The Insider

By Tony Bertuca
February 1, 2023 at 5:29 PM

Democrats and Republicans today announced the members who will serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The committee will continue to be chaired by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), while Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) will succeed retired Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) as ranking member. 

Democrats named to the committee include:

• Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH)

• Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)

• Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT)

• Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI)

• Sen. Tim Kaine (VA)

• Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA)

• Sen. Gary Peters (MI)

• Senator Joe Manchin (WV)

• Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL)

• Sen. Jacky Rosen (NV)

• Sen. Mark Kelly (AZ)

Sen. Angus King (I-ME), an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, will also serve on the committee.

Republicans named to the committee include:

• Sen. Deb Fischer (NE)

• Sen. Tom Cotton (AR)

• Sen. Mike Rounds (SD)

• Sen. Joni Ernst (IA)

• Sen. Dan Sullivan (AK)

• Sen. Kevin Cramer (ND)

• Sen. Rick Scott (FL)

• Sen. Tommy Tuberville (AL)

• Sen. Markwayne Mullin (OK)

• Sen. Ted Budd (NC)

• Sen. Eric Schmitt (MO)

Reed said in a statement he looks forward to working with Wicker on the annual defense authorization bill.

“Together with our colleagues on the Committee, we will continue our bipartisan traditions of rigorous oversight of the Department of Defense and working together to pass a strong National Defense Authorization Act,” Reed said.

Wicker said he would work to uphold the committee’s tradition of bipartisanship.

“During the most dangerous time since the Cold War, it is crucial to work as partners to enhance deterrence and counter our adversaries for the long haul,” he said.

Reed, meanwhile, promised an “ambitious schedule of hearings” that will help the committee work to “match resources with strategic objectives while providing our forces with an enduring advantage, now and in the future.”

Subcommittee leaders and rosters will be announced in the near future when the full committee organizes.

By John Liang
February 1, 2023 at 2:34 PM

This INSIDER Daily Digest for the first day of February has news on several lawmakers' opposition to the Pentagon practice of submitting unfunded priorities lists to Congress plus a fair amount of Navy coverage.

Six House and Senate lawmakers are calling on the Defense Department "to rein in DOD's use of wasteful 'unfunded priorities' lists that help DOD increase spending beyond its core priorities":

Lawmakers ask Austin to 'curtail' post-budget 'gamesmanship' in unfunded priorities lists

A bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House and Senate, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), is asking Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to "curtail" the Pentagon’s practice of sending Congress billions of dollars in "unfunded priorities lists" not included in the president's initial budget submission.

Document: Lawmakers' letter to DOD on unfunded priorities

On to Navy shipbuilding and maintenance news:

GAO: Navy faces growing sustainment challenges for surface ships

For several of the Navy’s key ship classes, steaming hours are falling while maintenance problems and costs are growing, according to government auditors, who say the Navy has not fully implemented many prior recommendations to improve ship sustainment.

Document: GAO report on Navy ship sustainment

Navy officials highlight labor shortages, other key challenges for submarine production and maintenance

The hiring and retention of a skilled industrial workforce is a top strategic challenge across both the public and private sectors in the delivery and fielding of submarines and surface ships, according to Navy officials who discussed efforts to fortify the industrial base.

. . . followed by some Navy unmanned systems news:

Navy plans inaugural industry day for unmanned and surface combatants under FY-23 law

The Navy program executive office for unmanned and surface combatants plans a three-day series of briefings for industry to outline the current state of projects and new opportunities for companies in a portfolio that is expected to grow in coming years.

In case you missed it, Oshkosh executives discussed the company's quarterly earnings yesterday:

Oshkosh reports sales growth in fourth quarter, lower profits for 2022 overall

Oshkosh reported sales growth in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year, but profits for the year were lower due to continuing supply chain issues, company executives said during an earnings call Tuesday.

By Tony Bertuca
January 31, 2023 at 5:15 PM

Republicans and Democrats have now announced membership rosters for the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), the full committee chairwoman, released a list of Republicans on Friday, including Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), who will chair the panel.

GOP members include:

- Rep. Hal Rogers (KY)

- Rep. Tom Cole (OK)

- Rep. Steve Womack (AR)

- Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL)

- Rep. John Carter (TX)

- Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL)

- Rep. Dave Joyce (OH)

- Rep. Chris Stewart (UT)

- Rep. Mike Garcia (CA)

Meanwhile, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the committee’s ranking member, announced the Democratic roster today, including Rep. Bette McCollum (D-MN), who will serve as the defense appropriations panel’s ranking member.

Democratic members include:

- Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD)

- Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH)

- Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX)

- Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA)

- Rep. Pete Aguilar (CA)

- Rep. Ed Case (HI)

By John Liang
January 31, 2023 at 4:53 PM

Mercury Systems announced today that Michael Ruppert, the company's executive vice president and chief financial officer and treasurer, will step down effective Feb. 17.

Ruppert is stepping down "to accept an opportunity at a private company," a Mercury statement reads.

Michelle McCarthy, the company's chief accounting officer, will serve as Mercury's interim CFO, according to the statement.

The Mercury statement emphasized that Ruppert's departure "is not related to any issues or disagreements regarding the company's financial statement disclosures or accounting policies or practices."

The company has initiated a search process, with the assistance of an executive search firm, to identify a permanent successor, according to the statement.

McCarthy joined Mercury in 2018 with responsibilities spanning financial reporting, accounting, and tax operations. She previously worked for companies like Analog Devices and Ernst & Young.

Nelson Erickson, senior vice president for strategy and corporate development, "will assume additional responsibility for the Investor Relations function," Mercury said.

By Tony Bertuca
January 31, 2023 at 3:44 PM

The White House Office of Management and Budget said today that the Biden administration intends to submit its fiscal year 2024 budget proposal on March 9.

The date was included in a White House memo distributed to the media in advance of a Wednesday meeting between Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

The FY-23 defense topline was set at $858 billion, or $45 billion more than Biden initially requested. Many Republicans have called to continue the surge in defense funding but there is debate among some in the GOP who want to slash government spending.

Meanwhile, Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord told Inside Defense in a December interview that investments in munitions, especially those that will help Ukraine continue to beat back a Russian invasion and could help Taiwan deter China, will be one of the “key themes” for the FY-24 budget submission.

By Audrey Decker
January 31, 2023 at 2:59 PM

As the Pentagon searches for emerging technologies to keep pace with its adversaries, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has partnered with three companies to scale quantum computing at a speed beyond previous predictions.

Atom Computing, Microsoft and PsiQuantum have been selected to explore new approaches to designing quantum computers, according to an agency announcement today.

Envisioned as a five-year program with four phases, DARPA’s “Underexplored Systems for Utility-Scale Quantum Computing” effort seeks to discover if a new approach could scale quantum computers faster than initial forecasts.

“Experts disagree on whether a utility-scale quantum computer based on conventional designs is still decades away or could be achieved much sooner,” said Joe Altepeter, DARPA’s US2QC program manager.

“We put out a call last year saying that if anyone thought they had a truly revolutionary approach to building a useful quantum computer in the near future -- less than 10 years -- we wanted to hear from them,” Altepeter said in a statement.

For the initial phase, the three companies will present design concepts for building a utility-scale quantum computer. After which, a DARPA-led team will test and evaluate the concepts.

Quantum computing is a Pentagon-wide priority, as Defense Department technology chief Heidi Shyu has noted it as one of her top priorities for the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve, which seeks to fill capability gaps by investing in projects that have applicability across the joint force.

By John Liang
January 31, 2023 at 2:02 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Oshkosh's quarterly earnings, a nascent Defense Management Institute and more.

Oshkosh had its quarterly earnings call this morning:

Oshkosh reports sales growth in fourth quarter, lower profits for 2022 overall

Oshkosh reported sales growth in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year, but profits for the year were lower due to continuing supply chain issues, company executives said during an earnings call Tuesday.

The newly formed Defense Management Institute will work directly with the office of the Defense Department’s top performance improvement officer, Michael Donley, who serves as director of administration and management:

DOD establishes new Defense Management Institute to work reform agenda

The Pentagon, in coordination with the Institute for Defense Analyses, has established a new Defense Management Institute to be an "independent research entity" to help reform the department's business operations.

Document: DOD memo on defense management institute

The Army is asking for the private sector's input on providing Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems:

Army plans to add unmanned aircraft component to Long Range Reconnaissance system

The Army is drafting an updated requirement for an unmanned Long Range Reconnaissance system and could field developmental test systems of the aircraft in two years, according to a new request for information.

Document: Army RFI for unmanned aircraft component to LRR system

A hypersonic missile test flight was recently conducted over California:

Lockheed completes second HAWC flight; too late to influence AF cruise missile competition

Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne -- along with two government partners -- executed a second flight test of the Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept, demonstrating technology with potential application for a next-generation, ultra-fast cruise missile and a key objective for the advanced component development effort.

An Air Force general's memo predicting a war with China in 2025 has come under criticism:

Pentagon leadership distances from Minihan memo predicting war in 2025

Pentagon top brass are distancing themselves from a provocative memo issued by Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, that predicted war with China would come to pass in 2025.

By Audrey Decker
January 31, 2023 at 10:08 AM

In partnership with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon's chief digital and artificial intelligence officer has relaunched a series of experiments to improve access to data across the force.

Tasked with reintroducing the Global Information Dominance Experiments, or GIDE, CDAO will host four iterations of the experiment throughout 2023, according to a Jan. 30 press release.

The fifth iteration of GIDE, and the first of the relaunch, began Monday and will conclude Thursday with “participants at the Pentagon, multiple combatant commands and duty stations around the world.”

“The experiments are designed to inform Joint All-Domain Command and Control solutions related to joint data integration and the use of [artificial intelligence] and machine learning technology,” the department said.

Led by Craig Martell, formerly the head of machine learning for rideshare company Lyft, CDAO was stood up to consolidate various data integration and AI efforts across the department and reached full operating capability last June.

In a statement, Martell said the goal of these experiments is to identify where there are barriers to sharing data across the joint force and demonstrate how data and AI can help the force across a variety of mission sets.

By John Liang
January 31, 2023 at 9:38 AM

Mission assurance and cybersecurity company RMC has appointed retired Navy Adm. James Foggo as the new chairman of the company's board of directors.

Foggo has been on the RMC board since 2021.

The former admiral was head of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa as well as the U.S. Sixth Fleet. He is currently the dean of the Navy League's Center for Maritime Strategy and a distinguished fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis and the Council on Competitiveness.

By John Liang
January 30, 2023 at 1:17 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an upcoming Defense Science Board study on climate change, the multibillion-dollar Common Tactical Truck program, Army cruise missile defense and more.

The Defense Science Board will begin a new study on climate change next month:

Shyu launches DSB study to investigate 'new dimensions' of conflict driven by climate change

As the Pentagon expects climate change to "further intensify tensions" between countries, the Defense Science Board will begin a study this summer to investigate climate's impact on national security and assess the new systems and technology needed for the U.S. military's near- and far-term needs.

Document: DSB terms of reference memo for climate change study

The Army has announced prototype contracts for its multibillion-dollar Common Tactical Truck program:

Army announces $24M in prototype awards to four bidders for Common Tactical Truck

The Army has awarded prototype contracts totaling more than $24 million to four bidders for the multibillion-dollar Common Tactical Truck program, the service announced Friday.

On Jan. 12, the office of the Army’s project manager for Short and Intermediate Effectors for Layered Defense (SHIELD) in the program executive office for missiles and space published a notice asking industry for feedback on a new interceptor in addition to the guided missile selected as part of the original program -- the Raytheon Technologies-built AIM-9X:

Army eyes new interceptor to counter supersonic cruise missiles, large-caliber rockets

The Army is looking to add a second interceptor to its still-in-development, next-generation cruise missile defense system, seeking a guided-missile to counter supersonic air-breathing threats as well as large-caliber rockets and setting the stage for a likely new round of competition for the Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 program.

The latest cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

CMMC accreditation body publishes stakeholder input from initial assessment process guide

The accreditation body behind the Pentagon's cyber certification program has published a detailed spreadsheet outlining comments from stakeholders on the group's first assessment process guide.

L3Harris Technologies executives talked about the company's quarterly earnings on Friday:

L3Harris CEO says hypersonics could be 'crown jewel' of Aerojet Rocketdyne acquisition

L3Harris Technologies' proposed acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne is a way to branch into the missiles market, L3Harris CEO Chris Kubasik said Friday, adding that hypersonic missile technology could be the "crown jewel" of the acquisition.

By Shelley K. Mesch
January 30, 2023 at 1:05 PM

The Air Force is looking at using artificial intelligence-based surveillance systems to monitor other country nationals at a U.S. Central Command base, which could significantly cut back on the number of uniformed personnel needed for force protection, according to a request for information posted Friday.

OCNs at Al Udeid Air Force Base, Qatar, and other CENTCOM locations are monitored by Force Protection personnel, but the service believes it could reduce those in-person monitoring hours by up to 75% with the use of AI monitoring, according to the post.

The round-the-clock surveillance network would include cameras covering the entire site, digital twins, geospatial tracking, automated alerts, enhanced-monitoring zones and other AI capabilities, the post states. It would also integrate automation “to address safety and/or security concerns,” according to the post.

The Air Force is also looking to integrate artificial intelligence into other systems, including the Advance Battle Management System and predictive maintenance technologies at Air Force Global Strike Command.

The Defense Department last week released an update to its autonomous weapon systems policy, which sets parameters around military applications for AI.

By Dan Schere
January 30, 2023 at 11:37 AM

Australia will purchase 40 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters as a result of a $656.8 million contract modification awarded to Sikorsky. The Army announced the award on Jan. 26.

In June 2022, Sikorsky, owned by Lockheed Martin, inked a $2.3 billion contract to provide the Army, other government agencies and foreign militaries with 120 Black Hawks through 2027. That contract included options for 135 additional aircraft, which would bring the total contract cost to $4.4 billion.

The contract for the Black Hawks being sent to Australia is part of the MYX contract awarded last year, according to Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Britt Rabinovici.

“On 26 Jan a contract was awarded with Sikorsky to exercise an option for 40 additional UH-60Ms off the current MYX contract to support an Australia Foreign Military Sales case,” she wrote in an email to Inside Defense.

Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo said in a statement that the UH-60M “provides the Australian Army with critical capabilities that will strengthen Australia’s readiness, interoperability and security for decades to come.”

Warren McDonald, chief executive of Lockheed Martin Australia, noted in a statement that Sikorsky Australia has been sustaining the Australian Defence Force’s Black Hawk and Seahawk helicopter fleets for more than 30 years.

“The addition of the UH-60M to the ADF fleet will generate positive economic opportunities for Australian Defence Industry across jobs creation, global supply chains and sovereign partnerships with regional small to medium enterprises,” he said.

By Michael Marrow
January 30, 2023 at 10:22 AM

Boeing will receive $2.25 billion to build the next lot of KC-46 tankers, according to an award announcement posted by the Air Force on Jan. 27.

The service ordered a total of 15 aircraft for production lot 9, with work expected to be completed Aug. 31, 2026, the announcement says.

The lot 9 award comes about five months after the lot 8 contract, which similarly ordered 15 new tankers. According to the Air Force’s fiscal year 2023 budget request, the service planned to order 15 tankers in FY-23, with lawmakers providing approximately $2.49 billion in funding.

The KC-46 contract struck in 2011 included options for 179 tankers, with the final order expected in FY-27. According to a Boeing press release, the company has delivered 68 KC-46s to date including two for the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force. Israel has additionally ordered four of the tankers.

The KC-46’s fixed-price contract has saddled Boeing with billions in losses primarily due to issues with the aircraft’s Remote Vision System, whose fix is now expected in October 2025. A series of new issues with the aircraft’s cargo loading were also recently identified in a recent report published by the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester.

The issues raised a Category I deficiency that was later downgraded to Category II in November 2022, according to a report in Air & Space Forces Magazine.

Air Force officials are weighing whether to keep buying the aircraft for the service’s KC-Y bridge tanker effort or hold a competition to consider buying the KC-46’s competitor, the A330 derivative LMXT manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

A decision on the KC-Y program is expected around the time the Air Force unveils its FY-24 budget request this spring.

By John Liang
January 30, 2023 at 10:16 AM

Northrop Grumman has hired Stephen O'Bryan to be corporate vice president and global business development officer, the company announced today.

O'Bryan will "be responsible for leading the business development organization and enabling the company's international growth strategy," according to a Northrop statement. He will succeed David Perry, who has announced his intent to retire effective March 31.

Perry will continue as corporate vice president to support the transition until his retirement, Northrop said.

Prior to Northrop Grumman, O'Bryan worked at the Boston Consulting Group and from 2018 to 2019 he was senior vice president and chief global business development officer for L3Harris Technologies. Before that he worked for Lockheed Martin from 2004 to 2018. O'Bryan is also a former Navy F/A-18 pilot.

By John Liang
January 30, 2023 at 9:55 AM

HII has hired Eric Chewning to be executive vice president for strategy and development, the company announced today.

Chewning is a former chief of staff to the defense secretary and deputy assistant secretary for industrial policy.

In his role, Chewning "will guide HII's corporate strategy, including identifying new opportunities for growth, cross-division collaboration and potential investment," according to a company statement.

Before joining HII, Chewning was the Americas co-lead for the aerospace and defense practice at McKinsey & Company. He joined the Army after the September 11 attacks and prior to that was an investment banker at Morgan Stanley.