The Insider

By John Liang
January 4, 2022 at 2:44 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on continuing resolutions, directed energy and more.

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.

A priority technology and research area for Victoria Coleman, directed energy is a space the former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency director 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.

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.

Lockheed Martin provided an update of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter sales:

Lockheed touts F-35 deliveries in 2021

Lockheed Martin said today it delivered several more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to the U.S. military in 2021 than previously planned, though the additional jets will count toward the company's 2022 production goal.

Our coverage of what Nokia is up to regarding the company's effort to help the Air Force implement a 5G cellular network:

Following 5G network deployment, Nokia works to support, expand DSS efforts at Hill AFB

With dynamic spectrum sharing experimentation underway at Hill Air Force Base, UT, testbed vendor Nokia is gearing up to support application developers' efforts to build on top of the newly deployed 5G cellular network while keeping an eye trained on opportunities to potentially enhance the available use cases for its work.

By Briana Reilly
January 4, 2022 at 11:29 AM

The Space Development Agency estimates it will award a contract for the ground operations and integration component of its Tranche 1 Transport Layer in June 2022, according to a new pre-solicitation notice.

The notice, posted Monday, sketches out a projected operations and integration acquisition timeline for the so-called “Initial Warfighting Capability Tranche” that includes an anticipated request for proposals release date of Jan. 18.

Technical proposals are then expected to be due by Feb. 24, per the notice, with cost proposals coming due on March 3. A contract award is slated for June 24, under the timeline, though the notice cautions the dates are subject to change.

The posting notes the agency’s solicitations for O&I support will pertain to the T1TL constellation in addition to “future capability layers and tranches from two redundant, geographically separated, and potentially Government owned and Contractor operated (GOCO) operation centers.”

“The Contractor will demonstrate the capabilities to manage, operate, maintain, and provide logistical and general support for the T1 O&I,” the listing added.

By Aidan Quigley
January 3, 2022 at 1:53 PM

The Navy awarded General Atomics a $69.8 million pre-production planning contract for the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) and advanced arresting gear (AAG) system for the Ford-class aircraft carrier Doris Miller (CVN-81), the service announced Dec. 28.

House appropriators encouraged the Navy to prioritize approval of an acquisition strategy for the Miller’s EMALS and AAG in the report accompanying the House Appropriations Committee’s FY-22 spending bill.

Congress authorized a dual-hull buy for the Miller and Ford-class aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-80) with the goal of saving money by procuring equipment and shipsets earlier.

“However, the three-year delay in approving an acquisition strategy and contracting for these main mission components of the carrier is causing a disruption to the production and manufacturing processes of these essential components, impacting the construction and increasing the cost growth of CVN-81,” the committee stated in its July report.

Nearly all of the work will be performed in San Diego and is expected to be completed in December 2023, according to the Navy’s contract announcement.

“Specifically, this contract provides for the evaluation, production, manufacture, assembly, integration and test of engineering changes to product hardware, software, technical data, and logistics products throughout the configuration management process associated with the EMALS and AAG system for the CVN-81 aircraft carrier, minus the energy storage subsystem,” the Navy said.

Navy spokesman Capt. Clay Doss told Inside Defense in July that the Navy was planning on a full production contract award for the Miller’s EMALS and AAG in FY-23.

By John Liang
January 3, 2022 at 12:39 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's deployment of a 5G cellular network plus coverage of several new national security commissions and more.

We start off with what Nokia is up to regarding the company's effort to help the Air Force implement a 5G cellular network:

Following 5G network deployment, Nokia works to support, expand DSS efforts at Hill AFB

With dynamic spectrum sharing experimentation underway at Hill Air Force Base, UT, testbed vendor Nokia is gearing up to support application developers' efforts to build on top of the newly deployed 5G cellular network while keeping an eye trained on opportunities to potentially enhance the available use cases for its work.

Here's the news you may have missed during the Christmas-to-New-Year's break:

Lawmakers mandate new national security commissions

The annual defense authorization bill approved by Congress mandates the creation of several new national security commissions that could have significant impacts on the defense budget, military strategy, nuclear weapons, emerging biotechnology and lessons learned from the war in Afghanistan.

DIU releases new 'Responsible AI Guidelines'

The Defense Innovation Unit has published new directives on how to operationalize responsible artificial intelligence guidelines adopted by the Pentagon in an effort to accelerate adoption of commercial technology within DOD.

Northrop fends off competition to win IBCS production

Northrop Grumman -- after nearly a decade of development of the Army's Integrated Battle Command System and some $2 billion in cost growth -- managed to fend off a competitor and win a potential $1.4 billion, five-year IBCS production contract.

Pentagon plans for CMMC in 2022: More assessment documentation guidance, updated rulemakings

The Defense Department's plans for its revamped cyber certification program will kick into high gear in 2022, with new guidance for assessments under CMMC 2.0 and updates through rulemaking processes to formally cement changes announced by the Pentagon in November.

Army agrees to buy six more advanced Chinooks from Boeing

The Army will buy six additional upgraded Chinook helicopters for special operations from Boeing as part of a $246 million contract, Boeing announced late last month.

Next-gen sensors integrated with Abrams at Project Convergence

The Army used modified M1 Abrams tanks as platforms for next-generation technology at this fall's Project Convergence 21 experiment, helping to flesh out the service's concepts for the future battlefield, Army officials told Inside Defense in an interview earlier this month.

Leveraging Air Force deal, Hermeus accelerates toward first 'Quarterhorse' flight test in 2023

Bolstered by a $60 million Air Force-backed contract, Hermeus is working toward developing the full-scale flight engine for its Quarterhorse concept aircraft as the aerospace start-up barrels toward a potential first flight test of the platform within the first half of 2023.

Mynaric receives first award under DARPA's Space-BACN laser communications program

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has selected optical communications company Mynaric to compete to develop laser communication terminals that will connect satellites in low-Earth orbit.

Navy executing unmanned campaign plan with implementation framework

The Navy is using an implementation framework to incorporate its unmanned campaign plan throughout the service and deliver a larger, hybrid fleet of manned and unmanned platforms.

By Audrey Decker
January 3, 2022 at 12:07 PM

The Marine Corps is asking industry for information on interceptors that would defeat enemy unmanned aircraft systems.

The service is seeking to increase the lethality of the current Marine Air Defense Integrated System Block 1 by integrating a C-UAS interceptor, according to a request for information released last month.

“The MADIS consists of specific, integrated capabilities required to carry out active air defense against UAS, fixed-wing, and rotary-wing threats. The defense of maneuver forces requires an integrated and in-depth air defense umbrella based upon the rapid kill chain sequence of ‘detect,’ ‘track,’ ‘identify,’ and ‘defeat,’” the RFI states.

The Marine Corps aims to field the C-UAS interceptor program in fiscal year 2025, according to a question-and-answer document released today.

The interceptor should be able to autonomously engage multiple targets, according to the RFI.

The solution must be transportable on the MADIS Future Weapons System Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, according to the Q&A document.

The Marine Corps successfully launched a pair of cruise missiles from an unmanned JLTV this summer, during Large Scale Exercise 21.

By Tony Bertuca
January 2, 2022 at 9:23 PM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced tonight he has tested positive for COVID-19 and will quarantine himself for the next five days.

Austin, who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and received a booster in October, said in a statement he requested a test Sunday after exhibiting symptoms while he was home on leave.

“My symptoms are mild, and I am following my physician’s directions,” he said. “In keeping with those directions, and in accordance with CDC guidelines, I will quarantine myself at home for the next five days.”

Austin said he retains all authorities of his position during his quarantine and intends to virtually attend key meetings and discussions, along with being represented by Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

Austin also said he has informed his staff and anyone he has come into contact with over the past week. He said his last meeting with President Biden was Dec. 21, more a week before he began experiencing symptoms.

“I tested negative that very morning,” Austin said. “I have not been in the Pentagon since Thursday, where I met briefly -- and only -- with a few members of my staff. We were properly masked and socially distanced throughout.”

Austin highlighted his vaccination status in his statement, noting that fully vaccinating the U.S. military remains a “readiness issue.”

“As my doctor made clear to me, my fully vaccinated status -- and the booster I received in early October -- have rendered the infection much more mild than it would otherwise have been,” he said. “The vaccines work and will remain a military medical requirement for our workforce. I continue to encourage everyone eligible for a booster shot to get one.”

By Tony Bertuca
December 31, 2021 at 5:00 AM

You read it, we noticed. There was significant reader interest in how the world's largest defense contractor would reorganize post-pandemic, signaling alignment with what appears to be major workforce transformations elsewhere in the U.S. economy. Other top stories focused on competitions for the Next-Generation Interceptor and the Long-Range Standoff weapon, as well as the continuous vetting of Defense Department security clearance holders.

Here, we list our most-read stories of the year:

5. All DOD clearance holders enrolled in continuous vetting program

The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency has announced all holders of Defense Department security clearances have now been enrolled in a continuous vetting program that replaces the previous practice of periodic reinvestigations every five to 10 years.

4. MDA taps Lockheed, Northrop-Raytheon team for NGI, ousting incumbent Boeing

The Missile Defense Agency has selected Lockheed Martin and a Northrop Grumman-Raytheon team for initial design contracts for a Next Generation Interceptor, bumping Boeing from the race to build a new guided missile intended to protect the United States before the end of the decade from advanced North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles.

3. Lockheed's design performance may have motivated ouster from LRSO program

The Air Force's decision last year to bet on Raytheon to build the multibillion-dollar Long Range Standoff Weapon and later remove Lockheed Martin from the program entirely may have come down to inferior design performance by the latter company.

2. Hicks approves NGI to proceed; contract award imminent for $2 billion, three-year initial design phase

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks has approved the Next Generation Interceptor project to proceed, clearing the way for the Missile Defense Agency to award a pair of contracts as well as seek $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2022 and FY-23 for the new Ground-based Midcourse Defense guided missile, according to a source familiar with the decision.

1. Lockheed readies for new, post-pandemic workforce construct

Lockheed Martin has prepared a plan to move a large percentage of its workforce to a hybrid in-person and telework approach as the pandemic appears to be easing.

By Tony Bertuca
December 27, 2021 at 12:18 PM

President Biden today signed into law the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.

Staffers said the bill, which passed Congress earlier this month, had been delayed due to technical issues with the how the legislation was worded.

The bill includes $740 billion specifically for the Pentagon, which is $25 billion more than Biden requested earlier this year. The bill also authorizes about $28 billion for the Energy Department's nuclear weapons programs.

The bill does not include an additional $10 billion outside of the legislation's jurisdiction that is set to be appropriated elsewhere, bringing total U. S. defense spending to about $778 billion for FY-22.

However, Congress has yet to agree on a final spending package to appropriate the money.

Until that happens, the Pentagon, along with the rest of the federal government, is operating under a stopgap continuing resolution set to expire Feb. 18 that locks budgets at previous-year levels and blocks spending on new programs.

By Aidan Quigley
December 23, 2021 at 5:30 PM

Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries has delivered the final advanced weapons elevator to the Navy for the aircraft carrier Gerald Ford (CVN-78), the service announced Thursday.

The Navy said it received the eleventh and final elevator on Wednesday. The elevators experienced lengthy delays caused by development, installation and delivery problems.

The elevators require fewer sailors to operate and are faster and more agile than previous elevators, the Navy said in the press release.

“With completion of this final AWE, we now have the entire system to operate and train with,” Rear Adm. James Downey, program executive officer for aircraft carriers, said in the press release.

Ford is currently undergoing its planned incremental availability at HII Newport News' facility in Hampton Roads, VA. The PIA started in September and is set to run through February, according to the company.

By John Liang
December 23, 2021 at 2:37 PM

This final INSIDER Daily Digest of 2021 has news on the Air Force's latest microelectronics strategy, a Missile Defense Agency request for proposals for a segment of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system and more.

Inside Defense interviewed the Air Force's chief scientist this week:

New Air Force microelectronics strategy to 'look broadly' at current, future needs

The Air Force's chief scientist is looking to craft a microelectronics strategy for the service by the end of March -- a document she says will not only assess current and future needs but also “where those parts can come from.”

The Missile Defense Agency this week published a request for proposals for the Systems Integration, Test and Readiness program, a follow-on solicitation to a late October RFP for the next GMD Weapon System (GWS) Program:

MDA commences second of two 'future GMD' competitions

The Missile Defense Agency formally launched the second of two new industry competitions for the so-called Ground-based Midcourse Defense system future acquisition: Systems Integration, Test and Readiness (SITR).

Document: MDA's SITR program RFP

An expansion of the Defense Production Act authority will allow the Navy to scale the production of Virginia-class submarines:

Biden expands Defense Production Act to strengthen submarine industrial base

President Biden expanded the use of the Defense Production Act to aid the Virginia-class submarine industrial base, signing three determinations Tuesday.

The Army has determined certain units were able to disperse over greater distances while maintaining connectivity:

Network communication capabilities exceed expectations in test

An Army test late last month found that modernized wireless communication capabilities allow communications over greater distances between mobile command posts than previously thought, the Army said in a release.

We end with coverage of the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared geosynchronous Earth orbit program:

Northrop-Ball team completes EDU testing for Next-Gen OPIR GEO payload

With a recent testing milestone behind them, Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace are nearly finished with development of their Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared geosynchronous Earth orbit payload, setting them up to enter what they view as a "low-risk" production phase in the new year.

Happy Holidays!

Inside Defense would like to wish all of our readers a safe and healthy holiday season and a prosperous New Year. Our next INSIDER Daily Digest will be available Jan. 3, 2022.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
December 22, 2021 at 4:47 PM

BAE Systems will deliver prototypes of the most recent upgrade to the Army's armored recovery vehicle in 2022, after the company received a $79 million modification Nov. 23 to its existing other transaction agreement for the vehicle, the company announced Dec. 21.

“The first prototype vehicles are scheduled for delivery to the U.S. Army during 2022 to undergo test and evaluation activities, bringing this vital capability a step closer to entering service,” the announcement stated.

BAE will build eight prototypes of the M88A3 Hercules from existing M88A2 vehicles, a company spokeswoman told Inside Defense today. Work has already begun, and at least one prototype will be delivered to the Army in 2022.

Procurement of M88A2 vehicles ended in fiscal year 2020, but they are not able to tow the heaviest M1 Abrams tanks. The M88A2 has a maximum capacity of 70 tons, but the newest Abrams can weigh up to 80 tons with force protection kits.

The M88A3 upgrade should increase towing capacity to 80 tons, so that a single Hercules will be able to tow any Abrams tank.

By Briana Reilly
December 22, 2021 at 4:34 PM

Implemented foreign military sales totaled $34.8 billion in fiscal year 2021, the State Department announced today, a drop of some $16 billion compared to the prior year.

Meanwhile, officials reported that direct commercial sales, involving a foreign entity and a U.S. firm, logged an FY-21 value of $103.4 billion, down from $124.3 billion the year before.

The new totals mark respective decreases of around 31% for foreign military sales and 17% for direct commercial sales between FY-20 and FY-21.

For direct commercial sales, the $103.4 billion figure “includes the value of hardware, services, and technical data authorized from exports, reexports, and retransfer,” the release notes. Among the sales that required congressional notice was a $735 million deal with Israel involving Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Small Diameter Bombs, per the release.

The three-year rolling average of those sales between FY-19 and FY-21 is $114.1 billion -- a value used, the release said, because many transfers include multi-year implementation schedules.

Top foreign military sales cases that involved congressional notification last fiscal year included a $2.43 billion F-16 Block 70-72 aircraft agreement with the Philippines and more. The three-year rolling average of those government-to-government sales between FY-19 and FY-21 is $47 billion, the release notes.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
December 22, 2021 at 4:23 PM

General Dynamics European Land Systems has won a contract to upgrade a bridging system for Stryker and some airborne infantry brigades for use in Arctic conditions, according to a Dec. 17 Army announcement.

The company will modernize the Rapidly Emplaced Bridging System with a $20.8 million firm-fixed-price contract, according to the announcement. The contract lasts until Dec. 16, 2026.

Ten of the bridging systems that are used by cold-weather units will receive Arctic-conditions kits, the program office wrote in an email this week to Inside Defense. There are no plans to add the Arctic kit to the entire fleet.

Cold-weather upgrades include a heater for each bridge system’s winch, a power pack to draw power from the truck that transports the system and “decentralization of the hydraulic valves to shorten the distance between valves and cylinders,” according to the fiscal year 2022 Army budget request.

Nine Stryker brigades and five airborne combat engineer companies use the bridge system, which can be carried by a C-130 cargo plane. The bridge can cross gaps of up to 13 meters.

Preparing for competition and conflict in the Arctic, including in Alaska, has received greater attention in the Army over the past year as the service modernizes for multidomain operations and large-scale combat. The service’s first Arctic strategy was released in March, and one of its five key goals was to increase power projection capabilities in the region.

The Army is testing new, tracked ground vehicles for the Arctic, to replace a decades-old fleet that is expected to reach obsolescence in FY-23. Army Alaska headquarters is expected to be expanded through the addition of a multidomain task force that is dedicated to the Arctic.

By John Liang
December 22, 2021 at 1:27 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program, plus the revamped Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program and more.

We start off with coverage of the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared geosynchronous Earth orbit program:

Northrop-Ball team completes EDU testing for Next-Gen OPIR GEO payload

With a recent testing milestone behind them, Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace are nearly finished with development of their Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared geosynchronous Earth orbit payload, setting them up to enter what they view as a "low-risk" production phase in the new year.

A new Government Accountability Office report describes how the Defense Department has used air support contracts for training to replicate adversary air forces:

GAO: Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps increasing use of air support contracts for training

The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps have increased their use of air support contracts from fiscal year 2015 to FY-20, spending a total of $8.4 billion during that period, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday.

Document: GAO report on DOD air support contracts

The latest cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Pentagon plans to resume CMMC assessment organization audits in late January

The Defense Department will begin conducting new level two audits in late January for companies seeking to assess defense contractors under DOD's revamped Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, according to the CMMC Accreditation Body.

DOD now eyes 2022 for setting up zero-trust portfolio office

The Defense Department is shifting its plans to 2022 for setting up a zero-trust portfolio management office under the oversight of DOD Chief Information Officer John Sherman, according to a Pentagon official.

Inside Defense recently interviewed Will Marsh, president of the Printed Circuit Board Association of America, and discussed investing in science, technology, engineering and math education:

Industry eyes increased investment in STEM programs to strengthen domestic manufacturing base

Industry and congressional lawmakers say increasing investment in science, technology, engineering and math education and workforce development are key factors to strengthening a domestic manufacturing base and supply chain security.

By Audrey Decker
December 21, 2021 at 3:16 PM

The Navy is asking industry for design and construction proposals for the Auxiliary General Ocean Surveillance Ship.

The service released its final request for proposals today for the T-AGOS 25-class, a ship that gathers underwater acoustic data to support antisubmarine warfare operations.

The ships use Surveillance Towed-Array Sensor Systems equipment to gather undersea data and carry electronic equipment to process and transmit that data via satellite, according to Navy budget justification documents.

The Navy plans to procure seven T-AGOS(X) ocean surveillance ships as replacements for its five in-service T-AGOS ships, according to a Congressional Research Service report released earlier this month.

The first of the planned seven T-AGOS(X)s was included in the final version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill. The service requested $434.4 million for the first ship.

“The Navy’s desire to replace the five in-service T-AGOS ships with seven larger and faster T-AGOS(X)s can be viewed as a response by the Navy to the submarine modernization efforts of countries such as China and Russia,” the CRS report states.

The service wants to use one shipbuilder to build all seven T-AGOS(X)s, according to the CRS.