The Insider

By John Liang
June 30, 2023 at 1:34 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an Air Force over-the-horizon radar system plus coverage of Government Accountability Office reports on artificial intelligence and naval shipyards.

The House Armed Services Committee, in its mark of the FY-24 defense policy bill, would boost funding for the Air Force's operational system development funding for Homeland Defense Over the Horizon Radar (HLD-OTHR) efforts:

House panel adds funds to accelerate OTHR capability development

An off-budget proposal to accelerate improved capability development of a northern-facing Over the Horizon Radar remains a possibility after House lawmakers authorized a $20 million increase to the Air Force’s fiscal year 2024 budget to buy an additional testbed in support of a U.S. Northern Command unfunded priority.

A new Government Accountability Office report finds that although parts of the Defense Department are already using artificial intelligence, "DOD hasn't issued department-wide AI acquisitions guidance needed to ensure consistency":

Watchdog says Pentagon still lacks comprehensive AI strategy

The Defense Department plans to spend billions of dollars on artificial intelligence but has not yet released a department-wide AI acquisition strategy, according to the Government Accountability Office, which warns DOD's "fragmented approach" risks waste and inefficiency.

Document: GAO report on AI

Another recent GAO report discusses the Navy's efforts to improve conditions at its shipyards:

GAO cites 'poor' conditions, rising repair costs at naval shipyards

The Navy is projecting it will not have a complete cost estimate or final work schedule until fiscal year 2025 for the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program, its ambitious plan for modernizing the nation's four public shipyards, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

Document: GAO report on Navy shipyards

Instead of developing or acquiring individual solutions or services to optimize specific capabilities or assist separate bases, a new Air Force information technology contract creates an end-to-end solution for IT needs across the service:

Air Force hopes EITaaS will help address service members' calls to 'fix our computers'

The Air Force signed a $5.7 billion contract to transform how it conducts information technology work across the service, which officials say will streamline management and improve warfighters' user experience.

The Defense Department is planning to purchase a constellation of up to 100 T2TL Alpha space vehicles:

SDA issues solicitation notice for Tranche 2 Alpha variant

The Space Development Agency has issued a solicitation for a Tranche 2 Transport Layer Alpha variant for its Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture.

Document: SDA solicitation for T2TL Alpha variant

In a letter to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) writes about his concerns over the service's humvee ABS/ESC retrofit program:

Texas lawmaker urges swift action on humvee retrofit program

In a letter sent last week to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, a Texas congressman is calling on the service to move more quickly in retrofitting humvees with enhancements aimed at reducing rollovers.

Document: Lawmaker's letter to Army on humvee retrofit program

By Linda Hersey
June 30, 2023 at 11:11 AM

A rapid-response program offered by the Office of Naval Research has a mission to work with Marines and sailors to develop technical solutions to problems they identify in the fleet force.

Scott Steward, deputy director of TechSolutions, discussed the novel program on the closing day Thursday of the Modern Day Marine expo in Washington.

The rapid-response program is limited to active-duty Marines and sailors, with the goal of developing solutions that improve effectiveness and efficiency.

Steward emphasized the program enables engineers to interact directly with Marines and sailors about problems they are experiencing and their ideas for solutions.

“They [Marines and sailors] provide their ideas, which we evaluate by looking at a number of factors,” Steward said. “We ask: 'Hey, is this something that is a real problem that people are dealing with? Is this something that will be impactful to the force? Is it within the scope of tech solutions?'”

Sailors and Marines first go to ONR’s TechSolutions website to submit a “warfighter request.” They must answer a few basic online questions that include identifying the problem and how that challenge is currently addressed.

Projects often take about 12 months to develop and typically receive up to $750,000 in research and development funding.

Although the program has been running for several years, there is increasing interest in its work and results as warfighting technology advances.

The program is not a resource for funding existing technologies but seeks “government-owned solutions” to warfighting challenges, Steward said.

“We are trying to translate warfighter speak into scientist and engineer speak” to develop and field solutions with “maximum return,” Steward said.

Steward also discussed prototype solutions created and resourced through the program.

Examples include a virtual training exercise in which an online coach defines a warfighting scenario and battlefield conditions.

Students then develop online logistical plans for which they receive a report card.

The strengths and challenges of each phase of their plan are identified, with students encouraged to run through the scenario again to improve outcomes.

Another program now undergoing testing in the field is an inflatable pier that can be placed at a location “where there is nothing,” Steward said. The inflatable pier takes a couple of hours to assemble.

“You can pull up a small boat and resupply Marines in that particular location,” Steward said. “It is modular so you can make it as long or as short as you want -- and put it up or take it down in a couple of hours and take it with you.”

By Tony Bertuca
June 29, 2023 at 4:03 PM

The State Department has approved a possible $5.62 billion foreign military sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to the Czech Republic, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency notice.

The deal would cover 24 F-35 conventional take-off-and-landing aircraft, 25 Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 Engines, along with a wide range of munitions, missiles and sensors.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe,” DSCA said. “The proposed sale will improve the Czech Republic’s defense capabilities as well as support NATO operations by guarding against modern threats and maintaining a constant presence in the region.”

The principal contractors would be Lockheed Martin; RTX Missiles and Defense; and Boeing.

By John Liang
June 29, 2023 at 2:45 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from the Modern Day Marine conference plus coverage of Army humvees, the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and more.

We start off with coverage from this week's Modern Day Marine conference:

Marine Corps three-star questions health of industrial base

Russia's war in Ukraine has exposed weaknesses in U.S. industrial base production and capacity, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said Wednesday.

Marine Corps focused on improving ACV readiness

As the Marine Corps continues to develop and procure the Amphibious Combat Vehicle family, the service is focused on improving training for vehicle operators and tackling key readiness drivers including the ACV's shocks and central tire inflation system.

In a letter to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) writes about his concerns over the service's humvee ABS/ESC retrofit program:

Texas lawmaker urges swift action on humvee retrofit program

In a letter sent last week to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, a Texas congressman is calling on the service to move more quickly in retrofitting humvees with enhancements aimed at reducing rollovers.

Document: Lawmaker's letter to Army on humvee retrofit program

The Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program is an important piece of the Strategic Missile Warning and Nuclear Command, Control and Communication system. House Appropriators raised concerns about the system in the draft report accompanying their fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill:

Lawmakers question Space Force's Next Gen OPIR GEO-3 cancellation proposal

House appropriators are questioning whether the Space Force is able to support its proposal to cancel the third geosynchronous spacecraft in a new missile warning system.

In a June 12 decision released in redacted form the following June 28, the Government Accountability Office denied Oshkosh Defense's protest of a multibillion-dollar Army Joint Light Tactical Vehicle contract to AM General:

GAO: Cost savings, less risky technical enhancements led Army to choose AM General for JLTV follow-on

A $795 million cost difference between Oshkosh Defense and AM General's proposals for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle follow-on production contract, along with AM General's "less risky" technological upgrades were the factors that led the Army to choose AM General for the contract, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Document: GAO decision on Oshkosh's JLTV protest

On June 27, soldiers from the 1st Multi-Domain Task Force -- in conjunction with the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office and the Navy Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons -- conducted a live-fire event of the Mid-Range Capability at an undisclosed location:

Army confirms prototype MRC fully operational after Tomahawk launch

The Army has confirmed full operational capability for the Mid-Range Capability after launching a Tomahawk cruise missile, capping a nearly three-year project to mitigate an “extremely high-risk capability gap” by fielding a prototype, land-based system armed with Navy precision-strike weapons to give the ground force formidable ship-sinking capability.

A new Mitchell Institute report centers on what Mitchell sees as the imminent need for more fifth-generation fighter aircraft and squadrons to create an effective deterrent:

Mitchell Institute report warns of Air Force fighter inventory's 'downward spiral'

The Mitchell Institute is calling for more Air Force fighter jets in a report to be released Thursday morning while warning of the "downward spiral" of the fighter force.

By John Liang
June 29, 2023 at 11:10 AM

Mercury Systems announced today it has hired David Farnsworth to be the company's new chief financial officer.

Farnsworth, who will begin working for Mercury on July 17, was previously the CFO of HawkEye 360, and prior to that, vice president and CFO of RTX's Integrated Defense Systems business and its Intelligence, Information and Services segment.

Michelle McCarthy, who has served as interim CFO since January 2023 following the departure of Michael Ruppert, will remain in her role as senior vice president and chief accounting officer, the company said.

Additionally, Mercury announced the appointment of Roger Krone, former chairman and CEO of Leidos, to its board of directors. Krone, who will serve as a member of the board’s Nominating and Governance Committee, also sits on the board of Lear Corp. and previously served on the boards of BorgWarner and United Launch Alliance.

By Shelley K. Mesch
June 29, 2023 at 10:19 AM

The Air Force is moving forward with developing a new radar station in Palau aimed at closing surveillance gaps in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command theater, according to a request for information posted this month.

The request is seeking to identify lead system integrators and vendors to provide subsystems or complete the Tactical Multi-Mission Over-the-Horizon Radar system, the post states.

The TACMOR contractor would deliver between eight and 32 receivers to be tested, according to the post, with additional subsystem specification coming at a later date. The contractor or contractors would then manufacture the entire “receiver/transmit subsystem” and install it for subsystem sell off before it is shipped to Palau.

The system will transmit high-frequency, over-the-horizon flight information using a high-frequency sounder antenna and backscatter sounder, according to fiscal year 2024 budget request justification documents.

By John Liang
June 28, 2023 at 2:41 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a Marine Corps mobile air defense capability, short-pulse laser development and more.

The Marine Corps can't afford the current timeline at which new systems are developed that may take several years of testing prior to deployment, according to the service's top uniformed officer:

Berger urges quicker pace for fielding innovation

Speeding the process for fielding new systems and capabilities is critical to warfighting success, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said at a conference Tuesday.

More news from this week's Modern Day Marine conference:

Marine Corps begins initial production of MADIS Inc 1 air defense system

The Marine Corps is beginning low-rate initial production of a mobile air defense capability following a milestone C decision, advancing the service's efforts to mature a growing portfolio of ground-based air defense systems.

House appropriators are calling on the Defense Department to develop lasers that can pulse as fast as a femtosecond:

House wants to pit lasers that fire every quadrillionth of a second against hypersonic missiles

House lawmakers want the Pentagon to explore the potential for short pulse lasers to counter maneuvering hypersonic missiles, proposing a $6 million addition in fiscal year 2024 for the Missile Defense Agency to expand its work on the novel directed-energy technology.

Full assembly testing of the T-7A trainer aircraft, including the entire canopy, windscreen and blast shield that was originally scheduled for late 2023 has been pushed to early 2024 due to delays in obtaining parts:

Redesigned T-7A canopy completes early safety testing, delays full assembly testing until early 2024

Boeing's T-7A trainer aircraft completed early safety testing of its redesigned canopy at the component level, but the fully assembled system testing has been delayed until early 2024 due to parts unavailability, according to an Air Force spokeswoman.

A new cyber memo was released today and is the first piece of public guidance from the Office of the National Cyber Director on how it will implement President Biden’s national cyber strategy:

OMB, NCD Walden issue memo outlining agencies' FY-25 cyber priorities

A new memorandum from the White House Office of Management and Budget and acting National Cyber Director Kemba Walden provides details on the Biden administration's fiscal year 2025 cyber priorities for agencies broken down by resourcing needs to meet the goals of the five pillars in the national cyber strategy.

By Apurva Minchekar
June 28, 2023 at 11:16 AM

The Defense Department awarded a $134 million contract to SES Space & Defense to provide secure satellite communication services, the company announced today.

Under the five-year contract, SES will be responsible for providing DOD with highly secure Global X-band SATCOM services, the company said in the announcement.

“SES Space & Defense believes the [blanket purchase agreement] is one of the foundation blocks in accelerating [military] SATCOM-COMSAT integration for the space enterprise,” SES Space & Defense President and CEO David Fields said.

“The U.S. Space Force established this contract as a mechanism to enable access to commercial X-band capacity globally for the DOD,” he added.

Additionally, SES has teamed up with several industry partners, including integrators, SATCOM and teleport operators, who will deliver Global X-Band satellite capacity, teleport and network services over a highly secure global terrestrial network and other ancillary services to align with DOD requirements, the announcement states.

Fields said by combining satellite capacity, SATCOM services can achieve the highest availability with redundant X-Band coverage and diverse gateway connectivity within space.

Further, SES will enhance the GovSat-1 satellite, a geostationary communications satellite operated by GovSat and dedicated to government and military missions.

The GovSat-1 will feature high-power X-band and Military Ka-band beams to provide secure satellite communications services, the company said.

The Space Force awarded the contract under the single BPA through Defense Information Systems Agency’s Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization, according to the announcement.

By Dan Schere
June 27, 2023 at 6:13 PM

The Army has entered into an other transaction authority with Lockheed Martin for the prototype build and demonstration phase of the Terrestrial Layer System-Echelons Above Brigade, the service announced Tuesday. The agreement totals $36.7 million.

TLS-EAB is an “extended-range, terrestrial sensing, collection and electronic attack system” that includes multiple capabilities such as cyber, electromagnetic warfare and signals intelligence, according to the Army announcement. The system provides situational awareness, survivability, critical asset protection and lethal and non-lethal effects for multidomain operations.

In the first phase of the terrestrial layer system’s development, the Army conducted technical reviews of the system, which included soldier touchpoints. The second phase will involve the advancing of prototypes from design and lab-based demonstrations “to a tangible form factor able to be tested in a relevant environment,” according to the service.

The Project Manager for Electronic Warfare and Cyber plans to equip the first unit with the terrestrial layer system in fiscal year 2025.

By Tony Bertuca
June 27, 2023 at 4:19 PM

The State Department has approved a possible $5.9 billion foreign military sale to Canada for up to 16 P-8A patrol aircraft, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency notice.

The potential deal also includes a wide variety of radio, sensor and radar packages.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the military capability of Canada, a NATO ally that is an important force for ensuring political stability and economic progress, and a contributor to military, peacekeeping, and humanitarian operations around the world,” DSCA said. “This will significantly improve network-centric warfare capability for the U.S. forces operating globally alongside Canada.”

The prime contractor will be Boeing, the manufacturer of the P-8 aircraft.

By Linda Hersey
June 27, 2023 at 3:48 PM

Innovating traditional processes is a focus of the newly activated Marine Innovation Unit, a Marine Corps Reserve formation designed to complement the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.

The work of MIU was among initiatives highlighted at the Modern Day Marine Expo Tuesday in Washington, where an afternoon session focused on experimentation, requirements and acquisition.

Panelists were Brig. Gen. David Walsh, commander of the Marine Corps Systems Command; Brig. Gen. Kyle Ellison, head of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory; Brig. Gen. Stephen Lightfoot, director of the capabilities development directorate; and Stephen Bowdren, program executive officer for land systems.

They talked about a climate for innovation within the Marine Corps and underscored the need to get new systems out to warfighters quickly for feedback and to refine development for a better product at scale.

Lightfoot discussed the intelligence robotics and autonomous systems cell that will stand up within the capabilities development directorate that he leads. Training programs will be implemented to enable Marines “to do more with fewer people.”

According to the service's "Force Design 2030 Annual Update June 2023," formations across the force "must capitalize on technological advances to evolve from a platform-centric to a capability-centric approach, where intelligent robotics and autonomous systems (IRAS) are employed by trained specialists who contribute to all-domain operations."

Panelists agreed that waiting for the perfect solution is leading to delays. Additionally, experimenting by and with the fleet is reaping benefits.

At MIU, Reserve Marines in grades sergeant through colonel are assigned based on expertise in AI, quantum computing, energy and materials sciences and other technology fields.

“This initiative allows us to tap the diverse talent pool in Marine Forces Reserve and this new unit, in collaboration with MCWL, will integrate research from multiple advanced disciplines into Force Design and related efforts,” according to the Marine Corps.

By John Liang
June 27, 2023 at 2:34 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army's Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle competition, possibly expanding the trilateral AUKUS agreement and more.

A decision announced this week narrows the field from five potential contractors that had participated in the concept design phase to two in the competition to replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle:

General Dynamics, American Rheinmetall chosen for next phases of Bradley replacement competition

General Dynamics Land Systems and American Rheinmetall Vehicles were chosen for the detailed design and prototype build phases of the Army's Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle competition in a contract worth a total of $1.6 billion, the Army announced Monday.

According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday, there is room to expand the AUKUS mission to international allies beyond the United States, United Kingdom and Australia:

CNO sees potential to include additional allies in AUKUS pillar II

There is room for additional international allies and partners to collaborate on the second pillar of the trilateral AUKUS agreement, which aims to develop and field emerging technologies including artificial intelligence and unmanned systems, according to the Navy's top-ranking officer.

Senate authorizers' proposed annual defense policy bill would require "an annual report on the Department of Defense’s unfunded priorities for research, development, test and evaluation activities":

Senate bill would require annual R&D unfunded priorities list

The Senate Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill would require an annual unfunded priorities list from the Defense Department that targets research and development, pushing back against Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who has asked Congress to repeal the current law requiring the lists be submitted by the military services and combatant commanders.

Lawmakers are recommending additional dollars to facilitate rapid prototyping, experimentation and demonstration (RPED) of commercially available large diameter unmanned undersea vehicles:

House lawmakers support testing commercial LDUUVs

House appropriators are adding $35 million to a Navy research program to test the viability of large, commercial unmanned undersea vehicles as early as fiscal year 2024.

More cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Amended contract between Pentagon and CMMC accreditation body clarifies conflicts of interest requirements

An updated version of the Pentagon's no-cost contract with its independent Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification accreditation body shows the changes made to their relationship in response to DOD's revamp of its cyber certification program in 2021, according to the amended contract obtained by Inside Cybersecurity.

Pentagon highlights free cyber services to defense industrial base partners as CMMC rulemaking looms

The Defense Department is providing an overview of its free cybersecurity-as-a-service offerings to defense industrial base members as work to finalize its cyber certification program continues.

By Nick Wilson
June 27, 2023 at 2:03 PM

Ingalls Shipbuilding today delivered the first Flight III Arleigh Burke-class warship, the Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), to the Navy, marking an important milestone for the newest variant of the Navy's workhorse destroyer line.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Modern Day Marine conference, George Nungesser, vice president of program management at Ingalls Shipbuilding, confirmed the ship’s delivery took place earlier in the day at the company’s Pascagoula, MS shipyard.

Flight III ships are equipped with SPY-6 radar plus an upgraded combat system and are intended to provide enhanced air and missile defense capabilities as well as electrical power and cooling enhancements compared to the Flight II design.

Ingalls, a division of HII, conducted four sea trials to demonstrate the ship’s requirements and capabilities prior to delivery, Nungesser said.

“The upcoming events to a delivery to the United States Navy is essentially demonstrating the ship at sea. So, on DDG-125 with a new combat system and new SPY-6 radar, we had four trials at sea to demonstrate the requirements of the ship and the mission capability of the ship,” he explained.

The ship’s crew will “move aboard” in the coming weeks, Nungesser continued, but DDG-125 will remain at Ingalls’ shipyard for another 120 days as the Navy and shipbuilder conduct additional assessments and certifications.

By Tony Bertuca
June 27, 2023 at 1:44 PM

The Defense Department announced today it is transferring a package of U.S. weapons to Ukraine valued at $500 million, including armored combat vehicles, air defense systems and long-range missiles to aid the ongoing counteroffensive against Russia.

The package, which is the Biden administration’s 41st presidential “drawdown” from U.S. stocks to Ukraine, includes:

• Additional munitions for Patriot air defense systems;

• Stinger anti-aircraft systems;

• Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems;

• Demolitions munitions and systems for obstacle clearing;

• Mine clearing equipment;

• 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds;

• 30 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles;

• 25 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers;

• Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire-Guided missiles;

• Javelin anti-armor systems;

• AT-4 anti-armor systems;

• Anti-armor rockets;

• High-speed Anti-radiation missiles;

• Precision aerial munitions;

• Small arms and over 22 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenades;

• Thermal imagery systems and night vision devices;

• Testing and diagnostic equipment to support vehicle maintenance and repair;

• Spare parts, generators, and other field equipment.

The Pentagon recently announced that, due to an accounting error, it has $6.2 billion more to put toward Ukrainian military aid than previously projected.

By Dan Schere
June 27, 2023 at 11:15 AM

The Army awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a $257 million contract modification for low-rate initial production of the M10 Booker, according to a Monday Defense Department notice.

The M10 Bookers, the future mobile protected firepower vehicles for the Army, were officially christened this month after two servicemen who were killed during World War II and the 2003 Iraq War.

The Army awarded a $1.14 billion contract to GDLS for the production and fielding of up to 96 systems last year. Delivery of the first LRIP mobile protected firepower system is expected in 19 months, and the first unit equipped is scheduled for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2025, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report.

Monday’s contract modification notice states that work will be performed in Sterling Heights, MI, Anniston, AL and Lima, OH, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 18, 2025.