The Insider

By John Liang
February 23, 2024 at 1:42 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on autonomous aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region, the Army's cancellation of a multibillion-dollar helicopter program, the Navy's MQ-95 Stingray effort and more.

Autonomous aircraft operator Xwing wants to be included in the Air Force's first large-scale multicombatant command exercise scheduled to take place in the Indo-Pacific in 2025:

Xwing eyes exercises in Indo-Pacific to demonstrate autonomous capability

After receiving approval to perform critical cargo missions for the Air Force, autonomous aircraft operator Xwing said their "phones started ringing" from other "partners in the military" interested in working with the company, including Pacific Air Forces.

Inside Defense recently interviewed the top Republican on the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee about the Army's termination of a multibillion-dollar helicopter program:

Wittman believes hearing on Army aviation restructure will help bring clarity

House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman (R-VA) still has unanswered questions about the Army's announcement earlier this month that it would be canceling the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program, as part of a reorganization of the service's aviation portfolio.

Due to contractor design, production and testing delays, the MQ-25 Stingray program in June 2023 extended its engineering and manufacturing development phase by 24 months "to ensure system currency":

MQ-25 reprogramming hung up by continuing resolution

The Navy's MQ-25 Stingray uncrewed aircraft system program has been slowed awaiting congressional approval of a reprogramming request, from which money will go toward remedying obsolescence issues tied to the MQ-25's design.

The Pentagon's No. 2 civilian spoke this week at the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office's three-day symposium on defense data and AI:

Hicks stresses 'speed and safety' to integrate AI into military operations

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks stressed "speed and safety" to an audience of tech and defense industry officials as core elements of the Pentagon's strategy for integrating artificial intelligence into its operations, with the goal of upgrading the military's threat assessments and outmaneuvering adversaries.

Yet another military organization is sounding the alarm over the potential damage a full-year continuing resolution would have on defense programs:

AFRL warns of 'broad departmental effects' without FY-24 appropriations bill

DENVER -- The Air Force Research Laboratory is poised to play a major role in the Air Force's massive reorganization plan to outpace China, but a full-year continuing resolution for fiscal year 2024 may derail such efforts, according to service leaders at the Air and Space Forces Association's Warfare Symposium.

By Nickolai Sukharev
February 22, 2024 at 5:04 PM

The Army is asking industry for feedback to develop a hybrid-electric version of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, according to a public notice.

“The HEV is envisioned to be a new propulsion system design for light vehicle platforms,” the Feb. 22 announcement reads.

Though the performance requirements are classified, the JLTV joint program office will use the effort “to support potential future light tactical vehicle procurements.”

“While HEV technology is prevalent in the commercial market, its application in a military setting is far less common,” the announcement adds. “The draft technical performance requirements developed convey the unique military use cases, duty cycles and performance to meet the anticipated operational needs.”

The solicitation also asks respondents to estimate the cost of replacing existing propulsion systems with the hybrid-electric system.

Oshkosh, which currently produces the JLTV for the Army, also produces an electric variant with silent drive, silent watch, enhanced fuel economy and increased exportable power, according to the company’s website.

In November 2023, the Army issued a solicitation for a hybrid-electric M1126 Stryker infantry carrier vehicle.

Slated to replace a portion of the Army’s humvees, the non-hybrid JLTV is a family of four-wheel-drive vehicles designed to transport personnel and payloads during military operations.

Variants include a general-purpose vehicle, heavy gun carrier, utility/shelter carrier and close combat weapons carrier.

To reduce fuel consumption and minimize engine noise, the non-hybrid JLTV will also feature lithium-ion batteries.

In June 2023, the Government Accountability Office denied Oshkosh’s protest of the Army’s decision to award the next production phase of the JLTV to AM General.

The Army is slated to procure 2,601 JLTVs in fiscal year 2024, according to budget documents.

The Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force will also procure smaller portions of JLTVs.

By Georgina DiNardo
February 22, 2024 at 2:29 PM

The Defense Department's Large Scale Global Exercise 2024 begins this month with goals of strengthening allied interoperability through demonstrations of joint military cooperation across branches and nations.

LSGE 24 will be the third time the global series has run, which aims to showcase “all-domain military exercises alongside allies and partners around the globe,” according to a U.S. European Command Public Affairs statement released today.

This year’s exercise will be run by EUCOM, with help from DOD combatant commands that are participating, including the incorporation of personnel from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Space Force.

“Our commitment to peace and security not only here in Europe, but throughout the world, is unwavering,” Deputy EUCOM Commander Lt. Gen. Steven Basham said in the release. “Large Scale Global Exercise 24 is another opportunity to showcase our commitment and resolve, while demonstrating our readiness to respond to any security challenge.”

LSGE 24 aims to highlight interoperability and bolster agility between allies and partners through a series of exercises, the release noted.

“The LSGE 24 series will incorporate nearly 30 wide-ranging exercises and military activities with discrete objectives,” the release said. “Collectively, these activities will highlight America’s robust presence and capabilities alongside Allies, partners and fellow U.S. combatant commands.”

Eleven events associated with LSGE 24 are set to occur in the EUCOM area of responsibility. These events will include “Allied Spirit, Trojan Footprint, two iterations of Bomber Task Force, Nordic Response, Arctic Shock, Saber Strike, Immediate Response, Swift Response, Astral Knight and BALTOPS.”

The other events will be led by combatant commands with help from allied nations.

The exercise begins this month but will run until its conclusion in June.

By John Liang
February 22, 2024 at 2:14 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force Research Laboratory warning of the effects of a potential full-year continuing resolution plus coverage of a pair of Defense Department inspector general reports on U.S. military aid to Ukraine and more.

Yet another military organization is sounding the alarm over the potential damage a full-year continuing resolution would have on defense programs:

AFRL warns of 'broad departmental effects' without FY-24 appropriations bill

DENVER -- The Air Force Research Laboratory is poised to play a major role in the Air Force's massive reorganization plan to outpace China, but a full-year continuing resolution for fiscal year 2024 may derail such efforts, according to service leaders at the Air and Space Forces Association's Warfare Symposium.

The Defense Department's inspector general has raised issues with the sustainment of U.S. military equipment sent to Ukraine:

IG: Pentagon lacked plan to sustain weapons sent to Ukraine

The Defense Department did not develop or implement a plan to sustain the combat vehicles and air defense systems provided to Ukraine as military aid beyond 2024, according to the Pentagon's inspector general.

Document: DOD IG report on sustainment plan for combat vehicles transferred to Ukraine

Document: DOD IG report on sustainment strategies for Patriot systems transferred to Ukraine

From Ukraine, we turn to a U.S.-Indian defense innovation cooperation initiative:

INDUS-X summit announces winners and launches new challenges

The second India-U.S. Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) Summit today announced the winners of the first set of INDUS-X joint challenges, launched new challenges, and discussed bolstering defense supply chain initiatives through new consortiums and co-producing military capabilities.

A Microelectronics Commons initiative is underway to bolster the U.S. microchip industrial base through prototyping, manufacturing and producing at scale:

DOD seeks solutions for quicker microelectronics prototypes

A Defense Department contractor focused on microelectronics acquisition released a request for solutions today seeking state-of-the-art microelectronics prototype devices from industry to convert into military systems.

Document: S2MARTS request for solutions for microelectronics prototypes

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

Pentagon presses ahead with CMMC rulemaking deadline after release of 'informational' video

The Defense Department is limiting its engagement plans to an "informational" video for the first rulemaking under the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program in advance of the Feb. 26 comment deadline, according to a Federal Register notice published this week.

By Georgina DiNardo
February 22, 2024 at 11:32 AM

The Defense Innovation Unit director is set to speak at the South by Southwest 2024 conference in Austin, TX, held March 8-10, discussing technology projects with industry executives and national security innovation leaders.

“Our presence in key technology ecosystems like Austin helps us identify the best technology and talent for national security,” DIU Director Doug Beck said in a press release announcing his participation in the high-profile event.

SXSW is a wide-ranging conference and festival that focuses on an array of subjects, including technology, film, music and culture. Beck will speak on two panels at the conference portion focused on technology.

The discussion will include talk about “defense priorities and trending technologies that can help solve national and global security challenges” from a variety of individuals from industry, private capital, technology experts and senior leaders, DIU said in the release.

“Events are aimed at helping cultivate and propel the defense innovation ecosystem with allies and partners by creating an uncommon opportunity to converge in the same place, at the same time and with a shared purpose,” DIU said.

A new Capital Factory joint innovation space will be launched at the conference, including a ribbon-cutting event, with Beck set to speak at the launch on March 9.

“The joint workspace will enable innovation-focused entities to connect and collaborate support of the DIU mission to rapidly deliver capabilities to maximize strategic impact,” DIU said.

On March 10, Beck will be on a panel called “Secret Squirrel: The Future of Defense and Intelligence” with John Beiler, director of science and technology in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, discussing the “transformative role” technology plays in defense and intelligence.

“They [will] explore the evolving landscape of national defense and intelligence in the age of rapid technological advancement,” the release said. “This session offers a deep dive into new initiatives with insights into how the DIU and the ODNI are collaborating with tech innovators and startups to embrace innovative technologies.”

Beck will join a second panel that same day, called “Greatest Innovator in the History of the World,” that also includes Stefanie Tompkins, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, that aims to spread awareness of the impact defense innovation has on society.

By Nick Wilson
February 21, 2024 at 5:19 PM

Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) today signaled his opposition to a possible move by the Navy to reduce Virginia-class submarine procurement to only one vessel in fiscal year 2025.

“Attack submarines are the crown jewels of the U.S. military and critical to deterring China. Slashing production weakens American power. We cannot afford to shortchange our deterrent during this dangerous moment,” Wicker said in a statement. “I urge the administration to reverse course on this harmful decision.”

This announcement from Wicker follows a report by USNI News indicating the Navy will seek fewer Virginia boats in its upcoming FY-25 budget request.

In a statement shared with Inside Defense, a Navy spokesperson said all FY-25 procurement information is still pre-decisional. The service plans to release its official budget request on March 11.

With workforce and supply chain challenges plaguing the submarine industrial base, shipbuilders are currently producing between 1.2 and 1.4 Virginia submarines per year compared to the Navy’s target rate of two vessels. In September, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti said the Navy aims to build at least 1.5 Virginia submarines per year by the end of 2024.

On top of domestic demand for the boats, the AUKUS security partnership will require the United States to transfer at least three of the vessels to Australia in the early 2030s. This increased demand will require industry to further increase production to at least 2.33 Virginia submarines annually, according to Wicker’s release.

By Abby Shepherd
February 21, 2024 at 3:27 PM

Following the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System’s reliability challenges on the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), HII’s Newport News shipbuilding division announced Wednesday it successfully began topside testing the launch system on the John F. Kennedy (CVN-79).

“As we make sustained progress in the construction, testing and turnover of John F. Kennedy, reaching the dead load testing phase is a visual demonstration of how far we’ve come,” vice president of the CVN-79 new construction aircraft carrier program Lucas Hicks said in a statement.

In dead load testing, structures weighing up to 80,000 pounds -- meant to simulate aircraft weight -- are launched off the carrier’s bow.

“The first dead-load launch off the flight deck is a historic moment for [pre-commissioning unit] John F. Kennedy, and a testament to the power of great teamwork between our JFK crew, HII team, and [Naval Air Systems Command] engineers,” CVN-79 commanding officer Capt. Colin Day said in a statement. “I’m particularly proud of our Air Department and the hard-working Aviation Boatswain Mates who worked tirelessly alongside the engineering and testing teams to get us to this critical moment.”

Meanwhile, CVN-78 encountered problems with EMALS reliability in the past year, as noted in this month’s director of operational test and evaluation report.

Despite upgrades to hardware and software, “reliability has not appreciably changed from prior years,” according to the report. To help, NAVAIR implemented a software update and upgraded sensors before CVN-78 was deployed.

Additionally, DOT&E noted that delivery of CVN-79 is scheduled for late fiscal year 2025 -- previously meant for FY-24. The delay is due to the Navy “moving some work from CVN-79’s post-delivery Post Shakedown Availability to before delivery, to mitigate schedule risk to its first deployment,” the report said.

By John Liang
February 21, 2024 at 2:08 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the precarious state of U.S. weapons funding for Ukraine, an undisclosed Patriot intercept test and more.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh this week said DOD is not considering providing additional weapons to Ukraine via presidential drawdown authority until Congress authorizes a supplemental security spending package:

DOD won't risk supplying Ukraine without replenishment funds from Congress

The Defense Department has $4 billion in remaining spending authority it could tap to send additional weapons to Ukraine but assesses that the risk of doing so to be too great as Congress has thus far failed to appropriate money that would be needed to replenish U.S. stocks.

The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, in an annual report to Congress and the defense secretary last month, revealed the results of a developmental test of a major Patriot software upgrade called Post Development Build 8.1:

Patriot shoots down electronic-jamming aircraft target in test of major software upgrade

The Defense Department has improved the Patriot lower-tier air and missile shield, boosting the system's ability to search, discriminate and destroy tactical ballistic missiles as well as demonstrating a new capability to fend off electronic attack while hunting down enemy threats.

Keep an eye out for a Defense Business Board meeting taking place later this month:

Upcoming DBB meeting to provide updates on digital ecosystem study

The Defense Business Board will hold a meeting Feb. 29 to hear updates from its business transformation advisory subcommittee on a study pertaining to leveraging digital ecosystems, according to a notice published in the Federal Register.

Navy officials are sounding the alarm over the negative effects a full-year continuing resolution could have on the service's budget and programs:

Extended CR could affect contracting for several Navy missiles

Congress' inability to pass a fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill may have a major effect on the Navy’s plans to contract for the production of several missile programs, with current funding set to expire March 8.

In a recent terms of reference memo, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu calls on the Defense Science Board to "conduct a study to consider the topic of commercial provision of navigation signals for operational use":

DSB study sought on military use for commercial navigation signals

Pentagon technology chief Heidi Shyu has tasked the Defense Science Board's Permanent Subcommittee on Strategic Options with running a study that would evaluate the use of commercial navigation signals for potential military operations.

Document: DSB memo on using commercial navigation systems for military use

By Tony Bertuca
February 21, 2024 at 11:33 AM

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie plans to retire at the end of the month, according to a Pentagon statement.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called Moultrie a “a key member of the department's senior leadership team.”

“He has shown a far-sighted approach to complex intelligence issues, built a rapport with domestic and international intelligence leaders, and established stewardship of our Defense Intelligence and Security Enterprise,” Austin said. “His achievements include the designation of the under secretary of defense for intelligence and security as the principal staff assistant for law enforcement; advancing the department's ability to provide insights into adversary capabilities via the Foreign Language Roadmap; and initiating a landmark review of the department's credibility assessment program that supports criminal investigations and the process of adjudicating security clearances.”

Moultrie was confirmed in May 2021. Prior to serving as DOD’s intelligence chief, he worked as president and CEO of Oceanus Security Strategies and previously served as the National Security Agency's director of operations.

By Georgina DiNardo
February 21, 2024 at 10:59 AM

The Defense Innovation Board will hold a public meeting on March 5 to hear from defense entrepreneurship experts in preparation for the panel's upcoming spring meeting.

“The objective of this DIB meeting is to gather information from guest speakers and discuss relevant issues related to its current research in preparation for the upcoming Spring 2024 Public Meeting,” a notice published in the Federal Register today said.

The DIB is scheduled to meet with members of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum Board to “gather information and discuss specific issues regarding talent management, partnerships and collaboration, responsible [artificial intelligence], internal barriers, risk taking and tech adoption in preparation for the DIB's upcoming Spring 2024 Public Meeting scheduled on April 17, 2024, to ensure proposed recommendations are practical and actionable to drive and scale innovation across the DOD,” the notice said.

The agenda for the spring meeting has not yet been released, although if the DIB’s pattern of releasing study information continues, an update on the two studies announced at the winter public meeting could be expected.

At the DIB’s winter public meeting, the board announced two new studies about optimizing innovation among allies and aligning incentives for faster technology adoption and acquisition.

DIB Chair Mike Bloomberg said at the winter meeting that insight into those studies will be provided in the “coming months.”

By Nick Wilson
February 20, 2024 at 2:31 PM

The Marine Corps will award two separate contracts to Textron Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems for the design and construction of a new Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle prototype outfitted with a 30mm medium-caliber autocannon.

According to government notices posted last week by Army Contracting Command on behalf of the Marine Corps’ Program Manager for Light Armored Vehicles, Textron and General Dynamics will each be contracted to build their own ARV-30 prototypes, with options to also produce system integration laboratories for the new vehicles.

Though the notices provide few additional details on the upcoming award, a November 2023 sources-sought notice indicated each contract would be worth up to $17.5 million.

The two companies delivered initial ARV prototypes -- designed to provide command, control, communications and computer/uncrewed aerial systems capabilities -- in early fiscal year 2023.

After a year testing these C4UAS prototypes, the Marine Corps is looking to procure the ARV-30 variant for additional testing before launching the program’s engineering and manufacturing development phase. Last month, a General Dynamics executive told Inside Defense that the company had already started designing its ARV-30 prototype.

The service plans to procure a family of six ARV mission-role variants to replace the legacy Amphibious Assault Vehicle as the primary platform supporting the new mobile reconnaissance battalions.

Earlier this month, the Marine Corps announced it would postpone an ARV industry day, first scheduled for Feb. 29, to an undisclosed date later in FY-24 to further refine program requirements. At the industry day, the Marine Corps is expected to provide information on the upcoming EMD phase.

The service anticipates releasing a request for proposals in the second quarter of FY-25 and awarding an EMD contract in the second quarter of FY-26. FY-24 budget documents request $63.6 million in continuing research and development funding for the program and project procurement to begin in FY-28.

By John Liang
February 20, 2024 at 2:05 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Navy officials sounding the alarm over the effect a full-year continuing resolution could have on the service, plus an upcoming Defense Science Board report and more.

Navy officials are sounding the alarm over the negative effects a full-year continuing resolution could have on the service's budget and programs:

Extended CR could affect contracting for several Navy missiles

Congress' inability to pass a fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill may have a major effect on the Navy’s plans to contract for the production of several missile programs, with current funding set to expire March 8.

'Completely misaligned': Navy officials sound alarm on budgetary dysfunction

SAN DIEGO -- With the release of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2025 budget request only weeks away and no FY-24 appropriations in sight, senior Navy officials this week raised the alarm on the consequences of budgetary dysfunction and the possibility that it could stretch to a full year, citing serious funding misalignments and impaired military readiness.

The Defense Science Board will be conducting a study into using commercial navigation signals in military operations:

DSB study sought on military use for commercial navigation signals

Pentagon technology chief Heidi Shyu has tasked the Defense Science Board's Permanent Subcommittee on Strategic Options with running a study that would evaluate the use of commercial navigation signals for potential military operations.

More coverage of last week's Air and Space Forces Association's Warfare Symposium in Colorado:

Air Force fields 16 'basic building blocks' of its JADC2 effort

DENVER -- The Air Force has fielded 16 deployable computer hardware systems that are a key enabler of the Department of the Air Force Battle Network vision, according to the integrating program executive officer.

Air Force to host first multicombatant command exercise in Indo-Pacific in 2025

DENVER -- Key to the Air Force's massive reoptimization plan to ensure readiness and prepare for future conflict is conducting large-scale and complicated exercises, senior Air Force officials said throughout the Air and Space Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium here.

The latest on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

DOD officials outline key provisions in CMMC proposed rule, upcoming acquisition requirements

Pentagon officials are providing an overview of major ecosystem components and upcoming regulations for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program in a new recorded video posted in advance of a Feb. 26 public comment deadline for the first rulemaking and eight draft guidance documents.

By Tony Bertuca
February 19, 2024 at 5:00 AM

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


Presidents' Day.


The CDAO Advantage DOD Data and AI Symposium is held in Washington. The event runs through Thursday.

The AFCEA Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium is held in Colorado Springs, CO. The event runs through Thursday.


DOD Engineer’s Week 2024 hosts virtual remarks from Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu.


The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion with the assistant Air Force secretary for space acquisition.

By John Liang
February 16, 2024 at 2:35 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's airborne refueling tanker development effort, the V-22 Osprey, taking risks when acquiring weapons and more.

Inside Defense got a chance to chat with the head of Air Mobility Command at this week's Air and Space Force Association’s Warfare Symposium in Colorado:

AMC commander: Follow-on to the KC-46A should have some next-gen characteristics

DENVER -- Any aircraft procured following the last deliveries of the KC-46A tanker “needs to absolutely have some of the characteristics of what we need in NGAS,” or the Air Force’s highly secretive Next Generation Air-Refueling System, Air Mobility Command’s top commander told Inside Defense in an exclusive interview.

News on the status of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor:

Air Force wants to fly Osprey again, but safety investigations are ongoing

DENVER -- The Air Force is eager to get its fleet of CV-22 Ospreys back into the air, but Air Force Special Operations Command officials said the tiltrotor will remain grounded until they are confident in its safety.

(Full coverage from the AFA Warfare Symposium.)

The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing this week on "Outpacing China: Expediting the Fielding of Innovation":

Lawmakers want DOD to take more risk in weapons programs

Lawmakers and Pentagon officials say the Defense Department needs to take more risks and change its compliance-based culture, aligning DOD development efforts more closely with Silicon Valley’s approach to innovation.

A Defense Department pilot program aims to speed up innovative technology fielding by helping small companies quickly transition into the production stage by bridging the “valley of death,” a time when many companies fail due to lack of funding:

APFIT announces four new projects; Shyu plans to fund additive solid-rocket motor tech

The Defense Department has announced the projects selected for the next batch of funding through the "Accelerate the Procurement and Fielding of Innovative Technologies" pilot program as Pentagon technology chief Heidi Shyu touted APFIT's success during a congressional hearing.

More news from that hearing:

DOD acquisition chief focusing on unit cost dilemma in counter-drone fight

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante told House lawmakers today that the Defense Department is preparing to fund about 40 developmental systems to counter small drones, but he stressed that the individual "interceptors" many of the systems use are still too expensive when compared to the cheaply made targets they are meant to shoot down.

Document: House hearing on 'outpacing China'

The Pentagon this week announced that a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lofted into orbit six satellites, two for the Missile Defense Agency -- a pair of Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor prototypes -- and the final four Space Development Agency Tranche 0 (T0) Tracking Layer satellites of its Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture:

DOD says new missile-tracking satellites in orbit just in time for new Russian threat

The Defense Department confirmed the successful launch of new, low-orbit missile tracking satellites on the same day the public learned U.S. intelligence assesses Russia is developing a space-based nuclear weapon to destroy America's satellite network, highlighting the risk to Pentagon plans for proliferating new capabilities in low-earth orbit.

Last but by no means least, coverage of remarks by the Navy's top civilian official at this week's AFCEA West Conference in California:

Navy to test at-sea Transportable Re-Arming Mechanism this summer

SAN DIEGO -- Naval Sea Systems Command is planning an at-sea demonstration of the developing Transportable Re-Arming Mechanism, a capability aiming to re-arm a warship’s missile tubes while underway, according to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro.

By Dan Schere
February 16, 2024 at 12:43 PM

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), the congressman who represents the district home to one of the companies involved in the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft competition, said this week that the Army's decision to terminate the program was done with a "lack of transparency."

The Army announced the FARA cancellation on Feb. 8, with the service saying it plans to instead prioritize funding for investments in the upgraded Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, as well as unmanned aerial reconnaissance capabilities.

Bell, one of the two finalists in the competition, is located in the district Jackson represents.

During a Feb. 15 House Armed Services Committee hearing, Jackson said Army officials came into his office about six weeks ago to update him on FARA. He added that there was no mention of terminating FARA even when he “asked directly about this possibility.”

“My concern is that this is the third failed attempt at fielding this capability. At a time with constrained budgets and record inflation, we simply can’t afford . . . to mislead our industry partners to some extent,” he said.

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante responded by noting the Army terminated FARA prior to milestone B, the start of engineering and manufacturing development.

“Really what the Army was doing was coming up to a decision of whether or not I’m actually going to go put in a significant amount of money to actually commit to develop and produce them at scale,” LaPlante said.

Jackson’s office could not be reached for comment Thursday or Friday.

Sikorsky, the other competitor in the competition, is in Connecticut. Last week, that state’s congressional delegation released a similar statement expressing concerns about the Army’s decision and demanded a detailed explanation from the service.