The Insider

By Michael Marrow
November 17, 2022 at 11:42 AM

The Air Force is looking to raise service readiness by overhauling sustainment practices, asking industry in a recent request for information for solutions to fill gaps across its operations and maintenance enterprise.

The RFI encompasses air and space platforms and asks for resiliency solutions for “critical systems” ranging from ventilation to cybersecurity. A new approach to sustainment comes in response to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall’s seventh operational imperative, the RFI says, which is aimed at ensuring the service can transition to a wartime posture.

The RFI is the second released by the service in recent weeks that seeks new solutions to meet Kendall’s seventh operational imperative. A similar notice posted Oct. 31 asked industry to help the service revamp its testing and training infrastructure to prepare for a “high-end fight,” a reference to conflict with China.

According to the RFI, the service is specifically aiming to ensure warfighters are “properly positioned” and supported by “resilient infrastructure, responsive supply chains, and deployment and distribution networks that will deliver persistent mission generation.” Interested vendors will not need a solution for every topic, the notice says.

Gaps identified by the RFI suggest the service is exploring new approaches to force distribution to properly sustain its growing portfolio of space platforms, as one area asks industry for solutions to swap military and civilian personnel between Air Force Materiel Command and Space Force bases.

Other issues discussed by the notice indicate the service is incorporating lessons learned from Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, as the RFI calls for contractors to “identify surge capacity in operations” and a timeline for how long such a capability could be activated.

The criterion follows the steady flow of arms to Kyiv that has dwindled key weapons stockpiles, leading industry to restart dormant factory lines as the Pentagon and Congress call to surge production.

Some areas identified by the RFI may have quick fixes, but the notice suggests the Air Force is looking for long-term solutions: contractors are asked to “bridge the gap between ‘as is’ and ‘to be’ in 10 to 15 years,” signaling that the service’s sustainment modernization will be over a decade in the making.

Vendors are asked to respond to the RFI by Nov. 25.

By Nick Wilson
November 17, 2022 at 11:29 AM

The Marine Corps will exercise a contract option to procure an additional 30 full-rate production Amphibious Combat Vehicles from manufacturer BAE Systems.

Delivery of the new ACVs is expected in December 2024 according to the Wednesday contract announcement.

BAE will receive an additional $153.7 million for the modification, bringing the cumulative contract value to just over $2 billion.

The Marine Corps has been closely monitoring schedule risks as BAE ramps up vehicle production. In September, a service spokeswoman told Inside Defense the contractor is on pace to increase production capacity from five to nine vehicles per month by fiscal year 2025.

The vehicles have struggled with technical issues and training mishaps during water operations.

In October, the service suspended all water operations involving surf-zone transit after an ACV capsized during routine training. The vehicles continue to operate on land and in the open ocean.

The ACV replaces the Amphibious Assault Vehicle and outperformed the legacy system during initial operational testing and evaluation in 2020.

The Navy requested $536.6 million to procure 74 ACVs in its FY-23 budget, after acquiring 83 in FY-22.

By Briana Reilly
November 16, 2022 at 3:39 PM

The Defense Innovation Unit's organizational arm dedicated to forming ties with the academic and entrepreneurial sectors has named a new managing director, filling a leadership slot that had been left vacant for more than a year.

The National Security Innovation Network announced this week that Cheryl Ingstad has been tapped to helm the entity. Ingstad most recently served as the first director of the Energy Department's artificial intelligence and technology office.

After being sworn in as the head of NSIN last week, Ingstad has kicked off a regional tour beginning in the northwestern part of the U.S. that’ll eventually include “all of our major hubs throughout the country over the next three months,” spokeswoman Suzanne Zurn told Inside Defense.

NSIN was previously known as the MD5 National Security Technology Accelerator, which originated as a public-private partnership with New York University in 2015. The entity was renamed under then-Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin, who also included it within DIU’s purview.

Morgan Plummer served as the first managing director of the renamed outfit, departing NSIN in May 2021. The role remained open since then, until Ingstad was tapped to lead NSIN this month, though Justin Dunnicliff, the deputy, most recently served as acting managing director from June to November 2022, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The leadership post wasn’t the only vacancy within DIU; the unit’s former head, Michael Brown, departed in early September, leaving Deputy Mike Madsen to serve in an acting capacity. Madsen recently warned the small-budget unit could be left without a permanent leader until the January to March timeframe, saying at the end of September that the search at that point was “probably mid-stream right now.”

Madsen also noted that Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks is “personally involved” in the search, an inclusion that he said “is a message to the ecosystem of the importance that she sees in the next director.”

Ingstad in this week’s release said she sees NSIN as “poised for scaling and accelerating the growth and adoption of innovations from diverse and non-traditional organizations in every part of our nation.”

“It is an honor to be appointed Managing Director of NSIN and to work with a team of such talented, accomplished and passionate leaders who collaborate with start-ups, academia, large and small businesses and non-profits to drive innovations that will give our Armed Forces the technological advantage against any adversary,” she added.

The network saw a fiscal year 2022 enacted budget of $36.27 million, according to a breakout previously provided to Inside Defense, a sum that was bolstered by a $15 million congressional funding increase. For FY-23, NSIN requested just over $22 million.

By John Liang
November 16, 2022 at 1:56 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's latest financial audit report, Army missile defense and more.

The Pentagon this week released its latest financial audit report:

DOD comptroller 'disappointed' with rate of audit progress

Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord said he is "disappointed" that the Defense Department's rate of progress has slowed when it comes to achieving a clean financial audit, announcing Tuesday that DOD has, as expected, failed for the fifth consecutive year.

Document: DOD's, services' 2022 audit reports

During Project Convergence 22, the Army linked separate command-and-control systems that are today used for either missile defense or offensive missile strikes:

Army demonstrates potential of missile defense system to provide targeting for offensive fires

The Army last month experimented with a potential revolutionary new capability by using a missile defense system to spot a ground threat in a simulated setting and digitally pass the targeting information to a long-range strike system which then executed an attack against the ground target.

The Army has issued a request for information from industry on "technical inputs, solutions, suggestions, prototypes, and concepts to the requirements" for an extended-range sensor capability as well as distributed command post and beyond-line-of-sight capabilities:

Army asking for information to help close technology gaps in Indo-Pacific

After a top Army official called the service "the backbone of the joint force in the Indo-Pacific" earlier this year, the Army is asking industry to close two capability gaps in the region: an extended-range sensor and a distributed command post.

Document: Army RFI for Indo-Pacific technology gaps

In a recent letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young outlines the need for billions in additional emergency funding for countering COVID-19 and aiding Ukraine in its fight against Russia's invasion:

White House seeks $38B in supplemental funding for Ukraine

The White House is calling on Congress to approve a $37.7 billion emergency supplemental funding request for Ukraine, which would include nearly $22 billion for the Defense Department to provide continued military aid and replenish U.S. weapon systems that have been transferred to Ukraine.

Document: OMB letter to Congress on COVID-19, Ukraine emergency supplemental funding

Virtualitics' artificial intelligence platform for predictive maintenance uses a multitude of variables to best estimate when parts should be replaced before they ultimately fail or break:

AI to support Air Force Global Strike Command with predictive maintenance

Air Force Global Strike Command is working with artificial intelligence business Virtualitics to develop a "center of excellence" for predictive maintenance aimed at increasing mission readiness for bombers and missile weapon systems, the company announced Tuesday.

By Tony Bertuca
November 16, 2022 at 11:23 AM

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) said today that lawmakers are planning to pass the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill in the first week of December.

“We're making progress,” he told CSPAN’s Washington Journal this morning.

“We've got another meeting tomorrow,” he continued. “I'm pretty sure by the end of this week we will have a bill that the House and the Senate Democrats and Republicans agree upon. The plan would be to pass it the first week of December. We're making good progress and are confident we'll get it done.”

Smith's assessment follows a statement from Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), likely the incoming House Speaker, who yesterday said Republicans should hold the bill over until next year when the GOP is in the majority.

“I think we should get the [bill] right before we move it,” McCarthy said at a GOP press conference.

Staffers said holding the bill until a new Congress begins is unlikely in that it would need to be completely re-worked.

The House passed its version of the bill in July but has been waiting on the Senate, which has yet to have a final floor vote. Multiple staffers said they are preparing for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to pull the bill from the floor and proceed to conference committee with a bipartisan version agreed by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking member.

The Senate’s version of the bill would, among a host of other things, authorize a total of $847 billion for national defense that is aligned with an overall national defense topline of $858 billion, with the difference being accounted for by defense-related spending in other legislation that is not under the bill’s jurisdiction. The House version would authorize about $8 billion less. President Biden, meanwhile, has requested $813 billion, or $30 billion more than what Congress enacted for FY-22.

However, Smith said it is ultimately up to congressional appropriators to agree to a final defense spending topline for FY-23. Congress is operating under a stopgap continuing resolution that expires Dec. 16 and will need to hash out a deal or an extension before then to avoid a government shutdown.

By Briana Reilly
November 16, 2022 at 9:00 AM

Booz Allen Hamilton today officially reopened its revamped downtown Washington, DC innovation center, a site executives were originally forced to shutter in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Called the Helix, the 9,422-square-foot space located within the company’s DC facility aims to spotlight solutions such as artificial intelligence, 5G and more, according to today’s press release, while showcasing their applications to the federal government.

“The original Booz Allen Innovation Center opened in 2016 with a mission to change the Booz Allen culture to one that is forward-thinking, and technology-focused,” Melissa Lazarofsky, Helix director, told Inside Defense in a statement. “This space builds on that success with a focus on today’s transformative and emerging technologies.”

The center includes more than two dozen simulations -- among them, an artificial intelligence adoption studio -- and a series of rotating demonstrations, with one in particular focused on 5G gamification. The feature comes nearly a year after Booz Allen opened a 5G lab in Annapolis Junction, MD.

“We are currently extending the backbone of the 5G lab and private network in central Maryland to the Helix so we can showcase similar use cases and 5G problem sets for that client base,” Brian MacCarthy, the company’s vice president of solutions innovation, told Inside Defense.

Those demonstrations will be regularly updated over time, Lazarofsky said, given the site’s goal is to ensure those demonstrations “reflect key firm priorities and innovations in real time.” Updates to the Helix’s activations and focus areas, she said, will be completed “as firm needs evolve and new technologies develop.”

The center will target a range of clients, spanning government and commercial, as well as partners, investors, lawmakers and media, MacCarthy said. He added the Helix is also slated to host events such as emerging tech demonstrations, hackathons and more.

By John Liang
November 15, 2022 at 5:32 PM

Oshkosh Corp. has announced an agreement to acquire Italian company Hinowa S.p.A., a manufacturer of track-based aerial work platforms, mini dumpers, lift trucks and undercarriages.

Once complete, Hinowa will become part of the Oshkosh Access Equipment segment, according to a statement announcing the purchase.

“We look forward to welcoming the Hinowa team into the Oshkosh family,” Oshkosh President and CEO John Pfeifer said in the statement. “This acquisition will accelerate our electrification capabilities and provide growth opportunities across core and adjacent markets.”

Oshkosh's defense subsidiary earlier this year unveiled a hybrid-electric variant of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

“We are excited to expand our long-term relationship with Hinowa,” Frank Nerenhausen, Oshkosh Corp. executive vice president and president of the company's JLG Industries, said in today's statement. “Combining our capabilities will enable us to better serve customers and expand our operational footprint in Europe.”

Hinowa was founded in 1987 in Nogara, Italy and today has an approximate 250,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and 50,000-square-foot parts facility with nearly 230 employees.

“We are pleased to join Oshkosh Corp.,” said Dante Fracca, founder and owner of Hinowa. “Our successful 12-year relationship with JLG, along with shared core values around culture, safety, productivity and sustainability position us well for the future.”

The Hinowa acquisition supports Oshkosh's "accelerated growth strategy," according to the announcement. The transaction is expected to close within 90 days.

By Shelley K. Mesch
November 15, 2022 at 2:07 PM

The Air Force wants to reorganize its Special Access Programs to ensure better joint operations after the National Defense Strategy said departments are not organized in a way that supports rapid development and integration of new technologies.

The Directorate for Special Programs doesn’t have a “clearly articulated unifying strategy that drives daily work and defines how [it] should organize to support its customers and partners,” according to an online posting for information. To address the problem, the service is seeking information on reorganization consulting services.

The Air Force is seeking a design of mission, a digital transformation of the enterprise, sustainable leadership and staffing for the organization's needs, a review of contracts and contractors and a realignment of skillsets for mission execution, according to the posting.

The services’ current models don’t incentivize open systems designs “that can rapidly incorporate cutting-edge technologies, creating longer-term challenges with obsolescence, interoperability and cost effectiveness,” according to the NDS, which was released last month.

The Air Force wants to use “best-in-class commercial organizational transformation expertise” to reorganize the directorate.

By John Liang
November 15, 2022 at 1:57 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Air Force Global Strike Command's use of artificial intelligence, the Pentagon's use of cyber incident reporting data, a prototype integrated air and missile defense architecture and more.

Virtualitics' artificial intelligence platform for predictive maintenance uses a multitude of variables to best estimate when parts should be replaced before they ultimately fail or break:

AI to support Air Force Global Strike Command with predictive maintenance

Air Force Global Strike Command is working with artificial intelligence business Virtualitics to develop a "center of excellence" for predictive maintenance aimed at increasing mission readiness for bombers and missile weapon systems, the company announced Tuesday.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have the latest on how the Pentagon collects and uses cyber incident reporting data:

GAO report finds inconsistent implementation of DOD incident reporting requirements

A new report from the Government Accountability Office finds significant deficiencies in how the Pentagon collects and uses cyber incident reporting data from the defense industrial base required under Defense Department policy.

Document: GAO report on DOD cybersecurity

During the Army's Project Convergence 22 last month, the four services exercised a prototype integrated air and missile defense architecture that uses the Joint Track Management Capability (JTMC) Bridge to link the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps across a vast geographic area:

DOD demonstrates capability for Guam defense: expanded fire-control-quality data sharing

The U.S military has demonstrated a new capability crucial to plans to defend Guam beginning in 2024 against advanced Chinese air and missile threats, linking radar on Navy destroyers for the first time with Army and Marine Corps ground sensors as well as Air Force fighter aircraft.

The Government Accountability Office looked into the availability of military aircraft:

GAO: Aircraft mission-capable goals 'generally not met' over past decade

A Government Accountability Office assessment has found only four of 49 selected military aircraft programs met their mission-capable goals in a majority of years from fiscal year 2011 through 2021.

Document: GAO report on aircraft sustainment

The Army's top civilian says the service is trying to get its arms around huge amounts of data:

Wormuth: Army needs to figure out how to harness all its data

Army leaders are continuing to grapple with managing the huge amount of data being collected and exchanged by its growing network of sensors and communications capabilities, according to service Secretary Christine Wormuth.

Congressional budget wonks have given the cost of the Navy's shipbuilding plan the once-over:

CBO: Latest shipbuilding plan will require significantly higher budgets than Navy estimates

The Navy's long-range shipbuilding plan will require higher annual shipbuilding budgets than the service estimates and multiple programs in the pipeline will be billions over projected costs, according to the Congressional Budget Office's annual analysis of the shipbuilding plan.

Document: CBO's analysis of the Navy's FY-23 shipbuilding plan

By Michael Marrow
November 15, 2022 at 12:19 PM

The Air Force is readying an environmental impact statement to evaluate the effects of opening a main operating base for a KC-46 reserve component, according to a Federal Register notice posted Nov. 15.

Officials have identified March Air Reserve Base, CA as the preferred alternative, with Grissom ARB, IN and Tinker Air Force Base, OK as reasonable alternatives. The beddown will base 12 KC-46 aircraft at one installation to recapitalize aging KC-135 tankers, the notice says.

The Air Force first announced an original pool of six basing candidates in May 2021 for the reserve component, which was narrowed to the three alternatives in January 2022.

The basing candidates were revealed along with sites for a new, active-duty component whose EIS process launched in April. Officials selected Macdill AFB, FL as the preferred alternative for that component, which would beddown 24 KC-46 aircraft.

The Air Force is evaluating all three reserve candidates equally to assess social, economic and environmental impacts associated with the beddown, which are estimated to be “less than significant or mitigable to less than significant,” according to the notice.

The public scoping period for the beddown is now active and will close Dec. 21, the notice reads. Officials then plan to release a draft EIS in summer 2023 and a final EIS in spring 2024.

A record of decision would subsequently be approved no sooner than 30 days after the final EIS is released, the notice adds.

An ROD for the beddown will likely come over a year before the KC-46 is planned to be fully operational. KC-46 manufacturer Boeing and the Air Force are still working on delivering a fix for the aircraft’s long-troubled Remote Vision System, which the service announced last month will be delayed again to October 2025.

By Michael Marrow
November 15, 2022 at 11:03 AM

Boeing has successfully demonstrated anti-jam capabilities on the Space Force's Protected Tactical Satellite Communications Prototype (PTS-P) at its facility in El Segundo, CA, the company announced today.

PTS-P is designed to facilitate transmission of the U.S. military’s Protected Tactical Waveform for secure satellite communications, with the tests demonstrating the system’s ability to autonomously mitigate a range of jamming attempts and preserve connectivity using “software-defined” technology, a Boeing spokesman told Inside Defense.

“On-board, autonomous, real-time nulling of jammers greatly enhances our resiliency, ensuring the United States and our allies can provide our warfighters with secure, reliable communications in a contested environment,” PTS-P Program Manager Justin Bruner said in the release.

“Boeing has made significant strides in the development and execution of a nulling algorithm with flight-like firmware, demonstrating agile anti-jam capability. PTS-P and all of our Protected Anti-Jam Tactical SATCOM (PATS) programs are critical to this effort,” Bruner added.

Boeing was awarded the prototype agreement in 2020 along with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman through the Space Enterprise Consortium, a venture formed by the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center in 2017 that solicits bids from a wider range of companies using Other Transaction Authority contracting mechanisms.

The three primes all pledged to employ non-traditional subcontractors in keeping with SpEC’s goal of bringing new vendors into the fold. Millennium Space Systems is Boeing’s non-traditional partner for the effort, the Boeing spokesman said.

Last year, officials bumped Lockheed from the program to proceed with the Boeing and Northrop prototypes, which have since passed respective critical design reviews.

Boeing and Northrop are now moving toward on-orbit demonstrations planned for 2024. Boeing is planning additional hardware and software demonstrations to refine the prototype, according to the release, with vehicle integration slated to begin in early 2023.

By Audrey Decker
November 15, 2022 at 10:52 AM

Two senior senators continue to express frustration as the Navy has yet to deliver its promised amphibious ship study to Congress.

Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) have sent a letter to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro asking for an update on the status of the service’s amphibious warship study, which is meant to confirm the number of amphibious ships needed for the future battlespace.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in May, the senators asked Del Toro about the amphibious study and Del Toro said it would be delivered in the next few weeks.

“It has now been over five months since that hearing, yet the results of the study still have not been provided to either of us,” the letter states.

“The Navy currently plans to decommission over 40 ships in fiscal years 2023 and 2024. As Congress works to fill these gaps and expand our fleet, this study on amphibious ships would provide the committee with critical context as to the Navy and Marine Corps’ needs,” according to the letter released today.

Amphibious ships are crucial in the Indo-Pacific as senior officials have cited 2027 as the date when China could invade Taiwan, the senators write.

“We strongly urge you to provide the unredacted, unedited results of the study without further delay. If the study is still incomplete, please provide a reason as to why it is incomplete, whether you need any additional resources to complete the study, and when you expect it to be completed, as well as the results upon completion,” the letter states.

By Thomas Duffy
November 14, 2022 at 2:56 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest starts off with a very deep dive into the services’ aircraft mission-capable rates, the Army secretary made comments on harnessing data, the Congressional Budget Office looks at the Navy’s plan to build ships, and news from the cyber world.

The availability of military aircraft is the subject of a recent government auditing report:

GAO: Aircraft mission-capable goals 'generally not met' over past decade

A Government Accountability Office assessment has found only four of 49 selected military aircraft programs met their mission-capable goals in a majority of years from fiscal year 2011 through 2021.

The Army secretary says the service is trying to get its arms around huge amounts of data:

Wormuth: Army needs to figure out how to harness all its data

Army leaders are continuing to grapple with managing the huge amount of data being collected and exchanged by its growing network of sensors and communications capabilities, service Secretary Christine Wormuth said Wednesday.

The cost of the Navy’s shipbuilding plan got the once over from Congress’ budget wonks:

CBO: Latest shipbuilding plan will require significantly higher budgets than Navy estimates

The Navy's long-range shipbuilding plan will require higher annual shipbuilding budgets than the service estimates and multiple programs in the pipeline will be billions over projected costs, according to the Congressional Budget Office's annual analysis of the shipbuilding plan.

How to secure the software supply chain is being looked at:

NIST sets parameters for software supply chain project, building on work from cyber executive order

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence is revealing details for an upcoming project on securing the software supply chain using a DevSecOps implementation approach.

By Audrey Decker
November 14, 2022 at 12:46 PM

The Navy is asking industry for information on building up to 90 patrol boats for various maritime security operations.

The overall mission for the 40-foot patrol boat is “presence and deterrence,” according to a request for information posted on Nov. 9.

The Navy plans to award a contract to one or more shipbuilders in fiscal year 2023 for up to 90 boats. These boats would be delivered to Navy stock points in San Diego, CA, and Williamsburg, VA, according to the notice.

The patrol boats will be able to hold five crew members and have a sprint speed of at least 35 knots. The boats will be armed with 360-degree weapons coverage and “remote weapons system ballistic protection,” the notice states.

“The 40PB is designed to operate day or night, in all-weather and will patrol green water littoral zones such as coastal water approaches, bays, major rivers, ports and harbors,” the Navy states.

As part of a $400 million military aid package announced on Nov. 4, the Pentagon said it will send 40 armored riverine boats to Ukraine.

Navy spokeswoman Jamie Koehler told Inside Defense the solicitation is unrelated to Ukraine support.

The “total inventory objective of 40PBs is unchanged and the intention is to provide these boats to U.S. Navy operating forces,” she said.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh, meanwhile, told reporters Nov. 4 that “how and when” the Ukrainians use the 40 riverine boats was up to their discretion. The Pentagon did not detail what types of boats were being sent.

By Tony Bertuca
November 14, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at several public events this week. Congress will return from the midterm election recess.

Monday

The Brookings Institution hosts a discussion on U.S. defense innovation and great power deterrence.

Tuesday

The Center for a New American Security hosts a discussion on the role of U.S. allies and partners.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency hosts an in-person and virtual DARPA Forward conference in College Station, TX.

Wednesday

Politico hosts an in-person and virtual conference on U.S. defense strategy.

Friday

The Center for a New American Security hosts a discussion with Army Secretary Christine Wormuth.

The National Defense Industrial Association hosts its SO/LIC Symposium.

The Military Reporters and Editors Association hosts its annual conference.