The Insider

By Rachel Cohen
November 16, 2018 at 6:26 PM

Tinker Air Force Base, OK, will coordinate B-21 Raider maintenance, while Edwards AFB, CA, will oversee test and evaluation, the Air Force said Friday.

Tinker AFB is home to the Air Force Sustainment Center and a prominent Air Logistics Complex. Sustainment facilities at Robins AFB in Georgia and Hill AFB in Utah will also support Tinker in maintaining and upgrading Northrop Grumman's next-generation long-range strike bomber, which is slated for delivery in the mid-2020s.

“In selecting Tinker AFB, Air Force leaders acknowledged that the organization has the right knowledge and expertise to support planning for the bomber's depot maintenance,” according to a service release. “The workforce at the bases will also be equipped to rebuild parts, assemblies or subassemblies of the plane as well as testing and reclaiming equipment as necessary for depot activations.”

Edwards AFB, which will run the B-21's combined test force, also hosts the Air Force Test Center.

Earlier this year, the service announced the B-21 will likely replace the B-1 and B-2 at Dyess AFB, TX; Ellsworth AFB, SD; and Whiteman AFB, MO. Air Force officials will make a final decision in 2019.

By Courtney Albon
November 16, 2018 at 3:19 PM

Some must-reads from this week's edition of Inside the Air Force:

1. Air Force weapons funding is expected to remain relatively flat in fiscal year 2020 -- and that's fine, according to the official who oversees the portfolio.
Full story: PEO Weapons says flat FY-20 funding could bode well for long-term production

2. Arming MQ-9 Reapers with air-to-air missiles can prepare the remotely piloted aircraft for a future filled with enemy unmanned systems and for new roles in contested airspace, defense experts tell Inside Defense.
Full story: Air-to-air missiles can expand MQ-9's role in high-end conflicts, experts say

3. The Air Force Research Laboratory is nearing the end of a 40-month development and demonstration of live, virtual, constructive technology that could make training more realistic and secure.
Full story: AFRL wraps up key LVC training demo, eyes future funding to mature technology

By Justin Katz
November 16, 2018 at 2:05 PM

ANNAPOLIS, MD -- The Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship Nantucket (LCS-27) will be “ready to receive” the Naval Strike Missile, and Lockheed Martin is working on a modernization package to equip in-service ships with the weapon system, according to a company official.

Joe DePietro, Lockheed Martin vice president of small combatants and ship systems, told reporters here yesterday the company has not received word from the Navy to install the weapon system, built by Raytheon and Norway-based Kongsberg, onto the Nantucket.

“It's up to the Navy on what ship they're going to target for delivery in the post-delivery world,” but Nantucket will be able to accommodate NSM's space and weight requirements, he said.

DePietro also said the Navy recently asked Lockheed to work on a modernization package to equip NSM onto in-service Freedom-class ships.

The Navy awarded a $14.8 million contract to Raytheon to manufacture and deliver the weapon system in May. Kongsberg will manufacture the missile in Norway, while Raytheon builds the launcher in a Kentucky facility. The missile will give both the LCS and guided-missile frigate replacement long-range, anti-surface offensive capability against other surface combatants.

Earlier this year, the Navy said it would install the the first NSM, also called the over-the-horizon missile, on the Independence-class variant of Littoral Combat Ships, Inside the Navy reported.

By Marjorie Censer
November 16, 2018 at 12:32 PM

Today's INSIDER Daily Digest includes a behind-the-scenes look at how the Army decided on a new time line for its latest combat vehicle program and the results of the Pentagon's first-ever audit.

First, we track the Army secretary's path to deciding on a new fielding plan for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle:

How the Army secretary drove the service to accelerate its new combat vehicle program

Seeking to accelerate the fielding date of the Army's next-generation fighting vehicle, Army Secretary Mark Esper was presented three plans -- one too far in the future to satisfy demand, one too near to add much capability and another option he decided was just right.

The Pentagon comptroller briefed reporters on the findings of the Defense Department's first try at an audit:

Pentagon's first-ever audit fails to find 'hidden pots of gold'

Though the Defense Department failed to receive a “clean” opinion from auditors who examined more than $2.7 trillion in DOD assets, Pentagon officials say the historic undertaking has provided valuable information that will improve military readiness and cybersecurity.

Meanwhile, the Defense Security Service is set to combine the work of several other organizations:

Defense Security Service consolidating several entities, rebranding as part of background investigations shift

President Trump is expected to “imminently” sign an executive order formally shifting federal background investigations to the Defense Security Service and rebranding DSS as the “Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency,” according to Defense Department officials.

Inside the Navy was in Annapolis, MD, yesterday for a briefing with Lockheed Martin:

Lockheed modifying Freedom-class LCS stern ramps to stow vessels at high speeds

ANNAPOLIS, MD -- Lockheed Martin is upgrading the stern ramps on its Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships to allow crews to stow vehicles on the ramp while the ship is moving at up to 40 knots, according to a company official.

We found another interesting detail in the new report from the Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States:

Commission: SECDEF should ensure MDA transitions missile defense systems to services

The defense secretary should make good on long-standing plans for the Missile Defense Agency to transfer acquisition responsibility for mature missile defense programs to the relevant military services that operate the system, an independent defense commission recommends.

Lastly, we have news on another MQ-9 contract:

Recent MQ-9 contract funds 16 new remotely piloted aircraft

General Atomics' most recent MQ-9 Reaper procurement contract will cover production of 16 remotely piloted aircraft, according to the Air Force.

By Marjorie Censer
November 16, 2018 at 10:04 AM

Science Applications International Corp. and Engility said this week each company will hold a special meeting in January to vote on proposals related to SAIC's acquisition of Engility.

The Jan. 11 meetings will be held at the company's respective headquarters.

“The transaction remains subject to customary conditions, including approval by SAIC’s and Engility’s stockholders,” the companies said. “The proposed transaction is expected to be completed shortly after the stockholders of both companies approve the merger.”

By Justin Doubleday
November 15, 2018 at 6:14 PM

National Background Investigations Bureau Director Charles Phalen said today the background investigations backlog stands at 630,000, down 13 percent since the spring.

Phalen presented updated numbers -- current as of Monday Nov. 12 -- during today’s National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Council meeting in Washington. He had promised the group the backlog would be down 15 percent by Thanksgiving, a number he hopes to still reach.

The number of initial, secret-level investigations in the backlog totals 190,000 cases, 35,000 of which are industry personnel, according to Phalen. The backlog of initial, top-secret investigations is 90,000, with 25,000 of those being industry personnel.

And out of those 280,000 personnel waiting on their initial investigations to process, about 114,000 are working under interim clearances, Phalen said.

“That's not as bad a number as some have put out there,” he said. “It's certainly not where we want it to be, but it's not in such bad shape here.”

The remaining cases in the backlog are reinvestigations, meaning those personnel can continue to maintain their clearances in most instances.

However, the time it takes to conduct investigations remains a challenge, Phalen noted. His presentation shows the fastest 90 percent of initial, secret investigations in September took an average of 157 days. The goal is 40 days.

Initial, top-secret investigations continue to lag, as the fastest 90 percent of such cases in September took an average of 405 days. The goal is 80 days.

But timeliness numbers have improved this year along with the backlog. In March, the fastest 90 percent of initial, secret investigations were taking an average of 224 days, while initial, top-secret cases were taking on average 474 days.

Phalen said NBIB investigators are spending 35 percent less time doing fieldwork due to increased investigative capacity. The bureau is up to 8,800 field investigators.

“That population has gained experience over the last six months,” he said.

While a top intelligence official recently said the background investigations backlog could be down to 300,000 by next spring, Phalen poured cold water on the projection.

“I would say probably closer to 500,000, but I'm pretty conservative,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Trump is expected to “imminently” sign an executive order directing the transition of NBIB -- which sits under the Office of Personnel Management -- into the Defense Department’s Defense Security Service. The move has been expected since the White House initially proposed it as part of a government reorganization plan released this summer.

By Tony Bertuca
November 15, 2018 at 3:47 PM

The Defense Department plans to reduce the 7,200 U.S. troops in Africa by about 10 percent as part of a “realignment” of counterterrorism forces and a renewed focus on global competitions with China and Russia, according to an announcement from the Pentagon.

“We will realign our counterterrorism resources and forces operating in Africa over the next several years in order to maintain a competitive posture worldwide,” the Pentagon said. “We will complement ongoing Department of State and broader U.S. government efforts to strengthen African partner defense capabilities and regional organizations to enable them to effectively address security threats, reducing threats to U.S. citizens and interests in the region.”

The Pentagon said realignment is needed to better execute the National Defense Strategy, which is built around China and Russia. 

“As the department implements the NDS to maintain our global military advantage, we are moving to a more resource-sustainable approach with our counter violent extremist organization campaign, with priority placed on protecting the homeland and our key national interests from violent extremist 
organizations,” DOD said.

However, the new plan preserves the majority of U.S. security cooperation partnerships and programs in Africa, including those around Somalia, Djibouti and Libya. 

“In other regions, such as West Africa, emphasis shifts from tactical assistance to advising, assisting, liaising, and sharing intelligence,” the Pentagon said.

By Courtney Albon
November 15, 2018 at 3:30 PM

The Air Force expects it will take three to five years to repair damage to Tyndall Air Force Base, FL, caused by Hurricane Michael.

The storm, which hit the base in early October, caused damage to 95 percent of the base's buildings, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said at a Nov. 15 Defense One Summit. Wilson said the service is currently assessing which buildings to repair and which to destroy and rebuild.

A number of missions will return to the base over the next three months, including the Air Operations Center -- which should be operational by January 2019 -- and the simulator portion of the F-22 schoolhouse. Nearby Eglin Air Force Base, FL, will take Tyndall's F-22 flying training unit. Wilson noted that all F-22s that remained at the base to weather the storm have flown.

By Marjorie Censer
November 15, 2018 at 1:39 PM

Today's INSIDER Daily Digest includes news from the deputy defense secretary's meeting today with reporters and the latest on the Pentagon's new air-launched, anti-ship missile.

We begin with Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan's meeting with reporters today:

Shanahan says cost of Space Force could be in the 'single-digit' billions

Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said today the Pentagon estimates the cost to establish a new and separate Space Force could be less than $5 billion, despite earlier predictions from the Air Force that it could cost $13 billion over five years.

Lockheed Martin's Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile is being considered for two Air Force bombers:

LRASM misses B-1 early capability goal as officials eye B-52 integration

The Defense Department's new air-launched, anti-ship missile failed to reach early operational capability on the Air Force's B-1 bomber in September as planned because of a “minor discrepancy” in the software, a Navy official tells Inside Defense.

Northrop Grumman plans to participate in the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor program's demonstration next year -- even after it was not selected for the most recent set of contracts:

Northrop plans to participate in LTAMDS radar 'sense-off' after being dropped from program

Northrop Grumman, the U.S. radar-building powerhouse dropped last month by the Army from its Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor program, will jump back in the multibillion dollar competition to build a Patriot radar replacement by participating in a radar “sense-off” event next year, setting up at least a three-way contest next spring.

Last night, the Pentagon moved forward on the latest F-35 deal:

Pentagon sets $22.7 billion ceiling for 255 jets in F-35 Lot 12 UCA

The Pentagon today awarded Lockheed Martin a $22.7 billion undefinitized contract action for F-35 low-rate initial production Lot 12 -- a deal that secures early production work for 255 U.S. and international partner aircraft.

Meanwhile, Inside the Air Force recently interviewed Brig. Gen. Anthony Genatempo, the service's weapons program executive officer:

PEO Weapons: Flat FY-20 funding could bode well for steadier long-term production

Air Force weapons funding is expected to remain relatively flat in fiscal year 2020 -- and that's fine, according to the official who oversees the portfolio.

And finally, the Army has issued a new directive about its plans for an artificial intelligence task force:

Army standing up AI task force, but IOC is delayed

The Army is standing up an artificial intelligence task force in Pennsylvania under its new Futures Command to support the Defense Department's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, according to a directive from the service secretary.

By Marjorie Censer
November 15, 2018 at 1:21 PM

Amazon's decision to locate part of its second headquarters in Northern Virginia “does put stress on the system,” the chief executive of Perspecta said last night.

Speaking to analysts, Mac Curtis acknowledged it could tighten the job market for the contractor. However, he said only one-quarter of the company's nearly 15,000 employees are based in the D.C. area.

He said much of that workforce has clearances and is driven by the company's mission -- but said the company is still thinking about how to hold onto its employees.

“We're looking at how you wrestle with that,” Curtis said. “It's probably the only time in my career I've said I'm glad I'm 30 miles outside of Crystal City, near Dulles, because commute does play a pretty big role in the work-life balance.”

Curtis also said the company remains bullish despite reports the Pentagon may need to come up with a $700 billion, rather than $733 billion, budget next year.

He said Perspecta doesn't expect a “peanut butter spread” approach to cuts.

“I think it's going to be really on specific systems,” Curtis told analysts. “We're in the right markets, we do the right functions in cyber and data analytics. A $700 billion budget is still a lot.”

Meanwhile, Perspecta reported yesterday sales in its most recent quarter reached nearly $1.1 billion, up 51 percent from the same three-month period a year earlier.

However, the contractor recorded quarterly profit of $24 million, down 40 percent from the prior year.

Perspecta said its defense and intelligence business recorded an 8 percent sales boost during the quarter.

“Major drivers of the year-over-year increase include continued growth in intelligence community support and background investigations,” the company said. “The increase also included $13 million resulting from the successful completion a large, classified, fixed priced contract earlier than originally anticipated.”

By Rachel Cohen
November 15, 2018 at 1:12 PM
Highlights from this week's Inside the Pentagon:
1. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) this week said $733 billion should be the "floor, not a ceiling," for defense-wide spending in fiscal year 2020 -- even as the White House pursues a $33 billion topline cut.
2. An independent bipartisan commission found properly executing the Trump administration's National Defense Strategy is only possible if the military's base budget reaches between $691 billion and $746 billion by fiscal year 2023. Without higher funding, the report warns, the United States "might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia."
3. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the likely next House Armed Services Committee chairman, suggested he can find common ground with defense hawks by spending more on conventional assets rather than nuclear modernization.
By Tony Bertuca
November 15, 2018 at 12:51 PM

(Editor's note: This story has been updated to include additional information on the nature of the audit.)

The Pentagon, as long expected, has failed its first-ever audit, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, who said the department is still making steady progress in business reforms.

“We failed the audit,” he told reporters at the Pentagon today. “We never thought we were going to pass an audit. Everyone was betting against us that we would even do the audit. . . . It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion organization. The fact we did the audit is substantial.”

Though Shanahan put it in stark terms, the audit process is more nuanced than simply “pass/fail.”

“We did not receive an 'adverse' finding -- the lowest possible category -- in any area,” DOD spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Buccino said. “We did receive findings of ‘disclaimer’ in multiple areas. Clearly more work lies ahead of us.”

Full results of the audit are expected to be released later today by the Defense Department's inspector general, but Shanahan previewed several details.

“We count ships right,” he said.

But “some of the compliance issues are irritating to me,” he continued. “The point of the audit is to drive better discipline. Some of those things frustrated me because we have a job to do. It's like inventory accuracy. When they did the Navy audit, they found that some of the buildings they said were on the books weren't on the books. Does that impact cost or anything? No, it doesn't, but we should have that higher level of discipline. We need to develop the plans to address the findings and actually put corrective action in place.”

Shanahan also said he is concerned about gaps in cybersecurity discovered by auditors. He said the audit is a valuable signal to American taxpayers the Defense Department is working

“Audits should be fundamental to any effective organization,” he said. “If I'm a taxpayer, what I want to see is . . . you did the audit. You have all these findings. How long is it going to take to fix those. Then show me next year it takes less to audit and you have fewer findings.”

By Marjorie Censer
November 15, 2018 at 11:49 AM

In a letter sent yesterday to three companies, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) seeks information on the firms' consulting services contracts with Saudi Arabia as well as the role of past and present Trump administration officials in negotiating those deals.

The letter, first reported by Bloomberg, was sent to the chief executives of Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting Group and Deloitte.

Warren says the firms must “be transparent about their services to the Saudi government” in the wake of the alleged government-directed murder of U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.

She notes there are reports Booz Allen advises the Saudi army, while BCG won a contract to overhaul procurement systems for the country. Deloitte, Warren writes, appears to be participating in the Saudi government's Vision 2030 effort.

“The government of Saudi Arabia brutally silences critics, including Jamal Khashoggi, and continues to engage in a bombing campaign in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians, brought millions to the brink of starvation, and sparked near-worldwide condemnation,” she continues. “Given the Kingdom's recent actions, your firms' continued business relationships with this government appear to be inconsistent not only with American values but with your stated principles.”

Warren asks the three companies to detail their consulting services contracts with the Saudi government and the payments they've received; to provide all reports produced under those contracts; to describe whether any past or present Trump administration officials were involved in those contracts; to explain whether they expect to continue working with the Saudi government; to detail how they decide which governments to accept as clients; and to explain company risk management processes.

She sets Nov. 30 as a deadline for responses.

A Booz Allen spokeswoman told Inside Defense the company has received the letter and is “reviewing it.” BCG and Deloitte did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

By Thomas Duffy
November 15, 2018 at 11:39 AM

The White House is resisting a Senate resolution that would oppose a planned $300 million foreign weapons sale to Bahrain.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is behind the resolution, arguing Bahrain is “a member of the Saudi-led coalition waging a devastating war in Yemen that has killed thousands of innocent civilians and left millions of Yemenis on the edge of famine.”

According to Paul's office, the Senate will vote on the resolution this afternoon.

In a statement of administration policy released this morning, The White House said this morning the sale involves 120 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System pods and 110 Army Tactical Missile System pods.

“Apart from negatively impacting our bilateral relationship with the Kingdom of Bahrain, the joint resolution would hamper our ability to build and maintain security cooperation relationships, and sustain our pressure campaign against al Qaeda and ISIS. Bahrain also plays a critical role in countering and exposing harmful Iranian activities and proxies in the region,” the White House said.

Bahrain is home to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, forward-deployed U.S. Marine Central Command and the Combined Maritime Force.

By Maximilian Kwiatkowski
November 14, 2018 at 4:33 PM

The Army is seeking white papers from industry on current technologies and research as part of its upcoming Digital Soldier initiative industry day.

Digital Soldier, formerly known as the Asymmetric Vision/Decide Faster initiative, aims to procure new wearable or handheld systems from non-traditional contractors.

The meeting will be hosted at Ft. Belvoir, VA, on Jan. 16 and 17.

For this meeting, the service intends to focus on sensors, automatic target recognition, augmented reality, GPS-denied soldier positioning navigation and timing and autonomy for small unmanned aircraft systems, according to a Nov. 7 Federal Business opportunities notice.

The Army is mainly interested in sensors that are small, affordable, low-power and soldier-borne thermal/low light or those that track human performance.

The service is also looking at how it can apply UAS autonomy to “complex, congested/contested, communication degraded/denied environments while enabling the mounted and/or dismounted small unit to maintain situational awareness and understanding,” according to the notice.

One of the other goals of this meeting is to provide updates to both government and industry on what both have achieved since the previous Digital Soldier industry days in March.

The deadline for vendors to submit white papers is Dec. 12.