The Insider

By John Liang
April 21, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Energy Department has nuclear detonation detection sensors that it would like to place on the Pentagon's ballistic missile early warning satellites. The only problem: Delays and cost overruns to the Space Based Infrared System program that have resulted in it being renamed as the Precision Tracking Space Surveillance (PTSS) system.

NNSA has budgeted $126.5 million for the effort in fiscal year 2011, according to the organization's FY-11 budget justification book:

The satellite-based segment of the program builds the Global Burst Detector (GBD) and Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System (SABRS) payloads for detecting and reporting nuclear detonations. These payloads are launched on Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites and missile warning replenishment satellites. In addition to building the payloads, the program supports the integration, initialization, and operation of these payloads. The NDD subprogram supports the research, development, and engineering efforts to prepare next generation sensors. For FY 2011, production and delivery of GBD and SABRS payloads will continue at a pace to support timely Air Force launch of host satellites.

Kenneth Baker, principal assistant deputy administrator in the National Nuclear Security Administration's office of defense nuclear nonproliferation, answered a question on that from Senate Armed Services emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee Chairman Bill Nelson (D-FL) at a hearing today:

We are still building, and if I can, sir, I'll give you a more expanded answer for the record, if it's okay. But we have expanded, we have continued to build nuclear detection sensors. You are right, it's been a struggle with the Air Force on launching these things and we're trying to work that right now. But we have a commitment in DOE to continue to build these sensors and hopefully they will fly on (SBIRS) one day or however they get up there, but if I can, I'd like to provide you a more detailed, classified answer to that question. But there is a problem here and I agree with you.

By John Liang
April 21, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Missile Defense Agency this week put out feelers to potential contractors for the land-based missile defense component meant to be used in Europe within the next decade.

According to an April 19 Federal Business Opportunities notice, MDA wants information "on component capabilities for a high-performance interceptor for the Missile Defense Agency," adding:

The Agency is investigating options for developing the next generation of Standard Missile Three, designated the Block IIB, and targeted for Phase 4 of the President’s Phased Adaptive Approach. From its forward deployed location, the Block IIB interceptor is designed to defeat Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). A higher performing interceptor paired with Ballistic Missile Defense System sensors that detect and track threats with greater accuracy throughout their trajectory improves our chances of intercepting the enemy early, forces him to deploy countermeasures less effectively and improves our ability to handle raids. The Agency seeks insight into the technology to demonstrate a prototype missile within five years. Therefore, the Agency is requesting information primarily on components, boosters, and kinetic warheads concepts from industry, the national laboratories, universities and university affiliated research and development centers.

Consequently, the notice reads, MDA wants potential contractors to answer the following questions:

1. What are your component concepts for integration with the Mk 41 Vertical Launching System? Describe the propulsion characteristics of your booster stages including ballistic performance, mass fraction, and assess the maturity of the technology to reach that capability.

2. What techniques do you suggest we employ to reduce inert weight and gain velocity?

3. How do we achieve energy flexibility in the upper stage(s) and kinetic warhead? If we decide to reuse the SM-3 Block IB Kinetic Warhead, how does this affect your component concepts?

4. What is your concept for a lighter weight payload (nosecone, ejector, kinetic warhead)?

5. What Noise Equivalent Irradiance, divert impulse, and operating time do you think is achievable in a lighter weight kinetic warhead (under 30 kg)? Describe seeker, propulsion (attitude control and divert), and avionics components.

6. What are the impacts of operating in a high velocity regime? What are the key controllability characteristics? How do you separate the stages in this regime?

7. How would you communicate with the missile in flight?

8. What are the key knowledge points we must prove before entering into product development?

9. What are your suggestions for acquiring this knowledge?

Responses are due May 19 at 5 p.m. CST, according to the notice.

By Jason Sherman
April 20, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has penned an essay in the May/June 2010 issue of Foreign Affairs calling -- again -- for the U.S. government to bolster its capacity to assist partner nations' efforts to improve both security forces and governing structures.

Last year, in an essay published just as the Obama administration was transitioning into power, the defense secretary -- a holdover from the Bush administration -- outlined his vision to “rebalance” the Defense Department. That article was closely read by Pentagon officials trying to anticipate what potential changes to the weapon systems investment accounts Gates might direct during the fiscal year 2010 budget revision.

The new essay -- “Helping Others Defend Themselves: The Future of U.S. Security Assistance” -- captures in four-and-a-half pages points Gates has made in a number of speeches since taking the helm at the Pentagon. The thrust of the new article highlights a policy proposal first reported by InsideDefense.com -- for DOD and the State Department to pool funds for security capacity building, stabilization and conflict prevention.

The security assistance system in place in 2001 "proved unequal to the task" the U.S. government faced in the weeks and months after the Sept. 11 attacks, he writes.

(T)he United States interagency took kit is still a hodgepodge of jury-rigged arrangements constrained by a dated and complex patchwork of authorities, persistent shortfalls in resources, and unwieldy processes.

The so-called Section 1206 authorities, established by Congress in 2005, give the secretaries of Defense and State “dual key” decision-making authority to fund programs to train and equip foreign security forces.

Those authorities and programs -- and the role of the Defense Department in foreign assistance writ large -- have stirred debates across Washington. I never miss an opportunity to call for a greater emphasis on civilian programs.

The defense secretary reiterates previous calls “to move beyond the ideological debates and bureaucratic squabbles that have in the past characterized the issue of building partner capacity and move forward with a set of solutions that can address what will be a persistent and enduring challenge.”

The essay then recaps a proposal to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- detailed in this Dec. 15, 2009 memo -- that Gates says in the essay “would create incentives for collaboration between different agencies of the government, unlike the existing structure and processes left over from the Cold War, which often conspire to hinder true whole-of-government approaches.”

By Pat Host
April 20, 2010 at 5:00 AM

During Tuesday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on ballistic missile defense, Missile Defense Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly explained why the MDA's Ground-based Midcourse Defense System failed to shoot down a targeted ballistic missile, FTG-06, during a January 2010 test:

But there are two -- I can say, sir, that there were two failure modes. The first was, the sea-based X-band radar stopped transmitting at a certain point in time, and we understand why now. And second of all, we had a new version of the GMD kill vehicle. It was the first time being flown -- longest any kill vehicle's been flown. And we also encountered in a problem that we've been able to identify on that design and our intent is -- is to make those corrections and test again this year.

Following O'Reilly's explanation, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) asked Operational Test and Evaluation Director Michael Gilmore if another Aegis BMD failure in the next year could impact the "full implementation and assessment of phase one, and the phased adaptive approach for the defense of Europe?"

His response:

When there is a test failure, there is less knowledge gained, and it will take longer to gain the amount of knowledge that we wanted to gain. So in the case of the failure of FTG-06, I think that General O'Reilly is still assessing what the -- what the changes will have to be that are implemented in the IMTP. And that will be -- you know, that would be something that you would decide within the next six months or so, I think.

But there's the potential for, you know, tests to get bumped down the road in order to collect in the next test the information that would have been collected in this test. So the implication is that there would be less knowledge known at any given point in time."

With regard to the phased adaptive approach and whether its technologically feasible, yes, in my view, it's certainly technologically feasible. It will take time to test it, just like it takes time to test all of these complex systems. This is -- these are particularly complex systems. But all defense systems are complex, and we have a history of learning as we go along and some of the programs taking longer to test and pan out than we had originally hoped. But I have no reason to expect that testing of the phased adaptive approach and the SM through the various versions of the SM-3 interceptor will be particularly unique in the testing history of this program or other programs.

By John Liang
April 19, 2010 at 5:00 AM

A senior member of the House Armed Services Committee wants the Missile Defense Agency to provide Congress with more information regarding the Obama administration's proposed "Phased Adaptive Approach" toward European missile defense.

Specifically, strategic forces subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Turner (R-OH) writes in an April 15 letter to MDA Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly:

I am concerned that the portions of the proposed system that are intended to protect the mainland United States are not yet defined to support sufficient evaluation of its merits and the resources necessary to implement it.

Details such as system and inventory requirements, research-and-development milestones, independent assessments, technology maturity levels, coverage and performance analysis, program schedules, acquisition strategies, cost estimates, deployment plans timelines for host-nation agreements, operational plans, and NATO integration plans, would be vital to supporting such an evaluation. Also, the options considered and how those options were assessed would . . . be important information for Congress to review. However, as the missile defense acquisition expert, I seek your judgment and input on what information you believe is necessary for Congress to conduct its oversight and evaluation of the PAA.

As Iran continues to represent an emerging threat, congressional oversight and evaluation of the administration's proposal is imperative. Further, since the administration scrapped a plan that would have provided missile defense coverage for the mainland United States, the administration's proposal should be evaluated within the context of the missile defense protection provide(d) to the United States mainland. Congress must be confident that the PAA is the best approach for increasing the protection of the mainland United States; but to have this confidence requires information.

The letter was sent the same day as a strategic forces subcommittee hearing on the Ballistic Missile Defense Review and MDA's fiscal year 2011 budget request, where Turner, in his opening statement, reiterated his concern about Congress' lack of information on the PAA:

I am very concerned by recent comments from administration officials that essentially Congress has everything it needs to know about the phased adaptive approach, PAA. As Undersecretary Tauscher said at our hearing yesterday in reference to PAA details, "It's on the Internet."

Well, unfortunately, the Internet does not provide sufficient details on the four phases of the PAA, nor does it provide a description of the options considered by the administration in addition to the PAA and the analysis to support why it was chosen as the preferred approach.

By Zachary M. Peterson
April 19, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Col. Frank Kelley, currently the chief of staff at Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA, has been nominated for his first star and the rank of brigadier general, according to a Pentagon release. An internal e-mail obtained by InsideDefense.com further notes Kelley will succeed Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan as the head of the Marine Corps' acquisition wing.

"The Commandant of the Marine Corps will nominate Brigadier General (Select) Kelley to serve as the next Commander, Marine Corps Systems Command," Brogan wrote in the e-mail to his staff last Friday (April 16).

Marine Corps Systems Command oversees Marine acquisition efforts, including the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle which has been plagued by cost increases and schedule delays.

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

Looks like the Obama administration's plan to have full coverage of Europe from ballistic missile attack would be fully realized a bit sooner than originally anticipated. As Reuters reported yesterday:

U.S. anti-ballistic missile systems will cover all of Europe by 2018, a senior Pentagon official said, laying out an ambitious target for defending against a perceived threat from Iran.

"One hundred percent," Bradley Roberts, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, said in reply to a question at a hearing of a House of Representatives Armed Services subcommittee Thursday.

Roberts said the Obama administration was putting "proven" sea-based and land-based missile shields into Europe as quickly as possible as part of a revised shield announced last September to any Iranian ballistic-missile strike.

Full coverage of NATO territory in Europe would be achieved around 2018, he said, when a second land-based site is to be established in northern Europe for updated Raytheon Co Standard Missile-3 missile interceptors.

Inside Missile Defense reported last November that that capability would be fully realized a couple years later:

Lockheed Martin officials said last week they can deliver a land-based version of the Aegis combat system by 2015, the date the Obama administration has targeted for installing ashore missile and radar batteries in Europe to defend against medium-range ballistic missiles that could potentially be launched by Iran.

The land-based Aegis system would likely be the exact same capability now residing on Navy destroyers and cruisers, the officials said.

Termed “Aegis ashore,” the plan is to use the Aegis Spy-1 radar along with a land-based version of the Standard Missile-3. During an Oct. 1 appearance before the House Armed Services Committee, Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly said two land-based sites using SM-3 block IIB missiles -- that would be capable of intercepting long-range ballistic missiles -- “could protect all of Europe.” The block IIB missiles are in development. The administration’s plan would have that capability in place by 2020.

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.

Further:

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.

More:

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).