The Insider

By John Liang
May 12, 2023 at 2:32 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on naval mine warfare, the Navy's next-generation destroyer, unmanned systems, future missile defense technologies and more.

Rear Adm. Casey Moton, program executive officer for unmanned and small combatants, spoke about mine warfare this week:

Navy planning FY-25 operational deployment for LCS mine countermeasures mission package

The Navy is targeting fiscal year 2025 for an initial deployment of its Littoral Combat Ship mine countermeasures mission package, which achieved initial operational capability earlier this month.

Rear Adm. Thomas Anderson, program executive officer for ships, testified this week on the Navy's next-generation destroyer development effort at a hearing of the House Oversight subcommittee on national security, the border and foreign affairs:

Navy taking 'evolutionary' approach to DDG(X) design, drawing lessons from Zumwalt pitfalls

The Navy is taking an "evolutionary" rather than "revolutionary" approach to designing its next-generation large surface combatant, building on the existing Arleigh Burke-class destroyer design and minimizing the addition of untested new features, according to a senior Navy official.

U.S. Pacific Fleet this week held an exercise for vetting uncrewed systems for their capabilities in surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control and re-constituting intelligence:

Pacific Fleet exercise aims to 'increase lethality' in uncrewed missions

With a focus on operating with "infrequent human interaction," the U.S. 3rd Fleet is testing uncrewed aircraft and vessels in a multidomain exercise off the coast of California that prioritizes warfighting capabilities on, above and below the sea.

The Missile Defense Agency is looking at what technologies it will need by 2045:

MDA seeking 'innovative,' 'disruptive' proposals for missile defense in the '2045 time epoch'

The Missile Defense Agency -- created nearly 20 years ago -- is beginning to think about the next 20 by launching a new initiative to explore future technologies and associated architectures that could be needed in 2045, asking industry to propose "new, innovative and potentially disruptive" concepts to protect the nation from anticipated future threats.

Space Systems Command has completed qualification and characterization testing of the GPS Receiver Application Module-Standard Electronic Module/M-Code hardware and software:

SSC'S GPS MGUE program achieves acquisition baseline program milestone

The Space Force has completed its first increment of military code receivers, Space Systems Command announced in a May 8 press release.

The Government Accountability Office, in an information paper shared with congressional appropriators and authorizers, states that as of March 2023, DOD has "understated" its fuel costs for FY-24 by around $1.6 billion, projecting a per-barrel cost of $111.73, while GAO projects $134.05:

GAO finds Pentagon has 'understated' fuel costs by $1.6B

The Government Accountability Office has found the Defense Department has underestimated its fuel costs for fiscal year 2024, creating a $1.6 billion shortfall that has gotten the attention of a senior Senate appropriator.

Document: GAO info paper on DOD fuel costs

By Nick Wilson
May 12, 2023 at 12:34 PM

The Navy is looking to expand the pool of companies providing contractor-owned and operated unmanned aircraft systems for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Following a February industry day, the Navy published a request for information signaling its intent to broaden industry participation to competitively procure future COCO UAS services supporting Navy and Marine Corps operations.

According to the RFI, Textron Systems and Boeing subsidiary Insitu are currently providing land- and sea-based ISR services under performance-based Basic Ordering Agreements issued in March 2021. These existing BOAs are firm-fixed-price and are set to expire in March, 2026.

Now, the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-263) intends to award additional BOAs to enable more contractors to compete to provide future COCO ISR services, the notice states.

The UAS systems will support land-based and sea-based operations by providing imagery and other sensor data, with contractors assuming responsibility for producing, operating and maintaining the UAS equipment.

They will support “domestic and collation military partners in combat and contingency operations,” the notice adds.

Performance requirements include an operational range of 75 nautical miles from the launch site; on-station time of 10 hours at maximum range; multi-intelligence capabilities with an electronic warfare type sensor; and the ability to launch and recover without a runway and operate in adverse weather conditions.

By Dan Schere
May 12, 2023 at 11:11 AM

A bill introduced by two House lawmakers this week would create a "joint autonomy office" within the Pentagon with the goal of increasing the speed of development and delivery for autonomous technology across the services.

House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman (R-VA), and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), a member of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, have introduced the “Autonomous Systems Adoption & Policy Act,” which would create the new office within the Defense Department’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO), according to a Friday announcement from Wittman’s office.

The CDAO is a relatively new office established in February 2022 that integrates the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Defense Digital Services, the Chief Data Officer and the enterprise platform Advana.

The new proposed autonomy office would be an “enterprise platform” for all-domain autonomy testing, based on commercial best practices that is provided to existing military autonomy programs, according to Wittman’s office. The office would also include a DOD-wide framework for classifying autonomous capabilities and understanding operational requirements for technologies. Program managers in the department and industry experts would be part of the autonomy office.

Wittman said in a statement Friday that his and Ruppersberger’s legislation will “provide the DOD with the necessary resources and tools to coordinate autonomy adoption efforts across the department and accelerate delivery of trusted autonomous technologies to the warfighter in future U.S. military operations.”

Lawmakers in the House had previously been scheduled this week to mark up the annual defense authorization bill in subcommittees, but that has been delayed indefinitely as negotiations over the debt ceiling remain stalled.

By Tony Bertuca
May 11, 2023 at 4:20 PM

The State Department has approved a possible $8.5 billion foreign military sale of 60 CH-47F helicopters to Germany, according to a new Defense Security Cooperation Agency notice.

The potential deal, in which Boeing would be the principal contractor, would also include dozens of engines, sensors, radios and radar systems.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a NATO Ally which is an important force for political and economic stability in Europe,” DSCA said. “The proposed sale will improve Germany’s heavy lift capability.”

By John Liang
May 11, 2023 at 2:36 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Defense Department fuel costs, the Aegis Ashore and Standard Missile-6 missile defense programs, the defense authorization bill markup process being delayed and more.

The Government Accountability Office, in an information paper shared with congressional appropriators and authorizers, states that as of March 2023, DOD has "understated" its fuel costs for FY-24 by around $1.6 billion, projecting a per-barrel cost of $111.73, while GAO projects $134.05:

GAO finds Pentagon has 'understated' fuel costs by $1.6B

The Government Accountability Office has found the Defense Department has underestimated its fuel costs for fiscal year 2024, creating a $1.6 billion shortfall that has gotten the attention of a senior Senate appropriator.

The head of the Missile Defense Agency was on Capitol Hill this week, talking about the Aegis Ashore and Standard Missile-6 programs:

Poland-based Aegis Ashore missile defense moves toward full operation

The Aegis Ashore system in Poland -- a land-based component of the Missile Defense Agency's missile defense system -- is operating as it undergoes certification, MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill told Senate lawmakers.

After Patriot downs Russian missile, MDA wants to 'build out' counter-hypersonic capability

The Missile Defense Agency is publicly calling on the Army to collaborate on improving Patriot to give land forces protection from maneuvering hypersonic weapons after Ukraine -- to the evident surprise of Defense Department leaders -- debuted the U.S.-developed air and missile defense system by intercepting a Russian hypersonic missile.

In a press conference this week, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) said work on the annual defense policy bill has been postponed to give lawmakers more time to reach a fiscal agreement:

Debt ceiling negotiations ensnare defense bill

Senior Republicans say gridlock on Capitol Hill over the debt ceiling and GOP-backed spending cuts have forced a delay to the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill, a massive, must-pass piece of legislation lawmakers were scheduled to begin crafting this week.

The Patriot interceptor and Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System need multiyear procurement, DOD officials are now saying:

White House OMB seeks multiyear procurement for GMLRS, Patriot

The White House Office of Management and Budget, on behalf of the Defense Department, is now seeking multiyear procurement authority from Congress for the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement, according to a new amendment to the administration's fiscal year 2024 budget request.

Last but by no means least, the latest cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

NIST releases first draft update of foundational CUI guidance

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, in the first draft of Special Publication 800-171 Rev. 3, is proposing new security measures for organizations handling sensitive federal data that more closely align NIST's massive catalog of security and privacy controls and allow for more flexibility in assessing risk.

Document: NIST special publication on protecting CUI

By Dan Schere
May 11, 2023 at 12:23 PM

The Army is considering an award of an other transaction agreement for its data collection and reduction analytic (DCRA) prototype project, and is asking industry to submit white papers, according to a Wednesday government notice.

The DCRA framework is a “new software capability” that tests command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems in a simulated multidomain environment, according to the Army. The service wants to develop the capability as a way to create a realistic multidomain environment for a weapon system under test, the notice states.

DCRA will provide the system under test with simulated intelligence data, such as signals, geographical, communications and imagery intelligence, according to the Army.

The first phase of the OTA award is expected to last 10 to 12 months, and involves the creation of the system design and initial prototype, according to the notice. The second phase will last about a year and will involve refinement through testing.

The Army is asking industry to submit white papers for consideration of Phase 1 of the award no later than June 9.

By Apurva Minchekar
May 10, 2023 at 5:01 PM

The Space Force is planning to start the construction of the first of three new radar sites under its Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability effort to enhance deep-space object tracking.

DARC is a ground-based, Space Domain Awareness radar system to detect, track and maintain custody of deep space objects 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the solar exclusion gap. DARC will augment the space surveillance network as an additional sensor with increased capacity and capability for deep space object custody, providing full global coverage, according to Space Force budget justification materials.

The three DARC sites will be the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, Frank Calvelli, Air Force assistant secretary for space acquisition and integration, noted in his testimony for a Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing on April 26.

The Space Force expects to complete the Site-1 construction by the fourth quarter of calendar year 2025. The construction includes roads, buildings, utilities, foundations and installation of all antenna structures.

The DARC program, carried out as a Middle Tier of Acquisition activity, will develop, test and deliver one DARC site and provide a foundation for up to two more future sites located strategically across the world to provide global deep space radar capability to support SDA, according to budget justification materials.

The Space Force is seeking $21.4 million for fiscal year 2024. In addition, it has also requested $25.4 million and $28.7 million for FY-25 and FY-26 respectively.

By John Liang
May 10, 2023 at 4:44 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (R-AL) continuing hold on Pentagon nominees, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies nabbing Glide Phase Interceptor contracts and more.

In a May 5 letter to Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee Chairwoman Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin lays out the effects of Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (R-AL) indefinite hold on nearly 200 military nominees:

Austin: Tuberville's nomination blockade risks 'every domain' in national security

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (R-AL) indefinite hold on nearly 200 military nominees risks national security and sets a "perilous precedent."

Document: Austin letter to Warren on effects of Tuberville's nominee hold

Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies have nabbed contracts to work on the Glide Phase Interceptor:

Pentagon awards Northrop, Raytheon contracts to begin GPI technology development

The Defense Department has awarded Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies new funding to begin Glide Phase Interceptor technology development in a pair of contract actions that extends funding for the competition to design a new hypersonic glide vehicle-killing guided missile through March 2024.

The Pentagon's No. 2 civilian spoke this week at a Special Competitive Studies Project innovation conference held in honor of late former Defense Secretary Ash Carter:

Hicks defends ARRW failure as evidence of broader innovation pivot

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said today the Air Force's high-profile retreat from the troubled Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon hypersonic missile shows that the Pentagon is prepared to accept risk and walk away from potentially bad bets to achieve technological dominance over China.

The Space Force expects to choose multiple vendors by December for its Space Test Experiments Platform 2.0 experiment:

SSC announces draft solicitation for STEP 2.0 contract

Space Systems Command on May 8 announced it has released a draft solicitation for the Space Test Experiments Platform 2.0 contract.

On May 9, the Defense Department released its latest National Defense Science and Technology Strategy which "articulates the science and technology priorities, goals, and investments of the department and makes recommendations on the future of the defense research and engineering enterprise":

DOD releases new S&T strategy with implementation plan to come

The Defense Department has released a new National Defense Science and Technology Strategy encapsulating fundamental priorities Pentagon officials have long discussed, while a detailed implementation plan is due to Congress in 90 days.

Document: DOD's 2023 national S&T strategy

Last but by no means least, the latest on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

Tech group seeks clarity on rate of return to enter defense industrial base as CMMC program faces delays

More tech companies are interested in joining the defense industrial base, according to Ross Nodurft, who leads the public-sector-focused Alliance for Digital Innovation, but uncertainties over how much it will cost to comply with the upcoming Pentagon cyber certification program that has faced delays is a top concern.

By Nick Wilson
May 10, 2023 at 3:20 PM

The Marine Corps is looking for additional defense contractors capable of producing two future Amphibious Combat Vehicle variants, although the service cannot share the vehicles' technical data package with prospective builders.

A sources-sought notice published earlier this month makes clear that BAE Systems -- which holds a contract for the ACV and is in the process of delivering the first two variants -- owns the rights to the ACV technical data package.

As a result, prospective builders are required to demonstrate their ability to manufacture, deliver and provide fielding support for two variants that maintain commonality with the existing family of vehicles, without the use of ACV design data.

The government will not provide “vehicles as Government Furnished Equipment to modify an existing vehicle,” the notice adds.

The sources-sought notice applies to two planned vehicle variants in the ACV family of systems: a 30mm gun variant (ACV-30) and a command-and-control variant (ACV-C).

BAE is currently working to deliver command-and-control and personnel variants to the Marine Corps. The service is buying 13 ACV-Cs and 57 ACV-Ps at a total cost of $527 million in fiscal year 2023, and is looking to buy 80 more ACV-Ps in FY-24.

According to the notice, the new ACV-30 and ACV-R variants must maintain commonality with the existing family of vehicles across the drivetrain, powertrain, water propulsion, hull underbody, armor system, suspension system, steering system, braking system, driver’s station and vehicle commander’s station.

Prospective producers must have the ability to deliver ACV-30 and ACV-R vehicles for fielding beginning in the third quarter of FY-26 and ending no later than the fourth quarter of FY-29, the notice states. Desired vehicle quantities are listed as up to 175 ACV-30s and 34 ACV-Rs.

In April, a BAE spokesman told reporters the company had completed design work for the ACV-30 and is transitioning to production with the goal of delivering three “production- representative test cases” to the Marine Corps in early 2024 for test and evaluation. BAE plans to deliver ACV-R prototypes in early 2025.

By Tony Bertuca
May 9, 2023 at 8:00 PM

The House Armed Services Committee has postponed its consideration of the annual defense authorization bill, according to a statement from committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL), who did not provide further details.

“Providing for our nation’s defense is the most important responsibility that Congress has been tasked with under the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “I look forward to beginning the [bill] process in the near future to fulfill this critical responsibility and strengthen our national security.”

The committee was originally scheduled to consider the bill May 23, with subcommittees meeting May 11 and 12.

A spokeswoman for Rogers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Though it is unclear why consideration of the bill is being postponed, Rogers’ announcement coincides with fiscal gridlock on Capitol Hill, where congressional Republicans are in a stand-off with Democrats and the White House over the federal debt limit.

Many Republicans, like Rogers, have said they want to raise the total national defense topline above the $886.4 billion President Biden has requested ($842 billion specifically for the Defense Department), but that negotiation is slated to play out amid partisan fights over cuts to discretionary spending sought by House GOP leadership.

By John Liang
May 9, 2023 at 1:33 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an upcoming Air Force science and technology program review, defense contractor progress payments, missile defense on Guam and more.

The Air Force's top civilian spoke this morning at the Ash Carter Exchange on Innovation and National Security:

Air Force, Space Force to review all S&T programs

The Air Force and Space Force will review all of its science and technology development programs for viability, service Secretary Frank Kendall said Tuesday.

The lifting of the COVID-19 emergency status means the Pentagon will partly go back to its normal progress payment rates with contractors:

DOD issues post-pandemic progress payment changes

The Defense Department will begin to apply customary progress payment rates for large companies signing new contracts on or after July 7, but will keep the more generous pandemic-era rates in place for existing contracts.

The Missile Defense Agency late last week announced its intent to "prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to assess the potential environmental impacts associated with an Enhanced Integrated Air and Missile Defense (EIAMD) system for the defense of Guam":

DOD eyes 20 potential Guam sites to disperse sensors, control center, missile launchers

The Defense Department is eyeing 20 candidate locations across Guam -- including a few in areas not controlled by the military -- for a new 360-degree air and missile defense system, sites required to disperse sensors, missile launchers and command-and-control systems to defend the U.S. territory against advanced Chinese threats in the event of a conflict over Taiwan.

Document: MDA notice for Guam BMD EIS

Some Navy unmanned systems news:

Navy considers pilot training platform for Stingrays, Reapers

The Navy plans to purchase a training platform for MQ-25 Stingrays and MQ-9 Reapers in fiscal year 2024 to meet the growing demand for operators to run the uncrewed systems.

Up to 20 ships from 13 nations will converge in the North Atlantic between Norway and Scotland this week to demonstrate allied interoperability in a live-fire joint and combined Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) environment, using NATO command-and-control structures:

Major U.S.-European air and missile defense 'live-fire rehearsal' set for North Atlantic

U.S. and European naval forces next week will kick off the 2023 iteration of Formidable Shield, a U.S. 6th Fleet and NATO integrated air and missile defense exercise that will fold in F-35 fighter aircraft from the United States and Norway as well as ground units with advanced air defense and long-range strike capabilities.

By Nick Wilson
May 9, 2023 at 12:40 PM

Pre-positioning warfighting equipment in the Indo-Pacific is crucial to preparing for a potential conflict in the region, according to the Marine Corps' assistant commandant, who said the service is drawing 21st century logistics lessons from the conflict in Ukraine.

“The Russians bit off far more than they could chew when they attempted a five-pronged simultaneous attack with no logistics expertise whatsoever,” Gen. Eric Smith said today at the Ash Carter Exchange national security forum. “What it's teaching us is that you have to pre-stage.”

Pre-positioning equipment at Marine Corps outposts distributed throughout the Pacific theater will put the service in the best position to fight if a conflict breaks out, Smith said, arguing that sustaining desegregated forces through the first island chain will be much easier than “fighting your way into the weapons engagement zone” after a conflict has begun.

“The analogy I would use here is if you're a homeowner and you're trying to keep somebody out of your house. If they're already out, it's easy. You just pile more furniture against the door. That's the anti-access/area-denial threat,” he said. “If somebody is already in your foyer, especially if they're a well-trained Marine, and you try to push them out your door, somebody's going to get hurt.”

Smith pointed to the need for a robust amphibious fleet to expediently move personnel and supplies around the Indo-Pacific. He endorsed investing in innovation to develop unmanned air and surface delivery systems to “minimize the logistics burden.”

Smith also cited solar energy, which he said the Marine Corps effectively employed in Afghanistan, as a means of reducing distributed forces’ dependence on traditional energy sources.

Asked whether the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 strategy is effective in operating environments outside of the Pacific, Smith said the re-imagined force is exportable to all theaters.

Pointing to his personal service experience, Smith said having the capabilities developed under Force Design 2030 would have made the service more effective in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Smith also emphasized the importance of U.S. allies, citing support from Pacific nations including the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, Japan and Singapore.

“The great thing about us we have a lot of friends. China doesn't have as many friends,” he said.

By Dan Schere
May 9, 2023 at 12:21 PM

The Army is hosting a "network-related technical exchange meeting" this month in Philadelphia for industry, according to a government notice.

The meeting, scheduled for May 24 and 25, will focus on the Army’s Network Capability Portfolio Review, artificial intelligence capabilities and command, control, computers, communications, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, according to the announcement.

The meeting will also feature discussion on the Army’s shift to division formation as the “unit of action” and how that impacts the capability set network design. It will include discussions of priority efforts for Capability Set 27 -- a capability set focused on multidomain capabilities such as higher bandwidth, anti-jamming capabilities, AI and machine learning capabilities, hardened 5G, dispersed mission command computing and convergence.

The event will also include prototype capability opportunities for industry as well as updates on other science and technology programs of record, the notice states.

By Tony Bertuca
May 9, 2023 at 10:01 AM

The Defense Department today announced a new $1.2 billion security assistance package for Ukraine with money for air defense, artillery and ammunition.

The package, funded vial the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, will include:

  • Additional air defense systems and munitions;
  • Equipment to integrate Western air defense launchers, missiles and radars with Ukraine’s air defense systems;
  • Ammunition for counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems;
  • 155mm artillery rounds;
  • Commercial satellite imagery services;
  • Support for training, maintenance and sustainment activities.

Pentagon officials have said Ukraine’s air defense is a top priority, outranking other needs like fighter aircraft -- which the United States has not yet provided.

The new aid announcement did not specifically say which air defense systems would be provided but the United States has already sent a Patriot battery to Ukraine and trained Ukrainian soldiers to use it.

Ukraine over the weekend said it has used a U.S.-made Patriot air defense system to shoot down a Russian hypersonic missile over Kyiv. It has also been reported that Ukraine’s air defense systems recently shot down about 15 Russian cruise missiles headed for Kyiv.

Though presidential “drawdown” actions rapidly transfer weapons to Ukraine directly from U.S. stocks, weapons provided through the USAI, like those in this package, may take many months or several years to arrive on the battlefield.

“Unlike Presidential Drawdown authority (PDA), which DOD has continued to leverage to deliver equipment to Ukraine from DOD stocks at a historic pace, USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry or partners,” DOD said. “This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional priority capabilities to Ukraine."

The latest package, DOD said, “underscores the continued U.S. commitment to meeting Ukraine’s most urgent requirements by committing critical near-term capabilities, such as air defense systems and munitions, while also building the capacity of Ukraine’s Armed Forces to defend its territory and deter Russian aggression over the long term.”

By John Liang
May 8, 2023 at 4:01 PM

Saab announced today that former Northrop Grumman executive Mary Petryszyn has been elected to the company's board of directors.

Petryszyn recently retired as a corporate vice president at Northrop Grumman, where she was the first president of that company's Defense Systems Sector. She oversaw "operational execution, financial performance. and strategy development across a broad defense capabilities portfolio to drive business growth in domestic and international markets," according to a Saab statement.

Prior to her role at Northrop Grumman, Petryszyn worked at Raytheon Technologies, Hughes Aircraft Co., and Singer-Link, "in areas of profit and loss, program management, strategy and business development, and mergers and acquisitions," Saab said.