The Insider

By John Liang
October 3, 2022 at 1:53 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an Army directed-energy air defense system, international defense industrial base collaboration, the Marine Corps' Amphibious Combat Vehicle program and more.

Lockheed will conduct "first light" of the Directed Energy Interceptor for Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense in the fourth quarter of this year:

Lockheed prepares for first light of new laser later this year

Lockheed Martin will begin laboratory testing later this year of a new directed-energy air defense system to be mounted on Strykers in anticipation of an upcoming Army competition.

Recent conversations among the international industrial base specialists, many of whom represented NATO member nations, was focused not only on aiding Ukraine, but strengthening and expanding the global response to other possible contingencies:

DOD weapons chief sees potential for greater industrial cooperation with foreign allies

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante, fresh from a meeting in Brussels this week with national armaments directors from dozens of foreign nations, said today the United States, seeking to bolster long-term support for Ukraine, wants to partner more closely with allies to develop, produce and procure critical weapon systems.

The Marine Corps last week sent Congress a selected acquisition report indicating that Amphibious Combat Vehicle fielding could be impacted if contractor BAE Systems is unable to increase production numbers from five to nine vehicles per month by fiscal year 2025:

Marine Corps monitoring ACV schedule risks, says production is on track

The Marine Corps says it is keeping a close eye on the production of its Amphibious Combat Vehicle, acknowledging the potential for schedule risks as it increases production numbers.

Inside Defense recently interviewed Larry Ryder, Austal's vice president of business development and external affairs:

Austal building two dry docks for West Coast availabilities

As the Navy attempts to work through its backlog of surface ship repairs, Austal USA is building two dry docks to increase its volume for maintenance availabilities.

Work has long been underway behind the scenes to prepare for the Space Development Agency's next step, with officials such as outgoing Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond recently suggesting much of what remains is paperwork and bureaucratic shuffling:

Space Force continues to evolve with transition of SDA

The Space Development Agency formally joined the Space Force last week due to a congressional mandate, a move that will add a new acquisition arm to the service, expand its satellite portfolio and potentially transform its procurement strategy.

Acting Defense Innovation Unit Director Mike Madsen called the work to hire a candidate to replace Mike Brown, the most recent and longest serving official to helm DIU, "a very deliberate process":

DIU director search to span another four to six months, acting head says

The closely watched search for the next head of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit is expected to take another four to six months, the outfit's acting leader says -- a timeline, slammed by one key lawmaker, that would leave the small-budget unit without a director well into fiscal year 2023.

The Navy is looking to Boeing’s MQ-25 unmanned aircraft to play a major role in the future carrier air wing, providing aerial refueling for the fleet and alleviating some of the pressure on F/A-18 Super Hornets:

Navy's MQ-25 unmanned tanker drone has 'emerged' from program delays

After supplier issues and schedule delays, the Navy says the MQ-25 Stingray program has moved beyond its setbacks -- but remains on a tight schedule to achieve operational capability by 2025.

By John Liang
October 3, 2022 at 10:18 AM

Viasat announced today that it has agreed to sell its Link 16 tactical data links business to L3Harris Technologies for $1.96 billion.

"The sale is expected to result in cash proceeds to Viasat of approximately $1.8 billion net after estimated taxes, fees, and other expenses," the company said in a statement.

The sale of the business includes the Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) platforms and associated next-generation Link 16 terminals and handheld radios, as well as the Link 16 to space business, according to Viasat.

The Link 16 TDL business had revenue of approximately $400 million for the year ending on June 30, 2022, the company said.

By John Liang
October 3, 2022 at 10:14 AM

ManTech International announced today that Kevin Phillips will retire as CEO and president and Chief Operating Officer Matt Tait will succeed him.

Phillips will transition to the role of chairman of ManTech's board of directors, according to a company statement.

Tait has been COO since joining ManTech in 2018. Before that, he worked for Accenture for 20 years.

Private-equity firm the Carlyle Group bought ManTech in a deal worth $4.2 billion in May.

In connection with the completion of ManTech's transaction with Carlyle, ManTech has set up a new board of directors. In addition to Phillips as chairman as well as Tait, the members of the board include:

* Dayne Baird: managing director at Carlyle, who leads the firm's efforts in the government services sector;

* Brian Bernasek: managing director and co-head of U.S. buyout and growth at Carlyle;

* Mary Bush: president of Bush International, LLC, former managing director of the Federal Housing Finance Board, and former founder of the International Finance Department at Fannie Mae;

* Jonathan Darby: former director of operations of the NSA/Central Security Service (CSS);

* Ian Fujiyama: managing director and head of Global Aerospace and Government Services at Carlyle;

* Beth Kimber: Two-Six Technologies vice president for Intelligence Community Strategy and former deputy director of CIA for operations;

* Tom Rabaut: Carlyle operating executive, deputy chairman of AUSA, former CEO of United Defense, and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point;

* William Varner: former president of ManTech.s Mission, Cyber & Intelligence Solutions Group.

By Tony Bertuca
October 3, 2022 at 1:55 AM

Senior defense officials are slated to speak at Washington think tanks this week.

Monday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on Russia’s operations in Ukraine with the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

Thursday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts the launch of the Army climate implementation plan.

By Michael Marrow
September 30, 2022 at 5:59 PM

The Space Surveillance Telescope that will be operated jointly by the Australian Defense Department and Space Force reached initial operational capability today, according to a press release from Space Operations Command.

SST will perform space domain awareness services by detecting and tracking objects in geosynchronous orbit, helping to avoid collisions and monitor other objects like asteroids.

Built by a Defense Research Projects Agency team at White Sands Missile Range, NM, the telescope was relocated to Australia in 2017 as part of a deal to expand coverage in the southern hemisphere and develop Australia’s space domain awareness capabilities.

The telescope is expected to reach full operational capability late next year, according to the release.

SST will add critical space domain awareness services at a time when officials are raising alarm over the steady increase in space launches, warning that a further lack of guardrails and international agreements will create an unmanageable number of objects in orbit.

By Tony Bertuca
September 30, 2022 at 1:45 PM

The House voted 230-201 today to pass a stopgap continuing resolution that would keep the federal government funded through Dec. 16, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The Senate passed the CR yesterday, which will give Congress time to campaign for mid-term elections and return to Washington to negotiate a final fiscal year 2023 appropriations package.

The stopgap bill, among other things, contains $7.5 billion in military aid for Ukraine and $4.5 billion in economic aid.

By Thomas Duffy
September 30, 2022 at 12:12 PM

This Friday INSIDER has news on the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier heading out to sea, a new AI contract, the Air Force gets a price tag on its newest nuclear weapon, the Navy looks to bolster its budget information to Congress, and more.

The Navy explained how its newest carrier would operate during its first time at sea:

Navy announces ‘service-retained’ deployment for first-in class Ford aircraft carrier

The Navy’s first-in class aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford, will embark on a “service-retained” deployment with U.S. 2nd Fleet this fall.

The Army handed out a new contract for work in artificial intelligence:

Palantir wins contract for expanded artificial intelligence work for Defense Department

Palantir will expand its work with the Army Research Laboratory to bring artificial intelligence into the hands of warfighters across the Defense Department under a new contract announced Wednesday evening.

It’s going to cost a lot of money to field and operate the Air Force’s newest nuclear missile:

Pentagon sets $188.8B Ground Based Strategic Deterrent life-cycle acquisition tab

The Pentagon has set a formal cost estimate for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program of $188.8 billion, a tally that includes $95.8 billion to develop and procure a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile fleet and $93 billion to operate and sustain the fleet across five decades.

The Navy looks to using analytics in its supporting budget material sent to Congress:

Navy eyes data efforts to bolster budget decisions

The Navy is working to use data analytics and force planning tools in the hopes it can assist with future budget decisions and address recent congressional criticisms that the service has not been transparent enough with its shipbuilding plans.

A top Army official explained how the service will spend some of its money next year:

Army to invest in network, artificial intelligence, more in FY-23

The Army will send industry a strong demand signal for science and technology investments in high-tech capabilities in fiscal year 2023 and is asking industry to determine how its innovations can help the Army fulfill priorities in those areas, one of the service's top acquisition officials said Wednesday.

By Michael Marrow
September 30, 2022 at 10:47 AM

The Senate voted by unanimous consent yesterday evening to confirm Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman as the next chief of space operations and promotion to general.

Saltzman will become the Space Force’s second space chief after outgoing incumbent Gen. John Raymond, who was tapped to lead the service when it was stood up in December 2019.

A former Minuteman III launch officer and satellite operator for the National Reconnaissance Office, Saltzman previously served as deputy chief of space operations for operations, cyber and nuclear.

President Biden nominated Saltzman on July 27 and the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on his nomination Sept. 13. During that hearing, Saltzman indicated the United States may need offensive capabilities in space to deter adversaries.

The confirmation was first reported by Space News.

Saltzman was confirmed following a 72-25 Senate vote on a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown. The House is expected to pass the CR today.

Senators will return on Oct. 11 to begin debate on the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill, with the first vote scheduled for Nov. 14, after the midterm elections.

By Tony Bertuca
September 29, 2022 at 4:32 PM

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said today the Senate will not vote on any legislation until Nov. 14, sending lawmakers home to campaign for mid-term elections and delaying passage of the chamber’s defense authorization bill.

While the Senate will meet to begin formal consideration of the bill on Oct. 11, most senators are expected to be out of town campaigning, meaning a vote will not occur until mid-November at the earliest.

Schumer, who previously said the Senate would be in session to pass the bill in October, said on the chamber floor today that senators should be prepared for “an extremely -- underline extremely -- final two months of this Congress.”

By Briana Reilly
September 29, 2022 at 3:38 PM

A bill to reauthorize two small business programs that serve as key pillars within the military's broader innovation environment has won approval from the House, clearing both chambers of Congress just one day before the initiatives are set to expire.

The plan’s passage today brings a legislative conclusion to a behind-the-scenes debate over the Small Business Innovation Research program in which lawmakers and aides considered a host of front-end programmatic changes to the four-decade-old effort that has drawn concerns over foreign influence and so-called “SBIR mills.”

Rather than being included in the continuing resolution that senators unveiled this week to keep the government funded through Dec. 16, or the defense policy bill, which has yet to get through the Senate, the framework is a standalone one that was green-lit on a 415-9 vote.

Speaking on the floor Wednesday when the legislation was first taken up, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), the House small business committee chair, said the plan bolsters oversight while informing “future program changes,” and she credited the “months-long bipartisan and bicameral negotiations” for producing the current framework.

“Unfortunately, S. 4900 does not include everything we wanted to accomplish during this reauthorization, but I remain committed to coming together again in the future to have those conversations,” she said.

Under the bill, which was advanced by the Senate via unanimous consent last week, both SBIR and the complementary Small Business Technology Transfer programs would see a three-year extension -- staving off another reauthorization debate through Sept. 30, 2025.

The timeframe under the proposal, from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the chair of the Senate small business committee, is shorter than the current five-year authorization period both programs are operating under, which was set in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

The legislation also includes a number of programmatic changes, products of negotiations among the so-called “six corners,” consisting of the House and Senate small business panels and the House science committee, that seek to boost the number of new entrants to SBIR and STTR while minimizing the presence of contractors who repeatedly win phase I and II awards but fail to commercialize their technology solutions.

For example, the bill features a requirement that would implement the use of open topics by allowing potential vendors to pitch solutions to Defense Department components at least once a year for the programs; set new transition standards for phase I and II awardees participating in the three-phase programs; and put in place a claw-back provision that would give agencies approval to recover funds in certain instances.

DOD and other federal agencies would also need to create “a due diligence program to assess the potential risk posed by foreign ties and obligations,” according to a summary of the legislation obtained last week by Inside Defense.

Concerns over those ties, vocalized by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the ranking member on the Senate small business committee, came after the topic was publicly highlighted in a Wall Street Journal article that cited an April 2021 DOD report on SBIR recipients that dissolved their U.S. companies to join efforts backed by the Chinese military, as well as award winners that took venture capital dollars from firms controlled by Beijing. Paul had also sounded the alarm over SBIR mill considerations.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), the ranking member of the House small business committee, said during a floor speech Wednesday that the legislation addresses both of those concerns, putting “a stop to the use of some of these programs as ATMs for different companies” and ending “the Chinese abuse of these programs as well.”

Other provisions of the bill would require the Government Accountability Office to review businesses that have won more than 50 phase II awards; conduct a series of studies comparing open versus conventional topics, in which government specifies its needs to industry; and assess the subcontracting practices and agreements of SBIR and STTR awardees.

Ahead of the legislation’s passage, the Defense Department -- one of 11 agency users of SBIR -- had already been bracing for a potential programmatic lapse, which would have prevented the posting of future solicitations and funding of ongoing or new projects.

By Tony Bertuca
September 29, 2022 at 2:36 PM

The Senate has voted 72-25 to pass a stopgap continuing resolution that would keep the federal government open until Dec. 16 and provide $12.3 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine.

The bill now advances to the House for final passage after which it will be sent to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The CR contains $7.5 billion in military aid for Ukraine and $4.5 billion in economic aid.

The measure includes $3 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the Defense Department to contract directly with industry to supply Ukraine with weapons, training, logistics and other military support.

The CR includes $1.5 billion to replenish U.S. stocks sent to Ukraine through presidential “drawdown” authority, and $540 million to increase production of critical munitions sent to Ukraine. Along with the new funds, the bill authorizes a total of $3.7 billion in drawdown "authority."

The CR also includes $2.8 billion for U.S. mission support, intelligence support, and special duty pay for troops deployed to the region.

Additionally, the CR also proposes $2 million for the Defense Department inspector general to report on U.S. assistance to Ukraine.

The bill would also provide $35 million to the National Nuclear Security Administration “to prepare for and respond to potential nuclear and radiological incidents in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, the CR freezes federal spending at previous-year levels and prohibits the Pentagon from launching new programs or ramping up production of weapon systems.

By Nick Wilson
September 29, 2022 at 2:30 PM

The Marine Corps is preparing to begin two large-scale bilateral exercises with key Pacific allies, Japan and the Philippines, according to a Thursday announcement from the service.

In early October, Marines will join members of the Philippine Marines, Navy and Air Force for KAMANDAG 6 in Luzon, Batanes, and Palawan in the Philippines. While in Hokkaido, Japan, 1,600 U.S. Marines will join 1,400 Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) members for Resolute Dragon 22.

The KAMANDAG 6 exercise, which will run from Oct. 3-14, aims to improve joint amphibious operations for maritime security and coastal defense. The event will also involve live-fire exercises with aircraft and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) over central Luzon.

Resolute Dragon 22, the second iteration of the exercise, will also involve live-fire testing of HIMARS in addition to the JGSDF’s Multiple Launch Rocket System. Resolute Dragon 22’s goals include improving bilateral command and control and multidomain maneuverability. The event spans Oct. 1-14.

The 3d Marine Division headquarters in Okinawa, Japan will perform command and control for all U.S. forces involved in both exercises, according to the announcement.

Aircraft participating in the two exercises include the F-35B Lightning II, MV-22B Osprey, CH-53E Super Stallion, AH-1Z Viper, UH-1Y Venom, KC-130J Super Hercules and F/A-18 Hornet.

“Resolute Dragon and KAMANDAG are important opportunities to bolster the defensive capabilities of our alliances with Japan and the Philippines through realistic combined training,” Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron, 3d Marine Division Commanding General, said in a statement included in the release. “These exercises will allow our forces to strengthen interoperability and readiness to ensure we are prepared to rapidly respond to crisis throughout the Indo-Pacific.”

By Thomas Duffy
September 29, 2022 at 11:39 AM

This Thursday INSIDER starts off with some contracting news from the National Reconnaissance Office, some space management news, and two budget stories from the Navy.

The NRO is reaching out to the commercial sector for some study and analysis:

NRO awards six commercial RF study contracts

The National Reconnaissance Office today awarded six commercial vendors study contracts for space-based radio frequency remote sensing, according to an agency press release.

Unless countries around the world work together, managing space will be difficult:

Thompson: Lack of international agreements will make space 'difficult' to manage

International agreements will be needed to control the burgeoning number of objects in orbit, a top Space Force official said today, warning that the continued growth of satellites without certain guardrails will harm future space operations.

The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier is running up its price tag:

Revised Ford-class program price tag wipes out at least half of expected block-buy savings

The projected price tag for the Navy's next-generation aircraft carrier effort increased by more than $2 billion over the last two years, wiping out half of the savings the Ford-class program hoped to harvest though bundling the acquisition of a third-and-fourth warship.

A Navy unmanned program gets a bad report card from government auditors:

Audit finds Navy's large robotic sub program years behind schedule, over budget

A government watchdog's analysis has found that the Navy's Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle program is at least three years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.

By Briana Reilly
September 29, 2022 at 10:29 AM

The National Defense Industrial Association board has elected Michael Bayer as its new chair effective Oct. 1, the organization announced today.

Bayer, the president and CEO of Dumbarton Strategies, will serve in the role for a two-year term, succeeding retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro, CEO of The Punaro Group, per NDIA.

Punaro is set to remain at NDIA as the board’s chair emeritus over the next two years, while holding positions at the helm of NDIA’s nomination and governance committee and head of the advisory board of the Emerging Technologies Institute.

Taking over for Bayer as vice chair of the board is Lisa Disbrow, the former under secretary of the Air Force from January 2015 to July 2017. Within that term, she had also served as acting Air Force secretary and the secretary of defense’s principal DOD space advisor. At NDIA, she most recently served as the organization’s compensation committee chair.

Meanwhile, Bayer previously chaired the Defense Business Board and was a member of the Defense Science Board.

By Tony Bertuca
September 28, 2022 at 2:38 PM

The Defense Department has announced a new $1.1 billion aid package that would begin the contracting process to eventually send an additional 18 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and other weapons to Ukraine.

The funds are being drawn from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows DOD to contract directly with defense contractors, rather than transfer weapons directly from U.S. stocks via presidential “drawdown” authority.

“This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional priority capabilities to Ukraine in the mid- and long-term,” DOD said in a statement. “It represents a multiyear investment in critical capabilities to build the enduring strength of Ukraine’s Armed Forces as it continues to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory in the face of Russian aggression.”

The USAI, however, is not intended for rapid delivery and it could take a year or two before the systems reach Ukraine.

Along with the 18 HIMARs, the package includes:

* 150 armored humvees

* 150 Tactical Vehicles to tow weapons

* 40 trucks and 80 trailers to transport heavy equipment

* two radars for unmanned aerial systems

* 20 multimission radars

* counter-unmanned aerial systems

* assorted tactical communications equipment

* explosive ordnance disposal equipment

* body armor

* funding for training, maintenance and sustainment

The United States has now committed approximately $16.9 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021, according to DOD.