The Insider

By Audrey Decker
November 29, 2022 at 1:25 PM

The Navy is considering re-opening a contract to include more industry partners to build various payloads and subsystems for its portfolio of unmanned surface vehicles.

The service originally selected 40 companies in February 2020 to receive indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity multiple award contracts -- or IDIQ-MACs -- to compete for task orders from six functional areas: payloads, non-payload sensors, mission support systems, autonomy and vehicle control systems, ashore and host platform elements as well as logistics and sustainment.

In a notice published last week, the Navy is gauging interest if additional companies would want to pursue access to the USV IDIQ-MAC pool of awardees.

“Orders to date have included various design and integration studies, combat systems ship integration activities, and payload development and integration efforts,” the notice states. “The Navy is currently pursuing various unmanned sustainment support efforts as well, and planning is ongoing for other unmanned technology development efforts.”

Responses to the notice are due by Dec. 19.

By Nick Wilson
November 29, 2022 at 12:17 PM

The Navy’s first-in-class aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), returned to Naval Station Norfolk, VA on Nov. 26, completing its first official deployment.

The Ford Carrier Strike Group (CSG) set sail on Oct. 4 and spent two months navigating the North Atlantic while testing the carrier’s capabilities in preparation for its first Global Force Management Deployment, expected to begin in calendar year 2023.

The Navy called the expedition a “service-retained deployment,” meaning that Ford deployed under the authority of the chief of naval operations rather than that of a geographic combatant commander.

During the deployment, Ford conducted a variety of exercises including air defense, anti-submarine warfare, distributed maritime operations, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations, according to a Navy release.

The Ford CSG collaborated with eight partner nations -- Canada, Denmark, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden -- focusing on interoperability in maritime operations. Ford joined a coalition of NATO allies for Exercise Silent Wolverine and participated in a multicarrier exercise alongside fellow U.S. carrier George H.W. Bush (CVN-77).

Ford also made its first international port call in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and its first European port visit in Portsmouth, U.K.

“Through integrated and combined operations such as live and inert ordnance expenditure by Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and air defense, we set the stage for operating with Ford-class technologies in a deployed environment,” said Ford’s commanding officer, Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, in a statement included in the release. “We completed more than 1,250 sorties, expended 78.3 tons of ordnance and completed 13 underway replenishments -- and we accomplished this because of what Ford-class aircraft carriers bring to the fight.”

Ford is the first new U.S. aircraft carrier designed in over 40 years and includes 23 new technologies that enhance aircraft launch capabilities, propulsion, power generation and ordnance handling, according to the Navy’s release. These technologies also reduce the number of personnel needed to operate the vessel compared to Nimitz-class carriers.

Although the deployment was long delayed by reliability issues with some of these new technologies, including the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) and arresting gear, Navy officials have expressed confidence that these systems are now ready for operational use.

The carrier is the first of at least four Ford-class ships the Navy plans to procure, with delivery of a second vessel, the John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), expected in 2024.

By Michael Marrow
November 29, 2022 at 11:33 AM

Critical design reviews for two separate sensors for the Missile Track Custody program have been completed, Space Systems Command said in a Nov. 28 press release, setting the stage for the payloads to be integrated in satellites that will detect and track missiles from medium earth orbit beginning in 2026.

The sensors, built respectively by Boeing subsidiary Millennium Space Systems and Raytheon Technologies, will trace missiles and hypersonic glide vehicles as part of a multilayered architecture alongside the Space Development Agency’s tracking satellites in low earth orbit and Next Generation Overheard Persistent Infrared satellites in geosynchronous orbit.

“The CDRs proved the sensors designs are mature and we can move from demo to development,” Lt. Col. Gary Goff, material leader for strategic payloads with SSC’s Space Sensing Directorate, said in the release.

Millennium first announced the successful CDR Nov. 23, and Raytheon confirmed that its sensor cleared the hurdle Nov. 29. News of both was first reported by C4ISRNET.

Both companies said in their releases that the next phase for the program will focus on development of space and ground segments, which will be followed by a full system critical design review planned for summer 2023, according to the SSC release.

The Space Force’s fiscal year 2023 budget documents say up to six satellites are planned for the MEO constellation, though the service has not yet decided whether to move forward with payloads from both companies or push down to a single vendor.

By Michael Marrow
November 29, 2022 at 10:06 AM

Space Systems Command has exercised the third production option for Global Positioning System IIIF satellites built by Lockheed Martin, the command said in a Nov. 28 press release, an order that covers space vehicles 18, 19 and 20 for an estimated value of $744 million.

The GPS IIIF satellites will replenish legacy systems and add greater anti-jam protection, improved search-and-rescue capabilities, enhanced triangulation of a user’s location and better nuclear detonation detection. SSC’s original $7.2 billion contract  inked in 2018 includes options for up to 22 IIIF satellites, the first of which is scheduled to lift off in 2026.   

The 2018 agreement added the IIIF space vehicles on top of orders for GPS III satellites. Lockheed at the time was already on contract for 10 GPS III satellites, and the IIIF award added options for up to 22 IIIF space vehicles for a total of 32 III-series satellites. 

Under the current contract, up to 10 more IIIF satellites could still be ordered. 

Launch of the IIIF satellites will depend on fielding the constellation’s ground system first. The current GPS ground system is being overhauled by Raytheon, which is replacing it with the Next Generation Operational Control System, or OCX. 

OCX, already six years behind schedule, recently suffered another schedule slip, Inside Defense reported in September. OCX is now expected to be delivered in December, potentially shaving off all remaining schedule margin before an April 2023 deadline for initial operational capability.

An OCX follow-on segment, called Block 3F, is needed to operate the IIIF satellites and is planned to be delivered by Raytheon in 2025. However, the Government Accountability Office warned in its June weapon systems assessment that OCX delays could imperil the Block 3F schedule, “with potential corresponding effects to the GPS IIIF program.”

By John Liang
November 28, 2022 at 4:44 PM

Red Cat Holdings announced today it has agreed to sell its consumer division to Unusual Machines.

The consumer division consists of Rotor Riot and Fat Shark Holdings, the company's recreational and hobbyist drones and first-person-view goggles subsidiaries.

The sale will consist of Unusual Machines paying $18 million in cash and security, according to a Red Cat Holdings statement.

The sale agreement "will allow us to focus our efforts and capital on military and defense," Red Cat CEO Jeff Thompson said in the statement. "Our recent partnerships with Tomahawk Robotics and Reveal Technology gives the Warfighter a complete 'Made in USA' system with 360 degrees of situational awareness, multi-ship control of four vehicles by one operator, and rapid intelligence at the tactical edge. This transaction will strengthen our already healthy balance sheet with additional non-dilutive capital to help us execute our rapid growth."

By John Liang
November 28, 2022 at 2:13 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on quantum technology, lawmakers' efforts to require the Pentagon to have a Software Bill of Materials with defense contractors and more.

While quantum technology is far from maturity, the Navy's Washington, DC-based research laboratory has been tasked with accelerating the development of quantum research:

How the Navy's DC research lab is developing quantum for advanced military capabilities

As the Pentagon invests in new technologies to maintain a strategic advantage over its adversaries, the Navy is exploring quantum technology to potentially deliver new warfighting capabilities including quantum sensing, computing and network communications.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have the latest on the Software Bill of Materials effort:

Industry coalition urges lawmakers to drop SBOM procurement requirement from major defense bill

A coalition of industry groups is urging congressional leaders to remove a provision in the Senate version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill that would direct the Defense Department to require a Software Bill of Materials from defense contractors.

The Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania is home to a lot of satellite communications gear:

In northeast Pennsylvania, a key cog in DOD's satellite mission

TOBYHANNA, PA -- Inside a vast warehouse on a plot of land that can trace its Army roots back over a century, computer servers whirr and hum at a volume that makes it difficult to carry on a conversation at regular volume.

In case you missed it last week, here's a deep dive into the Air Force's T-7 trainer program:

T-7 testing delay could trigger schedule slip and spell new trouble for Boeing

Boeing's T-7 Red Hawk is facing a possible schedule slip after qualification testing for the aircraft's emergency escape system was pushed to fiscal year 2024, according to the Air Force and the company.

The Pentagon also released its zero-trust strategy and roadmap last week:

DOD unveils new strategy as it drives toward FY-27 zero-trust target

The Pentagon has unveiled an overarching framework to bolster military components' safeguards against current cybersecurity risks as officials push to implement a zero-trust baseline within the next five years.

Document: DOD's zero-trust strategy, roadmap

By Briana Reilly
November 28, 2022 at 1:26 PM

A newly established Defense Science Board panel is focused on shoring up the resiliency of the Defense Department's electronic systems, including through establishing whether the CHIPS and Science Act could be leveraged to develop commercial secure processors.

Called the Secure Electronic Processing Task Force, the body was recently stood up by Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu to focus on the increasingly available commercial secure processor market and understand the potential for “these dual-use security solutions,” a recently released memo states.

Members of the panel will be tasked with determining those commercial and military applications, gauging the susceptibility of those processors’ vulnerabilities, exploring alternatives and examining “suitability for technology protection,” per the Nov. 9 memo, which was publicly released last week.

In addition, the task force will review if the text of the recently enacted plan to boost funding for domestic semiconductor production and funnel some $2 billion toward military microelectronics “opens any opportunities” for commercial secure processor development.

Touted by DOD leaders as a way to “supercharge” chips research, development and production, the law includes tens of billions of dollars to encourage facility and equipment investments and incentives for semiconductor manufacturing such as a four-year, 25% tax credit.

“The security, availability, and reliability of electronic equipment, information technology systems, and embedded systems are at risk in an operational environment where abundant threats exist that endanger system capability,” Shyu wrote. “Department of Defense (DOD) technological capabilities must be protected from threats that exploit hardware and software vulnerabilities that are inherent in system design.”

The memo stipulates the task force’s work will conclude within one year of its start, with members’ findings to be presented to the full DSB and then to Shyu.

By Michael Marrow
November 28, 2022 at 12:55 PM

Space Systems Command is holding an industry day Dec. 12 to inform the acquisition strategy for the Evolved Strategic Satellite Communications (ESS) program, according to a notice posted by SSC.

ESS is the planned replacement for the Space Force’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites that provide secure SATCOM for warfighters. The program has been in the rapid prototyping phase since 2020 to mature the constellation’s eXtended Data Rate (XDR) payload, with the industry day aimed at determining the market’s ability to compete for the follow-on phase that will field the system.

Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin were previously awarded contracts for their ESS prototypes that are expected to be ready by 2025. The three companies are the primary candidates for a single ESS contract, which SSC said in a statement to Inside Defense is planned to be awarded in fiscal year 2025.

At the industry day, which will be held at the secret classification level, SSC will share an initial set of requirements for ESS and collect feedback through a bidders’ library, the notice says. Respondents must be able to demonstrate the XDR payload by the first quarter of FY-24 and have a plan to deliver two space vehicles within 66 months of the contract award.

Potential bidders for the ESS space segment are also expected to display understanding of “user needs and ground system interfaces,” according to the industry day notice.

SSC is concurrently pursuing the ground segment for the ESS constellation, called Ground Resilient Integration and Framework for Operational Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (GRIFFIN), with the competition for the initial phase underway following a request for prototype proposals published in October.

According to SSC, two contractors will be selected for an 18-month demonstration period by March 2023 for the GRIFFIN effort, which will then be narrowed to one vendor after the demonstration concludes.

Responses to the ESS industry day posting are due Dec. 2, the notice says.

By Michael Marrow
November 28, 2022 at 11:27 AM

Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu is launching a Defense Science Board task force to advise DOD leaders on commercial space systems, according to a memo released by Shyu's office.

The committee will offer recommendations for best practices for commercial space systems in the context of classified capabilities, the Nov. 9 memo says, and will work for no longer than one year before presenting their findings to DSB.

Need for the committee is prompted by DOD’s increasing reliance on commercial space systems and competition between users at the strategic, operational and tactical levels, according to the memo. Emerging threats to space systems also requires a new approach to ensure access to space, which the memo warns could be disrupted by “competing as users of the same systems or by controlling access through economic means.”

The new subcommittee, called the Defense Science Board Task Force on Commercial Space System Access and Integrity, will outline “a comprehensive plan for using commercial space systems in the context of classified U.S. space capabilities” using the following criteria:

  • “Identify the commercial space systems most useful for current and future DOD needs;
  • “Identify potential enhancements to commercial space systems that will improve resilience or protection against current and future threats;
  • “Recommend approaches for managing the priorities and governing the use of commercial space system use for DOD strategic and tactical needs. Governing options should include government-owned, contractor-operated models, as well as direct purchase or lease of products and services;
  • “Provide recommendations on models for acquiring commercial space services and products that best balance governmental security, accessibility and cost factors;
  • “Investigate the potential risks and vulnerabilities of an adversary’s exploitation or attack on U.S. use of commercial space systems. Potential vulnerabilities include privacy corruption, integrity corruption, espionage, and reduction of system availability.
  • “Investigate the impact and possible mitigations for potential adversary use of commercial space systems against U.S. defense systems.”

The task force’s findings will be shared at a DSB public meeting once its work has concluded, the memo says, which DSB will then brief to Shyu.

By Tony Bertuca
November 28, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at several events this week.

Tuesday

The National Defense Industrial Association hosts the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation & Education Conference in Orlando, FL.

The Intelligence and National Security Alliance host a discussion with the Defense Intelligence Agency chief of staff.

The Air Force Association hosts the virtual Schriever Spacepower Forum.

The Heritage Foundation hosts a discussion on “solving America’s military recruiting crisis.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks speaks at a Washington Post event on the health of U.S. military veterans.

Wednesday

The Air Force Association hosts a discussion with the Air Force chief information officer.

Thursday

The GDS Group hosts the Global CIO Digital Summit.

Senior defense officials speak at the Government Identity Security Virtual Summit.

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on “how to overcome the military recruitment and retention crisis.”

Friday

The West Coast Aerospace Forum is held in Santa Monica, CA.

By Michael Marrow
November 23, 2022 at 1:54 PM

The Air Force's T-7 trainer program is facing a possible schedule slip after qualification testing for the aircraft’s emergency escape system was pushed to fiscal year 2024, according to the service and manufacturer Boeing.

This story is now available for all to view.

Read the article.

By John Liang
November 23, 2022 at 1:31 PM

This pre-Thanksgiving INSIDER Daily Digest has a deep dive into the Air Force's T-7 trainer program, the Tobyhanna Army Depot being home to a satellite communications center and more.

We start off with a deep dive into the Air Force's T-7 trainer program:

T-7 testing delay could trigger schedule slip and spell new trouble for Boeing

Boeing's T-7 Red Hawk is facing a possible schedule slip after qualification testing for the aircraft's emergency escape system was pushed to fiscal year 2024, according to the Air Force and the company.

The Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania is home to a lot of satellite communications gear:

In northeast Pennsylvania, a key cog in DOD's satellite mission

TOBYHANNA, PA -- Inside a vast warehouse on a plot of land that can trace its Army roots back over a century, computer servers whirr and hum at a volume that makes it difficult to carry on a conversation at regular volume.

In case you missed it, the Pentagon released its zero-trust strategy and roadmap this week:

DOD unveils new strategy as it drives toward FY-27 zero-trust target

The Pentagon has unveiled an overarching framework to bolster military components' safeguards against current cybersecurity risks as officials push to implement a zero-trust baseline within the next five years.

Document: DOD's zero-trust strategy, roadmap

The Army's latest Black Hawk helicopters are getting a bunch of upgrades:

Army's newest Black Hawk fleet to get avionics architecture upgrades as part of a $157M contract

The Army's newest fleet of Black Hawk helicopters will be getting upgrades to its avionics architecture and flight controls as part of a contract awarded to KBR and Northrop Grumman.

The Army recently held a demonstration of the Remote Interceptor Guidance-360 (RIG-360) -- which showed the potential for delinking Patriot interceptors from their organic radar:

Army demos prototype technology to destroy cruise missile, delinks Patriot interceptor-radar

The Army shot down a cruise missile target last week in a paradigm-changing demonstration of a prototype technology that could dramatically increase the defensive range of Patriot interceptors by allowing the guided missiles to use any sensor -- air, ground or sea -- available on the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).

By Tony Bertuca
November 23, 2022 at 12:26 PM

The Defense Department today announced a $400 million tranche of military aid to Ukraine, including additional ammunition for recently delivered National Advanced Surface-to-Air-Missile Systems to help defend against Russian missile barrages and unmanned drones.

“With Russia's unrelenting and brutal missile and [unmanned aerial system] attacks on Ukrainian critical energy infrastructure, additional air defense capabilities remain an urgent priority,” DOD said. “The additional munitions for NASAMS and heavy machine guns will help Ukraine counter these urgent threats.”

The deadly seriousness of the air defense challenge was highlighted last week when a Ukrainian missile, aiming to intercept an incoming Russian missile, apparently struck a site in Poland, killing two civilians, according to the United States, NATO and the Polish government.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that “the world knows that Russia bears ultimate responsibility for this incident.”

The $400 million in aid, meanwhile, is being provided via presidential “drawdown” authority and will be transferred directly from U.S. stocks.

Along with additional munitions for NSAMS, capabilities in the package include:

  • 150 heavy machine guns with thermal imagery sights to counter unmanned aerial systems
  • additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems
  • 200 precision-guided 155 mm artillery rounds
  • 10,000 120 mm mortar rounds
  • High-speed anti-radiation missiles
  • 150 humvees
  • over 100 light tactical vehicles
  • over 20,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition
  • Over 200 generators
  • spare parts for 105 mm Howitzers and other equipment

The package is the 26th drawdown of equipment from DOD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.

In total, the United States has committed more than $19.7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, with more than $19 billion sent since the beginning of the ongoing Russian invasion in February.

“To meet Ukraine's evolving battlefield requirements, the United States will continue to work with its allies and partners to provide Ukraine with key capabilities,” DOD said.

The Biden administration, meanwhile, has requested that Congress approve a $38 billion emergency supplemental package for Ukraine, including more than $21 billion for DOD to continue providing military aid.

By Briana Reilly
November 23, 2022 at 10:10 AM

The Pentagon's chief technology officer is planning to hold a three-day event in the coming months to give industry "visibility" on military spending in artificial intelligence and autonomy as part of an effort to widen communications channels in "areas that have investment across the services."

First mentioned by Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu during an online Acquisition Next forum earlier this month, the forthcoming gathering is slated for spring 2023, a DOD spokesman said, and is set to feature “a broad swath of potential industry partners” as part of a bigger effort to bolster engagement.

“I wanted to create a day in which each of the labs will come in and talk about, ‘This is what we're investing in, from the lab’s perspective,’ and have it in unclassified form, so the information can be shared with industry,” Shyu said in her Nov. 4 appearance. “And then have the PMs come in, the program managers come in, and say, ‘this is what we're planning as a part of our acquisition,’ to have that as a kickoff point. When I've mentioned this to companies, they love that idea.”

While Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman wrote in an email to Inside Defense Tuesday that the current focus of the event is on AI and autonomy “because we know each of the services are doing important work in that space,” he cautioned the topics could be expanded, adding officials “haven’t yet fully scoped” it out.

Following the initial briefings, Shyu said companies could have the opportunity to participate in one-on-one discussions “if you have some great secret sauce that you're investing in and that you want to share with us.”

Gorman didn’t disclose further details about current plans, but he noted that Shyu remains “focused on making it easier for industry to partner with the department’s modernization stakeholder organizations.”

By John Liang
November 23, 2022 at 9:48 AM

The Aerospace Industries Association announced this week it has elected Spirit AeroSystems President and CEO Tom Gentile to serve as the organization's chairman of the board of governors for 2023.

Gentile succeeds Mike Petters, HII's vice chairman of the board of directors and former president and CEO, according to AIA.

Boeing Defense, Space & Security chief Ted Colbert will serve as AIA's vice chairman, according to the announcement.

Additionally, Eric Fanning has been reelected as AIA president and CEO.