The INSIDER daily digest -- March 8, 2018

By Thomas Duffy / March 8, 2018 at 2:06 PM

This Thursday INSIDER includes rules for talking with industry, a plan for the Joint Strike Fighter to buy more than one aircraft at a time, a new Navy force structure review, and the Army acquisition chief weighing in on reform measures.

We kickoff with the deputy defense secretary explaining how government should talk with industry:

Shanahan lays out Pentagon's guide for communicating with industry

Defense Department officials have a “critical responsibility” to engage with industry and should not fear such interactions as long as they stay within ethical and legal boundaries, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan makes clear in new guidance.

The Joint Strike Fighter program sees a chance upcoming to bundle some aircraft buys:

DOD: FY-21 is earliest chance to begin bundling U.S. F-35 orders into multiyear contracts

The Defense Department is considering options to bundle U.S. orders for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter into multiyear contracts with Lockheed Martin as soon as fiscal year 2021, potentiality consolidating annual purchases of about $11 billion for nearly 100 aircraft into mega-deals that would provide industrial base stability and notionally yield savings compared to yearly contracts.

The Navy will once again look at the size and capability of its fleet:

Navy to conduct new force structure assessment in upcoming year

The Navy intends to conduct another force structure assessment within the next year to account for the new national defense strategy, according to a senior Navy official.

The Joint Strike Fighter program may have a large cost associated with its next development step:

Initial F-35 C2D2 costs estimated at $16 billion through FY-24

Initial cost estimates for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's newly re-shaped Continuous Capability Development and Delivery plan indicate the effort could cost the Defense Department about $16 billion in development and procurement funds through fiscal year 2024 -- though the head of the program told reporters Wednesday that number will likely shrink as the joint program office refines the details of its new strategy.

The Army's assistant secretary thinks government business rules should be loosened:

Jette: Army acquisition reform comes down to fewer restrictions

Commercial vendors are being scared off by the government's “onerous” rules, according to the Army's acquisition executive.