The Insider

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 15, 2022 at 10:48 AM

(Editor's Note: This post was revised after publication to reflect that General Dynamics will supply Trophy ready kits.)

The Army has awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a $280 million, five-year contract to procure Trophy active protection system ready kits for M1 Abrams tanks, according to a July 7 contract announcement.

“The kits will be added to M1A2 SEPv2 and M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tanks as needed, continuing their fielding across the Army,” General Dynamics said in a July 13 press release.

As of last year, testing was ongoing to ensure that the Trophy, which was first fielded on the SEPv2, would work on the SEPv3, the updated variant that the Army is currently buying.

Rafael builds the Trophy, which protects combat vehicles from incoming antitank missiles and other threats. General Dynamics is the prime contractor on the Abrams tank.

Previously, Rafael has partnered with Leonardo DRS to supply the Trophy for U.S. Abrams tanks.

The Army received a second bid to supply the active protection system, according to the contract announcement. Losing bidders are not revealed in contract announcements.

The contract will run through July 7, 2027, according to the contract announcement. Work locations will be set with each order.

By Tony Bertuca
July 14, 2022 at 6:32 PM

The House has voted 329-101 to pass its version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill, now awaiting the Senate to do the same so the legislation can enter conference committee negotiations in the coming weeks.

The massive annual bill includes, among a host of other things, authorization for a $37 billion increase in defense spending above what President Biden has requested.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) said in a statement that “there is a lot to be proud of in this bill,” which Congress has passed for more than 60 straight years.

“At a time when democracies worldwide face both old and new threats, the FY-23 [defense authorization bill] supports investments in what makes our country competitive around the world and strong here at home: a diverse and talented military and civilian workforce; groundbreaking science and technology research, especially at Historically Black Colleges and Universities; and the alliances and partnerships we need to meet our biggest global security challenges,” he said.

Smith also highlighted the 4.6% pay raise for military service members and civilian personnel.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the committee’s ranking member, praised the bill’s “overwhelming bipartisan support.”

“However, our work is not done -- we will continue to improve upon this bill in conference to ensure that this legislation gives our warfighters what they need,” he said in a statement.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, which passed a version of the bill last month that would authorize $45 billion more than Biden has requested, is not expected to file the legislation with the full Senate until early next week.

Meanwhile, House lawmakers since yesterday have considered and debated dozens of proposed amendments on the floor.

By John Liang
July 14, 2022 at 2:06 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship program, a CSIS report on cruise missile defense and more.

House lawmakers are divided on what to do with the troubled Littoral Combat Ship program:

House amendment to allow LCS retirements fails in close vote

After a heated debate on the House floor, lawmakers struck down an amendment that would allow the Navy to stick to its plan to retire nine Littoral Combat Ships.

An 85-page report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies Missile Defense Project, released today, proposes a domestic cruise missile defense architecture that consists of five layers, implemented over three phases with a projected cost of $14.9 billion to acquire and $17.8 billion to operate over two decades:

Study: Domestic cruise missile defense system would cost $32.7 billion

A national cruise missile defense system to protect the lower 48 states from strategic attack on the homeland below the nuclear threshold from Russia or China could be acquired for $32.7 billion, considerably less than a congressional analysis estimated last year, according to a new study that aims to influence the Pentagon's fiscal year 2024 budget proposal.

In a July 5 memo, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu calls on the Defense Science Board to "provide a report on findings and recommendations for a detailed technology strategy which encompasses each of the fourteen areas covered in the USD(R&E) Technology Vision":

Defense Science Board 2022 technology superiority study set to shape new strategy

An influential Pentagon advisory panel will soon launch a sweeping study of advanced U.S. military technology that will prioritize near-term asymmetric capabilities and recommend actions that could recalibrate future investments in weapon system development.

Document: DSB terms of reference memo for technology superiority study

Naval Air Forces chief Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell spoke this week at an event hosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and CSIS:

Navy opens three SLM lines to accelerate Super Hornet Block III conversion

ANNAPOLIS, MD -- After continued congressional concern over the Navy's strike fighter inventory, the service has opened a third service life modification line in North Island, CA, to convert the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to the most advanced version of the jet.

A new Air Force draft environmental assessment analyzed a preferred action, five action alternatives and a no action alternative that would not build a permanent U.S. Space Command headquarters:

Air Force completes draft EA for SPACECOM relocation

Air Force officials have completed a draft environmental assessment to pave the way for the planned relocation of U.S. Space Command, the service announced this week.

By Briana Reilly
July 14, 2022 at 12:07 PM

The Pentagon's technology chief plans to brief industry officials later this month on the Defense Department's new rapid experimentation effort that aims to identify, demonstrate and transition promising military capabilities.

Through the July 26 industry day, participants will learn about the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve and the capability challenges and technical priorities that officials are working toward under the initiative, a DOD press release said today. The date was first announced in a sam.gov listing published last week.

Aiming to foster prototyping and experimentation, as well as match joint concepts with solutions, the five-year RDER push was first announced by Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks last summer. While it’s been touted by DOD leaders since, few details have been shared publicly about which projects RDER will fund, how companies’ offerings would be leveraged and when demonstrations associated with the effort will take place.

“The private sector will play a key role in the RDER initiative,” Heidi Shyu, under secretary of defense for research and engineering, said in today's release. “Engagements like these are essential to ensure that we all understand the warfighting challenges and solicit the most creative ideas from industry.”

The industry day, slated to occur at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD, would come before the first of two so-called “sprints” tied to RDER in fiscal year 2023, in which the Joint Staff, services and combatant commands come together to evaluate how well planned prototypes would close certain capability gaps, Shyu said during a congressional hearing in April.

At the time, Shyu said she hoped to see technology demonstrations in 2023 and 2024 before capabilities are pushed out in 2025 -- a compressed timeline that she noted “could accelerate the capability from innovators all the way to fielding.”

Under the Biden administration’s FY-23 budget request, officials are requesting $70 million for RDER in FY-23, followed by $71 million in FY-24, $75 million in FY-25, $79 million in FY-26 and $82 million in FY-27. The military services have also requested their own dollars to support RDER projects.

At the DOD level for FY-23, $48.5 million of the requested $70 million in research and development funds would go toward joint warfighting concept experiments in fires; command and control; information advantage; and contested logistics, according to the budget documents.

“This will provide funding for certain individual capability experiments and experimentation series that support capabilities to enable the JWC supporting concepts, also known as the ‘functional battles,’” the listing notes. “Experiment proposals will be evaluated and selected in the prior fiscal year.”

Shyu has previously said officials have selected 32 different projects to take part in the initial sprint.

Industry executives seeking to participate in the end-of-month briefing have until July 20 to RSVP, according to the sam.gov notice.

By Evan Ochsner
July 14, 2022 at 11:35 AM

The Army has entered into an other transaction agreement with Lockheed Martin to produce prototypes for an electronic warfare capability to be integrated on Stryker combat vehicles, the service announced Wednesday.

The $59 million contract supports a Manufacturing Proof of Concept for the Terrestrial Layer System-Brigade Combat Team. The agreement runs through October next year.

TLS is the service's new ground vehicle-based electronic warfare, signals intelligence and offensive cyber device. The integrated suite of capabilities is intended to improve situational awareness “through detection, identification, location, exploitation and disruption of enemy signals of interest,” Ken Strayer, project manager for electronic warfare and cyber, said in the announcement.

The capability will include “electronic attack and offensive cyber warfare options to deny, degrade, disrupt, or manipulate enemy signals of interest,” the Army said in a previous announcement. The service says TLS is a key part of achieving multidomain operations by 2028.

The Army had previously said it planned to field TLS capabilities for four different ground-based configurations: a small one for maneuver vehicles, a large one for signals intelligence personnel, a dismounted one for maneuver units and a large, extended-range capability.

The first unit equipped with TLS is planned for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022, according to a Lockheed webpage, and the Army has already conducted soldier touchpoints for the technology.

By Michael Marrow
July 14, 2022 at 10:47 AM

Space Systems Command will host a public meeting of the Interface Control Working Group on Sept. 28 to discuss GPS interface requirements, according to a notice posted in today’s Federal Register.

ICWG is composed of representatives from the military, government agencies, foreign representatives and industry to develop interface requirements for the Global Positioning System and other systems that communicate with it.

The group creates formal requirements for GPS interfaces that are detailed in Interface Control Documents. Five public ICDs are active, according to the ICWG website.

The group’s last meeting was in September 2021, where members discussed updates to ICDs that govern interface requirements between the GPS space and user segments for radio frequency links one, two and five and the link one civil signal transmitted from GPS to navigation receivers on link one, the September 2021 meeting announcement states.

The upcoming ICWG meeting will discuss the same ICDs as last year -- known as IS-GPS-200, IS-GPS-705 and IS-GPS-800 -- in addition to ICD-GPS-870, the Federal Register notice reads. ICD-GPS-870 specifies “the functional data transfer interface between the GPS Next Generation Operational Control System and the GPS user and user-support communities,” the ICWG website states.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 13, 2022 at 4:36 PM

Oshkosh Defense has received a $130 million order from the Army to install the Medium Caliber Weapon System on another 95 Stryker combat vehicles, the company announced today.

Oshkosh won the competition last year to produce the MCWS, which adds a 30 mm cannon and unmanned turret to double-V hull A1 Stryker infantry carriers. This was the first major combat vehicle win for the company, which controls most of the service’s tactical wheeled vehicle programs.

MCWS orders now total 269 production systems for $356 million, according to an Oshkosh press release.

The company signed an agreement earlier this year with the Armaments Center, a research and development organization within the Army, to further develop the MCWS turret and adapt it for Oshkosh’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle design.

House authorizers included a provision last month in a draft of the annual defense policy bill that would commission a report on the requirements process that led to the program to add 30 mm cannons to Stryker vehicles.

By Shelley K. Mesch
July 13, 2022 at 3:04 PM

The Air Force successfully tested the Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon for a second time Tuesday, the service announced today.

The hypersonic missile program completed its booster test series, Program Executive Officer Brig. Gen. Heath Collins said in a news release. All-up round testing is slated for later this year, he said.

ARRW, the first air-launched hypersonic weapon for the service, failed three tests last year before its first success in May. The service cut expected procurement funding from its fiscal year 2023 budget request.

The test, conducted off the coast of Southern California, launched the missile from the B-52H Stratofortress, according to a news release from prime contractor Lockheed Martin.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 13, 2022 at 2:45 PM

Lockheed Martin delivered the first M270A2, the newest generation of the Army's tracked rocket launcher, on July 12, according to a press release from the same day.

“This delivery represents a significant milestone for Lockheed Martin as the modernized system will support the Army and allied partners for decades to come,” Jay Price, vice president for precision fires at Lockheed’s missiles and fire control segment, said in the press release.

The M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System fires rockets and missiles in corps-level artillery brigades. The A2 variant adds compatibility with upgraded munitions the Army is developing, including the Precision Strike Missile.

Newly upgraded M270s will be fielded in battalion sets that grow the Army’s rocket artillery fleet, the program manager for the system said last fall. An expansion of long-range fires has emerged as the top priority in the Army’s modernization portfolio.

Each M270 battalion will receive three batteries of nine M270A2s each, which will replace the two batteries of eight M270A1s that are currently fielded. This will leave each battalion with 27 A2 systems, whereas they each currently have 16 A1 systems.

Lockheed won a $224 million contract in April to continue production on the A2 upgrade. A $33 million contract announced in June will allow the company to begin a similar upgrade on British M270s.

By John Liang
July 13, 2022 at 2:11 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Biden administration's concerns over the House version of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill and more.

We start off with coverage of the White House's statement of administration policy on the House version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill:

Biden admin opposes House effort to block divestiture of older weapon systems

The White House opposes several provisions in the House's version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill that would limit the Pentagon's ability to divest "lower-priority" platforms, but is not threatening to veto the legislation, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

OMB reveals land-based VLS also part of new Guam missile defense architecture

The White House revealed new details about the planned architecture for the air and missile defense system intended to provide persistent, all-direction protection of Guam from advanced Chinese threats -- making public Pentagon plans to acquire a land-based variant of the Aegis vertical launch system in addition to previously announced mobile launchers.

Document: OMB statement of administration policy on House FY-23 defense authorization bill

During a recent National Defense Industrial Association symposium, speakers questioned whether it is even worthwhile for small businesses to take part in Advanced Battle Management System contracts:

Industry leaders question participation in IDIQ contracts for ABMS

Industry leaders say the Pentagon needs to do more to ensure the smaller businesses that have won Advanced Battle Management System contracts are able to scale developments to solve the military’s problems while still meeting their own economic needs.

Army acquisition chief Doug Bush spoke at the same NDIA conference this week, focusing on his service's Joint All-Domain Command and Control efforts:

Army acquisition chief: DOD needs more JADC2 coordination to streamline procurement

The Army's top acquisition official on Monday said the creation of an "organizing body" could help the Defense Department achieve its Joint All-Domain Command and Control goals and ensure the individual services don't "lose our way."

Inside Defense recently interviewed Wolfgang Petermann, the Army's project manager for transportation systems:

Army plans two prototyping rounds for next-gen heavy truck

The competitive prototyping phase for the Army's Common Tactical Truck program will inform requirements before another prototyping phase and competition lead to the selection of a single vendor, according to the program manager.

By Tony Bertuca
July 12, 2022 at 8:49 PM

The House Rules Committee has voted to include 650 amendments in the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill scheduled to debated on the floor by lawmakers this week.

House lawmakers had submitted more than 1,200 amendments to the committee for consideration.

House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA) said the current bill represents the largest number of proposed amendments the panel has ever had to consider on a single piece of legislation.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) said he wanted to deliver a message to lawmakers from both parties: "We don't need 1,200 amendments."

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the ranking GOP defense authorizer, asked his colleagues to remember in the future that the bill is a defense authorization "not an omnibus."

The White House, meanwhile, listed its objections to the bill a statement of administration policy released today, but did not threaten a veto.

One amendment included by progressive Democrats, though it is unlikely pass the full House, would reverse the House Armed Services Committee’s provision authorizing an additional $37 billion in defense spending.

Meanwhile, Smith was able to include an amendment that would allow the Navy to retire nine Littoral Combat Ships, reversing the committee’s work to include a provision in the bill requiring the service to keep five.

Another amendment would block funding for replacing the current version of nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles and simply extend the life of the Minuteman III.

The bill also contains progressive-backed amendments that would repeal the authorizations for the use of military force in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Watch Inside Defense for further coverage.

By John Liang
July 12, 2022 at 2:05 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Lockheed Martin Skunk Works' latest efforts, the Pentagon's Joint All-Domain Command and Control program and more.

John Clark, who became Lockheed Martin Skunk Works chief in March after logging more than two decades at the company, spoke to the media this week:

Lockheed 'Skunk Works' chief outlines vision for manned-unmanned teaming with 'expendable' systems

The new head of Lockheed Martin's "Skunk Works" team says the company has begun fleshing out its approach to the future of aerial warfare -- manned-unmanned teaming, with plans for a "distributed concept" that would join a variety of aircraft in the skies enabled by artificial intelligence and machine autonomy, especially lower-end, more "expendable" assets.

Leaders from MITRE, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and L3Harris Technologies spoke this week at a National Defense Industrial Association symposium in McLean, VA:

Industry wants more direction from DOD on JADC2

Defense industry executives say they want to get more direction from the Pentagon on how to approach the military-wide Joint All-Domain Command and Control effort, citing a lack of mission threads that have led companies to attempt to independently assess what's needed.

'A living document': Classified JADC2 implementation plan to see updates going forward

The Pentagon's recently completed, classified plan for implementing a military-wide internet of things through Joint All-Domain Command and Control will see continued updates as officials work to incorporate real-time changes stemming in part from an evolving threat landscape.

Lindsay Millard, principal director for space in the office of the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, spoke this week at a panel hosted by the America's Future Series Space Innovation Summit:

DOD space official wants more work for non-traditional vendors

While work is ongoing to lower barriers, Defense Department officials "need to do better" to help non-traditional vendors overcome obstacles like overclassification and the "Valley of Death,” especially when it comes to space acquisitions, according to a top Pentagon official.

In a July 8 request for information, the Air Force Research Laboratory seeks "to gather information on the domestic production capability and capacity of the supplier-base for air-breathing engines for hypersonic weapon systems":

Air Force seeks industry information for hypersonic engine production, supply chains

The Air Force is seeking information on how capable industry would be in manufacturing air-breathing engines for hypersonic weapons, according to online documents.

Document: Air Force RFI on air-breathing engines for hypersonic systems

By John Liang
July 11, 2022 at 1:38 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Joint All-Domain Command and Control, Air Force hypersonic engine efforts and more.

Arsenio Gumahad, the director of the command, control, communications, computers/intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance division within the office of the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, spoke at a National Defense Industrial Association symposium in McLean, VA this morning:

'A living document': Classified JADC2 implementation plan to see updates going forward

The Pentagon's recently completed, classified plan for implementing a military-wide internet of things through Joint All-Domain Command and Control will see continued updates as officials work to incorporate real-time changes stemming in part from an evolving threat landscape.

In a July 8 request for information, the Air Force Research Laboratory seeks "to gather information on the domestic production capability and capacity of the supplier-base for air-breathing engines for hypersonic weapon systems":

Air Force seeks industry information for hypersonic engine production, supply chains

The Air Force is seeking information on how capable industry would be in manufacturing air-breathing engines for hypersonic weapons, according to online documents.

Document: Air Force RFI on air-breathing engines for hypersonic systems

AFRL also recently launched a small satellite earlier this month:

AFRL launches Recurve satellite with Virgin Orbit

The Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate successfully deployed a new satellite called Recurve in the early hours of July 2, launching on a rocket carried by a Virgin Orbit aircraft to climb into low-earth orbit.

The Air Force's 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing’s Project 212 demonstrated a System-of-systems Technology Integration Tool Chain for Heterogeneous Electronic Systems, or STITCHES, which translates software programs and data, and the Tactical App Store, or TACApp:

Air Force's Project 212 flight demo shows success in EMS capability integration

The Air Force's central hub for electromagnetic spectrum capabilities ran a successful flight demonstration of two of its key programs for real-time software integration on existing platforms.

Inside Defense recently interviewed the CEO of Florida-based autonomous surface vessel contractor MARTAC:

MARTAC USVs beginning next set of missions in 5th Fleet

MARTAC's unmanned surface vessels will begin a new set of missions in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility in the next few days, according to the company's chief executive officer.

By Audrey Decker
July 11, 2022 at 1:13 PM

The Navy demonstrated a mine countermeasure prototype technology on the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, according to a recent statement.

This marks the first time an MCM capability was flown on the Northrop Grumman-built Fire Scout, the Navy said. The demonstration took place in May at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

“The team conducted operations from the Naval Surface Warfare Center utilizing drifting, tethered and moored mines throughout beach zone to deep waters. They gathered data day and night, across all water depths and in mild to difficult weather conditions,” the Navy said.

The demonstration also gathered performance data for the Single-system Multi-mission Airborne Mine Detection system, developed by BAE Systems.

The SMAMD system is an airborne optical sensor that can detect and localize mines on land and at sea, according to the Navy. The service is working to execute the final phase of SMAMD.

Northrop Grumman told Inside Defense in May that the service has pushed up the timeline to fully transition from the MQ-8B variant to the MQ-8C from fiscal year 2024 to the end of this year.

By Audrey Decker
July 11, 2022 at 11:47 AM

Leidos has won a $12 million design contract for the Navy's Medium Unmanned Undersea Vehicle program.

If all options are exercised, the cumulative value of the contract would total $358.5 million, according to a July 7 Defense Department contract listing.

The Navy’s MUUV program will have two configurations, the Razorback Torpedo Tube Launch & Recovery configuration, which will provide submarine-based autonomous oceanographic sensing and data collection, and the Maritime Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures UUV configuration.

Work for the first contract option will be completed by June 2023 and if all options are exercised, work will continue through 2032, according to the listing.

Four different offers were made for this contract, according to the listing.

The service is financing this contract with fiscal year 2021 and FY-22 research and development funds.