The Insider

By Briana Reilly
January 26, 2022 at 5:15 PM

The head of the Air Force's Warfare Center said the E-7A Wedgetail's involvement in the recently kicked-off Red Flag exercise could help "feed into the lessons" the service reviews as officials look at moving forward with buying the aircraft as a replacement for the aging E-3 Sentry fleet. 

The first Red Flag exercise of the year, which began this week at Nellis Air Force Base, NV, represents “a really fantastic opportunity” to leverage “what we all know is a critical and essential capability for the pacing challenges that we face in the Indo-Pacific theater, especially” through the Royal Australian Air Force’s E-7A, Maj. Gen. Case Cunningham said today. 

“While we go through this Red Flag, we’ll be working to really refine the tactics, techniques and procedures that it means to work with F-35s and F-22s, for example in the highly contested environment as they work in collaboration with the E-7A and then we’ll work to iterate through those,” he told attendees during an online Air Force Association event. 

The Air Force has eyed Boeing’s Wedgetail as a potential Airborne Warning and Control System follow-on, posting a notice in the fall seeking studies and analyses of “activities related to the current E-7A baseline configuration and [a determination of] what additional work” would be needed to meet Air Force standards and mandates.

More recently, Mike Manazir, Boeing’s vice president for defense business development, told reporters ahead of last November's Dubai Airshow that the company expects the service will announce “sometime in 2022 that they’re going to move forward on the E-7,” according to media reports at the time. 

Australia and the United Kingdom have bought the E-7, which is based on Boeing’s 737. Participants from both of those country’s air forces are involved in the exercise, according to a Nellis AFB news release this week. Aside from the RAAF’s E-7A and the F-22 and F-35, other participating aircraft include the A-10, E-3, KC-135 and more, per the release.

Throughout the exercise, set to run through Feb. 11, Cunningham said he expects takeaways “will directly apply not only to how ready we are with respect to the current environment, but also will feed into the lessons as we potentially look at bringing the E-7 capability to our own Air Force.” 

By John Liang
January 26, 2022 at 2:08 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's KC-46 airborne refueling tanker program, the Navy's MQ-8C Fire Scout program and more.

Boeing executives spoke about the KC-46 airborne refueling tanker during this morning's quarterly earnings call:

Boeing logs $402 million KC-46 charge

Boeing reported today that its KC-46 tanker program saw a $402 million pre-tax charge in the final quarter of 2021, according to a breakdown of the company's Q4 results.

The Navy doesn't know if Link-16 will be integrated into MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopters within the next two years:

Navy uncertain on timeline for Link-16 integration to MQ-8C

The Navy is uncertain if it will reach its goal to integrate Link-16 into the MQ-8C Fire Scout fleet by fiscal year 2023, according to a service official.

A senior Navy admiral spoke this week about the effects of a potential yearlong continuing resolution on the service's acquisition programs:

Navy: Yearlong CR would hamper shipbuilding, aviation and missile procurement

A yearlong continuing resolution would drastically affect Navy procurement and maintenance, a top service budget official told reporters Tuesday.

Lockheed Martin executives and officials from the F-35 Joint Program Office are still working through negotiations surrounding a deal for the lots 15-17 aircraft:

Lockheed, Pentagon 'struggling' to agree on components of next F-35 deal

A Lockheed Martin executive said today that finding consensus on a cost baseline with the Pentagon surrounding the next F-35 production contract has "proven more difficult than we expected."

Could video games be a solution for the Missile Defense Agency's Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications system?

DOD looks to video game industry for help with planning, positioning missile defense assets

The Defense Department is looking to the video game industry to help improve a high-consequence system used by U.S. military forces to determine where best to position guided missile interceptors and radars to defeat long-range missile threats, including North Korean nuclear-armed rockets.

Oshkosh has submitted a hybrid-electric Joint Light Tactical Vehicle for the Army's consideration:

Oshkosh announces hybrid-electric JLTV

Oshkosh Defense has developed a hybrid-electric version of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the company announced this week.

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

OMB issues memo outlining final zero trust strategy with requirements on identity solutions

The White House Office of Management and Budget has released a memorandum outlining the government's strategy for moving agencies to using zero trust, which includes a focus on multifactor authentication and industry cybersecurity standards that go beyond personal identity verification.

By Briana Reilly
January 25, 2022 at 5:00 PM

The Defense Information Systems Agency has awarded a $6.8 million contract to Booz Allen Hamilton to build a Thunderdome zero-trust environment prototype, the agency announced in a news release today.

The award kicks off a six-month program phase in which officials hope to produce a working prototype as part of a push to inform the scalability of the effort across the Defense Department, DISA said.

Additionally, the agency said it hopes the work on Thunderdome will result in an “overall implementation strategy” to move from the current cybersecurity infrastructure to an enterprise-wide option.

Calling the move toward prototyping Thunderdome “a substantial shift to a next-generation cybersecurity and network architecture for DOD,” Chris Barnhurst, DISA’s deputy director, said in the release the work “fundamentally changes our classic network-centric, defense-in-depth security model to one centered on the protection of data.”

Predating the move is the DOD’s decision last year to phase out the Joint Regional Security Stacks, a decade-long effort to consolidate network security centers across the military, pulling together and centralizing equipment like firewalls, network routers and switches into regional architectures. DISA has spent recent years looking for industry feedback on the “next generation JRSS.”

By John Liang
January 25, 2022 at 1:49 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the effect of the omicron variant on General Dynamics Electric Boat's workforce, Raytheon's quarterly earnings and more.

The omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus has really hit General Dynamics Electric Boat's workforce:

Omicron variant causing Electric Boat's highest daily case rates

General Dynamics Electric Boat has experienced 40% of its total coronavirus cases in the last eight weeks fueled by the virus' omicron variant, Electric Boat president Kevin Graney told reporters Monday.

Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes expects the Air Force will move forward with both boost-glide and cruise missile weapons capabilities:

Raytheon anticipates opportunities for Air Force hypersonics work

Raytheon Technologies' chief executive told analysts during a quarterly earnings call today that he hopes the company will "have some interesting opportunities" to partner with the Air Force this year on defensive systems against hypersonics.

Waypoint 2028, which was the midpoint of the service's plan to fully modernize for multidomain operations by 2035, has turned into Army 2030:

Waypoint 2028 becomes Army 2030

The Army will implement most of its planned force structure changes, such as the return of the division as the center of tactical action, by 2030, a service official told Inside Defense in a Jan. 20 interview.

Inside Defense recently interviewed Paul Reese, director of the Army Combined Arms Center’s fielded force integration directorate:

Army penetration divisions will field ERCA as fourth howitzer battalion

The Army plans to provide an Extended Range Cannon Artillery battalion as a supplement to existing artillery units in its heaviest divisions, which have three armored brigades, according to an official at the Combined Arms Center.

The Navy admiral in charge of aircraft carrier development said recently that during testing last year, the service was able to exceed the Gerald Ford's (CVN-78) sortie generation rate of 160 sorties per day:

Downey confident Ford can meet sortie-generation rate requirement

The Navy believes the aircraft carrier Gerald Ford (CVN-78), the first carrier of its class, will be able to meet its sortie generation rate requirement following testing last summer, Rear Adm. James Downey, the program executive officer for aircraft carriers, told reporters Friday.

The Army issued a notice this week seeking graphic novels based on research into information warfare and weapons of mass destruction:

Army to use science fiction to envision information warfare, WMD threats

The Army Cyber Institute is turning to an unusual source to help leaders anticipate future threats: graphic novels.

By Audrey Decker
January 25, 2022 at 10:57 AM

Raytheon Technologies delivered the first low-rate initial production Joint Precision Approach and Landing System to the Navy ahead of schedule this quarter, Greg Hayes, the company's chief executive officer, said during today's earnings call.

“Through strong program execution and [Raytheon Intelligence & Space], the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System program completed delivery on the first LRIP units 60 days ahead of schedule,” Hayes said. “This achievement has given the Navy the confidence to certify JPALS on the CVN carrier and two amphibious ship classes.”

JPALS, a GPS-based aircraft landing system, reached initial operational capability in May last year.

The Raytheon Missiles & Defense "team also successfully completed the initial integration of the SPY-6 radar on the USS Jack Lewis [DDG-125] in the quarter,” Hayes said. “This is the first time power was simultaneously applied to the entire radar system, completing a critical milestone for integration on the ship, its combat system and the SPY-6 radar.”

During the last quarter of 2021, Raytheon was awarded $729 million for two Standard Missile-2 production contracts for the U.S. Navy and international customers, according to the company’s 2021 earnings report.

The company was also awarded $269 million for the Evolved Seasparrow Missile for the Navy and international customers and $227 million for the Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band for the Navy, according to the report.

Looking ahead, the company is monitoring the continuing resolution the Defense Department is operating under and inflation numbers and still expects growth in the coming year, according to Neil Mitchill, Raytheon’s chief financial officer.

“On the defense side, we expect continued organic growth in 2022 as we deliver on our $63 billion backlog, continued bipartisan support for the fiscal 2022 defense budget and international demand for our products and technologies,” Mitchill said.

By Briana Reilly
January 25, 2022 at 10:30 AM

Lockheed Martin executives are looking to "evaluate all of our options" after the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to block a proposed $4.4 billion acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne, Lockheed's chief executive said during an earnings call today.

CEO Jim Taiclet said officials will be working with their board “over the next few days and weeks” to decide whether to go to court to defend the deal or terminate the proposal.

“As we disclosed in our earnings release this morning, we thought it highly likely that the FTC would sue to block the transaction,” he told analysts, referencing an earlier financial filing statement that showed the FTC had concerns that couldn’t be “addressed adequately” via consent order. “Since that time, we have received notification from the FTC that they have in fact authorized filing a lawsuit.”

After filing suit, Holly Vedova, the FTC’s Bureau of Competition head, said in a statement that officials “cannot afford to allow further concentration in markets critical to our national security and defense,” citing cost and quality concerns.

“The FTC determined that the proposed transaction harms competition for several weapons systems that [the Defense Department] relies on to defend the nation and there is no sufficient remedy to alleviate those harms,” she noted.

Meanwhile, Aerojet in a separate statement this morning stressed “the benefits of the transaction for the United States and its allies, the industry, and all of the company’s stakeholders.”

Taiclet said the merger agreement allows for a 30-day period for the company to make a decision following the filing of a lawsuit. He didn’t indicate which path the company may take.

Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes, who’s spoken out against the deal, didn’t weigh in on the topic during his company’s 2021 fourth quarter earnings call earlier today. Raytheon is based in Waltham, MA.

Meanwhile, members of Congress have weighed in on the subject, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) previously asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) speaking out against defense industry consolidation.

The Defense Department, which reviewed the proposed deal and provided input to the FTC, is declining to say whether it advised against the merger.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the department shared its views with the FTC in a December letter from Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

“The department shared our conclusions on the proposed merger to the Federal Trade Commission,” he said. “Because our information was used for internal deliberations, I cannot and won’t share the department’s recommendations.”

The FTC, meanwhile, says DOD organized a series of interviews with “DOD-impacted stakeholders” to assess the proposed deal.

“I deeply appreciate the collaborative relationship between DOD and FTC staff who worked closely throughout this investigation,” Vedova said. “The FTC determined that the proposed transaction harms competition for several weapon systems that DOD relies on to defend the nation and there is no sufficient remedy to alleviate those harms.”

In its statement, the FTC said Lockheed’s proposed acquisition of Aerojet, which makes advanced missile propulsion systems and supplies them to prime contractors, would give Lockheed “control over critical propulsion inputs that its rivals require to compete.”

“Specifically, the complaint alleges that the proposed acquisition would give Lockheed the ability and incentive to deny, limit, or otherwise disadvantage competitors’ access to critical propulsion inputs for various weapon systems,” the FTC said. “The combined firm could disadvantage rivals by affecting the price or quality of the product, the quality of the engineering support, and the schedule and contract terms for developing and supplying it or otherwise disadvantage its rivals.”

The FTC also noted that Aerojet as a subcontractor for other large firms like Raytheon, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, “has had access to prime contractors’ sensitive information about technological advancements, cost, schedule, and business strategies.”

The FTC said Lockheed would therefore “have an incentive to exploit its access to its rivals’ proprietary information to gain an advantage in competitions against them.”

The FTC noted in its statement that this is the agency’s first “litigated defense merger challenge in decades." FTC spokeswoman Betsy Lordan said a 1992 case involving Alliant Techsystems’ unsuccessful attempt to acquire part of the Olin Corporation’s military business is likely the most recent case in which the agency sought to block a defense merger.

By Tony Bertuca
January 24, 2022 at 3:45 PM

The Defense Department is placing 8,500 troops on "heightened alert" for possible rapid deployment to Europe as part of a potential NATO response to Russia's military buildup near Ukraine.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby stressed no decision has been made on whether the troops will be deployed and said none would be sent directly to Ukraine.

“The NATO Response Force has not been activated -- it is a NATO call to make,” he said during a Pentagon press conference.

"There's been no mission assigned,” he added. “What this is about, though, is reassurance to our NATO allies, and we've been talking about that for quite some time that we're going to be ready, we're going to be prepared to help bolster our allies with capabilities they might need."

Part of the new “heightened alert” posture means U.S. forces that were to be ready for potential deployment in 10 days will now be ready to leave within five days.

"It sends a very clear signal to Mr. Putin, that we take our responsibilities to NATO seriously,” Kirby said of the Russian president. “And we are also working with the international community to implement severe consequences for Mr. Putin, if he were to go [invade] again in Ukraine."

The Pentagon is not yet identifying the units being placed under alert as they are still being notified.

By John Liang
January 24, 2022 at 1:46 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an Air Force Research Laboratory space contract, the A-10 Warthog and more.

A new Air Force Research Laboratory contract allows AFRL to leverage data collected from relevant SpaceX missions to aid officials as they "accurately explore mission sets and cargo loadouts where [the Defense Department] can and should use this capability in the future":

AFRL awards SpaceX first Rocket Cargo launch vehicle provider deal

The Air Force Research Laboratory is partnering with SpaceX under a five-year, $102 million contract to explore the military potential of point-to-point transport -- the first deal awarded to a launch vehicle provider as part of the Rocket Cargo program.

Defense officials had sought to divest 42 A-10 aircraft in their latest budget request, but lawmakers declined to green-light the proposal:

With A-10 divestment blocked, Air Force considers 10-year contract for parts

The Air Force is looking at developing a long-term contract for acquiring parts to support the A-10 after lawmakers in their Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act again barred the service from retiring the Warthog.

Last November, the Army used the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System to attack a ground target using the Army Field Artillery Tactical Data System:

Army missile defense system directs offensive strike in potential paradigm-changing demo

The Army last fall executed a potentially paradigm-changing technical demonstration, lashing up for the first time separate command-and-control systems that are today used for either missile defense or offensive missile strikes.

The Army has designated a certain division that will specialize in urban warfare:

Army division creates course for planning urban operations

Leaders of the 40th Infantry Division found a problem with their January 2020 Warfighter exercise: it took place in a city, but the computer software that it relied on could not accurately simulate urban warfare.

Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, surface warfare director in the office of the chief of naval operations (N96), recently said the Distributed Offensive Surface Fires Analysis of Alternatives study, formally launched a year ago, is nearing completion:

Navy now eyeing April for LUSV analysis of alternatives completion

The Navy has pushed the target completion date for a mandated study -- exploring potential alternatives to a fleet of Large Unmanned Surface Vessels that include commercial ships and amphibious warships packed with long-range missiles -- until spring, a delay of more than six months compared to the project's original goal.

By Audrey Decker
January 24, 2022 at 12:08 PM

The Navy's acquisition force is focusing on moving from a platform-driven to a dynamic portfolio approach to acquisitions in 2022 and to making sustainment an acquisition effort, according to a memorandum obtained by Inside Defense.

Frederick Stefany, performing the duties of assistant Navy secretary for research, development and acquisition, said the service will treat sustainment as an acquisition program to support shipyard and maintenance efforts, according to the Jan. 20 memo.

Stefany outlines five operational focus areas for 2022: promote best practices from industry and government; deliver relevant software capability; improve diversity and talent in the workforce; build relationships with international partners and other services; and accelerate new technologies into the fleet.

“Regarding cost, we must continue to drive opportunity to ‘bend the cost curve’ by replicating and scaling efforts such as evolutionary development, designing for sustainability and digital transformation,” the memo states.

The service aims to increase enterprise-wide approaches to balance savings and divestments, according to the document.

“As the DON continues to make difficult choices in a fiscally constrained environment, it will be more important than ever to ensure mission alignment with our DON budget priorities. Our efforts to develop and field platforms, systems and technologies will provide Sailors and Marines the capability overmatch required in this strategic competition,” the memo states.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
January 24, 2022 at 11:39 AM

The initial production effort for the Army's next-generation heavy tactical truck could be worth $5.1 billion for 7,265 vehicles, according to a Jan. 24 Army notice.

Up to five companies could receive awards for the prototyping phase of the Common Tactical Truck, which aims to replace five heavy tactical vehicle chassis with a common chassis, according to the notice.

Previously, the Army said three companies would be selected for the prototyping process. The service currently has 10,000 vehicles of the variants that the CTT could replace that are too old to upgrade with a digital architecture and increased armor.

One of the companies in the prototyping process could win a follow-on production contract without a formal competition, according to the notice. There will be an open competition to join the prototyping process.

Each selected company will prototype and deliver three of the five CTT variants, according to the notice: a load-handling system, off-road tractor and line-haul tractor. Earlier announcements in the program have said that the production CTT will include a tanker and a cargo bed variant with a crane.

Companies interested in the prototyping process will have to submit firm-fixed-price proposals for engineering, prototype delivery and testing, according to the notice. A release date for the Army’s request for prototype proposals has not been issued, although the service has previously said the process could begin this fiscal year.

The notice did not specify how long the initial CTT production effort would last. The service plans to make prototyping awards through its existing other transaction authority with the National Advanced Mobility Consortium.

By John Liang
January 24, 2022 at 11:01 AM

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Bernie Champoux has joined the advisory board of technology services company Castellum, the company announced this morning.

"Castellum's advisory board seats experienced business leaders and senior cybersecurity/information technology (IT) executives with business, government, and technical expertise, useful in fostering the company's growth," according to a Castellum statement.

Champoux currently works for Hanwha Defense, which he joined in May 2017, where he formed and led the establishment of their U.S. and Americas business for four years before moving to government relations in May 2021. Before Hanwha, he consulted for Lockheed Martin, L3Harris, CENTRA Technology, ANSER and the Defense Science Board, according to the statement.

Champoux served nearly 39 years in the Army, including as executive officer to the head of U.S. Southern Command as well as executive assistant to the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

By Tony Bertuca
January 24, 2022 at 5:00 AM

(Correction: The American Enterprise Institute event is scheduled for Wednesday, not Monday as previously reported.)

Senior military officials are slated to speak during several virtual events this week.

Wednesday

The Navy's chief data officer speaks during a C4ISRNET webcast.

The Air Force Association hosts a discussion with senior Air Force officials on "air and space warfighters in action."

The American Enterprise Institute hosts a discussion on President Biden's upcoming National Security Strategy.

Thursday

The Atlantic Institute hosts a discussion with Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko.

By Aidan Quigley
January 21, 2022 at 5:04 PM

The Navy's aircraft carrier Gerald Ford (CVN-78), the first carrier of its class, will deploy "by fall," Rear Adm. James Downey, the program executive officer for aircraft carriers, told reporters Friday.

“The plan is toward the end of the summer, she goes,” Downey said. “She’s going to visit multiple theaters of operations with multiple allies, and her strike group, and her wing.”

Downey said he could not release specifics of the Ford’s deployment plans.

The Ford concluded its full ship shock trials in April 2021 and is currently undergoing a planned incremental availability.

During the PIA, the Navy is evaluating any damage sustained during shock trials and modernizing and maintaining the carrier to prepare for its deployment. Downey said the PIA is set to be concluded by the end of February.

After the PIA, Ford will do more trials, Downey said. The strike group and carrier wing will embark this spring as the ship starts its workups, he said.

The Navy announced in December that it had received the eleventh and final elevator following lengthy development, installation and delivery delays.

The Ford was commissioned in 2017 but has faced long-lasting issues with its elevators and reliability concerns with its electromagnetic aircraft launch system and arresting gear, according to the Government Accountability Office’s annual acquisition programs assessment, released in June 2021.

By John Liang
January 21, 2022 at 2:23 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Army urban operations training, Navy unmanned surface vessels and more.

The Army has designated a certain division that will specialize in urban warfare:

Army division creates course for planning urban operations

Leaders of the 40th Infantry Division found a problem with their January 2020 Warfighter exercise: it took place in a city, but the computer software that it relied on could not accurately simulate urban warfare.

Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, surface warfare director in the office of the chief of naval operations (N96), recently said the Distributed Offensive Surface Fires Analysis of Alternatives study, formally launched a year ago, is nearing completion:

Navy now eyeing April for LUSV analysis of alternatives completion

The Navy has pushed the target completion date for a mandated study -- exploring potential alternatives to a fleet of Large Unmanned Surface Vessels that include commercial ships and amphibious warships packed with long-range missiles -- until spring, a delay of more than six months compared to the project's original goal.

In case you missed it, Inside Defense recently spoke with L3Harris executives about the company's unmanned surface vessel work:

First MUSV platform will feature broad payload area

The first Medium Unmanned Surface Vessel platform will feature a broad payload area where the Navy can "pick and choose" the platform's capabilities, according to L3Harris executives.

More Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification coverage from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Delay in publicly releasing CMMC process guide attributed to potential national 'security' implications

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Accreditation Body board chairman Jeff Dalton says the delay in the public release of the CMMC assessment process guide, known as the CAP, is related to national "security" concerns, a claim that is raising questions among CMMC stakeholders.

DOD contracting official: Policy for fixing CMMC compliance blind spots to include threshold requirements

The Defense Department's policy for contractors to provide details on how they will address gaps in their Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification assessments will include a threshold on requirements that "need to be" taken "seriously," according to DOD's John Ellis, who leads the office responsible for conducting CMMC assessor audits.

By Evan Ochsner
January 21, 2022 at 1:04 PM

The Army is seeking information about industry's capability to develop and integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning features into its Integrated Visual Augmentation System, according to a request for information issued Jan. 19.

IVAS, one of the Army’s modernization priorities, is a militarized version of Microsoft’s HoloLens virtual reality headset and is intended to provide soldiers with movement of information, high-level processing, and augmented-reality information.

The request asks for industry capabilities in about 30 areas related to artificial intelligence and machine learning. They include AI-enabled target detection algorithms, battlefield data processing, mixed-reality solider interface, and battlefield language translation.

Responses are due by Feb. 18.

Congress in the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill cut $213 million from the IVAS budget and withheld 25% of approved money until the Army secretary submits a report on “system reliability, network adequacy, power duration, terrain data sufficiency, and plans for iterative improvements.”

The Army last year awarded Microsoft $21.9 billion to build the system.