The Insider

By Jason Sherman
January 12, 2022 at 2:15 PM

The Defense Department is feeling the squeeze of rising prices and has had to shift funds around internally in recent weeks to cover $1.5 billion in must-pay bills, the Pentagon's chief financial officer told Congress today.

Mike McCord, under secretary of defense (comptroller), in written testimony prepared for a hearing of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee today on the impacts of an extended continuing resolution, revealed the Pentagon is feeling the adverse effects of higher fuel prices.

“I have had to approve two increases in our [fiscal year] 2022 fuel prices -- a first increase on Oct. 1, 2021 and a second on Jan. 1, 2022 -- to keep our working capital fund solvent in response to higher fuel prices,” McCord said in his written testimony. “This has created a bill of $1.5 billion for the services in FY 2022, in addition to the [operations and maintenance account] reductions that flow directly from the CR.”

The testimony does not indicate which accounts were raided in order to pay the higher fuel costs.

By John Liang
January 12, 2022 at 9:29 AM

Former Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord has joined the GEOST board of directors, the company announced this week.

GEOST makes sensors for space domain awareness, missile tracking and ISR.

"Lord’s experience as a defense industry leader will provide critical insights for GEOST's research and development (R&D) expansion, as well as extension of production operations," a company statement reads.

Last August, New York-based private-equity firm ATL Partners took a majority stake in GEOST "with plans to significantly scale GEOST's business by continuing to invest in new product research and development as well as enhanced production capabilities," according to the statement.

By John Liang
January 11, 2022 at 1:47 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on hypersonics, the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, Air Force combat drones and more.

The Pentagon is planning a series of hypersonics flight tests:

DOD announces 'full-scale hypersonics flight test series,' reveals little else publicly

The Defense Department is asking industry for feedback on plans for a "full-scale hypersonics flight test series" -- with further details available only to cleared contractors.

The latest on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Contracting attorney: Incentives critical to stakeholder investment in CMMC amid lengthy rulemaking process

With two rulemakings expected at the end of 2022 to formally kick off the Defense Department's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, contracting attorney Robert Metzger says the development of incentives to encourage military contractors to invest now in CMMC preparation is critical but the process is complicated.

News on Air Force unmanned systems:

Industry eagerly eyes upcoming USAF combat drone programs

Companies involved in the Air Force's autonomous aircraft teaming endeavor are welcoming efforts to include two classified drone programs involving bombers and fighters in the upcoming budget request, with one industry official saying the move reflects the service's acknowledgment that it now has the tools "ready to start answering these needs."

The Navy completed 59% of maintenance availabilities on time in fiscal year 2021, up from 34% in FY-19:

Kitchener: Navy reducing maintenance delays but more work to be done

The Navy has reduced its days of maintenance delay by 41% since fiscal year 2019, Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, the commander of Naval Surface Forces, told reporters Friday.

The Army has completed a critical design review of the new Apache helicopter engine:

Boeing contract furthers push for new Apache engine

Boeing will conduct testing and engineering of GE's T901 engine for Army Apache helicopters, after the contractor was awarded a $240 million contract late last year.

By Briana Reilly
January 11, 2022 at 1:30 PM

Collins Aerospace will give the B-52 bomber a new electric power generation system, the company announced today.

Part of Raytheon Technologies, Collins Aerospace was selected by Boeing to complete the work, according to the release.

Based on “industry-leading commercial technology,” the new system will replace the current 70-year-old one, include eight generators per bomber and “contribute to the Air Force’s goal of a 30% improvement in fuel efficiency for the B-52 along with a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions,” the release states.

Boeing is serving as the prime integrator for the B-52 upgrades, including the bomber’s Commercial Engine Replacement Program. The Air Force selected Rolls-Royce in September 2021 to re-engine the fleet.

By Tony Bertuca
January 11, 2022 at 11:19 AM

Arun Seraphin, a professional staff member with the Senate Armed Services Committee who has influenced some of the most significant defense acquisition reform measures of the past 20 years, is leaving government to become deputy director of the National Defense Industrial Association's Emerging Technologies Institute.

“In this role, Seraphin will provide strategic direction for the organization, determine research priorities and manage research and policy projects,” according to an NDIA announcement.

During his time in the Senate, Seraphin specialized in defense acquisition policy, Pentagon management as well as defense science and technology.

“I am excited by the opportunity to help expand the activities of the Emerging Technology Institute and contribute to NDIA’s efforts to ensure that the nation is developing and deploying the best new technologies for national security,” Seraphin said in the NDIA statement. “I look forward to applying my government and technical experience to shape policies, programs and activities that can bolster innovation in support of national defense missions and economic growth.”

Mark Lewis, ETI’s executive director and former director of defense research and engineering for the Defense Department, referred to Seraphin as “a Washington, DC icon.”

“Arun helped shape many elements of the Defense Department’s science and technology enterprise,” Lewis said. “Arun is one of our nation’s most influential thought leaders at the intersection of science and defense, and we are incredibly fortunate to have him on board at NDIA.”

Seraphin, who holds a doctorate in electronic materials from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has worked in government for roughly 20 years. He rejoined the committee staff in 2014, after previously serving there between 2001 and 2010. He has also served as principal assistant director for national security and international affairs in the White House Office of Science and Technology.

“Seraphin also was instrumental in forming science and technology policies with the House of Representatives, the Institute of Defense Analyses and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency,” according to NDIA.

By Briana Reilly
January 11, 2022 at 10:11 AM

The first production unit of the Air Force's B61-12 has been delivered, following a schedule delay that set back the bomb's arrival by nearly two years.

The milestone, announced in late December by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, clears the way for full-scale production to kick-off in May, according to the release.

Intended to refurbish and consolidate three of the existing variants tied to the service’s B61 low-yield gravity bomb, the program in recent years encountered technical issues with non-nuclear electrical components that pushed back FPU delivery for it and the Navy’s W88 Alt 370 effort. The B61-12 FPU was originally expected to arrive in March 2020.

Those timeline changes could translate to $850 million in heightened costs for both programs, Charles Verdon, the National Nuclear Security Administration's deputy administrator for defense programs, told lawmakers in a September 2019 hearing.

The B61 bomb has logged almost 50 years of service, making it the oldest weapon in the military's nuclear stockpile. The life-extension program, which the bomb has been undergoing for more than nine years, per the release, is expected to give the weapon at least an additional 20 years.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
January 10, 2022 at 4:08 PM

The Army released a pair of requests for information Jan. 7 to assess industry capabilities to prototype a possible wheeled 155 mm self-propelled howitzer.

One of the requests for information focused on the system’s armament, which could replace the M777 towed 155 mm howitzer in some units. The other was for the truck, with which the cannon would be integrated.

These market surveys follow October announcements that the Army plans to award other transaction agreements for companies to prototype the armament and truck for the Next Generation Howitzers.

Each request for information asks nine questions, most of which are shared between the requests. Companies must describe their capability to design, model, manufacture, qualify and field truck-based 155 mm artillery, as well their ability to work with the United States government and integrate new technologies into the system.

The armament request for information asks about the companies' ability to integrate “different cannon assemblies” onto 155 mm armament, and the truck request about the companies' experience with U.S. mobility requirements.

Neither request for information restricts its questions about manufacturing capability to the United States. Responses to both requests for information are due Feb. 4.

Defense contractors have expressed interest in the truck-mounted howitzer program, which matches capabilities that several other countries already possess.

Four contractors from Europe and the Middle East displayed their own 155 mm truck-mounted howitzers at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference last October. Two U.S. contractors at the same event expressed their own interest in the program.

By Tony Bertuca
January 10, 2022 at 2:04 PM

House Armed Services Committee members Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Michael Waltz (R-FL) today became the top Republicans on two of the panel's subcommittees, movements a committee aide said were triggered by Rep. Mike Turner's (R-OH) becoming ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence after the retirement of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the House Armed Services Committee’s top Republican, said Lamborn would become ranking member of the House Armed Services strategics forces subcommittee, while Waltz would become ranking member on the readiness subcommittee.

Lamborn was previously ranking member on the readiness subcommittee and Turner was previously ranking member at strategic forces.

“Representative Lamborn has been a strong leader on the Readiness subcommittee. I know he will continue his hard work in support of our national security needs in his new role as the Ranking Member of the subcommittee on strategic forces,” Rogers said. “Representative Waltz served our nation honorably as a Green Beret and I know he will continue be a strong advocate for the needs of our military in his new role as the ranking member of the subcommittee on readiness.”

Lamborn said he would use his new role to focus on countering China and Russia.

“It is no secret that China is undergoing a rapid, unprecedented nuclear build-up including testing new hypersonic missiles,” he said. “Russia's nuclear program has undergone significant modernization of all three legs of its triad, including the development of anti-satellite weapons that significantly threaten the space domain. It is vital that our military has the resources and capabilities necessary to keep our county safe, particularly in light of these new and growing threats.”

Waltz struck a similar chord on countering threats to U.S. national security.

“It’s imperative that the Department of Defense has the best resources to defend against the Chinese Communist Party’s march toward global dominance, Russia’s increased malign behavior, new terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan, the Iran Regime’s march toward a nuclear weapon, North Korea’s nuclear arsenal proliferation and missile development, and threats to freedom in the Western Hemisphere from Venezuela and Cuba,” he said.

By John Liang
January 10, 2022 at 1:46 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the cybersecurity provisions in the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act and more.

The Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act has a host of cybersecurity provisions in it:

NDAA enactment starts countdown for new batch of cyber reports from DOD, DHS

President Biden's signature on the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act starts the clock on cyber-related reports, strategies and pilot programs from the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security on issues ranging from collaboration with the private sector to shoring up the security of industrial control systems, supply chains and state and local governments.

The Army says a new engine will significantly improve Apache helicopter performance:

Boeing contract furthers push for new Apache engine

Boeing will conduct testing and engineering of GE's T901 engine for Army Apache helicopters, after the contractor was awarded a $240 million contract late last year.

Middle Eastern countries should have a "common maritime picture" between nations, according to retired Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, former commander of the Navy's 5th Fleet:

Donegan: Maritime coalitions necessary to re-establish deterrence in Mideast

The future of maritime security in the Middle East relies on coalition efforts between nations, according to a retired Navy official.

None of the Army's currently fielded surface-to-surface artillery or missiles can reach close to 1,000 miles:

Army to test cannon with 1,180-mile range in FY-24

The Army plans to shoot artillery rounds 1,180 miles over the Pacific Ocean in fiscal years 2024 and 2025 to test a next-generation cannon, according to a recently filed environmental notice.

The FY-22 NDAA requires the defense secretary by March 2023 to establish a new framework for assessing the suitability of the U.S. military's existing major weapon system inventory for potential future combat operations:

DOD required to conduct major review of $2 trillion weapons portfolio over next year

The Pentagon must conduct a new review over the next year that could reshape the U.S. military's $2 trillion roster of current weapon system acquisition projects by identifying programs for divestiture that are not keeping pace with emerging threats.

By John Liang
January 10, 2022 at 12:41 PM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced today the president has nominated Navy Vice Adm. Frank Whitworth to be director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

Whitworth is currently serving as the Joint Staff's director of intelligence.

He has also been commander of the Joint Intelligence Center Central; commanding officer of the Navy element of U.S. Central Command; and commanding officer of the Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center, according to his official biography.

Whitworth, if confirmed, would succeed Navy Vice Adm. Robert Sharp, who is retiring.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
January 10, 2022 at 12:33 PM

BAE Systems has received a $97 million modification to its contract to build the Army's self-propelled howitzers, according to a Jan. 7 Pentagon announcement.

The company will produce and deliver M109A7 Paladin Integrated Management and M992A3 ammunition supply vehicles with the contract modification, according to the announcement. Funding will come from fiscal year 2020 and 2021 Army appropriations.

Work will be completed at BAE’s York, PA, plant, and will be finished in December 2024.

The A7 upgrade adds a new chassis, suspension and drivetrain to the M109, which has served as the service’s 155 mm self-propelled howitzer since the 1960s. Ammunition supply vehicles are fielded in pairs with the howitzers.

M109 upgrades would receive $446 million under the Army’s FY-22 budget request. This would be enough to buy 25 howitzers and ammunition supply vehicles, just above the minimum sustaining rate of two sets per month.

But the House and Senate Appropriations committees have proposed increasing funding for the M109 in their draft versions of the FY-22 spending bill. The House proposed spending $526 million in July, while the Senate would provide $663 million under a draft bill released in October.

Congress has yet to pass a defense appropriations bill for FY-22, and a continuing resolution lasts through Feb. 18.

By Tony Bertuca
January 10, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to participate in several events around the Washington area this week, including the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium.

Tuesday

The Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium begins and runs through Thursday.

The House Armed Services readiness subcommittee holds a hearing on the Navy’s Red Hill Bulk fuel storage facility.

Wednesday

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee holds a hearing on the impact of continuing resolutions on the Defense Department.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on the emerging technology of long-range strike.

Space Development Agency Director Derek Tournear speaks at a Mitchell Institute Spacepower Forum event.

Thursday

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing to consider nominations for assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs, and assistant secretary of defense for space policy.

CSIS hosts a discussion with Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, chief of U.S. Transportation Command.

The AFCEA Northern Virginia chapter holds a virtual Army IT Day.

Friday

CSIS hosts a discussion on the Navy’s 5th Fleet mission and operations.

By Tony Bertuca
January 7, 2022 at 5:18 PM

Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla has been nominated to be the next chief of U.S. Central Command, according to the Pentagon.

Kurilla is currently commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps at Ft. Bragg, NC.

His nomination comes as the Biden administration has withdrawn all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and ponders how to best shift the military's focus to the Indo-Pacific region to counter China.

By Evan Ochsner
January 7, 2022 at 4:00 PM

The Army has selected Vortex Optics to provide up to 250,000 fire control systems for the Next Generation Squad Weapon, the service's Program Executive Office Soldier announced Jan. 7.

The Army has agreed to purchase XM157 Next Generation Squad Weapons-Fire Control (NGSW-FC) systems from Vortex Optics over a 10-year period, according to a release. The contract, a Follow-on Production Other Transaction Agreement, has a maximum value of $2.7 billion and a minimum value of $20 million, the release says.

The systems feature a variable magnification optic, backup etched reticle, laser rangefinder, ballistic calculator, atmospheric sensor suite, compass, Intra-Soldier Wireless, visible and infrared aiming lasers and a digital display overlay.

In addition to purchasing the systems, the contract allows the Army to procure supporting accessories, spare parts, repairs and engineering services, the release said. The NGSW-FC will replace at least four existing optic systems, according to the release.

The Next Generation Squad Weapons program is one of the Army’s modernization efforts.

By Tony Bertuca
January 7, 2022 at 3:28 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing for three key Defense Department nominees next week.

On Jan. 13, the committee is scheduled to hear from Celeste Wallander, the nominee to be assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs; Melissa Dalton, to be assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs; and John Plumb, the nominee to be assistant secretary of defense for space policy.