The Insider

By John Liang
April 16, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly this week outlined the effects of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty on the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System.

For one thing, the new treaty "has no constraints on current and future components of the BMDS development or deployment," O'Reilly said at a hearing yesterday of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee. The new pact contains language that prohibits the conversion of intercontinental or submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers to missile defense launchers, and vice versa, while “grandfathering” the five former ICBM silos at Vandenberg AFB already converted for Ground Based Interceptors, according to his prepared remarks.


MDA never had a plan to convert additional ICBM silos at Vandenberg (Air Force Base in California) and intends to hedge against increased BMDS requirements by completing construction of Missile Field 2 at Fort Greely (in Alaska). Moreover, we determined that if more interceptors were to be added at Vandenberg AFB, it would be less expensive to build a new GBI missile field (which is not prohibited by the treaty).

As for SLBM launchers, MDA a while ago looked at the idea of launching interceptors from submarines "and found it an unattractive and extremely expensive option," the general said. "As the committee knows, we have a very good and significantly growing capability for sea-based missile defense on Aegis-capable ships."

The New START Treaty also "reduces constraints on the development of the missile defense program," O'Reilly said. Specifically:

Unless they have New-START accountable first stages (which we do not plan to use), our targets will no longer be subject to START constraints, which limited our use of air-to-surface and waterborne launches of targets which are essential for the cost-effective testing of missile defense interceptors against MRBM and IRBM targets in the Pacific area. In addition, under New START, we will no longer be limited to five space launch facilities for target launches.

By John Liang
April 15, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly today outlined some of the things his agency is doing to get contractors to improve their quality control on missile defense contracts. Specifically, according to his prepared testimony at a House Armed Services strategic forces committee hearing:

Until we complete planned competitions, including the greater use of firm fixed price contracts, we will have to motivate greater attention by senior industry management through intensive government inspections, low award fees, the issuance of cure notices, stopping the funding of new contract scope, and documenting inadequate quality control performance to influence future contract awards by DOD.

O'Reilly took contractors to task last month at an MDA conference, Inside Missile Defense reported, saying: "I have gone to a point where I am withholding funding for current contracts because I don't see the level of scrutiny and a level of culture necessary for the precision work that's required -- not in engineers' design capability, but actually in manufacturing."

O'Reilly went further during today's question-and-answer portion of the hearing, responding to a query from subcommittee Chairman James Langevin (D-RI) regarding target failures. O'Reilly cited the case of a failed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense intercept test last December where the air-launched target failed to ignite after separating from a C-130 aircraft. A Failure Review Board found "systemic problems" with the aircraft's launch system, he added.

As a result of the target failure, O'Reilly halted any future use of air-launched targets and said that one option is to expand "the number of contractors which we use so we can induce competition, which I believe is part of the solution to quality control issues."

He continues:

It's not that these are poorly built systems -- the precision required of missile defense systems is very high, and it is achievable, but it requires a specific disciplined experience base and investment in testing . . . that's required. And so to motivate that, I have delayed any new scope to that particular company so that until they satisfy that they have made corrective actions in management structure and in approaches to targets and so forth. And also at the same time I have taken the planned work that I was going to use with that company in 2012 and put that scope on another contract that I have with another company and asked that second company to develop an air-launched capability so that we have true competition to emphasize the fact that it is an absolute requirement in the missile defense business that you have the highest repeatable quality. It is a condition on which our contracts should be set.

By John Liang
April 14, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Before issuing a request for proposals on its nascent space-based, missile-launch-tracking system, envisioned as a follow-on to the experimental, dual-satellite Space Tracking and Surveillance System, the Missile Defense Agency wants to know what potential contractors could bring to the table, according to a notice posted yesterday on Federal Business Opportunities:

In October 2010, the Agency plans to begin the Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS) project as an eventual new space sensor layer for the (Ballistic Missile Defense System). The objective is to deliver an operational space-based system to address the ascent phase midcourse tracking challenge. To meet this objective, the Agency plans first to develop a prototype system, followed by production of 9 – 12 spacecraft and associated ground control and processing equipment integrated with the developed Ballistic Missile Defense System elements enabling command and control, track generation, fusion, and transfer of data throughout the entire fire-control loop.

To that end, according to the notice:

In an effort to conduct current market research, this is a Request for Information to gain insight from industry, the national laboratories, universities and university affiliated research and development centers on their capability to contribute to the PTSS development and deployment.

The notice comes in the wake of an industry day held last week in Huntsville, AL, where MDA briefed potential contractors on the PTSS program.

In related news, MDA Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly makes his first appearance this year before Congress at a House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing tomorrow, where he will likely outline his agency's plans for the PTSS program.

By Pat Host
April 14, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Richard Genaille will be the next deputy director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, according to an April 9 DSCA statement.

Genaille, who is currently the director of policy in the office of the under secretary of the Air Force for international affairs, was tabbed by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michéle Flournoy. His first day in his new position has not been set.

Genaille is a retired Air Force pilot with 22 years of active duty service. In his current job, he develops and implements national, Defense Department and Air Force policy governing security assistance, foreign disclosure and technology transfer. Genaille was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 2005.

By Dan Dupont
April 13, 2010 at 5:00 AM

A Joint Strike Fighter discussion of a different kind is under way:

WASHINGTON - Gov. Jan Brewer and a delegation of about 20 elected officials and Phoenix-area business leaders lobbied top Air Force generals for four hours Monday in an effort to convince them that Luke Air Force Base would be the best place to train pilots on the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

"We gave it 100 percent, and I think we were successful," Brewer said afterward in an interview with the Republic on Capitol Hill. "It just felt good."

Although Air Force officials made no promises, the governor said they noted Luke's strengths, including strong community support, good year-round flying weather, and the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range, a 2.7 million-acre pilot training area.

"All the puzzle pieces fit together," Brewer said.


The one weakness that Air Force officials raised is that Maricopa County is a so-called "non-attainment area" under the Clean Air Act, meaning that it does not meet federal standards for the amount of fine particulate dust and soot in the air.

Brewer said Air Force officials expressed some concern about the pollution but said they did not expect that any F-35s brought to the base would add significantly to the problem.

By Jason Sherman
April 13, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Pentagon's public affairs shop attempted last week to steer Defense Department reporters away from the math laid out in DOD's own F-35 Selected Acquisition Report -- which definitively says the total cost for Joint Strike Fighter program will increase to as much as $388 billion this June. (See pages 36 and 37 of the report.)

However, at least one key lawmaker has questions about the numbers laid out in the document -- the sole basis for the math cited in our story (derided by a Pentagon spokesman as "fuzzy," though no one -- including DOD-- has yet to explain how that could be given that the numbers are in the SAR).

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services airland subcommittee, this morning referred to the F-35 SAR at a hearing on tactical aircraft programs. He suggested that an upwardly revised JSF independent cost estimate will raise questions about the affordability of the Pentagon's plans to buy 2,443 of the fighters, just as we reported. Here's what he said:

The Defense Department is warning Congress that the overall cost for buying the JSF will increase yet again as a result of the independent cost estimate, when it comes out this summer. The magnitude of that revised cost estimate could raise basic questions about the department's plans for and the commitment of the program's international partners to the program as it is currently envisioned.

Thune asked the service representatives at the hearing how they were prepared to handle such increases. We'll have the answer for you later today.

But let's review that math: The SAR states that the $133.5 million program acquisition unit cost (PAUC) “will increase” by as much as 18.4 percent, which would raise the PAUC to $158.1 million.

From there, the arithmetic is simple: $158.1 million x 2,443 JSF aircraft = $388 billion. Nothing “fuzzy” about it. This is the way the Pentagon has calculated program costs for more than 40 years.

By John Liang
April 13, 2010 at 5:00 AM

In last week's issue, Inside Missile Defense featured a story on a GAO report that had some critical things to say about the Missile Defense Agency's LV-2 target rocket. Specifically:

GAO also found problems with the system’s technological maturity: “None of the LV-2’s six critical technologies are fully mature, even through the missile is in production. Five of the LV-2’s critical technologies -- the reentry vehicle separation system and countermeasure integration, the avionics software, avionics suite, and C4 booster -- are nearing maturity but have not been flight tested in their current form, fit, and function on the LV-2.”

In a response to an earlier draft of the report, however, Defense Department officials took issue with GAO’s definition of when a technology can be deemed “mature” before entering into system development. “For GAO, that term means Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7. For DOD, it means TRL 6,” writes Nancy Spruill, the Pentagon’s director for acquisition resources and analysis.

“Thus, throughout the draft report, there are frequent references to immature technology being used in Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP) system development, which is often true if a threshold of TRL 7 is applied,” Spruill adds. The Ballistic Missile Defense System is an MDAP.

While the LV-2 program planned to have those technologies gain maturity through a missile defense flight test as early as 2008, “the first launch has now been delayed until fiscal year 2010,” according to GAO. “In addition, the reentry vehicle shroud is still immature. Program officials discovered problems with the design of the shrouded configuration and considered developing a back-up technology as an alternative. In late 2008, however, officials determined that problems with the original design were manageable and would not affect mission objectives. This technology will not be needed until the LV-2 target’s third launch in a STSS program test now scheduled for the third quarter of fiscal year 2011. Program officials expect it to be nearing maturity by that time.”

GAO notes that in March 2006, the LV-2 target started its development “with almost all of its technologies still being demonstrated in a lab or through analytical studies -- a low level of maturity.”

A Lockheed Martin spokeswoman, however, told Inside Missile Defense in an e-mail today that the LV-2 "has been flown and successfully met all requirements in its maiden flight Jan. 31, 2010" during a failed intercept test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system. MDA spokesman Rick Lehner told IMD in a separate e-mail that the "Failure Review Board is still under way for the flight test but haven't heard of any problems with the target."

Further, the Lockheed spokeswoman wrote:

Regarding the portion of the Missile Defense Agency’s targets inventory that Lockheed Martin provides, Lockheed Martin’s Targets and Countermeasures Program has achieved an unmatched 97-percent mission success rate with 35 successful target missions out of 36 since 1996, a level of quality exemplified in the maiden mission of the LV-2 target, which is the most sophisticated target flown to date. Lockheed Martin applies stringent quality standards to yield reliable targets with best value.  As Lockheed Martin transitions from LV-2 development to production, we are focusing on efficiency and cost reduction.

By John Liang
April 12, 2010 at 5:00 AM

That's the subheadline for Credit Suisse analysts Robert Spingarn and Julie Yates in their just-published quarterly outlook for the defense industry.

A taste:

We expect a relatively quiet quarter from defense contractors, especially given previous delays in FY-10 budget approval. We suspect that government services revenues and margins could come in a little light given recent trends. DoD is in the process of overhauling its cash management and payment protocols, which could eventually drive higher working capital requirements for contractors, but it is probably to soon to see much impact on cash flow in the quarter. There were several large int’l orders in the quarter such as Boeing's order from UAE for 6 C-17s, (Lockheed Martin's) order from Egypt for 20 F-16s and the UK's selection of (General Dynamics) for up to 580 (Austrian Spanish Cooperation Development) vehicles. Separately, in a competitive bid (Raytheon) beat out (Northrop Grumman) for an $886M contract for next-gen GPS. We foresee small guidance increases from (L-3 Communications) and (Raytheon).

By Dan Dupont
April 9, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Defense consultant and Lexington Institute COO Loren Thompson has attacked a story we wrote this week on the Joint Strike Fighter, alleging ethical lapses and claiming that that the story is "wrong,” among other wild accusations.

Thompson's assertions are flat wrong. In an update to the story published last night, we included a response from the Pentagon's spokesman, Col. David Lapan, backing up the numbers used in the story. You can read that full story here:

Exclusive: DOD Warns Congress JSF Costs Could Skyrocket To $388 Billion By Summer

The Defense Department has told Congress the price tag for the Joint Strike Fighter program could rise as high as $388 billion by this summer, a recalibration that could raise fundamental questions about the affordability of the Pentagon's plans to buy 2,443 of the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft.

In a report disclosed this week by, the Pentagon advised lawmakers that a new, statutorily mandated independent cost estimate of the F-35 program, which formally began last week, could propel F-35 costs from $133.5 million per plane -- a new high -- to as much as $158.1 million, according to DOD sources and figures provided in the 53-page report on JSF sent to Congress April 1.

“The department expects this analysis will result in increases” of as much as 18.4 percent -- or $60.4 billion -- to the current $328.2 billion JSF program cost estimate, according to figures in the report. Such a change would mark $90 billion in cost growth since 2008. obtained a copy of the report and extrapolated the cost increases with assistance from government officials.

Col. David Lapan, a Defense Department spokesman, said Pentagon cost estimators have calculated a slightly lower number than the $388 billion figure, “but it is not a large . . . difference.” The figure first reported by on April 6 is in the “ballpark,” Lapan said in an interview on April 8.

The story -- and its math -- have been backed by numerous officials in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill, and elsewhere in the defense community, and are, as noted by Col. Lapan, not disputed by the Pentagon itself.

The numbers used in the story are based entirely on the numbers submitted by the Pentagon to Congress, which you can read here. stands behind the story as published (and as updated to reflect Pentagon comments, which were sought for the original story but not submitted to us until after it was printed).

We soundly reject Mr. Thompson's unfounded accusations.

By Sebastian Sprenger
April 8, 2010 at 5:00 AM

President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the "New START" pact in Prague today, laying the groundwork for the extension of a nuclear disarmament agreement that has been key to relations between the two countries for decades. To enter into force, both countries' parliaments must ratify the treaty.

"While the New START treaty is an important first step forward, it is just one step on a longer journey," Obama said in a statement posted on the White House Web site today. "As I said last year in Prague, this treaty will set the stage for further cuts. And going forward, we hope to pursue discussions with Russia on reducing both our strategic and tactical weapons, including non-deployed weapons," the statement reads.

The nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States make up more than 90 percent of the world's atomic weapons.

The treaty text enables Washington and Moscow to continue their work on ballistic missile defense shields, an ongoing point of contention regarding a planned U.S. system for Europe. "A missile of a type developed and tested solely to intercept and counter objects not located on the surface of the Earth shall not be considered to be a ballistic missile to which the provisions of this Treaty apply," the treaty states.

"President Medvedev and I have also agreed to expand our discussions on missile defense," Obama's statement reads. "This will include regular exchanges of information about our threat assessments, as well as the completion of a joint assessment of emerging ballistic missiles. And as these assessments are completed, I look forward to launching a serious dialogue about Russian-American cooperation on missile defense," the statement adds.

By Sebastian Sprenger
April 7, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander is finally getting his shot at explaining to Congress his vision for U.S. Cyber Command, and senators will get a chance to inquire about the particulars of the newest military command's raison d'être. Alexander's nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled for April 15, the panel announced yesterday. He will testify alongside Vice Adm. James Winnefeld, who is nominated to lead U.S. Northern Command.

President Obama nominated Alexander last October to lead CYBERCOM, the sub-unified command that initially will operate under the auspices of U.S. Strategic Command. The job of CYBERCOM chief comes with a promotion to four-star general, and Alexander would continue to be director of the National Security Agency, if confirmed.

By Thomas Duffy
April 7, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair yesterday addressed the Bipartisan Policy Center's conference on the "State of Intelligence Reform," hosted by former New Jersey Gov. Tom Keane (R) and former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IA), the two commissioners of the 9/11 panel.

Conference attendees heard from two panels featuring intelligence community veterans like Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the former ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden; and former DNI retired Adm. Mike McConnell.

Then Blair stepped up and gave his recipe for making things better in the intelligence field:

Here are three practical recommendations. They’re in progress, but they need to be driven to build that kind of agency leadership: First, as mandated by the IRTPA, every officer must serve in a joint job before he or she can be promoted to the Senior Intelligence Service. Now, this program, as Director McConnell -- former Director McConnell mentioned -- is under way.

But we need to toughen this requirement so the jobs that earn joint duty credit are those that provide real experience in the capabilities and the culture of other agencies. I can tell you that once you’ve served a significant period of time outside your home agency in the atmosphere of another agency, you go back to your former duties a changed person. You have real understanding of what can be done. So that’s number one.

Second, we need more thorough succession planning within the agencies, conducted basically by the agency leadership itself, but overseen by the DNI. Succession planning will ensure that officers promoted to leadership roles in the individual agencies truly have the right qualifications and the joint ethic. Succession planning is also necessary for other goals that we’re pursuing for the leadership of the Intelligence Community -- diversity and breadth -- as well as parent agency skills.

And third, we need to continue to improve joint education. We’ve started new joint training courses for entry-, mid-level and senior intelligence officers this year. And we’ll look to continually improve them. The curricula of these courses must be continually updated and refreshed. We’re learning the best examples; best practices are coming all the time. And as I mentioned, primarily
from the field in. And we have to plow those back into the education so that those who are in the courses can take full advantage of them.

By Christopher J. Castelli
April 6, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Obama administration's Nuclear Posture Review, released today, directs the Pentagon to retire the nuclear-tipped version of Tomahawk cruise missile, as expected.

"This system serves a redundant purpose in the U.S. nuclear stockpile," the report states. "It has been one of a number of means to forward-deploy nuclear weapons in time of crisis. Other means include forward-deployment of bombers with either bombs or cruise missiles, as well as forward-deployment of dual-capable fighters. In addition, U.S. ICBMs and SLBMs are capable of striking any potential adversary. The deterrence and assurance roles of TLAM-N can be adequately substituted by these other means, and the United States remains committed to providing a credible extended deterrence posture and capabilities."

Inside the Pentagon reported in February that the nuclear Tomahawk would likely be retired.

By Sebastian Sprenger
April 5, 2010 at 5:00 AM

White House officials plan to roll out the much anticipated Nuclear Posture Review tomorrow. The document will be heavily scrutinized for any indications of how President Obama plans to implement his vision of a nuclear weapons-free world -- or at least diminish the role of nuclear weapons in the U.S. national security policy toolbox.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, on its Web site, editorialized about the potential outcomes of the review today. According to the UCS blog entry, a lot will hinge on subtleties in the final text, for example when it comes to the stated purpose of nuclear weapons. Options here, UCS folks write, range from characterizing atomic weapons strictly as a deterrent force to reserving the right to use them on a pre-emptive basis in certain circumstances.

Other points warranting attention will be sections on the U.S. arsenal size, stockpile maintenance plans, tactical weapons in Europe and the alert status of the U.S. arsenal, according to UCS.

By John Liang
April 2, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Missile Defense Agency plans to brief potential contractors next week on its nascent space-based, missile-launch-tracking system, envisioned as a follow-on to the experimental, dual-satellite Space Tracking and Surveillance System.

The unclassified industry day on the Precision Tracking Space System will take place on April 9 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Eastern time at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne, VA, According to an April 1 Federal Business Opportunities notice.

The agency plans to incorporate lessons learned from the two STSS demonstration satellites currently in orbit to inform its decisions while it develops the PTSS capability, according to MDA's fiscal year 2011 budget documents. Consequently, MDA is asking Congress for $67 million in FY-11 to fund the PTSS effort, reported in February.

The agency's objective for the PTSS program "is to deliver an operational space-based system to address the ascent phase midcourse tracking challenge facing the MDA," the notice states, adding:

To meet this objective, MDA plans to first develop a prototype system, followed by an operational PTSS. The PTSS prototype and operational system are planned to consist of a constellation of spacecraft and associated ground control and processing equipment that is integrated with the developed Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) elements to support command and control, track generation, fusion, and transfer of data through the entire fire-control loop. The operational PTSS will integrate into the BMDS.

As for the industry day itself, MDA has four goals, according to the notice:

(1) to familiarize participants with MDA’s efforts in the Precision Tracking Space System,
(2) share the acquisition approach for the prototype and operational PTSS,
(3) discuss the planned timing and content of solicitations related to PTSS, and
(4) answer questions.