contracts or prototype projects may be awarded tied to the solicitation, the notice states.

JCO and the Army’s RCCTO will host an online industry day Nov. 16 to brief those interested on the requirements for the next demonstrations, according to the press release. Responses for both solicitations are due Nov. 29.

The most recent demonstration, held Aug. 30 to Sept. 17, showcased ground-launched aerial denial and handheld and dismounted solutions, while the first, from April 2021, featured low collateral effects interceptor capabilities. Officials from the JCO previously told reporters an initial LCEI capability would be selected for procurement and fielding in fiscal year 2022.

By Jaspreet Gill
November 10, 2021 at 12:43 PM

The National Guard Bureau just hired its first chief data officer to reform and manage its data, according to a senior official.

Speaking today at a Defense Writers Group, Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters the CDO will, in part, help the Guard utilize data it may not be taking the best advantage of.

“We recently hired someone to help us manage all of the data that we have and also . . . find out those things that we’re doing [if] there’s a better way to do it, and also help identify those things that we just don’t need to do anymore because they’re no longer relevant,” he said.

The Guard tries to use data to “help be predictive whenever possible,” Hokanson added, citing the California and Colorado wildfires as an example.

The Guard was able to gather data showing fire hotspots to the Forest Service and local fire departments, he said, which helped them “better manage data.”

Hokanson declined to name the CDO.

By Tony Bertuca
November 10, 2021 at 11:36 AM

Senators have filed proposed amendments to the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill, which could reach the floor for a final vote as early as next week.

Senate Republicans in recent weeks have criticized Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for not bringing the bill to the floor sooner. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the $778 billion 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.

Committee leaders in past years have limited the number of amendments allowed to receive votes, meaning very few receive are brought forth for consideration unless they are included in broader voting packages known as “en blocs.”

Watch Inside Defense for further coverage.

By Aidan Quigley
November 10, 2021 at 11:02 AM

Austal USA will operate a waterfront ship repair facility in the Port of San Diego, the company announced Wednesday.

Austal is closing an agreement with Marine Group Boat Works to assume its lease on a 15-acre site after receiving approval from the San Diego Port of Commissioners. Austal and Marine Group Boat Works are now in a 45-day exclusive period to close the deal.

The site is immediately adjacent to U.S. Naval Base San Diego. Austal will build a new dry dock designed to repair littoral combat ships, small surface combatants and other small and medium-size ships, the company said in a press release.

The facility will be able to provide technical and material support, topside work, and dry-docking availabilities.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
November 10, 2021 at 8:33 AM

YUMA PROVING GROUND, AZ -- The Precision Strike Missile flew 499 kilometers in a maximum-distance test last month before the Army stopped receiving telemetry data, but the missile flew farther, Gen. John Murray, leader of Army Futures Command, said Nov. 9.

“We lost telemetry at 499.2,” Murray said at a press conference at the Project Convergence 21 experiment.

The service is still determining how far PrSM flew after the telemetry data stopped, Col. Cobb Leslie, chief of staff for the Long-Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team, told reporters earlier in the day.

“They’re still running through the data,” Leslie said. “They’re running through some analysis to figure out how far.”

For the Oct. 13 maximum distance test, the Army launched a PrSM into the Pacific Ocean. Although the stated range of the missile has been 499 km, there were expectations it would go significantly farther.

After the test, Lockheed Martin, which builds PrSM, said that the missile broke its previous 400 km record, but declined to say exactly how far it flew.

The Army scheduled another PrSM test for Nov. 9, when senior leaders visited Yuma Proving Ground for Project Convergence. This would be the first time that two PrSM missiles were fired out of the same pod.

The first test fire, around 9 a.m. Mountain Time, was successful, Leslie said. The second was scheduled for 1 p.m., after he spoke with reporters.

During the press conference later in the day, Murray said he was not aware of the results of the second test fire. As of publication, Inside Defense was waiting for comment from the Army on the result of the second test.

By Audrey Decker
November 9, 2021 at 3:00 PM

Navy and Marine Corps warfighters may soon be resupplied by unmanned platforms, Naval Air Systems Command announced today.

At the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in St. Inigoes, MD, the service demonstrated resupply capabilities of the Tactical Resupply Unmanned Aircraft System and Blue Water logistics UAS.

TRUAS is a Marine-focused system used for tactical resupply onshore, while BWUAS is a Navy-focused system that has a longer range than TRUAS, but a smaller cargo capacity, according to NAVAIR.

The first mission demonstrated at the Oct. 27 event was an air drop using TRUAS and different payloads, NAVAIR stated.

The second part of the mission was BWUAS demonstrating a vertical takeoff and landing for an air drop, according to NAVAIR.

“Both the TRUAS and BWUAS teams are working closely with their Marine Corps and Military Sealift Command counterparts to rapidly bring these systems to the warfighter through innovative, non-traditional acquisition strategies. Both teams directly engaged with fleet users to understand what capability they need, and how they will use the capability in operation,” NAVAIR stated.

The Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS program office used other transaction authorities to quickly execute TRUAS and the system will be “delivered to Marines as part of an extended user assessment in summer 2022,” according to the press release.

“OTAs give the program the ability to make ongoing changes to the prototype based on the users’ input, significantly reducing development time compared to a traditional acquisition program,” according to the press release.

The Navy is also using OTAs to discuss the possibility of autonomous resupply at sea using BWUAS technology, NAVAIR said.

“Future system development will include improvements to the artificial intelligence and machine-learning technology required for autonomous ship-based recovery, folding wings for improved wind and deck handling, and in-flight battery charging,” NAVAIR said.

By John Liang
November 9, 2021 at 2:11 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on DARPA's X-61A Gremlin unmanned aerial system, the Navy's search for undersea technology prototypes and more.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently announced that one X-61A Gremlin drone had been successfully recovered by a C-130 in the air:

Dynetics' Gremlins lead: 'One more deployment' all that's needed to demo multidrone recovery

Following the long-awaited demonstration of the airborne retrieval system for a single X-61A Gremlin drone, Dynetics' team lead for the program anticipates officials will need just "one more deployment" to showcase multidrone recovery and move onto the effort's fourth phase.

The Navy has identified several areas where the service is searching for unmanned undersea technology solutions:

UTIC hosts undersea technology prototyping industry day

Navy leaders and defense companies discussed opportunities for undersea technology prototyping at an industry day last week.

Modeled off Afwerx’s “Prime” initiative, Orbital Prime aims to both invest in the current on-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing market and transition technology for future use by the Space Force:

Spacewerx announces 'Orbital Prime' effort, solicitation expected next week

The Space Force is launching a new effort aimed at taking advantage of commercial on-orbit servicing technology to develop a use case and demonstrate the viability of a future space-based mobility and logistics capability.

The Pentagon's No. 2 civilian spoke this week about her department's planned move to zero-emissions vehicles:

Hicks touts DOD's plans to transition to electric vehicles

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said today the U.S. military is crafting a plan to transition to zero-emissions vehicles, both non-tactical and tactical, in the coming years.

A maneuvering missile that deploys maneuvering submunitions would force an adversary to deal with exponentially more complicated threat trajectories:

Congress doubles down on development of new, non-ballistic PrSM capabilities

Lawmakers want the Army to begin work immediately on maneuvering submunitions for long-range precision fires while also backing a service proposal for a new project to develop a maneuvering variant of a surface-to-surface missile -- effectively doubling down on efforts to add non-ballistic capabilities to the register of planned Precision Strike Missile improvements.

By Courtney Albon
November 9, 2021 at 9:00 AM

Capella Space today announced it will demonstrate optical inter-satellite link compatibility with the Space Development Agency's national defense space architecture.

The company, which provides commercial synthetic aperture radar capability, said in a press release it will install optical communications terminals on its SAR satellites late next year that will allow it to demonstrate the use of laser communications technology to transmit and receive data to low Earth orbit satellites and share that data with government systems.

"The integration of OCTs onto Capella's SAR constellation will drastically reduce latency from image collect to download and ensure spaceborne data is quickly available to inform critical decision-making for terrestrial missions," the company said.

The company will be the first to demonstrate SAR compatibility with SDA's architecture.

By Jaspreet Gill
November 8, 2021 at 4:43 PM

The Defense Department will soon release a document outlining its technology priorities, the Pentagon's chief technology officer announced today.

"Finally, we'll actually have a document to kind of shape where we will like to head," Heidi Shyu, under secretary of defense for research and engineering, said at a virtual Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute event. "We're going to get approval from [Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks] this week and then we'll be able to release that."

Shyu said she has been sharing her technology priority areas with the chief technology officers at DOD’s "top seven” prime contractors, asking how they can "solve these tough technical challenges."

Shyu added she's also engaged with smaller companies, sharing critical capability gaps she'd like industry to work on.

Last month, Shyu shared some of her priority areas with reporters, including artificial intelligence and software security.

"Software has to be affordable, modular [and] secure," Shyu told reporters. "So, we need to architect our software and be sure that we’re working on the security aspects. If you buy a piece of equipment, you really want it to be secure. You have to be able to have trust."

Shyu is also creating two new positions to improve DOD's software and technology sustainment: director of processing and software and director of sustainment technologies.

Shyu said today she is still awaiting approval from Hicks to formally establish the new positions.

By John Liang
November 8, 2021 at 2:04 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army's Precision Strike Missile efforts, the Navy's Future Vertical Lift program and more.

A maneuvering missile that deploys maneuvering submunitions would force an adversary to deal with exponentially more complicated threat trajectories:

Congress doubles down on development of new, non-ballistic PrSM capabilities

Lawmakers want the Army to begin work immediately on maneuvering submunitions for long-range precision fires while also backing a service proposal for a new project to develop a maneuvering variant of a surface-to-surface missile -- effectively doubling down on efforts to add non-ballistic capabilities to the register of planned Precision Strike Missile improvements.

The Navy's Future Vertical Lift program will start an analysis of alternatives as soon as a materiel development decision is completed:

Navy planning to launch Future Vertical Lift analysis of alternatives this month

The Navy expects the materiel development decision for the Future Vertical Lift program to be made this month, which will be followed by the launch of an analysis of alternatives, a program spokeswoman told Inside Defense.

Eric DeMarco, Kratos' president and CEO, spoke about the company's Valkyrie drone during a recent earnings call:

Kratos makes plans for second Valkyrie production lot

As Kratos continues working to complete its 12 Valkyrie drones tied to its first production lot and make deliveries to the Air Force, company officials are formulating plans for a second batch of the aircraft next year.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently managed to recover a Gremlin drone via a C-130 aircraft:

Gremlins program successfully demonstrates mid-flight retrieval of a single drone

One X-61A Gremlins drone was recovered by a C-130 as part of a long-awaited successful demonstration of the program’s airborne retrieval system, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced late last week.

At least one defense contractor has managed to get most of its employees vaccinated against the coronavirus:

AZ Army supplier implemented vaccine mandate with minor pushback

St. Clair Technologies, a tier two Army supplier in Chandler, AZ, has been able to vaccinate nearly all its employees against the coronavirus this year without significant employee pushback, although a few employees chose to leave the company over the issue, according to a company official.

By John Liang
November 8, 2021 at 12:32 PM

Huntington Ingalls Industries announced today that Grant Hagen has been named president of the Cyber and Electronic Warfare business group within the company's Technical Solutions division.

Hagen succeeds Terri Walker-Spoonhour, chief operating officer, who was serving as acting president of the business group, according to an HII statement.

Hagen most recently served as senior vice president of business operations within the Technical Solutions division.

"He led the strategic integration of several business acquisitions for the division and has been instrumental in the development and construction of the Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence, in Hampton, Virginia, which will open soon," the company said.

Hagen has also worked at HII's Newport News Shipbuilding division and in various leadership positions for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems.

By Courtney Albon
November 8, 2021 at 9:29 AM

Viasat Inc. announced today it will acquire Inmarsat, and the two global satellite communications companies have reached a definitive agreement for the deal, valued at $7.3 billion.

"The combination will create a leading global communications innovator with enhanced scale and scope to affordably, securely and reliably connect the world," Viasat said in a press release. "The complementary assets and resources of the new organization will enable the availability of advanced new services in mobile and fixed segments, driving greater customer choice in broadband communications and narrowband services."

The integrated company will create an "advanced architecture" that features the satellite, spectrum and ground-based assets from both companies, the release states, noting that Viasat's experience providing residential and aerospace connectivity as well as defense communications services will be enhanced by Inmarsat's "exceptional presence in the growing global mobility segment."

The companies expect to finalize the transaction late next year following approval from Viasat stockholders.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
November 8, 2021 at 9:20 AM

U.S. Army Europe and Africa will officially reactivate a theater fires command in Europe today, as the service rebuilds its capability to coordinate fires for large-scale combat operations, according to a Nov. 3 Army announcement.

The 56th Artillery Command, the reactivated unit that will serve as the theater fires command, will be headquartered in Mainz-Kastel, Germany, according to the announcement. The unit is a successor to the 56th Field Artillery Command, which was inactivated around the end of the Cold War.

“The reactivation of the 56th Artillery Command will provide U.S. Army Europe and Africa with significant capabilities in multidomain operations,” Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Maranian, commander of the 56th Artillery Command, said in the announcement. “It will further enable the synchronization of joint and multinational fires and effects, and employment of future long-range surface-to-surface fires across the U.S. Army Europe and Africa area of responsibility.”

V Corps, another recently reestablished European-focused formation, reached fully operationally capable status on Nov. 3, Army Europe and Africa announced separately last week. The unit held a ceremony to mark fully operational status at its American headquarters, at Ft. Knox, KY, which will operate in tandem with a forward headquarters in Poznan, Poland.

The Army activated a multidomain task force in September, which will work with V Corps and the theater fires command. All three echelon-above-division formations in Europe can coordinate long-range fires and other multidomain effects during combat and competition against a near-peer competitor.

Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the commander of Army Europe and Africa, said in September that wargaming will help the service determine what roles the different formations will play in the theater.