The Insider

By Georgina DiNardo
March 26, 2024 at 1:59 PM

Amid news of Congress allotting $200 million to the secretive Replicator program in a new spending deal, senior defense officials told Inside Defense in an exclusive interview that an inaccuracy was made in Replicator's published -- and later corrected -- fiscal year 2025 budget request, leading to an inside look at the Pentagon's internal decision-making process.

This story is now available to all.

By Abby Shepherd
March 26, 2024 at 1:46 PM

Energetics manufacturing is set to increase at Allegany Ballistics Laboratory’s Naval Industrial Reserve Ordnance Plant, thanks to a $178 million contract awarded to Northrop Grumman by Naval Sea Systems Command.

A focus within the contract award is the construction of a new modular energetics facility.

“The investment will increase rocket motor energetics and inert processing and builds on Northrop Grumman’s proven performance to quickly scale using advanced manufacturing techniques and digital transformation,” according to a Northrop Grumman news release.

Northrop was awarded part of the $178 million in late September, according to company spokesperson Jarrod Krull.

Additional proposals for further plant expansion efforts will follow in the next couple of years, Krull added.

“The expansion will add to Northrop Grumman’s own investment in rocket motors and increase resiliency by doubling the capacity of the defense supply chain and ensure production capacity to meet the growing demand of solid-rocket motors and warheads on time and at affordable scale,” the news release said.

By Tony Bertuca
March 26, 2024 at 11:38 AM

Sweden-based Saab announced today it intends to build a new munitions manufacturing facility in the United States focused on the development and production of missiles and components for weapon systems like the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb.

Final site selection and groundbreaking is planned for 2024, with production to begin in 2026.

“Saab is growing its business in the United States and delivering on our promise to increase and modernize domestic production of our close combat and missile weapon systems, which will extend our defense capabilities and ensure the safety and security of military personnel around the globe,” Erik Smith, head of the company’s U.S. division, said in a statement.

“With capacity for advanced manufacturing and engineering, this new site will be a world-class asset to the American industrial base,” he continued.

Saab’s announcement comes as senior defense officials, including Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante, have increased their focus on bolstering munitions production to continue military aid to Ukraine, replenish U.S. stocks and prepare to provide weapons to Taiwan to deter China.

By Georgina DiNardo
March 26, 2024 at 11:28 AM

The Defense Innovation Unit announced the launch of a trilateral prize challenge run through AUKUS Pillar II today which will focus on determining electromagnetic spectrum technologies that give the Defense Department a "strategic edge in targeting."

The EMS technologies DIU is searching for should also be able to “provide protection against adversarial electromagnetic-targeting capabilities,” a DOD release today said.

Each country in AUKUS has nominated an organization to head this prize challenge and each will run separate competitions synchronously, with DIU leading the U.S. challenge, the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator leading the Australian challenge and the Defence and Security Accelerator leading the U.K. challenge.

“A team of subject-matter experts will evaluate applicants and select winning companies from the three countries in July 2024,” DOD said.

This challenge is run through AUKUS Pillar II, which aims to develop advanced military capabilities.

"There is enormous potential in collaborating with our allies and partners, and our AUKUS electromagnetic warfare (EW) Challenge is an example of this," DIU Director Doug Beck said in the release. "A strong international community of defense innovation entities can help nurture and harness these new capabilities."

By Dan Schere
March 26, 2024 at 10:00 AM

Leonardo DRS is among the companies that are competing for the Army's CMOSS Mounted Form Factor program for combat vehicles, the company announced Tuesday.

C5ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS) is an effort by the Army to embed networked capabilities such as Position, Navigation and Timing, mission command application or radio waveforms into a “common ruggedized chassis” inside a tactical vehicle by inserting a card.

CMOSS Mounted Form Factor is the implementation of CMOSS that involves using a kit to “provide platforms with one or more standard chassis that are already plumbed for power, networks and radio frequency distribution.” It will serve as an upgrade to the Army’s combat vehicle-mounted battle management system, providing a “plug-and-play” capability that improves situational awareness.

Leonardo DRS announced Tuesday morning, ahead of the AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, AL, that it would be competing for the CMOSS Mounted Form Factor program. About 30 companies have started showing interest to compete, the company stated in a press release.

By Tony Bertuca
March 25, 2024 at 5:56 PM

U.S. Transportation Command has again sent an empty unfunded priorities list to Congress, according to a document obtained by Inside Defense.

The command also sent Congress an empty UPL for FY-24.

The regular fiscal year 2025 budget request is enough to “support the USTRANSCOM mission and invests in areas to ensure we maintain key strategic advantages,” according to a letter from Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, the chief of TRANSCOM, to the congressional defense committees.

By Georgina DiNardo
March 25, 2024 at 5:26 PM

Sasha Baker, acting under secretary of defense for policy, plans to resign at the end of April, according to a Pentagon announcement.

Amanda Dory, currently the director of the Africa Center of Strategic Studies at National Defense University, will replace Baker in the position, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in DOD statement today.

Austin said that Baker is stepping down to move onto “her next chapter.”

“Under her leadership, our Policy team has helped the Department navigate a range of complex global challenges, including major crises in Ukraine and the Middle East,” Austin wrote. “Her strategic acumen and steadfast commitment to our national security have helped her play a pivotal role in shaping our defense policies, tackling emerging threats, and strengthening interagency relationships and international alliances.”

Dory will resume the role as acting under secretary when Baker leaves in April as Derek Chollet, who has been nominated for the post, has yet to be confirmed.

Chollet was nominated in July 2023 but he faced GOP opposition during a contentious Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in September about his involvement in the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Austin today urged the Senate to confirm Chollet.

“At this crucial moment for U.S. defense policy, the Department needs a confirmed principal adviser in this critical role,” Austin wrote.

Meanwhile, Melissa Dalton, who took over for Mara Karlin’s position performing the duties of the deputy defense under secretary for policy in December, is set to leave that role as she was confirmed by the Senate last week to be under secretary of the Air Force.

By Tony Bertuca
March 25, 2024 at 5:18 PM

U.S. Cyber Command has sent Congress an empty unfunded priorities list, noting that the $2.9 billion request for fiscal year 2025 is sufficient, according to a document obtained by Inside Defense.

In a letter to the congressional defense committees, Air Force Gen. Timothy Haugh, the chief of CYBERCOM, asked lawmakers for their support in FY-25 and noted the command is “postured to implement the service-like authority for budget in FY2024 with an appropriation.”

Watch Inside Defense for further coverage of the military’s FY-25 unfunded priorities lists here.

By Abby Shepherd
March 25, 2024 at 4:57 PM

The Navy is seeking to rapidly field Middle Tier Acquisition for short endurance, small, unmanned surface vessel technology and is asking for industry input.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center seeks information related to these vessels, which are less than 14 feet long and weigh less than 1,000 pounds.

“There is a possibility of two variants, a short variant less than six feet and a larger variant with a maximum length of 14 feet,” according to a request for information posted Monday.

The USV should be operable for four hours, maintain a speed of four knots for two hours, able to execute a preplanned mission and make changes via integrated sensors and should be compatible with the U.S. Special Operations Command Modular Payload A-Kit.

A technology description, benefits, operational description and an estimated Technical Readiness Level should be included in the industry response, according to the RFI.

Responses to the RFI are due 30 days after the notice’s posting.

By John Liang
March 25, 2024 at 1:13 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Space Force's fiscal year 2025 unfunded priorities list, the Pentagon's Replicator initiative and more.

We start off with coverage of the Space Force's unfunded priorities list:

Space Force submits $1.15B list of mostly classified unfunded priorities

The Space Force has sent Congress a $1.15 billion unfunded priorities list for fiscal year 2025 highlighting unmet needs for mostly classified programs, according to a document obtained by Inside Defense.

Document: Space Force's FY-25 unfunded priorities list

(Read our coverage of all the UPLs we've obtained so far.)

. . . Moving on to the Pentagon's Replicator initiative:

DOD corrects Replicator inaccuracy, providing rare glimpse into budget decision process

Amid news of Congress allotting $200 million to the secretive Replicator program in a new spending deal, senior defense officials told Inside Defense in an exclusive interview that an inaccuracy was made in Replicator's published -- and later corrected -- fiscal year 2025 budget request, leading to an inside look at the Pentagon's internal decision-making process.

DOD AI chief announces Replicator 'sandbox' to test industry software

The Pentagon's chief digital and artificial intelligence officer said today that CDAO has created a "Replicator sandbox" to test industry drone software.

"AI Superteams" is a collaborative effort between the Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation and the Test and Evaluation Threat Resources Activity, better known as TETRA, which together have researched how "human autonomous teaming" can support "DOD performance improvement initiatives," according to a Pentagon spokesman:

New AI 'Superteams' in the works for DOD testing community

The Defense Department is working on developing the first "AI Superteams" for the testing and evaluation community over the next two years, the first of which Inside Defense has learned will be based at Redstone Arsenal, AL.

The Defense Department has submitted its first package of fiscal year 2025 legislative proposals:

Air Force eyes 107-plane reduction in combat-ready aircraft

The Air Force is again asking Congress to retire legacy aircraft the service deems no longer fit for combat with a near-peer adversary, including China, according to an initial package of legislative proposals sent to Congress last week.

DOD asks Congress to loosen spending restrictions on Ukraine aid

The Defense Department is asking Congress to modify the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative to allow for an additional two years of funding flexibility, according to a new legislative proposal.

Document: DOD's first package of FY-25 legislative proposals

Coverage of the FY-24 defense appropriations bill, which was finally signed into law late last week:

Appropriators allocate $3.72 billion for ground vehicles in 2024 Army budget

The Army would receive approximately $3.72 billion to fund ground vehicle programs in fiscal year 2024, $431 million more than what the service originally requested, according to congressional appropriation documents released Thursday.

Appropriations bill directs submarine program reviews, indicates cost and schedule concerns

Congress' final fiscal year 2024 appropriations package directs the Government Accountability Office to conduct a comprehensive review of the Virginia-class submarine program, citing concern over cost and schedule performance for both Virginia- and Columbia-class submarine production.

Last but by no means least, some counter unmanned aerial vehicles news:

JCO plans to spend $120 million on RDT&E in FY-25

The Pentagon's Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office (JCO), of which the Army is the executive agent, plans to spend $120 million on research, development, test and evaluation in fiscal year 2025 along with another $12 million on operations and maintenance.

By Georgina DiNardo
March 25, 2024 at 10:41 AM

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) named Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI) as the next chairman of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party following the announcement of Rep. Mike Gallagher's (R-WI) planned departure from Congress.

“John Moolenaar will be an exceptional chairman for the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party,” Johnson said in a press statement released by Moolenaar. “His leadership experience in the private and public sectors, his academic background and his principled service in Congress have earned John the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”

Along with leaving a vacant chairmanship on the CCP committee, Gallagher, who is set to resign April 19, is leaving an open chairmanship on the House Armed Services cyber, information technologies and innovation subcommittee. He is also leaving Johnson with a one-seat GOP majority in the House.

Moolenaar, meanwhile, said he is looking forward to his new job.

“Together, we can help our country prepare for the challenges we face from the Chinese Communist Party and win the competition against the CCP,” he said.

The CCP committee, which was created in January 2023, aims to find bipartisan solutions through defensive action plans related to threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party.

By John Liang
March 25, 2024 at 9:20 AM

Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun announced today he would step down at the end of 2024, while Chairman of the Board Larry Kellner said he wouldn't stand for re-election at the company's upcoming annual shareholder meeting.

Steve Mollenkopf, the former CEO of Qualcomm who served on Boeing's board since 2020, was subsequently elected to succeed Kellner as independent board chair.

"In this role, Mollenkopf will lead the board's process of selecting Boeing's next CEO," a company statement reads.

Additionally, Stephanie Pope has been appointed to lead Boeing Commercial Airplanes as president and CEO, replacing Stan Deal who announced his retirement.

By Tony Bertuca
March 25, 2024 at 5:00 AM

Two major military service associations host annual conferences this week, while senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at several events around Washington.


The Association of the United States Army holds its annual Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, AL, which runs through Thursday.

The Center for a New American Security hosts a discussion on autonomous systems in the Indo-Pacific.

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on “uncrewed systems to hedge against aggression.”


The Air and Space Forces Association’s Mitchell Institute hosts its annual Spacepower Security Forum in Washington.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on artificial intelligence and autonomy with a senior Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency official.

Defense One hosts an event on the state of the Navy.


Defense One hosts an event on the state of the Air Force.

By John Liang
March 22, 2024 at 3:32 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the military's fiscal year 2025 unfunded priorities lists, the FY-24 defense spending bill and more.

We start off with more FY-25 unfunded priorities lists:

Army submits $2.2 billion unfunded priorities list to Congress with focus on counter UAS

The Army has submitted a $2.2 billion unfunded priorities list to Congress for fiscal year 2025, which places a heavy emphasis on counter UAS, UAS and integrated air and missile defense.

CENTCOM sends lawmakers $450M unfunded list

The chief of U.S. Central Command has sent Congress a $450 million fiscal year 2025 unfunded priorities list, keying the need for counter-drone capabilities, but also reminding lawmakers that he still needs $2.4 billion that is included in a supplemental spending bill that has stalled in the House, according to a document obtained by Inside Defense.

SPACECOM seeking $300M for space domain awareness in $1.2 billion UPL

U.S. Space Command wants more than $300 million for programs relating to space domain awareness, according to its mostly classified unfunded priorities list topping $1.2 billion.

(Read our coverage of all the UPLs we've obtained so far.)

A new Joint Program Office for Guam missile defense has been established:

DOD stands up Joint Program Office for Guam missile defense headed by Army three-star

The Defense Department last month designated a single official to oversee the acquisition of technology needed to develop and field a 360-degree, air-and-missile defense capability for Guam, tapping Army Lt. Gen. Robert Rasch to be executive officer in charge of the newly created Joint Program Office in support of the Guam Defense System.

Aircraft coverage from the FY-24 defense spending bill:

Aircraft to see ramp-up in FY-24 deal, while missiles are slashed

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is on track for a $277 million increase to procure an additional three aircraft as Congress seeks to boost the Air Force's overall aircraft procurement, according to the fiscal year 2024 defense appropriations package released this week.

Congress poised to fund AETP in final FY-24 appropriations bill, just not for F-35

Congress wants to continue to fund the Air Force's Adaptive Engine Transition Program via a $280 million plus up in a looming fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill, despite the service asking for zero dollars for the option in its request for this year, according to documents released by lawmakers Thursday.

Chinook, Black Hawk get procurement boosts in FY-24 spending bill

Congress' fiscal year 2024 appropriations package adds more than $200 million for procurement of Chinook helicopters and more than $60 million for Black Hawk helicopters -- two of the Army's legacy aircraft.

Congress wants Air Force to justify its restructuring plan before making any changes

Congress plans to block the Air Force's restructuring plans unless the service can adequately justify the need, according to documents released today with the fiscal year 2024 appropriations conference bill.

Some Joint All-Domain Command and Control news:

INDOPACOM to test Joint Fires Network later this year, informing CJADC2 development

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command plans to test a developing battle management system connecting "sensors and shooters" across the joint force during a major exercise later this year, in a demonstration that could provide a roadmap for the Pentagon's Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control (CJADC2) initiative.

By Georgina DiNardo
March 22, 2024 at 3:10 PM

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) announced his resignation today, effective April 19, from the House of Representatives, opening two key chairmanships and leaving Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) with a one-seat majority.

Gallagher, who has been a key advocate for defense modernization, announced last month that he would not be running for re-election, however, today said he will be ending his final term early.

“After conversations with my family, I have made the decision to resign my position as a member of the House of Representatives for Wisconsin’s Eighth Congressional District Effective April 19, 2024,” Gallagher posted today in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Gallagher’s departure leaves open the chairmanship of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, which he currently holds. It also leaves open his chairmanship on the House Armed Services cyber, information technologies and innovation subcommittee.

“I will forever be proud of the work I did on the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, chairing the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, and chairing the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party,” his statement said. “It has truly been an honor to serve in the House of Representatives.”

Gallagher’s resignation leaves Republicans with a small majority of 217-213, meaning that if all Democrats vote together, Republicans can only allow one defection to maintain the majority. This tightens the margins even more on a majority that’s already been shrinking, most recently with Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) resigning Friday.

“I’ve worked closely with House Republican leadership on this timeline and look forward to seeing Speaker Johnson appoint a new chair to carry out the important mission of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party,” Gallagher wrote in his statement.

Gallagher said his office will continue operations to serve his constituents for the remainder of his term.

“Four terms serving Northeast Wisconsin in Congress has been the honor of a lifetime and strengthened my conviction that America is the greatest country in the history of the world,” his statement said.