The Insider

By John Liang
December 4, 2023 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials speak at a plethora of congressional and industry events this week.


Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Christopher Grady speaks at an Atlantic Council event.


General Dynamics Information Technology hosts its "Emerge Quantum" event.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies' Project on Nuclear Issues holds its 2023 Fall Conference.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Celeste Wallander testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Africa subcommittee.


The House Armed Services cyber subcommittee holds a hearing on "using military advancements of the past to guide the Department of Defense's technological advancements in the future."

The Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee holds a hearing on DOD recruiting efforts.

GovExec holds a webcast on "Enhancing Cloud Security."


The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee holds a hearing on "Regional Missile Defense Assets -- Assessing COCOM and Allied Demand for Capabilities."

Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo speaks at an AUSA George Washington Chapter luncheon.

Space Development Agency Director Derek Tournear speaks at an online National Security Space Association session.

Defense One hosts a "Future of Defense Acquisition" event.

The U.S. Naval Institute holds its Defense Forum Washington 2023.


U.S. Cyber Command chief and National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone speaks at an Intelligence and National Security Alliance breakfast event.

By Georgina DiNardo
December 1, 2023 at 4:42 PM

U.S. Central Command announced the hiring of a new chief data officer today, who will oversee data efforts spanning the organization's headquarters, components and subordinate units.

Michael Foster was hired in November to fill the role.

"I am honored to be given the opportunity to serve with CENTCOM and contribute to their already impressive accomplishments," Foster said. “I am excited by the challenges of developing data-centric solutions to enable warfighting across the CENTCOM region.”

Previously, Foster served as the machine learning director for Maxar, the head of solutions engineering for CrowdAI and led Defense Department integration efforts regarding artificial intelligence and data. He also has experience working with “big data management, artificial intelligence model development and spatio-temporal analytics,” according to a CENTCOM press release today.

"As an organization focused on digital modernization and data-centric operations, we are committed to leveraging our data more effectively and efficiently in support of our missions. Dr. Foster brings an impressive resume as a data leader at the U.S. Air Force, National Reconnaissance Office and multiple cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine-learning companies. We look forward to leveraging his exceptional capabilities to drive forward our digital initiatives," said Gen. Michael Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM. “Dr. Foster joins our Chief Technology Officer, Schuyler Moore and our adviser for AI, robotics, cloud computing and data analytics, Dr. Andrew Moore, CENTCOM’s Innovation and Capabilities Integration Cell.”

Foster, a graduate of the U.S Air Force Academy, has a degree in physics and previously served as a member of the senior executive service for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

"Our strategic approach -- summarized by 'People, Partners, and Innovation,' relies on bringing in the best talent from across the military and from civilian industry and then empowering that talent," said Kurilla. "Dr. Foster is a phenomenal talent with a rare set of skills in the employment of data to enable the warfighter. He will help us advance as a data-centric organization to enable our critical mission in the region."

By John Liang
December 1, 2023 at 2:02 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on DOD officials warning about the potential "devastating impacts" a yearlong continuing resolution could have on weapons modernization efforts, plus the imminent release of the rule for the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program and more.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. C.Q. Brown recently sent a letter to Senate appropriators asserting a full-year CR, under which DOD has never operated, would have "devastating impacts" that significantly degrade the department's buying power:

DOD raises alarm over full-year CR ahead of high-profile natsec conference

Senior defense officials, some of whom are set to mingle with top lawmakers this weekend at a high-level national security conference in Simi Valley, CA, are mindful that Congress remains mired in disarray over federal spending and have begun tallying the damage that stopgap spending resolutions have wreaked on weapons modernization programs in recent years, along with proclaiming their opposition to a possible full-year continuing resolution that could lock up the Pentagon's budget until next October.

The new rule for the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is due out literally any day now:

Rulemaking, supporting documentation for Pentagon's CMMC program nears formal publication

The Defense Department's work to prepare the proposed rule for its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is nearing completion, according to a Pentagon spokesperson, with publication in the Federal Register expected as soon as next week.

The Defense Department implemented the Microelectronics Commons aiming to lessen U.S. dependency on foreign countries for prototyping, manufacturing and producing microchips at scale through the CHIPS and Science Act:

Microelectronics Commons announces 'Call for Projects' expected timeline

Microelectronics Commons leadership today provided updates on the project timeline with specific dates for the expected release of the "Call for Projects" during a fireside chat.

In mid-September, the Army awarded AM General a $31 million contract to execute the second phase of a development effort launched in July 2022 for the Extended Range Soft Recoil Technologies program:

Army commissions prototype 155mm artillery mounted on FMTV

The Army is exploring an Extended-Range Soft-Recoil cannon on a Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles truck to test the limits and capabilities of 155mm artillery fired from a highly mobile platform and commissioned a full-scale demonstrator as part of determining how best to replace towed systems now vulnerable to counterbattery fire.

A new Defense Department inspector general's report determines "whether the Air Force effectively managed diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages (DMSMS) for the B-52 strategic bomber to prevent and respond to spare part shortages":

IG: Air Force not properly preventing, managing B-52 spare parts shortages

The B-52 Systems Program Office ineffectively managed diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages and subsequently didn't adequately prevent or respond to spare part shortages for the legacy platform, a Defense Department inspector general report found.

Document: DOD IG report on B-52 spare parts shortages

By Georgina DiNardo
December 1, 2023 at 11:40 AM

In an effort to integrate government and commercial space-related capabilities, the Defense Innovation Unit is taking submissions for the Defense Department to combat national security challenges in space.

DOD is trying to utilize new and innovative technologies from the commercial sector into government operations through a Hybrid Space Architecture (HSA) program to defend the United States' network across many domains.

This is the second HSA solicitation, a DIU program which posted its initial solicitation in October 2021 and announced its initial contracts in July 2022.

HSA II focuses on four areas of interest: persistent sensing, high-performance edge compute, resilient data transport and data fusion. 

“Use cases span the full range of commercial, civil, national security and allied communications,” the DIU announcement stated. “This includes military operations in support of warfighters at the tactical edge and across all domains, be it land, sea, or air, transmitting or receiving time-sensitive situational awareness and decision-making information to yield effects across the strategic, operational and tactical levels through multiple communication layers and battle management command, control and communications (BMC3) architectures.”

The DIU release requests that responses to this second solicitation focus on at least one of the four focus areas and include requirements listed underneath the focus area of choice on their website.

All companies are limited to one submission per focus area. If a submission covers multiple focus areas, the company should aim to address all areas in one submission.

Submissions should include whether they have the ability for a live demonstration within three months of the award, which DIU has listed as a “primary consideration for selection.” 

The DIU encourages submissions from U.S. and international companies, with the caveat that they are not publicly or privately financially backed by investors associated with sanctioned states or entities. 

“This HSA will provide secure, assured, low latency, and multi-path communications across a scalable, resilient and multidomain network,” the DIU release said. “The HSA must also be flexible enough to remain relevant and trusted during times of rapid technological change and dynamic threat environments.”

By Tony Bertuca
December 1, 2023 at 11:06 AM

The defense startup company Anduril has unveiled a new, reusable, autonomous drone called "Roadrunner-Munition" it says is already under contract with a U.S. government customer that executives have declined to disclose.

However, Palmer Luckey, the company’s founder and Chris Brose, Anduril’s chief strategy officer, told reporters earlier this week that the Defense Department has followed the product on its two-year journey.

And, as first reported by Breaking Defense, U.S. Special Operations Command has requested $19 million for fiscal year 2024 to accelerate a counter-UAS program called “Roadrunner.”

The Roadrunner, Luckey and Brose said, is a vertical-takeoff-and-landing drone that costs in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars and has been operationally tested.

“Our priority has been moving very, very fast with this customer,” Luckey said. “We’re now well into the process of cost reduction.”

The company says it should have no trouble scaling Roadrunner for mass production, noting the recent hire of former Tesla executive Keith Flynn as the new senior vice president of manufacturing.

Luckey and Brose said Roadrunner could be a candidate for DOD’s new Replicator program, but the executives noted details remain scarce.

For now, Luckey said, Replicator is “more of an idea” than a specific acquisition program.

Roadrunner, meanwhile, is being billed as an air defense product that can unburden the far-more-expensive Patriot system when it comes to detecting and destroying incoming airborne threats.

Anduril says the drone is reusable unless it used by an operator to destroy an incoming target, in which case it becomes a kamikaze munition.

“It’s somewhere between a reusable missile and a full-scale autonomous aircraft,” Luckey said.

The weapon is intended to give operators “the ability to preemptively and speculatively deploy large numbers of anti-air interceptors,” he said, thus buying time to determine how “munitions that are required to defeat whatever the threat is while returning all of the rest.”

By John Liang
November 30, 2023 at 3:38 PM

HII announced today that Marc Sosa has been hired to be chief information officer for the company's Mission Technologies division.

Sosa will report to Chris Soong, HII's executive vice president and chief information officer and also will have reporting responsibilities to Andy Green, the company's executive vice president and president of Mission Technologies, HII said in a statement.

"Sosa will be responsible for all aspects of information technology to enable Mission Technologies' IT priorities and meet strategic objectives," the statement reads. "He will guide the division's day-to-day leadership of all information systems, while ensuring the appropriate alignment with enterprise cybersecurity and IT goals."

Before coming to HII, Sosa held leadership and management positions at Serco Inc., one of the world's leading service companies, and at Computer Sciences Corp. that delivered IT solutions to the U.S. government and intelligence communities.

By John Liang
November 30, 2023 at 2:13 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a document being circulated on Capitol Hill that delineates where Ukraine spending would impact individual states, the Space Force's missile warning system and more.

Congressional staffers tell Inside Defense a document is being shared by the Biden administration in the hopes of pushing reluctant -- yet parochially minded -- lawmakers to grant the president’s request for a $106 billion national security supplemental spending package:

New document shows DOD's 'priority replacement' spending in Ukraine supplemental

A new document being circulated on Capitol Hill breaks down the Defense Department's plans to spend billions in requested supplemental funding, keying the replenishment of "priority" weapon systems that have been transferred to Ukraine, along with identifying U.S. states where DOD would invest in the expansion of manufacturing capacity.

Document: DOD's 'priority replacement spending' in Ukraine supplemental

The Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program is a five-satellite missile warning system consisting of three Geosynchronous Earth Orbit space vehicles and two polar-orbiting space vehicles:

Space Force confident about launching new missile warning system in 2025

The Space Force is confident it will launch its new missile warning system in 2025 despite several challenges that could interrupt the schedule identified by a government watchdog agency.

The latest cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

CMMC accreditation body triples certified assessor count in 2023 ahead of formal launch period

The number of certified assessors for the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program experienced triple-digit growth in 2023 from the prior year, as the formal launch of the Defense Department initiative comes closer to fruition.

While the Government Accountability Office's annual weapon systems assessment released earlier this year projected initial operational capability for the Navy's Ship-to-Shore Connector would occur in June 2023, a service spokesperson told Inside Defense the milestone has been pushed into FY-24:

IOC for Navy's Ship-to-Shore craft pushed to spring 2024

The Navy's Ship-to-Shore Connector amphibious craft will not achieve initial operational capability until later in fiscal year 2024, marking a delay of more than six months for the program that will eventually replace the aging fleet of Landing Craft Air Cushion vessels.

Link 16 is a tactical datalink communication system operated by the U.S., NATO and coalition forces to share real-time situational awareness data among all network participants:

SDA successfully demonstrates space-to-ground transmission using Link 16

The Space Development Agency yesterday announced it has successfully connected its low Earth orbit satellites with ground-based radios using the Link 16 network during three demonstrations held from Nov. 21 to Nov. 27.

By Apurva Minchekar
November 30, 2023 at 1:39 PM

Space Systems Command has awarded a $579 million contract to Kratos Defense & Security Solutions to maintain and develop ground control systems for new and future military communications satellites, according to an announcement last week.

The Command-and-Control System-Consolidated Sustainment and Resiliency contract is an eight-year indefinite delivery indefinite quantity, single award to provide satellite control capabilities to the Space Force and U.S. Space Command.

Under the contract, Kratos Defense will support military communication satellites, including “the Defense Satellite Communications System III, Milstar Satellite Communications System, Advanced Extremely High Frequency and Wideband Global Satellite systems.”

“This contract will sustain a baseline currently supporting C2 operations of four separate constellations and 26 military communication satellites, with added lines of effort that provide the agility to deliver cyber and operational resiliency, as well as the integration of new satellites and future constellations,” George Gonzales, SSC MILSATCOM product support delta director said in the announcement.

The initial task order awarded $26.7 million for the base year will provide core sustainment support and has a total value of $146.3 million, the announcement reads.

The command said the initial task order contract will include providing continued sustainment, system and software engineering, enhancements and modernization.

It will also allow obsolescence remediation, data sharing and bolster C2 capabilities with an “Information Technology infrastructure upgrade,” SSC noted.

By Apurva Minchekar
November 30, 2023 at 12:17 PM

The Air Force has awarded Boeing a $2.3 billion contract to build additional KC-46 tanker aircraft, according to a Nov. 28 announcement.

Under the contract, Boeing will be responsible for developing 15 KC-46 aircraft by July 31, 2027, and the work will be performed in Seattle, WA.

Boeing, in its statement, said the KC-46A is transforming the role of tanker aircraft, noting: “The KC-46A Pegasus has already been called a ‘game changer’ for its ability to transmit and exchange data, enabling rapid air mobility, global reach and Agile Combat Employment.”

The company highlighted that it has already delivered 76 KC-46As to the U.S. Air Force and two to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

By Tony Bertuca
November 30, 2023 at 11:34 AM

The Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, a few days in advance of a high-profile gathering of national security insiders in Simi Valley, CA, has released the results of a national survey that has found Americans favor increased defense spending, including aid to Ukraine, despite some resistance being shown by members of Congress.

The survey, according to the Reagan Forum, “reveals a disconnect between the American public, with 77 percent supporting increased military spending, and debates in Congress over defense cuts.”

“A supermajority of Americans supports maintaining military bases around the world and fears budget cuts by Congress will threaten the military’s capabilities,” the foundation said.

The foundation said the poll was conducted between Oct. 27 and Nov. 5 and is based on 945 telephone interviews and more than 1,500 online surveys.

Additionally, the survey shows that a “a majority of Americans view China as the country that poses the greatest threat to the United States but are overconfident about U.S. military capabilities compared to China.”

The survey also found that Americans support increased military assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, while Congress -- especially the GOP-led House -- remains at odds over a $106 billion national security supplemental request sent by the White House.

“Support for Ukraine has remained consistent over the last three Reagan Institute surveys, despite the narrative about waning support for Ukraine,” the foundation said.

However, the survey found that “confidence in the military remains at record lows,” with only 46% of Americans reporting a “great deal of confidence” in the U.S. military, “a number that has plateaued after falling 25 points” from 70% in 2018, according to the foundation.

By Shelley K. Mesch
November 29, 2023 at 5:17 PM

U.S. Strategic Command wants to leverage the commercial gaming industry to bolster the Defense Department's electromagnetic spectrum capabilities.

STRATCOM’s Nuclear Command, Control and Communications Enterprise Center, or NEC, would use the expertise of commercial gaming companies to “promote innovative solutions, tools, capabilities or a combination thereof for the advancement of future DOD electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) modeling, simulation and analysis,” according to a request for information released today.

The goal would be to enhance the use of information and electronic warfare in campaign- and mission-level models as well as rapidly update “aging” modeling and simulation tools, the post states.

By using state-of-the-art gaming technology, STRATCOM would plan to demonstrate developing systems such as planes, tanks, ships and satellites with “realistic EMS characteristics and physical attributes,” reducing scenario development time, providing real-time simulation feedback, visualizing the EMS operating environment, using role-based access to train less experienced modeling and simulation users, seeing quickly the result of parameter decisions made by an operator and simplifying the user interactions with different connected tools, among other demonstrations.

Other DOD offices have also signaled their interest in using video gaming technology to advance their missions.

Space Force Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Lisa Costa said video game interfaces are designed to help players quickly access and visualize information and data, which could be more useful to guardians than simply reading words on a screen or page.

Gaming interfaces are already intuitive to most new recruits or employees, she said, so there wouldn’t be a steep learning curve to incorporate it.

The Missile Defense Agency also said early last year that it would tap into video game innovations for its Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications system, or C2BMC. MDA wants to create a new C2BMC Planner to allow different commands to better collaboratively plan, coordinate and optimize high-demand missile defense assets.

By John Liang
November 29, 2023 at 2:00 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on House and Senate conferees gathering to negotiate the fiscal year 2024 defense policy bill, a DARPA award for using diamonds to reduce heat in transistors and more.

House and Senate conferees have begun their annual negotiations to come up with the new defense policy bill:

Bipartisan lawmakers express need for compromise for defense policy bill, amidst varying party interests

House and Senate bipartisan lawmakers spoke about their commitment to passing the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill today despite varying priorities both parties have during a "pass the gavel" ceremony today.


House, Senate lawmakers to 'pass the gavel,' kicking off defense policy bill negotiations

Senior members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees will meet Wednesday for a "pass the gavel" ceremony that formally begins bicameral negotiations on the annual defense authorization bill that will likely lead to clashes over key Pentagon policies and programs.

RTX subsidiary Raytheon recently announced the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency had awarded the radar maker a four-year, $15 million contract "to increase the electronic capability of radio frequency with high-power-density gallium nitride transistors":

New atomic-scale cooling technology could unleash more powerful radar, radios, EW systems

The Defense Department is reaching for a next-generation microelectronics advancement that promises order-of-magnitude improvements for radar, communications and electronic warfare systems by using diamonds to reduce heat in transistors, awarding Raytheon an applied research contract to demonstrate the efficacy of such novel cooling technology.

The Army recently released a market survey seeking to develop the XM123 Ground Obstacle Breaching Lane Neutralizer (GOBLN), a mine and obstacle clearing system designed to "to maintain a high operational tempo through the reduction of non-explosive and explosive obstacles":

Army looking to make breaching vehicles 'more reliable and effective'

The Army wants to make its obstacle breaching vehicles "more reliable and effective" on the battlefield, according to a public announcement last week.

Space Systems Command's Space Sensing Resilient missile warning, tracking and defense program office will now begin to manufacture six space vehicles for delivery which are scheduled to lift off in late 2026:

SSC completes CDR of first MEO missile warning and tracking system

Space Systems Command today announced it has completed the critical design review of Epoch 1 space vehicles, the Space Force's first medium Earth orbit missile warning and tracking system.

By Georgina DiNardo
November 29, 2023 at 1:01 PM

The Defense Department today announced a $3.2 million agreement with South Star Battery Metals Corp. in an effort to strengthen and expand the U.S. domestic graphite supply chain.

"This is another example of the critical importance of the Defense Production Act investment authorities," said Laura Taylor-Kale, assistant defense secretary for industrial base policy, in a press release today. "As one of our first awards to a Canadian company in the battery materials sector, this award exemplifies our combined commitment to strengthening our battery material supply chains and global approach to industrial base resilience."

The department entered into this agreement under Title III of the Defense Production Act, which gives DOD the power to appropriate funds to companies for feasibility studies.

South Star will perform a study that will cover the entire CSPG process from beginning to end, starting with mining and ending with final production. The study will look at economic, environmental, social and governance criteria.

If the study is successful, South Star will build a “downstream battery-grade processing facility,” located in the southeast, that would use the BamaStar mine site to provide concentrates to be transformed into CSPG, which will be used as feedstock for “domestic lithium-ion battery anode production,” according to the release.

The department hopes that this result will create a healthier, stronger domestic graphite anode supply chain.

In the past, the DPAI program has made 23 awards, totaling $717.5 million, to help with manufacturing, expansion and investment.

By Dan Schere
November 29, 2023 at 10:45 AM

The Army has awarded other transaction agreements to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman for the first phase of the Launched Effects (LE) program, the service announced Wednesday.

Launched Effects “will provide standoff sense and effect capabilities for soldiers while keeping air and ground forces outside the range of adversary weapon systems,” according to the service’s Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors. LE will also support forces “entering and exiting mission areas.”

The LE program consists of three phases, and during that span the Army aims to mature payloads from a technology readiness level of 6, a prototype system that has been tested in a relevant environment, to TRL 7 -- a prototype that has been demonstrated in an operational environment.

Northrop has been awarded for two payloads and Lockheed has been awarded for one, with each award valued at about $100,000, according to the Army. The OTA will total about $37 million over all three phases.

In Phase 1, the payloads will be integrated and tested within infrared and electronic warfare realms, and Phase 2 involves maturing the TRL 6 payloads and integrating them into a “captive carry test event,” Dennis Teefy, the project director for sensors-aerial intelligence (PD SAI) said in a statement. Phase 3 will be “a final integration and flight test in a chosen uncrewed aerial vehicle.”

The LE program of record is currently “being defined” by the Army’s Program Executive Office for Aviation. The first iteration, expected no earlier than fiscal year 2030, will be used to support user evaluations before fielding the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft and Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, according to the service. PD SAI will manage the payloads and will work with PEO Aviation and Project Manager Uncrewed Aircraft to ensure the payloads meet threshold requirements.

By Nickolai Sukharev
November 28, 2023 at 5:53 PM

BAE Systems won a $36.4 million contract to continue producing the Hercules recovery vehicles for the Army, the Defense Department announced on Nov. 22.

Under the contract, BAE will manufacture the M88A2 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift and Evacuation System vehicles at their facility in York, PA with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2025.

Earlier this year, BAE received contracts to manufacture the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle and the M109A7 self-propelled howitzer.

Based on the Abrams tank, the M88A2 is designed to recover vehicles weighing up to 70 tons, remove and replace turrets as well as provide fuel.

In 2018, the Army announced a solicitation for the M88A3, which features an upgraded engine and tracks along with the capability to recover vehicles weighing up to 80 tons.

The Army will not procure the M88A2 during fiscal year 2024 but will procure 14 vehicles in FY 2025, according to budget documents.

In addition to the U.S., the M88 is currently used by Australia, Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and Thailand.