The Insider

By John Liang
July 22, 2022 at 1:51 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on unmanned undersea vehicles, the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, missile defense and more.

We start off with news from this year's Rim of the Pacific exercise:

U.S., allied nations deploying UUVs from amphib during RIMPAC

Partner nations of the United States are putting unmanned underwater vehicles to the test in the world's largest maritime exercise this summer.

Our colleagues from Inside Cybersecurity are reporting that Senate authorizers want a Government Accountability Office assessment of a certain aspect of the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

Senate defense policy bill directs GAO to produce report on CMMC reciprocity

Senate Armed Services Committee leadership is asking the Government Accountability Office to "conduct an assessment on the incorporation of reciprocity" into the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, in the chamber's latest version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, in its mark of the FY-23 defense policy bill, would fully fund the Missile Defense Agency’s No. 2 unfunded priority: $292 million for the Regional Glide Phase Defeat Weapon System, also called the Glide Phase Interceptor:

Senate authorizers add funds to accelerate GPI, countermand USD research and engineering

Senate lawmakers are proposing a dramatic increase in spending for the Glide Phase Interceptor in fiscal year 2023 -- a nearly $300 million boost the Pentagon's top technology shop last fall determined would not necessarily accelerate plans for fielding a hypersonic defense.

Senate authorizers also want a Government Accountability Office review of how the Defense Department looks at industry mergers and acquisitions:

Senate lawmakers seek review of Pentagon's new M&A posture

The Senate Armed Services Committee wants the Government Accountability Office to review the Pentagon's process for considering defense industry mergers and acquisitions, a topic that has become especially controversial in recent months following the government's blocking of Lockheed Martin's proposed $4.4 billion acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Some Army electric vehicle news:

Army will test electric trucks from GMC, Canoo

The Army has ordered two battery-electric vehicles to test their ability to complete military missions and refine requirements for the planned electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle.

Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Lorin Selby said this week that he will use autonomous, commercial off-the-shelf systems and sensors to help U.S. Southern Command find drug runners:

Selby: Navy's SCOUT program to complete in-water demo next spring

The Navy's SCOUT pilot program, which aims to rapidly develop technologies, will complete an in-water demo next spring.

By Evan Ochsner
July 22, 2022 at 11:14 AM

The Senate Armed Services Committee wants to provide more money for the Army to continue developing the aircraft it says will replace the Black Hawk.

The committee, in a report accompanying its version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill, proposed adding $23 million in research and development funding to the $1.2 billion the Army requested in advanced development funds for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft.

“The committee recognizes this critical transition period to a program of record,” the report states.

The committee intends for the funds “to maintain program momentum by funding long-lead materials and rapid system prototyping.”

By John Liang
July 21, 2022 at 2:05 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's top modernization priorities, Army Futures Command and more.

The Air Force's top civilian spoke this week at the Aspen Security Forum:

Kendall highlights space, NGAD as Air Force priorities at Aspen Security Forum

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall this week laid out what he sees as the service's top modernization priorities as he prepares the fiscal year 2024 budget request, the first spending plan to be fully developed under his leadership.

The Army's No. 2 civilian spoke this week at an event hosted by the Association of the United States Army:

Camarillo: AFC directive designed to make modernization a 'team sport'

Army policies establishing the role of Futures Command did not take the entire acquisition process into account, the service's under secretary said Wednesday, also suggesting that an earlier directive improperly subordinated civilian acquisition authority.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, in its mark of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill, has proposed increasing the Missile Defense Agency's Technology Maturation Initiative's funding on the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Diode-Pumped Alkali Laser project:

Congress proposes extending MDA work on potential missile-killing laser technology

A key congressional committee wants the Missile Defense Agency to continue developing next-generation directed-energy technology, proposing a $5 million increase to the fiscal year 2023 budget to extend work on a project with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on a Diode-Pumped Alkali Laser (DPAL).

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity also have coverage of the Senate's version of the annual defense policy bill:

Senate defense policy bill requires Software Bill of Materials for DOD contracts, reports on critical infrastructure

Cyber elements in the Senate version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill are mostly Defense Department-focused, including a provision to require contractors to submit a Software Bill of Materials, and new authorities for U.S. Cyber Command to play an active role in addressing critical infrastructure attacks by "foreign powers."

The National Institute of Standards and Technology wants to hear from industry on the best way to handle controlled unclassified information:

NIST seeks comments on controlled unclassified information publications ahead of formal update process

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued a pre-draft call for comments on four publications that explain how to protect the confidentiality of sensitive government data held on nonfederal systems, which are critical to the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program.

The Senate Armed Services Committee included several provisions in its version of the FY-23 defense policy bill to direct the comptroller general to review Navy programs -- including modernized cruisers the service has pegged to decommission:

Senate authorizers direct comptroller to assess Navy's cruiser modernization, surface fleet

New legislation from Senate lawmakers aims to assess the Navy's cruiser modernization program and address a myriad of surface fleet issues.

By Michael Marrow
July 21, 2022 at 1:51 PM

The integration of the Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System for the first two F-15Es has begun at Boeing's San Antonio facility, according to a Boeing press release.

A total of 43 F-15Es are slated to receive the EPAWSS enhancement, which is developed by a joint team of Boeing and BAE Systems.

EPAWSS is also being developed for F-15EXs, the new generation of F-15 aircraft built by Boeing. The system was initially tested with the delivery of the first two F-15EXs that participated in Northern Edge exercises in 2021, the release says.

In its annual review of the most expensive Defense Department weapon systems, the Government Accountability Office was recently told in interviews with program officials that the acquisition strategy for EPAWSS, which started production before development was complete, would deliver a capability 16 months earlier than a traditional approach.

Program officials also told GAO that EPAWSS F-15E integration would begin in June.

However, testing challenges identified by GAO pose the risk of delays, such as the system’s “underperformance in dense background frequency environments and with threat radar direction finding.”

The EPAWSS program “must address these issues to avoid future schedule delays and satisfy its current operational requirements,” GAO states. “As a result, the program added additional software integration and test capability and is prepared to accept performance as-is in certain areas, with some requirement changes under consideration.”

Additionally, the program has “yet to fully meet leading acquisition practices for production,” GAO found. An example, GAO notes, is that the program “does not plan to test a production-representative prototype in its intended environment until April 2023.”

That approach would entail budgeting $750 million for the acquisition of approximately 75 EPAWSS units -- 43 for F-15Es and 32 for F-15EXs -- before testing is complete.

In doing so, the program carries “the risk of finding issues in testing that may require costly and time-intensive future rework on units already produced,” according to GAO.

By Evan Ochsner
July 21, 2022 at 12:41 PM

The Army’s next meeting to discuss network modernization efforts with industry will be held Dec. 7 and 9 in Nashville, TN, and will focus on technologies to be fielded in 2025 and 2027, it announced Wednesday.

The December event will be the Army’s ninth such meeting under its network modernization effort. The event is hosted by the Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team and the program executive office for command, control and communications-tactical.

The meeting will inform industry’s research and development efforts for Capability Sets 25 and 27, suites of network modernization technologies the service plans to field in 2025 and 2027.

It will focus on “both Pacific and European theater of operations, including warfighter perspectives, lessons learned and lessons applied for unified network and data centric modernization priorities and experimentation,” according to the announcement.

It will feature sessions on specific technology efforts, including Family of Terminals, Unified Network Operations, data/cloud, waveform development/integration, modern security architecture approaches and more, according to the announcement.

At this time, the Army plans to host the event in-person without an option for virtual attendance.

Registration is open until Nov. 18.

By John Liang
July 20, 2022 at 5:10 PM

HII announced a leadership re-shuffling within its Newport News Shipbuilding division today.

Matt Needy, vice president of Navy programs, has been promoted to vice president and chief transformation officer. In this new position, Needy will be responsible for "the overall Newport News strategy execution, advanced development of business growth -- including the next-generation attack submarine SSN(X), enterprise-wide continuous improvement, overall operational health, and risk-opportunity management," according to a company statement.

Bryan Caccavale, NNS's vice president of material and manufacturing, has been promoted to vice president of Navy programs, according to HII.

Additionally, the material and manufacturing parts of Newport News are being restructured back into two stand-alone divisions, according to HII. Julia Jones remains vice president of manufacturing, while Cullen Glass, director of supply chain procurement, moves to vice president of supply chain management. In this role, Glass will be "responsible for all procurement, outsourcing and material logistics functions across Newport News," the company said.

"We have been on an aggressive journey to transform the way we run our business. Accomplishing this transformation while running our complex business is not a simple task," Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin said in the statement. "Our Navy customer expects us to deliver ships on time and on budget so they can meet the evolving demands of the global security environment. Our ultimate success depends on the acceleration of these efforts led by experienced leaders."

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 20, 2022 at 3:21 PM

The Army will host an industry day Aug. 30 on a new shoulder-launched munition that will combine anti-armor and anti-structure roles, according to a notice posted today.

“This forum will provide an opportunity to inform Industry on the XM919 [Individual Assault Munition] intent and strategic approach regarding the program timeline, updated user requirements for the XM919 IAM and its training device, system level test requirements, and the anticipated contracting approach,” the notice stated.

Army officials will update industry on developments in the program since a previous industry day for the program, which took place in April 2021, according to the notice. The upcoming industry day will include a public question-and-answer session and opportunities for one-on-one meetings between industry and service officials.

Contractors should be able to provide a “mature production-ready” shoulder-launched munition that meets current XM919 requirements, according to the notice. The munition should weigh less than 20 pounds, and soldiers should be able to fire it from open and confined spaces.

The XM919 should be able to defeat light armored vehicles and penetrate some types of bunkers, according to the project manager for close combat systems, which leads acquisition for shoulder-launched munitions. The new weapon is expected to replace four more specialized weapons with a single system.

By John Liang
July 20, 2022 at 2:12 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Navy cruiser funding, Army night vision goggles, missile defense on Guam and more.

We continue our coverage of the Senate Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill, including Navy cruisers:

Senate authorizers direct comptroller to assess Navy's cruiser modernization, surface fleet

New legislation from Senate lawmakers aims to assess the Navy's cruiser modernization program and address a myriad of surface fleet issues.

. . . and Army night vision goggles:

Senate bill encourages Army to explore mixed fielding strategy for IVAS

The Army should consider fielding its new augmented reality headset alongside other night vision systems to make close-combat formations more effective, according to Senate lawmakers.

. . . and missile defense on Guam:

Legislation proposes top acquisition status for new Guam missile defense system

The project to develop a new air and missile defense system for Guam should be elevated to the Pentagon's highest-profile acquisition category and assigned the responsibility of a senior Defense Department official, according to new legislation that aims to ensure the effort does not get mired in seams across the bureaucracy.

. . . and Air Force AWACS aircraft:

E-3 AWACS divestment further limited in Senate's proposed defense policy bill

The Senate Armed Services Committee in its defense policy bill would limit the number of outdated command-and-control aircraft the Air Force is allowed to retire unless the service meets requirements designed to bridge the capability gap.

. . . and Joint All-Domain Command and Control:

Senate authorizers push DOD-wide JADC2 experimentation, joint force HQ stand-up

Advocating strongly for military-wide experimentation tied to Joint All-Domain Command and Control, Senate authorizers are seeking to focus Defense Department leadership on the development, demonstration and transition of certain capabilities and systems within the realm of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

The House Armed Services readiness subcommittee held a hearing this week that featured the No. 2 senior uniformed officers from each service:

Navy failed to meet deadline for third-party submarine VLS work

Due to a systemic change in the Navy's insurance policy, the service failed to meet its June 1 deadline to have a third party conduct work on its submarines' vertical launch systems.

Document: House hearing on readiness

By Tony Bertuca
July 20, 2022 at 2:06 PM

The United States intends to send four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and more long-range missiles to Ukraine, bringing the total number of transferred HIMARS to 16, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said today.

The formal announcement is expected later this week and will be the 16th such transfer of military equipment from U.S. stocks to Ukraine using presidential “drawdown authority” since the start of an ongoing Russian invasion earlier this year.

The weapons transfers, Austin said, are “making a real difference in real time.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine is still heavily contested, despite Russian gains.

“Is the Donbas lost? No, it's not lost yet,” he said, noting the region is now home to a “grinding war of attrition.”

On some days, he said, Russian military gains can be measured in hundreds of meters.

“Collectively, we cannot allow the strong to conquer the weak,” Milley said. “The president of the United States has directed that we stand by Ukraine in their hour of need.”

That, Austin said, will mean more weapons transfers and continued training of the Ukrainian military. Last week, the United States announced a transfer of precision munitions to Ukraine.

Milley said most U.S. equipment ordered to Ukraine is shipped within 24 to 48 hours and then makes its way to the front lines of battle within a week or two. Austin said more than 200 Ukrainians have been trained to use the HIMARS.

Though he declined to discuss future weapons transfers, Austin said the United States and its foreign allies are “looking ahead to provide Ukraine with the capabilities that it will need for deterrence and self-defense over the long term.”

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 20, 2022 at 1:52 PM

The technology behind a cannon that could fire 1,000 miles failed to mature enough for the program to proceed along a development pathway before a science and technology effort was canceled earlier this year, Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo told reporters today.

“The technology wasn’t progressing as quickly as we had expected it to when the effort was started, and so we’ll continue to invest in enabling technologies and move forward on that,” he said. “So, we’re just not transitioning to that next phase on the Long-Range Cannon. We’re going to go back and mature the technologies, wait until they evolve, and then we’ll see where they are.”

Doug Bush, the Army acquisition executive, told a House panel in May that the service had terminated the Long-Range Cannon program, due to the potential high cost and redundant capabilities.

The program, which has also been called the Strategic Long-Range Cannon and the Extended Range Cannon Artillery II, sought to use unspecified technologies to dramatically extend the range of cannon artillery. The 1,000-mile range was intended to target enemy anti-access/area-denial assets at a lower cost than other missiles.

If the system had progressed further, development might have moved into a program of record or middle-tier acquisition pathway, according to Camarillo.

“It was a science and technology prototyping effort,” he said. “The idea was originally that that would mature to the point where we could bring that into some kind of full development capability.”

The House’s version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill, which passed the lower chamber last week, would authorize funding to restore the program, even after the Army’s cancellation.

Congress had denied funding for the program in its FY-22 defense appropriations bill. That followed earlier doubts from lawmakers, including a provision in the FY-20 National Defense Authorization Act that ordered a scientific study into the cannon’s scientific feasibility.

Although the study concluded last fall, there is no expected public release date.

By Shelley K. Mesch
July 20, 2022 at 10:34 AM

The Defense Department inspector general will begin this month evaluating the certification of three aircraft to carry the B61-12 nuclear bomb, the office announced Monday.

The IG will determine to what extent the Air Force complied with the Energy Department, DOD and Air Force requirements when certifying the F-15, F-35 and B-2 aircraft to carry the bomb, according to the memo.

The office will review documentation and interview personnel from several offices, including:

  • Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment
  • Air Force Global Strike Command
  • Air Combat Command
  • Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center
  • Air Force Safety Center

Military Service program management offices will also be contacted, and the IG could add other offices to its inquiry.

The first production unit of the B61-12 bomb was delivered late last year, the Los Alamos National Laboratory said, nearly two years behind schedule.

The program, which is intended to refurbish and consolidate three variants tied to the B-61 low-yield gravity bomb, faced technical problems with its non-nuclear electrical components.

The issues pushed back the FPU delivery date from March 2020 and could cost $850 million between the B61-12 program and the Navy’s W88 Alt 370 effort, Charles Verdon, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s deputy administrator for defense programs, told lawmakers in a September 2019 hearing.

The B61 bomb is the oldest weapon in the military’s nuclear stockpile, logging about 50 years of service. The life-extension program, which has been in the works for about 10 years, is expected to add another 20 years to the weapon, according to the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

By Briana Reilly
July 20, 2022 at 10:20 AM

The Czech Republic's defense minister is looking to procure two-dozen F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the country's government announced today.

The news came after the Czech cabinet moved to authorize Defense Minister Jana Černochová to begin negotiating the potential purchase with the U.S. government.

“Our decision to select this option is based on the analysis by the Czech Armed Forces, which clearly articulates that only the most advanced 5th generation fighters will be able to meet mission requirements in future battlefields,” Černochová said in the release.

The aircraft would replace Saab’s 14 JAS-39 Gripen C/D platforms, which are on lease until 2027. The announcement referenced that timeline, with Černochová noting that officials “must not hesitate because the lead times take years.”

The potential of increasing the government’s fighter fleet to 24, the release states, comes as the government recognizes “the present quantity of supersonic fighters no longer meets the current tasking.” It also cites “the worsening security situation,” which it notes will lead to more missions.

By moving forward with the F-35, the release adds, the Czech government will be able to share equipment with the U.S., Poland and other NATO allies, thereby strengthening “cooperation, joint training and capability sharing.”

Lockheed Martin, the maker of the F-35, touted the news in its own statement and pledged to “provide any support the U.S. government requires in discussions about an acquisition,” though it deferred questions to both countries' governments.

The Czech Republic’s decision to move forward with the F-35 comes after other European countries have formalized their own deals with the U.S. for the fighter aircraft, including, most recently, Switzerland, which announced in May it will buy 36 of the aircraft.

Those foreign military sales could help bolster Lockheed’s order tally as it works to formalize a “handshake” deal announced this week covering the next three F-35 production lots. Reached Monday, the lot 15-17 agreement includes 375 jets, according to the Pentagon -- some 100 platforms fewer than the current production framework, though officials noted the total could change based on lawmakers’ actions in the budget process or orders from international partners.

By Briana Reilly
July 19, 2022 at 4:36 PM

The Pentagon's chief technology officer has named the first slate of companies to receive $10 million each under a congressionally created pilot program designed to speed up the procurement and fielding of innovative capabilities.

Established under the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, the effort involves 10 small businesses or nontraditional defense contractors with technologies ranging from a multisensor payload for unmanned underwater vehicles to aircrew night vision goggles and smartwatches capable of quickly detecting infectious diseases.

“This pilot program is well positioned to be a key asset as we continue to work to bridge the valley of death,” Heidi Shyu, under secretary of defense for research and engineering, said in the Defense Department’s press release announcing the awardees today. “The ten companies being funded will fill critical capability gaps. Without [the program], their innovative technologies could take much longer to reach the hands of our warfighters.”

The following projects secured funding through the listed commands, services or entities, according to today’s announcement:

  • Arete Associates; Navy
  • Pacific Antenna Systems, Titan Systems and Naval Systems; Marine Corps
  • Atmospheric Plasma Solutions; Marine Corps
  • Eolian; U.S. Special Operations Command
  • Shield AI; Air Force
  • Orbital Research; Army
  • Bright Silicon Technologies; Missile Defense Agency
  • Aviation Specialties Unlimited; USSOCOM
  • Philips Healthcare; Defense Innovation Unit
  • Meroxa; Space Force

Lawmakers began the competitive program with the goals of, among other things, reducing acquisition or life-cycle costs and “rapidly implementing such technologies to directly support defense missions,” per the law text. DOD determined that in order to be eligible to receive funding through the program, a contractor must have gotten no more than $500 million in cumulative revenue from the military.

The pilot program is scheduled to end on Sept. 30, 2027.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 19, 2022 at 4:24 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee wants the Army to run a competition and consider all manufacturing approaches when the Extended Range Cannon Artillery moves from prototype to serial production, according to a new draft defense policy bill.

“The committee recommends a provision that would require the post-prototype production strategy for Extended Range Cannon Artillery howitzers to be based on a full and open competitive approach that considers the comparative cost and value of a new-build versus Paladin-modification production approach,” said the report accompanying the draft bill that the committee passed last month, which was filed July 18 for consideration by the full Senate.

ERCA is a high-priority Army program to field a self-propelled howitzer that can reach 70 kilometers with a new rocket-assisted projectile. The howitzer’s barrel is nearly 50% longer than existing U.S. 155 mm systems.

The Army would have to certify that any post-prototype acquisition strategy meets the competition requirement and brief the congressional defense committees on the issue before any request for proposals is released, according to the draft bill.

Currently, each ERCA prototype is created by modifying a M109A7 Paladin, the newest version of the Army’s legacy self-propelled howitzer. A prototype battalion of 18 ERCAs is scheduled to be delivered at the end of fiscal year 2023 for a soldier experiment, at least 12 of which will be assembled by an Army facility at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ.

Many production decisions have yet to be made for the ERCA, including whether the initial production model will include an autoloader. More questions include whether it will replace or permanently augment shorter-range howitzers in armored divisions.

An Army notice posted earlier this year said the service might run a competition to finish the technical data for the cannon, but not for the system’s production. The Army could make a follow-on award for production using the other transaction agreement for the technical data.

By Michael Marrow
July 19, 2022 at 3:50 PM

The Air Force is preparing an environmental impact statement that will assess the social, economic and environmental impacts that could result from the beddown of F-15EX and F-35A squadrons, according to a Federal Register notice published today.

The beddowns are associated with recapitalization of F-15C/D fleets currently in use by the Air National Guard. The F-15s are approaching the end of their service lives, the notice reads, and retention of the aircraft “is not economically feasible” beyond fiscal year 2026.

Under the proposed action, one F-15EX squadron would be based at two of three alternative locations, and one F-35A squadron would beddown at one of four alternative locations for a total of three new squadrons. The arrival of the aircraft would then enable National Guard crews to train with more advanced fighters.

The four sites under evaluation for the beddowns are Barnes Air National Guard Base, MA; Fresno Air National Guard Base, CA; Naval Air Station Lemoore, CA; and NAS Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, LA.

Each site is a candidate for either aircraft squadrons except for NAS Lemoore, which is limited to the F-35A.

The two F-15EX beddowns would each consist of 21 primary aircraft, two backup aircraft and one aircraft reserve, according to the notice. The F-35A beddown would include the same number of primary and backup aircraft but no reserve.

Each squadron relocation would also require additional personnel and construction projects to sustain the aircraft. Approximately 100 personnel would be necessary for the F-15EX beddown, the notice says, whereas the F-35A beddown would require 80.

A no action alternative will also be evaluated, according to the notice.

A draft EIS is expected to be completed by next summer, the notice states, and a final EIS would come in the winter/spring 2024 timeframe.

Following completion of the final EIS, the notice says, a record of decision would then be signed no sooner than 30 days after the EIS is published.