The Insider

By Georgina DiNardo
July 11, 2024 at 12:27 PM

The Office of Management and Budget director and the national cyber director said that fiscal year 2026 agency budget submissions for cybersecurity investment priorities should align with the five pillars outlined in the National Cybersecurity Strategy.

The five pillars outlined in the strategy, which aims to advance the U.S.’s cybersecurity posture, are defending critical infrastructure, disrupting and dismantling threat actors, shaping market forces to drive security and resilience, investing in a resilient future and forging international partnerships to pursue shared goals.

“Sustained investments across these five pillars are critical to mitigate cybersecurity risks and should be addressed within the FY 2026 Budget guidance levels provided by OMB,” Shalanda Young, OMB director, and Harry Coker, national cyber director, said in a memo released yesterday detailing budget submission details.

Across the pillars, budget submissions should look towards modernizing federal defenses, scaling public-private collaboration, improving baseline cybersecurity requirements, improving open source software security and sustainability, countering cybercrime to defeat adversaries, securing software development and leveraging federal procurement to improve accountability, leveraging federal grants and other incentives to build in security, strengthening the cyber workforce, preparing for the post-quantum future and securing the technical foundation of the internet.

“The administration is committed to data-driven decision-making and departments and agencies are expected to incorporate performance measurement strategies into resource requests in order to build visibility in requested activities and allow effective measurement of investments,” the memo, which was sent to all executive department and agency heads, said.

During FY-26 budget submissions, OMB and the Office of the National Cyber Director will review agency responses regarding these priorities together and then identify possible gaps and find solutions to said gaps.

“OMB, in coordination with ONCD, will provide feedback to agencies on whether their submissions adequately address and are consistent with overall cybersecurity strategy and policy, aiding agencies’ multiyear planning through the regular budget process,” the memo said.

By Dan Schere
July 11, 2024 at 5:00 AM

The Army's Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office is seeking to develop a high-energy laser that can defeat groups 1 through 3 unmanned systems, according to a government notice posted Wednesday asking vendors to submit white papers.

RCCTO is aiming to leverage industry in accelerating the “development and field testing of a producible and sustainable laser weapon system,” according to the Army. The weapon system will be designed to meet a counter UAS force protection requirement from the Army and will be compatible with existing air and missile defense architecture.

According to the notice, the laser will be able to deliver lethal effects against groups 1 through 3 UAS, which the Defense Department defines as those weighing less than 1,320 pounds.

The laser weapon system should be capable of “fixed site defense and/or integration onto an existing Army platform, such as a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle,” according to the Army. And it also must be interoperable with the service’s Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control.

RCCTO plans to issue a prototype award early in fiscal year 2025 and will choose a prime contractor in FY-26 for production following the development and demonstration effort, according to the notice. Once the program transitions to the Army’s Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, it could use a middle tier acquisition rapid fielding approach to produce up to 20 laser weapon systems.

The government will give preference to vendors’ systems that are assessed at Technology Readiness Level 7 by the third quarter of FY-26 -- meaning that the prototype has been demonstrated in an operational environment.

Interested vendors are invited to an industry day at Redstone Arsenal, AL July 18, and white papers are due Aug. 7.

In a report accompanying the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the FY-25 defense authorization bill, released earlier this week, lawmakers noted the threat posed by “Group 1 to Group 3+ unmanned aerial systems and UAS swarms, both to the Homeland and to U.S. military operations, installations, and personnel worldwide."

Senate authorizers stated in the legislation that the Pentagon must test directed-energy capabilities and servicemembers must be trained to operate directed-energy weapons before they can be deployed against UAS.

The committee has included a provision directing the defense secretary to brief the congressional defense committees by March 31, 2025 on the capability of the Pentagon to test directed-energy systems, and its plans to increase that capability. The briefing is to include a list of DOD test ranges that currently conduct directed-energy testing, along with information on any impacts the tests may have on the National Airspace System and the electromagnetic spectrum as well as a plan to “expand range support for DE testing and operations.”

By John Liang
July 10, 2024 at 1:59 PM

The bulk of this Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest centers on coverage of the Senate Armed Services Committee's fiscal year 2025 defense policy bill.

Before we get to the bill though, we have coverage of the NATO summit being held this week in Washington:

Hicks calls for multinational procurement efforts at NATO summit

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks called for a multinational surge in defense industrial capacity procurement at a NATO summit today amid officials' discussions of Ukrainian aid pledges.

Moving on to the authorization bill, let's start off with the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

Senate authorizers raise concerns over DOD's CMMC program

The Senate Armed Services Committee outlined its concerns over the implementation of the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program and the upcoming launch of version 2.0 in the report accompanying its version of the fiscal year 2025 defense authorization bill.

The bill also has ground vehicle provisions:

Senate authorizers want to know when Army will field protection systems for combat vehicles

Senate authorizers want to know when the Army plans to field active protection systems that would make combat vehicles more survivable against threats on the future battlefield.

Senate authorizers want Army to finish humvee rollover prevention program five years early

Senate authorizers are asking the Army to speed up a program that retrofits humvees with kits designed to prevent rollovers and increase the survivability five years ahead of schedule.

. . . Along with unmanned systems language:

Senate defense authorization bill seeks proposal for UAS budget line 'consolidation'

Senate authorizers are asking the Army secretary to submit a proposal for "consolidating" funding lines related to small unmanned systems, according to the Senate version of the fiscal year 2025 defense authorization bill.

MQ-25 early manufacturing effort needs nearly $50 million capital injection

The Navy's MQ-25 Stingray needs an immediate $50 million cash infusion to prop up early engineering and manufacturing development efforts, a 22% increase compared to service plans for the Boeing-led project to deliver a first-ever operational uncrewed aircraft to the aircraft carrier fleet.

. . . Plus Navy shipbuilding provisions:

Senate authorizers take aim at frigate and LSM design maturity standards

Senate authorizers aim to raise shipbuilding design maturity standards with their version of the fiscal year 2025 defense policy bill, which would fence procurement funding for the Navy’s Landing Ship Medium and Constellation-class frigate until ship designs satisfy heightened maturity requirements.

. . . As well as Army night vision gear:

Senate authorizers propose steep cuts to embattled Army night vision program

Senate authorizers, in their version of the fiscal year 2025 defense authorization bill, have proposed cutting most of the procurement funding requested by the Army in the upcoming fiscal year for its Integrated Visual Augmentation System.

By Nickolai Sukharev
July 10, 2024 at 12:44 PM

(Editor’s note: Kongsberg reported their quarterly financial information in Norwegian Krone. This story uses the conversion rate to the U.S. dollar as of July 10, 2024.)

Kongsberg defense revenue increased by 28% for the second quarter of 2024 driven in part by U.S. air defense and remotely operated weapon systems, company executives reported during a quarterly earnings presentation today.

With defense segment revenues at $413 million, President and CEO Geir Håøy said programs with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army “were an important milestone” in the Norwegian company’s defense profits for the second quarter of this year.

Kongsberg’s defense segment is currently contracted to produce the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) for the U.S. Air Force and the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) for the U.S. Army.

In total, the company reported an approximate $1.08 billion in revenue with growth ranging from 8% to 28% across all segments, which include maritime, aerospace and digital design.

Based off the Navy’s Strike Missile, the JSM is an air-launched cruise missile with a 345-mile range designed to be fired from an F-35.

“The U.S. Air Force is by far the largest purchaser of F-35s and represent a huge potential for our missile going forward,” Håøy said during the presentation. “We expect more countries to order the missile in the next years.”

Kongsberg also opened a new factory associated with the JASM, which Håøy added would contribute to further growth.

The CROWS is a remotely operated machine gun that allows soldiers the fire on targets from inside combat vehicles without having to expose themselves to enemy fire. The Army is currently fitting the system to the Stryker combat vehicle, according to service budget documents.

Mette Toft Bjørgen, the company’s financial officer, noted that CROWS was the “largest contributor” to growth in the defense segment.

Partnering with Textron, Kongsberg is also designing lethal payloads for the U.S. Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle program, an unmanned vehicle designed to operate alongside manned units.

By Shelley K. Mesch
July 10, 2024 at 12:21 PM

Ukraine's military will begin flying operational F-16 fighter jets later this summer, according to a joint statement from the White House, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The Danish and Dutch governments are giving the country the jets with support from the United States, according to the statement, and Belgium and Norway have committed to supplying more aircraft.

President Joe Biden, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Dutch Prime Minister Dick Schoof are co-leaders of the Air Force Capability Coalition for Ukraine.

“We are committed to further enhancing Ukraine’s air capabilities, which will include squadrons of modern fourth-generation F-16 multirole aircraft,” the co-leaders said. “The coalition intends to support their sustainment and armament as well as further associated training for pilots to enhance operational effectiveness.”

Military support for Ukraine as it continues its more than two-year battle against Russia’s invasion is a key issue for NATO leaders as they meet this week in Washington, DC.

Ukrainian pilots began training on F-16s in the U.S. last year.

Many lawmakers last year urged DOD to send U.S. F-16s to Ukraine, but the Biden administration and allied countries hesitated to provide the jets.

Last week, the Defense Department announced the most recent aid package to Ukraine: $2.3 billion for air defense interceptors and other capabilities.

By Shelley K. Mesch
July 9, 2024 at 4:46 PM

Assistant Air Force Secretary for Financial Management and Comptroller Kristyn Jones, who performed the duties of the service under secretary for more than a year, will retire from the government tomorrow, the service announced today.

Jones began her role as assistant secretary in May 2022, and from March 2023 until May of this year, she acted as the Air Force under secretary. During this time, she helped shape the service’s “Reoptimization for Great Power Competition” plan to meet the potential threat posed by near peer adversaries, particularly China.

“I want to express my gratitude to Kristyn Jones for her dedicated service while serving as under secretary,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in May. “Her leadership and focus was invaluable as we advanced our modernization priorities and efforts to reoptimize the department for an era of great power competition.”

Melissa Dalton took over as under secretary in May following her Senate confirmation, more than a year after former Under Secretary Gina Ortiz Jones left the position.

Jones previously served in the Army and worked in financial management for both the Navy and Army.

By Abby Shepherd
July 9, 2024 at 4:44 PM

The Defense Department inspector general's office will assess the Navy's efforts to recapitalize its sealift fleet, according to a memo released Tuesday.

The office will specifically evaluate the effectiveness of service life extensions, acquisition of used vessels and new vessel construction, yet the memo adds that the office may revise its objectives as the evaluation proceeds.

Evaluation at the Navy, U.S. Transportation Command, Military Sealift Command and the Transportation Department’s Maritime Administration will begin this month.

The announcement follows discussion and legislative proposals surrounding sealift recapitalization, including an amendment in the House’s defense policy bill that would codify and update sealift capacity-focused National Security Directive 28.

The Senate Armed Services Committee also released its version of the fiscal year 2025 defense policy bill Monday, which calls for strategic sealift modernization. Senate authorizers require “a better understanding of the existing cargo ship market, including vessels that might be available for purchase, and how new ships from the U.S. Navy’s long-range shipbuilding plans and purchases of used vessels will meet our strategic sealift needs,” the bill’s committee report notes.

Senate authorizers have also directed the TRANSCOM commander to brief congressional defense committees no later than Jan. 31, 2025, on several sealift issues, including the market for used cargo ships and long-term plans for new ship construction.

The Navy brought forward a sealift legislative proposal in May that would allow the service to buy foreign, used vessels. In a House Armed Services Committee Navy budget hearing that month, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti detailed several sealift capacity solutions, calling the function “critically important.”

“We’ve already bought a number of ships and we are projected to buy up to nine, which is our limit, so we have a legislative proposal in there to remove that limit, so we can continue to do that,” she told lawmakers at the time.

By John Liang
July 9, 2024 at 2:17 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile program's price tag, plus coverage of the Senate Armed Services Committee's fiscal year 2025 defense authorization bill and more.

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante certified this week that the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile modernization program is necessary for national security, there are no alternatives to meet the requirements and the program is a higher priority than other programs whose funding will need to be cut:

Sentinel nuclear missile program to continue despite cost jump to $141 billion

The Defense Department is committing to the LGM-35A Sentinel nuclear missile program despite the price tag jumping to $140.9 billion -- an 81% increase -- and facing years-long delays.

The Senate defense authorization bill released this week would add $615 million in funding to a variety of Army programs:

Senate authorizers add funding for counter UAS, missile items from Army UPL in bill

The Senate Armed Services Committee would add funding for multiple items listed on the Army's unfunded priorities list related to unmanned systems and air and missile defense in its version of the fiscal year 2025 defense authorization bill.

Building a manned refueling aircraft remains Boeing's priority because it "requires much less electromagnetic spectrum to accomplish the mission over time, through technologies such as artificial intelligence, which could reduce the electromagnetic spectrum required to command and control those assets," according to a senior company executive:

Boeing not interested in making autonomous air refuelers -- for now

ST. LOUIS -- Even as the Air Force has signaled some support to eventually field unmanned tanker systems, plane-maker Boeing is looking at "principally crewed concepts" when developing future refueling platforms, Sean Liedman, Boeing's director of global reach, mobility, surveillance and bombers, recently told reporters here.

In its latest annual weapon system assessment, the Government Accountability Office found the Army initially intended to conduct its design completion review for the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) Increment 1 by December 2023 but delayed the review until all entrance criteria were met:

Army completes design review of Precision Strike Missile

The Army completed the design review for its short-range precision fire missile in the third quarter of this fiscal year, moving the nearly $8 million multiyear program closer to full operability.

GAO's weapon systems assessment also found cost increases in the Navy's MQ-4C Triton uncrewed aircraft program:

MQ-4C costs rise by 117%, final version estimated at $618 million per unit

The Navy's MQ-4C unmanned aircraft program has experienced substantial increases in acquisition unit costs with the newest version of the aircraft estimated to cost $618 million per unit, according to the Government Accountability Office and a Navy spokesperson.

The Multi-Domain Artillery Cannon System (MDACS) effort is a new-start program in fiscal year 2025 aimed at bolstering the joint force's air and missile defense efforts against cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft systems:

Army releases RFIs for Multi-Domain Artillery Cannon System

The Army's Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office released a series of requests for information today related to the service's new Multi-Domain Artillery Cannon System (MDACS) effort.

Document: Army RFI for MDAC

Document: Army RFI for MFPR

By Tony Bertuca
July 9, 2024 at 10:43 AM

Senate appropriators are preparing to mark up a defense spending bill that exceeds the caps mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act by $21 billion through "emergency funding."

A Capitol Hill staffer said the increase will accompany a $13.5 billion boost in non-defense emergency spending.

The increase is being characterized as “emergency funding” and not in violation of the FRA.

Meanwhile, the House has approved a defense appropriations bill that sticks to the FRA cap of $895 billion for national defense, with $850 billion specifically for the Defense Department.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), per her office, confirmed the $21 billion defense increase for reporters yesterday.

“We came up with about $21 billion, so we got remarkably close to the amount that the authorizing committee recommended,” she said.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has filed a bill that would break the defense cap by $25 billion.

Collins characterized the non-defense increase sought by Democrats as “emergency funding.”

“This will be emergency funding so it will not break the caps, and I believe it will allow us to fulfill our obligations to the people of this country,” she said.

By Jason Sherman
July 9, 2024 at 9:56 AM

The Pentagon is seeking congressional permission to shift $3.3 billion among budget accounts to launch a handful of new-start projects, including additional funding needed for the Air Force's Collaborative Combat Aircraft program, Army accounts to buy ship-sinking missiles needed for its Mid-Range Capability program and a new Mobile-Long Range Precision Strike Missile.

On June 28, Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord submitted a pair of omnibus reprogramming requests to Congress to shift funds appropriated in fiscal years 2024 and 2023 to higher-priority programs in FY-23. Inside Defense obtained a copy of the documents; one is for general budget funding realignment; the second is for military intelligence programs.

Read the full story, now available to all.

By Tony Bertuca
July 8, 2024 at 6:14 PM

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) filed the fiscal year 2025 defense authorization bill today.

The bill supports a total of $923 billion in national defense spending, breaking the cap mandated by the 2023 Fiscal Responsibility Act by about $25 billion. The bill authorizes $878 billion for the Defense Department and $33 billion for the Energy Department, with about $11.5 billion being out of the legislation’s jurisdiction.

The advancement of the bill, which does not match the FRA-aligned topline sought by the House, will be closely watched on the Senate floor, especially since Reed voted against it during committee deliberations, citing concerns about how it might pressure Senate appropriators to break the FRA.

The bill, among numerous other things, authorizes increased funding to build a second Virginia-class submarine as well as an additional $1.43 billion for a third Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, which stands in contrast to House authorizers and appropriators whose bills only fund two ships.

The bill does not change the Pentagon’s request for 68 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, though House authorizers are looking to cut 10 jets and House appropriators seek to procure an additional eight jets.

By Tony Bertuca
July 8, 2024 at 5:30 PM

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, released a statement today saying President Biden should end his candidacy for a second term, though the congressman added that he intends to "back him one hundred percent and without reservation" should Biden continue as the nominee.

Biden should leave the race “as soon as possible to give the new ticket the maximum amount of time to make its case to the American people,” Smith said.

“Any candidate for the highest office in our nation has a strong burden to bear,” he said. “That candidate must be able to clearly, articulately and strongly make his or her case to the American people. It is clear that President Biden is no longer able to meet this burden.”

During an appearance on CNN today, Smith said he believed Vice President Harris would be the best replacement for Biden, noting “there were concerns” about Biden’s abilities to deliver the party’s message prior to a recent debate with former President Trump.

“It hasn’t gotten better since the debate,” Smith said.

Still, Smith said Trump and his brand of “MAGA extremism” are “an existential threat to our nation.”

To that end, if Biden chooses to remain in the race, Smith said he would support him.

“Elections are, after all, a choice,” he said. “The president would still be, by a wide margin, the best candidate in the current field. He has done an outstanding job as president and our country will always owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for the job he has done. But no candidate is owed another term in office based solely on past performance. Every new term must be earned with the clear understanding of what that candidate will be capable of doing in the term to come.”

But Smith made clear in his statement that it “would be a mistake” for Biden to continue his campaign.

“He should step aside now so that we can find a new candidate that will put us in the strongest possible position to beat Donald Trump in November,” Smith said.

Other congressional Democrats have also called on Biden to leave the race, including Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, and Seth Moulton (D-MA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and himself an unsuccessful presidential candidate.

Biden, meanwhile, released a letter to Democratic lawmakers earlier today pledging to stay in the race.

“I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump,” the president said.

During a televised phone call today on MSNBC, Biden called on those challenging his candidacy to accompany him on the campaign trail and see for themselves.

“Come out with me. Watch me. Watch people react,” he said. “You make a judgment.”

Biden said he would not be running if he did not believe he could beat Trump for a second time.

“The bottom line here is that we’re not going anywhere,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

By John Liang
July 8, 2024 at 1:51 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army conducting offensive cyber operations, the Air Force's Installation Infrastructure Action Plan and more.

Maj. Gen. Paul Stanton, commanding general of the Army Cyber Center of Excellence, recently spoke at an event hosted by the Association of the United States Army:

Stanton: Army can launch offensive cyber operations without negative effects

The Army can conduct offensive cyber operations against adversaries professionally and without triggering negative consequences that would intentionally affect other countries, according to a top cyber operations commander.

To deal with evolving threats around the globe, the Air Force is establishing an Installation Infrastructure Action Plan, set for release later this summer or in early fall:

Air Force to rethink its installations in new action plan focused on Indo-Pacific threat

The Air Force's new promise of "Reoptimization for Great Power Competition" -- centered on the belief that the service needs to be better postured to win in a potential fight with China -- is forcing officials to confront "two important realities" concerning the resiliency of their installations, Ravi Chaudhary, assistant Air Force secretary for energy, installations and environment, told Inside Defense.

On July 3, the Defense Department issued its National Defense Industrial Strategy Interim Implementation Report, detailing the progress DOD is making toward implementing the actions laid out in the NDIS:

DOD highlights key investments in new defense industrial base strategy report

The Defense Department recognizes it must "correct for years of underinvestment in the industrial base," Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante wrote in an interim National Defense Industrial Base Strategy implementation report released last week.

Document: DOD's NDIS interim implementation report

Through the Orbital Services Program-4, the Space Force and other Defense Department entities can rapidly acquire launch services, enabling launch typically between 12 and 24 months from the date a task order is announced:

Blue Origin, Stoke Space Technologies join pool of SSC launch providers

Blue Origin and Stoke Space Technologies today joined 10 other businesses in a pool able to compete for speedy space launches run through Space Systems Command.

Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas is known to be a major training installation for the service, with both the 82nd technical training wing and 80th flying training wing residing there:

Air Force preps study to bring T-7A to Sheppard Air Force Base

As the Air Force overhauls swaths of its legacy fleet to make room for modernization, it is now considering Sheppard Air Force Base, TX to house T-7A Red Hawk trainers once its current inventory of T-38C Talons retires by the 2030s, according to an environmental impact statement notice posted today in the Federal Register.

By Nick Wilson
July 8, 2024 at 1:07 PM

The Marine Corps is conducting market research for its developing Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle ahead of an upcoming engineering and manufacturing development competition that will include three ARV mission-role variants, according to a July 3 request for information.

A future request for proposals for the program’s EMD phase will solicit the design and test of a 30mm Autocannon (ARV-30) variant, a Command, Control, Communication and Computers Unmanned Aerial System (ARV-C4UAS) variant and an ARV-Logistics (ARV-LOG) version, the notice states.

The service plans to release a request for proposals in the second quarter of FY-25 and award an EMD contract in the second quarter of FY-26, according to budget documents, which seek $63.7 million in continuing research and development funding for the program in FY-25.

In March, Textron Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems were awarded separate contracts to design and build ARV-30 prototypes. Both contractors have already delivered initial ARV-C4UAS prototypes that participated in government testing during FY-23.

The notice provides instructions to obtain an ARV EMD draft statement of work and other related documents. It asks interested contractors to answer a series of questions on their experience developing combat vehicles and ability to meet ARV program specifications, with responses desired by August 16.

The notice also asks respondents to explain their plan to integrate the ARV-30 gun turret system with the vehicle, indicating the Marine Corps wants to begin taking delivery of ARV-30s within 16 months of the contract award.

“The purpose of publicizing this market survey is to aid in the continued development of a future acquisition strategy, identify the number of interested small businesses and other-than-small businesses, gather information for planning purposes about the capabilities of each industry source as defined in Federal Acquisition Regulation 15.201(e), and obtain feedback on the draft P Spec, Statement of Work, Attachments and answers to specific questions,” the notice states.

The ARV will succeed the legacy Light Armored Vehicle and become a primary platform supporting the Marine Corps’ new Mobile Reconnaissance Battalions. The service plans to procure a family of six mission-role variants including organic precision fires, counter-UAS and recovery variants in addition to the ARV-30, ARV-C4UAS and ARV-LOG versions.

By Nickolai Sukharev
July 8, 2024 at 12:07 PM

BAE Systems will build additional self-propelled howitzers for the Army after receiving a $579.3 million contract, the Defense Department announced Wednesday.

The Pennsylvania-based manufacturer will produce the M109A7 Paladin self-propelled howitzers and M992A3 ammunition carrier vehicles by an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2029, with work being completed in York, PA; Sterling Heights, MI; Aiken, SC; Elgin, OK; and Anniston, AL; according to the July 3 announcement.

"Fiscal [year] 2023 and 2024 weapons and tracked combat vehicle procurement, Army funds in the amount of $265,807,177 were obligated at the time of the award,” the announcement reads.

The M109A7 serves as the Army’s self-propelled 155mm howitzer, designed to provide fire support as well as keep pace with the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Abrams main battle tank.

Each howitzer is paired with the M992A3 Carrier Ammunition Tracked vehicle, which stores and transports the ammunition.

Wednesday’s announcement follows an earlier contract from May in which BAE received a $57 million contract to produce the M109A7 and M992A3 at their facility in York, PA.

For fiscal year 2025, the Army plans to procure 20 Paladin systems in for $417 million and 155 systems for $2.7 billion by FY-29, according to service budget documents.

The Army initially intended to replace a portion of the Paladins with the Extended-Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) howitzer, a modified M109 with a longer gun tube in an effort to increase the firing range but cancelled the program in March after prototyping revealed technical issues.

Instead, the Army opted to use the remaining funds from the cancelled ERCA program to assess existing systems and plans to hold howitzer capability demonstrations with industry manufacturers starting next month at the Army Proving Ground in Yuma, AZ.

Speaking at an Association of the United States Army event in May, Lt. Gen. Karl Gingrich, the deputy chief of staff for programs (G-8), said the Army can also increase the firing range by innovating and improving the 155mm round.