The Insider

By Michael Marrow
November 23, 2022 at 1:54 PM

The Air Force's T-7 trainer program is facing a possible schedule slip after qualification testing for the aircraft’s emergency escape system was pushed to fiscal year 2024, according to the service and manufacturer Boeing.

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Read the article.

By John Liang
November 23, 2022 at 1:31 PM

This pre-Thanksgiving INSIDER Daily Digest has a deep dive into the Air Force's T-7 trainer program, the Tobyhanna Army Depot being home to a satellite communications center and more.

We start off with a deep dive into the Air Force's T-7 trainer program:

T-7 testing delay could trigger schedule slip and spell new trouble for Boeing

Boeing's T-7 Red Hawk is facing a possible schedule slip after qualification testing for the aircraft's emergency escape system was pushed to fiscal year 2024, according to the Air Force and the company.

The Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania is home to a lot of satellite communications gear:

In northeast Pennsylvania, a key cog in DOD's satellite mission

TOBYHANNA, PA -- Inside a vast warehouse on a plot of land that can trace its Army roots back over a century, computer servers whirr and hum at a volume that makes it difficult to carry on a conversation at regular volume.

In case you missed it, the Pentagon released its zero-trust strategy and roadmap this week:

DOD unveils new strategy as it drives toward FY-27 zero-trust target

The Pentagon has unveiled an overarching framework to bolster military components' safeguards against current cybersecurity risks as officials push to implement a zero-trust baseline within the next five years.

Document: DOD's zero-trust strategy, roadmap

The Army's latest Black Hawk helicopters are getting a bunch of upgrades:

Army's newest Black Hawk fleet to get avionics architecture upgrades as part of a $157M contract

The Army's newest fleet of Black Hawk helicopters will be getting upgrades to its avionics architecture and flight controls as part of a contract awarded to KBR and Northrop Grumman.

The Army recently held a demonstration of the Remote Interceptor Guidance-360 (RIG-360) -- which showed the potential for delinking Patriot interceptors from their organic radar:

Army demos prototype technology to destroy cruise missile, delinks Patriot interceptor-radar

The Army shot down a cruise missile target last week in a paradigm-changing demonstration of a prototype technology that could dramatically increase the defensive range of Patriot interceptors by allowing the guided missiles to use any sensor -- air, ground or sea -- available on the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).

By Tony Bertuca
November 23, 2022 at 12:26 PM

The Defense Department today announced a $400 million tranche of military aid to Ukraine, including additional ammunition for recently delivered National Advanced Surface-to-Air-Missile Systems to help defend against Russian missile barrages and unmanned drones.

“With Russia's unrelenting and brutal missile and [unmanned aerial system] attacks on Ukrainian critical energy infrastructure, additional air defense capabilities remain an urgent priority,” DOD said. “The additional munitions for NASAMS and heavy machine guns will help Ukraine counter these urgent threats.”

The deadly seriousness of the air defense challenge was highlighted last week when a Ukrainian missile, aiming to intercept an incoming Russian missile, apparently struck a site in Poland, killing two civilians, according to the United States, NATO and the Polish government.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that “the world knows that Russia bears ultimate responsibility for this incident.”

The $400 million in aid, meanwhile, is being provided via presidential “drawdown” authority and will be transferred directly from U.S. stocks.

Along with additional munitions for NSAMS, capabilities in the package include:

•    150 heavy machine guns with thermal imagery sights to counter unmanned aerial systems

•    additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems

•    200 precision-guided 155 mm artillery rounds

•    10,000 120 mm mortar rounds

•    High-speed anti-radiation missiles

•    150 humvees

•    over 100 light tactical vehicles

•    over 20,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition

•    Over 200 generators

•    spare parts for 105 mm Howitzers and other equipment

The package is the 26th drawdown of equipment from DOD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.

In total, the United States has committed more than $19.7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, with more than $19 billion sent since the beginning of the ongoing Russian invasion in February.

“To meet Ukraine's evolving battlefield requirements, the United States will continue to work with its allies and partners to provide Ukraine with key capabilities,” DOD said.

The Biden administration, meanwhile, has requested that Congress approve a $38 billion emergency supplemental package for Ukraine, including more than $21 billion for DOD to continue providing military aid.

By Briana Reilly
November 23, 2022 at 10:10 AM

The Pentagon's chief technology officer is planning to hold a three-day event in the coming months to give industry "visibility" on military spending in artificial intelligence and autonomy as part of an effort to widen communications channels in "areas that have investment across the services."

First mentioned by Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu during an online Acquisition Next forum earlier this month, the forthcoming gathering is slated for spring 2023, a DOD spokesman said, and is set to feature “a broad swath of potential industry partners” as part of a bigger effort to bolster engagement. 

“I wanted to create a day in which each of the labs will come in and talk about, ‘This is what we're investing in, from the lab’s perspective,’ and have it in unclassified form, so the information can be shared with industry,” Shyu said in her Nov. 4 appearance. “And then have the PMs come in, the program managers come in, and say, ‘this is what we're planning as a part of our acquisition,’ to have that as a kickoff point. When I've mentioned this to companies, they love that idea.”

While Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman wrote in an email to Inside Defense Tuesday that the current focus of the event is on AI and autonomy “because we know each of the services are doing important work in that space,” he cautioned the topics could be expanded, adding officials “haven’t yet fully scoped” it out.

Following the initial briefings, Shyu said companies could have the opportunity to participate in one-on-one discussions “if you have some great secret sauce that you're investing in and that you want to share with us.”

Gorman didn’t disclose further details about current plans, but he noted that Shyu remains “focused on making it easier for industry to partner with the department’s modernization stakeholder organizations.”

By John Liang
November 23, 2022 at 9:48 AM

The Aerospace Industries Association announced this week it has elected Spirit AeroSystems President and CEO Tom Gentile to serve as the organization's chairman of the board of governors for 2023.

Gentile succeeds Mike Petters, HII's vice chairman of the board of directors and former president and CEO, according to AIA.

Boeing Defense, Space & Security chief Ted Colbert will serve as AIA's vice chairman, according to the announcement.

Additionally, Eric Fanning has been reelected as AIA president and CEO.

By John Liang
November 22, 2022 at 4:07 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Defense Department's latest zero-trust strategy, upgrades to Army Black Hawk helicopters and more.

The Pentagon today released its zero-trust strategy and roadmap:

DOD unveils new strategy as it drives toward FY-27 zero-trust target

The Pentagon has unveiled an overarching framework to bolster military components' safeguards against current cybersecurity risks as officials push to implement a zero-trust baseline within the next five years.

Document: DOD's zero-trust strategy, roadmap

The upgrades to the Army's latest Black Hawk helicopters include improvements to the avionics architecture, flight controls, fuel system, the electrical system, airframe, drive train and rotor system:

Army's newest Black Hawk fleet to get avionics architecture upgrades as part of a $157M contract

The Army's newest fleet of Black Hawk helicopters will be getting upgrades to its avionics architecture and flight controls as part of a contract awarded to KBR and Northrop Grumman.

The Army recently held a demonstration of the Remote Interceptor Guidance-360 (RIG-360) -- which showed the potential for delinking Patriot interceptors from their organic radar:

Army demos prototype technology to destroy cruise missile, delinks Patriot interceptor-radar

The Army shot down a cruise missile target last week in a paradigm-changing demonstration of a prototype technology that could dramatically increase the defensive range of Patriot interceptors by allowing the guided missiles to use any sensor -- air, ground or sea -- available on the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).

The Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor co-developed by the United States and Japan shot down a target for the first time:

Japan executes SM-3 Block IIA launch; key to new Aegis procurement, destroyer development

Japan executed its maiden launch of a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor -- the most advanced Aegis guided missile which it co-developed, and is co-producing, with the United States -- as part of a major ballistic missile defense live-fire event in the Pacific Ocean in concert with the U.S. Navy and Missile Defense Agency.

The F-35 Joint Program Office plans to order 119 F135 engines in fiscal year 2024 and 143 in FY-25:

JPO targets five-to-seven-year development for F-35 engine modernization

The F-35 Joint Program Office expects a modernized propulsion system for the Joint Strike Fighter will take between five to seven years to develop, a JPO spokesman told Inside Defense, a timeline that would see a new engine for the Lightning II by 2031 as the military services stand poised to choose an upgrade for the fighter's powerplant.

By Audrey Decker
November 22, 2022 at 1:01 PM

A year after a petroleum leak from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Facility contaminated water in Hawaii, Navy officials say defueling the facility and spreading fuel around to various locations in the Pacific will increase the service's readiness.

The Navy is not concerned about fuel shortages as the Red Hill facility is defueled, according to Rear Adm. John Wade, commander of the Red Hill Joint Task Force.

“The redistribution of the fuel from the Red Hill complex throughout the Pacific will actually make us more resilient and better prepared if there were a crisis or a conflict,” Wade told reporters yesterday.

Red Hill Bulk Fuel Facility is located near Pearl Harbor, HI, on the island of Oahu. In total, the Navy will need to remove more than 100 million gallons of fuel from the facility.

This summer, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. John Aquilino said the Navy will use existing facilities, potential new facilities and afloat capabilities to store fuel after the service defuels Red Hill.

“The relocation of the fuel is actively being worked right now by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the Department of Defense and the Defense Logistics Agency. They are working to redistribute that fuel and other fuel storage locations throughout the Pacific or at sea,” Wade said yesterday.

“That is work that is ongoing and it would be inappropriate for me to comment or to speculate on what is still a decision forthcoming for the secretary of defense,” he added.

Wade said that the service is working to complete the defueling ahead of its 2024 goal.

By Nick Wilson
November 22, 2022 at 12:28 PM

The Navy has declared initial operational capability for the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability, according to a Tuesday announcement from Boeing, which builds the system.

HAAWC is a modular Air Launch Accessory (ALA) that attaches to a MK 54 torpedo to enable GPS-aided flight, turning the torpedo into a precision-guided glide weapon.

The system enables the P-8A Poseidon aircraft to deploy torpedoes from near or below cruising altitude, allowing the aircraft to strike targets from higher altitudes and greater distances, the release states.

HAAWC is intended to provide the P-8A with greater flexibility by allowing the aircraft to launch torpedoes throughout its full flight envelope and conduct anti-submarine warfare in GPS-aided and GPS-denied environments.

The P-8A was initially intended to focus solely on anti-submarine warfare but the aircraft’s mission set was expanded in 2018 to include anti-surface warfare, disaster response, search and rescue and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

To date, the P-8A fleet has accumulated over 450,000 “mishap-free” flight hours, according to P-8A builder Boeing.

According to Boeing’s release, the Navy will field HAAWC units through 2024, with the possibility of production continuing into 2030 under the current contract.

Budget documents indicate the Navy plans to procure 44 HAAWC systems for a total cost of $8.3 million in fiscal year 2023.

By Shelley K. Mesch
November 22, 2022 at 11:45 AM

The Air Force will hold one-on-one meetings with businesses in January to gauge interest in and availability of new radar capabilities that can detect small drones or birds, which the service says when struck cause millions of dollars in damage each year, according to an online posting.

The industry day for the Bird Detection Radar or Bird/Drone Detection Radar will be Jan. 9, but registration forms must be completed by Dec. 15.

Each year, Air Force aircraft strike thousands of birds, causing millions of dollars in damages, according to the post.

The service may seek to make contracts for sustaining current BDRs or B/DDRs at Air Force installations, replacement of aging radars or initial investments into detection radar technology, the post said.

Because small unmanned aerial systems, or drones, come in a variety of sizes, shapes, coloration and movement capabilities, they can be more difficult to detect than birds and could negatively impact safe flight operations, according to the statement of work attached to the posting.

“Unlike birds, the movement of a sUAS aircraft is unpredictable, especially if the sUAS operator has malicious intent for operation within a DAF airfield environment,” the SOW states. “Siting sUAS with ground observers and maintaining visual confirmation over significant linear distances is inefficient and impractical for assuring midair avoidance by manned aircraft operations.”

Some Air Force wings and major commands have “expressed interest and need” for radars that can detect both birds and drones that could impact air operations, according to the SOW.

By Shelley K. Mesch
November 21, 2022 at 2:27 PM

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is seeking information from businesses to develop tactical autonomy for its Artificial Intelligence Reinforcements program, according to a broad agency announcement.

AIR would be a dominant tactical autonomy for multiship, beyond-visual-range air combat missions, according to the listing, using AI that is compatible with existing hardware. Autonomy technology would be demonstrated on human-in-the-loop F-16 testbeds before transferring to uncrewed aircraft.

Creating a development process and testing assets to rapidly mature and continuously evolve the AI capabilities will also be important to the program, according to the notice.

DARPA expects to award multiple contracts for AIR’s four-year effort, according to the post. Six contracts would be awarded for Phase I at $30 million, and up to four contracts would be awarded for Phase II at $40 million.

Phase I would be a base period with the Phase II option covering the design, development and test of the AIR System, the post states. There are two technical areas for businesses to work on: Model Development and Multi-Agent AI Agent Training. Businesses can apply to both or either.

By John Liang
November 21, 2022 at 1:41 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Japan's Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor shooting down a target for the first time, engines for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and more.

Japan's co-developed Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor shot down a target for the first time:

Japan executes SM-3 Block IIA launch; key to new Aegis procurement, destroyer development

Japan executed its maiden launch of a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor -- the most advanced Aegis guided missile which it co-developed, and is co-producing, with the United States -- as part of a major ballistic missile defense live-fire event in the Pacific Ocean in concert with the U.S. Navy and Missile Defense Agency.

The F-35 Joint Program Office plans to order 119 F135 engines in fiscal year 2024 and 143 in FY-25:

JPO targets five-to-seven-year development for F-35 engine modernization

The F-35 Joint Program Office expects a modernized propulsion system for the Joint Strike Fighter will take between five to seven years to develop, a JPO spokesman told Inside Defense, a timeline that would see a new engine for the Lightning II by 2031 as the military services stand poised to choose an upgrade for the fighter's powerplant.

Armaments directors from around the world last week focused on four key areas: ground-based long-range fires, air defense systems, air-to-ground capabilities, and sustainment support:

LaPlante meets with U.S. allies to increase global weapons production

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante chaired a meeting in Brussels today with dozens of armaments chiefs from around the world looking to boost the production of critical weapon systems being used in Ukraine against the Russian military.

U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Samuel Paparo recently spoke at the Military Reporters & Editors Association’s annual conference:

Paparo: China has relented 'to an extent' in months following Pelosi's Taiwan visit

The Navy has seen Chinese military operations in the Pacific ease following China's initial, extensive military drills after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taiwan this summer, according to a top fleet commander.

In case you missed it on Friday, news on an Air Force effort to develop autonomous, uncrewed aircraft that can link up and team with traditional platforms:

'Significant investment' in CCA coming in Air Force's FY-24 budget request, official says

The Air Force will be requesting a "significant investment" for the Collaborative Combat Aircraft effort in the coming budget request, according to officials leading the program.

By Evan Ochsner
November 21, 2022 at 12:28 PM

BAE is forming a "strategic relationship" with a Polish defense company to support the production of tank recovery systems and other combat vehicles, the company announced Monday.

The deal with Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa, a large conglomerate of defense contractors owned by the Polish government, will center on BAE-made Abrams tank recovery vehicles, but also on the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, a new armored personnel carrier that is one of the Army’s modernization priorities.

The announcement comes after the U.S. agreed to ship $6 billion in arms to Poland earlier this year in a package that included 26 M88A2 Hercules combat recovery vehicles, along with 250 Abrams tanks.

According to Monday’s announcement, “the main area of cooperation” between BAE and PGZ will focus on the M88A2 recovery vehicle. The release said the recovery vehicles are a “key part of the M1A2 Abrams tank procurement program” in Poland.

“Today’s agreement underscores an important milestone in our developing industrial cooperation partnership with PGZ and demonstrates our commitment to delivering critical capabilities to support Poland’s defense modernization efforts,” Jeremy Tondreault, president of BAE Systems’ Platforms & Services sector said. “The M88 program now gives us the opportunity to deliver localization of sustainment services to Poland.”

The additional cooperation on AMPV comes a month after Army leaders said the service has support from Congress to buy 200 new armored personnel carriers in a one-for-one replacement of legacy troop carriers it sent to Ukraine. The service plans to buy 200 units of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, one of its modernization systems, to replace M113 troop carriers it sent to Ukraine out of Army stockpiles. The Army reached an agreement with BAE to produce the AMPV at a higher frequency in order to meet demand.

Defense companies have for months signaled their anticipation of growing demand for ground vehicles spurred by the conflict in Ukraine. General Dynamics, maker of the Abrams, said in its most recent earnings call that the company had begun to see a demand boost from Poland.

By Tony Bertuca
November 21, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Few events are scheduled this week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Tuesday

The Hudson Institute hosts a virtual discussion with Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) on leveraging commercial innovation for the U.S. military.

Thursday

Thanksgiving.

By Briana Reilly
November 18, 2022 at 3:33 PM

A new partnership between Microsoft and Lockheed Martin that gives the latter classified cloud access will ultimately allow executives to more quickly and cheaply provide solutions to Defense Department customers, the defense prime says.

Announced this week, the three-year framework makes Lockheed “the first non-government entity to independently operate inside the Microsoft Azure Government Secret cloud,” according to a joint press release.

Through the deal, Lockheed said in a statement to Inside Defense, the company will be able to save time in standing up IT infrastructures associated with new classified programs; nix traditional equipment procurement and accreditation processes; and allow executives to replicate known architectures in the cloud environment -- ultimately making it “easier to work with DOD.”

“Fundamentally the cloud collaboration helps LM become more agile and perform work more securely and at lower cost,” the statement added.

Asked about the dollar value of the agreement, Microsoft deferred to Lockheed, which did not provide comment on a figure, saying only in a statement that executives are “committed to investing in the advanced technologies needed to bring 21st century security capabilities to our customers.”

It’s unclear whether Microsoft plans to enter further classified cloud agreements with other defense industry partners. In a statement to Inside Defense addressing that possibility, Microsoft said the focus is currently on supporting Lockheed “to stand up this environment.”

Still, the statement noted the platform is “a potentially replicable” one long-term, which could support the more than 12,000 vendors accredited through the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency program, which Microsoft noted is the same one that is overseeing the Lockheed effort.

The partnership also involves three other lines of effort, among them artificial intelligence and machine learning and simulation capabilities. That category will involve Microsoft’s advanced gaming, exercising, modeling and simulation solutions, as well as Lockheed’s military planning AI, which Lockheed’s statement said would be combined to help DOD wargame and military plan, while digitally validating potential courses of action.

“This will be key to furthering DOD’s vision for joint all domain operations -- they’ll essentially be able to test in the digital environment how assets across domains can work together,” the Lockheed statement said.

By John Liang
November 18, 2022 at 3:01 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's Collaborative Combat Aircraft effort, the military's future use of 5G technologies, the Army's munitions industrial base and more.

We start off with news on an Air Force effort to develop autonomous, uncrewed aircraft that can link up and team with traditional platforms:

'Significant investment' in CCA coming in Air Force's FY-24 budget request, official says

The Air Force will be requesting a "significant investment" for the Collaborative Combat Aircraft effort in the coming budget request, officials leading the program said Thursday.

A new coalition of 5G providers is showing its wares to the Defense Department:

GDIT-led 5G coalition seeks to provide 'holistic' solutions for DOD, government

A recently announced coalition led by General Dynamics Information Technology seeks to provide "holistic" 5G capabilities and solutions to the military and other government agencies, according to a company executive.

The Army's acquisition chief spoke this week at an event in Texas hosted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency:

Bush: Munitions industrial base improvements are 'vitally important'

The Army's acquisition executive on Wednesday added to a growing chorus of senior government officials calling to modernize the service's ability to make munitions, continuing to highlight an issue that has increased in relevance as the Pentagon has shipped weapons to Ukraine.

Since 1995, the solid-rocket motor industry has consolidated from six U.S. manufacturers to two: Aerojet Rocketdyne and Northrop Grumman (which in 2018 acquired Orbital ATK). A potential new supplier appears to be throwing its hat into the ring:

Albuquerque start-up pitches new booster to help DOD surge hypersonic weapon production

X-Bow Systems -- a New Mexico-based start-up that claims to bring 21st-century manufacturing technologies and know-how to solid-rocket motor production -- has answered the Pentagon's call for a potential new domestic supplier of boosters needed to power Army and Navy plans to scale production of long-range hypersonic strike weapons.

We have more military spending details about the proposed Ukraine supplemental budget request:

New Ukraine supplemental seeks funds for DOD missile procurement and development

The White House's new emergency supplemental budget request to continue aiding Ukraine in its fight against Russia contains nearly $22 billion for the Defense Department, according to an Office of Management and Budget document that breaks down some of the proposed spending.