The Insider

By Ethan Sterenfeld
August 2, 2021 at 3:47 PM

The Army plans to work with small businesses to develop concepts for the Air Launched Effects that will accompany the Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft, according to a July 29 solicitation.

"To gain and maintain overmatch in the future conflict, Army Aviation must modernize and distribute its reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition (RSTA) and lethality with an advanced team of manned and unmanned aircraft as part of an ecosystem including Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) and ALE," the solicitation stated.

Future Air Launched Effects are expected to be drones launched from FARA to penetrate and disable adversary anti-access/area-denial systems, according to the solicitation. The Air Launched Effects will detect, identify and locate adversary systems, then disable them with lethal and non-lethal effects.

Small businesses in the program will "provide conceptual designs, trade-space analyses and sensitivities intended to inform the ALE key capability-enabling air vehicle development effort," according to the solicitation. The Army intends to use the vehicle development effort to procure new capabilities alongside FARA.

At this phase of the Air Launched Effects program, the service plans to define parameters for size, weight, performance and capabilities of the possible future vehicles, in addition to identifying critical future technologies and quantifying technology readiness levels, according to the solicitation.

Key attributes will also include stowed volume, payload space, low-speed maneuver performance, propulsion type and range.

Funding for this program is anticipated to be between $5 million and $7 million, at a rate of $1 million per award, according to the solicitation. But there could be smaller awards for projects that only address part of the program's goals.

Responses from interested small businesses are due Sept. 13, according to the solicitation. The program is expected to last one year.

The Army awarded 10 other transaction agreements last year for the development of various components of the Air Launched Effects.

By John Liang
August 2, 2021 at 3:14 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on this week's Sea-Air-Space expo plus missile defense radars and more.

We start off with coverage of this week's Sea-Air-Space expo:

Gilday: Industry needs to adapt faster to new technology to counter China

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday called on industry to adjust to new technology faster to counter China during remarks Monday at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space conference.

CNO: Navy not satisfied with Project Overmatch, but it's headed in 'right direction'

The Navy's Project Overmatch still has a ways to go before strike group testing, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said Monday at the Sea-Air-Space 2021 conference.

(Check out our coverage throughout the week of Sea-Air-Space here, or sign up for our email alert here.)

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, in its mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill, directed the Missile Defense Agency to draw up alternative plans for upgrading the current fleet of the X-band radars built by Raytheon:

Lawmakers want MDA plan to accelerate AN/TPY-2 modernization

Lawmakers want the Pentagon to draft plans to potentially accelerate upgrades of the Army/Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2) inventory by piggybacking on Saudi Arabia's huge order for missile defense systems, including Terminal High Altitude Area Defense batteries.

We also have a look at the budget for the Joint Strike Fighter program:

Air Force budget reflects slight update to F-35A retrofit plan

The Air Force's fiscal year 2022 budget request reflects a re-baselined F-35A retrofit strategy, showing the service expects to eventually upgrade a total of 483 jets in low-rate initial production lots 5-16 to either a Block 4 configuration or a partial retrofit to include Technology Refresh 3 -- up from 457 aircraft in last year's request.

Air Force Chief Architect Preston Dunlap spoke recently on the service's "data and AI initiative":

Air Force launches new 'data and AI initiative' to support broader DOD push

The Air Force has kick-started a new data and artificial intelligence initiative and is working to develop a new minimum viable product as officials look to support a department-wide AI effort, according to the service's chief architect.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
August 2, 2021 at 2:21 PM

House authorizers want the Army to add antilock brakes and electronic stability control more aggressively to its humvee fleet to prevent rollover accidents.

Language in the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee's mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense bill would require the Army to provide a briefing on the adoption of the safety technology, and the subcommittee encourages the service to speed up the process.

The Army mandated that all new or recapitalized humvees include the safety technology in 2018, after years of dangerous rollover accidents, particularly on up-armored vehicles. The service has also purchased retrofit kits that add the technology to existing vehicles.

"The committee is concerned, however, that the Army investment in new production and retrofit installations, either at home station or the depot, is not as aggressive as necessary to manage risk in the HMMWV fleet," the subcommittee's mark stated. "The committee is concerned that the fleet upgrade may take longer than prudent risk allows."

The subcommittee supported the combined approach of adding the technology through new builds and retrofits, with the goal of including the technology on all humvees in the enduring fleet. The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle will partially replace the humvee, but roughly 50,000 up-armored humvees are expected to remain in the Army fleet.

By Audrey Decker
August 2, 2021 at 8:00 AM

Leidos has completed the transition for the Navy's information technology networks, as a part of the Next Generation Enterprise Network Recompete program.

Starting Aug. 1, Leidos will oversee IT operations for the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet, Outside the Continental U.S. Naval Enterprise Network and Marine Corps Enterprise Network, per today's press release.

These three networks provide information technology services for more than 650,000 users at 1,700 locations around the world, according to the Navy.

In February 2020, Leidos won a contentious $7.7 billion contract for the NGEN-R program.

Leidos began the transition in February 2021 and completed the final phase of the transition on Aug. 1, according to the company's press release.

“As part of the modernization efforts expected by the Navy, the Leidos team will focus on using innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence operations (AIOps) and high-performance, risk-reduction virtual labs, to improve service. These advancements will support improved network operations and foster quicker development, testing and deployment of new IT solutions,” the press release noted.

By John Liang
August 2, 2021 at 5:00 AM

The Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Symposium takes place in person this week, along with a Senate confirmation hearing and more.

Monday

The Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Symposium begins, featuring talks by senior Navy and Marine Corps leadership.

Tuesday

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing to consider the nomination of Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson to be head of U.S. Southern Command.

The Nuclear Deterrence Summit begins, with speakers including Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee Ranking Member Deb Fischer (R-NE) and others.

Wednesday

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. John Aquilino speaks at the online Aspen Security Forum.

The Atlantic Council holds a webinar on "Enhancing Security in the Black Sea."

Thursday

Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten speaks at a virtual Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress event.

Friday

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown speaks at the National Press Club.

By John Liang
July 30, 2021 at 1:55 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter budget and more.

We start off with a look at the budget for the Joint Strike Fighter program:

Air Force budget reflects slight update to F-35A retrofit plan

The Air Force's fiscal year 2022 budget request reflects a re-baselined F-35A retrofit strategy, showing the service expects to eventually upgrade a total of 483 jets in low-rate initial production lots 5-16 to either a Block 4 configuration or a partial retrofit to include Technology Refresh 3 -- up from 457 aircraft in last year's request.

Air Force Chief Architect Preston Dunlap spoke this week on the service's "data and AI initiative":

Air Force launches new 'data and AI initiative' to support broader DOD push

The Air Force has kick-started a new data and artificial intelligence initiative and is working to develop a new minimum viable product as officials look to support a department-wide AI effort, according to the service's chief architect.

Inside Defense recently interviewed Joe Ottaviano, Lockheed Martin's maritime and air cyber/electronic warfare portfolio director:

Lockheed: Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare system approaching milestone C

Lockheed Martin expects its Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare program to reach milestone C and start low-rate initial production in the next two months, according to a company executive.

In its mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee argues that Expeditionary Sea Base platforms can successfully deploy minehunting capabilities:

House panel asks Navy to assess minehunting capabilities on ESB platforms

A House panel is asking the Navy to look at putting mine countermeasures on its Expeditionary Sea Base platforms.

Last but by no means least, the latest cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

CMMC accreditation body plans November start for first official assessor classes

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Accreditation Body is formalizing plans to launch the official program that will establish a pathway for assessors to become certified and expects classes to start in November, according to CMMC-AB training lead Melanie Kyle Gingrich.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 30, 2021 at 1:29 PM

Oshkosh Defense's revenue and operating income grew by double digits in the most recent quarter, on the back of increased Joint Light Tactical Vehicle sales and the inclusion of Pratt Miller results, Oshkosh announced July 29.

Oshkosh Defense had net sales of $710 million and operating income of $60 million in the most recent quarter, according to the company. These figures are 27% and 44% higher, respectively, than the same period last year.

Oshkosh Defense includes defense products under the Oshkosh name, Pratt Miller and the company’s contract to build delivery trucks for the Postal Service. Oshkosh announced in December that it would buy Pratt Miller, an engineering firm with expertise in electric vehicles and robotics.

Higher JLTV sales volumes improved revenue, Michael Pack, Oshkosh’s chief financial officer, told analysts. JLTV costs have been roughly 17% less per vehicle than the Army initially predicted, so the service has increased purchases under its contract with Oshkosh.

Oshkosh reported $2.2 billion in net sales in the most recent quarter across all its segments, up 39.7% from the same period a year earlier, when sales fell dramatically. Adjusted operating income was $205 million for the quarter, up 59% from a year earlier.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 30, 2021 at 12:30 PM

Increasing demand in Europe could allow General Dynamics' combat vehicle business to grow in coming years, even if Army budgets remain flat, the company's chief executive said July 28.

“Outside the United States, demand is increasing, primarily driven by Europe,” Phebe Novakovic told analysts when asked about the likelihood of stagnant or declining Army budgets. “That is focused and centered on our combat vehicles, both our wheeled vehicles as well as our tracked vehicles, most specifically the Abrams main battle tank.”

Poland is a potential new customer for the Abrams, especially given the danger posed by Russia, Novakovic said. Reports this month have said that Poland asked to buy up to 250 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tanks, the newest model.

The Stryker platform could also grow domestically if the Army continues to expand the number of missions it fulfills within the force, she said. The Army chose to mount its new short-range air defense capabilities on Stryker vehicles.

General Dynamics reported $9.2 billion in revenue for its most recent quarter, down 0.5% from the same period a year earlier. Revenue increased 8.3% in its combat systems unit, which includes the Abrams and Stryker combat vehicles, up to $1.9 billion.

Across all divisions, General Dynamics recorded net income of $737 million for the quarter, up 15% from the same period a year earlier.

By Briana Reilly
July 30, 2021 at 10:39 AM

After failing to launch from a B-52H bomber during its first flight test, the Air Force's Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon successfully completed its full release sequence but stopped short of igniting its rocket motor as part of a demonstration Wednesday.

The second flight test of the service’s flagship boost-glide hypersonic vehicle over Point Mugu Sea Range, CA, didn’t meet all the objectives officials had laid out, though an Air Force spokesman declined to elaborate on those objectives when asked for comment. Nor did he provide additional information on the failed ignition of the rocket motor.

Still, the missile separated from the B-52 in the test -- held three months after it was unable to detach from the B-52H’s wing -- and demonstrated GPS acquisition, umbilical disconnect and power transfer from the aircraft to the missile as part of the full release sequence, according to a news release. The missile also showcased fin operation and de-confliction maneuvers.

“Developing first-of-its-kind missiles is difficult business and this [is] why we test,” Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, program executive officer of the Air Force's armament directorate, said in the release. “This is a critical capability for our Air Force and we have the very best team working to figure out what happened, fix it and move out to deliver ARRW to our warfighters as quickly as possible.”

The release didn’t mention the timeline for future flight tests, though the service previously conducted seven captive-carriage tests, ending in August 2020. Despite the testing setbacks, the release notes “the program continues to track toward fielding a hypersonic capability in the early 2020s.”

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 30, 2021 at 10:24 AM

House authorizers want the Army to submit a report on efforts to increase the rate of fire on the Extended Range Cannon Artillery, a self-propelled howitzer the Army is developing that will fire 70 kilometers.

An autoloader designed for the ERCA "failed to demonstrate suitability as a component of the modified M109A7 Paladin chassis and turret," the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee wrote in its mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill.

The subcommittee mark requested a report on alternative solutions the Army will consider to increase the rate of fire, including other autoloader solutions. The report will also have to include “detailed schedules and funding profiles” related to increasing the rate of fire.

Both the ERCA and the Paladin, the self-propelled howitzer the new model is based on, require soldiers to manually pick up and load artillery rounds and charges. An autoloader was planned for the ERCA, but it has already been delayed at least to the second increment of the howitzer.

The autoloader was expected to increase the rate of fire and reduce the number of crew members inside the ERCA. The Army has committed to finding another way to increase the ERCA’s rate of fire, according to the subcommittee mark.

By Audrey Decker
July 30, 2021 at 10:02 AM

The Navy conducted the MQ-4C Triton's first test flight with a multi-intelligence upgrade on July 29 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD.

The unmanned aircraft, used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, flew with its upgraded hardware and software configuration, IFC-4, which will enhance sensor capability, Naval Air Systems Command announced.

In support of initial operational capability in 2023, "multiple Triton assets have been modified into the IFC-4 configuration," NAVAIR said.

The program's schedule includes a production pause of the MQ-4C in fiscal years 2021-2022 to focus on the development of signals intelligence capabilities, the Triton deputy program manager told Inside Defense last month.

By John Liang
July 29, 2021 at 1:55 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill and more.

Before we get to the House authorization bill, we take a quick look at the Senate Armed Services Committee's plussing up next year's defense budget by $25 billion:

Senate committee's proposed $25B defense increase disrupts budget debate

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 25-1 last week on a proposal to authorize a $25 billion increase in defense spending for fiscal year 2022, a strongly bipartisan vote that congressional staffers say suggests Senate appropriators might also be along for the ride.

Now on to our continuing coverage of House authorizers' work on the FY-22 policy bill:

House subcommittee wants continued study of layered homeland defense

House lawmakers are directing the Pentagon to continue exploring the potential for the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA to be used for homeland defense, tasking the Missile Defense Agency to spearhead a new report on options for development and deployment of the new guided missile to protect the continental United States.

House panel worried about pace of electronic warfare capability development

The House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee is concerned about the pace of adaptive and cognitive electronic warfare capability development, according to its mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense bill.

House panel directs comptroller general to review armed overwatch

Lawmakers on the House Armed Services intelligence and special operations subcommittee are calling on the comptroller general to review U.S. Special Operations Command's armed overwatch program as part of their fiscal year 2022 defense policy proposal.

Wittman amendment extends by one year Navy's option for amphib block buy

A House panel has approved legislation that would extend by one year the Navy's option for entering a block buy agreement for amphibious ships.

Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David Thompson said this week the Space Force is working closely with the intelligence community and the other services to determine the best options for providing tactical ISR:

FY-23 budget may offer clarity of responsibilities for space-based tactical ISR

The Defense Department's fiscal year 2023 budget may provide some insight into who will be responsible for the tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission in the future.

Gen. Glen VanHerck, the dual-hatted commander of U.S. Northern Command and bi-national North American Aerospace Defense Command, spoke to reporters this week:

NORTHCOM to brief DOD No. 2 official on new 'ready-to-field' JADC2 capability

The head of U.S. Northern Command will brief Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks tomorrow on a new command and control capability demonstrated in three experiments that promise to give leaders improved situational awareness by using commercial cloud computing capabilities, artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to better understand data the U.S. military already owns.

By Briana Reilly
July 29, 2021 at 1:27 PM

Coming off a quarter that logged a 34% jump in space sales, driven in large part by Northrop Grumman's role in the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program, company officials anticipate that growth will "modulate" heading into 2022.

Still, CEO Kathy Warden said she expects GBSD will continue to grow over the next two years.

“It has a long ramp, if you will,” she told investors during the company’s second-quarter earnings call today.

Fueled in part by higher launch and strategic mission sales, the space-sector growth was “primarily due to ramp-up on GBSD,” as well as the Missile Defense Agency’s Next-Generation Interceptor program and higher volume on hypersonics programs, per today’s press release.

The quarter ended June 30. Over the first three months of the year, space sales grew 29%.

This year, the Minuteman III replacement program makes up nearly $1 billion in incremental revenue, Warden said. But she noted that some 60% of the growth is from non-GBSD efforts, representing “healthy growth across the entire space portfolio."

While Warden cautioned the space segment would “modulate from this year,” she expects it will continue to be Northrop’s fastest growing area.

“There just aren’t the same number of opportunities going into 2022 as there are in 2021,” she said, adding: “We do see that modulating a bit but [there are] still plenty of growth drivers for 2022.”

By Courtney Albon
July 29, 2021 at 12:47 PM

The Space Development Agency now plans to use the Space Force's National Security Space Launch Phase 2 contract to carry the next tranche of satellites for its transport layer.

SDA announced the change this week in a revision to its Transport Layer Tranche 1 draft request for proposals. The brief update notes that language in the draft RFP around contractor-procured launch services will not appear in the final solicitation, which is expected later this year.

Tranche 1 will include up to 150 satellites, and the agency had previously intended to allow the satellite developers to procure launches under separate contracts.

The Space Force in 2020 selected United Launch Alliance and SpaceX to provide launch services under its NSSL Phase 2 contract.

It’s unclear what drove SDA’s decision, but some lawmakers have questioned the agency’s decision not to use the NSSL contract for the 28 satellites it will launch as part of Tranche 0, though SDA ultimately chose SpaceX for the mission. The Fiscal Year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act directed DOD and intelligence community agencies to use the contract for NSSL-class missions.

SDA Director Derek Tournear said as recently as April the agency was considering alternatives to NSSL Phase 2 for Tranche 1, adding that NSSL-class launch vehicles may not be able to meet the agency’s future needs, especially if it wants to launch missions in multiple planes.

"That sets us up into a different class of launch vehicle -- and one that, frankly, there's not a lot of launch vehicles in that class right now," he said. "That's kind of what I see as the future way that we will sustain these orbits. How we actually get that in Tranche 1, whether we go with six commercial procurements or whether we actually work with NSSL, that's still being debated."

By Briana Reilly
July 29, 2021 at 12:36 PM

The first-built XQ-58A Valkyrie is heading to the Air Force Museum after officials opted to retire the drone and clear the way for new production aircraft that a Kratos spokeswoman said would "be better suited for future representative flight testing and operations."

The Air Force Research Laboratory this week announced the planned transfer of the Kratos-built, attritable aircraft, though the timeline for the move and subsequent display of the drone wasn’t included in the release.

Flight-tested four times, the drone featured “several mods for data collection systems and multiple payloads used for the first few engineering flights,” the Kratos spokeswoman noted.

“These mods are not needed for the current and near-term flights which are more focused on operational capability rather than basic aircraft performance verification,” she said.

Dave Hart, the chief engineer for the Autonomous Collaborative Platforms program, said in the release that transferring the drone to the museum “helps to show the world what AFRL is capable of, and it truly tells the AFRL story.”

The Valkyrie in the spring completed its sixth overall flight test, during which AFRL demonstrated the first release of an ALTIUS-600 small drone from the Valkyrie’s internal weapons bay.