The INSIDER daily digest -- March 13, 2024

By John Liang / March 13, 2024 at 1:34 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, plus missile defense funding and more.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has, at long last, reached an important milestone:

F-35 reaches full-rate production benchmark

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter today received approval to enter milestone C, or full-rate production, marking a final step for what has become one of the Defense Department's most cost-intensive and delayed programs.

Missile defense funding news:

NGI funding slashed in FY-25; announcement on early downselect appears imminent

The Defense Department is poised for a major announcement on the Next Generation Interceptor competition -- likely picking a winner in the two-way race between Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman much earlier than planned -- in the wake of a steep funding cut to the project in the Pentagon's fiscal year 2025 budget request.

MDA seeks $465M for new Guam command center, initial radar and launcher site

The Missile Defense Agency wants to build on Guam a new facility to house a state-of-the-art command center the size of New York's Guggenheim Museum to control a new 360-degree enhanced integrated air and missile defense to shield the U.S. territory from Chinese cruise, ballistic and hypersonic missile threats.

Document: MDA's FY-25 budget overview, justification books

The Space Force's top uniformed officer made some news this week:

Space Force seeks to fund on-orbit refueling, servicing research

The Space Force is planning to begin funding on-orbit servicing to increase the potential life and maneuverability of military satellites, according to Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman.

Delivery of the Navy's next-generation frigate has been delayed:

Navy budget reflects delays in Constellation-class frigate program

The lead ship in the Constellation-class frigate program, FFG-62, is now expected to deliver in December 2027, according to the Navy's fiscal year 2025 budget documents, a 15-month delay compared to the September 2026 date listed in the prior year's budget.

Ukraine will be getting more U.S. military aid soon:

DOD preps $300M aid package for Ukraine; warns of $10B deficit in replenishment funds

The Defense Department, tapping savings from several Army contracts covering ammunition and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, is preparing to make a $300 million weapons transfer to Ukraine even as Congress remains stalled over a proposed supplemental appropriation needed to replenish U.S. stocks.

The Air Force's fiscal year 2026 budget -- which the service is working on now -- is expected to include any costs associated with the new Reoptimization for Great Power Competition strategy:

Air Force predicts 'continued decline' in future year budget requests

While the fiscal year 2025 budget request includes what Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall called "tough decisions" to balance procurement and research, development, test and evaluation funds, the service's real budgetary challenges will come in future years.

Cybersecurity news:

Pentagon issues final rule to expand defense industrial base cyber program eligibility

The Defense Department has finalized a rulemaking to expand eligibility requirements for its defense industrial base information sharing program.

American Gas Association urges DOD to consider potential regulatory overlap with CMMC program and other cyber policies

The American Gas Association is asking the Defense Department to consider potential avenues where contractors and subcontractors can use cyber policies at other agencies to fulfill requirements under the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program.