The Insider

By John Liang
October 12, 2021 at 1:52 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of the AUSA convention and more.

The Army's top civilian spoke this week during the Association of the United States Army's annual convention:

Wormuth: Army must 'ruthlessly prioritize' to avoid becoming a 'bill-payer' for other services

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth this week acknowledged the tensions between the Army and other the U.S. military services as the Pentagon is structuring its multiyear budget strategy, especially since deterring the "pacing threat" of China means accepting geographic realities in the Indo-Pacific region.

More from AUSA:

Pentagon's CTO creating new positions to improve software and sustainment

The Pentagon’s chief technology officer announced this week she is creating two new positions in her office to improve the Defense Department’s software and technology sustainment.

Army plans to spend $16B modernizing organic industrial base

The Army intends to spend around $16 billion over the next five years to modernize all its depots, arsenals and ammunition plants as the service shifts its logistics posture to compete more directly with China, according to a senior official.

Army aims for flexibility with Common Tactical Truck requirements, could use diesel rather than jet fuel

The Army might consider relaxing some of its tactical vehicle requirements, including the use of diesel fuel, to maintain commonality between commercial systems and the upcoming Common Tactical Truck, service officials told Inside Defense in an Oct. 6 interview.

Army plans OTAs for wheeled 155 mm howitzer development

The Army intends to award other transaction agreements for the prototyping of a next-generation 155 mm truck-mounted mobile howitzer that fills the role of the M777 towed howitzer, according to a pair of Oct. 7 notices from the Army’s program office for towed artillery systems.

GM Defense to display all-electric and gun carrier ISV variants at AUSA

GM Defense will display two potential variants of its Infantry Squad Vehicle at its booth at the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, which begins today: a heavy machine gun carrier and a fully electric model.

Army RCV experiment to include General Dynamics prototypes

Four prototypes of the Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium from General Dynamics Land Systems will participate in a soldier operational experiment at Ft. Hood, TX, next year, a spokesman for the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team told Inside Defense Oct. 5.

Raytheon to unveil new medium-range air and missile radar optimized to support NASAMS missile

Raytheon Technologies has developed a new medium-range radar optimized to support the full reach of the NASAMS missile, offering users of the ground-based air defense system a detection range greater than the Sentinel radar by drawing on technology developed for the Army’s Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor.

(Read our complete coverage of the AUSA convention.)

Moving on to F-35 Joint Strike Fighter news:

Pratt & Whitney targets 36% cost reduction on first F135 scheduled maintenance visit

The F-35 program is approaching its first wave of scheduled engine maintenance in 2023, and in preparation, engine-maker Pratt & Whitney is readying its architecture and processes for what the company views as a test of whether the engine sustainment enterprise is positioned to maintain readiness as it takes on additional workload.

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has released a new report on Future Vertical Lift:

CSBA: FVL programs need new cost projection methods due to open architectures

The Modular Open Systems Architecture the Army is developing alongside its new Future Vertical Lift manned aircraft might require changes to current cost projection methods, according to a new report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The Navy's top civilian recently issued his first strategic guidance:

Del Toro's strategic guidance warns of China threat, supports modernization

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro echoed familiar themes in his first strategic guidance released today, identifying countering China as the service’s top priority while also stating he is focused on improving the Navy’s culture and working to address climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Document: SECNAV's strategic guidance

By Courtney Albon
October 12, 2021 at 1:24 PM

The Air Force is looking for industry input on a possible competition to develop a new advanced tactical aircraft to train fighter pilots, according to a notice released today.

In a new request for information, the service indicates it is conducting market research for an advanced training aircraft that would support initial tactical training for fighter pilots, provide adversary air support and serve as a “tactical fighter surrogate of existing and future United States Air Force frontline fighters.”

Boeing is already on contract to develop an advanced trainer, the T-7A, to replace the current T-38 fleet, however the Air Force envisions the T-7A as being one element of an Advanced Pilot Training "family of systems." It's not immediately clear where this aircraft would fit into the APT architecture, though the RFI indicates aggressor support would be part of its mission.

The notice indicates the service is seeking feedback on the cost schedule and feasibility of delivering at least 100 aircraft “and for subsequent lots of 50 aircraft.” Responses are due by Nov. 23.

“The aircraft needs to simulate and/or replicate current and future fighter aircraft systems by providing the training environment and relevant experience to build transferable tactical skills, systems management skills and decision-making skills required for weapon system employment actions,” the RFI states.

The service is looking for a two-seat jet with secure, open architecture, large area displays and secure transmission capabilities, among other features. The service is also interested in a low-cost, helmet-mounted display, automatic ground collision avoidance system and generators “sufficient to power wing stations, antennas and avionics stations with sufficient growth capacity to support follow-on incorporation of electronic countermeasures, infrared sensor and radar or threat emulator capabilities.”

Air Combat Command did not immediately respond to a request for more details about the Air Force’s interested in a new tactical training aircraft.

By Audrey Decker
October 12, 2021 at 11:41 AM

The Navy will move away from an isolated information technology system to one that operates across different networks, systems and units.

The transition to an enterprise IT services approach will reduce waste and duplication, increase data availability, accelerate productivity and reduce cyber risk, according to a memo from the Navy’s chief information officer released last week.

“The intent of enterprise IT services is to operate across more than one network, security domain, system, or organizational unit,” the memo states.

Enterprise IT services apply technology that enables the reuse of use cases every time those use cases come up, according to the memo.

These IT services will improve the Navy’s interoperability, data sharing and “increase agility and speed in the development, delivery, and management of capability to the warfighter,” the memo states.

Having common models to organize and share data is going to be very important for the Navy to ensure interoperability and trustworthy data, Tom Sasala, the Navy’s chief data officer, said last week at the online Billington CyberSecurity Summit.

“We need to rapidly, especially in the tactical environment, get to an environment whereas things change, the data environment gets updated and that information gets pushed to the people who need to see it,” Sasala said.

Within 60 days of the release of the memo, the Navy’s chief technology officer will lead a forum to define the processes required for the adoption of enterprise IT services, the memo states.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
October 11, 2021 at 8:45 AM

The Army has awarded Lockheed Martin an accelerated contract to produce five additional Sentinel A4 radars by the end of fiscal year 2022, which soldiers will use to test the upgrades in the A4 variant, the company announced Oct. 11.

“Once equipped with the Sentinel A4, our soldiers will operate in a more secure warfighting environment, improving capabilities against multiple evolving threats,” Troy Allen, the Army’s program manager for the Sentinel A4, said in the Lockheed press release. “The Lockheed Martin team truly understands the importance that this system holds for our warfighters.”

Lockheed completed production of its first Sentinel A4 in August, five months ahead of schedule, according to the press release.

“Even though the initial Sentinel A4 contract for 18 radars was awarded only two years ago, the Sentinel A4 team already completed production of the first A4 system this summer,” a Lockheed press release stated. “The first five systems of the original contract are expected to be delivered to the U.S. Army in March 2022.”

Sentinel A4 passed its critical design review in February, five months ahead of schedule. Sentinel is designed to detect low-flying threats, such as cruise missiles and helicopters, and the upgrades in the A4 variant are designed to improve detection of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The upgrades include a new digital, modular backbone of the radar, which Lockheed says will be more easily upgraded than previous systems.

Earlier this year, the Army identified the Sentinel radar as one of the “key enablers” for the priority modernization program. The second increment of the Indirect Fire Protection Capability will rely upon the Sentinel radar.

Lockheed beat Raytheon, the original Sentinel manufacturer, in 2019 for the A4 upgrade program. It won a $281 million contract that year, for what could be a $3 billion upgrade program.

By Tony Bertuca
October 11, 2021 at 5:00 AM

The annual Association of the United States Army conference is being held in Washington this week.


The annual Association of the United States Army conference is held in Washington. The event, which features senior military officials, runs through Wednesday.


The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on 21st century warfare with the chief executive of Lockheed Martin.


The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on advanced batteries and critical supply chains.

By Thomas Duffy
October 8, 2021 at 4:08 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest brings news of a new Pentagon climate plan, cyber program spending, an Army hypersonic weapon, TRANSCOM’s thoughts on the recent Afghanistan evacuation and more.

The Defense Department’s battle with climate change may best be handled through the acquisition process:

DOD to leverage ‘procurement power’ to address climate change

A top Pentagon energy official, discussing a newly released Climate Adaptation Plan, said today the department intends to use its vast procurement power to address the impacts of climate change, specifically with greenhouse gas emissions in the defense supply chain.

Cyber and artificial intelligence programs may be in store for bigger budgets:

Acting DOD CIO foresees rising cyber budgets, increased AI investment

The Pentagon is preparing for rising cyber budgets as its information technology office aims to address the shifting cybersecurity landscape, including increasing investment in artificial intelligence, the acting chief information officer said today.

The Army announced that it has delivered a hypersonic weapon to one of its battalions:

Army delivers hypersonic ground equipment for first battery

The Army finished delivery Sept. 28 of the ground equipment for the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon to the battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, that is training to field the first battery of American hypersonic missiles, the service announced Oct. 7.

A U.S. Transportation Command official provided some insight on the recent evacuations from Kabul airport:

TRANSCOM: Kabul evacuation highlighted need for JADC2, improved IT systems

The U.S. evacuation mission from Afghanistan may have benefitted from joint all-domain command-and-control capabilities as well as a more robust IT infrastructure, according to the director of operations at U.S. Transportation Command.

An administration nominee says he will look to get more commercial companies involved in defense acquisition:

Key DOD tech nominee would check for ‘undue bias’ toward prime contractors

The nominee tapped for a senior Pentagon technology post told lawmakers today he will work to increase the participation of commercial companies in defense acquisition and, if confirmed, is planning to review the department’s current prototyping strategy and processes for any “undue bias” favoring large, traditional defense contractors.

By Briana Reilly
October 8, 2021 at 2:26 PM

The head of the 16th Air Force sees China’s targeting of U.S. intellectual property as the biggest -- if not as visible -- cyber threat that’s facing the nation.

Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, the commander of the group that focuses on intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, cyber and network operations, said today while it’s among “some of the threats that we’re not seeing,” the issue is “the long-term challenge” for the U.S.

“The targeting of our industry and our economy to be able to pull back intellectual property is probably the most insidious threat that’s out there in terms of its sustained activity,” he said during a discussion at the online Billington CyberSecurity Summit.

He noted recent occurrences like the hacking of Colonial Pipeline Co. have “made cybersecurity a little more apparent to the general population.” While he said officials working in the realm already knew that threat existed, “it really became apparent to everyone what that looks like.”

Going forward, he stressed the importance of continuing to rely on and build public-private partnerships and leveraging those to find existing vulnerabilities “and collaborate to close them.”

By John Liang
October 7, 2021 at 4:50 PM

Lockheed Martin today announced that Space Executive Vice President Richard Ambrose will retire, effective March 1, 2022.

Ambrose joined Lockheed Martin in 2000 and served as the president of the Information Systems & Global Solutions-National business; vice president and general manager of the Surveillance and Navigation Systems line of business within Space; and vice president and general manager of Mission Systems and Sensors' Tactical Systems.

Ambrose will remain in his current role until a successor is announced, after which he "will serve as a strategic adviser to ensure a smooth transition," according to Lockheed.

By John Liang
October 7, 2021 at 1:43 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Space Force, the Pentagon's latest Climate Adaptation Plan and more.

House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee Chairman Jim Cooper (D-TN) spoke this morning about the Space Force:

Rep. Cooper: Space Force needs to focus on fielding new system faster

House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee Chairman Jim Cooper (D-TN) said today he’s worried the Space Force isn't "putting fear in the bones" of near-peer adversaries, saying the new service needs to move faster to field more advanced capabilities.

The Defense Department's new Climate Adaptation Plan will drive DOD to “assess and adjust requirements and acquisition” of weapon systems and services:

DOD's new Climate Adaptation Plan could impact budget and acquisition process

The Pentagon has released a new Climate Adaption Plan poised to have significant impacts on budget and acquisition decisions.

Industry sources say Raytheon plans to formally announce a change to the name of its Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor next week during the Association of the United States Army’s annual convention:

Introducing GhostEye, the radar formerly known as LTAMDS

Raytheon Technologies is rebranding its LTAMDS radar GhostEye, shedding the U.S. government’s acronym for Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor for a moniker that suggests an invisible power with the capability to see -- petitioning the Commerce Department to trademark the name for the next-generation Patriot radar, a sensor with significant foreign sales potential.

Pratt & Whitney hosted a media visit to its F135 engine facility in Middletown, CT this week:

Pratt & Whitney fielding fix to F-35 engine turbine blade coating; aims to complete by 2030

MIDDLETOWN, CT -- Pratt & Whitney has fielded a new F135 engine turbine blade coating to about 25% of the Joint Strike Fighter fleet and expects to complete the retrofit modifications by 2030.

The Air Force is moving away from a direct follow-on to the MQ-9 Reaper, which had been termed “MQ-Next”:

Industry sees Air Force weighing future threats as it considers potential MQ-9 follow-ons

Following two requests for information tied to a potential replacement for the MQ-9 Reaper, some in the defense industry say the Air Force is training an eye on future threats and prioritizing survivability as officials continue to weigh their options.

An Air Force directorate has established a new innovation cell, dubbed “The Edge,” to identify innovative, rapid solutions to capability needs within the fielded bomber fleet, which includes the B-2, B-1 and B-52:

New bomber innovation cell aims to fly Agile Pod comm/nav capabilities on a B-52 next year

A new innovation cell within the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Bombers Directorate aims to fly its prototype of an Agile Pod for the B-52 for the first time early next year.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
October 7, 2021 at 12:34 PM

The Army released its draft requirements Oct. 6 for the Common Tactical Truck, which is expected to replace the Palletized Load System, Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck and M915 line haul with a single platform.

There will be five variants of the CTT, according to the Abbreviated Specification document: load handling system, off-road tractor, on-road tractor, tanker and cargo bed variant with crane.

An announcement last month mentioned four variants. The new draft requirements include separate on- and off-road tractor variants, while the earlier announcement combined them.

The CTT should provide as much commonality between the variants as possible, including the powertrain, chassis and cab, according to the draft requirements. It should also share commonality with commercial vehicles, so that future commercial technological innovations could be added to the CTT.

A lack of commonality in the current fleet with commercial trucks has impeded the adoption of new technologies, according to the draft requirements.

“The Army fleet lags behind commercial industry in the digitization revolution and is not in a position to take advantage of the rapidly advancing fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomous operations, driver safety systems, and predictive maintenance, diagnostics, and prognostics,” the draft requirements state.

Drive-by-wire technology should be built into the CTT, according to the draft requirements. It should have modern safety features, such as lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control, and it should be “autonomy ready.”

An exportable power system for the CTT should be able to produce 20 kilowatts of power at 28 Volts, according to the draft requirements. Peak onboard power capacity will be 75 amps at 24 V to power the communications systems, but available power could be higher to allow for future technology upgrades.

The Army canceled the industry meetings about the CTT at the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington next week, according to the announcement of the draft specifications.

There will be an industry day and meetings between the Army and prime contractors on Oct. 20 in Warren, MI, according to the announcement.

By Aidan Quigley
October 7, 2021 at 11:17 AM

A combination of maintenance failures and human error caused the fatal sinking of an assault amphibious vehicle in July 2020, concluding a series of investigations into the tragedy, the Navy announced Wednesday.

Eight Marines and a sailor died during the AAV sinking off the coast of California last summer.

Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, commander of the Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a Navy press release that the service is “reworking procedures and doctrine, clarifying aspects of amphibious operations, and instituting new training requirements to prevent future tragedies” following the investigations.

The Marine Corps conducted two investigations, a safety investigation that concluded in October 2020 and a command investigation that finished in February. The service instituted 23 institutional actions to address AAV waterborne operation equipment, procedures and training.

“The investigation found a confluence of factors, including COVID-19 impacts, task-saturation and reduced manning, poor communication, and inadequate training and equipping played significant roles in contributing to the conditions that allowed for the tragedy to occur,” the press release states.

Navy and Marine Corps leadership are now conducting a strategic review of amphibious operations.

By Aidan Quigley
October 6, 2021 at 3:34 PM

The Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a $17.8 million contract for low-rate initial production units of the Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare System, marking milestone C for the program.

AOEW is an off-board electronic surveillance and attack capability that pairs with Lockheed’s Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program.

AOEW has similar code bases and architecture as the SEWIP but comes in a smaller package, Joe Ottaviano, Lockheed’s maritime and air cyber/electronic warfare portfolio director, told Inside Defense in July.

A majority of the work will be done in Syracuse, NY, the Sept. 29 contract announcement states.

The first AOEW deliveries are set to take place in late 2023 or early 2024, Ottaviano said in July. Lockheed expects three LRIP lots before the start of full-rate production in 2023 or 2024, he said.

By Aidan Quigley
October 6, 2021 at 2:23 PM

The Navy has completed a successful technology demonstration for a virtual training system for the F/A-18 and EA-18G, the service announced Tuesday.

The F/A-18 and EA-18G program office tested the Secure Live Virtual Advanced Training Environment (SLATE) with four flight tests during the event at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD last month, the Navy said in a press release.

The SLATE system connects live manned aircraft, virtual manned simulators and computer-generated constructive entities “in a robust training environment that replicates the threat density and capability required to prepare military forces for the high-end fight,” the Navy’s press release states.

The event showed the Synthetic Inject to Live-Live Virtual Constructive system’s maturity and validated its technology readiness level with the F/A-18 and EA-18G, the Navy stated.

The Navy’s final SLATE technology demonstration flight is scheduled for December.

By John Liang
October 6, 2021 at 1:49 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Navy's Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band program, the Space Warfighting Analysis Center and more.

The Navy's Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band program achieved milestone C in June and will replace the ALQ-99 jamming pod carried on EA-18G electronic warfare aircraft:

NGJ-MB test asset to be delivered to Navy in early 2022

The Navy's Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band test asset will be delivered in early 2022 and initial operational capability is slated for fall 2023, according to Navy spokeswoman Gulianna Dunn.

Andrew Cox, director of the Space Warfighting Analysis Center, spoke this week at a National Security Space Association virtual event:

SWAC eyeing future force design work for tactical ISR, fire control, space data transport

Following a highly anticipated classified industry briefing later this month on its new force design for space-based missile warning and missile tracking, the Space Warfighting Analysis Center plans to shift its architecture analysis focus to other mission areas, prioritizing fire control, tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and space data transport as its next projects.

Inside Defense recently interviewed General Dynamics Land Systems executives regarding the Abrams tank:

General Dynamics to showcase Abrams engine PPMx at AUSA

General Dynamics Land Systems will showcase a prototype prognostic and predictive maintenance, or PPMx, capability in the engine of an M1 Abrams tank at the Association of the United States Army conference next week in Washington, company executives said during an Oct. 4 interview.

Alan Baribeau, a spokesman for the Navy, told Inside Defense the Columbia-class submarine had hit 95% design maturity as of the end of August 2021:

Columbia-class submarine program hits 95% design maturity

The Navy's top acquisition priority, the Columbia-class submarine, has hit 95% design maturity, a Navy spokesman told Inside Defense Monday.

The head of the Pentagon's Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency spoke to reporters this week:

All DOD clearance holders enrolled in continuous vetting program

The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency has announced all holders of Defense Department security clearances have now been enrolled in a continuous vetting program that replaces the previous practice of periodic reinvestigations every five to 10 years.

By Tony Bertuca
October 6, 2021 at 11:41 AM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned today that Congress would damage U.S. national security, military families, and countless federal contractors if it allows the nation to default on its debt.

“If the United States defaults, it would undermine the economic strength on which our national security rests,” he said in a statement. “It would also seriously harm our service members and their families because, as secretary, I would have no authority or ability to ensure that our service members, civilians, or contractors would be paid in full or on time.”

Austin said the benefits owed to 2.4 million military retirees and 400,000 survivors would also be at risk.

Additionally, “federal contractors, including large firms and thousands of small businesses, that provide our military with world-class services, technology and equipment could have their payments delayed, jeopardizing their operations and many American jobs, he said.

“A default risks undermining the international reputation of the United States as a reliable and trustworthy economic and national security partner,” Austin said. “A default also risks undermining the stature of the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency of choice.”

The United States reached the federal debt limit in July and the Treasury Department says Congress has until Oct. 18 to raise it again or else the government will default. The debt limit covers spending Congress has already approved.

Senate Republicans, however, seeking to stall Democrats’ legislative agenda, have opposed raising the debt limit, which covers spending Congress has already approved.

President Biden has warned Senate Republicans to stop playing “Russian roulette” with the U.S. economy.

Austin, meanwhile, said he hopes “we will come together to ensure we meet our obligations to them, without delay or disruption.”