The Insider

By Shelley K. Mesch
January 6, 2023 at 10:54 AM

The Air Force is seeking information about existing commercial capabilities to build out the communications network for its Advanced Battle Management System, according to a Friday post from the service.

To improve connectivity and speed up data processing and dissemination, the Air Force is looking for capabilities that can turn any platform in any domain into a communications node, according to the post. These capabilities, called software-defined wide-area network or SD-WAN, would form part of the network used for the service’s contribution to Joint All Domain Command and Control.

The Air Force recognizes that SD-WAN capabilities are available for acquisition, but there has not been a comprehensive study of how existing commercial solutions would fit service operational requirements, according to the post.

The Air Force is interested in capabilities that have increased data rates, reduced latency, anti-jam abilities, low probability of intercept or detection, scalability and the ability to integrate dissimilar users, the post states.

SD-WAN would offer a communications alternative when battle managers are faced with denied, degraded, intermittent and latent network conditions, according to the post, creating a more resilient communications architecture.

Interested original equipment manufacturers are called on to provide an initial white paper submission, details on how their SD-WAN products can meet Air Force objectives and a rough-order-of-magnitude on the associated equipment and licensing costs.

Select vendors will then receive a request for proposals and chosen vendors from that pool will be funded to take part in a test event, according to the post.

White paper submissions are due Monday, Feb. 6. Contract awards are expected by late May.

By Dan Schere
January 5, 2023 at 3:03 PM

The Army plans to hold an industry day as early as next month to hear feedback on future contracting for the Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle, following a request for information the service put out last month.

The service had posted a request for information for the ARV on Dec. 21, and on Thursday the response date was changed from Jan. 23 to Feb. 10.

The ARV is a new combat vehicle system with mobility on land and water that will contain sensor, communications and combat capabilities, and will also integrate robotics and artificial intelligence into manned-unmanned teaming.

The ARV is meant to give the Marine Corps’ Fleet Marine Force the “survivable, mobile, networked, sustainable, maintainable and lethal platform” for operating on both land and water, according to the posting.

In early December Textron Systems delivered a prototype ARV to the Marine Corps’ Nevada Automotive Test Center, which includes an integrated command and control suite, unmanned systems capabilities and sensors that will allow communication and data-sharing. And on Dec. 21, General Dynamics Land Systems announced that it would deliver its ARV prototype.

The industry day posting follows a request for information issued by the Army last month to gauge interest among contractors for participation in a future competitive solicitation. There could be multiple ARV solicitations for the Marine Corps and Program Manager for Light Armored Vehicles.

By Tony Bertuca
January 5, 2023 at 3:01 PM

The United States expects to announce a new military aid package for Ukraine tomorrow that will for the first time include Bradley Fighting Vehicles, according to chief Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder.

Ryder, who declined to provide details ahead of the formal announcement, said the Bradleys, made by BAE Systems, will provide Ukraine “a level of firepower and armor that will bring advantages on the battlefield.”

Additionally, he said, the package will include training and maintenance assistance.

By Audrey Decker
January 5, 2023 at 1:57 PM

During its second summit to advance zero-trust initiatives, the Joint Staff (J-6) included the intelligence alliance Five Eyes, bringing the U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand into conversations on command and control.

In December, the Security Interoperability in the Tactical Environment Summit discussed zero trust, a security framework that requires all users to be verified and continuously evaluated to win access to data, apps and information, key for the Pentagon to deliver secure Joint All-Domain Command and Control capabilities.

“The United Kingdom and Australia specifically shared with the forum how their nations are approaching the development of their own zero-trust frameworks,” according to a Defense Department statement today.

The Pentagon unveiled a new zero-trust strategy in November to bolster military components' safeguards against current cybersecurity risks as officials push to implement a zero-trust baseline within the next five years.

“One key outcome of the summit is the collaborative effort between the Joint Staff (J-6) and the DOD CIO Zero Trust Portfolio Management Office to develop an addendum to the existing zero trust strategy,” the announcement states.

The three-day summit was hosted at the Defense Information Systems Agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, MD.

By John Liang
January 5, 2023 at 1:15 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a proposed multibillion-dollar Standard Missile-3 procurement contract, Joint Strike Fighter engine deliveries, naval training in the gulf of Alaska and more.

We start off with a look at a proposed multiyear megadeal between the Missile Defense Agency and Raytheon to procure Standard Missile-3 interceptors:

DOD eyeing seven-year contract vehicle to keep SM-3 production line humming through 2029

The Defense Department is eyeing a potential seven-year megadeal with Raytheon to buy the most advanced Aegis guided missiles -- the Block IB and Block IIA variants of the Standard Missile-3 -- as part of a sole-source contract to support orders between fiscal years 2023 and 2029.

In case you missed it, we also had news this week about MDA figuring out what went wrong with a 2021 intercept test attempt:

Failure review board identifies cause of 2021 missile defense test failure, do-over set for 2023

A classified Defense Department investigation has identified what is believed to be the root cause of a 2021 missile defense failure, giving the Missile Defense Agency confidence to plan a do-over flight test this year that will pit a pair of Standard Missile-6 interceptors against a medium-range ballistic missile target.

Deliveries of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engines will be pushed back:

JPO, Pratt agree to delay F-35 engine deliveries

The F-35 Joint Program Office and F135 engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney agreed to postpone delivery of new F135 engines as officials continue an investigation into the crash of an F-35B on a Texas runway in December, a JPO spokesman said in a statement to Inside Defense.

Naval training exercises in the Gulf of Alaska will continue:

Navy to continue training in Gulf of Alaska following environmental impact statement

After completing an environmental impact statement, the Navy intends to continue conducting periodic training exercises in the Gulf of Alaska, according to a record of decision published Wednesday.

Document: Navy record of decision for training in Gulf of Alaska

Last but by no means least, our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have a look ahead at all the potential cyber issues for the government in 2023:

Cyber Outlook 2023

Multiple agencies are expected to act on incident reporting requirements in the new year as work to digest industry feedback continues at the Securities and Exchange Commission and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, while changes to federal acquisition regulations from the 2021 cyber executive order are coming along with the release of the long-awaited national cyber strategy.

By Evan Ochsner
January 5, 2023 at 12:04 PM

The Army has awarded Microsoft a contract to develop an upgraded version of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, the service announced Thursday.

A task order contract awarded by the service on Dec. 20 directs Microsoft to develop the 1.2 variant of IVAS. The directive is the latest step taken under a firm-fixed-price other transaction authority production agreement the Army awarded Microsoft in 2021, which could potentially be worth up to $21.9 billion.

The service said it intended under that initial contract to upgrade the system through an iterative design process.

Thursday’s announcement said the task order “will provide improvements based on completed test events.”

The Army says it has completed more than 30 soldier test events and received nearly 100,000 hours of soldier feedback on the system.

“These tests validated the system’s continued progress while identifying areas for focused improvements,” it said in the announcement.

The 1.2 variant of the system will feature a number of upgrades over the 1.1 variant, which itself was an improvement on the 1.0 version. The 1.2 variant will have a new form factor to address the physiological impacts identified during soldier testing and feature a lower profile heads-up display to better distribute the headset’s weight, the Army said.

Soldier testing uncovered significant comfortability problems with the headsets, including headaches and nausea in users.

The 1.2 variant will also feature software upgrades designed to improve reliability and reduce power demand, areas of improvement identified in soldier testing.

The service said Thursday it would begin incremental fielding of IVAS in September and would place delivery orders for IVAS 1.2 after further testing.

By Tony Bertuca
January 5, 2023 at 9:56 AM

A joint statement from Republicans expected to chair three key national security committees today voiced support for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has lost several historic votes to become House speaker, stymieing the work of Congress.

The statement was released by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), expected to chair the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), expected to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), expected to chair the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“As the incoming chairs of the national security committees, we strongly support Kevin McCarthy for speaker,” the lawmakers said. “McCarthy’s Commitment to America agenda outlines a stronger approach to countering China, a plan to investigate the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, and how a Republican majority will hold this administration accountable. The Biden administration is going unchecked and there is no oversight of the White House, State Department, Department of Defense, or the intelligence community. We cannot let personal politics place the safety and security of the United States at risk.”

Committee work, including the naming of chairs and members, cannot begin until a House speaker is elected.

Meanwhile, McCarthy and his supporters were scrambling Wednesday night to make concessions to 20 lawmakers who have refused to support him for House speaker, denying him the 218-vote threshold he needs to win.

Among other things, McCarthy’s opponents have criticized Congress’ support for Ukraine, which has included several emergency supplemental aid packages totaling more than $100 billion since the start of a Russian invasion in February.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) said on the House floor that the aid should be debated including “whether it should be more or less.”

“We should be in here having this kind of a conversation with this many people in the room about Ukraine,” he said. “The only way you’re going to get that is if you change the rules and have the leadership to advance the rules to make sure that we can do that.”

The House is expected to convene again today to take a seventh vote for speaker.

By John Liang
January 4, 2023 at 1:27 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Missile Defense Agency figuring out what went wrong with a failed 2021 intercept test, the White House resubmitting certain Defense Department nominations and more.

We start off with the Missile Defense Agency figuring out what went wrong with a 2021 intercept test attempt:

Failure review board identifies cause of 2021 missile defense test failure, do-over set for 2023

A classified Defense Department investigation has identified what is believed to be the root cause of a 2021 missile defense failure, giving the Missile Defense Agency confidence to plan a do-over flight test this year that will pit a pair of Standard Missile-6 interceptors against a medium-range ballistic missile target.

Republican opposition is expected to continue on some White House nominations as lawmakers have voiced concerns over a number of Biden administration policies:

White House resubmits seven DOD nominees

The White House has resubmitted seven Pentagon nominees as the Senate was unable to confirm them last year, including several officials tapped for key acquisition posts.

The Air Force released three new requests for information on New Year's Eve seeking industry input on various aircraft mobility topics:

Air Force releases RFIs for mobility COEs with an eye toward FY-24 and FY-25 budgets

The Air Force is seeking industry input on improvements for the mobility fleet, according to three requests for information posted on New Year's Eve, efforts the service says are aimed at implementing one of Secretary Frank Kendall’s Cross-Cutting Operational Enablers (COE).

Document: Air Force mobility cross-cutting operational enabler RFI for air refueling

Document: Air Force mobility cross-cutting operational enabler RFI for airlift

Document: Air Force mobility cross-cutting operational enabler RFI for mission generation

An agreement between the Defense Department and Lockheed Martin has been reached over production of the next few lots of Joint Strike Fighter aircraft:

JPO, Lockheed finalize $30 billion lot 15-17 JSF agreement

The F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin have finalized an agreement for aircraft production lots 15-17, Lockheed announced in a press release, a potentially $30 billion deal that includes options for up to 398 jets.

In case you missed it, we posted a deep dive early yesterday into the Air Force's airborne refueling tanker recapitalization efforts:

Ahead of a KC-Y RFP, experts weigh anticipated requirements, key features of KC-46 and LMXT

Early this year, the Air Force expects to release requirements for its KC-Y refueling tanker, setting off an acquisition process for a platform that plays a key role in the U.S. military's ability to project power and may cap an on-again, off-again rivalry between two airframes: the Boeing 767 jetliner-derivative KC-46 Pegasus, and the Airbus A330, which has now partnered with Lockheed Martin for U.S. military conversion and is being pitched as the LMXT.

By Audrey Decker
January 4, 2023 at 12:27 PM

Barbara McQuiston will chair the board of directors for NATO's new initiative to accelerate transatlantic cooperation on emerging technologies.

McQuiston, who currently serves as the deputy chief technology officer for the Defense Department’s science and technology portfolio, previously worked at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for almost a decade.

NATO announced the DIANA initiative in June 2021, which aims to “bring defense personnel together with the alliance’s best and brightest start-ups, scientific researchers, and technology companies to solve critical defense and security challenges with dual-use technological solutions,” according to the announcement.

Leveraging a venture capital fund called the NATO Innovation Fund, which will invest $1.1 billion over 15 years, the initiative will focus on nine technologies: artificial intelligence, data, quantum-enabled technologies, autonomy, biotechnology, hypersonics, novel materials and manufacturing, energy and propulsion, and space.

“This tremendous news means the NATO DIANA initiative will have steady, expert leadership with Barbara at the helm,” Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu said in a statement. “In this critical role, she will be well positioned to put her extensive knowledge and experience to work and help put the alliance’s innovation efforts on the right path for the future.”

The group will have main offices in North America and Europe, according to DOD.

By Dan Schere
January 4, 2023 at 12:10 PM

The Army will host an industry day later this month to discuss future requirements for providing aerial target supplies and hardware for joint counter small unmanned aerial systems at Ft. Sill in Oklahoma, the service announced in a Jan. 3 notice.

The event stems from a requirement from at Ft. Sill to provide supplies and hardware for c-SUAS air defense artillery training, according to the Army.

In order to provide c-SUAS training to all of the armed services, the Army’s Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office must acquire UAS supplies. However, the Army states in the industry day notice that it is not currently seeking proposals.

The industry day, which will be held Jan. 18, will be both virtual and in person. Among the topics to be discussed will be capabilities to meet joint counter-SUAS airframe requirements, the ability to repair and build UAS parts and providing sustainment packages with different UAS platforms.

The industry day follows a request for information issued by the Army in November to identify companies interested in providing UAS and remotely piloted vehicle target supplies. Additionally, the Marine Corps issued an RFI in November on c-SUAS that can track, identify and defeat UAS through “non-kinetic” means.

During this year’s Project Convergence, the Army worked with a multinational coalition that included Australia and the United Kingdom, which provided unmanned systems to an experiment. Army officials said the experiment demonstrated the joint force’s ability to operate a drone swarm of unmanned systems.

By Michael Marrow
January 4, 2023 at 11:32 AM

The Air Force is conducting market research to modernize the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter with improved anti-jamming and communications capabilities, according to a sources-sought synopsis published by the service Jan. 3.

Noting that current CRH requirements reflect a 2012 baseline, the Air Force is seeking vendors who can help the helicopter counter low-cost jamming and spoofing devices and additionally incorporate secure Mobile User Objective System communications.

“During EMD execution, this requirements baseline has continued to evolve -- driving the need for planning in support of a new contract vehicle to address a broad spectrum of known and undefined operational capabilities,” the notice states.

According to the notice, the Air Force may seek to add other capabilities in the contract vehicle, which could span between five to 10 years.

Air Force officials previously sought to truncate purchases of the helicopter -- which is recapitalizing the aging HH-60G Pave Hawk -- due to shifting deployment scenarios in Europe and the Indo-Pacific. The planned decrease in procurement subsequently triggered a Nunn-McCurdy cost breach.

Lawmakers have since balked at the request to shrink the helicopter’s planned fleet size, with congressional authorizers and appropriators doubling the requested buy of the helicopter in fiscal year 2023. Authorizers further prohibited funds from being used to close the HH-60W production line.

The HH-60W is a relatively new platform in the Air Force’s fleet, the first of which was delivered by Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky in 2021. In October 2022, the Air Force declared the helicopter achieved initial operational capability.

Interested vendors are asked to respond by Feb. 3.

By Dan Schere
January 3, 2023 at 4:16 PM

The Army has awarded Boeing a $497 million contract to produce 14 CH-47F Block I Chinook helicopters, 12 of which will be for the Egyptian Air Force.

The company announced in a press release Tuesday that the foreign military sale to Egypt will allow the country’s air force to replace its fleet of CH-47D aircraft.

The F model of the Chinook includes a digital cockpit management system and advanced cargo handling capabilities among other features, according to Boeing. By replacing the D model aircraft with the F model, Egypt will be equipped with advanced multimission capabilities, according to the company’s statement.

“The F-model aircraft will enhance Egypt’s Chinook capabilities and help effectively accomplish its heavy-lift objectives,” Ken Eland, vice president and H-47 program manager for Boeing, said in a statement.

The other two helicopters that will be produced as part of the contract will be delivered to the U.S. Army, according to Boeing spokesman Brett Anker. The contract, awarded Dec. 23, has an estimated completion date of Dec. 30, 2025, according to the Defense Department’s posting. Boeing estimates deliveries will begin in 2026.

Despite being one of the Army’s legacy helicopter programs, support for Chinooks has seen a boost of late. The $1.7 trillion omnibus package passed by Congress last month and signed into law by President Biden boosts funding for Chinooks above the Army’s original request.

Additionally, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in early December announced that the State Department approved a potential $1.5 billion sale of Chinook helicopters and equipment to South Korea to help strengthen the country’s security. And earlier this year, Germany announced it would purchase Chinooks to strengthen it’s heavy-lift capabilities.

By Evan Ochsner
January 3, 2023 at 2:34 PM

Oshkosh Defense will ship $100 million worth of Joint Light Tactical Vehicles to Romania, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Brazil and Montenegro, the company announced Tuesday.

“We are committed to supporting our international allies in protecting their warfighters and strengthening their capabilities while improving interoperability with the U.S. Military,” John Lazar, international vice president for Oshkosh Defense, said in the announcement.

The sale comes amid growing U.S. support for Eastern Europe spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. All the countries receiving JLTVs under the new order have previously received JLTVs from Oshkosh.

Oshkosh received a $217 million contract modification to support fielding of JLTVs last year in a deal that included sales to Brazil, Lithuania and Montenegro. That order included 513 JLTVs and 1,152 trailers.

In 2021, Oshkosh Defense received a $592 million order for JLTVs, a deal under which Brazil, Lithuania, Montenegro and Slovenia would buy a total of 125 vehicles. The year before, Oshkosh was awarded a $23 million contract to build JLTVs and kits for Brazil, Lithuania and North Macedonia. Work for that contract was expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2022.

Oshkosh said it expects Lithuania to have a fleet of 500 JLTVs by the end of 2024.

In addition to the JLTVs, The U.S. has approved other military support to Romania, Lithuania and North Macedonia in recent months.

The Defense Department previously announced that a brigade combat team will rotate through Romania, which will provide a greater presence in the country than the United States had before the Russia-Ukraine war.

Inside Defense previously reported that the US was looking to help Lithuania buy long-range air surveillance radars as part of an effort to develop an integrated air and missile defense network for Baltic nations.

And in North Macedonia, the Pentagon said it would ship an estimated 54 Stryker combat vehicles to the NATO member, Inside Defense previously reported. North Macedonia, a Balkan state of former Yugoslavia, will use the Strykers to set up a vehicle brigade combat team “in order to meet its NATO membership requirements,” an Army spokesperson previously said.

By John Liang
January 3, 2023 at 11:32 AM

This first INSIDER Daily Digest of 2023 has a deep dive into the Air Force's airborne refueling tanker recapitalization effort, an Army helicopter contract protest and all the other news posted during the holiday week.

We start off with a deep dive into the Air Force's airborne refueling tanker recapitalization efforts:

Ahead of a KC-Y RFP, experts weigh anticipated requirements, key features of KC-46 and LMXT

Early this year, the Air Force expects to release requirements for its KC-Y refueling tanker, setting off an acquisition process for a platform that plays a key role in the U.S. military's ability to project power and may cap an on-again, off-again rivalry between two airframes: the Boeing 767 jetliner-derivative KC-46 Pegasus, and the Airbus A330, which has now partnered with Lockheed Martin for U.S. military conversion and is being pitched as the LMXT.

Bell may have to wait a little bit longer to begin work on the Army's next-generation helicopter:

Sikorsky, Boeing protest Army's decision to award FLRAA contract to Bell

Sikorsky and Boeing have filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office against the Army's decision to award the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft contract to Bell.

Here's all the other news we posted during the holiday week:

Defense bill strikes progress payment incentive pilot

The newly enacted Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act has stripped a Senate provision that would have created a new progress payment incentive pilot program, opting for the Government Accountability Office to study the issue.

Cloud computing is the next game-changer, 18th Airborne CTO says

Cloud computing will fundamentally transform the Army's ability to empower commanders to operate from anywhere in the world while improving soldiers' lives, the chief technology officer for "America's Contingency Corps" told Inside Defense.

Congress approves termination of Navy's 'Snakehead' LDUUV program

House and Senate appropriators are supporting the Navy's decision to fully divest from its large unmanned undersea vehicle program and are directing the service to pivot to commercially available UUV technology.

CENTCOM tech chief works to build 'muscle memory' in development cycle

In her first couple months on the job, U.S. Central Command's first-ever technology chief is pushing officials toward "building the muscle memory" for repeated capability iteration.

Army says improving data quality is a priority in addressing GAO predictive maintenance recommendations

In order to address a series of recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office on predictive maintenance listed in a report earlier this month, Army officials say the service must improve its quality of data on the condition of systems.

Cooper talks space policy ahead of retirement

As he prepares to retire from Congress, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), one of the chief lawmakers responsible for creating the Space Force and chair of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said space "is in good shape" under new leadership that's set to take charge in the House but larger cultural shifts are still needed.

Space Force CTIO takes inspiration from video games for digital architecture

The Space Force is advancing efforts to create its own version of the metaverse, which it is calling SpaceVerse, as part of its core focus to build itself into a digital service, according to Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Lisa Costa.

By Briana Reilly
December 30, 2022 at 4:05 PM

Legislative defense leaders today announced the full slate of members tapped to serve on a recently established commission tasked with making recommendations on the use of emerging biotechnology and biomanufacturing in the military.

Though the congressional defense committee’s top Democrats and Republicans had previously announced their joint selection of eight appointees back in March, it wasn’t until nine months later that the final four commissioner slots -- and the panel’s chair and vice chair -- were unveiled.

The 12-member body was created in the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which called on the panel to review advances in emerging biotech, biomanufacturing and related areas while keeping in mind “the methods, means, and investments necessary to advance and secure” development of those technologies.

Helming the so-called National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology is Jason Kelly, the co-founder and CEO of synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks, while Michelle Rozo will take the No. 2 role, according to a press release from the House and Senate Armed Services committees. Rozo, whose membership was first announced today, most recently served as the National Security Council’s director for technology and national security.

Under the FY-22 NDAA, eight of the commission’s members were to be selected by the heads of the armed services committees, while the remaining four positions were to be filled by the House speaker and minority leader, as well as the Senate majority and minority leaders. The four members newly announced today, including Rozo, are: Eric Schmidt, the former Google CEO and first chairman of the Defense Innovation Board; Angela Belcher, who helms MIT’s Department of Biological Engineering; and Dawn Meyerriecks, who most recently served as the deputy director of the CIA for science and technology.

The other members, all of whom were previously named, include four lawmakers: Reps. Stephanie Bice (R-OK) and Ro Khanna (D-CA), as well as Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Todd Young (R-IN). Also serving on the panel are Paul Arcangeli, an 18-year veteran House Armed Services Committee staffer who retired in spring 2022; Dov Zakheim, a former Defense Department chief financial officer and under secretary of defense; and Alexander Titus, a product strategy and operations lead at Google Research who previously served as the office of the under secretary of defense for research and development’s assistant director for biotechnology.

The law’s text directs the commission to consider a number of things while conducting that review, ranging from ways to grow the nation’s bioeconomy and commercial industry through the development of biotech-enabled capabilities to avenues to establish international standards for biotech, biomanufacturing and digital biosecurity.

Members are expected to submit their initial findings to the congressional defense committees within a year of the commission’s establishment, with a final report due within a two-year timeframe, per the language.