The Insider

By Nick Wilson
August 30, 2022 at 3:44 PM

Austal USA and Saildrone are entering a strategic partnership to produce autonomous, uncrewed surface vehicles, according to an Austal announcement.

The new partnership will combine Saildrone’s technology with Austal’s manufacturing capabilities to speed up production of the Saildrone Surveyor, an autonomous and uncrewed vehicle used for deep ocean mapping and intelligence as well as surveillance and reconnaissance above and below the surface.

The Surveyor was developed by Saildrone and will be manufactured by Austal in Mobile, AL starting in October 2022.

The press release cites “rapidly growing demand” for this technology as the reason for accelerating production.

“With our lean manufacturing techniques and serial production capabilities, Austal USA will provide large scale fabrication of these vehicles and with our partner Saildrone rapidly get the capability to the Fleet,” said Austal President Rusty Murdaugh in a statement included in the release.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday has indicated that unmanned vessels are an important part of his updated Navigation Plan and the Navy’s future fleet. Four USVs participated in this summer’s Rim of the Pacific exercise, completing data-sharing, targeting and weapons tests.

By John Liang
August 30, 2022 at 1:35 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on long-term U.S. military aid to Ukraine, the Pentagon's Project Maven artificial intelligence effort, a billion-dollar Abrams tank contract to Poland and more.

We start off with a deep dive into long-term U.S. military aid to Ukraine:

DOD, Congress laying groundwork to move more money toward Ukraine

The Defense Department has begun planning for long-term military assistance to Ukraine, setting the stage for Congress to appropriate more funding for what Pentagon officials say will be a multiyear commitment.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will soon be in charge of a major Pentagon artificial intelligence effort:

Project Maven on track to transition main functions by end of September

Defense Department leaders are poised to complete the transition of the military's pathfinder artificial intelligence initiative by the end of September, a move that will leave the effort's more prominent capabilities under the purview of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

News on a billion-dollar Abrams tank contract for Poland:

General Dynamics Land Systems to build Abrams tanks for Poland

The Army has awarded a $1.1 billion contract to General Dynamics to provide 250 upgraded Abrams tanks to Poland, formalizing an order that had been anticipated for months, the service announced Aug. 25.

Capt. Brian Metcalf, program manager of the Navy's Ford-class aircraft carrier program, spoke to the media during the keel-laying ceremony for the Enterprise (CVN-80):

HII, Navy advocate for carrier block buy before Enterprise keel laying

NEWPORT NEWS, VA -- As HII continues building the Ford-class aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-80), the Navy and its industry partner are detailing the benefits of a block buy for the program.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have the latest on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

Procurement group urges CMMC accreditation body to rescind process guide until rulemaking is complete

The release of the Cyber Accreditation Body's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification assessment process guide is "premature" and could substantially increase costs for organizations seeking assessment, according to a large procurement association, which argues that it should be rescinded until the Defense Department completes its rulemaking process.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday is looking to unmanned vessels and artificial intelligence as important pieces of the service's future:

Gilday looks to expand unmanned development in Task Force 59

The Navy's top uniformed official said he wants to have 100 unmanned platforms operating as a cohesive network within a new unmanned task force that operates out of the Middle East by summer 2023.

By John Liang
August 30, 2022 at 10:51 AM

HDT Global announced today it has hired James Cassella as senior vice president and chief revenue officer.

Prior to joining HDT, Cassella was chief growth officer for DynCorp International, responsible for business development, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate strategy, according to an HDT Global statement. He has also worked for DRS Technologies and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Additionally, Cassella served as a career Army aviation officer and was a Pentagon press spokesman.

HDT Global was one of the competitors for the Army's Robotic Combat Vehicle program but lost out to QinetiQ North America in January 2020.

By Michael Marrow
August 29, 2022 at 4:26 PM

After wrapping up certifications mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration that contributed to a program delay of over a year, the Air Force has accepted the first four MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters from Boeing, the company announced in an Aug. 25 press release.

Procurement of the Grey Wolf was deferred from the fiscal year 2022 budget to FY-23 due to pending completion of three civil airworthiness subtype certifications. Anticipating that the FAA certifications would proceed on time, the Air Force announced at its budget unveiling in March that the service would seek to resume procurement of the helicopter, asking Congress for $174.1 million to fund low-rate initial production of five aircraft in FY-23.

Built by a joint Boeing-Leonardo team, the Grey Wolf is adapted from the civilian AW139 and is set to replace the aging UH-1N helicopter fleet, with the primary purpose of guarding the Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missile silos.

According to the Government Accountability Office’s annual weapon system assessment published in June, Boeing “underestimated the scale of design work” of the aircraft and “experienced challenges integrating components that are new to the existing airframe.” The difficulties encountered during the aircraft’s development contributed to a 16-month delay, GAO wrote.

During the Life Cycle Industry Days hosted by the Air Force earlier this month in Dayton, OH, a program official told reporters that the Grey Wolf was prepared to enter military utility testing. The acceptance of the first four helicopters earlier this month by the Air Force enabled that testing to proceed, and an all-Air Force crew first piloted the aircraft Aug. 17, according to a service press release.

The program’s milestone C target date is January 2023, Air Force Global Strike Command spokeswoman Jill LaVoie wrote to Inside Defense, which would begin low-rate initial production. Developmental test and evaluation is then scheduled to conclude by Oct. 1, 2023, LaVoie wrote, and the Air Force plans to begin an anticipated six-month-long initial operational test and evaluation phase in the third quarter of FY-24.

The Air Force plans to buy up to 80 of the helicopters, and the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote in a report accompanying its mark-up of the FY-23 budget request that they would authorize $100 million more to procure three additional helicopters in FY-23, writing that the Air Force should replace the UH-1N fleet “expeditiously.”

As the Air Force’s testing of the helicopter proceeds, the service may discover new complications with the aircraft, GAO warned in its weapon system assessment. “Given the design instability,” GAO wrote, “there are risks that later design changes could result in significant rework of aircraft already in production and retrofit of aircraft already delivered.”

By Briana Reilly
August 29, 2022 at 3:40 PM

A newly announced Defense Department pilot seeks to boost development and scaling of dual-use, advanced manufacturing technologies in areas that will eventually include microelectronics and clean energy.

Unveiled in a Pentagon news release today, the undertaking aims to ultimately bolster supply chains and the resiliency of the defense industrial base, according to William LePlante, the DOD’s acquisition chief.

“This pilot program is a first step in finding new and creative solutions to innovate within the American manufacturing sector,” he said in the announcement.

The initial phase of the 24-month undertaking will zone in on originating inert chemicals used by DOD for munitions and the commercial sector for agricultural products -- a focus that the release said will let both DOD and private businesses “receive new products that are identical to their legacy material.”

Launched by DOD’s Industrial Base Policy Office, the effort will be run through the Defense Production Act Title III Program in partnership with the Austin Center for Manufacturing and Innovation in Austin, TX. Using the DPA Title III dollars allows “DOD to address critical industrial base shortfalls, while maximizing the use of private capital for future national security needs,” per the release.

The release doesn’t say how much funding will go toward the pilot from the Title III program. But it notes that additional money will be pulled from it following the pilot’s completion to expand the effort into other sectors, such as microelectronics and clean energy.

The pilot will also inform the potential for expansion into other geographical locations and sectors, the announcement states.

By John Liang
August 29, 2022 at 1:29 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Navy aircraft carriers, the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program and more.

Capt. Brian Metcalf, program manager of the Navy's Ford-class aircraft carrier program, spoke to the media during the keel-laying ceremony for the Enterprise (CVN-80):

HII, Navy advocate for carrier block buy before Enterprise keel laying

NEWPORT NEWS, VA -- As HII continues building the Ford-class aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-80), the Navy and its industry partner are detailing the benefits of a block buy for the program.

The latest cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Procurement group urges CMMC accreditation body to rescind process guide until rulemaking is complete

The release of the Cyber Accreditation Body's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification assessment process guide is "premature" and could substantially increase costs for organizations seeking assessment, according to a large procurement association, which argues that it should be rescinded until the Defense Department completes its rulemaking process.

As the Navy implements its updated Navigation Plan, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday, the plan's author, looks to unmanned vessels and artificial intelligence as important pieces of the service's future:

Gilday looks to expand unmanned development in Task Force 59

The Navy's top uniformed official said he wants to have 100 unmanned platforms operating as a cohesive network within a new unmanned task force that operates out of the Middle East by summer 2023.

The Army is seeking to improve the usability, security and resiliency of the technologies the service has fielded and those it will field in the coming years:

With first network suite almost completely fielded, Army shifts attention to 'big bets'

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD -- The Army has nearly completed fielding the first suite of technologies that will revolutionize its ability to communicate and send and receive data, which has laid the groundwork for a number of "big bets" the service says will further prepare it to fight near-peer adversaries.

Numerous studies this year have documented China's growing space capabilities, and a recent report spearheaded by the Defense Innovation Unit found that China may take the lead by 2045 if not sooner:

Officials eye strategies to strengthen space industrial base as U.S. strives to maintain edge

As the possibility grows that China will surpass the United States in the race for space dominance by the middle of the century, officials across the military and intelligence community are exploring ways to partner with industry to expand the space industrial base for the United States to maintain its lead.

By Tony Bertuca
August 29, 2022 at 5:00 AM

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

Monday

The American Enterprise Institute hosts a discussion with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown.

Wednesday

Senior defense officials participate in the Forward DARPA event at Colorado State University.

Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond speaks at the Wilson Center.

By John Liang
August 26, 2022 at 1:59 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army's communications networking efforts, the Pentagon's work on strengthening the space industrial base and more.

Inside Defense reported this week from the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland on the Army's communications networking efforts:

With first network suite almost completely fielded, Army shifts attention to 'big bets'

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD -- The Army has nearly completed fielding the first suite of technologies that will revolutionize its ability to communicate and send and receive data, which has laid the groundwork for a number of "big bets" the service says will further prepare it to fight near-peer adversaries.

Army seeks to harness growing power of commercial satellites to bolster network communications

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD -- As companies like SpaceX continue to expand their satellite networks, the Army sees an opportunity to harness commercial technology in support of tactical communications.

More news on the Pentagon's efforts to strengthen the space industrial base:

Officials eye strategies to strengthen space industrial base as U.S. strives to maintain edge

As the possibility grows that China will surpass the United States in the race for space dominance by the middle of the century, officials across the military and intelligence community are exploring ways to partner with industry to expand the space industrial base for the United States to maintain its lead.

U.S. still lacks 'whole-of-nation' vision for space, report warns

Leading space officials are sounding the alarm about the lack of an overarching strategy for the United States to maintain its edge in space, warning that progress in key areas is stalling or regressing, according to a new report.

Document: State of the space industrial base 2022 report

A new Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-developed unmanned surface vessel, called No Manning Required Ship or NOMARS, will never have a human on board while it's at sea, unlike some of the Navy's USVs which remain minimally manned for now:

DARPA beginning next stage of 'second generation' unmanned surface vessel

As the Navy begins operating its unmanned surface vessels in the fleet, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is making strides on an ambitious concept for a vessel that could operate at sea for a year without any human intervention.

By Evan Ochsner
August 26, 2022 at 1:25 PM

The State Department on Thursday approved a proposed $2 billion sale of Black Hawk helicopters to Australia.

Australia requested to purchase 40 Black Hawks, 88 engines and a range of communications equipment, training devices, logistics support and sensors for the aircraft, according to an announcement published by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

The new Black Hawks will “replace Australia’s current multirole helicopter fleet with a more reliable and proven system” that will improve the capabilities of the Australian Army, according to the announcement.

Lockheed Martin is the principal contractor for the sale. Its subsidiary, Sikorsky, produces the Black Hawk, which the Army has said it will replace with the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft.

Sikorsky executives and industry analysts have said they expect the Black Hawk to remain in high demand overseas. The helicopter is flown by 28 countries other than the U.S., according to Sikorsky’s website.

“Black Hawk is still very ubiquitous and in-demand around the world,” Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo previously said.

The DSCA announcement said the sale supports U.S. strategic goals in the Pacific by bolstering Australia’s national defense.

“The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region,” the announcement states. “It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability.”

By Shelley K. Mesch
August 26, 2022 at 1:22 PM

The B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber successfully released a long-range missile during a test, contractor Northrop Grumman announced Thursday.

In a December test, a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) was released from the platform, according to a company news release.

It is one of three efforts by Northrop to modernize the nuclear-capable platform. The contractor is also integrating crypto modernization and a Radar Aided Targeting System, or RATS.

“The unrivaled capabilities of the B-2 make it the only long-range, penetrating stealth bomber currently in the U.S. arsenal,” said Shaugnessy Reynolds, vice president and B-2 program manager at Northrop Grumman. “Committed to continued modernization of the B-2, we’re leveraging our company’s innovation in digital engineering and its decades of leadership in designing and maintaining low-observable platforms to keep the B-2 Spirit mission-ready.”

RATS integration is a “key element of the nuclear modernization,” according to the release, because GPS may not be available to use during missions. With the integration, the B-2 is able to fully employ the B61-12 nuclear bomb.

The crypto modernization will improve communications security for the platform, according to the release.

By Tony Bertuca
August 26, 2022 at 11:12 AM

An influential Pentagon advisory board is scheduled to meet next month to receive classified briefings on Chinese and Russian space weapons.

The Sept. 6-7 meeting of the Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon will be closed to the public and will focus on “how China and Russia's potential development of fractional orbital bombardment systems and space-to-ground weapons could impact U.S. deterrence and strategic stability, as well as to consider U.S. response options to the potential development of such capabilities by any adversary, and participate in a classified Pacific-theater tabletop exercise,” according to a Federal Register notice.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is slated to address the board, along with Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl.

Additionally, the board will receive classified briefings on Chinese and Russian space policy, doctrine and capabilities from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb, U.S. Space Command and the Missile Defense Agency.

The board will also receive a State Department briefing on “perspectives of strategic stability and arms control” as well as provide advice and recommendations on a classified Pacific theater tabletop exercise.

Meanwhile, China unexpectedly demonstrated a fractional orbital bombardment system last year, with Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley characterizing it as a near-"Sputnik moment."

The Defense Policy Board was re-established last September following a “zero-base” review and allegations that former President Trump had removed members and installed political loyalists.

The board’s current membership includes former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy, retired Army four-star Jack Keane and others.

By John Liang
August 25, 2022 at 2:08 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of a DARPA-developed No Manning Required Ship, a new state of the space industrial base 2022 report and more.

A new Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-developed unmanned surface vessel, called No Manning Required Ship or NOMARS, will never have a human on board while it's at sea, unlike some of the Navy’s USVs which remain minimally manned for now:

DARPA beginning next stage of 'second generation' unmanned surface vessel

As the Navy begins operating its unmanned surface vessels in the fleet, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is making strides on an ambitious concept for a vessel that could operate at sea for a year without any human intervention.

More USV news, in case you missed it yesterday:

Navy's third Overlord USV heading to West Coast, fourth joining in 2023

ANNAPOLIS, MD -- The newest Overlord Unmanned Surface Vessel will transit to the West Coast to begin fleet operations and will be joined by the Navy's next prototype in 2023.

Authored by representatives from the Air Force, Space Force, Air Force Research Laboratory and Defense Innovation Unit, the 2022 State of the Space Industrial Base report was unveiled this week during a virtual event hosted by the Atlantic Council:

U.S. still lacks 'whole-of-nation' vision for space, report warns

Leading space officials are sounding the alarm about the lack of an overarching strategy for the United States to maintain its edge in space, warning that progress in key areas is stalling or regressing, according to a new report.

Document: State of the space industrial base 2022 report

The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies hosted a forum this week that featured a discussion of the Navy's Columbia-class submarine program:

Pappano: Industrial workforce crucial to Columbia construction

As construction on the first Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine continues, Navy Rear Adm. Scott Pappano, who oversees the program, is emphasizing the importance of the U.S. industrial base and the need for more skilled workers to support the effort.

The annual Selected Acquisition Reports that reflect the fiscal year 2022 budget request will be delivered to lawmakers soon:

DOD readying SARs for Congress; leadership approval of draft reports 'expected imminently'

The Defense Department is putting the final touches on detailed annual reports for its major weapon system acquisition portfolio, a nearly $2 trillion package of investments, that will provide lawmakers the first high-fidelity insight into long-term modernization plans in nearly two years.

By John Liang
August 24, 2022 at 1:27 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Navy unmanned surface vessels, the latest draft Selected Acquisition Reports awaiting approval by DOD leadership and more.

We start off with some unmanned surface vessel news:

Navy's third Overlord USV heading to West Coast, fourth joining in 2023

ANNAPOLIS, MD -- The newest Overlord Unmanned Surface Vessel will transit to the West Coast to begin fleet operations and will be joined by the Navy's next prototype in 2023.

Originally required in May, the annual Selected Acquisition Reports that reflect the fiscal year 2022 budget request and will be dated December 2021 are in draft form awaiting approval by DOD leadership:

DOD readying SARs for Congress; leadership approval of draft reports 'expected imminently'

The Defense Department is putting the final touches on detailed annual reports for its major weapon system acquisition portfolio, a nearly $2 trillion package of investments, that will provide lawmakers with the first high-fidelity insight into long-term modernization plans in nearly two years.

Defense Intelligence Agency Chief Information Officer Doug Cossa spoke this week during an online Intelligence National Security Alliance event:

DIA poised to kick off JWICS contracting in FY-23

The Defense Intelligence Agency is poised to begin contracting efforts tied to officials' push to modernize the federal government’s top-secret IT network in fiscal year 2023, according to the agency's chief information officer.

News on the testing schedule for the Missile Defense Agency's Next Generation Interceptor program:

Ground test planned to launch NGI assessment set for summer 2026

The Missile Defense Agency has set a summer 2026 target for the inaugural test of the Next Generation Interceptor -- giving the agency and a yet-to-be-identified contractor four years until the first of two planned ground assessments that will set the stage for flight testing the new homeland defense guided missile.

The V-model of the Black Hawk is an upgrade of the UH-60L, making it lighter and adding upgraded avionics:

Army completes IOT&E for new Black Hawk variant

The Army's new Black Hawk variant has completed initial operational test and evaluation, the Utility Helicopters Project Office announced Monday.

By Tony Bertuca
August 24, 2022 at 12:59 PM

(Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl.)

The Defense Department, in its biggest tranche of security assistance to Ukraine to date, is preparing to put $3 billion under contract to deliver surface-to-air missiles, long-range artillery, laser-guided rockets and a variety of drones.

The aid announcement coincides with the six-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The equipment will be funded under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which, unlike presidential “drawdown” authority that transfers weapons directly from U.S. stocks, gives DOD authority to procure items directly from industry.

“This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional priority capabilities to Ukraine in the mid- and long-term to ensure Ukraine can continue to defend itself as an independent, sovereign and prosperous state,” DOD said.

The package, according to DOD, includes: six additional National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems; up to 245,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition; up to 65,000 rounds of 120 mm mortar ammunition; up to 24 counter-artillery radars; Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems and support equipment for Scan Eagle UAS systems; VAMPIRE counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems; laser-guided rocket systems; and funding for training, maintenance and sustainment.

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said the new USAI announcement is proof of the U.S. commitment to Ukraine over the “long haul” and represents a “multiyear investment in critical defense capabilities” since many of the systems make take between one and three years to arrive.

“Deliveries will begin in the next several months and continue over the coming years,” he said, noting that many of the systems in the current package will not contribute directly to “today’s fight” in Ukraine, but rather “for years to come.”

Kahl said the Vampire c-UAS system “is a kinetic system” being sent to Ukraine for the first time uses small missiles to shoot down drones.

Meanwhile, Kahl said DOD is working with Ukraine to determine what it would take to establish a sustainable military capable of continuing to defend itself from Russia over the next three years depending on a variety of scenarios.

Kahl also said that sending fighter aircraft to Ukraine remains “on the table.”

Kahl said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “theory of victory” is that Russian forces will be able to outlast Ukraine and the commitment of the United States and other nations bolstering its defenses.

But, he said, a multiyear package funded under the USAI challenges the strategy.

The United States has committed more than $13.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021.

By John Liang
August 23, 2022 at 1:56 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's Selected Acquisition Reports, a Defense Intelligence Agency IT network and more.

This is an update to an earlier story that stated DOD was not providing SARs to Congress this year. On Aug. 23, Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell said DOD "misinterpreted" a request from Inside Defense and provided information about a prior SAR cycle:

DOD readying SARs for Congress; leadership approval of draft reports 'expected imminently'

The Defense Department is putting the final touches on detailed annual reports for its major weapon system acquisition portfolio, a nearly $2 trillion package of investments, that will provide lawmakers the first high-fidelity insight into long-term modernization plans in nearly two years.

Overhauling the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System has been a priority for the Pentagon in recent years:

DIA poised to kick off JWICS contracting in FY-23

The Defense Intelligence Agency is poised to begin contracting efforts tied to officials' push to modernize the federal government’s top-secret IT network in fiscal year 2023, according to the agency's chief information officer.

The Missile Defense Agency's Next Generation Interceptor is slated to be tested in 2026:

Ground test planned to launch NGI assessment set for summer 2026

The Missile Defense Agency has set a summer 2026 target for the inaugural test of the Next Generation Interceptor -- giving the agency and a yet-to-be-identified contractor four years until the first of two planned ground assessments that will set the stage for flight testing the new homeland defense guided missile.

The V-model of the Black Hawk is an upgrade of the UH-60L, making it lighter and adding upgraded avionics:

Army completes IOT&E for new Black Hawk variant

The Army's new Black Hawk variant has completed initial operational test and evaluation, the Utility Helicopters Project Office announced Monday.

SAIC has been tasked in part with modernizing the Falconer Air Operations Center, including optimizing for cloud computing, evolving data architectures and new approaches to development, security and operations practices:

SAIC secures $319 million contract for Falconer AOC

The Air Force awarded Science Applications International Corp. a five-year, $319 million contract to sustain the Falconer Air Operations Center Weapon System, adding to the business' portfolio of command-and-control contracts with the service.