The Insider

By Courtney Albon
October 21, 2021 at 5:20 PM

The Space Force is considering a future production program aimed at fielding low-cost space domain awareness sensors as hosted payloads and is seeking concepts from industry in a new request for information.

The payloads would be based in geostationary Earth orbit and collect data "on all GEO objects that fall within the sensors' minimum sensitivity threshold," the RFI, released today, states, and the broader system will include a ground segment that will process data and feed it to the Unified Data Library.

The aim is to augment the existing Space Surveillance Network and support the Combined Space Operations Center and the National Space Defense Center.

"The government has identified a need for evolutionary or revolutionary space-based SDA sensors to augment current and planned systems by providing frequent, timely, assured volume revisit of significant portions of the GEO belt with real-time or near-real-time downlink and processing of collected data," the notice states.

The service is looking for concepts with recurring engineering costs at or below $10 million. The notice doesn't offer details on the timeline for creating the program, but notes that following an initial prototype, the Space Force plans to launch a competition for a formal acquisition category 1 program "in the next few years."

"The program will nominally produce three to four payloads per year and will be launched on various space vehicles including international hosts," the notice states.

The RFI follows a broad agency announcement released late last summer to identify concepts for low-cost, small hosted payloads that would improve SDA capabilities in GEO.

By John Liang
October 21, 2021 at 4:53 PM

Lockheed Martin announced today John Donovan has been elected to its board of directors, effective immediately.

Donovan was previously the CEO of AT&T Communications from August 2017 until his retirement in October 2019, according to a Lockheed statement. He'd worked at AT&T since April 2008.

Prior to AT&T, Donovan was executive vice president of product, sales, marketing and operations at VeriSign, an internet infrastructure company. He also served as chairman and CEO of inCode Telecom Group, where he helped shape strategy for wireless carriers worldwide, and was a partner with Deloitte Consulting, where he was the Americas telecom practice director.

By Audrey Decker
October 21, 2021 at 3:07 PM

Marine Corps Systems Command started fielding an unmanned, amphibious robot to support littoral missions last month.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Remotely Operated Vehicle is a box-shaped robot that can identify and neutralize explosive threats in the water, according to today's press release.

"The ROV employs sound navigation and ranging sensors, a high-definition video capability and cameras that provide real-time feedback for [explosive ordnance disposal] divers. It includes an articulator arm that helps Marines maneuver through underwater foliage or neutralize explosive threats," the press release states.

This unmanned vehicle keeps EOD technicians away from potential underwater threats and allows the Marine Corps to leverage waters for missions, something the service hasn't done in the past, according to the press release.

The ROV is the first increment in the Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization Family of Systems, which will allow the Marine Corps to search in a wider area along a shore, the press release states.

In order to achieve Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger's Force Design 2030, the service needs to continue to acquire unmanned systems like the ROV, the press release states.

"Fielding capabilities that conform to the vision to support an evolving naval fight will ultimately support the present and future Marine," the service states.

By Jason Sherman
October 21, 2021 at 2:54 PM

Sandia National Laboratories launched a trio of research rockets in support of a Pentagon project to develop and field a long-range hypersonic weapon, the Navy announced today, lofting instrumented boosters over the Atlantic Ocean from a U.S. government launch pad in Virginia.

On Oct. 20, the Navy Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) and the Army Hypersonic Program Office (AHPO) conducted a "High Operational Tempo for Hypersonics flight campaign" at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in support of a common weapon the two services are developing under different names: the Navy's Conventional Prompt Strike and the Army's Long Range Hypersonic Weapon.

"Three precision sounding rocket launches were conducted containing hypersonic experiments from partners, including CPS, AHPO, the Joint Hypersonic Transition Office, SNL, Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory, MITRE, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and several defense contractors," according to the Navy announcement.

"During weapon system development, precision sounding rocket launches fill a critical gap between ground testing and full system flight testing,” according to the statement. “These launches allow for frequent and regular flight-testing opportunities to support rapid maturation of offensive and defensive hypersonic technologies."

Sandia designed the common-hypersonic glide body the Navy and Army are adopting for their respective weapons; this payload will be integrated with a new, two-stage booster Lockheed Martin is developing and slated to fly for the first time next year.

By John Liang
October 21, 2021 at 1:55 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of Navy unmanned underwater vehicle efforts, a new Defense Department climate change document and more.

The Navy's Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle program could see a funding cut, if Senate appropriators have their way:

Senate appropriators recommend cutting funding for Navy's LDUUV

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to cut funding for the Navy's Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle phase 2 contract.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said a new climate change document released today "lays out a path to incorporate" climate change security considerations into DOD's strategic planning:

DOD releases new Climate Risk Assessment

The Defense Department today released its Climate Risk Assessment as a "first step towards inclusion of the security implications of climate change across the DOD enterprise."

Document: DOD's new Climate Risk Assessment

A Navy spokesman has told Inside Defense that Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program costs have increased since the initial estimate:

Navy re-evaluating shipyard improvement program cost following Portsmouth project overruns

After the bid for shipyard improvements at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine came in far above estimates, the Navy is re-evaluating the cost of its ongoing 20-year, $21 billion Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program.

Senior policymakers are considering ways to defend against new, long-range strike weapons, including cruise missiles:

NSC, OSD, NORAD refining list of critical domestic 'nodes' requiring cruise missile defense

White House, Pentagon and North American Aerospace Defense Command officials are refining a list of critical sites in the United States and Canada for active defense against long-range Russian and Chinese cruise missiles, eyeing domestic deployments in a crisis of sophisticated air defense systems such as Patriot and optimal locations for fighter aircraft armed with advanced radar.

The newest version of the Army's Multiple Launch Rocket System should be produced during this fiscal year:

New Army Multiple Launch Rocket System to be built in FY-22

Production on the first M270A2 Multiple Launch Rocket System, the newest variant of the Army's tracked field artillery launcher, should be completed in fiscal year 2022, according to Col. Guy Yelverton, project manager for strategic and operational rockets and missiles.

U.S. Transportation Command Deputy Commander Vice Adm. Dee Mewbourne spoke this week at the National Defense Transportation Association’s annual conference:

TRANSCOM's space cargo demo could be a year off as SpaceX refines launch vehicle

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- U.S. Transportation Command is ready to move forward with a "proof of principle" demonstration of space cargo transport capabilities, but officials expect it will likely be another year before SpaceX, its current launch vehicle partner, is ready to move forward.

By Tony Bertuca
October 21, 2021 at 1:14 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee has voted to advance the nominations of six individuals tapped for senior Pentagon posts.

The committee approved the nominations of Gabriel Camarillo to be under secretary of the Army; Rachel Jacobson to be Army assistant secretary for energy, installations, and environment; Alex Wagner to be Air Force assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs; Andrew Hunter to be Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics; David Honey to be deputy under secretary of defense for research and engineering; and Corey Hinderstein to be deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The nominees will now advance to the full Senate for confirmation votes.

By Briana Reilly
October 20, 2021 at 4:07 PM

Kessel Run and Air Combat Command have struck a deal formalizing the coding unit’s continued delivery of software and further modernization efforts, marking the first user agreement involving an Air Force major command under the Defense Department’s new software acquisition policy.

Announced in a news release today, the arrangement was officially reached on Sept. 30, and Jacquelynn Torson, Kessel Run’s test and integration chief, told Inside Defense it represents “a commitment between ACC and Kessel Run for continuous user involvement on development and delivery of new software capability.”

ACC, Kessel Run’s primary customer, has been the recipient of a variety of software applications including the Kessel Run All-Domain Operations Suite (KRADOS), a modernized package that’ll replace the legacy, decades-old Theater Battle Management Core System.

The Air Force in March declared KRADOS a minimal viable product, or an early iteration of software that users are able to evaluate as developers work to build a more complete operational package. Officials anticipate the service will unveil its first minimum viable capability release tied to KRADOS in March 2022.

Between now and then, the previously announced minimal viable product will expand from the nine applications it hosts to include "execution and monitoring" and other applications, Kessel Run Commander Col. Brian Beachkofski told reporters in August.

Progress there will allow the Air Force to start transitioning the battle management core system out of the Air Operations Center Weapon System, and modernizing that system continues to be Kessel Run’s primary focus, Torson noted today.

Kessel Run has also provided ACC with the Command and Control Incident Management Emergency Response Application (C2IMERA), and Gen. Mark Kelly, ACC commander, last month directed it to be used across all of the command’s installations to monitor base resources.

The ACC-Kessel Run deal was put in place following DOD’s finalization last October of a software acquisition pathway to guide development and procurement efforts.

Torson declined to comment on potential future agreements between Kessel Run and other major commands.

By Aidan Quigley
October 20, 2021 at 3:39 PM

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants more information from the Navy in future budget requests on how it will implement the Columbia-class submarine’s Integrated Enterprise Plan initiatives.

The Integrated Enterprise Plan is the Navy’s effort to build the Columbia class, the service’s top acquisition priority, between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, with a majority of the work going to General Dynamics Electric Boat.

Senate appropriators released their draft of the fiscal year 2022 defense spending bill Monday. Appropriators wrote that the FY-22 budget request includes $4.6 billion for the Columbia program, including $247 million to integrate IEP initiatives not identified in prior-year budget submissions.

“The Committee is displeased with the insufficient details regarding the future year funding requirements for the IEP initiatives requested in the fiscal year 2022 budget submission and is concerned about a similar lack of transparency for such initiatives requested in future budget submissions,” appropriators wrote in the report accompanying the bill.

The budget did not include the future year funding amounts needed to implement the IEP initiatives requested in FY-22.

“The Committee supports Navy initiatives, such as IEP, that intend to mitigate cost and schedule risk for CLB and continues to provide unprecedented acquisition and funding flexibilities for CLB, including: authority to enter into economic order quantity contracts, authority to award contracts for advance construction, authority to award contracts for continuous production, incremental funding authority for advance procurement, authority for incremental full funding of the first two CLB hulls, as well as sizeable additional appropriations to support the submarine industrial base for both COLUMBIA and VIRGINIA Class submarines,” appropriators wrote.

The committee asked the Navy acquisition chief to submit the service’s fully funded IEP initiative strategy, by fiscal year, with the submission of any future budget request that includes funding for IEP initiatives.

By Audrey Decker
October 20, 2021 at 2:15 PM

The Marine Corps acquired two MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aircraft systems from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems on Friday, according to the company’s press release.

The Reapers have been in operation for the Marine Corps as part of a leasing agreement since 2018 and have accrued over 12,000 flight hours supporting operations in the Middle East, according to General Atomics.

“The Reapers represent the first increment of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Unmanned Aircraft System Expeditionary Program of Record. The transfer of aircraft includes two Ground Control Stations and associated support equipment,” the press release states.

Last month, a service official said the Marine Corps is shifting the purpose of the Reaper from counterinsurgency to focus on great power competition.

“An extremely reliable aircraft, MQ-9A Block 5 is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple-redundant avionics system architecture. It is engineered to meet and exceed manned aircraft reliability standards,” the press release states.

The Marine Corps will begin procuring an additional 16 Reapers in 2022, according to the press release.

Early operational capability is expected in 2023 and initial operating capability in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command will be achieved by 2025, the press release states.

By John Liang
October 20, 2021 at 1:39 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on cybersecurity, unmanned systems and more.

We start off with some defense cybersecurity news:

Eoyang: DOD's civilian cyber workforce 'certainly not sized' for additional missions

The Defense Department must do more to attract a civilian cyber workforce adequately sized for larger missions, according to a senior cyber policy official.

Bush: Army must continue emphasis on cybersecurity

The Army is well equipped to improve the cybersecurity of its supply chain and weapon systems and is working to do so, Douglas Bush, the nominee to become the service’s acquisition executive, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

CMMC internal review moves forward with undisclosed recommendations pending before Pentagon leaders

An examination of the Pentagon’s cyber certification program is moving into a new phase with the internal review of the initiative complete, according to sources, who say recommendations are currently under consideration by DOD leadership.

The Navy today revealed lessons learned from last year's fire that essentially gutted one of the service's large amphibious assault ships:

Navy taking steps to improve fire safety after release of Bonhomme Richard fire investigation

The Navy is working to improve its fire safety after the July 2020 fire that destroyed the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6).

The Navy is also looking to launch a bunch of unmanned systems next year:

Small: 2022 to be 'in-water year' for Navy's unmanned systems

Multiple unmanned systems will be launched in fiscal year 2022 and undergo a lot of in-water activity, according to a Navy service official.

More unmanned systems news, this time from the Air Force:

Senators want Air Force to use retired Global Hawks for hypersonic flight-test work

Senate appropriators aren’t looking to stand in the way of the Air Force’s planned divestment of a portion of its Global Hawk fleet, though they’re hoping the service will direct some of the aircraft toward ongoing hypersonic flight-testing efforts.

The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing this week to consider the nomination of Nickolas Guertin to be the Pentagon's top tester:

DOT&E nominee sees shortfalls in commercial cloud contracts

Nickolas Guertin, nominated to be the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, said today there is a “severe limitation” in the Pentagon’s strategy to acquire cloud services from commercial technology companies because vendors to date have not agreed to let DOD perform adequate cybersecurity testing.

Last but by no means least, a story on Senate appropriators' wanting to cut funding to the Space Force’s Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program:

Senate appropriators recommend $323 million cut to Next-Gen OPIR

The Senate Appropriations Committee is proposing a $323 million cut to the Space Force’s Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program’s space and ground segments in its version of the fiscal year 2022 defense spending bill.

By Briana Reilly
October 20, 2021 at 1:04 PM

Air Force officials are poised to fully implement their enterprise information technology “as-a-service” model later this fiscal year, transferring responsibility for basic networking and commodity IT work out of the service and freeing up airmen and guardians for mission defense work.

Known as EITaaS, the effort’s next phase will come after the Air Force completes its implementation of risk-reduction measures, allowing officials to learn and apply lessons derived from experimentation to better inform the acquisition strategy, the service’s Enterprise IT Director Venice Goodwine said during a C4ISRNET event Tuesday.

Involving commercial services and vendors to enable full implementation, she said, will allow airmen and guardians at a given base to move away from performing touch labor and toward ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the data, among other things.

“Those are the types of things you’ll see our airmen do now and that’s what we’re preparing them to do as a result when we fully implement EITaaS,” she said.

The Air Force in spring 2021 announced plans to roll out EITaaS upgrades under a planned “Wave 1” -- the first set of IT services expanded from the risk-reduction effort -- to a series of bases over the summer, as officials continued experiments with those end user services at eight military installations. At the time, the press release noted EITaaS had planned to award a contract by March 2022.

Goodwine -- who began serving as the service’s enterprise IT head over the summer after holding various military positions and most recently working as the Agriculture Department’s chief information security officer -- noted there will be cost savings associated with full implementation, but she categorized it as “a side benefit.”

Beyond ensuring that EITaaS stays “on course” with its FY-22 timeline, Goodwine said her other near-term priorities include continuing to invest in and work on concepts to move along adoption of zero trust in addition to accelerating the adoption of cloudONE.

By Tony Bertuca
October 20, 2021 at 12:14 PM

The Heritage Foundation has released its eighth annual Index of U.S. Military Strength, again stating the armed forces are only “marginally” capable of meeting national security needs at home and abroad.

A release accompanying the 2022 report notes the Heritage Foundation has “documented a steady decline in various aspects of U.S. military strength” since 2015.

“Even with advances in certain areas, the force is still insufficient to defend America’s interests and partners in a conflict involving multiple fronts around the globe, and indeed, other aspects of the force are degrading rapidly,” Heritage says.

The 600-page report states the U.S. military is “likely capable” of winning one regional conflict but would “certainly would be ill-equipped to handle two” simultaneously.

Meanwhile, the index rates the Marine Corps as “strong,” the Army and Navy as “marginal” and the Air Force and Space Force as “weak.”

The 2021 index rated the Army as “marginal,” and the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps as “marginal.” The Space Force was not assessed at that time. The 2020 index rated the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines as “marginal.’

The release of the 2022 index comes as Congress debates the size of President Biden’s fiscal year 2022 defense budget, which lawmakers are poised to increase by about $24 billion.

By Aidan Quigley
October 19, 2021 at 4:15 PM

The Navy is starting to experience a longer lead time for materials due to international supply chain issues, Vice Adm. William Galinis, the head of Navy Sea Systems Command, said Tuesday.

Galinis, speaking Tuesday at the American Society of Naval Engineers’ Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium, said the service is experiencing the effects of COVID-19 pandemic-related supply chain issues.

“We’re starting to see additional longer lead time for material, for parts, and for raw stock and everything like that,” he said. “I think that’s something we’re going to have to continue to work our way through.”

These supply chain challenges are affecting both the private and public sectors, Galinis said.

“Normally you can get parts in a relatively short turnaround time; we’re starting to see evidence of increased lead times to buy parts,” he said.

The Navy has stood up a supply chain monitoring group, which started with a focus on new construction but has now migrated across the enterprise, Galinis said.

“It’s principally on the new construction side, but I think there’s some opportunity to leverage that into what we are doing with the fleet maintenance work,” he said.

Galinis said that the Navy’s days of maintenance delay didn’t change from fiscal year 2020 to FY-21, partially driven by some long-lasting, complex modernization and maintenance availabilities that are ongoing.

By John Liang
October 19, 2021 at 1:52 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from the Senate Appropriations Committee's fiscal year 2022 defense spending bill and more.

We start off with an overall look at the defense spending bill:

Senate appropriators would increase defense spending by $24B above Biden's request

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to provide $24 billion more for national defense than what President Biden has requested, according to a draft fiscal year 2022 defense spending bill, which is in line with separate legislation passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

. . . followed by a look at funding for the Army:

Draft Senate spending bill would cut Army procurement

The Senate Appropriations Committee seeks to cut $174 million from the Army procurement budget in a draft of its fiscal year 2022 defense spending bill, although it would add $667 million in funding for the Army Reserve and National Guard.

. . . the Navy:

Senate lawmakers to increase Navy spending on major programs

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to increase funding for the Marine Corps Force Design effort, the Navy’s shipyard infrastructure and fund a second destroyer.

Senate appropriators caution Navy against adding second frigate shipyard too fast

The Senate Appropriations Committee is concerned the Navy may be moving too fast to add a second shipyard for Constellation-class frigate production.

. . . the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program:

Senate appropriators recommend $366 million cut for F-35 C2D2

Frustrated by delays to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's near-term modernization plans, Senate appropriators want to cut $365.8 million from the program's $1.9 billion budget request for fiscal year 2022 -- a proposal that, if enacted, could lead to further delays as the program seeks to ready its jets for the future high-end fight.

. . . the Air Force:

Senate appropriators seek to add $65 million to ABMS budget

After Congress nearly halved the budget for the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System last year, Senate appropriators are looking to add another $65 million to the program as service officials work to pivot away from experimentation and focus on capability delivery.

. . . and missile defense:

Senate panel recommends $10.3B for MDA; 15% hike in FY-22 buys added interceptors, Guam capability

Senate appropriators are proposing $10.3 billion for the Missile Defense Agency in fiscal year 2022, an increase of $1.4 billion above the Pentagon’s request, including funds to buy 14 additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and eight Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptors as well as finance the start of a new air and missile defense system for Guam. 

We also have news on Army combat vehicle programs:

AMPV production reaches LRIP levels

Monthly production of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle has reached contracted levels for low-rate initial production, and the early manufacturing troubles that plagued the program appear to have subsided, James Schirmer, deputy program executive officer for ground combat systems, told reporters Oct. 12 at the Association of the United States Army conference.

Army to create motorized infantry formations with new vehicles

The Army will use the Infantry Squad Vehicle, electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle and Mobile Protected Firepower light tank to motorize some infantry brigades and divisions for large-scale combat operations, Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, said during an Oct. 11 interview.

. . . as well as the Missile Defense Agency’s Long Range Discrimination Radar program:

LRDR initial fielding now estimated to be one full year behind schedule

The Missile Defense Agency's plan to deliver the Long Range Discrimination Radar for operations is delayed yet again -- pushing the key milestone off by an entire year compared to original plans -- with a new target date now set for December 2021 as the government and prime contractor Lockheed Martin work to complete installation of the new sensor next month.

A senior naval officer wants the service to do better at reducing its days of maintenance delays:

Kitchener: Navy has more work to do to limit maintenance delays

The Navy is not reducing days of maintenance delays fast enough and must take action to improve its maintenance efforts, according to Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, the commander of Naval Surface Forces.

The Navy is also working on artificial intelligence and machine learning:

Navy building task force to focus on AI across surface warfare enterprise

The Navy is building "Task Force Hopper" to apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to the surface force.

By Briana Reilly
October 19, 2021 at 11:55 AM

The Air Force is seeking studies and analyses tied to replacing the aging fleet of E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, according to a new notice.

The notice, posted today, gives few public details surrounding the information officials want, though the description calls for studying and analyzing “activities related to the current E-7A baseline configuration.”

It also directed respondents to “determine what additional work the government might need to accomplish meeting USAF configuration standards and mandates.”

The posting comes weeks after Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown told reporters in September that the service is “looking at” Boeing’s E-7 Wedgetail as a replacement for AWACS -- an aircraft Brown had previously identified as one of several follow-on options for the E-3 fleet.

The E-7, Brown said last month, “gives us a path” to move forward, as he touted the speed at which it could be obtained and noted officials wouldn’t have to “start from scratch” because it’s already “a proven capability.”

Responses are due Nov. 2.