The Insider

By John Liang
September 22, 2022 at 1:27 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missile replacement effort, the Next Generation Overheard Persistent Infrared satellite program, Navy submarine maintenance and more.

Inside Defense interviewed Frank DeMauro, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's Strategic Deterrent Systems Division, during this week's Air and Space Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber conference:

Northrop runs first wind-tunnel test of Sentinel nuclear missile system

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- The Air Force's replacement for the ground-based nuclear missile underwent its first wind-tunnel test and is on track to conduct its first flight tests in 2024, according to Northrop Grumman's program manager.

Space Development Agency Director Derek Tournear also spoke at the same conference this week:

SDA director: Next Gen OPIR will be final missile warning satellites in GEO

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- The Next Generation Overheard Persistent Infrared satellites planned for launch to geosynchronous orbit will be the Space Force's final missile warning and tracking satellites deployed to that layer, according to the director of the Space Development Agency.

. . . as did Space Force acquisition chief Frank Calvelli:

Space Force should 'stop' long-term, cost-plus contracts, Calvelli says

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- The Space Development Agency’s model of rapid satellite acquisitions is poised to shake up the Space Force's procurement strategy, the service's top acquisition official said today, who heralded SDA's operations ahead of the agency's planned transition into the Space Force next month.

(Read our full coverage of the conference.)

Vice Adm. William Galinis, head of Naval Sea Systems Command, spoke this week at the American Society of Naval Engineers' Fleet Maintenance & Modernization Symposium:

Navy still 'really struggling' with on-time maintenance for Virginia

The Navy continues to be plagued by submarine maintenance delays -- experiencing a "significant growth" in the number of days needed to complete a Virginia-class submarine availability, according to a top service official.

A new Government Accountability Office report discusses the Defense Department's use of other transaction agreements:

Audit finds lack of 'systemic approach' for tracking tens of billions of dollars of OTA awards

A congressional audit of more than $24 billion contracted by the Defense Department using other transaction authorities (OTA) found the Pentagon does not have a systematic approach for tracking which consortia receive awards, limiting the ability of contracting personnel to make informed decisions on how and whether to use consortia-based OTAs.

Document: GAO report on DOD and OTAs

By Nick Wilson
September 22, 2022 at 11:49 AM

The Marine Corps deployed its new heavy-lift helicopter, the CH-53K King Stallion, in its first fleet exercise last month, according to a Tuesday announcement from the service.

Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 (HMH-461) completed training exercises, including external lifts with a Light Armored Vehicle, using three CH-53Ks over mountainous terrain in Idaho.

The CH-53K will replace the legacy CH-53E Super Stallion as the Marine Corps’ primary heavy-lift helicopter. It achieved initial operational capability in April.

Its intended use is transporting armored vehicles, equipment and personnel to locations that are far inland from a sea-based center of operation.

The King Stallion boasts three times the lift capability of the previous model, and can fly at higher altitudes for longer distances in hotter conditions, according to the service’s news release.

“The CH-53K is more powerful, safer and an easier-to-maintain helicopter. That’ll allow each wing commander more capacity to sustain the Marine Air-Ground Task Force in an austere environment,” said HMH-461 commanding officer Lt. Col. Adam Horne in a statement included in the announcement.

Inside Defense previously reported that the Defense Department’s legislative proposal package for the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill requested the Navy enter a block-buy contract for 30 CH-53Ks in FY-23 and FY-24.

The Marine Corps included 10 CH-53Ks in its FY-23 budget request. The service’s unfunded priorities list contained $250 million for two more of the aircraft.

By John Liang
September 22, 2022 at 11:45 AM

Northrop Grumman announced today that Roshan Roeder has been promoted to corporate vice president and president of the company's Defense Systems sector, effective Oct. 17.

Roeder succeeds Mary Petryszyn, who has announced her intent to retire beginning next January.

Petryszyn will continue as corporate vice president, reporting to CEO Kathy Warden to support the transition until her retirement, according to a company statement.

Roeder is currently vice president and general manager of the Airborne Multifunction Sensors Division in Northrop's Mission Systems sector, which delivers C4ISR systems and hardware and software products for airborne platforms. She has worked for the company for more than 20 years.

By Tony Bertuca
September 22, 2022 at 10:43 AM

The Senate Armed Services Committee today voted to advance several nominees for senior Defense Department positions, including a new chief of space operations and a new head of U.S. Strategic Command.

The committee by voice vote moved to favorably report to the full Senate the nominations of Lt. Gen. Bradley Saltzman to be chief of space operations and Gen. Anthony Cotton to be chief of STRATCOM.

Additionally, the committee voted to advance Milancy Harris, nominated to be deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence and security; Brendan Owens to be assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations, and environment; and Laura Taylor-Kale to be assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy.

The nominations will now move to the full Senate for confirmation votes.

By Nick Wilson
September 21, 2022 at 3:05 PM

The Navy has completed test launches of the StormBreaker small diameter bomb from an F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

The successful test opens the door for SDB II to begin the weapon capability testing phase and brings it one step closer to integration with the Navy’s F-35 fleet, according to a Monday press release from Raytheon.

During the test, two SDB II weapons were dropped within half an hour of each other, and “successfully released and performed the required flight behaviors.” The releases clocked in at .9 Mach, making them the fastest from an F-35 to date, according to the announcement.

The air-to-surface bomb can strike stationary and mobile targets from over 45 miles away using a combination of GPS, laser and radar technologies for precision guidance. The weapon can operate at night and in adverse weather conditions.

The Air Force established initial operational capability of SDB II on its F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft earlier this year, but the program has faced delays in integrating with the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Navy requested $108 million to procure 481 SDB II units in its fiscal year 2023 budget, after receiving $33.8 million for the program in FY-22.

“The program’s integration roadmap includes further expansion to additional manned and unmanned platforms, including the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet,” Raytheon’s announcement states.

By John Liang
September 21, 2022 at 1:04 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Space Force acquisition, directed energy for missile defense, Navy ship maintenance and more.

Space Force acquisition chief Frank Calvelli spoke this week at the annual Air and Space Forces Association's Air, Space & Cyber conference:

Space Force should 'stop' long-term, cost-plus contracts, Calvelli says

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- The Space Development Agency’s model of rapid satellite acquisitions is poised to shake up the Space Force's procurement strategy, the service's top acquisition official said today, who heralded SDA's operations ahead of the agency's planned transition into the Space Force next month.

The Missile Defense Agency this week awarded Lockheed Martin a nearly $2 million contract for a study on "Directed Energy Lethality for Fast Threats" to explore an idea the company proposed in response to the agency’s 2021 innovation, science and technology solicitation:

MDA taps Lockheed for new study on feasibility of laser integration into Missile Defense System

The Missile Defense Agency has tapped Lockheed Martin to conduct a study that aims to explore whether directed-energy weapons can be integrated into the Missile Defense System, a project that comes as a company leader voiced optimism about the potential for speed-of-light technology to scale up to power levels needed to defeat intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Navy currently has 41 surface ships available for maintenance -- with over 100 in planning, according to Rear Adm. William Greene, the Navy's fleet maintenance officer for U.S. Fleet Forces Command:

Navy heading in 'wrong direction' with on-time shipyard repair

A top Navy official said fewer ships are being delivered on time out of maintenance availabilities -- citing workforce shortages as a "national crisis."

The Senate this week quietly approved a bipartisan plan to extend the Small Business Innovation Research and complementary Small Business Technology Transfer programs by three years, teeing up a possible House vote in the coming days:

SBIR reauthorization bill includes three-year extension, multiple programmatic changes

Lawmakers are looking to move forward with a standalone, three-year extension for a key, decades-old program that administers small business grants across nearly a dozen federal agencies, including the Defense Department, according to a bill draft and summary.

Air Force Central Command's Detachment 99 is a team of "super empowered" airmen who will rapidly innovate digital capabilities, uncrewed aircraft and artificial intelligence and machine learning programs, according to AFCENT Commander Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich:

AFCENT Detachment 99 to tackle C-UAS, digital innovation

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- Air Force Central Command has launched a new group charged with experimenting with off-the-shelf technologies to identify capabilities that can be used in the Middle East theater.

By Briana Reilly
September 21, 2022 at 8:41 AM

The Senate quietly approved a bipartisan plan to extend the Small Business Innovation Research and complementary Small Business Technology Transfer programs by three years on Tuesday, teeing up a possible House vote in the coming days.

The move brings the efforts one step closer to reauthorization following weeks of negotiations on a potential standalone deal that have culminated in a framework that includes a number of programmatic changes targeting concerns over foreign influence and so-called “SBIR mills.”

Those changes include a requirement that would let potential vendors pitch solutions to Defense Department components at least once a year for the programs; new transition standards for phase I and II awardees participating in the three-phase programs; and the implementation of a claw-back provision that would give agencies approval to recover funds in certain instances.

DOD and other federal agencies would also need to create “a due diligence program to assess the potential risk posed by foreign ties and obligations,” according to a summary of the legislation obtained Tuesday by Inside Defense.

The bill from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the chair of the Senate small business committee, cleared the Senate this week after lawmakers leveraged a hotline process to limit debate and get it through the chamber via unanimous consent.

The programs need to be reauthorized by Sept. 30 to avoid a lapse, a potential scenario DOD -- one of the biggest users of the SBIR and STTR programs as part of its innovation landscape -- has spent weeks preparing for.

The reauthorization process has been closely watched thus far as observers waited for the “six corners,” consisting of the House and Senate small business panels and the House science committee, to reach consensus as the window for legislative action this month draws to a close.

The three-year reauthorization timeline that lawmakers decided upon, which would stave off another extension debate through Sept. 30, 2025, is less than the current five-year one both programs are operating under. SBIR and STTR were most recently reauthorized in 2016 under the FY-17 National Defense Authorization Act.

By Nick Wilson
September 20, 2022 at 5:39 PM

The Marine Corps is interested in remotely operated/unmanned vehicles capable of hosting "various large weapons platforms," according to a request for information published on Monday evening.

The service anticipates an acquisition objective of 60 units, ready for initial fielding in the first quarter of fiscal year 2024.

“This Special Notice serves as announcement of the Intent to Sole Source for the modification of the base award to Oshkosh Defense, LLC. for the procurement of additional Carriers, also known as, Remote Operated Ground Unit Expeditionary-FIRES and ancillary support equipment and services for the Long-Range Fires program,” the RFI states.

The announcement stipulates the system’s mobility and deployability should be roughly equal to that of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Systems that are based upon or incorporate existing Marine Corps technology are favored by the service.

The system must be able to load C-130 and larger aircraft in addition to “amphibious shipping and connectors,” the announcement states. The complete system can weigh no more than 24,000 lbs with platform power of up to 10 kW.

Responses to the RFI are required by Oct. 3.

By Tony Bertuca
September 20, 2022 at 5:00 PM

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said today the Senate will be meeting in October to debate the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill.

“We will be meeting October,” he said during a press conference, adding that the defense authorization bill “will be part of what we do.”

Schumer said the Senate will not be meeting the first week of October because of the Yom Kippur holiday.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) had said he hoped to move the bill in September but was aware it could slip to the right.

By Evan Ochsner
September 20, 2022 at 3:42 PM

The Army will hold an industry day next month to provide further information on its program to replace the tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile, the service announced Monday.

The Army will provide new information on the program timeline and desired characteristics of the Close Combat Missile System-Heavy during the virtual industry day on Oct. 20. The service first announced the program last year and the following June released a request for information that said the new capability will be used to defeat armored threats and field fortification. It will initially augment existing stockpiles of the TOW family of missiles, while maintaining compatibility with platforms and launchers.

The industry day will include a brief overview of the program, a question-and-answer session and individual sessions for vendors to talk directly with the project manager office, according to the notice.

Companies interested in attending the industry day must RSVP to Staci Doss at by Oct. 3.

By Shelley K. Mesch
September 20, 2022 at 1:36 PM

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- The Air Force will unveil its B-21 Raider in December, acquisition chief Andrew Hunter said Monday.

The service has been tight-lipped on the next-generation nuclear bomber for the past several years.

A specific date for the rollout has not been set, but it is slated for first week of December, Hunter told reporters at the Air and Space Forces Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference.

Northrop Grumman began manufacturing five B-21 test aircraft last year, and the Air Force awarded the business $108 million earlier this year for advance procurement funds.

By John Liang
September 20, 2022 at 1:23 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on congressional efforts to extend small business legislation, the Defense Department's work on a national spectrum strategy and more.

We start off with coverage of lawmakers' work on extending small business legislation:

SBIR reauthorization bill includes three-year extension, multiple programmatic changes

Lawmakers are looking to move forward with a standalone, three-year extension for a key, decades-old program that administers small business grants across nearly a dozen federal agencies, including the Defense Department, according to a bill draft and summary.

Document: SBIR/STTR extension act of 2022

DOD Chief Information Officer John Sherman spoke this week at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration spectrum policy symposium:

DOD 'engaged' in work to develop national spectrum strategy

A top Pentagon official said the Defense Department is "engaged" in work on a national spectrum strategy that would guide 5G wireless technology deployment and ensure a coordinated, cross-government approach to shape future policies.

More coverage of this week's annual AFA Air, Space and Cyber Conference:

AFCENT Detachment 99 to tackle C-UAS, digital innovation

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- Air Force Central Command has launched a new group charged with experimenting with off-the-shelf technologies to identify capabilities that can be used in the Middle East theater.

AMC approves KC-46A for combat deployment

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- The KC-46A Pegasus has been cleared by Air Mobility Command for combat deployment, AMC’s top official told reporters today, marking a turning point for the troubled tanker that had previously been sidelined by technical defects and cost overruns.

L3Harris, Embraer enter KC-Z consideration with KC-390 tanker

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- L3Harris Technologies and Brazilian aerospace company Embraer are offering a jointly developed KC-390 Millennium as a new tanker for the Air Force’s consideration, aiming to break into the U.S. military air refueling market as the service looks to field a new generation of aircraft, the two companies announced this week.

By John Liang
September 19, 2022 at 4:48 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from the first day of the annual AFA Air, Space and Cyber Conference, Army lasers and more.

We start off with our initial coverage of this year's AFA Air, Space and Cyber Conference:

L3Harris, Embraer enter KC-Z consideration with KC-390 tanker

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- L3Harris Technologies and Brazilian aerospace company Embraer are offering a jointly developed KC-390 Millennium as a new tanker for the Air Force’s consideration, aiming to break into the U.S. military air refueling market as the service looks to field a new generation of aircraft, the two companies announced today.

(Follow our continuing AFA coverage.)

Lockheed Martin recently delivered to the office of the under secretary of defense for research and engineering the most powerful laser the company has ever built: an electric 300 kW-class laser designed for tactical operations:

U.S. military receives first of three planned 300-kilowatt lasers, Army integration begins

The U.S. military has taken ownership of a prototype 300-kilowatt laser -- the first of three different variants of a high-energy weapon with cruise-missile killing power -- marking a key milestone in the Defense Department program to scale up directed-energy technology.

Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Joseph Clearfield spoke recently at an event hosted by Defense One:

Clearfield: Partnerships crucial to preserving peace in the Indo-Pacific

Maintaining strong partnerships with allied nations is integral to maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, according to the Marine Corps' deputy commander of Pacific forces.

The latest from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

DOD, DOJ urge FCC to take action on internet routing system protocol security risks

The Defense and Justice departments are urging the Federal Communications Commission to move forward with work to secure the Border Gateway Protocol in a new filing, which explains associated national security risks and argues against using a voluntary approach to address vulnerabilities.

The Navy wants to decommission nine monohull, Freedom-variant LCS in its fiscal year 2023 budget request, which have faced challenges with anti-submarine warfare capability and drive trains, raising the question of whether mission packages will be left without a host LCS:

Navy: LCS mission package funding not 'hull-specific'

Despite the Navy's proposed early retirement of nine Littoral Combat Ships, the program's mission packages, aimed to provide modularity and flexibility for the ship class, are not dependent on the number of LCS in the fleet.

In case you missed it, check out our deep dive into the government's effort to renew the Small Business Innovation Research program and its effects on the defense industry:

SBIR faces down-to-the-wire program reauthorization

With two weeks remaining until the Small Business Innovation Research effort is set to expire, congressional negotiations surrounding a potential standalone reauthorization plan -- characterized by a keen interest in front-end changes to the decades-old program -- are getting down to the wire.

By Shelley K. Mesch
September 19, 2022 at 10:29 AM

The Air Force has appointed a program executive officer to integrate Command, Control, Communications and Battle Management capabilities across the service, according to a news release posted Monday.

The Rapid Capabilities Office, which had managed C3BM capabilities, will now be a “supporting element” for the Integrating PEO after it set a “strong foundation,” according to the release.

"The high-end fight against today's pacing challenge will be much more complex than any undertaking the DAF has managed to date," said Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. "The DAF must develop and migrate to a C3BM architecture that includes resilient, distributed battle management, as well as the operational ability to disaggregate C3BM execution to reduce or eliminate single points of failure for optimal survivability against emerging threats."

Brig. Gen. Luke Cropsey will serve as the first Integrating PEO for C3BM, which is a core component of the Defense Department’s Joint All Domain Command and Control effort. He will work with service acquisition executive Andrew Hunter, who appointed him, and Assistant Secretary for Space Integration Frank Calvelli.

"Luke's charge will be to build the organizational infrastructure to solve the complex systems engineering and integration challenge for C3BM across the DAF and externally, and he will be empowered as the leader to make this happen,” Hunter said in the news release.

Cropsey will also work with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and other military departments on the Air Force’s JADC2-related efforts.

Hunter will also appoint a chief of engineering for the PEO who will lead system engineering for the C3BM system of systems. Resources from the service’s chief architect’s office will be aligned under the PEO to support the architecture and engineering work.

By Tony Bertuca
September 19, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are slated to speak at an annual Air Force Association conference this week.

Monday

The Air Force Association hosts its annual Air, Space and Cyber Conference. The event runs through Wednesday.

DOD Chief Information Officer John Sherman speaks at the 2022 NTIA Spectrum Policy Symposium.

Tuesday

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on U.S. nuclear strategy and policy.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on current challenges facing the defense industrial base.

Thursday

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on future competition between the U.S. and Chinese navies.

The Air Force Association hosts a discussion on Space Force training.