The Insider

By Courtney Albon
November 5, 2021 at 6:14 PM

The Air Force today awarded Lockheed Martin a 10-year, $10.8 billion contract for F-22 sustainment.

The sole-sourced indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract covers work through October of 2031 under the Advanced Raptor Enhancement & Sustainment program.

By John Liang
November 5, 2021 at 1:29 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Marine Corps' presidential helicopter replacement program, delays to unmanned system contracts and more.

Th​​e Marine Corps has doubled the VH-92A presidential helicopter program's flight hours in the past eight months, with a total of 2,000 flight hours since July 2018:

VH-92A completes initial operational test and evaluation

The new VH-92A presidential helicopter has completed initial operational test and evaluation, a program spokeswoman told Inside Defense.

Senior Huntington Ingalls Industries executives spoke about unmanned systems this week during a quarterly earnings conference call:

HII: Unmanned contract awards delayed until next year

Contract awards for "critical" unmanned programs will likely be delayed until next year, according to a senior Huntington Ingalls Industries executive.

Fischer Connectors' next-generation hub, roughly the size of a deck of playing cards, meets a standard the Army has established to simplify data and power transfer among the multiple devices a current or future soldier will use:

New hub could simplify connections between soldiers' devices

A recently announced product from Fischer Connectors could help soldiers share data and power between all the radios, sensors and devices they will wear in the future, Jack Midgley, the company's global defense market lead, told Inside Defense in a Nov. 3 interview.

More coverage of the recent updates to the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Major changes to CMMC program start discussion on DOD oversight of accreditation body

The Defense Department is making changes to the oversight of its independent accreditation body as part of an update to the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, dubbed "CMMC 2.0," triggering new negotiations of the current no-cost contract between the two entities.

From yesterday, in case you missed it:

Pentagon tweaking CMMC program

The Defense Department announced today it is revamping its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program after completing a months-long internal review.

By Tony Bertuca
November 4, 2021 at 5:06 PM

The Defense Business Board this week held its first meeting since being reinstated by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin following a "zero-based review."

The board, chaired by former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, met with several senior Defense Department officials, including Austin and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, according to a statement from DOD spokesman Eric Pahon.

"The board received classified briefings on the department-wide audit outcomes, military operations, business operations, data strategy, information management and acquisition strategies from senior civilian and military officials," Pahon said.

Though the meeting was closed to the public, the board did release several briefing slides, which indicate members also met with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, DOD comptroller Mike McCord, Chief Data Officer Dave Spirk, acting DOD acquisition chief Gregory Kausner, and other top officials.

In September, Austin directed the DBB and several other Pentagon advisory committees to resume their activities following a "zero-based" review he ordered in February amid concerns former President Trump had used the boards in a lame-duck attempt to reward loyalists.

By Briana Reilly
November 4, 2021 at 4:14 PM

The Biden administration today signed off on the sale of up to 280 AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles to Saudi Arabia, part of a tentative deal valued at $650 million that would also include 596 LAU-128 Missile Rail Launchers and other equipment.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency today announced that the State Department approved the potential sale, which the release said would bolster Saudi Arabia’s stock of medium-range missiles for its fighter aircraft fleet.

The agreement, the release added, "will support Saudi Arabia’s Eurofighter Typhoon, F-15C/D, F-15S, and F-I5SA programs and will further strengthen the interoperability between the United States and Saudi Arabia.”

DSCA notified Congress of the potential sale today, per the press release. Raytheon would serve as the principal contractor.

By John Liang
November 4, 2021 at 1:25 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's revamped Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, Navy shipyards and more.

The Pentagon has revamped its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

Pentagon tweaking CMMC program

The Defense Department announced today it is revamping its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program after completing a months-long internal review.

The Navy's top civilian official wants to make sure its two biggest shipyards continue to have work in the future:

Navy to seek multiyear destroyer procurement to bolster Bath Iron Works shipyard

The Navy will pursue a multiyear destroyer procurement which will support General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine, service Secretary Carlos Del Toro said Thursday.

The Pentagon's annual report on China's military developments notes the country has notched progress in fielding a weapon designed to outmaneuver U.S. and allied missile defense systems:

DOD publicly concedes China winning hypersonic race, dominates near-space for now

The Defense Department assesses that China in 2020 fielded a hypersonic strike weapon -- the DF-17, a maneuvering glide body paired with a medium-range ballistic missile with an estimated range of 1,500 miles -- a public declaration that Beijing has operationalized a technology the U.S. military has not yet fielded and tacit admission the Chinese military for now dominates the near-space domain.

Related, in case you missed it:

China looking to increase nukes and network all military capabilities by 2030

The Pentagon believes China is planning to significantly increase its stockpile of nuclear weapons by the end of the decade, and is also aiming to integrate all its military capabilities under a broadly configured network by 2027, according to an annual report on Chinese military strength.

Document: DOD's 2021 report on China

New policies announced by the Biden administration would delay the Dec. 8 deadline for all federal contractors to be fully vaccinated and would allow businesses with more than 100 workers to use testing and masking in lieu of proving full vaccination:

White House relaxes vaccine mandates, pushes back contractor deadline

The White House has announced new policies to loosen COVID-19 vaccine mandates that had previously drawn concern from defense contractors facing reluctant workforces and lawmakers who said they were worried about the Pentagon’s industrial base.

The top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee says years of consolidation in the defense industrial base have hurt innovation and driven up the costs of weapon systems:

Reed sees challenges in defense contractor consolidation

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) today cited increased merger and acquisition activity among large defense contractors as a key challenge to reforming Pentagon acquisition.

By Courtney Albon
November 4, 2021 at 12:30 PM

Three companies recently demonstrated a satellite communications capability that would allow users to send data over multiple paths and seamlessly switch between low Earth orbit and geostationary orbit constellations.

Intelsat, OneWeb and Linchpin solutions teamed for the Defense Department demonstration, according to an Intelsat press release issued today.

"Referred to as Automated Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency (APACE) communications, the solution enables soldiers to survive and excel in contested electronic warfare environments," the release states. "The reliability of communications is significantly improved by simultaneously sending data over multiple paths and adjusting the traffic flow in real-time between GEO and LEO satellite constellations."

The Army would be the primary user of the capability, which could be hosted on existing virtual machine platforms designed to operate in harsh environments.

By John Liang
November 3, 2021 at 2:49 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's latest annual report on China's military and more.

The Defense Department has released its annual report on Chinese military and security developments:

China looking to increase nukes and network all military capabilities by 2030

The Pentagon believes China is planning to significantly increase its stockpile of nuclear weapons by the end of the decade, and is also aiming to integrate all its military capabilities under a broadly configured network by 2027, according to an annual report on Chinese military strength.

Document: DOD's 2021 report on China

Analysts and Navy officials are looking at the next steps the service is taking with regard to unmanned systems:

CSIS: Navy slow to fund unmanned systems, despite heavy discussion

While unmanned systems receive a lot of attention in discussions about the Navy's future, a think-tank report explains how the service is slow to fund and field these unmanned systems.

Small: Navy needs to better quantify the value of unmanned systems

The Navy needs to determine how to quantify the value of unmanned systems to give new systems the same value as legacy systems, according to a service official.

Google Workspace is now available for a few thousand Air Force Research Laboratory scientists and engineers to broaden channels of communication with academic, industrial, small business and other collaborators outside of government:

AFRL, Google Cloud announce effort to streamline research communication, speed tech delivery

The Air Force Research Laboratory and Google Cloud today unveiled a joint effort to streamline communications and data sharing with external research partners, a move that one scientist and researcher says will speed the pace of discoveries and aid the delivery of new technologies to the service.

Republican lawmakers want Democrats to speed up consideration of this year's defense policy bill:

GOP senators blast Democrats for delayed defense authorization bill

Several Republican senators led by Jim Inhofe (R-OK) today criticized Senate Democrats for prioritizing work on nominations and new spending packages above the annual defense authorization bill.

Florida-based Global Ordnance believes the newest version of Yugoimport's NORA, with an autoloader and a 52-caliber barrel that fires standard American 155 mm rounds, could quickly fill a capability gap in the U.S. Army:

Global Ordnance offers Serbian howitzer for urgent need in Europe

The U.S. Army would not have been a likely candidate to use the original version of the NORA truck-mounted howitzer. It was developed for the Yugoslav army at the tail end of the Cold War and fired Soviet munitions.

Some missile defense news:

MDA begins breakup of Boeing's hold on future GMD development, sustainment work

The Missile Defense Agency has formally launched a contest to scale back Boeing's decade-long grip on the entire development and sustainment prime contract for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, publishing a request for proposals for the first of two planned full-and-open competitions for future GMD work that will be in addition to a guaranteed, but smaller, continued role for Boeing.

A new Air Force memo outlines several studies and reviews meant to help the Air Force and Space Force make "timely, data-driven decisions":

New Air Force memo directs near-term reviews of cyber posture, NDS alignment

Top Air Force and Space Force leadership this week issued a memo outlining near-term organizational shifts and directing a slate of management initiatives, including a review of the department's cybersecurity and defense posture, its process for transitioning technology and an assessment of how well current resources align with the National Defense Strategy.

Document: Air Force memo on near-term reorganization

Mike Nichols, chief of the Space Force's Commercial Satellite Communications Office, briefed the office's procurement outlook during an Oct. 29 Defense Information Systems Agency forecast to industry:

Space Force COMSATCOM office eyes $2.8B in new procurement deals over next two years

The Space Force's Commercial Satellite Communications Office last week briefed industry on its procurement outlook for 2022 and 2023, which includes $2.8 billion in contracts across a slew of new projects, the largest of which is for proliferated low Earth orbit satellite communications services, valued at up to $875 million.

Document: DISA 'forecast to industry' briefing slides

By John Liang
November 3, 2021 at 12:26 PM

Anne Bulik has been named vice president of Teledyne FLIR's unmanned aerial systems business unit, the company announced this week.

Bulik will report to David Cullin, general manager of the unmanned and integrated solutions business.

Teledyne FLIR said its UAS business unit achieved 47% year-over-year growth from 2019 to 2020.

Bulik joined FLIR in 2020 before the company was acquired by Teledyne Technologies to lead the Waterloo, Ontario, Canada division of UAS. She has also worked at Andritz Hydro and Raytheon.

By Tony Bertuca
November 3, 2021 at 11:43 AM

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley today said the Pentagon remains concerned about a recent Chinese hypersonic missile test that he has characterized as a near-"Sputnik moment."

"That test that occurred was a very significant test," he said at an Aspen Institute event in Washington. "I won't go into anything classified."

Milley said the test is not a true “Sputnik moment” because that satellite capability was totally new when it was introduced by the Soviet Union in 1957, while the United States has been experimenting, developing and investing in hypersonic missile technology for years.

“In that limited, narrow sense, it's not a Sputnik moment because Sputnik was new at the time,” he said.

However, Milley added that when viewed in “totality” with China’s other military advances over the past four decades, the test is evidence of a “shift in geostrategic power.”

“We are entering into a tripolar world with the United States, Russia and China,” he said. “We’re entering into a world that is potentially more strategically unstable than say the last 40, 50, 60, 70 years. That means that we’re going to have to put a premium, in my view, on maintaining great power peace.”

Milley also said the Chinese military is “clearly and unambiguously building the capability” to provide options to the national leadership to attack Taiwan, though he does not think it is a near-term threat.

Because of the increased instability in the world, Milley said he is in favor of greater communication with the Chinese military and government.

“Part of deterrence,” he said, “is having the capability to impose costs on your opponent and making sure that you have the political will to actually use it, but also a third piece of deterrence that's really important is clear, unambiguous communications between both sides.”

By Ethan Sterenfeld
November 3, 2021 at 10:19 AM

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control has won a $243 million Army contract for "long-range fires technology development and demonstration," according to an Oct. 28 Pentagon contract announcement.

The indefinite-quantity, indefinite-delivery contract will support research, development, test and evaluation for the Precision Strike Missile and Multiple Rocket Launch System munitions and launchers, an Army spokeswoman wrote in a Nov. 3 statement to Inside Defense.

"Future PrSM and Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) munitions and launchers RDT&E-related work will be contracted under this award," the spokeswoman wrote.

The contract lasts through Oct. 27, 2026.

Lockheed is developing the PrSM, a replacement for the Army Tactical Missile System. An initial increment of PrSM will be urgently fielded in fiscal year 2023, with full fielding expected in FY-25.

The company is also developing an upgrade to its Guided MLRS rockets, the Extended Range GMLRS, which will more than double the system’s range.

Long-range precision fires has become the Army's top modernization priority, and PrSM is one of the service's 35 priority modernization efforts. The Army is buying more of the launchers that fire PrSM, ATACMS and GMLRS.

By John Liang
November 2, 2021 at 1:13 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a couple of Marine Corps vehicle programs, the Pentagon's response to climate change and more.

The Marine Corps and its contractors are testing proposed changes to the Amphibious Combat Vehicle's Sea Tow Quick Release device:

Marine Corps testing fixes to ACV towing mechanism issue

The Marine Corps is testing changes to the Amphibious Combat Vehicle's towing mechanism in the wake of the service suspending waterborne operations in September after discovering the issue, a service spokeswoman told Inside Defense.

The Pentagon's No. 2 uniformed officer spoke to reporters about climate change at a recent Washington breakfast:

DOD hyping climate change mitigation investments during FY-23 budget build

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten said recently that plans to factor climate change into Pentagon budget decisions will save billions, despite concerns new green energy investments and emissions-reduction efforts could prove costly in the near term.

News on the Marine Corps' Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle program:

Marine Corps planning ARV preliminary design reviews next month

The Marine Corps has scheduled Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle preliminary design reviews with Textron Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems in December, a service spokeswoman told Inside Defense.

Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mark Kelly spoke about potential successors to the MQ-9 Reaper during a recent online Mitchell Institute event:

ACC head: ADAIR-UX initiative could 'inform our way ahead' on potential MQ-9 follow-on

The head of Air Combat Command says work to leverage unmanned, semi-autonomous platforms as simulated adversaries could inform what capabilities may come after the MQ-9.

L3Harris CEO Chris Kubasik spoke about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program during his company's recent quarterly earnings conference call:

L3Harris touts progress on F-35 Technology Refresh 3

The CEO of L3Harris said today the company is making "good progress" on a major F-35 technology refresh effort, following significant delays and cost growth in recent years.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
November 2, 2021 at 12:28 PM

The Army will hold a virtual industry day Nov. 17 to discuss the prototype strategy for the Soldier Virtual Trainer, according to a Nov. 1 announcement from the service.

"The Government has revised its strategy for pursuing solutions on the SVT Prototype Project," the announcement stated.

Rather than a request for samples, the Army will release a request for information this month asking for white papers that outline capabilities for virtual training, according to the announcement. The Army will award at least one other transaction agreement in the third quarter of fiscal year 2022 for companies to develop SVT prototypes.

Controlled unclassified information will be discussed at the Nov. 17 industry day, and attendees must have the proper clearances, according to the announcement.

The request for white papers will be released Nov. 9, according to slides from a previous industry day. Responses will be due Nov. 30, and a preliminary down select and request for more detailed plans will come in January.

The SVT suite will include components for weapon skills development, use-of-force and joint fires training, according to the slides. It should be able to measure soldiers' biometric data, including pulse, blood pressure and eye movements.

By Tony Bertuca
November 2, 2021 at 12:24 PM

President Biden has selected Navy Adm. Chris Grady, current commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, to succeed Gen. John Hyten as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The nomination was quietly included in the Senate calendar and subsequently announced by the Pentagon.

Hyten was confirmed for a two-year term in 2019. The next vice chairman, because of a change in the law, will serve a four-year term.

Hyten is slated to retire at the end of this month, leading to concerns the job will experience a "gap" before Grady can be confirmed by the Senate.

By Courtney Albon
November 2, 2021 at 9:01 AM

The Air Force Research Laboratory has named its first deputy technology executive officer for space science and technology tasked with ensuring space science and technology efforts are integrated across the lab.

Andrew Williams, formerly the space mission area lead at AFRL's Space Vehicles Directorate, will fill the role, the lab announced in a press release Monday.

The D-TEO space portfolio includes a range of programs, including the Navigation Technology Experiments Satellite Vanguard program, the Cislunar Highway Patrol and various research efforts focused on space weather, solar power technology and small satellite development, the release notes.

By John Liang
November 1, 2021 at 5:00 PM

Mercury Systems announced today that Roger Wells has been hired as executive vice president and president of the company's microelectronics division.

Wells will report to Mark Aslett, Mercury’s president and chief executive officer, according to a company statement.

Wells previously was vice president and general manager for Teledyne FLIR's Unmanned & Integrated Solutions business unit. He has also worked as a Defense Department civilian supporting the development and fielding of C4ISR networks and information systems, as well as holding positions in Northrop Grumman and ICX Technologies.