The Insider

By John Liang
January 7, 2022 at 2:07 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has the latest on the Army's new Apache helicopter engine, the cyber sections in the FY-22 defense policy law and more.

The Army has completed a critical design review of the new Apache 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.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have the details on the cyber portions of the defense policy bill recently signed into law:

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.

Retired Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, former commander of the Navy's 5th Fleet, spoke this week at an event hosted by the Middle East Institute:

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 Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act 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 Ethan Sterenfeld
January 7, 2022 at 1:18 PM

Northrop Grumman has successfully completed a static test of the rocket motor for the Army's Precision Strike Missile in extreme cold conditions, the company announced this week.

The extreme cold test took place in September, and Northrop had previously performed a similar test in the hottest conditions that the rocket motor is designed to handle, Steve Weiss, director of tactical propulsion and ordnance at the company, told Inside Defense in a Jan. 6 interview.

Additional testing of the rocket motor is planned for this year, he said. Including the tests that have already been performed, there will be 18 static tests for qualification testing.

Temperature extremes can be some of the highest-risk situations for rocket motors, Ken Tappe, director of business development for tactical propulsion at Northrop, said during the interview.

“There’s a lot of analysis that goes into figuring out what are your highest areas of risk, but typically at either the cold or the hot temperature extreme is one of those conditions that is most stressing on the components in the rocket motor,” Tappe said.

Northrop expects the rocket motor to be qualified this calendar year, to be ready for the PrSM be fielded in fiscal year 2023, Tappe said.

PrSM is part of the Army’s long-range fires modernization portfolio. The missile, which will replace the Army Tactical Missile System, is expected to be urgently fielded in FY-23, with full fielding in FY-25.

The division supplying the PrSM rocket motor was part of Orbital ATK before Northrop acquired the company in 2018, Weiss said.

“We’ve done a lot of heavy investment on the insensitive munitions side, which is key in this motor here, and just in the overall high performance of our propulsion system,” he said.

Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the PrSM, selected the missile’s rocket motor in 2016, a company spokeswoman wrote in an email to Inside Defense this week.

Aerojet Rocketdyne, which Lockheed is trying to buy, currently supplies the rocket motors for ATACMS.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
January 7, 2022 at 12:57 PM

A cannon with a range of greater than 1,000 miles that the Army could test in fiscal years 2024 and 2025 is the Strategic Long-Range Cannon, although a different name was used in a recently posted environmental notice, according to an Army spokesman.

The cannon was called the Extended Range Cannon Artillery II in the notice. ERCA II is the same program as the SLRC, the spokesman told Inside Defense today.

Initial plans for the SLRC said it could fire up to 1,000 miles. It was envisioned as a cheaper complement to hypersonic missiles that could suppress enemy air defense systems.

The Army plans to test-fire the cannon from Vandenberg Space Force Base, CA, according to the notice.

“The proposed activities would include testing ERCA II by firing non-explosive projectiles over the Pacific Ocean at distances ranging from the shoreline to approximately 1,180 mi (1,900 km) from the shoreline of [Vandenberg Space Force Base] onto and beyond the” Point Mugu Sea Range, CA, the notice stated.

By Briana Reilly
January 7, 2022 at 12:13 PM

A new Defense Department inspector general audit found that while the Space Force has enabled successful launches from its bases in Florida and California, the service lacked spare parts needed to replace range item components -- a shortage that in some cases could lead to data loss, delay or an aborted mission.

Aiming to assess the extent to which officials maintained the needed infrastructure and equipment to support current and future space launches, the report, released publicly today, found the Space Force is facing “an increased risk that aging range items with obsolete components could limit future launch capacity.”

The warning comes as the IG’s office concluded the service kept up its range items -- including radars, optical devices, and weather towers -- and thus cleared the way for successful launches in the 30 that auditors reviewed between January 2018 and March 2021 at Vandenberg Space Force Base, CA, and Patrick SFB, FL. Ninety DOD, federal civilian agencies and commercial space launches were logged in that period, per the audit.

In all, Space Force data included in the audit shows more than one-fourth of the 260 items on the eastern and western ranges, where launches are conducted, “did not have the spare parts needed to repair or replace some range item components if necessary” because many were obsolete.

Included in that total is 31 range items that did not have spare parts for mission-critical components, where a failure could lead to paused or postponed launch times, an aborted mission or a post-launch data loss.

Still, the report notes the Space Force is working to upgrade or divest from those critical items to address the shortages, with the effort expected to be completed prior to 2024 “regardless of funding status.” Beyond that, the document reports the service is looking to stave off sustainment issues by leveraging autonomous flight safety systems, a launch vehicle-mounted system that can track and terminate flight, making many range items unnecessary in ensuring a safe launch -- part of the Space Force’s “Range of the Future” investments.

Auditors, finding the service’s actions to mitigate the situation to be “appropriate,” opted not to make recommendations in that area.

The upgrades are of particular importance as the service stands poised to see a 220% increase in the total number of launches it will support, from 49 in 2021 to 157 in 2027, the audit states.

“This increased operational tempo, combined with a lack of spare parts for mission critical range item components, increases the possibility that a non-mission capable range item will cause a launch hold or scrub,” the report notes.

By John Liang
January 6, 2022 at 1:06 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's multitrillion-dollar weapons portfolio and more.

The Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act 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.

The Pentagon's Artificial Intelligence and Data Acceleration initiative aims to accelerate progress on the Joint All Domain Command and Control effort:

DOD wrapping up COCOM visits through AIDA this month

The Defense Department through its Artificial Intelligence and Data Acceleration initiative established last year has so far visited eight combatant commands and plans to wrap up visits with the remaining three COCOMs this month.

The latest defense policy bill signed into law last month would roll back a provision included in the fiscal year 2019 authorization bill that directed the Army to field a third and fourth Iron Dome battery no later than September 2023:

Army unshackled from requirement to buy, field additional Iron Dome batteries

The Army is eyeing new options to limit further entanglement with an Israeli-made air defense system, specifically being released from a statutory requirement to buy and operationally deploy additional Iron Dome batteries.

Pentagon officials and lawmakers have long complained about continuing resolutions and their debilitating restrictions that freeze budgets at previous-year levels and prohibit spending on new defense programs:

House appropriators to probe CR impacts at DOD

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee intends to hold a hearing to examine the impact of stopgap continuing resolutions on the Defense Department.

Former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Director Victoria Coleman spoke with Inside Defense recently:

USAF chief scientist wants service to stretch thinking on directed energy

The Air Force's chief scientist wants to see officials leverage directed energy "to further enable and support" the service’s agile combat employment strategy, as she advocates "thinking outside the box" when considering use cases for those technologies.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
January 6, 2022 at 12:16 PM

The Army released a market survey Jan. 5 to determine whether any companies besides the planned vendor can supply the specialized supercharge and stub charges that will be required for the Extended Range Cannon Artillery to reach its full range.

Other potential suppliers, who must produce the charges in the United States or Canada, would need to deliver the charges beginning in fiscal year 2024, according to the market survey.

“The current requirements are planned to be restricted to General Dynamics – Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS) St. Petersburg, FL,” the market survey stated.

ERCA is a new 58-caliber cannon that the Army has integrated with the newest generation of its M109 howitzer, with an expected range of 70 kilometers. Its barrel is nearly 30 feet long, whereas the Army’s existing 39-caliber howitzer barrels are a little less than 20 feet long.

But that range is only possible because of the other new technology the Army has designed alongside the cannon, Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, director of the long-range precision fires cross-functional team, has said. This includes new rocket-assisted projectiles and the upgraded charges.

Companies that respond to the market survey will need to provide the Army with a description of their experience building artillery charges and a possible supply chain. Technical data for the supercharge and stub charges will be released to competitors if a formal request for proposals is released, according to the market survey.

The supercharge will be necessary for the cannon to reach its 70 km range with extended-range projectiles, and it will increase the range of existing projectiles when they are shot out of the ERCA, according to the market survey. It is loaded into the cannon in two cloth bags.

Two different stub charges, primers that sit behind the rest of the charges, will be built for the ERCA, according to the market survey. The XM659 will mostly be used during training, to fire existing modular charges but not the supercharge.

The XM660, which will fulfill tactical requirements for longer shots, is twice the length and weight of the smaller stub charge. It can be used with both the existing modular charges and the supercharge, and it will contain some of the same propellant as the supercharge.

By Aidan Quigley
January 6, 2022 at 12:09 PM

The Marine Corps has deployed its first squadron with the Navy's F-35C on an aircraft carrier, the service announced Wednesday.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing departed San Diego aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) on Monday, the Marine Corps said in a press release.

The F-35C reached initial operational capability in December 2020, signifying the service had enough mission-ready aircraft and trained Marines and pilots to deploy the F-35C onto aircraft carriers.

The Marine Corps F-35 variant is the F-35B, but the service is also acquiring a small number of F-35Cs.

Lt. Col. Brendan Walsh, VMFA-314 commanding officer, said in the press release that deploying the F-35C in the Pacific increases the service’s ability to provide support to U.S. allies in the region.

“Our ability to operate the F-35C in the Pacific greatly increases the Marine Corps’ naval expeditionary force capabilities by providing us the capacity to employ the most advanced electronic warfare capabilities on any aircraft today in support of fleet operations,” he said.

VMFA-314 is the first squadron to transition to the F-35C from the retiring F/A-18A/C. The squadron received its first F-35C in January 2020, and completed its final integrated training cycle with other elements of Carrier Strike Group Three in December.

By Evan Ochsner
January 6, 2022 at 11:28 AM

The Army on Jan. 25 is hosting a virtual industry day focused on Weather Operational Effects and Information Collection Management Intelligence Applications, according to an announcement.

The event, hosted by the Army’s Project Manager Intelligence Systems and Analytics division from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., "will focus on each application’s contract strategy and schedule, the application technical requirements, the upcoming Draft Request for Proposals (RFP), an update to the Command Post Computing Environment schedule, and a discussion about potential Public-Private Partnership (P3) Agreements between the Government and Industry,” the announcement said.

Jan. 24 is the last day to register for the event.

By Briana Reilly
January 5, 2022 at 4:18 PM

Blue Origin has joined U.S. Transportation Command's effort to explore the potential military use of space cargo transport capabilities, marking officials' third cooperative research and development agreement in this arena.

The deal, signed Dec. 17 but announced by TRANSCOM Dec. 30, adds Blue Origin to the list of companies working with the command to help prove the viability of possibly using rockets to transport individuals and cargo in the future.

Both SpaceX and XArc, a space architecture and engineering consulting company, signed CRADAs to support the work in spring 2020. TRANSCOM last year released a request for information seeking industry help in better understanding the feasibility of point-to-point space cargo transport -- a step that cleared the way for the new CRADA.

TRANSCOM Deputy Commander Vice Adm. Dee Mewbourne noted in the command’s release announcing the CRADA that “more partnerships may be in our future.”

“We expect industry to provide the nation with a broad spectrum of space transportation options, and we seek to understand their value to DOD as they mature,” he said.

TRANSCOM in October signaled officials are poised to kick-start a “proof of principle” demonstration of those capabilities, though it could be another year before current launch vehicle partner SpaceX is able to move forward.

At the time, however, Mark Surina from the Logistics Management Institute, which works with TRANSCOM’s Office of Research and Technology Applications, said the pace could accelerate “if we find somebody who’s ready to go earlier.”

By John Liang
January 5, 2022 at 1:11 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Defense Department's Joint All Domain Command and Control effort, the Iron Dome air defense system and more.

We start things off with coverage of the Pentagon's Joint All Domain Command and Control effort:

DOD wrapping up COCOM visits through AIDA this month

The Defense Department through its Artificial Intelligence and Data Acceleration initiative established last year has so far visited eight combatant commands and plans to wrap up visits with the remaining three COCOMs this month.

The latest defense authorization bill, signed into law last week, would roll back a provision of the FY-19 law that directed the Army to field a third and fourth Iron Dome battery no later than September 2023:

Army unshackled from requirement to buy, field additional Iron Dome batteries

The Army is eyeing new options to limit further entanglement with an Israeli-made air defense system, specifically being released from a statutory requirement to buy and operationally deploy additional Iron Dome batteries.

A congressional hearing on continuing resolutions has been scheduled for Jan. 12:

House appropriators to probe CR impacts at DOD

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee intends to hold a hearing to examine the impact of stopgap continuing resolutions on the Defense Department.

Directed energy is a space former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Director Victoria Coleman said could benefit from officials “thinking a little bit beyond the classic use cases”:

USAF chief scientist wants service to stretch thinking on directed energy

The Air Force’s chief scientist wants to see officials leverage directed energy “to further enable and support” the service’s agile combat employment strategy, as she advocates "thinking outside the box” when considering use cases for those technologies.

We conclude with the latest on the Navy's Unmanned Influence Sweep System:

New minehunting system conducts underwater explosion shock testing

The Navy has successfully completed underwater explosion shock testing on the Unmanned Influence Sweep System, part of the service’s mine countermeasure technologies.

By Audrey Decker
January 5, 2022 at 11:48 AM

The Navy is looking for information on autonomous technologies that would support safe navigation in the service's ships and submarines, according to a request for information released Monday.

“This RFI seeks both information on active autonomous navigation technologies that could be used as enablers to develop a human-in-the-loop safety of navigation bridge decision aid,” the Navy states.

The RFI outlines four main characteristics of the future technology, which include:

  • “Integration of bridge decision aid technology with existing bridge systems (i.e. Electronic Chart Display and Information System, Automatic Identification System) on surface ships;
  • “Integration of installed Government Furnished Equipment shipboard sensors including but not limited to navigation radars and Electro-Optical/Infra-Red systems into the decision aid technology;
  • “Build user trust in the decision aid solutions;
  • “Use at-sea periods with the decision aid operating as a digital twin to the navigation system to train autonomy Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning in representative environments.”

The service wants to integrate new technology into the Electronic Charting and Display systems and use existing sensors on ships to support the autonomous navigation system, according to the RFI.

While there isn’t a timeline for the procurement of this technology, acquisition would likely occur in the fiscal year 2025 to FY-27 timeframe, according to the RFI.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
January 5, 2022 at 11:35 AM

The Army's Combat Capabilities Development Command recently hired its first permanent chief technology officer, according to a Jan. 3 announcement.

Charneta Samms, the new CTO, was most recently the chief of plans and programs at the Army Research Laboratory, one of DEVCOM’s facilities, according to the announcement. Samms previously held other leadership roles at the laboratory.

“I am excited about the opportunity to grow and shape the CTO role and office as the first permanent person in this position,” Samms said in the announcement. “We are focused on developing strategies needed to integrate science and technology across the command to ensure we execute our commander’s intent, which is laser-focused on the needs of the Army.”

Samms began the CTO position in August, according to her LinkedIn page.

DEVCOM is a subordinate unit to Army Futures Command, and it manages many of the service’s research centers. Making a permanent CTO role supports DEVCOM’s efforts to recruit and retain top scientific talent, according to the announcement.

The Army has adopted some job titles and practices from technology companies in recent years as it seeks to modernize its technology development. The service separated its chief information officer and deputy chief of staff (G-6) positions in 2020, and Futures Command officials often wear business casual clothing at their Austin, TX, headquarters.

By John Liang
January 5, 2022 at 9:39 AM

Private-equity firm AE Industrial Partners said today its portfolio company Triman Industries has acquired Brighton Cromwell and Crestwood Technology Group.

Shareholders from both Brighton Cromwell and CTG will retain significant ownership and remain in leadership roles going forward, according to AEI.

Terms of the deals weren't disclosed.

"The strategic combination of these three highly complementary businesses will form a leading military aftermarket supply chain management platform with significant scale, broad market reach and a unique value proposition for its U.S. and international military customers and more than 85 [original equipment manufacturer] partners," AEI said in a statement.

By John Liang
January 4, 2022 at 4:39 PM

Raytheon Intelligence & Space announced today Kristin Robertson will become president of the Space & C2 strategic business unit.

Robertson will report directly to RI&S President Roy Azevedo, according to a company statement.

Prior to Raytheon, Robertson served as vice president and general manager of autonomous systems at Boeing.

Additionally, RI&S announced Brad Tousley will serve as president of Blue Canyon Technologies, reporting to Robertson as part of the Space & C2 strategic business unit. Tousley previously served as the lead for RI&S' Advanced Concepts & Technology and as president of Raytheon BBN Technologies.

By John Liang
January 4, 2022 at 3:29 PM

Oshkosh Corp. announced today that Jay Iyengar has joined the company as executive vice president and chief technology and strategic sourcing officer.

Iyengar will be responsible for Oshkosh's "vision and strategy that will drive the investment, development and deployment of leading-edge technologies. She will also be responsible for global strategic sourcing activities focused on building a supply chain capable of delivering next generation technologies," according to a company statement.

Prior to Oshkosh, Iyengar was chief technology and quality officer at CNH Industrial. She has also worked for Xylem as well as Eaton Corp.'s Aerospace Group.

Iyengar earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the National Institute of Engineering in Karnataka, India, and holds master's degrees in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, India and Wayne State University.