The INSIDER daily digest -- Feb. 12, 2024

By John Liang / February 12, 2024 at 1:58 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engine upgrade, over-the-horizon radars and more.

We start off with news -- outside the paywall -- that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engine upgrade effort will run out of money soon if a full appropriations bill isn't passed:

F-35 engine upgrade program to run out of money in June without FY-24 budget

An ongoing engine modernization program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will have to halt at the end of June if Congress isn't able to rectify a monthslong partisan divide over the fiscal year 2024 budget, Inside Defense has learned.

More aircraft engine news:

Pratt & Whitney reaches crucial digital design milestone for NGAP prototype

Pratt & Whitney has completed a crucial preliminary design review of its digital offering for the Air Force's secretive Next Generation Adaptive Propulsion prototype, according to an advance news release from the company.

The Air Force's top acquisition official spoke at an Atlantic Council event late last week:

Hunter: Foundational architectures the cornerstone for future Air Force acquisition

The Air Force will develop several foundational architectures that acquisition chief Andrew Hunter said today will better integrate the service and boost competition for major programs.

U.S. Special Operations Command chief Gen. Bryan Fenton told the Defense Writers Group last week that artificial intelligence will help counter unscrewed aerial system attacks in a multitude of ways:

SOCOM sees AI as key to countering unmanned drone attacks

The chief of U.S. Special Operations Command says integrating artificial intelligence and autonomy will be key to developing and fielding systems that can counter unmanned aerial systems.

The fiscal year 2024 budget request included $423.6 million for a homeland defense OTHR system and sought to complete installation of the first system in FY-27 and second in FY-28, but Congress has yet to pass an appropriations bill:

Air Force needs to award OTHR contract 'soon' to meet end-of-decade timeline, contractor says

U.S. Northern Command has pushed the need for modernized over-the-horizon radar capabilities within a few years, which a major contractor said would be possible only if the Defense Department is able to issue contracts soon.

The Pentagon's top acquisition official spoke last week at a RAND Corp. event in Arlington, VA, alongside members of the congressional Planning, Programming, Budget and Execution Reform Commission:

DOD would 'love' a special counter-drone fund but senior officials say Congress will balk

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante said the Defense Department would "love" to have a special category of money with spending flexibility to quickly counter attacks from unmanned drones, especially since U.S. adversaries change their tactics nearly every two weeks. But he also said he knows congressional appropriators think his wish for "agility" sounds a lot like a "slush fund."