The Insider

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.

By Audrey Decker
July 19, 2022 at 2:15 PM

Senate authorizers want to add $100 million in research and development funds to save the Navy's Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle program, despite persistent program concerns.

The Navy planned to sink the Large Displacement UUV program in its fiscal year 2023 budget request, but the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the defense policy bill, filed yesterday, aims to reverse that decision.

“Despite program schedule underperformance, the committee believes the Snakehead Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle could provide an important capability to the fleet once fielded,” according to the bill’s accompanying report.

Snakehead is the Navy’s largest submarine-launched UUV, intended to provide increased endurance, depth capability and payload capacity beyond small and medium UUVs.

Last fall, Senate appropriators recommended cutting LDUUV funding due to limited deployment opportunities.

“Misalignment of Snakehead LDUUV design and procurement efforts with submarine hosting interfaces resulted in limited availability of host platforms to conduct Snakehead operations,” according to the Navy’s FY-23 budget highlights book.

The House Armed Services Committee did not include language on saving the LDUUV program in its version of the defense policy bill.

By John Liang
July 19, 2022 at 1:18 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Defense Department's blocking of controlled unclassified information, the next production lots for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and more.

We start off with coverage of the Senate Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill, which was filed to the Senate floor this week:

Senate lawmakers crack down on DOD's blocking of weapon system performance data

The Senate Armed Services Committee wants the Defense Department to stop blocking the public release of information on the performance -- or lack thereof -- of multibillion-dollar weapon systems and is calling for the Pentagon inspector general to review DOD's "uneven" justifications for doing so.

Senate authorizers' funding tables show Air Force, Space Force plus-ups, divestment blocks

Senate authorizers' version of the defense policy bill would boost the budgets of several Air Force and Space Force efforts, with multiple programs receiving additional funds requested from the services' respective unfunded priorities lists, according to a funding table lawmakers released yesterday alongside the filing of the defense policy bill.

Document: Senate authorizers' FY-23 defense policy bill, report

The next production lots for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have been agreed to:

Lockheed, JPO reach deal on next F-35 production lots

After months of prolonged negotiations, Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office have struck a "handshake" deal on the next production lots for the fighter aircraft.

Assistant Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that he will brief the service’s fiscal year 2024 budget proposal to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks this week:

Loitering munitions will remain a priority in Marine Corps' FY-24 budget

Organic precision fires will remain a priority in the Marine Corps' future budget request, according to a service official.

L3Harris Technologies and Northrop Grumman will build 14 satellites each for a total Tranche 1 Tracking Layer constellation of 28 satellites:

SDA awards L3Harris, Northrop Grumman $1.3 billion Tranche 1 Tracking Layer contracts

Space Development Agency Director Derek Tournear today announced the award of two prototype agreements worth a total potential value of over $1.3 billion to L3Harris Technologies and Northrop Grumman to build out the next stage of the agency's orbital tracking layer that will monitor advanced missile threats.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 19, 2022 at 12:55 PM

Army end strength will fall by more than previously announced in fiscal years 2022 and 2023, but there are currently no plans to cut brigade combat teams or other units, Gen. Joseph Martin, the vice chief of staff, said today.

“We don’t need to do that immediately, but if we don’t arrest the decline that we’re seeing right now in end strength, that could be a possibility in the future,” Martin told the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee.

The active-duty Army expects to have 466,000 soldiers when FY-22 ends on Sept. 30, he said. A year later, at the end of FY-23, the service estimates it will have between 445,000 and 452,000 soldiers.

Authorized end strength stands at 485,000 soldiers, as of the FY-22 budget. Recruiting struggles, including a labor shortage and a shrinking pool of eligible recruits, led the Army to reduce its planned end strength to 473,000 in its FY-23 budget request. At the time of the budget release in March, the service expected to have 476,000 soldiers at the end of FY-22.

“In the near term, the way we’re going to manage any shortfalls that we have is the way that we’ve done it in the past,” Martin said. “We prioritize formations that have missions or preparations for missions.”

The Army will “mission” itself to have 455,000 soldiers at the end of FY-23, in case it is able to recruit more, he said.

Less than 18 months ago, the Army chief of staff said that authorized level of 485,000 soldiers was too small, and that an ideal size would be closer to 540,000.

Reductions to the number of brigade combat teams, a common metric of combat power, would be a sign of more serious, longer-lasting cuts to the Army than temporary drops in end strength, an analyst told Inside Defense earlier this year.

By John Liang
July 19, 2022 at 10:33 AM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to speak before the Reserve Forces Policy Board tomorrow, according to a Federal Register notice published this morning.

Austin will speak to the board in closed session Wednesday morning to "address key National Defense Military Strategy challenges facing our Nation and priorities for adapting the Total Force with the integration of the Reserve Components," the notice reads.

Additionally, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert Cisneros and other senior personnel and manpower officials will talk about reserve issues during that closed session, according to the notice.

Following the closed session, a separate meeting will be open to the public "and will consist of Subcommittee Break-out Sessions with the Subcommittee for Integration of Total Force Personnel Policy, the Subcommittee for the Reserve Components' Role in Homeland Defense and Support to Civil Authorities, and the Subcommittee for Total Force Integration conducting discussions on the subcommittees' priorities and focus areas received from the meeting's discussions and other areas where the RFPB can use its role to best provide recommended support to the taskings of the Secretary of Defense and the Sponsor, USD(P&R)," according to the notice.

By Tony Bertuca
July 18, 2022 at 5:39 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee has filed its version of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill, which would authorize $45 billion more in spending than what President Biden has requested.

Though the committee voted to pass the bill last month, it wasn't filed with the full Senate until today.

While the bill authorizes a total of $847 billion for national defense, it is aligned with an overall national defense topline of $858 billion, with the difference being accounted for by “defense-related spending” in other legislation that is not under the committee’s jurisdiction. Biden, meanwhile, has requested $813 billion, or $30 billion more than what Congress enacted for FY-22.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) in a statement pointed out that the massive annual bill was passed out of committee with broad bipartisan consensus.

"From China’s emergence as our most consequential strategic competitor to Russia’s assault on Ukraine, the challenges before us are momentous,” he said. “With broad, bipartisan support this year’s [bill] increases funding for our national defense, invests in the platforms and infrastructure our military needs, and delivers critical resources for our allies and partners around the globe. It provides our troops and Defense Department civilians with a significant pay raise and introduces new protections and support for their families. To ensure our technological superiority, it strengthens our cyber, hypersonic and artificial intelligence capabilities, giving our forces advantages on the battlefields of the future.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the committee’s ranking member, praised Reed for helping lead “the charge” to boost the defense budget.

“With the Chinese Communist Party accelerating the already historic modernization of its military, Russia continuing to destabilize security in Europe, and record-high inflation jeopardizing our buying power, Congress must do everything we can to give our military every advantage on the battlefield,” he said.

The House passed its version of the FY-23 defense authorization bill last week, proposing a $37 billion increase above Biden’s request.

By Shelley K. Mesch
July 18, 2022 at 3:48 PM

The Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept successfully completed its third test earlier this month, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced today.

This was the second successful test with a Raytheon Technologies-built vehicle using a scramjet built by Northrop Grumman, the Monday news release states. The missile traveled at hypersonic speeds for more than 300 nautical miles and reached altitudes above 60,000 feet.

The HAWC missile was launched from an aircraft and accelerated to hypersonic speeds using its scramjet engine, according to a release from Northrop Grumman. Engineers designed the test to “intentionally stress the weapon concept to explore its limits and further validate digital performance models,” it states.

“The test demonstrated how we’ve rapidly matured affordable scramjet technology, which is the basis for air-breathing weapons,” President of Advanced Technology for Raytheon Missiles & Defense Colin Whelan said in a news release. “Our second HAWC flight test success is an important milestone for our nation as we advance hypersonic systems.”

The scramjet engine compresses incoming air before it is combusted to propel the missile at speeds above Mach 5, according to DARPA. The missiles are designed for speed and maneuverability for quick strikes and defense evasion.

Raytheon and Northrop, which began a partnership in 2019 to work on HAWC, first tested their missile in September. Partners Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne tested their variant of HAWC successfully this past spring.

DARPA, in its fiscal year 2023 budget justification document, asked for $60 million to fund a project its calling MoHAWC. The program is intended to “build upon” HAWC.

“MoHAWC will develop, integrate, and demonstrate technologies to increase effectiveness and producibility of an air-launched hypersonic cruise missile,” the justification document states.

No funds were requested to further HAWC.

By John Liang
July 18, 2022 at 2:06 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on defense acquisition reforms, Northrop Grumman's Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program and more.

Inside Defense late last week chatted with David Norquist, currently head of the National Defense Industrial Association and a former senior Pentagon official in the Trump administration:

Norquist still pushing for defense reforms but in a different job

David Norquist, who served as acting defense secretary, deputy defense secretary and Pentagon comptroller during the Trump administration, is now at the helm of the National Defense Industrial Association where he says he has a much different job, but similar priorities.

Inside Defense also recently interviewed Mike Meaney, vice president of land and maritime sensors at Northrop Grumman:

Northrop's SEWIP to deliver an 'unlimited magazine' of EW capabilities to the Navy

As China and Russia develop new classes of anti-ship missiles, Northrop Grumman's Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program aims to counter threats at sea for many years.

With the House having passed the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill last week, here are some of the amendments lawmakers gave the green light to, including helicopters and space:

Authorizers boost Chinook funding again

House lawmakers bumped Army procurement funding for the Chinook in the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill, the latest installment in a multiyear effort by Congress to boost the program.

House amendments seek Air Force, Space Force divestment reports

Several amendments to the House's version of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill would require the Air Force and Space Force to send lawmakers numerous reports on divestment plans, combat rescue strategies and personnel changes.

Australia's defense minister spoke to the media last week on the future of U.S.-Australian-U.K. weapons development:

Australian defense minister hopes AUKUS will generate 'seamless' tri-country industrial bases

Australia's defense minister is hoping to use a recently announced tripartite pact with the United States and the U.K. to build a foundation of "seamless" industrial bases between the three countries as they look to leverage a host of emerging technologies and capabilities.

By Audrey Decker
July 18, 2022 at 12:58 PM

Raytheon Technologies has delivered the first of three SPY-6 radar arrays to an aircraft carrier -- the future John F. Kennedy (CVN-79).

The company was selected earlier this year to produce SPY-6 radar variants for seven different types of Navy ships, a $3.2 billion contract if all options are exercised.

“This delivery is the first of three for the aircraft carrier. Together, the three fixed-face radar arrays will form a SPY-6(V)3, also known as the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar, which provides 360-degree coverage for the ship,” according to a company statement today.

The SPY-6(V)3 system also has weather mapping and air traffic control features to meet the needs of an aircraft carrier, according to Raytheon.

The Arleigh Burke-class Flight III destroyer is the contract’s flagship, but the contract allows for multiple other ships including Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, amphibious landing ships, Ford-class carriers and Constellation-class frigates.

By Shelley K. Mesch
July 18, 2022 at 12:48 PM

The Air Force Research Laboratory requested information from businesses for small unmanned aerial systems to be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and supplement kinetic strike, according to an online posting Monday.

AFRL is interested in sUAS that could be launched from existing air assets, including other UAS and airplanes, the request states. The goal is for the sUAS to be able to survey areas larger than traditional ISR techniques can manage, the notice states.

“Air launching allows the range and endurance of sUAS to be utilized for mission execution rather than travel to the desired mission area, thus increasing the useful life of a single sUAS in the span of a mission,” the request states.

The sUAS, which could be controlled or autonomous, would conduct ISR missions and communicate back to a ground station or other air asset, according to the request. The sUAS would either fly back to ground forces or be terminated. Since they would be considered expendable, the sUAS should be low-cost systems.

The sUAS should weigh less than 1 pound at takeoff with its length, width and depth no more than 1 foot. It should also have modular payloads.

AFRL is accepting responses until Sept. 30.

By Briana Reilly
July 18, 2022 at 12:14 PM

General Dynamics Information Technology has won a contract worth up to $908 million to bolster U.S. Air Forces in Europe-run IT and network systems, the company announced today.

The indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity award for the Europe-Wide Information Technology Enterprise Network (EITEN) includes IT and cyber readiness support services, operations and maintenance activities tied to legacy communications equipment and more, according to a recent DOD request for information outlining the scope of the effort.

“This IDIQ will allow for greater speed, flexibility, and accessibility in providing Enterprise IT and Network support services, and enterprise solutions to meet [U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa] mission objectives to address current and evolving threats to our nation’s defense systems and to enhance existing and future capabilities,” the March RFI states.

Awarded by the 764th Enterprise Sourcing Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the contract carries a five-year base period and a three-year option, per GDIT’s press release.

“This contract will equip airmen across Europe with the knowledge, tools and data they need to mobilize and operate at any place and any time,” Brian Sheridan, senior vice president for GDIT’s Defense Division, said in the release. “Consolidating multiple mission-critical services under a single contract will also allow for greater speed, flexibility and accessibility of IT services needed across the region.”

Work tied to the contract is set to occur across sites in Germany, the U.K., Italy, Turkey and throughout Europe, according to GDIT.

By Tony Bertuca
July 18, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are slated to speak at several events this week.

Monday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a maritime security dialog.

Tuesday

The House Armed Services readiness subcommittee holds a hearing on fiscal year 2023 military readiness.

The Aspen Security Forum takes place in Aspen, CO, featuring several senior defense officials throughout the week.

The Ukrainian defense minister speaks at the Atlantic Council.

Wednesday

The Association of the United States Army hosts a discussion with Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo.

Thursday

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing to consider the nominations of Lt. Gen. Bryan Fenton to be head of U.S. Special Operations Command and Lt. Gen. Michael Langley to be head of U.S. Africa Command.

By Briana Reilly
July 15, 2022 at 4:53 PM

The next leader of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit could helm the outfit for up to six years, according to a highly publicized job listing shared this week.

Posted on the under secretary of defense for research and engineering office’s website and amplified in a press release today, the notice seeks to find a successor to outgoing Director Michael Brown, who is poised to exit DIU on Sept. 2 after serving as the head of the organization since fall 2018. DIU’s mission is to identify and leverage promising new technologies for the U.S. military.

Brown’s departure coincides with the end of his second two-year stint as a “highly qualified expert,” which was previously re-upped in 2020, though he was also offered a one-year extension into 2023. According to the job listing, DIU’s new leader would see a term appointment of five years but could be eligible for a sixth year in the role.

DOD spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman explained the duration is the “maximum length” officials can offer candidates for the post and “is dictated by the office.” But he said the hire could seek a shorter term. The notice doesn’t explicitly state the new leader would be an HQE, which could signal an attempt to expand the candidate pool or hiring authorities officials would use in the search.

The listing itself seeks applicants "with expertise in technology commercialization and the broader innovation ecosystem” drawn from private sector experience, and stresses the incoming director “will focus on improving practices, process and effectiveness in the delivery and transition of state-of-the-art commercial technology solutions to the DOD.”

It also calls for backgrounds in management, project development and creativity in problem solving, as well as familiarity with government processes for developing and fielding technologies.

“Ideally, [the] Director of DIU will have past success leading in a government setting,” the posting states. “This expertise will prepare them to navigate current and/or develop new paths to acquisition and transition of innovative technologies into sustainable programs in support of emerging or long-term DOD needs."

Brown, DIU’s longest-serving leader thus far, is slated to step down at a time where some in Congress have questioned top military officials’ commitment to organization. Specifically, Heidi Shyu, the Pentagon’s chief technology officer, drew fire in recent months for not acting to scale up investments more quickly in the small-budget unit.

For her part, Shyu, who oversees DIU, said during a May hearing before the House Armed Services Committee’s cyber panel that she backs the unit “100%,” and has promised a bolstered budget in fiscal year 2024, after seeking $89.4 million for the unit in the administration’s most recent spending request -- a sum House authorizers want to boost to $157.4 million. The House passed its version of the defense policy bill Thursday.

In that same hearing, Shyu told lawmakers that she had been willing to extend Brown’s tenure by another year, but her “preference is to have somebody else in there that can span the duration of my term in bridging to the next administration.” Meanwhile, she noted that Mike Madsen, DIU’s deputy, is staying on for an extra year to help bridge any gaps in the hiring and onboarding process.

Shyu in the DOD press release announcing the job posting today praised Brown’s “tremendous impact on technology adoption and development these past four years.”

“Under his tenure, barriers to entry for commercial companies have been lowered and numerous key technologies have been deployed to the warfighter,” she added. “I am sure that wherever he next goes, he will be very successful. Our new director will certainly have very large shoes to fill.”

Brown was previously tapped by President Biden to serve as the Pentagon’s acquisition chief, but the nomination was derailed by an ongoing DOD inspector general investigation amid allegations that he ignored federal hiring regulations and misused contracting authorities while managing DIU. He has denied all wrongdoing.

The deadline to submit applications for the DIU director role is Aug. 12.

By John Liang
July 15, 2022 at 2:04 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army's Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program, the U.S.-Australian-U.K. defense pact and more.

We start off with a deep dive into the Army's Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program:

Third time's the charm? Experts weigh in on OMFV's chance to replace the Bradley

There were clear risks to the Army's effort to replace the aging Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Inside Defense also covered remarks from Australia's defense minister on the future of U.S.-Australian-U.K. weapons development:

Australian defense minister hopes AUKUS will generate 'seamless' tri-country industrial bases

Australia's defense minister is hoping to use a recently announced tripartite pact with the United States and the U.K. to build a foundation of "seamless" industrial bases between the three countries as they look to leverage a host of emerging technologies and capabilities.

With the House having passed the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill this week, here are some of the amendments lawmakers gave the green light to, including helicopters:

Authorizers boost Chinook funding again

House lawmakers bumped Army procurement funding for the Chinook in the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill, the latest installment in a multiyear effort by Congress to boost the program.

. . . space:

House amendments seek Air Force, Space Force divestment reports

Several amendments to the House's version of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill would require the Air Force and Space Force to send lawmakers numerous reports on divestment plans, combat rescue strategies and personnel changes.

. . . and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter:

House votes to give Navy three additional F-35s by cutting O&M funds

Through a package of amendments, House lawmakers have voted to authorize an additional three F-35C Joint Strike Fighters for the Navy.

Document: House rules committee's amendments to the FY-23 defense policy bill

By Shelley K. Mesch
July 15, 2022 at 11:13 AM

The Government Accountability Office has been directed to review and report on the status of Defense Department hypersonic programs, per an amendment to the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill passed in the House this week.

The review will cover the Navy Conventional Prompt Strike Program, the Army Long Range Hypersonic Weapon and the Air Force Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon. The amendment requires a briefing for congressional defense committees within a year of enactment of the policy bill, though a due date for a final report is not specified.

The review will include the cost and schedule estimates for fielding each weapon system, to what extent the systems are expected to meet originally stated requirements, the technological and manufacturing maturity of the elements planned for the systems and to what extent the DOD has pursued alternatives to those elements.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), passed the House on a voice vote as part of an en bloc package.