The Insider

By Nick Wilson
October 26, 2023 at 12:34 PM

The Navy successfully launched a Standard Missile-6 from Littoral Combat Ship Savannah (LCS-28) using a “containerized launching system” during a Tuesday demonstration in the Eastern Pacific, according to a Navy announcement.

The test demonstrates the utility of the LCS class for surface warfare and is a promising sign for the Navy’s efforts to develop containerized weapon systems that can be installed on LCSs and other surface ships, according to the sea service.

“The exercise demonstrated the modularity and lethality of Littoral Combat Ships and the ability to successfully integrate a containerized weapons system to engage a surface target,” the announcement states.

“The exercise will inform continued testing, evaluation and integration of containerized weapons systems on afloat platforms,” it continues.

Savannah is an Independence-class LCS, delivered to the Navy in 2021 and commissioned in February 2022. The vessel is not among the seven LCSs the Navy has marked for decommissioning over the next five years.

In September, Inside Defense reported the Navy plans to equip all remaining LCSs with the Naval Strike Missile by fiscal year 2032 in an effort to expand the vessels’ offensive strike capabilities and enhance their contribution to the surface fleet.

By Nickolai Sukharev
October 25, 2023 at 8:30 PM

Ammunition manufacturers will have an opportunity to produce 105mm high-explosive rounds for the Army's newest armored combat vehicle, according to an Oct. 10 public announcement.

Designed to be fired from the M10 Booker, the Army is seeking contractors that can produce the 105mm M393A3 High Explosive Plastic (HEP) cartridges capable of defeating bunkers and breaching double reinforced concrete walls, the announcement states, which was updated on Oct. 19.

“Production facilities must be in place or require minimal effort to establish,” the announcement adds.

Annual production quantities will range from 3,500 to 6,500 for a fixed-term contract with production deliveries lasting up to 34 months, the announcement reads.

Manufacturing will also include M393A3 HEP-T, a tracer round that can illuminate for more than five seconds.

The M939A3 comes from a family of ammunition, which includes canister and training variants.

The round can be fired from the M68 tank gun, which was used on the Army’s earlier combat vehicles, and the XM35 tank gun, which is used on the M10.

By Nick Wilson
October 25, 2023 at 4:28 PM

The Defense Department is preparing to brief lawmakers on the findings of a recent AUKUS-focused industrial base study, acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Mara Karlin told the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee today.

While Karlin said the Pentagon is working to organize briefings on the study, she didn't commit to providing physical copies of the report to lawmakers when pressed on the subject by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI).

“I believe that some briefings have occurred, and some additional briefings will occur to you and your staff. I think folks are just scheduling those right now,” Karlin told the subcommittee. “I think their plan is to brief you on the cost estimates from the study and to walk through the substance of it.”

Gallagher and subcommittee Chairman Trent Kelly (R-MS) both asked that physical copies of the report be provided.

Last week, a bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) sent a letter to the White House requesting this AUKUS implementation study, performed by DOD’s cost assessment and program evaluation office, be provided to Congress by the end of the month.

The Navy, Office of the Secretary of Defense and White House all declined requests from Inside Defense to provide a specific timeline for when the report’s contents would be shared with Congress.

Speaking today, Karlin also noted that the results of the study informed the White House’s supplemental spending request, which includes $3.4 billion for DOD to invest in the U.S. submarine industrial base.

By Shelley K. Mesch
October 25, 2023 at 4:19 PM

The Air Force is conducting "ground taxi activities" with the B-21 Raider ahead of the bomber's first flight, the service said.

“Rigorous testing is a critical step in the B-21 flight test program,” according to a statement from the Air Force. “Extensive testing evaluates systems, components and functionalities. This testing allows us to mitigate risks, optimize design and enhance operational effectiveness.”

Air Force officials have said the bomber’s first flight is expected by the end of the year, stipulating that the test won’t be rushed to meet a calendar date.

Unveiled for the first time in December, the B-21 is being touted as the world’s first sixth-generation aircraft. It’s being designed to run long-range, nuclear-capable operations.

The B-21 will replace the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit in the nuclear bomber fleet as part of a two-platform approach with upgraded B-52 Stratofortresses rounding out the fleet.

By Nickolai Sukharev
October 25, 2023 at 3:15 PM

The Army is conducting a market survey for 155mm ammunition designed to defeat armored and mechanized targets, according to a public announcement.

The survey is requesting potential sources who can produce the XM1180 Cannon-Delivered Area Effects Munition (C-DAEM) for early operational capability fielding “to begin production at a low rate by 2nd Quarter Fiscal Year 2026,” the Oct. 18 announcement reads.

Requirements are planned to be restricted to Raytheon in Tucson, AZ, the announcement adds.

“It will support both current and future weapon systems and defeat infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled howitzers, and main battle tanks,” the announcement states. “The Army requires the solution to be compatible with current 39 caliber weapon systems and engage targets out to 35 kilometers (km).”

The 155mm XM1180 C-DAEM round is designed to be fired from the Army’s forthcoming Extended Range Cannon Artillery vehicle, a replacement for the Paladin, and provides an armor defeat capability in both deep fires counter-fire engagements and close fires maneuver support, according to the Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition.

The XM1180 round will serve alongside the 155mm XM1208 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions round, the Joint Program Executive Office states.

Earlier this year, the Army requested permission from Congress to re-allocate funds to upgrade Raytheon's Excalibur C-DAEM munition, Inside Defense reported.

By John Liang
October 25, 2023 at 2:59 PM

HII announced today that it has hired retired British Army Brig. Gen. Paul Tennant to be corporate vice president of engagement and international government relations.

Tennant will succeed Joe Tofalo, who will retire in December after five years with the company. Tennant will report directly to Stewart Holmes, HII's executive vice president of government and customer relations.

Among his duties, Tennant will lead and provide oversight "on international initiatives, including the trilateral Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS) partnership and will coordinate engagement with foreign governments, embassies and relevant organizations," according to an HII statement.

Tennant is a former British military attaché in Canada as well as the United States. An army aviator, he served on multiple deployments in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. Additionally, he was chief of the Joint Fires and Influence Branch, Headquarters, Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, NATO, and served on exchange to the U.S. Army as special assistant to then-Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno.

By John Liang
October 25, 2023 at 2:23 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's continued focus on China as the "pacing challenge" identified in the 2022 National Defense Strategy, the Defense Department reshuffling of 155mm artillery rounds to support Israel's fight against Hamas and more.

Mara Karlin, assistant defense secretary for strategy, plans and capabilities, who is also performing the duties of the deputy defense under secretary for policy, spoke at the Brookings Institute this week about the Pentagon's continued focus on China as the "pacing challenge" identified in the 2022 National Defense Strategy:

DOD policy official: Focus remains on China, despite competing global crises

A senior Pentagon policy official said today that the United States intends to keep its focus on deterring China, despite addressing ongoing crises in Ukraine and Israel.

The reshuffling of 155mm ammunition stocks to Israel highlights the Pentagon's ongoing efforts to supply two allies simultaneously as top defense officials work with foreign nations to surge overseas weapons production:

DOD reshuffles artillery shipments to aid Israel amid work to surge NATO weapons production

The Defense Department says shipments of 155mm artillery shells that were withdrawn from U.S. stocks in Israel and slated to shore up Army weapons reserves in Europe that have been depleted by ongoing aid to Ukraine have now been diverted back to Israel as that country amps up its attacks on Hamas and Hezbollah.

On Sept. 8, the 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force completed an exercise called Arcane Thunder 23 -- the inaugural event of a series the Army plans to conduct annually -- that allowed the unit, with participation from France, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom, to work on reconnaissance, target development and precision-targeting operations:

New Army unit generates artillery targets from electromagnetic spectrum, tracks satellites

The Army last month completed a first-ever, live-fire exercise in Europe of a unit designed to break up Russia's anti-access/area-denial capabilities, dispersing troops across Germany, Poland and Romania to test and experiment elements of multidomain operations by synchronizing precision effects across the continent.

A new Congressional Budget Office cost estimate looks at the AUKUS Oversight and Accountability Act, advanced by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in July, which would establish a State Department task force to oversee implementation of the AUKUS security partnership:

CBO: AUKUS legislation would invest $115M in implementation with little draw on appropriations

A legislative proposal that aims to fund AUKUS oversight using fees collected through the foreign military sales process would, if enacted, direct $115 million of mandatory spending into AUKUS implementation efforts over the next decade, while drawing little in appropriations, according to a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate.

Document: CBO cost estimate of AUKUS bill

RTX executives discussed their quarterly earnings with Wall Street analysts this week:

RTX suffers loss due to a metal powder quality crisis affecting engines

RTX (formerly Raytheon Technologies) reported a 21% drop in sales compared to the previous year due to a metal powder quality crisis that led to engine failure of the V2500 engine fleet, the company said in its third-quarter earnings statement.

By Apurva Minchekar
October 25, 2023 at 1:59 PM

Lockheed Martin is joining forces with Terran Orbital Corp. to develop 36 buses for a constellation of military satellites scheduled to be launched in 2026, Terran Orbital said yesterday.

The 36 satellite buses are part of the 72 satellites for the Tranche 2 Transport Layer-Beta variant program announced by the Space Development Agency in August. The agency awarded 36 satellites each to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

Terran Orbital, in the announcement, said it would be delivering satellite buses to Lockheed, who will perform the “payload integration and jointly operate satellites with SDA.”

“SDA’s T2TL Beta constellation will advance the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture’s initial warfighting capability with targeted technology enhancements, mission-focused payload configurations and increased integration,” the company said.

Additionally, Lockheed has also awarded a $700 million contract to Terran Orbital to build 42 satellite buses for SDA’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer that is expected to lift off in late 2024.

According to Terran Orbital, the company completed a “critical design review and manufacturing readiness review” for T1TL satellite buses from its satellite production factory in Irvine, CA.

“The MRR confirmed Terran Orbital’s readiness to manufacture and deliver 42 T1TL satellite buses,” the announcement states.

Further, with the completion of T1TL CDR and MRR, Terran Orbital will now provide 42 satellites to Lockheed for payload integration and testing, which will take place in Lockheed’s newly opened satellite assembling factory near Denver.

Terran Orbital said the same factory near Denver will be utilized for payload integration and testing of 36 satellite buses for the T2TL- Beta variant program.

The company noted it also delivered 10 satellite buses last year to Lockheed for SDA’s Tranche 0 Transport Layer program.

By Tony Bertuca
October 25, 2023 at 1:51 PM

(Editor's note: This story has been updated to include new information on a House resolution to condemn Hamas.)

Republicans, after weeks of intraparty acrimony and derailed nominees, pulled together today to elect Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) to be the next House speaker, replacing the ousted Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Johnson was elected by a vote of 220-209. House Democrats all voted against Johnson, backing Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

Johnson, a member of the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees, has released a “dear colleague” letter stating his intention to seek a stopgap continuing resolution that would extend government funding until either Jan. 15 or April 15.

“We all understand that our next Speaker must be prepared to negotiate from a position of strength with the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House. The only way to secure that position is for the House to have passed all twelve of our appropriations measures,” Johnson wrote in the letter.

The current CR under which the federal government is operating expires Nov. 17.

Meanwhile, Pentagon officials have said they need Congress to pass a full-year defense appropriations bill as soon as possible, along with President Biden’s emergency supplemental spending package so the U.S. military can address crises in Ukraine and Israel.

In a speech following his election, Johnson said his first priority would be to pass a bill intended to support Israel in its conflict against Hamas. The House later voted overwhelmingly for a resolution condemning Hamas.

By Shelley K. Mesch
October 25, 2023 at 1:45 PM

The F-35 Joint Program Office doesn't expect much of an impact to the Joint Strike Fighter fleet due to the powdered metal contamination problem found in some of supplier Pratt & Whitney's commercial engines.

On parts that could be affected in the F135 engine, inspections are being done during regularly scheduled maintenance at the depots, JPO spokesman Russ Goemaere told Inside Defense today.

“At this time, no F135 components inspected have exhibited contamination,” Goemaere said. “We have been aware of the nickel powder issue since 2021, and it is a low-risk issue for the F135 because the component will be inspected, and replaced if needed, well before the issue would potentially impact the engine.”

Pratt executives said during their third-quarter earnings call that they also do not expect the issue to affect the F-35 fleet.

Pratt disclosed the defective material problem publicly in July, though the company said it identified the issue in March 2020 when a turbine disc in a V2500 fleet engine failed.

By Georgina DiNardo
October 25, 2023 at 10:58 AM

The Defense Innovation Board will host its fall public meeting on Nov. 14 to look at the board's studies progress, according to a Federal Register notice published today.

The meeting will review and discuss information pertaining to the DIB’s mission and conducted studies, particularly highlighting two new studies on lowering barriers to innovation and building the DOD data economy.

In an Oct. 6 memo to the DIB, Deputy Defense Under Secretary for Research and Engineering David Honey tasked the board with creating a list of recommendations that fall within existing DOD authorities to combat the highest barriers to U.S. and allied partners innovation.

“The recommendations should focus on procedures that align department incentives, policies for accelerating and scaling new warfighting capabilities and practices that inspire and attract the next generation of innovators,” Honey wrote in the memo.

In an Oct. 10 memo, also from Honey, the DIB was tasked with another study, building a DOD data economy.

Honey asked the DIB to produce outcome-driven suggestions that consider the gaps and opportunities in DOD’s current data economy, including industry best practices for designing a data economy and how to help create a successful, available DOD data economy for 2025 and beyond.

In both memos, Honey gave the board 120 days to complete the studies and submit findings and recommendations. The November meeting will discuss the progress of these studies.

The DIB’s mission is to provide the department with non-governmental advice on the best ways to implement commercial sector innovation, how emerging and disruptive technologies may affect national security and how to best use human capital to speed up scale and innovation.

DIB and department officials will speak at the meeting, including Marina Theodotou, the designated federal officer, and Michael Bloomberg, DIB chair.

Members of the public and outside organizations are welcome to submit written comments and statements to the DIB ahead of time, addressing the purpose of the meeting or the DIB’s mission via email.

The comments must be received by 12 p.m. ET on Nov. 9 to have DIB consideration.

The meeting will take place online and will start at 4 p.m. ET, ending at 5 p.m.

By John Liang
October 24, 2023 at 2:07 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an industry group's lobbying for $1 billion in Defense Innovation Unit funding, a recently released Defense Science Board study on China as an information espionage threat in academia and more.

In a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations committee chairs and ranking members, the Silicon Valley Defense Group urges them "to maintain the House-passed provision which provides over $1.0 billion for the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to establish a hedge portfolio, called the Non-Traditional Innovation Fielding Enterprise (NIFE)":

Defense organizations rally together to urge lawmakers to pass DIU funding

Both the House and Senate Appropriations committees received a letter from the Silicon Valley Defense Group today urging them to keep the House-approved provision providing the Defense Innovation Unit $1 billion to establish a hedge portfolio in the fiscal year 2024 Defense Appropriations Act.

Document: Silicon Valley Defense Group letter to appropriations lawmakers on DIU funding

A new Defense Science Board report asserts "the two-part threat of being outrun by strategic competitors in the fields of advanced technology along with the counterintelligence threat is real and growing":

DSB highlights China as information espionage threat in academia

The final report of a Defense Science Board task force assigned to make recommendations to Pentagon leaders on "balancing openness and security" pertaining to academic research says China poses a "unique" threat when it comes to information espionage.

Document: DSB report on 'balancing openness and security across the DOD academic research enterprise'

Gen. James Dickinson, SPACECOM commander, spoke recently at the MilSat Symposium:

SPACECOM lays out approach to achieve triad convergence goals

A top U.S. Space Command official on Friday said to accomplish the objectives of triad convergence of conducting multi-domain and joint force mission across the conflict spectrum, the command has adopted a four-triad approach, each of which has several elements.

Looks like Boeing has a much clearer shot at getting a contract for the Air Force's KC-135 tanker recapitalization effort:

Lockheed backs out of competition for next phase of tanker recap

Lockheed Martin has dropped out of the running for the next phase of the KC-135 tanker recapitalization effort, propping up Boeing's chances to extend its KC-36 Pegasus delivery order.

Last but by no means least, here's our coverage of the Biden administration's sizable emergency spending request to aid Ukraine and Israel:

White House seeks $1.2B for laser upgrade to Iron Dome to protect Israel

The Biden administration, in its massive emergency supplemental spending request sent to Congress today, is seeking $1.2 billion to help Israel upgrade its Iron Dome defense system to the new Iron Beam, using laser technology to take the place of missile interceptors, according to a letter from the Office of Management and Budget.

White House highlights $50B for U.S. defense industry in Biden's emergency spending request

President Biden, calling for the United States to again become the "arsenal of democracy," is seeking more than $100 billion in emergency national security spending from Congress to mostly aid Ukraine and Israel, with the White House highlighting a $50 billion investment in the U.S. defense industrial base, including billions for new attack submarines.

By Thomas Duffy
October 23, 2023 at 12:43 PM

We start off today’s INSIDER Daily Digest with a look at how one contractor is reconfiguring one of the Army’s top rocket programs, a new report is telling the Army to step up its munitions production, the Space Force expects to have a new commercial strategy by the end of the year, and a new AI task force has been set up.

Lockheed believes it can give the Army more bang for its buck with one of the service artillery rockets:

Lockheed: RIG-360 demos potential for GMLRS to strike enemy ships, mobile missile launchers

The Army may soon have the option to expand the striking power of its premier surface-to-surface artillery rocket by adding a new communications device that could allow Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System munitions to hit not only pre-programmed stationary locations, as they can today, but also moving targets such as ships or mobile missile launchers.

An influential Army board is making recommendations regarding munition production:

Report urges Army to improve munitions production

The Army needs to make improvements to the nation’s munitions industrial base to “address systemic issues,” according to a report released this month by the Army Science Board.

The Space Force will unveil how it plans to incorporate the commercial space sector into its plans:

Space Force to complete commercial space strategy by the end of this year

The Space Force is expecting to complete a revised commercial space strategy by the end of this year, which will outline the specific requirements of the service and provide concrete guidance to industry, a top service official said Wednesday.

How the Defense Department will use generative AI is the focus of a new task force:

Shyu establishes new DSB task force on Generative Artificial Intelligence

The Pentagon’s chief technology officer has established a Defense Science Board task force for “balancing security, reliability, and technological advantage” related to Generative Artificial Intelligence capabilities, according to a new Defense Department memo.

By Georgina DiNardo
October 23, 2023 at 12:12 PM

Shield AI, a U.S. defense technology company, today announced a multiyear agreement with Australia-based Sentient Vision Systems, touting the teaming as aligned with Pillar 2 of the trilateral AUKUS agreement and focused on real-time situational awareness enabled by artificial intelligence.

“The supply contract is a multi-year, multi-units’ agreement, with first deliveries planned for 2024,” Sentient’s CEO Mark Palmer said in a joint statement from the companies.

The companies previously announced their partnership in working to develop a “ViDAR-enabled, wide-area-search capability into Shield AI’s V-BAT unmanned aircraft.”

Sentient developed ViDAR, an AI system that uses Electro-Optic or Infrared sensor to identify and classify targets invisible to the human eye or a conventional radar in the imagery stream.

The partnership hopes ViDAR will enhance V-BAT’s capabilities, allowing the unmanned system to identify, follow and read-and-react to targets during dynamic missions.

The companies said they intend to create the most advanced AI-piloted sensor package in the world by teaming up to combine Sentient’s ViDAR and Shield AI’s Hivemind.

“Our partnership with Sentient Vision marks a major advancement in AI-driven situational awareness,” said Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s president and co-founder. “Integrating ViDAR with our V-BAT platform showcases our dedication to giving allied warfighters the best AI tools so they can achieve a clear strategic edge.”

The announcement occurs days before House lawmakers are set to hear Defense Department and Navy officials speak about their ability to deliver on the AUKUS security partnership.

The companies said their partnership is aligned the goals of AUKUS Pillar 2, which focuses on developing, sharing and fielding advanced technology capabilities between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.

“The confirmation of our long-term relationship absolutely reflects the AI technology workstream that is underlined in the AUKUS Pillar 2,” Palmer said. “Innovation stemmed from our computer vision AI-enabled ViDAR and Shield AI’s Hivemind will provide commanders with immediate situational awareness and survivability of our warfighters.”

By Tony Bertuca
October 23, 2023 at 5:00 AM

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


The Atlantic Council hosts a discussion with Pentagon officials on the latest China Military Power Report.

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on the final report of the U.S. Strategic Posture Commission.


The Brookings Institute hosts a discussion on implementing the 2022 National Defense Strategy.


The annual ComDef conference is held in Arlington, VA, featuring senior Pentagon officials.

The House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee holds a hearing on the submarine industrial base to support the AUKUS deal.


Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith speaks at the 2023 Military Reporters and Editors Conference in Washington.