The Insider

By John Liang
April 18, 2023 at 3:04 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Defense Department doing away with emergency contracting actions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. military posture in the Indo-Pacific region and more.

We start off on the Pentagon terminating emergency contracting actions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic:

DOD rolling back emergency contracting actions related to COVID

The Pentagon, in accordance with President Biden's termination of the national emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic, is ending several contracting and acquisition policies aimed at mitigating damage to the U.S. defense industrial base, including payment rates for large contractors that were made more generous at the onset of the pandemic, according to a new memo.

The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing this morning on U.S. military posture in the Indo-Pacific region:

Aquilino: Indo-Pacific conflict 'is not inevitable'

China's expansion and modernization of its nuclear arsenal poses a growing risk to security in the Indo-Pacific region, U.S. military leaders told the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday.

Here's our preliminary coverage of the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs:

Dickinson: SPACECOM on track for FOC this year

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -- U.S. Space Command is on track to reach full operational capability later this year, SPACECOM Commander Gen. James Dickinson said Tuesday morning at the Space Symposium.

On March 23, Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill approved a new acquisition plan proposed by MDA's Targets and Countermeasures Subscale Program Office to proceed with a sole-source award for a new ICBM target:

Push to accelerate NGI schedule trips up MDA plans for ICBM target competition

The Defense Department is scrapping plans for a notional three-way competition to develop a new intercontinental ballistic missile target -- needed to test the $17 billion Next Generation Interceptor program -- and is selecting incumbent Northrop Grumman for the project after determining the new target is needed sooner than originally planned.

The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing this morning on the Navy's fiscal year 2023 budget request and its 30-year shipbuilding plan:

Lawmakers dissatisfied with flat shipbuilding plans

Lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee are dissatisfied with the Navy's near- and long-term shipbuilding plans, saying they fail to adequately increase the service's fleet size to meet its 355-ship requirement.

Document: Navy's FY-24 shipbuilding plan

The Government Accountability Office published reports this week on directed-energy weapons and Future Vertical Lift:

GAO: Navy, Air Force need more 'transition planning' for directed-energy weapon development

The Navy and Air Force risk deploying directed-energy weapons that do not meet operational needs without better processes for transitioning prototypes to fielded products, a new GAO report warns.

Document: GAO report on directed-energy weapons

GAO: Army did not always include proper cost, schedule evaluation for future vertical lift

The Army, in some cases, did not provide the proper cost and schedule evaluations of its Future Vertical Lift programs based on the Government Accountability Office's "leading practices," a new report released Monday found.

Document: GAO report on future vertical lift aircraft

By Tony Bertuca
April 18, 2023 at 2:02 PM

The Senate voted 68-30 today to confirm Radha Plumb to be a deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.

The White House said Plumb has also held senior staff positions at the Defense and Energy departments as well as the National Security Council.

Plumb was first nominated in June 2022 but had to be resubmitted to Congress by the White House because Congress failed to confirm her last year amid partisan disagreements.

Prior to her confirmation, Plumb served as chief of staff to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks and was the director of research and insights for trust and safety at Google. She also previously worked as the global head of policy analysis at Facebook and as a senior economist at RAND Corp.

By Tony Bertuca
April 18, 2023 at 11:34 AM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered a new information security review following the leak of hundreds of classified documents on the Discord online platform and the arrest of an airman charged in connection with the matter, according to a new Pentagon memo.

On April 14, Austin ordered the under secretary of defense for intelligence and security, in coordination with the Pentagon’s chief information officer and the director of administration and management, to lead a comprehensive 45-day review of Defense Department security programs, policies and procedures.

“Leaders must reinforce their expectation that their workforce will immediately report all security incidents to the chain of command and their security manager or the Office of the Inspector General and must ensure individuals in their workforce are empowered to make these reports,” Austin wrote in the memo.

Austin also advises the department to make use of counterintelligence and security teams to provide workforce training.

“This training should address the risks and consequences of unauthorized disclosures, which may include, administrative penalties, such as termination of employment, or criminal prosecution, as appropriate,” Austin wrote. “Adverse security incidents are a stark reminder that adherence to required security procedures underpin all aspects of the Department of Defense (DOD) mission, and we must continually reinforce these requirements to keep pace with evolving threats. It is therefore essential to carefully examine the sufficiency of, and compliance with, all security policies and procedures.”

Last week, 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira was arrested and charged with the online leaking of classified documents that included sensitive information on the war in Ukraine and the covert surveillance of U.S. allies.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters yesterday that DOD is reviewing email distribution lists for classified information and has purged a number of unnamed individuals from them.

“We need to make sure that it is on a need-to-know basis,” she said. “A very simple example would be a distribution list that has 10 people on it and one of those people have left the organization but they moved within the department and still have that email. So, it's culling through some of those lists, making sure that people that are sent information actually need to have that information to do their jobs.”

By John Liang
April 17, 2023 at 1:49 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on planned upgrades to the Standard Missile-3 fleet, the Defense Department seeking greater prototyping authority and more.

The Missile Defense Agency has published a request for information seeking feedback on notional proposals by the government for three batches of capability enhancements to the most-advanced Aegis guided-missiles interceptors in the Navy fleet:

MDA preparing 10-year upgrade program for SM-3 fleet; three different capability areas

The Missile Defense Agency is laying the foundation for a 10-year program to upgrade the Standard Missile-3 family of guided missile interceptors -- seeking feedback from industry on a range of notional improvement to the Block IB and Block IIA variants -- in a project that aims to begin as soon as fiscal year 2024.

On April 12, the Defense Department sent Congress its third package of fiscal year 2024 legislative proposals:

DOD seeks greater rapid prototyping authority from Congress

The Pentagon, citing the need to maintain technology overmatch with China, wants to empower military service secretaries to initiate their own weapons development programs without wading through the traditional budget and acquisition oversight process, according to a new legislative proposal sent to Congress.

Document: DOD's third FY-24 legislative proposal package

The Space Development Agency's NExT program will demonstrate warfighter utility of emerging mission partner payloads prior to potential incorporation in future tranches:

Ball Aerospace, Microsoft and Loft Federal team up for SDA's NExT program

Ball Aerospace announced its collaboration with Loft Federal and Microsoft on Tuesday to work on the Space Development Agency's experimental testbed program, called NExT, that will carry 10 satellites with experimental payloads into orbit.

Senior Defense Department leaders offered their strategic visions for advancing critical technologies last week:

Navy research chief emphasizes accelerating warfighting capabilities

The Navy seeks to bring more urgency to moving innovative technologies in the lab to warfighting capabilities in the field, Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Lorin Selby said Thursday at a National Defense Industrial Association conference.

In case you missed it, the Government Accountability Office released more details on the reasoning for its dismissal of Sikorsky's protest of a multibillion-dollar helicopter replacement contract:

GAO: Army found engineering design and development of Sikorsky FLRAA bid 'unacceptable'

A newly released Government Accountability Office ruling denying a bid protest by Sikorsky of the Army's Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft states the government found the engineering design and development "unacceptable," due to a lack of detail in the proposal.

Document: GAO decision on Sikorsky's FLRAA protest

By John Liang
April 17, 2023 at 11:23 AM

Saab announced today it has hired retired Navy Capt. Michael Brasseur as the company's new vice president and chief strategy officer.

Brasseur was the first commodore of the Navy's Task Force 59, a Middle East-based organization designed to integrate unmanned systems and artificial intelligence.

In the newly created chief strategy officer role, Brasseur will help Saab leverage emerging disruptive technologies, according to a company statement.

Brasseur is recently retired after 26 years of service in the Navy.

By John Liang
April 17, 2023 at 5:00 AM

The National Space Symposium takes place this week and senior uniformed and civilian Defense Department officials will be on Capitol Hill as various House and Senate committees receive testimony on the fiscal year 2024 budget request.

Monday

The National Space Symposium takes place in Colorado Springs, CO and runs through Wednesday.

The Pentagon hosts an Earth Day celebration.

Tuesday

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on the U.S. military posture and national security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on the Navy's fiscal year 2024 budget request.

The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee holds a hearing on the Air Force and Space Force FY-24 budget request.

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee holds a hearing on missile defense programs.

The House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee holds a hearing on Air Force projection forces aviation programs and capabilities.

The Senate Armed Services airland subcommittee holds a hearing on Army modernization.

The Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee holds a hearing on nuclear weapons programs.

The House Appropriations Committee holds a hearing on Navy and Marine Corps military construction and family housing.

The House Foreign Affairs Indo-Pacific subcommittee holds a hearing on China's influence in the Indian Ocean.

Wednesday

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on the Army's fiscal year 2024 budget request.

The House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee holds a hearing on Army, Navy and Marine Corps rotary-wing aviation programs.

The House Armed Services readiness subcommittee holds a hearing on the FY-24 military readiness budget request.

The Senate Armed Services cybersecurity subcommittee holds a hearing on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The Senate Armed Services emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee holds a hearing on "the mission activities, oversight and budget of the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office."

The Senate Armed Services readiness and management support subcommittee holds a hearing on military construction, energy, installations, environmental and base closure programs.

The House Appropriations Committee holds a hearing on the Coast Guard's FY-24 budget request.

The Senate Appropriations military construction and veterans affairs subcommittee holds a hearing on the services' FY-24 military construction and family housing budget requests.

Thursday

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea.

The House Appropriations Committee holds a hearing on Air Force and Space Force military construction and family housing.

By John Liang
April 14, 2023 at 3:07 PM

The Defense Department has entered into a $215.6 million agreement with Aerojet Rocketdyne to expand and modernize facilities in three states where the company builds rocket propulsion systems, according to a statement issued today.

The Pentagon's Office of Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization undertook the agreement, and the Aerojet factories are located in Camden, AR, Huntsville, AL and Orange County, VA, the statement reads.

"These systems propel DOD missiles and missile defense interceptors, along with space-launch vehicles and national security satellites used in civil and commercial applications," the Pentagon said. The money will be used to "modernize manufacturing processes at the company's facilities, consolidate production lines, purchase equipment, build systems to process data and increase production and delivery speed for Javelins, Stingers and the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS)."

The effort was funded by the Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, according to DOD.

The U.S. has provided Javelins, Stingers, and GMLRS rockets to the Ukrainian government, and modernizing Aerojet Rocketdyne's facilities will benefit DOD as it replenishes its ammunition supplies, the department said.

"The Office of Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization is moving forward with appropriate urgency to support strategic industrial sectors crucial to protecting national security," Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said in the statement. "This critical investment will modernize rocket propellant and motor production in the United States, in addition to creating technical and skilled labor jobs at multiple domestic facilities."

By John Liang
April 14, 2023 at 2:04 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has more details on the Government Accountability Office's dismissal of Sikorsky's protest of a multibillion-dollar helicopter contract, plus the Pentagon's latest legislative proposals package and more.

The Government Accountability Office released more details on the reasoning for its dismissal of Sikorsky's protest of a multibillion-dollar helicopter replacement contract:

GAO: Army found engineering design and development of Sikorsky FLRAA bid 'unacceptable'

A newly released Government Accountability Office ruling denying a bid protest by Sikorsky of the Army's Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft states the government found the engineering design and development "unacceptable," due to a lack of detail in the proposal.

Document: GAO decision on Sikorsky's FLRAA protest

The Defense Department released its third legislative proposal package this week. Here's our coverage so far:

DOD seeks greater rapid prototyping authority from Congress

The Pentagon, citing the need to maintain technology overmatch with China, wants to empower military service secretaries to initiate their own weapons development programs without wading through the traditional budget and acquisition oversight process, according to a new legislative proposal sent to Congress.

Legislative proposal details renewed divestment hopes for F-22, A-10

The Air Force is yet again seeking to divest A-10 and F-22 aircraft it says are unsuitable for future fights, despite past congressional opposition, according to a recent bundle of legislative proposals from the Defense Department.

Document: DOD's third FY-24 legislative proposal package

The Space Development Agency's NExT program will demonstrate warfighter utility of emerging mission partner payloads prior to potential incorporation in future tranches:

Ball Aerospace, Microsoft and Loft Federal team up for SDA's NExT program

Ball Aerospace announced its collaboration with Loft Federal and Microsoft on Tuesday to work on the Space Development Agency's experimental testbed program, called NExT, that will carry 10 satellites with experimental payloads into orbit.

Senior Defense Department leaders offered their strategic visions for advancing critical technologies this week:

Navy research chief emphasizes accelerating warfighting capabilities

The Navy seeks to bring more urgency to moving innovative technologies in the lab to warfighting capabilities in the field, Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Lorin Selby said Thursday at a National Defense Industrial Association conference.

Prime contractor Northrop Grumman this week announced the Defense Department has approved a recommendation to transition the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) from low- to full-rate production:

DOD approves IBCS full-rate production; clears path for $3 billion, six-year run

The Pentagon's acquisition executive has approved the Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense (AIAMD) program, the penultimate milestone in the program's bumpy 14-year development that unlocks a planned $3 billion production run through 2028 and paves the way for both fielding to U.S. forces as well as potential foreign sales.

The Pentagon comptroller's office, in a new memo, states DOD’s support to DHS at the border is estimated to cost about $500.4 million in fiscal year 2023, which will be "sourced equally among the military departments":

DOD taxing military services for continued southwest border support to DHS

The Defense Department is directing the military services to each identify $166.8 million in funding that can be reprogrammed to help pay for DOD’s continued support to the Department of Homeland Security at the southwest border, according to a new Pentagon document.

Document: DOD memo on omnibus reprogramming for border support

By John Liang
April 13, 2023 at 2:39 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's effort to cut legacy aircraft programs, Navy unmanned surface vessels and more.

Inside Defense recently interviewed the head of Air Combat Command:

ACC chief calls for cutting legacy platforms and investing in EMS to counter China

The close-air support capabilities of the aging A-10 fleet don't mean much if the jets get shot down before reaching front lines, Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mark Kelly said, which is why he thinks the service's budget should be focused on fifth- and sixth-generation capabilities.

The Navy's top uniformed official expects a capability development document for unmanned surface vessels to be delivered in 2023 but didn't disclose a specific date:

CNO: Navy is defining 'specific requirements' for LUSVs

The Navy's capability development document that outlines requirements for developing large, unmanned surface vessels is underway and will be ready sometime this year, according to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday.

Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord has requested permission to shift $29.6 million to provide additional resources to the Maneuver Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) Inc. 1 program and a paint booth project at Watervliet Arsenal, NY:

Following test delays, Army shifting Long Range Hypersonic Weapon funding to M-SHORAD

The Army is seeking permission to shift to higher-priority projects nearly $30 million in funds originally appropriated for the Defense Department's marquee hypersonic weapons program, a move the Pentagon says will not affect fielding plans but is also a sign the planned test schedule remains fluid.

The Defense Department will purchase a constellation of up to 72 T2TL-Beta space vehicles that are further divided into six orbital planes of 12 SVs, which will be awarded to multiple vendors subject to available funding, according to a recent notice:

SDA issues solicitation notice for Tranche 2 Transport Layer satellites

The Space Development Agency has issued a request for proposals for a Tranche 2 satellite for its Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture, the agency announced on Monday.

Last but by no means least, the latest Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

AIA urges companies to stick to current DOD cyber standard as work on CMMC rule continues

The Aerospace Industries Association is urging its members to achieve the current cyber requirements in defense contracts regarding National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-171 and accompanying documentation as uncertainty continues over when the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program will launch.

By Shelley K. Mesch
April 13, 2023 at 10:08 AM

The Air Force is seeking what it's calling Next Generation Countermeasures for its current and future reentry vehicles for the LGM-35A Sentinel nuclear missile system, according to an online posting from the service.

The request for information itself is classified as secret, but the post says key attributes could include “enhancements in accuracy, lethality, survivability etc.”

An acquisition and contract strategy has not yet been defined, according to the post, and neither has the number of potential contracts.

The request comes just weeks after the release of the service’s fiscal year 2024 budget, which included $15.5 million to begin early acquisition activities for the Next Generation Reentry Vehicle.

The NGRV would be fielded after the Mk21A reentry vehicle that is already in development for which the service requested $459.9 million in FY-24.

By Tony Bertuca
April 12, 2023 at 4:46 PM

A think-tank commission composed of former high-level Pentagon officials has released a report intended to provide the Defense Department and Congress with actionable reforms meant to accelerate the adoption of innovative commercial technologies to compete with China.

The Atlantic Council commission, co-chaired by former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, wants to “accelerate the adoption of cutting-edge technology from the leading edge of the commercial and defense sectors,” according to an interim report released today.

Other commission members include former Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord and former DOD policy chief Michèle Flournoy.

“In our time serving in the Defense Department, we have found that the United States does not have an innovation problem, but rather an innovation adoption problem,” according to the commission’s interim report.

Though the United States leads the world in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and directed energy, DOD “struggles to identify, adopt, integrate and field these technologies into military applications,” according to the report.

Among the top recommendations is that DOD expand the powers of the Defense Innovation Unit, which was recently elevated to directly report to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

By John Liang
April 12, 2023 at 2:22 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army lifting its stop-work order on the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program, coverage of high-energy lasers and more.

Work on the multibillion-dollar Black Hawk helicopter replacement effort can now continue:

Army lifts stop-work order on FLRAA following GAO ruling

The Army has lifted a stop-work order on the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, the eventual replacement for the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, following the Government Accountability Office's ruling last week denying a bid protest that temporarily halted the program's progress.

The Army wants to lengthen the range of its high-energy lasers:

Army eyes new FY-24 project to extend reach of cruise-missile killing, high-energy laser

The Army is looking to launch a new-start project in fiscal year 2024 to extend the killing range of high-energy lasers to destroy enemy cruise missiles at greater distances, seeking $8 million in applied research funding for advanced beam-control component developments for counter-cruise missiles.

The Pentagon recently issued a list of "large lot procurement" programs that are slated for multiyear contracts:

DOD outlines 'large lot procurement' plans for key missile systems

The Defense Department has released new details about its plans to use "large lot procurement" to buy several missile systems that are slated for multiyear contracts and have been deemed critical to potentially aiding Taiwan in a possible conflict with China, according to budget documents submitted to Congress.

Savings, benefits projected for FY-24 plan to bulk-buy naval strike missiles

The Defense Department's first-of-its-kind plan to bulk-buy 516 Naval Strike Missiles (NSM) in fiscal year 2024 under a five-year contract would save $153.6 million and bring greater stability to the industrial base, according to the DOD comptroller's office.

Pentagon comptroller: Multiyear authorities would save nearly $80M for PAC-3 MSE, $67M for GMLRS

Newly released Pentagon documents show that requests by the Army to implement multiyear procurement authorities for Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement and the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket system would save $80 million and nearly $67 million respectively.

Document: DOD's multiyear procurement of missile programs

By John Liang
April 11, 2023 at 2:16 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon moving to implement several multiyear procurement contracts for a variety of missile systems, plus the Air Force's efforts to replace the venerable C-5 cargo aircraft and more.

The Pentagon recently issued a list of "large lot procurement" programs that are slated for multiyear contracts, including the Guided MLRS Rocket, PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement, Navy Strike Missile, Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles for the Navy and Air Force as well as the RIM-174 Standard Missile-6:

DOD outlines 'large lot procurement' plans for key missile systems

The Defense Department has released new details about its plans to use "large lot procurement" to buy several missile systems that are slated for multiyear contracts and have been deemed critical to potentially aiding Taiwan in a possible conflict with China, according to budget documents submitted to Congress.

Document: DOD's multiyear procurement of missile programs

In its FY-24 budget request, the Air Force says it will use the funding to support an initial study of capabilities it terms Next Generation Airlift:

Air Force expects to begin C-5 replacement studies in 2024

The Air Force will begin to study options in fiscal year 2024 for replacing the C-5 aircraft, which has been in service for more than 50 years. The service is requesting a minimal budget to get several studies underway.

The Missile Defense Agency is completing work on a homeland cruise missile defense system:

MDA begins homeland cruise missile defense project, plans August live-flight event

The Missile Defense Agency has demonstrated the first of a planned three-part project to prove technical linkages that could be relevant to a future domestic cruise missile defense system as part of an effort slated to culminate this summer with a live-flight test.

The Defense Department this week released the findings of its Defense Contract Finance Study, "an effort to comprehensively assess the effect that DOD contract financing and profit policies have on the defense industry":

DOD readies contractor financing changes following new study

The Pentagon is preparing to move out on policy recommendations governing how defense contractors are paid, including revising progress payment rates for large companies that were made more generous at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a long-awaited financing study released this week.

Document: DOD's defense contract finance study

Last but certainly not least, a look at Coast Guard funding for polar icebreakers:

Polar security fleet funding request underscores U.S. Arctic interests

With concern growing about upholding U.S. interests in Arctic waters, the Coast Guard is seeking $170 million in fiscal year 2024 to continue developing its tiny polar security cutter fleet. The cutters monitor sea traffic in a thawing Arctic, among other duties.

By John Liang
April 10, 2023 at 1:47 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Navy's Standard Missile-6 system, the Army's MQ-1 Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft program and more.

The Navy is seeking to increase production of the Standard Missile-6 system:

DOD dials up SM-6 max annual production capacity target to 300 guided missiles by 2028

The Navy's fiscal year 2024 budget seeks funding to raise annual production capacity of the Standard Missile-6 to 300 by 2028, a 50% increase above the goal to reach 200 per year by 2026 as demand for the weapon -- which packs both offensive and defensive punch -- grows.

For each budget request starting in fiscal year 2021, the Army stopped including any funding for procurement of MQ-1 Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft, only to have Congress later add funding:

Army not requesting additional MQ-1 Gray Eagles for FY-24

The Army has once again refrained from requesting funding for additional procurement of MQ-1 Grey Eagle unmanned aircraft systems in its budget submission to Congress.

We also have news on funding for Coast Guard polar icebreakers:

Polar security fleet funding request underscores U.S. Arctic interests

With concern growing about upholding U.S. interests in Arctic waters, the Coast Guard is seeking $170 million in fiscal year 2024 to continue developing its tiny polar security cutter fleet. The cutters monitor sea traffic in a thawing Arctic, among other duties.

Navy officials talked about directed-energy weapon systems last week:

Navy laser weapon development intensifies

The Navy will field shipboard laser weapons "as rapidly as fiscal and industrial resources will allow," with the transition of critical research and development programs to operations prioritized, the service said.

A new combatant command could be in the offing:

DOD debates possibilities for new Joint Futures Command; Milley lends horsepower

Inside the Pentagon, a small team of experts is preparing to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on options for addressing the future of warfare amid rapid technological change, which could lead to the creation of a new “Joint Futures Command.”

By Nick Wilson
April 10, 2023 at 1:24 PM

The Navy will hold an industry day later this month before opening a contract competition for the design and construction of a new class of submarine tenders intended to support Virginia- and Columbia-class boats.

According to a March announcement, Naval Sea Systems Command will host the industry event on April 18 to provide an overview of the Navy’s draft requirements before launching an open contract competition in the fall for the production of up to two of the new AS(X) vessels.

The Navy’s fiscal year 2024 budget request includes $1.7 billion for the first boat in this new-start program. The budget anticipates the procurement of a second tender in FY-26 for $1.1 billion, resulting in a total of two vessels across the five-year future years defense program.

The tenders will perform intermediate-level repair, resupply, rearming and other support for forward-deployed submarines, according to budget documents. The tenders will also be capable of reloading torpedoes and Tomahawk missiles and performing radiological emergency response.

The service plans to award a contract for the first vessel in May 2024, targeting delivery in June 2031, budget justification books indicate. A contract award for the second vessel is planned for May 2026 with delivery in September 2032.

Last week, Ingalls Shipbuilding President Kari Wilkinson indicated the company is working on a tender design under a study contract, Defense News reported. Wilkinson said this design may be based upon the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, which the company produces.

Presently, the Navy has two tenders -- Emory S. Land (AS-39) and Frank Cable (AS-40) -- which are based in Guam and perform maintenance in the Pacific. The new tenders will eventually replace these aging vessels, which have each been in service for more than 40 years.