The Insider

By John Liang
July 31, 2023 at 1:20 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on AUKUS, Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicles plus more coverage of the Senate Appropriations Committee's fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill.

We start off with the U.S-U.K.-Australia deal to supply the latter country with nuclear-powered, Virginia-class attack submarines:

Kaine expects Biden to deliver AUKUS supplemental

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said Friday he expects the Biden administration to offer a supplemental appropriations request that includes an "AUKUS-related investment" as a show of "good faith" for the pending deal to sell Australia three nuclear submarines.

Following a series of incidents in which Amphibious Combat Vehicles capsized during waterborne training exercises, the Marine Corps established a new Transition Training Unit (TTU) within its Assault Amphibian School in February to retrain and recertify operators:

Marine Corps' new Transition Training Unit begins certifying ACV operators

Amphibious Combat Vehicle operators are beginning to graduate from the Marine Corps' new certification program, service officials announced Friday, indicating the program aims to recertify approximately 300 previously licensed ACV operators by the start of fiscal year 2025.

The Space Force's Commercial Space Office could be getting more funding:

Appropriators add $40 million to Commercial Space Office budget

Senate appropriators have added $40 million to the budget for the Space Force's Commercial Space Office to test "direct tasking initiatives" for commercial space service, according to the report accompanying the Senate Appropriation Committee's fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill.

Senate appropriators would fully fund the $1.5 million proposed by the Navy for a Maritime Prepositioning Force Next (MPF-X) project as part of the service's portfolio of ship concept advanced design projects:

Navy plans to launch MPF-X in FY-24 pass muster with all four defense congressional panels

Navy plans to launch later this year are on track after the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed action that aligns with three other congressional panels overseeing Pentagon funding to back a proposal for the new-start project in fiscal year 2024.

Senators have also approved funding for Joint All-Domain Command and Control, an Army night-vision system as well as an "Advanced Defense Capabilities Pilot" program:

Senate appropriators call for consolidated acquisition process for JADC2

The Senate Appropriations Committee would have the Defense Department combine two of its command-and-control efforts under one program element to better sync capabilities, according to a report issued along with the committee's passage of its fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill Thursday.

Senate appropriators want cautious acquisition approach for IVAS

The Senate Appropriations Committee's fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill asks the Army to take a cautious, deliberate approach in fielding the latest variant of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System.

Senate appropriators move to establish new public-private pilot program

The Senate Appropriations Committee's fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill includes funding for a new program designed to enable the Pentagon to better "tap into innovative commercial solutions."

On July 26, Space Force Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting submitted answers to prepared questions to the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding his nomination to become the head of U.S. Space Command:

SPACECOM plans to transfer non-military functions to Commerce Department

U.S. Space Command will transfer its non-military responsibilities of understanding space situational awareness to the Commerce Department in the next few years, Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, the nominee for SPACECOM commander, said July 26.

Document: Guillot, Whiting APQs on NORTHCOM, SPACECOM nominations

The Navy and Marine Corps are looking for "innovative, agile solutions" for long-range fires:

Navy issues RFI for new combat technologies

The Navy has issued a request for information on new combat technologies for bringing long-range firing capabilities and counter-C5ISR to the Pacific SCOUT experimentation campaign.

By John Liang
July 31, 2023 at 9:27 AM

Leidos and Microsoft announced today they have entered into a "strategic collaboration agreement" to work on government artificial intelligence efforts.

"A near-term priority for co-development is in the area of generative AI solutions to support organizational efficiency, enhanced productivity and cross domain applications," a Leidos statement reads.

Steve Hull, Leidos executive vice president for enterprise and cyber solutions, said: "This agreement will help enable co-innovation utilizing the latest cloud and AI technologies."

Leidos recently completed a successful migration of 20 critical support applications from an on-premise data center to Microsoft’s Azure Government cloud environment in support of the Navy. This migration was part of Leidos’ ongoing support of the Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network Service Management, Integration and Transport (SMIT) program, enabling the service to monitor, maintain and secure the Navy and Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) "with increased efficiency and collaboration without compromising security," according to the Leidos statement.

"Our collaboration with Leidos will help accelerate adoption of cloud-driven solutions to improve our customers’ operations," said Angela Heise, corporate vice president of Microsoft's worldwide public sector business unit. “Leidos’ expertise in national security operations coupled with Microsoft’s advanced cloud, cyber, and AI technologies will enable our two organizations to develop innovative solutions to address a wide range of complex challenges faced by public sector organizations around the world.”

By Tony Bertuca
July 31, 2023 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are slated to speak at several events this week.


The Air and Space Forces Association hosts an event with the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


The Air and Space Forces Association hosts an event with the service's Expeditionary Center commander.

The East-West Center holds its virtual Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Exchange.


The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion with Gen. Laura Richardson, chief of U.S. Southern Command.

By Apurva Minchekar
July 28, 2023 at 11:08 PM

L3Harris Technologies announced today it has completed the acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne.

“With national security at the forefront, we’re combining our resources and expertise with Aerojet Rocketdyne’s propulsion and energetics capabilities to ensure that Department of Defense and civil space customers can address critical mission needs globally,” L3Harris Chairman and CEO Christopher Kubasik said in the announcement.

According to media reports, the deal was closed at $4.7 billion, forming L3Harris' fourth business segment.

The acquisition diversifies L3Harris' portfolio, adding a considerable long-cycle backlog and broad expertise to enable missile defense systems, hypersonic and advanced rocket engine opportunities, the company said.

L3Harris also announced Ross Niebergall as the new president of the Aerojet Rocketdyne segment, who said: “We will expand on the strong Aerojet Rocketdyne heritage to enhance production and deliver on [customer’s] expectations.”

L3Harris said it will update its financial guidance in October for five months and then in January 2024, which will remain consistent with the rest of the portfolio that will be disclosed in the third-quarter earnings call, company Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Michelle Turner said during the second-quarter earnings call yesterday.

By John Liang
July 28, 2023 at 1:46 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has additional coverage of the Senate Appropriations Committee's fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill along with more news from defense contractors' quarterly earnings calls.

We start off with the FY-24 defense appropriations bill:

Senate appropriators addressing Army's industrial base needs in legislation

The Senate Appropriations Committee has included a number of provisions in its fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill that address the needs of the Army's industrial base capacity, particularly as the United States continues to send aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia.

Senate appropriators would add $200 million to shore-up Sentinel industrial base

The Senate Appropriations Committee would add $200 million to the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile budget in fiscal year 2024 to boost the industrial base supporting the nuclear modernization program.

Senate appropriators concerned the Army is not building enough tactical vehicles

The Army is falling behind in building tactical vehicles needed to meet requirements, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senate appropriators call for stability in Navy shipbuilding and budgeting

The Senate Appropriations Committee is calling on the Navy to "reintroduce stability and predictability" into shipbuilding and budgeting, highlighting increasing costs across ship acquisitions and a growing divide between the Navy's fleet requirements and its actual fleet size.

Senate wants Air Force to use reprogramming for past F-15EX purchases

The Senate Appropriations Committee is calling on the Air Force to change its acquisition strategies for the F-15EX fighter jet while also fully funding the purchase of 24 of the airframes in fiscal year 2024.

Lawmakers continue to support NSSL program

Senate appropriators will continue to support the Space Force's launch acquisition program and noted the program has contributed to stabilizing the launch market, according to the report accompanying the Senate Appropriations Committee's fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill.

We close out this INSIDER with coverage of Northrop Grumman's and L3Harris Technologies' quarterly earnings calls:

Northrop Grumman won't bid for Air Force NGAD

Northrop Grumman won't bid as a prime contractor for the Air Force's Next Generation Air Dominance platform, CEO Kathy Warden said Thursday, though she left open the possibility of bidding on the Navy's version.

L3Harris to close Aerojet Rocketdyne acquisition deal this week

L3Harris Technologies this morning announced the Federal Trade Commission would not block the company's Aerojet Rocketdyne acquisition and the deal is expected to close on or about July 28.

By Apurva Minchekar
July 28, 2023 at 11:40 AM

The Space Force has issued a request for information for a Commercial Augmentation Space Reserve Framework to identify potential sources and develop an acquisition strategy, according to a notice posted July 25.

The CASR is a similar model to the Air Force Civil Reserve Air Fleet program to carry out transport missions via commercial airlines during a conflict, according to the RFI.

“The Space Force is actively investigating the viability of implementing a similar model for space capabilities under the CASR construct,” the Space Systems Command Commercial Space Office noted.

The CASR framework focuses on ensuring the Space Force can enhance the capabilities of the commercial space industry to enhance the resilience, capacity and effectiveness of its national security architecture.

The operations under CASR are divided into three levels: Level 1 will include day-to-day operations; Level 2 will include priority operations driven by the Defense Department and other government agencies due to regional conflict or significant crisis along with Level 1 responsibilities; and Level 3 will be full CASR execution headed by the president or defense secretary caused by war, major conflict, national or international emergency along with Level 1 and Level 2 responsibilities.

Additionally, the framework will have nine elements that include developing the concept of operations; interoperability and integration; risk mitigation; budget integration; cost-effectiveness and speed; facilitating commercial partnerships; cybersecurity; reviewing established policy; regulatory and legal conditions; and reviewing contractual structures.

In February, the service hosted a reserve industry day to discuss CASR with the Defense Department and industry, the RFI document states.

By Nickolai Sukharev
July 28, 2023 at 10:08 AM

The Army has awarded Boeing a contract to upgrade Apache helicopters through the foreign military sales program, according to a public notice.

Boeing will perform upgrades for $393 million on Apache attack helicopters at its facility in Mesa, AZ for the Egyptian and Kuwaiti armies, the Defense Department announced on July 21.

The upgrades for Kuwait include remanufacturing 16 Apache AH-64Ds to AH-64Es, according to a Program Executive Office Aviation spokesperson. The contract follows an earlier 2020 announcement on Kuwait purchasing 8 AH-64Es.

The Gulf country first purchased 16 AH-64Ds in 2005.

The AH-64E is the latest version and includes multiple upgrades from its predecessors, such as a targeting system and radios to operate in a joint environment.

Egypt first purchased the AH-64A in 1995 and the AH-64E in 2018.

The contract also includes two Apache Longbow Crew Training System, one for each country. The system allows pilots to practice flight and rehearse missions, according to Boeing.

By Tony Bertuca
July 27, 2023 at 8:28 PM

The Senate passed the annual defense policy bill this evening by a vote of 86-11.

The bill authorizes $886 billion in total national defense spending and a 5.2% military pay increase.

Now the bill advances to conference committee negotiations with the House, which only narrowly passed its version of the bill earlier this month and contained controversial rollbacks of the Pentagon’s abortion, diversity and climate-related policies sought by conservative Republicans.

The strong bipartisan Senate vote signals the coming clash with the House GOP. President Biden has not yet said whether he would veto the defense authorization bill if it contained the policy rollbacks sought by House Republicans.

The defense authorization measure isn't a spending bill, however, and doesn't actually allocate funding, which still requires the passage of a separate appropriations bill.

Meanwhile, Senate appropriators passed their version of the defense spending bill today.

By John Liang
July 27, 2023 at 1:49 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Senate's fiscal year 24 defense spending bill, the U.S.-Australia-U.K. submarine deal and more.

We start off with coverage of the Senate's FY-24 defense spending bill:

Senate appropriators advance defense spending bill

The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee this morning released its draft version of the fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill, intending to fund the Pentagon at $831.7 billion, or about $534 million above President Biden's request.

Document: Senate appropriators' FY-24 defense spending report

The U.S.-Australia-U.K. submarine deal has been in the news this week:

Senior GOP lawmakers push White House on new funding for AUKUS subs

A team of GOP lawmakers led by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Susan Collins (R-ME) has sent President Biden a letter urging him to send Congress a new spending request to support the AUKUS submarine initiative planned for the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

House lawmakers look to authorize submarine transfers to Australia

House lawmakers today approved a legislative proposal intended to facilitate the implementation of the AUKUS security partnership by enabling the transfer of two Virginia-class submarines to Australia.

We also have coverage of efforts to counter small unmanned aerial systems:

Joint C-sUAS office wants to enhance capabilities on drone swarm attacks

The Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems office wants to beef up the joint force's capabilities in the area of drone swarm attacks by issuing a request for information to vendors this month for drone targets.

The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing this week on the nominations for the prospective leaders of U.S. Northern and Space commands:

NORTHCOM nominee: U.S. should consider means to defeat limited Russia, China ICBM attack

The Defense Department should consider expanding current national missile defense policy -- which is focused on threats from North Korea and, should Tehran obtain a long-range nuclear capability, Iran -- to also counter a "limited" attack on the United States by Russia or China, the general nominated to oversee homeland missile defense told lawmakers.

Document: Guillot, Whiting APQs on NORTHCOM, SPACECOM nominations

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

Cyber AB leader calls rulemaking submission to OIRA 'major milestone' in move toward official program launch

Matthew Travis, CEO of the accreditation body behind the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, praised the Defense Department's efforts to get the first CMMC rulemaking moved into the interagency process for review at a Tuesday "town hall" meeting.

By John Liang
July 26, 2023 at 3:08 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from various defense contractors' quarterly earnings and more.

We start off with coverage of Boeing's, General Dynamics' and RTX's quarterly earnings calls:

Boeing looking at positive defense margins in 2025/2026

Boeing is "wrestling through" its fixed-price defense and space contracts and expects to begin turning an operating profit in its defense business in 2025, CEO David Calhoun said Wednesday.

General Dynamics adjusting to 'new normal' across supply chains

General Dynamics is adjusting to a "new normal" for its supply chains, according to company executives, who said despite persistent challenges, its shipbuilding business experienced continued growth with record revenue during the second quarter of 2023.

RTX discloses engine defect from a rare condition

Despite a strong second-quarter earnings record, RTX this morning disclosed its Pratt & Whitney business unit found a rare condition in the powdered metal used to manufacture certain engines that would require an accelerated fleet inspection.

The Army is striving to create a simulated Synthetic Training Environment capability in response to multidomain operations:

Army wants to expand capabilities with new virtual training system

The Army plans to begin its initial fielding of the Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer (RVCT) in fiscal year 2024 at three bases and is also aiming to soon expand the requirements for the system to include both legacy and new air and ground systems, officials told reporters Monday.

More cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

CMMC program rulemaking enters formal interagency review process at OIRA

The Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is entering a new stage with the submission of the rulemaking to implement the program now under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget's information and regulatory affairs office.

By Dan Schere
July 26, 2023 at 2:31 PM

The Army has issued a sources-sought notice for the procurement of a tabletop Advanced Gunnery Training System platoon set used for training Ukrainian troops on the M1A1 Abrams tanks, as well as associated equipment, new equipment training and spare parts.

The Advanced Gunnery Training System is a simulator that allows soldiers to train on procedures, basic skills, crew coordination and crew drills, according to manufacturer Lockheed Martin. Soldiers can practice tasks such as target recognition, fire control and distribution and asset deployment.

There are multiple variants of the training system, including the tabletop trainers, which use a desktop computer and touchscreen display with a gunner or commander handle, according to Lockheed.

After the United States committed 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine earlier this year, the Pentagon announced May 15 that they had arrived in Germany for U.S.-led training of Ukrainian forces. Those tanks are scheduled to arrive in Ukraine some time this fall, according to officials from the Defense Department.

The notice, posted Tuesday, is to determine the method of a procurement in the event a “requirement materializes.” It states there may be multiple awards made and “small business set-aside categories will be considered.”

Responses to the notice are due July 31.

By Apurva Minchekar
July 26, 2023 at 2:06 PM

Space technology company Maxar Technologies announced it has completed the first critical design review of the Maxar 300 series for the Space Force's Tranche 1 Tracking Layer.

In collaboration with L3Harris Technologies, the Maxar 300 series is designed to carry a minimum of eight space vehicles per launch with low jitter demand and high power required for the missile defense mission, the company said.

“We designed the Maxar 300 series platform to be quickly scalable,” Chris Johnson, Maxar Space senior vice president and general manager, said in the announcement July 24.

Johnson noted the series' critical design review was completed within 10 months of the contract award and is scheduled to begin production of the series later this year, with initial deliveries in early 2024.

Maxar is responsible for building 16 platforms for the Space Development Agency’s T1TRK program, each about the width of a conventional oven. According to the announcement, unlike traditional missile tracking systems, these new dimensions will assist SDA to accomplish its goals to “reduce the size, weight, power and cost.”

The agency also plans to adapt and extend Maxar’s deep commercial communications satellite experience for new uses, the announcement reads.

The Defense Department in July 2022 said the T1TRK would build upon the Tranche 0 Tracking Layer capabilities, featuring enhanced targeted technologies, expanded coverage, increased integration, calibration processes and greater production efficiencies.

By John Liang
July 26, 2023 at 10:55 AM

The Defense and Commerce departments have signed a memorandum of agreement to expand collaboration to strengthen the U.S. semiconductor defense industrial base.

"The agreement will increase information sharing between the departments to facilitate close coordination on the CHIPS for America's incentives program, ensuring that their respective investments position the U.S. to produce semiconductor chips essential to national security and defense programs," a joint statement issued today reads.

"This agreement is an important step forward in increasing the capacity and resiliency of our domestic semiconductor industrial base," Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy Laura Taylor-Kale, who signed the MOA on behalf of DOD, said in the statement. "It is essential for DOD and DOC to consult one another to ensure we are making complementary investments that support a robust semiconductor industrial base. Both departments are working together to expand domestic semiconductor production capacity in a coordinated fashion."

By aligning priorities and decision-making, the MOA "will enable a more synchronized approach to promoting a robust and resilient semiconductor supply chain," according to DOD. "Specific areas of consultation identified in the MOA include sharing information on the semiconductor needs of the Defense Industrial Base, the investment priorities of DOD and each military service, the existing and planned investments to sustain mature and legacy chip capabilities for current defense programs, and funding to support emerging technologies that are critical to future U.S. national security programs."

By Shelley K. Mesch
July 26, 2023 at 10:51 AM

The Biden administration has nominated Gen. David Allvin to be the next Air Force chief of staff, according to a Tuesday announcement.

Allvin would succeed Gen. Charles Brown, who has been nominated for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Allvin has served as the Air Force vice chief of staff since 2020 and has served as director of strategy, concepts and assessments for the Air Force deputy chief of staff; director of strategy and policy at U.S. European Command, and director of strategy, plans and policy for the joint staff.

Military nominations have been held up by a blockade from Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) as a protest to Defense Department policies for leave and travel reimbursement for servicemembers seeking abortion services.

By Nick Wilson
July 26, 2023 at 10:20 AM

The Biden administration has nominated Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney to serve as the next assistant Marine Corps commandant, according to a Tuesday announcement.

If confirmed, Mahoney, who currently serves as the deputy commandant for programs and resources, would succeed Gen. Eric Smith as the Marine Corps’ No. 2 officer.

Mahoney is a graduate of the Naval Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) and has served as the deputy commander of Marine Forces Pacific, the director of strategy and plans at Headquarters Marine Corps, the deputy commander of United States Forces, Japan and the commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, according to his official biography.

In the Senate, Mahoney’s nomination faces a blockade by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) who is holding up all Defense Department nominations and promotions over opposition to the Pentagon’s leave and travel reimbursement policies for servicemembers seeking abortion services.

Following the retirement of the Marine Corps’ previous commandant, Gen. David Berger, Smith is serving as "acting commandant" while his nomination awaits official Senate approval.