The INSIDER daily digest -- Sept. 29, 2023

By John Liang / September 29, 2023 at 2:15 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Ukraine and Taiwan weapons backlogs, the Pentagon's "Replicator" initiative, the brouhaha over where U.S. Space Command should be headquartered, artificial intelligence and more.

The Senate Armed Services Committee this week held a hearing to consider the nominations of Derek Chollet to become under secretary of defense for policy and Cara Abercrombie to be assistant secretary of defense for acquisition:

Key DOD nominees pledge to get after Ukraine, Taiwan weapons backlogs

Two Biden administration officials who have been nominated for senior acquisition and policy posts at the Pentagon said they are committed to streamlining the contracting process for Ukraine and pledged to address the growing backlog to obligate funds appropriated by Congress.

Document: Chollet's answers to advance policy questions

The Defense Department is in the "initial stages" of implementing its "Replicator" initiative that aims to address China’s pacing challenge by creating and fielding thousands of "attritable" autonomous weapon systems over the next 18 to 24 months:

DOD team charged with overseeing 'Replicator' holds first meeting

The Deputy's Innovation Steering Group, a high-level Pentagon team that will manage the recently announced "Replicator" initiative, held its first meeting today to kickstart its mission to fill pressing military technology gaps in under 18 months.

The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing this week on the Biden administration's decision to keep U.S. Space Command headquartered in Colorado rather than move it to Alabama:

Rogers says he will only authorize funds to build SPACECOM headquarters in Alabama

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) said today he would only authorize funding for the permanent basing headquarters of U.S. Space Command "to be constructed in Huntsville, AL."

Document: House hearing on SPACECOM HQ

A new Artificial Intelligence Security Center will help industry understand, navigate, prevent and eradicate threats against its intellectual property on its way to its final goal of national AI security:

NSA director announces creation of Artificial Intelligence Security Center

The National Security Agency director today announced the creation of an Artificial Intelligence Security Center to assess risk framework and improve national security and the defense industrial base.

Although the first Littoral Combat Ship armed with the Naval Strike Missile -- the trimaran-hulled Independence-class ship Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) -- deployed in 2019, the Navy's plans for expanding the offensive strike capability to the rest of the fleet have been murky in recent years:

Navy plans to put Naval Strike Missiles on all remaining Littoral Combat Ships by FY-32

The Navy plans to outfit all of its Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships with the Naval Strike Missile by fiscal year 2026, and all Freedom-variant ships by FY-32, a Navy spokesperson told Inside Defense.

The Defense Department, in a Selected Acquisition Report for the OASuW Inc. 1 program, is reporting a breach of the original program targets for planned procurement on account of the decision to buy significantly more LRASM missiles, upping the combined acquisition target to 1,215 -- an increase of more than 90% compared to last year’s combined objective of 629:

Lockheed's LRASM gets $1.8 billion boost in DOD plans as 'interim' solution with 18-year run

The Air Force and Navy are beefing up their capability to sink Chinese warships from the air by nearly doubling the planned purchase of Lockheed Martin-built missiles designed to strike heavily defended surface combatants: the Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare Increment 1 -- also called the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM).

The House Foreign Affairs Indo-Pacific subcommittee held a hearing this week on China:

Hearing looks at Chinese aggression in South China Sea

China has been increasing the scope, scale and pace of operations and interference in the South China Sea -- building military outposts, sinking Vietnamese fishing boats, disrupting Malaysian energy exploration, and flying too close to U.S. military aircraft operating lawfully in the area, according to a Defense Department official.