The Insider

By John Liang
November 2, 2023 at 10:38 AM

Leidos today announced a realignment of its operating groups and changes to its corporate leadership structure and personnel, effective Jan. 1, 2024.

The company will be organized into five sectors, with the National Security Sector being led by President Roy Stevens. Leidos has hired Cindy Gruensfelder to be Defense Systems Sector president.

"Gruensfelder joins Leidos bringing decades of extensive Aerospace and Defense platform engineering and program management experience," the company said in a statement. Leidos Dynetics will continue to be led by Steve Cook.

Liz Porter will lead the Health and Civil Sector, while Vicki Schmanske will oversee the Commercial and International Sector. The Digital Modernization Sector will be led by Steve Hull.

Additionally, Leidos said it is making changes to its corporate leadership structure and personnel:

  • "Gerry Fasano, current Defense Group president, will become Chief Growth Officer, responsible for fusing strategy, marketing, sales, government affairs, and communications into one cohesive force for growth.
  • "Carly Kimball, current Chief Accounting Officer and Corporate Controller, will become Chief Performance Officer, responsible for driving Leidos operational excellence, bringing together program execution, real estate, security, IT, and procurement."

Other members of the executive leadership team will continue in their current roles:

  • Jim Carlini, chief technology officer
  • Jerry Howe, general counsel and corporate secretary
  • Maureen Waterston, chief human resources officer
  • Chris Cage, chief financial officer
By Nickolai Sukharev
November 1, 2023 at 3:04 PM

The Army released a digital weapons handbook cataloguing current and future weapon systems, the service announced Wednesday.

Dubbed the Acquisition Program Portfolio, the document details each of the weapon systems the Army currently uses and intends to procure ranging from small arms to battlefield surveillance systems.

Published by the Army’s Acquisition Support Center, which oversees the service’s acquisition and procurement programs, the portfolio also details the organization of the agencies, such as the numerous program executive offices.

“This portfolio is the successor to the U.S. Army Weapon Systems Handbooks, which have been periodically issued for more than three decades,” the service announced on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Clickable links allow navigation through the chapters, and the page design lets the user view the document on mobile devices.

The portfolio contains three chapters: the organization of the Army’s procurement offices, science and technology efforts and individual program portfolios. Each chapter is divided into subchapters, that offer details on programs or offices.

For subchapters covering weapons or vehicles currently in service, the portfolio outlines any current or proposed upgrade program, such as the M2A4 Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Subchapters that cover the program executive offices outline their scope and purpose.

The Science and Technology subchapter outlines numerous development and experimentation efforts, such as the Next Generation Combat Vehicle and the Future Vertical Lift programs.

Prior versions of the portfolio, called U.S. Army Weapon Systems Handbooks, didn't contain clickable links and were issued in PDF or print form.

By John Liang
November 1, 2023 at 1:45 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Biden administration threatening a veto of House GOP lawmakers' proposed stand-alone bill to aid Israel, the Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft program and more.

In a statement of administration policy issued this week, the White House threatens a veto of House Republicans' proposed stand-alone bill to aid Israel:

Biden threatens to veto House GOP's bill to aid Israel

President Biden intends to veto the House GOP's standalone bill to aid Israel in the unlikely event Congress passes it because it doesn't include funds for Ukraine and is contingent upon cutting the Internal Revenue Service, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Document: Statement of administration policy on House GOP's supplemental spending bill

Related:

House GOP moves to fund Israeli aid by cutting IRS

House Republicans have put forth a standalone bill that would provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel in its war against Hamas by cutting the Internal Revenue Service, something Democrats have said they will oppose.

The Pentagon's latest Selected Acquisition Report on the Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft program has information on the service's splitting the effort in two:

Navy to designate two MQ-4C subprograms as it seeks capability improvements

The Navy is splitting its MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft program into two subprograms as it seeks capability upgrades for “Increment 2” systems while slashing overall procurement quantities.

Document: DOD's selected acquisition report on the MQ-4C Triton program

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee this week on the administration's multibillion-dollar supplemental spending request for Ukraine and Israel:

Austin, Blinken spotlight industrial base investments in emergency spending request

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Senate appropriators today that approving the $106 billion national security spending package sought by President Biden would pour significant funding into the U.S. defense industrial base, resulting in not just the support of key allies Ukraine and Israel, but also a surge in American jobs.

Document: Senate hearing on supplemental spending request

Army Brig. Gen. Frank Lozano, who leads the service's Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, spoke at a recent panel hosted by the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance:

General stresses importance of laser weapons alongside missile deployments

With the U.S. facing China and Russia as adversaries, one Army general last week stressed the need for laser weapons to be deployed alongside the nation's missile defenses.

By Nick Wilson
November 1, 2023 at 11:31 AM

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) advanced the nominations of three senior military officials on Tuesday, seeking to fill key Defense Department positions that have been left vacant due to a blanket hold by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).

Schumer filed cloture on the nominations of Gen. David Allvin for Air Force chief of staff, Adm. Lisa Franchetti for chief of naval operations and Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney for assistant Marine Corps commandant.

The move follows the hospitalization of Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith, who experienced an undisclosed medical emergency on Sunday evening.

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, is 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.

“In typical Marine fashion, I am the next Marine up. This is what we do, as so many have done before us throughout the history of our Corps,” Heckl said in a Tuesday statement, adding that all orders remain in effect.

During an appearance at the Military Reporters and Editors conference last week, Smith said without a No. 2 officer, he is forced to handle the workload of the service’s top two positions.

Mahoney, who currently serves as the deputy commandant for programs and resources, was nominated for the post of assistant commandant in July.

Adm. Lisa Franchetti, who is also doing two jobs at once as the Navy’s vice chief of naval operations and acting CNO, was also nominated to serve as Navy service chief in July.

Tuberville is blocking the Senate’s typically streamlined process for advancing military nominations because he is opposed to the Pentagon’s leave and travel policies for servicemembers seeking abortion services. The blockade has stalled more than 300 nominations and promotions.

By Shelley K. Mesch
November 1, 2023 at 11:27 AM

The Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin close to $1 billion to build a reentry vehicle for the Sentinel Intercontinental Ballistic Missile System, the Defense Department announced Monday.

The $996 million contract for the Mk21A will be used for engineering, manufacturing and design work to “provide a low technical risk and affordable RV for Sentinel,” according to the announcement.

Mk21A is a modification of the legacy Minuteman III’s Mk21 vehicle, and it will carry Sentinel’s W87-1 warhead.

Work under this contract is expected to be completed by the end of October 2039, according to the announcement. The Air Force has previously said initial operational capability is expected in fiscal year 2030.

At the time of the award, $27 million was obligated from FY-24 funds for research, development, test and evaluation.

The contract is a sole-source acquisition, which was announced in April last year.

The Air Force also plans on funding research for the Next Generation Reentry Vehicle beginning this fiscal year, according to budget request documents released in March. Congress has yet to pass an FY-24 budget, but the service requested $15.5 million in RDT&E funding for the effort.

By Tony Bertuca
November 1, 2023 at 11:22 AM

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) has announced that she will not run for reelection in 2024.

Granager, who was first elected to Congress in 1996 and is the first female Republican House appropriations chair, said she plans to serve out the remainder of her term.

Over the years, Granger, who has also served as chair of the committee’s defense panel, has been known as a key supporter of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter -- and the Lockheed Martin facility located in her district that manufactures it.

“Although I am not running for re-election,” she said, “I plan to serve out the remainder of my term and work with our new speaker and my colleagues to advance our conservative agenda and finish the job I was elected to do.”

There remains plenty for Granger to do as the federal government faces a possible shutdown on Nov. 17 when a stopgap continuing resolution is set to expire.

The House, still reeling from weeks of chaos after the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who Granger supported, is also trying to move appropriations bills under new Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), including a standalone bill to aid Israel by cutting the Internal Revenue Service that the president has threatened to veto.

By Nickolai Sukharev
November 1, 2023 at 8:49 AM

The Army is soliciting industry proposals for a targeting system designed for training and testing, according to a public announcement.

Issued as a pre-solicitation, the announcement asks industry to develop the Aerial Target Systems 3 “that can be used to replicate aerial threats for use in research, development, test and evaluation and training environments.”

Aerial Target Systems can replicate aerial threats U.S. forces would face on the battlefield, which can be used for training and testing, according to the Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation.

The system includes unmanned aerial targets, unmanned aerial systems, subsystems, components and other aerial systems and equipment that can be used to replicate aerial threats for use in research, development, test and evaluation and training environments, according to the announcement.

“These systems may be controlled using traditional ground control stations, cellular communication networks or may operate autonomously,” the announcement reads.

The Army currently uses several unmanned aerial systems, two of which can reach speeds of up to 575 mph at altitudes of up to 40,000 feet, or 10,000 feet higher than the average cruising altitude of a Boeing 747 airliner.

According to the announcement, the Army anticipates issuing a formal request-for-proposals in the next 45 days with a five-year contract being awarded to multiple offerors in fiscal year 2024.

By Apurva Minchekar
October 31, 2023 at 3:03 PM

Space Systems Command has assigned 21 launch service missions for Phase 2 of space launch services for fiscal year 2024, the command announced today.

According to the announcement, this is the “fifth and final order” of the National Security Space Launch Phase 2 after completing the NSSL Mission Assignment Board’s process for FY-24 launch service awards.

“Over the five-year Phase 2 contract, we will have ordered a total of 48 missions, a significant increase over the 34 missions originally estimated leading up to Phase 2,” Brig. Gen. Kristin Panzenhagen, the assured access to space program executive officer, said in the announcement.

“The increase in launch tempo is a clear reminder of how vital space-based capabilities are in providing our warfighters and our nation’s decision-makers with the information needed to stay ahead of and to deter adversarial forces,” she said.

The United Launch Alliance will deliver 11 mission launch services and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) will deliver 10 mission launch services, which the command is expecting to launch over the next two to three years with a focus on different mission areas.

The 11 mission launch services by ULA will include Global Positioning System III-9, National Reconnaissance Office Launch- 73; NROL-56; Space Test Program-5; SILENTBARKER-2/NROL-118; GPSIIIF-1; NROL-100; United States Space Force-95; NROL-109; Space Development Agency Tranche 2 Transport Layer Beta variant; and USSF-25.

At the same time, the 10 mission launch services by SpaceX will include SDA Tranche 1 Transport Layer -F; SDA Tranche 1 Tracking Layer- A; USSF-57; NROL-77; SDA T1TR-E; GPS III-10; USSF-75; SDA T2TL-Alpha; SDA T2TL- Gamma; and USSF-70.

“We maintain a close partnership with our mission customers and our domestic launch industry to protect our nation,” Col. Chad Melone, SSC’s Mission Solutions Space Acquisition Delta senior materiel leader, said.

“Under our Phase 2 contract, ULA and SpaceX have been committed partners, and our combined team remains dedicated to delivery of critical assets to our warfighters as we complete this phase of the NSSL program and embark on NSSL Phase 3 starting in FY25,” he continued.

By John Liang
October 31, 2023 at 1:37 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Biden administration's proposed supplemental spending request and more.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee this morning on the administration's multibillion-dollar supplemental spending request for Ukraine and Israel:

Austin, Blinken spotlight industrial base investments in emergency spending request

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Senate appropriators today that approving the $106 billion national security spending package sought by President Biden would pour significant funding into the U.S. defense industrial base, resulting in not just the support of key allies Ukraine and Israel, but also a surge in American jobs.

Document: Senate hearing on supplemental spending request

In related news, House GOP lawmakers are proposing a spending package for Israel that will likely be dead-on-arrival in the Senate:

House GOP moves to fund Israeli aid by cutting IRS

House Republicans have put forth a standalone bill that would provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel in its war against Hamas by cutting the Internal Revenue Service, something Democrats have said they will oppose.

Army Brig. Gen. Frank Lozano, who leads the service's Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, spoke at a recent panel hosted by the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance:

General stresses importance of laser weapons alongside missile deployments

With the U.S. facing China and Russia as adversaries, one Army general last week stressed the need for laser weapons to be deployed alongside the nation's missile defenses.

The Pentagon's proposed B61-13 nuclear bomb will have the updated safety, security and accuracy of B61-12 bombs but will have a larger yield similar to the B61-7s:

DOD to develop new nuclear bomb variant

The Defense Department is seeking a modern-variant, nuclear gravity bomb, which it has designated the B61-13, the department announced today.

A new Congressional Budget Office report analyzes the Navy's latest shipbuilding plan:

CBO: As acquisition costs rise, shipbuilding appropriations must grow 31-40% to achieve Navy fleet plans

Annual shipbuilding appropriations must increase by 31% to 40% over their current five-year average for the Navy to achieve any of the three alternatives presented in its latest 30-year shipbuilding plan, according to a new Congressional Budget Office analysis that points to submarine acquisitions as a leading driver of cost growth.

Document: CBO analysis of the Navy's FY-24 shipbuilding plan

By Dan Schere
October 30, 2023 at 4:16 PM

The Army has awarded a 30-month performance contract to Leonardo DRS to produce a prototype of the next-generation Joint Effects Targeting System (JETS II), the company announced today.

JETS II is a handheld precision laser targeting system used by forward observers to “call in precision munitions in a wide range of combat scenarios,” according to Leonardo DRS. The system includes day and thermal night vision capabilities, a “celestial” navigation system, laser range finder and compass, according to the announcement.

Leonardo DRS won the Army’s original JETS contract in 2016 for $339 million.

Jerry Hathaway, Leonardo’s senior vice president and general manager for the electro-optical and infrared systems business unit, said in a statement Monday that the company’s JETS II technology builds on its JETS I technology “to provide the most comprehensive handheld target location system available today.”

“By working closely with our customer and listening to their needs, we have delivered a product that gives users a distinct advantage on the battlefield,” he said.

Monday’s announcement follows a similar one last week in which the Army chose Elbit Systems of America to develop and quality a prototype for JETS II. The service had released a JETS II request for prototype proposals in November 2022.

By Nick Wilson
October 30, 2023 at 3:48 PM

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith has been hospitalized following an Oct. 29 medical emergency, according to a service press release.

Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, deputy commandant for combat development and integration and commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, will serve as the acting service chief in the interim, the release states.

Further information on Gen. Smith’s condition will be released at a later time, according to the announcement.

By Tony Bertuca
October 30, 2023 at 3:35 PM

The Defense Department's fiscal year 2023 military intelligence program budget was nearly $28 billion, according to a Pentagon announcement.

“The department has determined that releasing this topline figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP,” DOD said, noting that “[n]o other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons.”

The Pentagon had requested $26.3 billion for MIP in FY-23, while Congress enacted $24 billion for FY-22.

Meanwhile, DOD has requested $29.3 billion in MIP spending for FY-24.

By Apurva Minchekar
October 30, 2023 at 2:42 PM

The Space Development Agency has awarded $1.3 billion to Northrop Grumman and York Space Systems to build 100 Alpha variant satellites for the Tranche 2 Transport Layer, the agency announced today.

According to the announcement, the T2TL-Alpha variant is part of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture that aims to provide global communication access and deliver “persistent, regional and encrypted connectivity to support missions.”

The agency awarded $617 million to York Space Systems to build and deliver 62 TLT2-Alpha variant space vehicles across eight orbital planes. At the same time, Northrop was awarded $732 million to build and deliver 38 T2TL-Alpha space vehicles across two orbital planes.

“The T2TL Alpha awards demonstrate our forward momentum in the procurement phase for Tranche 2 of the PWSA to support delivery beginning in 2026,” SDA Director Derek Tournear said.

“With the Beta variant and now the Alpha constellation, we’ll have more than 170 T2TL satellites on order. SDA is leading the DOD into launching proliferated constellations into low-Earth orbit to enhance responsiveness, resilience, survivability and warfighting capability beyond our current space systems architecture,” he added.

The agency in August awarded Lockheed Martin and Northrop contracts to build 72 data transport for Tranche 2 Transport Layer-Beta variant satellites. Additionally, the agency recently issued a request for information for developing warlock capacity for the T2TL-Gamma variant satellite constellation.

The agency noted the details of the Gamma variant RFI is classified due to the sensitive nature of the capabilities being sought.

By John Liang
October 30, 2023 at 2:01 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon seeking an updated nuclear gravity bomb, a Congressional Budget Office report on the Navy's latest shipbuilding plan and more.

The Pentagon's proposed B61-13 nuclear bomb will have the updated safety, security and accuracy of B61-12 bombs but will have a larger yield similar to the B61-7s:

DOD to develop new nuclear bomb variant

The Defense Department announced Friday it is seeking a modern-variant, nuclear gravity bomb, which it has designated the B61-13.

A new Congressional Budget Office report finds that "[u]nder the three alternatives in the Navy’s 2024 plan, total shipbuilding costs would average about $34 billion to $36 billion per year (in 2023 dollars) through 2053, CBO estimates, as the Navy built a fleet of 319 to 367 battle force ships":

CBO: As acquisition costs rise, shipbuilding appropriations must grow 31-40% to achieve Navy fleet plans

Annual shipbuilding appropriations must increase by 31% to 40% over their current five-year average for the Navy to achieve any of the three alternatives presented in its latest 30-year shipbuilding plan, according to a new Congressional Budget Office analysis that points to submarine acquisitions as a leading driver of cost growth.

Document: CBO analysis of the Navy's FY-24 shipbuilding plan

L3Harris Technologies executives recently discussed the company's quarterly earnings:

L3Harris planning to use Defense Production Act funding to boost Aerojet Rocketdyne capacity

L3Harris Technologies plans to use $216 million in Defense Production Act funding to boost capacity and long-term growth at recently acquired Aerojet Rocketdyne, according to executives.

. . . As did Oshkosh execs:

Oshkosh Defense sales decrease after JLTV contract loss

After losing a production contract for tactical vehicles, Oshkosh Defense experienced a loss in sales in the third quarter but expects a "strong" fourth quarter and production capacity to increase, according to the company's latest earnings call.

House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and House Foreign Affairs Indo-Pacific subcommittee Chairman Young Kim (R-CA) sent a letter to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro calling on the service to speed up the production and sale of weapons Taiwan needs to defend itself in the instance of a Chinese invasion, like Harpoon and SLAM-ER missiles:

Lawmakers call on Navy to accelerate Taiwan weapons transfers including Harpoon and SLAM-ER missiles

Lawmakers are calling on the Navy to speed up the production and delivery of weapons to Taiwan and are demanding an explanation for months-long delays in the transfer of two key missile systems in a letter to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro.

Document: Lawmakers' letter to Navy on weapons sales to Taiwan

By Georgina DiNardo
October 30, 2023 at 1:28 PM

The National Security Council and the White House chief of staff have been assigned to develop a National Security Memorandum detailing responsible military use of artificial intelligence, according to an executive order from President Biden today.

“The Executive Order establishes new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, advances equity and civil rights, stands up for consumers and workers, promotes innovation and competition, advances American leadership around the world and more,” the order states.

The order, which the Biden administration says builds upon previous AI directives, states the National Security Council and the White House chief of staff will develop a National Security Memorandum for “further actions on AI and security.”

“This document will ensure that the United States military and intelligence community use AI safely, ethically and effectively in their missions, and will direct actions to counter adversaries’ military use of AI,” the order states.

In July 2022, the Defense Department released the Responsible AI Strategy and Implementation Pathway, a framework for how it plans to further ethical artificial intelligence use throughout the military.

However, in June 2023 the Government Accountability Office said the government has yet to release a department-wide AI acquisition strategy, despite forming plans to invest billions into artificial intelligence.

“Although numerous entities across DOD are acquiring, developing or already using AI, DOD has not issued department-wide guidance for how its components should approach acquiring AI,” a June 29 GAO report stated.

The Executive Order released today, meanwhile, provides ethical outlines to proper development of artificial intelligence, including requiring that developers of the most powerful AI systems share vital information, like the results of their safety tests, with the U.S. government.

“In accordance with the Defense Production Act, the Order will require that companies developing any foundation model that poses a serious risk to national security, national economic security, or national public health and safety must notify the federal government when training the model and must share the results of all red-team safety tests,” the order states. “These measures will ensure AI systems are safe, secure, and trustworthy before companies make them public.”