The INSIDER daily digest -- Feb. 8, 2023

By John Liang / February 8, 2023 at 1:45 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from lawmakers who attended last night's State of the Union address, the Air Force's E-7 Wedgetail program, middle-tier acquisition authorities as well as the possibility of arming Navy warships with Army guided-missile interceptors.

Inside Defense was on Capitol Hill during the president's State of the Union speech last night:

Lawmakers emphasize replenishment of weapons supply, investment in Indo Pacific in upcoming FY-24 budget

With about a month to go before President Biden submits his fiscal year 2024 budget proposal, some lawmakers are emphasizing modernization, investment in the Indo-Pacific region and the need to bulk up on industrial capacity.

The Air Force is expecting a contract award during this fiscal year for the E-7 Wedgetail aircraft program:

Air Force stands up E-7 Wedgetail program office

The Air Force stood up its program office for the E-7 Wedgetail platform, which will replace the decaying E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System, spokeswoman Maj. Alli Stormer confirmed to Inside Defense.

A new Government Accountability Office report finds that "certain MTA programs that we reviewed don't fully incorporate four key principles of product development, such as dropping less urgent requirements to stay on schedule. Following these principles could help programs develop and deliver weapon systems more quickly":

GAO finds several barriers to oversight of DOD's accelerated acquisition pathways

Amidst lawmakers' push to add further guardrails to accelerated middle-tier acquisition authorities, analysis from a government watchdog found multiple roadblocks that prevent the Defense Department from implementing its approach to rapidly prototyping and fielding new weapons.

Document: GAO report on middle-tier acquisitions

Lockheed Martin, maker of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement and the Mark-41 Vertical Launch System, is independently funding a project to integrate the Army guided missile with the Navy's Aegis combat system:

DOD exploring potential to arm Navy warships with Army guided-missile interceptors

The Defense Department is exploring the possibility of packing Navy ships with Army missiles after a hardware demonstration last year in Hawaii proved the feasibility of integrating the most advanced Patriot interceptor, the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement, with the Aegis weapon system.

Gen. Anthony Cotton, the head of STRATCOM, has told lawmakers that, as of October 2022, the "number of land-based fixed and mobile ICBM launchers in China exceeds the ICBM launchers in the United States":

Chinese nuclear ICBM launchers now outnumber U.S. totals

The chief of U.S. Strategic Command has informed Congress that China has now surpassed the United States in its number of intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, though America still has the edge regarding the total number of ICBMs and nuclear warheads, according to a memo sent to senior lawmakers.

Document: STRATCOM chief's letter to Congress on Chinese ICBMs