The Insider

By John Liang
November 8, 2023 at 11:26 AM

The Missile Defense Agency announced today it has stopped work on an environmental impact statement for the construction and operation of a homeland defense radar based in Hawaii.

In a Federal Register notice issued this morning, MDA said the Defense Department "postponed the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii (HDR-H) in 2019, and no funds have been appropriated for the program since fiscal year 2022. The DOD is not moving forward with the HDR-H. As such, the MDA is terminating preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the construction and operation of an HDR-H."

MDA launched the HDR-H project five years ago to increase the ability of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system to protect the archipelago state by helping to better determine threats at extreme distances to guide Ground-based Interceptors to destroy enemy re-entry vehicles with a higher degree of confidence.

The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2024 budget request marks the fourth consecutive year without funding for the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii, a project lawmakers have kept alive by reinstating funds annually.

In December 2018, MDA awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to build HDR-H to improve the U.S. military's intercontinental ballistic missile defense architecture by adding a ground-based sensor on Hawaii to better defend it against North Korean long-range rockets. The original $585 million contract called for Lockheed to design, develop and deliver the HDR-H for a yet-to-be-identified site.

Three years ago, however, the office of cost assessment and program evaluation completed a "Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii Study" that led to a recommendation to stop funding the project and instead divert money toward space-based sensor projects.

Last year, CAPE initiated yet another study taking a broader look at the defense of Hawaii and assessing options to address the evolved threat, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, in legislation proposed for the FY-24 defense policy bill, would mandate the defense secretary prepare a report within 90 days of the bill's enactment on the integrated air and missile defense architecture for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command with particular focus on the role of Hawaii sensors, Inside Defense reported in June.

If enacted, the provision would require this Defense Department report to identify “investment that should be made to increase the detection of non-ballistic threats and improve the discrimination of ballistic missile threats, particularly with regard to Hawaii.”

In addition, the proposed law would require DOD to outline the costs associated with integrating into the missile defense system any additional sensor to help protect Hawaii.

By Dan Schere
November 7, 2023 at 7:28 PM

Doug Bush, the Army's top acquisition executive, told reporters Tuesday that the Iron Dome batteries the United States has committed to Israel are "in transit."

The Pentagon announced last month that it would be sending two Iron Dome air defense batteries and additional missile interceptors to Israel to aid the country following Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7. The batteries are made by Rafael, an Israeli company.

Bush said during a roundtable Tuesday that the batteries are in transit and “most of the missiles are already there.”

The quickest way to get the batteries and missiles to Israel was by leasing them under a foreign military sale, Bush explained.

“So, it’s not free. But it's a lease for a relatively small amount of money for 11 months, with payback to be determined and status of the units to be determined,” he said.

Bush said after the 11 months are up, Israel could decide to keep the Iron Dome systems and pay for them, or another arrangement might be possible “depending on factors on the ground.”

President Biden’s $106 billion supplemental spending request to Congress includes $1.2 billion for research, development, test and evaluation for Iron Beam -- a laser upgrade to Iron Dome also made by Rafael.

By John Liang
November 7, 2023 at 1:50 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an Army prototype directed-energy air-defense system, the newly confirmed Air Force chief of staff's first message to airmen, the Navy's Large Unmanned Surface Vessel program and more.

Epirus, a Los Angeles-based technology company, recently announced delivery of the first of four planned Indirect Fire Protection Capability-High Power Microwave systems to the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, marking the completion of government acceptance testing in Nevada:

Army syncs up directed-energy, counter-swarm prototype weapon with key air defense C2

The Army has validated the ability of a prototype speed-of-light weapon to connect with the service's main air defense command and control system, a key development in an effort to deliver a high-power microwave capable of swatting down small drone swarms to operational units as soon as next summer.

The Air Force's recently confirmed chief of staff sent out his first message to airmen:

Allvin: Air Force 'must now follow through' on transformation goals

The Air Force "must now follow through" on the plans set in motion by previous service leaders, newly confirmed Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin told airmen in a letter Monday.

Document: Allvin's letter to airmen

The Navy's Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants is looking to industry to assist in the establishment of specific requirements for LUSV detail, design and construction before beginning procurement in fiscal year 2025:

Navy issues RFI for Large Unmanned Surface Vessel

The Navy has released a request for information for the Large Unmanned Surface Vessel, a future platform intended to carry a variety of modular payloads and provide anti-surface warfare capabilities to the fleet.

More cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Defense groups raise concerns to ONCD over CUI in push for regulatory harmonization

Industry groups representing the defense industrial base are highlighting inconsistencies across the federal government over regulations addressing the handling of controlled unclassified information and potential impacts from the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, in filings to the Office of the National Cyber Director.

Defense primes highlight compliance needs, support for suppliers in reaching CMMC requirements

Stakeholders from large defense prime contractors at an industry event last week emphasized the need for their suppliers to reach compliance with requirements under the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, while also highlighting how they are working together to provide resources.

By Apurva Minchekar
November 6, 2023 at 3:45 PM

The Space Development Agency is asking industry to provide feedback on optical communications waveforms for future Tranche satellites, according to a notice posted today.

According to the notice, the agency is looking for “risk-reduction efforts to support low data rate links and long-range links,” including “space-to-space geometries” of low Earth orbit to medium Earth orbit and LEO to geosynchronous Earth orbit ranges.

“Responses to this [request for information] will specifically inform SDA’s Transport Layer Tranche 3 planning beginning in fiscal year 2024 for subsequent acquisition efforts slated to begin in FY 2025,” the agency noted.

SDA in the RFI has posed questions on “direct-detect waveform extension” for industry, which it expects to receive by Dec. 8.

By John Liang
November 6, 2023 at 2:42 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has the latest on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, plus a Congressional Budget Office report on a bill to allow the sale of Virginia-class submarines to Australia and more.

We start off with some cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Defense primes highlight compliance needs, support for suppliers in reaching CMMC requirements

Stakeholders from large defense prime contractors at an industry event last week emphasized the need for their suppliers to reach compliance with requirements under the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, while also highlighting how they are working together to provide resources.

A new Congressional Budget Office report asserts that its estimates of the budgetary effects of a bill that would authorize the sale of Virginia-class submarines to Australia "are subject to significant uncertainties":

CBO: U.S. industrial base could see Australian investments in 2025 under AUKUS implementation legislation

The U.S. industrial base could receive a $2 billion investment as soon as 2025 if lawmakers pass pending AUKUS implementation legislation before the end of the calendar year, according to a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate.

Document: CBO cost estimate of AUKUS submarine transfer authorization act

The Army is looking to modernize a pair of digital fires programs:

Army asking for feedback on multivendor approach to digital fires modernization

The Army is asking industry for feedback on its "consortium-like" multivendor approach for the modernization of the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) and Joint Targeting Command and Coordination Suite (JTIC2S).

Some Senate Republicans are getting increasingly vocal over Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (R-AL) continuing hold on military nominations:

All Joint Chiefs now confirmed as senators look to override Tuberville's nomination blockade

Despite the Senate's recent moves to fill the final vacancies remaining on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks yesterday said the blanket hold on nearly 370 other military confirmations and promotions still in place from Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is hurting military readiness.

Daniel Hettema, the director of digital engineering, modeling and simulation in the office of the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, chatted last week with Inside Defense about digital engineering:

DOD official talks about the future of digital engineering

A Pentagon official spoke with Inside Defense about the future of digital engineering yesterday, stating the Defense Department is moving toward "model interconnection" as it updates its digital engineering strategy.

By Nickolai Sukharev
November 6, 2023 at 9:17 AM

Oshkosh's production of the military's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle will continue following another contract from the Army, the Defense Department announced Friday.

Worth $208 million, Oshkosh will produce the JLTV for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force by an estimated completion date of Sept. 25, 2025.

Oshkosh received an earlier $31 million contract for JLTVs in September.

The contract follows a request for information for a Mobile Long Range Precision Strike Missile designed to be carried on the JTLV and Army’s forthcoming electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle.

Intended to replace a portion of the Army’s humvees, the JLTV is a family of four-wheeled trucks designed to transport personnel and payloads across the full range of military operations.

The JLTV has a four-seat combat tactical variant and two-seat combat support variant. The combat tactical variant has subvariants with a machine gun turret and a cargo hold designed to carry heavier weapons. The combat support variant is designed to transport cargo.

To reduce fuel consumption and minimize engine noise, the JLTV will also feature lithium-ion batteries.

Last month, Oshkosh announced a decrease in sales after losing the next JLTV production contract to AM General. Earlier in June, the Government Accountability Office denied Oshkosh’s protest of the Army’s decision.

The Army is slated to procure 2,601 JLTVs in fiscal year 2024, according to budget documents.

The Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force will also procure smaller portions of JLTVs.

By Tony Bertuca
November 6, 2023 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak around the Washington area and elsewhere this week.

Monday

The Atlantic Council hosts a discussion with the Pentagon's principal director for FutureG.

The Association of Defense Communities hosts the Installation Innovation Forum in Orlando, FL.

Tuesday

The Center for a New American Security hosts a discussion with Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

Wednesday

The Air and Space Forces Association's Mitchell Institute hosts a discussion with the Air Force's chief technology and innovation officer.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a hearing on U.S. support for Israel.

DefenseOne hosts a conference on the "connected battlespace."

The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Association of the United States Army host a discussion on strategic land power with Gen. James Dickenson, chief of U.S. Space Command.

Friday

Veterans Day

By John Liang
November 3, 2023 at 1:52 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on senators' efforts to overcome a blanket hold on military nominations, plus a chat with a senior Pentagon official about digital engineering and more.

Some Senate Republicans are getting increasingly vocal over Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (R-AL) continuing hold on military nominations:

All Joint Chiefs now confirmed as senators look to override Tuberville's nomination blockade

Despite the Senate's recent moves to fill the final vacancies remaining on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks yesterday said the blanket hold on nearly 370 other military confirmations and promotions still in place from Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is hurting military readiness.

Daniel Hettema, the director of digital engineering, modeling and simulation in the office of the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, chatted this week with Inside Defense about digital engineering:

DOD official talks about the future of digital engineering

A Pentagon official spoke with Inside Defense about the future of digital engineering yesterday, stating the Defense Department is moving toward "model interconnection" as it updates its digital engineering strategy.

A new Defense Department artificial intelligence document is out:

Defense officials give further insight into the 2023 data, analytics and AI strategy

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks today announced the release of the 2023 Data, Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Adoption Strategy, which emphasizes the need for speed and agility in AI adoption.

Document: DOD's 2023 data, analytics and AI adoption strategy

In a request for information, the Army is asking manufacturers to integrate hybrid-electric engines on the Stryker M1126 infantry carrier vehicle:

Army explores hybrid-electric Stryker infantry vehicle

The Army wants to improve the efficiency of its Stryker infantry carrier vehicle with hybrid-electric engines, according to a public announcement.

Brig. Gen. Frank Lozano, program executive officer for missiles and space, said senior Pentagon officials are considering the need for a new guided missile interceptor program:

Pentagon debating FY-25 new start missile project to add layer between PAC-3 and THAAD

The Defense Department, concerned that potential adversaries could exploit seams in air defense coverage provided by the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and the Patriot systems, is debating a new-start program in the fiscal year 2025 budget request called the Lower Tier Future Interceptor (LTFI).

By Tony Bertuca
November 3, 2023 at 12:39 PM

The Pentagon today announced a $425 million military aid package for Ukraine, with $125 million accounting for immediate weapons transfers from U.S. stocks and the remaining $300 million exhausting what is left of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative meant for long-term defense needs.

The weapons transfer package funded via presidential “drawdown” authority includes:

  • Additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS);
  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
  • 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds;
  • Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles;
  • Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems;
  • More than 3 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenades;
  • Demolitions munitions for obstacle clearing;
  • M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions;
  • 12 trucks to transport heavy equipment;
  • Cold weather gear; and
  • Spare parts, maintenance, and other field equipment.

The USAI portion of the package, which includes contracts for “additional laser-guided munitions to counter Unmanned Aerial Systems,” makes use of $300 million provided under a continuing resolution that Congress recently passed and “exhausts the remaining USAI funds currently available to support Ukraine,” according to the Pentagon.

Senior defense officials said the department’s weapons transfer authority is also nearly spent.

“The administration continues to call on Congress to meet its commitment to the people of Ukraine by passing additional funding to ensure Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself against Russia's brutal war of choice,” the Pentagon said.

Congress, meanwhile, has not yet approved additional aid for Ukraine as some House Republicans oppose it.

By Tony Bertuca
November 3, 2023 at 10:40 AM

The House has passed a $14.3 billion Israeli military aid bill that would cut funding from the Internal Revenue Service, despite drawing a veto threat from President Biden and Democrats saying the legislation is dead-on-arrival in the Senate.

The bill separates Israeli aid from a larger national security supplemental request submitted by the White House and doesn't provide military aid to Ukraine.

The House voted yesterday 226-196 to pass the Israeli aid bill, with 12 Democrats breaking ranks to join 214 Republicans, while two Republicans opposed the bill alongside 194 Democrats.

The bill is seen as a first legislative test for new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), who has pledged to pay for the Israeli aid by “offsetting” the cost elsewhere in government. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, however, says the bill would actually add to the federal deficit as cutting the IRS would decrease government revenue over time.

Both Democratic and Republican senators, meanwhile, say they are moving toward a bipartisan supplemental spending package that would include funding for Israel, Ukraine, security at the southern border and the U.S. submarine industrial base.

By Nick Wilson
November 2, 2023 at 3:41 PM

The Senate voted 86-0 today to confirm Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney as Marine Corps assistant commandant days after Commandant Gen. Eric Smith was hospitalized following an undisclosed medical emergency, leaving the service with no Senate-confirmed No. 2 officer.

Although Mahoney was nominated in July, the post of assistant commandant has been vacant due to a blanket hold on military nominations and promotions by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who is blocking the Senate’s normal confirmation process in opposition to the Pentagon’s leave and travel policies for servicemembers seeking abortion services. Tuberville voted in favor of Mahoney’s nomination today.

With no Senate-confirmed assistant commandant, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, deputy commandant for combat development and integration and commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, has been performing the duties of commandant while Smith recovers. The job falls to Heckl because he is the most senior officer at Marine Corps Headquarters, according to a service press release.

According to a Wednesday Marine Corps release, Smith is in stable condition and is recovering in a Washington, DC hospital. While the service has not disclosed the nature of the medical emergency, other media outlets have reported it was a heart attack.

Earlier today, senators confirmed Adm. Lisa Franchetti as the new chief of naval operations and Gen. David Allvin as the next Air Force chief of staff. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on the three nominations on Tuesday, bringing them to the Senate floor for individual votes.

By Shelley K. Mesch
November 2, 2023 at 2:52 PM

The Senate confirmed Gen. David Allvin as the Air Force chief of staff today by a 95-1 vote.

Allvin succeeds Gen. Charles “C.Q.” Brown, who was confirmed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) was the only nay vote for Allvin. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) was among those who voted for it.

The individual vote on Allvin came as Tuberville continues to prevent large block votes on military nominations due to his opposition to Pentagon policies on expenses and leave for servicemembers seeking abortions.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also filed cloture on nominations for Adm. Lisa Franchetti as the chief of naval operations and Lt. Gen. Christopher Majoney for assistant Marine Corps commandant.

Franchetti was confirmed earlier today.

By John Liang
November 2, 2023 at 2:15 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's KC-46A airborne refueling tanker program, the newly minted House speaker floating an idea to keep the government open beyond the current continuing resolution and more.

The Air Force is working on a plan for the Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness certification of "commercial-off-the-shelf cameras" for the KC-46A's Remote Vision System 2 which is the "final critical action item" that, once approved, will complete the system's critical design review:

Air Force to complete KC-46A's RVS 2.0 critical design review before end of year

The Air Force is expecting to close the KC-46A's Remote Vision System 2.0 critical design review before the end of the calendar year, a service spokeswoman told Inside Defense.

The House's recently elected speaker is floating a new idea to keep the government open beyond the current continuing resolution:

Johnson floats idea of 'laddered' stopgap funding to keep government open

Newly minted House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said today that among Republican lawmakers there is growing recognition Congress needs to pass another stopgap funding patch to avert a government shutdown in two weeks, adding the GOP is considering a "laddered" continuing resolution that would involve individual appropriations bills.

HII executives discussed the company's quarterly earnings this morning:

HII exceeds annual hiring goal with over 5,000 new personnel

Shipbuilder HII has exceeded its annual hiring goal with over 5,000 new hires through the third quarter of 2023, according to company executives, who said they are still working to improve retention rates.

New legislation would prohibit the federal government from using U.S. taxpayer dollars to purchase commercial drones from countries like China:

House lawmakers propose bill to ban federal drone purchases from China

Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) introduced a bipartisan bill today that would ban the federal government from buying commercial drones made in countries, like China, that are listed as possible national security threats.

Document: American Security Drone Act of 2023

Lockheed Martin recently demonstrated a 5G network:

Lockheed touts successful 5G demo with commercial tech companies

Lockheed Martin today announced the completion of a successful demonstration of its Hybrid 5G-Tactical Mesh Network, noting new collaboration with leading commercial technology companies like Microsoft, Verizon and Intel, partnerships Lockheed's CEO recently told House lawmakers will be vital for the future of the defense industry.

By Shelley K. Mesch
November 2, 2023 at 1:48 PM

The Air Force is investigating an anomaly from a test launch of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile early yesterday morning.

The unarmed missile launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base, CA just after midnight and had to be terminated over the Pacific Ocean because of the unspecified anomaly, according to an announcement from Air Force Global Strike Command.

“Since anomalies may arise from many factors relating to the operational platform itself, or the test equipment, careful analysis is needed to identify the cause,” the announcement states.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) noted in a written statement that the Minuteman system, which was fielded in the 1970s, has been in service well past its originally intended lifespan.

“It has served our country well and we will continue to depend on it to deter nuclear war until the 2030s,” he said, “but this week’s test is a stark reminder that nothing lasts forever,” he said.

A team of representatives from AFSGC, the 377th Test and Evaluation Group, the 576th Flight Test Squadron, Space Launch Delta 30 Safety Office and the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center will investigate the cause of the problem.

AFGSC regularly runs test launches of unarmed Minuteman missiles to be able to “identify and correct” any problems that may arise with the aging nuclear system, it stated.

The Minuteman’s replacement, the LGM-35A Sentinel, is in development but won’t reach full operational capability until the mid-2030s, according to the Air Force. The service is committed to keeping Minuteman as a viable deterrent until that time.

Rogers criticized what he called “far-left disarmament community” moves to delay recapitalization efforts and extend the life of the Minuteman system.

“This debate has grown increasingly detached from reality; further life extension is simply infeasible, and 50-year-old missiles are not the answer to China and Russia’s expanding nuclear arsenals,” he said. “We must modernize our aging nuclear deterrent and replace the Minuteman III missile -- as well as the rest of our nuclear enterprise -- with modern systems.”

Some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have criticized the $98 billion program’s cost and schedule risks, 217537 but the program has continued to receive funding each year from Congress.

By Nick Wilson
November 2, 2023 at 1:02 PM

The Senate voted 95-1 today to confirm Adm. Lisa Franchetti as the next chief of naval operations, breaking a months-long hold that left Franchetti serving as the acting CNO while awaiting senate confirmation.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) was the only senator to vote against the nomination. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) was among those who voted for it.

Franchetti was nominated for the position in July and has been performing the duties of both the Navy’s No.1 and No. 2 positions since previous CNO, Adm. Michael Gilday, reached the end of his term in August. Franchetti is the first woman to become the Navy’s top officer.

Tuberville maintains a blanket hold on over 300 military nominations and promotions in opposition to the Pentagon’s leave and travel policies for servicemembers seeking abortion services. The hold prevents the Senate from using its usual process for approving nominees in large blocks.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on Franchetti’s nomination on Tuesday along with two additional senior military nominations -- Gen. David Allvin for Air Force chief of staff and Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney for assistant Marine Corps commandant. The Senate is likely to vote on the additional two officials in the coming days.

In September, Schumer used the same workaround, holding individual votes to confirm Gen. Eric Smith as Marine Corps commandant, Air Force Gen. Charles “C.Q.” Brown as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gen. Randy George as Army chief of staff.

An August Congressional Research Service report found it would take the Senate more than 30 days to confirm all the nominees impacted by Tuberville’s hold if lawmakers worked 24 hours per day without stopping. It would take the Senate 89 days if lawmakers worked eight hours a day on just the nominations.