The Insider

By John Liang
September 15, 2021 at 1:25 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on cybersecurity, the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System and more.

We start off with some cybersecurity news:

Inglis: Increased collaboration 'essential' in cybersecurity space

Increased collaboration between the public and private sector will be essential to identifying and mitigating threats in the cybersecurity space, the U.S.'s first national cyber director said yesterday.

The cost estimate for the first operational capability tied to the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System may not be ready until the first quarter of fiscal year 2022:

Air Force still finalizing cost estimate for first ABMS capability release

The cost estimate for the first operational capability tied to the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System, which officials previously said would be completed by the end of June, is not yet finalized -- a delay that comes as the service continues to work on overhauling its approach to the program.

The Pentagon's No. 2 uniformed officer spoke earlier this week about China's nuclear ambitions:

Hyten says China's nuclear buildup more worrisome than Taiwan scenario

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten said he has long been aware of China's rapid nuclear modernization, but only because he had access to classified information. Now, he said, non-governmental, open-source reports about China's construction of hundreds of new nuclear silos has given the public access to the threat he's long feared.

Lockheed Martin has nabbed a multibillion-dollar Joint Strike Fighter sustainment contract:

DOD awards Lockheed three-year F-35 sustainment deal worth up to $6.6B

The Defense Department today awarded Lockheed Martin an F-35 sustainment deal worth up to $6.6 billion across three years that could lead to a future performance-based logistics contract.

The Missile Defense Agency conducted a flight test of a Ground-based Midcourse Defense booster over the weekend:

MDA flight tests new 'selectable' booster that aims to improve homeland defense against North Korean ICBMs

The Missile Defense Agency executed a non-intercept flight test of a new Ground-based Midcourse Defense capability that aims to improve homeland defense against North Korean threats by optimizing engagement times of long-range interceptors by giving operators a new option to tailor the trajectory of guided-missile interceptors.

By Tony Bertuca
September 15, 2021 at 12:32 PM

House lawmakers have submitted more than 800 amendments to the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill scheduled to be considered on the floor next week.

The House Rules Committee will decide which amendments will be considered on the floor and which will be stripped.

Around 800 amendments were also submitted for the defense bill last year.

Staffers and analysts say the high number of proposed amendments is unsurprising as the defense bill has become one of the last must-pass legislative vehicles in a divided Congress.

Watch Inside Defense for in-depth coverage.

By Aidan Quigley
September 15, 2021 at 10:44 AM

(Editor's Note: This has been updated to reflect additional information from an AARGM official.)

The Navy has issued a $41.2 million contract to Northrop Grumman for Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range low-rate initial production Lot One.

The Navy awarded the contract to Northrop Grumman subsidiary Alliant Techsystems Operations on Tuesday. The contract represents the start of low-rate initial production for the AARGM-ER program.

The program, an upgrade to the AGM-88E AARGM, reached milestone C in late August. The Navy plans to integrate it on F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft, and the missile is compatible with the F-35.

The contract “provides for the production and delivery of 16 AGM-88G AARGM-ER All Up Rounds, six AGM-88G AARGM-ER Captive Air Training Missiles, four Common Munitions BIT Reprogramming Equipment Plus interface devices, initial spares, and required supplies and support,” according to the Navy’s announcement.

Work on the contract is expected to be complete in March 2024, and will primarily be performed in Northridge, CA.

The program completed its first live-fire event in July, launching from an F/A-18. The Navy is planning for initial operational capability in 2023, and the program is on track for IOC in September 2023, Keli Olea, AARGM team lead, told Inside Defense in a statement Wednesday.

The program plans to conduct developmental test events over the next year and half, followed by integrated and operational test events, Olea said.

The Government Accountability Office's June annual acquisition report stated the program's critical technology, a flame-retardant insulation for the rocket motor, was not fully mature when the program began development in March 2019.

The program told GAO it expected to demonstrate the technology is fully mature during flight testing in early 2021.

Olea said the flame-retardant insulation for the rocket motor is fully mature.

GAO reported design drawings were 98% complete as of July 2020. Olea said the program has now completed its design drawings.

By Aidan Quigley
September 14, 2021 at 5:09 PM

The Office of Naval Intelligence is focused on both the growing threat posed by China and pursuing technological advancements, Rear Adm. Curt Copley, the commander of ONI, said Monday.

Copley, speaking at the Intelligence and National Security Summit co-hosted by the

Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, said the service’s intelligence apparatus is pivoting from the Middle East and terrorism to Russia and China.

“We never took our eye off the adversaries we saw on the horizon, we never took our eyes off the Russians, and certainly as we saw Russia and China ascending, we have continued to track them,” he said. “And now, as strategic competition continues, we are really spending a lot of time re-aligning our talent and resources against those adversaries.”

Copley reiterated the Defense Department’s assessment that China is the country’s pacing threat, but noted the DOD is not taking Russia for granted.

Using technology to remain competitive is a top priority, Copley said.

“I’m very conscious that I am resource-constrained,” he said. “One of the things that gets us out of the resource constraint that [industry] can help us with is technology, when it comes to automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

Copley said automating workflows can free up analysts to re-orient to higher-priority needs.

By John Liang
September 14, 2021 at 2:00 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, China's nuclear ambitions and more.

Lockheed Martin has nabbed a multibillion-dollar Joint Strike Fighter sustainment contract:

DOD awards Lockheed three-year F-35 sustainment deal worth up to $6.6B

The Defense Department today awarded Lockheed Martin an F-35 sustainment deal worth up to $6.6 billion across three years that could lead to a future performance-based logistics contract.

The Pentagon's No. 2 uniformed officer spoke this week about China's nuclear ambitions:

Hyten says China's nuclear buildup more worrisome than Taiwan scenario

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten said he has long been aware of China's rapid nuclear modernization, but only because he had access to classified information. Now, he said, non-governmental, open-source reports about China's construction of hundreds of new nuclear silos has given the public access to the threat he's long feared.

The Missile Defense Agency conducted a flight test of a Ground-based Midcourse Defense booster over the weekend:

MDA flight tests new 'selectable' booster that aims to improve homeland defense against North Korean ICBMs

The Missile Defense Agency executed a non-intercept flight test of a new Ground-based Midcourse Defense capability that aims to improve homeland defense against North Korean threats by optimizing engagement times of long-range interceptors by giving operators a new option to tailor the trajectory of guided-missile interceptors.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report this week on the Pentagon's handling of congressional continuing resolutions:

GAO finds Pentagon can manage 'routine' continuing resolutions without major impact

The Government Accountability Office has found that the Pentagon can mostly manage its way through Congress' inefficient continuing resolutions without significant impacts to major defense acquisition programs.

Document: GAO report on CR

The Air Force is expected to complete a schedule risk assessment of the Air Force One replacement program in late 2021:

New VC-25B schedule baseline expected in late 2021, Air Force says

Air Force officials anticipate they will set a new schedule baseline for the Air Force One replacement program in "late 2021," though a service spokeswoman declined to share details on what the new timeline could look like, citing "ongoing discussions."

By Audrey Decker
September 14, 2021 at 11:23 AM

The Navy's MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aircraft conducted an aerial refueling test with the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter on Monday, the service announced today.

This is the third refueling test for the Boeing-owned MQ-25 aircraft. This summer, the Stingray completed air-to-air refueling tests with the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The test took place at MidAmerican Airport in Mascoutah, IL, according to a press release.

"Conducting refueling test missions with various aircraft allows the program to analyze data and determine if any adjustments to guidance and control are required," the press release states.

In the future, the MQ-25 will refuel every capable carrier-based aircraft, according to the Navy.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday recently said the Stingray is the Navy's first charge into the carrier airwing of the future.

After this flight, the MQ-25 will enter a modification period "to integrate the deck handling system in preparation for a shipboard demonstration this winter," the press release states.

By Courtney Albon
September 14, 2021 at 9:42 AM

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on Monday revealed a new effort to develop a space-based laser communication system to connect proliferated low-Earth-orbit architectures.

The Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node (Space-BACN) terminals will play a key role in the Pentagon’s vision for mosaic warfare, according to the new DARPA solicitation. The capability would operate on platforms in LEO, connecting systems that can’t communicate today because they use different optical intersatellite links (OISLs).

“In simpler terms,” the notice states, “the goal of this program is to bridge stovepipes and ‘connect space,’ which will in turn enable the joint all-domain fight.”

Because today’s LEO constellations don’t have standardized crosslinks, satellites can only communicate with other satellites operating on the same waveform. As the Defense Department and commercial space market eye increasing proliferation in LEO, the challenge of connecting systems through these crosslinks has become more apparent.

“With each constellation acquiring its own single-waveform OISL, the space domain has become severely fragmented with isolated islands of connectivity,” the notice states.

The Space-BACN terminal would be reconfigurable, easy to integrate, small in size and low-cost, which the solicitation defines as less than $100,000 for a production unit.

The agency plans to make multiple other transaction awards as part of the first phase of the program, Phase 0, which is focused on architectural design for two key technical priorities: a modular, low size, weight and power optical aperture; and a reconfigurable modem that supports multiple waveforms. The notice indicates DARPA will select up to six vendors for each of the two technical areas.

Phase 0 will last approximately four months, at the end of which companies will submit refined proposals and updated cost estimates for Phase 1. During Phase 1, participants will conduct a “bench top” demonstration that addresses any high-risk elements of their design. Phase 2 will follow, culminating in an engine design unit prototype that is hardened against cyber threats.

DARPA expects to award Phase 1 agreements to three performers from each technical area and will select “only the most promising approaches” for Phase 2.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
September 13, 2021 at 4:59 PM

There is currently no Army commission to examine the withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to a service spokesman.

"The Army has not established a review board to study the final withdrawal from Afghanistan," Jason Waggoner, the service spokesman, wrote in a Sept. 13 email to Inside Defense.

He did not respond to a question about whether the Army might establish a review board in the future.

The Marine Corps has announced plans to review the withdrawal after a suicide bombing killed 13 soldiers at the airport in Kabul. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger had initially said the service would create its own commission, but later clarified that headquarters staff would run the review, rather than a formal commission.

The Senate Armed Services Committee released a schedule last week for a series of hearings on the withdrawal. The defense secretary, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the combatant commander whose area of responsibility covers Afghanistan will testify Sept. 28.

By John Liang
September 13, 2021 at 1:52 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's handling of congressional continuing resolutions, the Air Force One replacement program and more.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report today on the Pentagon's handling of congressional continuing resolutions:

GAO finds Pentagon can manage 'routine' continuing resolutions without major impact

The Government Accountability Office has found that the Pentagon can mostly manage its way through Congress' inefficient continuing resolutions without significant impacts to major defense acquisition programs.

Document: GAO report on CR

News on the Air Force One replacement program:

New VC-25B schedule baseline expected in late 2021, Air Force says

Air Force officials anticipate they will set a new schedule baseline for the Air Force One replacement program in "late 2021," though a service spokeswoman declined to share details on what the new timeline could look like, citing "ongoing discussions."

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity with the latest on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

Industry groups seek more transparency around Pentagon cyber certification program

The Defense Department needs to become more transparent over its work on the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, according to an industry letter to Pentagon leaders raising concerns over a lack of communication and other issues.

Mike Dean, the Defense Department's satellite communications chief, spoke during the recent Satellite 2021 conference:

DOD finalizing Enterprise SATCOM Management and Control implementation plan

The Defense Department is finalizing an implementation plan for the Space Force's new Enterprise Satellite Communications Management and Control infrastructure aimed at improving the way the department manages and integrates military and commercial SATCOM services.

House lawmakers want more funding for hypersonic defense:

House panel advocates major FY-22 increase for Glide Breaker hypersonic defense

House lawmakers are looking to catapult development of a "critical" technology needed to intercept maneuvering hypersonic threats at very long ranges by authorizing a nearly four-fold increase in fiscal year 2022 funding for Glide Breaker, a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency venture that the Missile Defense Agency is eyeing as part of a program to field a defense against a new class of ultra-fast maneuvering weapons.

Document: Details of House authorizers' $24B topline increase

By Ethan Sterenfeld
September 13, 2021 at 12:59 PM

The Army is interested in the capability of companies besides the original manufacturer to provide logistics and maintenance support to the Stryker infantry vehicle, according to a market survey released Sept. 10.

General Dynamics Land Systems, which builds the Stryker, holds the current logistics and maintenance contract for the vehicle, according to an Army notice for the market survey. The market survey will help determine whether any other companies could compete to maintain the Stryker.

Federal acquisition rules require that the Army "continuously conducts market research . . . to determine whether other capabilities of industry can be used to fulfill its life cycle requirements and to ensure its acquisition methods obtain the best value for the Government," according to the notice.

General Dynamics Land Systems holds the technical data rights to the vehicle, and federal law prohibits the Army from forcing the company to share technical data with a third party, according to the notice for the market survey. This can make it difficult for a new company to compete against the original manufacturer.

The logistics supply chain for the Stryker includes "25,000 lines of parts supporting 4300 vehicles worldwide across 27 variants," according to the market survey. Contractors would need to make spare parts readily available while limiting excess inventory.

Since the Stryker entered service, the Army has sought to purchase the data rights to new systems. This is supposed to allow for more competition in life-cycle management contracts and system upgrades, which could lower costs.

The government owns the data rights to the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the partial replacement for the humvee, and there is competition for a JLTV follow-on production contract that the Army plans to award in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022. GM Defense, a General Motors subsidiary, has challenged the incumbent, Oshkosh Defense.

By Tony Bertuca
September 13, 2021 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are slated to speak publicly this week about various national security issues.

Monday

U.S. Strategic Command holds its virtual Deterrence Symposium, taking place Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week and next.

The Brookings Institute hosts a discussion with Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten.

New America hosts the Future Security Forum 2021 conference. The event runs through Tuesday.

Wednesday

The Pentagon's industrial policy chief speaks at a George Mason University event on "building resilience in the U.S. defense industrial base."

By John Liang
September 10, 2021 at 1:32 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on satellite communications, hypersonic defense and more.

Mike Dean, the Defense Department's satellite communications chief, spoke this week during the Satellite 2021 conference:

DOD finalizing Enterprise SATCOM Management and Control implementation plan

The Defense Department is finalizing an implementation plan for the Space Force's new Enterprise Satellite Communications Management and Control infrastructure aimed at improving the way the department manages and integrates military and commercial SATCOM services.

House lawmakers want more funding for hypersonic defense and early warning radars:

House panel advocates major FY-22 increase for Glide Breaker hypersonic defense

House lawmakers are looking to catapult development of a "critical" technology needed to intercept maneuvering hypersonic threats at very long ranges by authorizing a nearly four-fold increase in fiscal year 2022 funding for Glide Breaker, a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency venture that the Missile Defense Agency is eyeing as part of a program to field a defense against a new class of ultra-fast maneuvering weapons.

House panel moves to jump-start North Warning System modernization, authorizing $25M in FY-22

House lawmakers are looking to jump-start funding in fiscal year 2022 to begin modernizing the North Warning System with over-the-horizon radar technology to give North American Aerospace Defense Command's main ground sensor new ability to detect threats to U.S. and Canadian airspace.

Gen. Christopher Cavoli recently spoke at the Army's Fires Conference at Ft. Sill, OK:

Cavoli: European Army modernization must include interoperability

It will be important to build multinational interoperability into the Army's next-generation command-and-control systems so that European allies can participate in advanced sensor-to-shooter networks, the commanding general of U.S. Army Europe and Africa said Sept. 1.

The Marine Corps' Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar program performed as expected during its test and evaluation event this spring at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division in Virginia:

Marine Corps' G/ATOR verifies system operations and C2 interoperability during testing

The Marine Corps' Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar program verified system operations and command and control interoperability during testing this spring, a service spokeswoman told Inside Defense.

By Tony Bertuca
September 10, 2021 at 1:13 PM

Anduril Industries says it has been awarded a contract for up to two years by the U.K. Ministry of Defence to demonstrate "advanced, multidomain, integrated force protection technology."

The $5.2 million contract, awarded by MOD’s Strategic Command Innovation Hub, is part of a broader program called “TALOS” focused on accelerating integrated command and control.

“The system uses Anduril’s Lattice artificial intelligence operating system and a network of sensors to autonomously detect, classify, and track targets,” the company said in a statement. “The technology alerts operators to threats from ground intrusion or unmanned aerial systems and presents options for mitigation or engagement. TALOS is the first time that all of Anduril’s products and technology including Sentry Towers, ground sensors, Ghost 4 Drones and the Lattice AI operating system will be deployed together with the U.K. MOD.”

“The partnership between Anduril and jHub is an example of government and private sector successfully -- and rapidly -- moving emerging tech from a pilot project to a program to improve the operation of our Armed Forces,” said Paul Hollingshead, head of Anduril’s U.K. and NATO business.

Gen. Sir Patrick Sanders, chief of U.K. Strategic Command, said the technology is meant to identify and assess external threats in “nanoseconds.”

“The artificial intelligence at the heart of this system has great potential to protect our people and sites,” he said. “It’s another success for our innovation team at jHub, working closely with Anduril to help create a bespoke system, from idea to implementation at pace, to meet the specific requirements of our Armed Forces.”

By Ethan Sterenfeld
September 10, 2021 at 11:14 AM

Raytheon Technologies conducted the first test flight of its prototype vehicle for the Army's Air Launched Effects competition, Abel Ghanooni, the company's senior director for short-range air defense, said in a Sept. 7 interview. The test was held Aug. 6.

"While we're hesitant to disclose full details of our design's performance, we did prove the effective launch, function of the wing and surface deployment, and flight control," Ghanooni said. After launch, the vehicle spread its wings and achieved stable flight.

The test included two launches, both of which were successful, he said. Although the vehicle will eventually be launched from an aircraft in flight, this test was completed from the ground.

Air Launched Effects is a loitering weapon the Army is developing for its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, and it is also expected to work with the existing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. It is expected to deliver a variety of kinetic and non-kinetic payloads.

Raytheon is one of three companies that received other transaction agreements last year to develop the vehicle for the Air Launched Effects.

Roughly three-quarters of Raytheon's design comes from its Coyote drone, Ghanooni said. It includes a modular open systems architecture that would allow the vehicle to carry payloads from other companies.

"We're the low-risk approach for the Army," he said.

The current phase of the development OTA ends next month, at which time Raytheon will perform a final demonstration of the technology, Ghanooni said. That demonstration will also include a launch from the ground.

By Aidan Quigley
September 10, 2021 at 10:36 AM

Vice Adm. Carl Chebi has been named the head of Naval Air Systems Command, taking the position in a change-of-command ceremony Thursday at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD.

Chebi, an F-14 pilot who most recently served as the F-35 Joint Program Office deputy program executive officer, relieved Vice Adm. Dean Peters.

Peters assumed the position in May 2018 and is retiring after a 36-year Navy career.