The INSIDER daily digest -- Feb. 2, 2024

By John Liang / February 2, 2024 at 1:08 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Defense Department's latest operational test and evaluation report, a Senate hearing to consider the nomination of the next head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and more.

We start off with coverage from the Pentagon's latest operational test and evaluation report:

DOD's top weapons tester says Ukraine war validates live-fire evals

The acting head of the Pentagon's independent weapons testing office says that while his team has developed new digital tools to evaluate the military’s most expensive systems, the war in Ukraine demonstrates the deadly effectiveness of U.S. weapons that have been put through rigorous live-fire test and evaluation.

Pentagon tester says F-35 availability at serious low, program deficiencies persist

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is significantly behind schedule, with just 51% of the aircraft available last year for combat, testing or training as opposed to the fleet's stated goal of 65%, according to a Pentagon report published this week.

Ford IOT&E extended through FY-27, flight system reliability challenges persist

Initial operational test and evaluation for the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) aircraft carrier is expected to stretch through fiscal year 2027, according to an annual report from the Pentagon's chief weapons tester, which points to persistent reliability challenges for the vessel’s flight operations systems.

Document: DOT&E's 2023 annual report

(Read our full DOT&E report coverage.)

Navy Adm. Samuel Paparo submitted answers to advance policy questions ahead of his nomination hearing this week before the Senate Armed Services Committee to become chief of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command:

INDOPACOM needs 'persistent stare,' quality targeting to deter China; means to 'blind' and kill

The presumptive new head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command -- whose tenure, if confirmed, could extend to the cusp of a 2027 centennial celebration of the founding of China's armed forces and a potential move by Beijing to take Taiwan by force -- today outlined for Congress new capabilities needed for decision superiority to "blind, see and kill" adversary forces.

Document: Adm. Paparo's INDOPACOM nomination APQs

The Army's C5ISR Center Research and Technology Integration Directorate is asking companies to provide information on capabilities "that can help protect soldiers, vehicles and infrastructure from emerging and future [UAS] threats":

Army seeking non-kinetic solutions for May CUAS industry day

The Army is seeking non-kinetic solutions for a May industry day focused on counter-unmanned systems, according to a sources-sought notice posted this week.

CoorsTek, Goex/Estes Energetics, Lacamas Laboratories, Margrathea Metals, METSS Corp., Powdermet and Synthio Chemicals were selected for different awarded amounts to work on developing critical chemicals, all funded through the Defense Production Act Investments Program:

DPAI awards $192.5 million to increase domestic critical chemicals production

The Defense Department awarded seven companies contracts totaling $192.5 million today in efforts to generate critical chemicals domestic manufacturing capabilities.

HII Chief Executive Officer Chris Kastner spoke about his company's quarterly earnings this week:

HII hiring, revenue climbed in fourth quarter

Shipbuilder HII made progress with hiring in 2023 -- bringing in over 6,900 craft personnel -- and set a goal of hiring approximately 6,000 more in 2024, according to a fourth-quarter earnings call with investors held on Thursday.

Jill Hruby, who heads the National Nuclear Security Administration, said at the 16th annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit this week that Generative AI is a large tool for the Energy Department to use when it comes to efficiency:

NNSA chief says Generative AI needs to adhere to nuclear enterprise standards

A senior Energy Department official said today that Generative Artificial Intelligence needs to be integrated into DOE efforts under nuclear enterprise security standards.