The INSIDER daily digest -- Sept. 15, 2020

By John Liang / September 15, 2020 at 1:50 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's KC-46 airborne refueling tanker plus a look at China's strategic forces modernization plans.

Air Mobility Command chief Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost recently made her first visit to Boeing's KC-46 production facility, where she observed progress the prime contractor has made to replace the aircraft's existing Remote Vision System with a new system, RVS 2.0:

AMC chief awaiting final testing data on interim KC-46 RVS upgrade

The new head of Air Mobility Command said today that while she has seen progress in Boeing's proposed interim KC-46 Remote Vision System upgrade package, she needs more testing data and assurance that the near-term value the capability could bring to the warfighter outweighs the time it would take to upgrade existing tankers.

U.S. Strategic Command chief Adm. Chas Richard told reporters this week that China's strategic forces modernization plan appears at odds with its stated "no-first-use" policy -- and that this drives an imperative for the United States to modernize its offensive strategic forces as soon as possible:

STRATCOM preparing for China to join Russia as U.S. nuclear peer adversary

China's military modernization -- particularly development of its strategic forces -- is driving the U.S. military to begin preparing for the advent of Beijing as a nuclear competitor on par with Russia, a development that will require a different deterrence strategy from the playbook the Defense Department has long maintained to counter Moscow, according to a senior U.S. military official.

A Treasury Department COVID-19 rescue fund, which has gone almost entirely unspent because most contractors disliked the terms, is also the subject of behind-the-scenes debate on Capitol Hill:

DOD scrutinized over role in bailout fund that has drawn little interest from big companies

The Pentagon is being pressed by a congressional watchdog to explain its role in recommending to the Treasury Department companies to receive loans from a $17 billion COVID-19 rescue fund.

The Air Force Research Laboratory and contractor SRC for several years have been developing the Agile Condor high-performance embedded computing architecture to quickly and in real time process large amounts of sensor data with relatively little power:

DOD plans more demos of Agile Condor edge computer for autonomous drone ops

The Pentagon is planning more tests of the Agile Condor pod that enables an MQ-9 Reaper to autonomously surveil targets with artificial intelligence -- such as algorithms developed by Project Maven -- for extended periods, even if connection to the ground station is lost.

Inside Defense recently interviewed Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies executives about the case they've made to the Missile Defense Agency for their Next-Generation Interceptor proposal:

Northrop, Raytheon pitch NGI proposal that stresses incumbency backed by innovation

Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies are pitching a Next-Generation Interceptor design backed by what they say are engineering teams with unparallel experience knocking down targets in space and knowledge of today's Ground-based Midcourse Defense system -- promising a unified, "seamless" corporate team to deliver a new booster and kill vehicle as if from a single company.