The Insider

By Tony Bertuca
January 29, 2024 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at several events this week.


The Potomac Officers Club hosts its annual R&D summit.

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on integrating autonomous systems into AUKUS Pillar Two.

House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party holds a hearing with Gen. Paul Nakasone, chief of U.S. Cyber Command.


The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing to consider Adm. Samuel Paparo to be chief of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

By Vanessa Montalbano
January 26, 2024 at 12:59 PM

Boeing will commence the first 13 deliveries of its MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopter to the Air Force this year, a company spokesperson told Inside Defense.

The news comes after the program’s first operational helicopter moved out of the final production stage and took its first flight at the Leonardo Helicopters facility in Philadelphia late last month.

The MH-139 is a multimission aircraft meant to patrol nuclear missile silos, shuttle high-ranking officials around the National Capital Region, and provide some tactical airlift capabilities. Boeing and Leonardo were awarded a contract in 2018 to recapitalize the Air Force’s Vietnam-era UH-1N Huey fleet.

In 2022, the Air Force accepted an initial four Grey Wolf prototypes for military testing.

“We are committed to advancing this program and have achieved another significant milestone with the first production aircraft," Azeem Khan, MH-139 program director, said in a statement. "This accomplishment positions us to complete outstanding testing and move closer to delivering this critical capability to the U.S. Air Force."

The program finally received milestone C approval from the Air Force in March of last year to kick off low rate initial production after facing a 17-month delay. Procurement of the Grey Wolf was ultimately deferred from the fiscal year 2022 budget to FY-23 due to pending completion of three supplemental civil airworthiness certifications to allow for military flight.

The Boeing spokesperson said the company will continue its required Federal Aviation Administration testing as it prepares for initial deliveries. The service has said it plans to purchase 84 Grey Wolf helicopters to replace 63 aging Hueys.

By Thomas Duffy
January 26, 2024 at 11:55 AM

This end of the week INSIDER Daily Digest starts off with news from Northrop on the Air Force’s newest bomber, Congress being briefed on a new unmanned program, news about the upcoming Air Force budget release, a senior congressional Republican pushing for a major defense spending increase and more.

Northrop is taking a dollar hit on the first production B-21 aircraft:

Northrop reports $1.2 billion charges on first B-21 LRIP lot

Northrop Grumman will lose $1.17 billion on the first lot of the B-21 Raider’s low-rate initial production and will likely take charges on the next four lots, the business announced in its year-end earnings call today.

Congress is getting information on the Defense Department’s new unmanned aircraft plan:

DIU official says Congress being briefed on Replicator

A senior Defense Innovation Unit official said today that Congress is being briefed about the Replicator initiative, adding that military services are working on selecting specific systems suitable to meet the Pentagon’s requirements for thousands of small, “attritable,” autonomous drones.

An Air Force official this week talked about the upcoming budget release:

Air Force to highlight integration, implementation in 2025 budget

The Air Force will focus on integration, sustainment and implementation in its not-yet-released fiscal year 2025 budget, two senior service officials said today during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

A senior GOP senator wants to see a big defense spending boost:

Wicker laying groundwork to push for defense spending to be 5% of GDP

Some of Washington’s top conservatives gathered at the Heritage Foundation today to lament the think tank’s annual assertion that the U.S. military is underfunded and too small, with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) calling for the federal government to “go big” and put 5% of the gross domestic product into national defense spending.

The Navy is moving ahead with an expanded Tomahawk missile production:

Tomahawk Block V production expansion begins, Navy official says

Using targeted industrial base investments, the Navy has begun expanding the annual production and recertification capacity for the newest version of the Tactical Tomahawk missile, according to a service official.

By Tony Bertuca
January 26, 2024 at 5:00 AM

Zeno Power, which in May was awarded a $30 million Air Force contract to build a satellite powered by nuclear waste, has announced a new deal with the Energy Department by which it will obtain radioactive material needed to fuel its “novel” power system.

In an announcement today, DOE said it recently transported a “radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) containing strontium-90” from the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management “to a commercial nuclear facility out of state, where Zeno will recycle the material to power its novel radioisotope power systems (RPS).”

“The technology in these power systems is capable of converting heat generated by the decay of radioisotopes into a durable, reliable source of electricity in remote and challenging environments,” DOE said.

The public-private partnership with Zeno, DOE said, “has reduced the amount of legacy radioactive material on the site” so the company can “recycle the material into a source of clean energy.”

OREM Manager Jay Mullis called the arrangements a “win-win” that removes “a significant source of radioactivity at a savings to taxpayers, while also supporting nuclear innovation.”

Zeno co-Founder and CEO Tyler Bernstein said in a company press release that the “innovative partnership will transform a waste product and taxpayer liability into a clean energy asset that will advance national security and scientific missions.”

“We’ve now demonstrated the core building block of our technology and secured our initial fuel supply chain -- positioning us as the clear leader to commercialize RPS technology by 2026,” he said.

The Air Force contract Zeno was awarded in May was to build a radioisotope-powered satellite by 2025. In October, Zeno also announced it has been awarded a $7.5 million defense contract to build and demonstrate an RPS 2025 that is “capable of providing resilient, distributed power on the seabed.”

The company is also developing RPS technology with NASA and other lunar industry companies.

Zeno, in its statement, said RPSs are “compact devices that convert heat from radioisotopes into a persistent and reliable supply of clean energy.”

Though strontium-90 has been used in RPSs before, Zeno says that past systems have been “heavy, constraining their use to limited terrestrial applications.”

“Zeno’s key innovation is a novel design that increases the specific power of Sr-90 heat sources, enabling broad use of its RPSs in space and terrestrially,” the company said.

By Nickolai Sukharev
January 25, 2024 at 4:43 PM

The Army will hold an industry day to explore a second interceptor capability as part of the Indirect Fire Protection Capability system, according to a public announcement.

Issued as a request for information, the Army wants to see what industry has to develop an interceptor that will use open system architecture that will “establish lethal kinetic effects” against rockets and cruise missiles.

“The new interceptor requires future capability growth with minimal levels of system redesign to address Objective level threat sets,” the announcement adds.

“The IFPC Inc 2 Program Office is currently projecting a 2nd Interceptor competitive award in FY25. The Program Office plans on taking selected vendor(s) through a technology demonstration in the FY26 – FY27 timeframe. The Government intends to award a development, qualification, and test effort following this demonstration.”

Designed to protect high value military sites, the Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 (IFPC Inc 2) mobile ground-based system consists of an interceptor and launcher that are designed to defeat cruise missiles, drones, rockets and artillery.

The system will also use the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command system and integrate the AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel Radar as its sensor, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Last October, Brig. Gen. Frank Lozano, program executive officer for missiles and space, said that low-rate initial production for the system would be delayed.

According to budget documents, the IFPC Inc 2 system will cost $546 million from Fiscal Year 2021-24.

In addition to kinetic effects, the Army will also pursue high-powered lasers and microwaves capabilities, the budget documents read.

The Army will hold an industry day on Thursday, Feb. 8 and intends on awarding a contract in fiscal year 2025.

By Thomas Duffy
January 25, 2024 at 11:55 AM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest starts off with some missile defense news, a look at what is causing the cost increases for the Air Force’s Sentinel missile program, financial news from Electric Boat, Army investments in ammunition plants, and more.

Big changes may be coming for the Missile Defense Agency:

New missile defense governance, potential 'integrator' role, to be decided this spring

The Defense Department this spring must re-write its seminal missile defense governance policy to replace a controversial memorandum advanced during the Trump administration that curtailed the Missile Defense Agency's autonomy by elevating approval authority for key activities to senior Pentagon officials.

An Air Force official spoke about the Sentinel program’s cost growth:

Aspects of Sentinel other than the missile drove Nunn-McCurdy breach, official says

It's not the actual missile that's causing the drastic cost increase in the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile program but the surrounding civil works components, a top Air Force official said today.

EB discussed its latest financial report this week:

Electric Boat reports improved submarine throughput amid continued supply chain challenges

General Dynamics Electric Boat is seeing throughput improvements within the Columbia- and Virginia-class submarine programs but still needs additional aid from the Navy to stabilize the submarine supply chain, company executives said today.

The Army told us where it is spending big money to improve its infrastructure:

Army spending $4.5B to modernize several ammunition plants

The Army will invest $4.5 billion to modernize its ammunition plants as part of a wide multibillion-dollar, 15-year effort to modernize its industrial base, according to the service.

An industry trade group sees real potential for the CMMC program outside of the defense sector:

AIA sees potential expansion of CMMC program beyond DOD following release of proposed rule

The Aerospace Industries Association is advocating for the Defense Department's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program to be used by civilian agencies, as part of an effort to address "ambiguity" over sensitive information held by contractors and create synergies.

By Dan Schere
January 25, 2024 at 10:56 AM

The Army will host Project Convergence, its series of experiments and events focused on building readiness, beginning next month in California along with four other U.S. military services and militaries from six other nations.

The events will run Feb. 23 through March 20, with events taking place at Camp Pendleton and the Army’s National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, according to a Wednesday announcement. The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Space Force are the other U.S. services that will participate. Additionally, militaries from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France and Japan will be present.

A media day at Camp Pendleton will “showcase experimentation technologies from phase one,” and will feature discussion on joint experimentation, fires, command and control, contested logistics and multination integration, according to the announcement.

The Army last held Project Convergence in the fall of 2022, which included experimenting with a missile defense system detecting ground threats and passing information to a long-range strike system.

By John Liang
January 24, 2024 at 12:56 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a Pentagon inspector general's report on the Defense Department's convoluted financial management system, plus the latest on the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program and more.

The Defense Department inspector general issued a new report this week that makes 31 recommendations to reform the Pentagon's labyrinthine financial management system:

IG finds DOD could save $728M by retiring outdated financial systems early

The Defense Department inspector general says the Pentagon is spending too much money on outdated financial systems that will never be compliant with a DOD-wide audit and could potentially save $728 million if it retires the systems early.

Document: DOD IG report on outdated financial management systems

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity recently spoke with an Aerospace Industries Association member about the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

AIA sees potential expansion of CMMC program beyond DOD following release of proposed rule

The Aerospace Industries Association is advocating for the Defense Department's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program to be used by civilian agencies, as part of an effort to address "ambiguity" over sensitive information held by contractors and create synergies.

Frank Peterkin, the principal director for directed energy at the Pentagon, said this week that directed-energy weapons offer the Defense Department a unique opportunity to transform integrated air and missile defense and counter asymmetric threats and sensors:

Directed-energy supply chains need to be strengthened, per DOD official

A senior defense official today said the directed-energy supply chain must be bolstered if the United States is to compete with peer adversaries like China and Russia.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is still recuperating from prostate cancer surgery and a two-week hospitalization, opened a meeting this week on Ukraine with remarks broadcast from his home saying Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to break the will of the Ukrainian people and its allies:

DOD hosts allies in support of Ukraine amid stalled funding

Senior U.S. defense officials met today with an international coalition of more than 50 countries supporting Ukraine, standing up new groups focused on drone warfare and armored vehicles, despite the fact Congress remains in a stalemate over a massive supplemental funding package the Pentagon says is vital to Ukraine's survival against Russia.

Melissa Dalton, the nominee to be Air Force under secretary, faced some withering questions from Republican lawmakers during a Senate hearing this week:

Nominee for Air Force's No. 2 civilian faces fierce GOP criticism over border

Senate Armed Services Committee Republicans today slammed President Biden's nominee for Air Force under secretary over the administration's delayed response in identifying the Chinese surveillance balloon last year and her office's alleged mishandling of stored Southern border wall materials.

Document: Senate hearing on Air Force, DOT&E, S&T nominations

By Dan Schere
January 24, 2024 at 12:14 PM

Textron CEO Scott Donnelly said today that he isn't currently worried about the impact of the continuing resolution on the company's defense contracts, unless it were to drag out to a full year.

Congress last week voted to pass another two-tiered stopgap funding measure that extends funding through March 8 in the case of the Defense Department.

Donnelly, during a company earnings call Wednesday, said he thinks major contracts such as the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), the contract for the eventual Black Hawk replacement, won’t suffer in the near term due to the CR.

“I think the Army probably has . . . backup plans, they're trying to work in terms of how they would move money around. Obviously FLRAA is a very high priority, very important program to them as well. So, this thing would be a heck of a lot easier if Congress would just pass a budget, for sure. But right now, I think we're OK unless it really goes to a full year,” he said.

Bell, a subsidiary of Textron, was selected by the Army for the FLRAA contract in December 2022 over competitor Sikorsky. However, a protest from Sikorsky delayed work on the program until April 2023.

Donnelly told investors Wednesday that he expects growth in military revenues for Bell in 2024 as work progresses on FLRAA.

“As we ramped after the contract, it’s gone really well. So, I would expect a number closer to the $900 million range in 2024,” he said.

In addition to FLRAA, Donnelly touted other recent company wins in defense, such as being chosen as one of two finalists for the Army’s Future Tactical UAS prototyping effort, as one of four companies chosen by the Army to proceed in the service’s Robotic Combat Vehicle competition and the company’s participation in the Marine Corps’ Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle competition.

Donnelly said 2023 was a significant year for the company when it came to downselects from various military services.

“We'll execute on those, and they're not big growth programs, so they don't really have a CR impact I’m too concerned about. And they're virtually all programs that will have their next significant contractual award downselect in 2025,” he said.

By John Liang
January 23, 2024 at 1:55 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Lockheed Martin's deliveries of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Missile Defense Agency's Next Generation Interceptor program and more.

Lockheed Martin's chief executive discussed his company's quarterly earnings this morning:

F-35s with TR-3 may be delivered even later, Lockheed CEO says

Lockheed Martin may not deliver F-35 Joint Strike Fighters enabled with Technology Refresh 3 until the third quarter of this calendar year, CEO Jim Taiclet said today.

Some missile defense news:

New law extends mandated oversight reporting of NGI program through production phase

The Missile Defense Agency must extend a statutory accountability checklist for the Next Generation Interceptor program that was originally designed to end with the technology development phase after Congress lengthened the mandated reporting regime through production.

Initial reports on new integrated air and missile defense for INDOPACOM due soon

The Pentagon has a new missile defense assignment: craft a comprehensive strategy for developing, acquiring and operationally establishing an integrated air and missile defense architecture for select locations across U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, a 100-million-square-mile region that constitutes more than 50% of the earth's surface.

In case you missed it, here's our deep dive into shipbuilders awaiting news on how much money Congress is going to appropriate for amphibious vessels:

Amphibious warship industrial base is 'underutilized' as LPD procurement pause drags on

With little certainty in the Pentagon's amphibious warship procurement plans, the builders and suppliers that produce these ships are holding their breath as they wait for Congress to complete fiscal year 2024 spending legislation and the Navy to provide a clear shipbuilding forecast.

The Air Force could be on track to finalize the KC-26A full critical design review by the end of the first quarter of this calendar year, or March:

Boeing sends KC-46A's RVS 2.0 critical design review to FAA for airworthiness approval

Boeing has completed the final step for the KC-46A's Remote Vision System 2.0 critical design review, sending the application over to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Boeing spokesperson told Inside Defense.

By Shelley K. Mesch
January 23, 2024 at 9:47 AM

RTX Chief Operating Officer Christopher Calio will step up as the company's CEO in May.

Calio will succeed current CEO Gregory Hayes, who will maintain his role as executive chairman, at RTX’s annual shareholder meeting on May 2, RTX announced last month and reiterated today during its year-end earnings call.

“I’ve worked with Chris for many years, and I can’t think of a better person to take on this role,” Hayes said during the call. “Chris has a deep understanding of our industry, our customers’ needs and our operation, and most importantly, he’s an outstanding leader.”

RTX also announced in the call that it expects this quarter to close the $1.3 billion sale of the Raytheon Cybersecurity, Intelligence and Services business. RTX announced the sale -- without naming the buyer -- in its third quarter results last year.

RTX also plans to sell its Collins Aerospace actuation and flight control business to France-based Safran Group for $1.8 billion. Safran has said it expects to close the sale by the end of June.

By Abby Shepherd
January 22, 2024 at 3:32 PM

Both the Navy and Marine Corps are seeking industry support to tackle a problem that is plaguing both services: countering unmanned aerial systems.

The Navy is seeking industry input on countering UAS -- specifically systems ranging from below 1,320 pounds to above 1,320 pounds -- according to a request for information posted Thursday.

The Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems 11.0 -- under Naval Sea Systems Command -- is looking for details such as key system performance parameters, operator and training requirements, current production rates and unit cost projections.

Specific requirements include, “mature systems that are in production and can be deployed in 1-6 months (preferred), or 6-12 months at the latest,” demonstrated performance against Group 3-5 UASs, and “minimal integration requirements with Naval combat systems; with independent, self-contained capability highly desirable,” according to the notice.

NAVSEA is asking interested parties to submit responses by Feb. 2.

In another posting, the Marine Corps plans to develop a modernized installation counter small unmanned aerial system (I-CsUAS) capability and is currently in the pre-solicitation phase for this technology.

“To address this capability gap, the Marine Corps intends to use advanced technologies incorporated throughout the full ‘kill chain’ to successfully detect, track, identify and defeat sUAS,” according to the posting. “This ‘kill chain’ will encompass integrated and networked sensor nodes along with the ability to protect the defended asset both non-kinetically and kinetically as laws and policy allow.”

A request for proposals will be released before the end of March, according to the posting.

“It is the intent of the government to process this procurement under [federal acquisition regulation 15], Contracting by Negotiation, and to ultimately award a single, hybrid, Firm Fixed Price/Cost Plus Fixed Fee, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract as a result of the forthcoming RFP,” the announcement continued. “This procurement will be conducted as a full and open competition.”

The upcoming RFP follows the issuance of an RFI, and an industry day held in July 2023. In August, Barbara Hamby -- spokesperson at the program executive office for land systems -- told Inside Defense that five I-CsUAS systems are currently deployed in the continental United States.

“The Marine Corps is undergoing the process of upgrading and replacing these systems, in addition to supporting other sites requiring CsUAS capabilities,” Hamby said.

By John Liang
January 22, 2024 at 1:44 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Navy amphibious ship funding, the Air Force's KC-46 airborne refueling tanker program, integrated air and missile defense in Europe and more.

We start off with a deep dive into shipbuilders awaiting news on how much money Congress is going to appropriate for amphibious vessels:

Amphibious warship industrial base is 'underutilized' as LPD procurement pause drags on

With little certainty in the Pentagon's amphibious warship procurement plans, the builders and suppliers that produce these ships are holding their breath as they wait for Congress to complete fiscal year 2024 spending legislation and the Navy to provide a clear shipbuilding forecast.

The Air Force could be on track to finalize the KC-26A full critical design review by the end of the first quarter of this calendar year, or March:

Boeing sends KC-46A's RVS 2.0 critical design review to FAA for airworthiness approval

Boeing has completed the final step for the KC-46A's Remote Vision System 2.0 critical design review, sending the application over to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Boeing spokesperson told Inside Defense.

The Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision requiring the defense secretary in consultation with the commander of U.S. European Command as well as the Missile Defense Agency director to prepare a report that could lay the groundwork for potential enhancements to European integrated air and missile defense capabilities:

DOD to draw up options for 360-degree integrated air and missile defense of European sites

The Pentagon must think anew about missile defense in Europe, including how to defend against air and missile strikes from not only the east -- but also north, south and west -- and provide Congress a report this summer on options for adopting a 360-degree approach to address Russian threats emerging from all strategic directions.

The Sentinel ICBM program acquisition unit cost has climbed from $118 million in 2020 dollars to about $162 million:

Sentinel ICBMs to cost $162M each, more than 35% above baseline

Costs for the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile program grew at least 37% above the 2020 baseline, triggering a critical Nunn-McCurdy law breach, according to the Air Force.

The Microelectronics Commons was created to advance microelectronics production through regional innovation hubs, announcing their hubs in September 2023 and tasking them with conducting all related projects and proposals to bind industry, commercial and government technologies together:

Microelectronics Commons representatives to conduct Hub site visits

Representatives from the Defense Department, the Naval Surface Warfare Center and the National Security Technology Accelerator will conduct site visits from Jan. 22 to Feb. 9 to the various Microelectronics Commons Hubs located across the nation.

By Vanessa Montalbano
January 22, 2024 at 8:00 AM

The Air Force on Thursday awarded Lockheed Martin a roughly $65 million contract to produce three more of its Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar units, according to the Defense Department.

This move is part of a series of modifications to the original contract, which was awarded in March 2022 and included options for 35 total radars. It brings the cumulative value of the contract to $260.6 million.

Work under the new contract is expected to be completed by the end of 2026 and will be performed in Liverpool, New York. The Air Force previously said initial operational capability, for 6 radars, would be achieved in fiscal year 2024.

The first two 3DELRR initial production units were procured through the original contract in 2022, and another four in January 2023.

Last August, the DOD inspector general found the Air Force did not properly use the rapid middle tier of acquisition (MTA) pathway for the program and that it moved on from prototyping to fielding too quickly. The report recommended that the Air Force request a waiver to extend the five-year timeline for rapid fielding to “return the time lost by transitioning to the rapid fielding path early.”

By Tony Bertuca
January 22, 2024 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at several events this week.


The Senate Armed Services Committee will meet to consider several senior Pentagon nominations.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a U.S.-Vietnam conference to discuss "strategic security and cooperation" in Asia.

The National Defense Industrial Association hosts a discussion on directed-energy supply chains.


CSIS hosts a discussion on Air Force budget priorities.

The Heritage Foundation hosts a discussion on U.S. military readiness.

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on defense technology.


The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion with Assistant Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Christopher Mahoney.

DefenseScoop hosts the Google Defense Forum.

The U.S. Space Force Association hosts a discussion with the chief of U.S. Space Operations Command.