The Insider

By John Liang
March 29, 2024 at 1:25 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a spat over who has control of buying commercial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, the Navy's Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle program and more.

For a year, the National Reconnaissance Office, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Space Force have been working on a solution on how to divide up control of purchasing commercial ISR:

Maven being implemented by more COCOMs amid tensions with Space Force

Amid rising tensions between the Space Force and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency over commercial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, NGA's director said this week that more combatant commands are using Program Maven, noting increased opportunities for the program thanks to the Replicator initiative.

The Navy's fiscal year 2025 budget request, which includes $21.5 million in research and development funding for the XLUUV "Orca" program, indicates two vehicles will be delivered in the final quarter of FY-24 with three more following in the first half of FY-25:

Boeing aims to complete delivery of initial XLUUV set within 2025

After delivering an initial prototype in December, Boeing plans to turn over the remaining five Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles to the Navy before the end of 2025, according to company executives and service budget documents.

The Pentagon's top uniformed officer spoke this week at a Defense Writers Group event:

Brown pushing for supplemental bill that would inject billions into U.S. defense industry

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. CQ Brown said he and other officials are working hard to get lawmakers to support a $95 billion supplemental spending package that would inject tens of billions of dollars into the U.S. defense industry, while also aiding Ukraine and Israel.

The Army's fiscal year 2025 budget request includes $120 million to buy 31 semi-autonomous LASSO unmanned aerial systems -- slated for units based in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility -- capable of stand-off and destruction against various targets, according to the budget request:

Army seeks new-start LASSO in FY-25 to make infantry 'as lethal as armored brigades'

The Pentagon is seeking new-start authority in fiscal year 2025 to begin buying a man-portable, tube-launched, uncrewed aircraft called the Low Altitude Stalking and Strike Ordnance (LASSO) as part of the Army's Family of Low Altitude Unmanned Systems program -- an effort to give dismounted infantry next-generation tank-killing capability.

The Pentagon this week released its 2024 Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Strategy:

DIB cybersecurity strategy outlines four goals to prevent threats

Senior officials spoke about the four goals of the Defense Department's 2024 Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Strategy, adding that the strategy comes at a time when adversaries are specifically targeting DIB contractors.

Document: Defense industrial base cyber strategy

Continuing with cyber, our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have continuing coverage of the public responses to the Pentagon's proposed Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program rule:

Procurement coalition raises questions over DOD treatment of external service providers in CMMC proposed rule

The Coalition for Government Procurement is seeking clarity on how the Defense Department will allow external service providers to play a role in achieving compliance with the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, in a filing on the proposed rule to implement the effort.

By John Liang
March 28, 2024 at 2:58 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on F-35 Joint Strike Fighter sustainment costs, Navy unmanned platforms, U.S. Central Command's unfunded priorities and more.

The cost to sustain the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has gone down over the past decade:

F-35 sustainment cost fell 34% between 2014 and 2022

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's sustainment price tag is slowly dropping after being one of the Defense Department's costliest combat aircraft for decades, the F-35 Joint Program Office told Inside Defense.

The Navy's top uniformed officer spoke this week at DefenseOne’s State of the Navy event:

Franchetti aims to focus on unmanned tech through remaining tenure

The Navy remains focused on developing and adopting unmanned technology as it can expand the reach and lethality of conventionally manned platforms, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti said Wednesday.

Inside Defense has obtained more details about U.S.Central Command's fiscal year 2025 unfunded priorities list:

CENTCOM's unfunded priorities list seeks $362M for counter-drone mission, $44M for Maven

U.S. Central Command has sent Congress an unfunded priorities list that identifies an unmet need for $362 million in spending to counter unmanned aerial systems, according to a new document obtained by Inside Defense.

Document: Breakdown of CENTCOM's FY-25 UPL

The Air Force is preparing to stand up the Future Tankers Program Office, according to FY-25 budget request documents:

NGAS alternatives study to also inform tanker recapitalization program

The Air Force is planning to use a study intended to inform requirements for the Next Generation Air-refueling System to also help set guidelines for a follow-on tanker recapitalization program, Inside Defense has learned.

The Army office responsible for developing and buying service air defense artillery and field artillery sensors published a notice this week seeking feedback from companies potentially interested in competing for a new radar program:

Army seeking vendors interested in building next-gen mobile passive air defense radar

The Army is drafting a requirement for a next-generation mobile passive radar -- a version of the Army Long Range Persistent Surveillance system mounted on a tactical truck that can quickly deploy a 60-foot-tall sensor to help detect cruise missiles, aircraft and smaller uncrewed flying systems.

The head of Army Futures Command spoke this week at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, AL:

Rainey lays out roadmap for Army's 'continuous transformation' initiatives

HUNTSVILLE, AL -- Gen. James Rainey, chief of Army Futures Command, said today that the service's immediate transformation priorities over the next two years include fielding loitering munitions, developing human-machine integration and keeping up with the pace of technology.

(Full AUSA Global Force Symposium coverage.)

By Sara Friedman
March 28, 2024 at 2:07 PM

The National Defense Information Sharing and Analysis Center has published a “shopping guide” to help small and medium-sized businesses pick an assessor who meets their needs to reach compliance with the Pentagon’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program.

The guide is designed to “address the challenges presented to an SMB when vetting an assessor for Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC),” and was developed by SMBs across the defense industrial base and feedback from CMMC third-party assessment organizations.

“It is important to note that this document is to be used as guidance and considerations as you, the Organization Seeking Assessment (OSA), tackle the goal of finding an assessor that best fits is your organization,” the guide says.

It continues, “Unfortunately, there is incentive to find the ‘easiest’ assessor. That should not be the goal. [An] SMB should seek out an assessor that is knowledgeable in CMMC, willing to understand their unique SMB environment, and provide a reasonable assessment to provide risk mitigation assurances to the DIB.”

The guide provides a list of 11 categories with specific questions addressing various aspects.

The categories are intake/quote process, cost, availability, reasonableness, responsiveness, quality, technical aptitude and experience, business/government contracting aptitude and experience, experience in CMMC, experience in other cyber frameworks and experience in similar environments.

The guide is accompanied by a “Scoring Tool” in Excel that allows SMBs to compare C3PAOs in each category. The scores are weighted in the spreadsheet based on importance to the SMB.

The principal authors are Win-Tech CEO Allison Giddens, Terry Hebert of Centurum and Sentinel Blue CEO Andy Sauer.

Giddens noted, “SMBs have to sort through a blizzard of commercials about CMMC and impending assessments. The ND-ISAC assessor shopping guide has the credibility of being provided by peer SMB leaders who distilled their hard won knowledge with the sole motivation that others may better succeed on their experience.”

There are currently 50 authorized C3PAOs on the Cyber Accreditation Body’s marketplace. Organizations seeking assessment can receive a joint surveillance voluntary assessment from an authorized C3PAO and DCMA’s Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Assessment Center that will convert into a CMMC certification once the program is finalized.

The CMMC program is in the rulemaking process. DOD issued the first proposed rule on Dec. 26 to implement the program and a second proposed rule making changes to defense acquisition rules is expected this year.

The ND-ISAC’s SMB working group released a supply chain handbook in 2023 for small business manufacturing designed to help companies address “specific and common challenges” by offering use cases and ideas to address them.

By Dan Schere
March 27, 2024 at 8:36 PM

HUNTSVILLE, AL -- The Army has released the first version of its Unified Data Reference Architecture (UDRA), service officials announced this week during the Association of the United States Army's Global Force Symposium here.

UDRA will address the challenge of improving the Army’s current data architecture, which is “complex and focused on networks, systems and message protocols for moving and sharing data,” according to an Army description. “This UDRA introduces data mesh principles to flatten and simplify the Army’s data architecture, streamline data product sharing across mission partners, and support data-driven decision making at greater speed and scale,” the service’s description of the architecture states.

Army Deputy Assistant Secretary for Data, Engineering and Software Jennifer Swanson told Inside Defense on March 26 that the service has been developing the architecture in collaboration with industry for the past year.

“That was important to us to make sure that what we put out was executable and feasible. And so we have evolved the architecture.” she said.

The architecture was co-signed by both the Army acquisition executive as well as the chief information officer, Swanson said.

“Implementation is beginning across ASA (ALT), and it is going to be required for at least our new programs. We need to kind of do the math on the existing ones and what makes sense. I think we're going to start taking a look at that soon. But I think that there will be some level of migrating some of that to this data mesh architecture as well,” she said.

Also this week, the Army officially launched the Innovation Exchange Lab, which will allow industry to test out their data solutions to determine compliance with the architecture.

“It’s really a cloud-based lab where industry can bring their data solutions and test against the UDRA implementation. So basically, do I comply. Do I not comply? What are the things that I might need to tweak in order to comply or get closer to complying,” she said.

By John Liang
March 27, 2024 at 2:31 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on artificial intelligence, military modernization and more.

DARPA launched its AI Cyber Challenge last August, calling on industry and AI experts to aid in development of innovative AI capabilities that work toward creating stronger cybersecurity:

DARPA official outlines what a winning AI Cyber Challenge system could look like

A top innovation official at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said today that a winning system for DARPA's Artificial Intelligence Cyber Challenge will leverage the statistics in cutting-edge large language models, while also using traditional "cyber reasoning systems that are more symbolic."

More DARPA news:

DARPA director cites U.S. advantages in AI race with China, describes government role

The U.S. and China each have advantages in the race to develop and deploy artificial intelligence technologies, but that dispersed roles and responsibilities for government and the private sector is a U.S. strength that matches this country's values, according to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Director Stefanie Tompkins.

Reps. Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Pat Ryan (D-NY) recently announced they would co-chair a new military modernization caucus, which aims to integrate innovative technologies to bolster national security:

New Defense Modernization Caucus working on legislative agenda, focused on Replicator

The co-chairs of the newly established Defense Modernization Caucus told Inside Defense today that they are working on a bipartisan legislative agenda to advance U.S. military capabilities, noting they will focus on accelerating various Defense Department innovation efforts, like the Replicator initiative.

More coverage from the AUSA Global Force Symposium:

Army buying one system for first round of Replicator, Bush says

HUNTSVILLE, AL -- The Army will procure one system for the first round of the Defense Department's new Replicator initiative, according to service acquisition chief Doug Bush.

Army's new 'All-Domain Sensing' CFT will be fully operational by October

HUNTSVILLE, AL -- The Army will fully stand up its new All-Domain Sensing Cross-Functional Team by October, Gen. James Rainey, commanding general of Army Futures Command, announced today during the Association of the United States Army's Global Force Symposium here.

(Full AUSA Global Force Symposium coverage.)

By Shelley K. Mesch
March 27, 2024 at 1:46 PM

The Space Development Agency posted the solicitation for the next stage of its Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture yesterday, less than one week after Congress finally passed its fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill.

The Tranche 2 Transport Layer Gamma variant will include about 20 satellites with four optical communication terminals and the Warlock mission payload. It will join the T2TL Alpha and Beta variants in having Ka-band mission payloads, notworking and data routing subsystems, navigation subsystems and S-band telemetry, tracking and control subsystems.

Unlike several other SDA solicitations, the agency only plans on awarding one contract for the Gamma variant.

SDA had been waiting for Congress to pass an FY-24 appropriation before it could post the solicitation, Director Derek Tournear said at various events over the past few months. Because the government was operating under a continuing resolution for nearly six months, SDA hadn’t been able to post the Gamma solicitation or award the Fire-control On Orbit-support-to-the-war Fighter, or FOO Fighter, program.

FOO Fighter had been in source selection at the time of Tournear’s remarks at the Defense and Intelligence Space Conference at the end of February.

SDA plans to award the contract for Gamma in August, according to the solicitation, and the satellites are scheduled to launch by July 2027.

By Shelley K. Mesch
March 27, 2024 at 10:26 AM

The Space Development Agency is looking for information on services to pull down Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture satellites as needed.

The broad agency announcement released this week asks for studies and concepts for “commercial on-orbit servicing to provide assisted disposal operations.” Responses should include commercial offerings, concepts of operations, potential satellite design considerations, timelines for operational services, pricing and technical, policy and contractual considerations.

The solicitation comes a week after Director Derek Tournear said using such on-demand deorbiting services could save the agency money by allowing more risk in the design process as it could plan and be ready for a certain failure rate.

SDA plans to cyclically launch hundreds of satellites into low-Earth orbit with five-year service lifespans. To meet space debris mitigation standards, those satellites will be deorbited, requiring each satellite to have sufficient propulsion capabilities to come back to Earth.

“Even though current plans are adequate to exceed these goals, SDA is also interested in commercially available options for assisted disposal services as a contingency, should they be required,” the solicitation states.

Without an on-demand service as a backup, satellites would need to be built with redundant propulsion capacity to ensure they can deorbit, Tournear has said.

By John Liang
March 26, 2024 at 2:44 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the latest unfunded priorities lists, the Army's Integrated Battle Command System and more.

We start off with the latest unfunded priorities lists:

Air Force submits $3.5 billion unfunded priorities list to Congress

The Air Force is asking Congress for $3.5 billion to cover unfunded priorities mostly related to the service's recently announced structural shakeup to better prepare for conflict with a near-peer adversary, according to a document obtained by Inside Defense.

Navy sends $3.7 billion unfunded priority list to Congress

The Navy submitted a $3.7 billion list of "unfunded priorities" to Congress today, including $403 million in additional funding for the submarine industrial base workforce and supplier development as its top item, according to a document obtained by Inside Defense.

DOD tech chief submits $81.5M unfunded priorities list

Pentagon technology chief Heidi Shyu has sent Congress an $81.5 million unfunded priorities list for fiscal year 2025, keying two programs that would provide additional capabilities to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, according to a document obtained by Inside Defense.

. . . Followed by coverage of the AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, AL:

Army targeting mid-2025 for fielding IBCS to initial battalions

HUNTSVILLE, AL -- The Army will field the Integrated Battle Command System to the first couple of Patriot battalions starting in mid-2025, according to the program manager.

(Full AUSA Global Force Symposium coverage.)

Some unmanned systems news:

Navy postpones LUSV procurement and clips R&D in a sign it may be rethinking strategy

The Navy is pumping the brakes on the development and fielding of the Large Unmanned Surface Vessel, reducing the fiscal year 2025 funding request for LUSV research and development by approximately $74 million while postponing planned procurement of the lead vessel by two years, budget documents state.

Last but by no means least, our colleagues at Inside AI Policy have news from the head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency:

DARPA director cites U.S. advantages in AI race with China, describes government role

The U.S. and China each have advantages in the race to develop and deploy artificial intelligence technologies, but that dispersed roles and responsibilities for government and the private sector is a U.S. strength that matches this country's values, according to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Director Stefanie Tompkins.

By Georgina DiNardo
March 26, 2024 at 1:59 PM

Amid news of Congress allotting $200 million to the secretive Replicator program in a new spending deal, senior defense officials told Inside Defense in an exclusive interview that an inaccuracy was made in Replicator's published -- and later corrected -- fiscal year 2025 budget request, leading to an inside look at the Pentagon's internal decision-making process.

This story is now available to all.

By Abby Shepherd
March 26, 2024 at 1:46 PM

Energetics manufacturing is set to increase at Allegany Ballistics Laboratory’s Naval Industrial Reserve Ordnance Plant, thanks to a $178 million contract awarded to Northrop Grumman by Naval Sea Systems Command.

A focus within the contract award is the construction of a new modular energetics facility.

“The investment will increase rocket motor energetics and inert processing and builds on Northrop Grumman’s proven performance to quickly scale using advanced manufacturing techniques and digital transformation,” according to a Northrop Grumman news release.

Northrop was awarded part of the $178 million in late September, according to company spokesperson Jarrod Krull.

Additional proposals for further plant expansion efforts will follow in the next couple of years, Krull added.

“The expansion will add to Northrop Grumman’s own investment in rocket motors and increase resiliency by doubling the capacity of the defense supply chain and ensure production capacity to meet the growing demand of solid-rocket motors and warheads on time and at affordable scale,” the news release said.

By Tony Bertuca
March 26, 2024 at 11:38 AM

Sweden-based Saab announced today it intends to build a new munitions manufacturing facility in the United States focused on the development and production of missiles and components for weapon systems like the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb.

Final site selection and groundbreaking is planned for 2024, with production to begin in 2026.

“Saab is growing its business in the United States and delivering on our promise to increase and modernize domestic production of our close combat and missile weapon systems, which will extend our defense capabilities and ensure the safety and security of military personnel around the globe,” Erik Smith, head of the company’s U.S. division, said in a statement.

“With capacity for advanced manufacturing and engineering, this new site will be a world-class asset to the American industrial base,” he continued.

Saab’s announcement comes as senior defense officials, including Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante, have increased their focus on bolstering munitions production to continue military aid to Ukraine, replenish U.S. stocks and prepare to provide weapons to Taiwan to deter China.

By Georgina DiNardo
March 26, 2024 at 11:28 AM

The Defense Innovation Unit announced the launch of a trilateral prize challenge run through AUKUS Pillar II today which will focus on determining electromagnetic spectrum technologies that give the Defense Department a "strategic edge in targeting."

The EMS technologies DIU is searching for should also be able to “provide protection against adversarial electromagnetic-targeting capabilities,” a DOD release today said.

Each country in AUKUS has nominated an organization to head this prize challenge and each will run separate competitions synchronously, with DIU leading the U.S. challenge, the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator leading the Australian challenge and the Defence and Security Accelerator leading the U.K. challenge.

“A team of subject-matter experts will evaluate applicants and select winning companies from the three countries in July 2024,” DOD said.

This challenge is run through AUKUS Pillar II, which aims to develop advanced military capabilities.

"There is enormous potential in collaborating with our allies and partners, and our AUKUS electromagnetic warfare (EW) Challenge is an example of this," DIU Director Doug Beck said in the release. "A strong international community of defense innovation entities can help nurture and harness these new capabilities."

By Dan Schere
March 26, 2024 at 10:00 AM

Leonardo DRS is among the companies that are competing for the Army's CMOSS Mounted Form Factor program for combat vehicles, the company announced Tuesday.

C5ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS) is an effort by the Army to embed networked capabilities such as Position, Navigation and Timing, mission command application or radio waveforms into a “common ruggedized chassis” inside a tactical vehicle by inserting a card.

CMOSS Mounted Form Factor is the implementation of CMOSS that involves using a kit to “provide platforms with one or more standard chassis that are already plumbed for power, networks and radio frequency distribution.” It will serve as an upgrade to the Army’s combat vehicle-mounted battle management system, providing a “plug-and-play” capability that improves situational awareness.

Leonardo DRS announced Tuesday morning, ahead of the AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, AL, that it would be competing for the CMOSS Mounted Form Factor program. About 30 companies have started showing interest to compete, the company stated in a press release.

By Tony Bertuca
March 25, 2024 at 5:56 PM

U.S. Transportation Command has again sent an empty unfunded priorities list to Congress, according to a document obtained by Inside Defense.

The command also sent Congress an empty UPL for FY-24.

The regular fiscal year 2025 budget request is enough to “support the USTRANSCOM mission and invests in areas to ensure we maintain key strategic advantages,” according to a letter from Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, the chief of TRANSCOM, to the congressional defense committees.

By Georgina DiNardo
March 25, 2024 at 5:26 PM

Sasha Baker, acting under secretary of defense for policy, plans to resign at the end of April, according to a Pentagon announcement.

Amanda Dory, currently the director of the Africa Center of Strategic Studies at National Defense University, will replace Baker in the position, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in DOD statement today.

Austin said that Baker is stepping down to move onto “her next chapter.”

“Under her leadership, our Policy team has helped the Department navigate a range of complex global challenges, including major crises in Ukraine and the Middle East,” Austin wrote. “Her strategic acumen and steadfast commitment to our national security have helped her play a pivotal role in shaping our defense policies, tackling emerging threats, and strengthening interagency relationships and international alliances.”

Dory will resume the role as acting under secretary when Baker leaves in April as Derek Chollet, who has been nominated for the post, has yet to be confirmed.

Chollet was nominated in July 2023 but he faced GOP opposition during a contentious Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in September about his involvement in the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Austin today urged the Senate to confirm Chollet.

“At this crucial moment for U.S. defense policy, the Department needs a confirmed principal adviser in this critical role,” Austin wrote.

Meanwhile, Melissa Dalton, who took over for Mara Karlin’s position performing the duties of the deputy defense under secretary for policy in December, is set to leave that role as she was confirmed by the Senate last week to be under secretary of the Air Force.