The Insider

By John Liang
August 17, 2022 at 2:50 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Marine Corps' Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar system, the recent Pacific Dragon 22 exercise held off the coast of Hawaii and more.

We start off with the latest on the Marine Corps' Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar system:

Marine Corps to continue testing prototype air defense system

The Marine Corps is planning a third live-fire test of a prototype air defense system within the next six weeks, following two successful tests in which the system detected, tracked and destroyed multiple targets.

Australia and Canada recently took part in Pacific Dragon 22, which took place at the Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands and off the coast of Kauai, HI:

Australia, Canada join missile defense exercises, bringing together five Pacific air-defense navies

For the first time, Australia and Canada participated in a multinational missile defense exercise with the United States, Japan and South Korea, a significant expansion of efforts to build advanced interoperability among five nations that, in theory, could lock arms in response to a Pacific crisis.

During a test earlier this summer in Norway, a 155-millimeter projectile was fired out of a cannon and a ramjet engine ignited:

Boeing, Nammo successfully test ramjet

Boeing and Norway-based Nammo have successfully test-fired a long-range precision projectile that achieved thrust via a next-generation technology that harnesses forward velocity, the companies announced last week.

The Navy's MQ-8C Fire Scout uncrewed helicopter flew to an island off the coast of California recently:

Fire Scout demonstrates expeditionary capability in austere landing off coast of California

The Navy's MQ-8C Fire Scout exercised its expeditionary capability off the coast of California this summer, landing and operating in an austere location.

Air Force Col. Louis Ruscetta, senior materiel leader for the service's Commercial Engine Replacement Program, spoke at last week's Life Cycle Industry Days:

Engine replacement will make a 'new B-52' out of decades-old aircraft

DAYTON, OH -- Cost overruns for the Air Force's Commercial Engine Replacement Program noted during a congressional budget hearing were "taken out of context" and overstated, according to Col. Louis Ruscetta, senior materiel leader.

By John Liang
August 16, 2022 at 1:56 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Navy's Fire Scout unmanned helicopter program plus cruise missile defense and more coverage of the recent Life Cycle Industry Days in Dayton, OH.

We start off with some Navy Fire Scout unmanned system news:

Fire Scout demonstrates expeditionary capability in austere landing off coast of California

The Navy's MQ-8C Fire Scout exercised its expeditionary capability off the coast of California this summer, landing and operating in an austere location.

The Air Force will soon be in charge of national cruise missile defense:

MDA handing over domestic cruise missile defense to Air Force, holding on to '23 demo

The Missile Defense Agency is working to hand over its fledgling domestic counter-cruise missile portfolio to the Air Force in accordance with a recent directive, but also plans -- for now -- to press ahead with a project launched last year that is slated to culminate with a homeland defense demonstration in 2023.

More coverage from the recent Air Force Life Cycle Industry Days:

Engine replacement will make a 'new B-52' out of decades-old aircraft

DAYTON, OH -- Cost overruns for the Air Force's Commercial Engine Replacement Program noted during a congressional budget hearing were "taken out of context" and overstated, said Col. Louis Ruscetta, senior materiel leader.

Air Force accelerates KC-Z AOA timeline as KC-Y requirements near

The Air Force is looking to expedite its analysis of alternatives for the KC-Z program by moving up its planned launch from next decade to next year, a top official told reporters recently.

Air Force anticipates HH-60W cost breach as MH-139 certifications progress

The Air Force's decision to slash the buy of the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter will cause a Nunn-McCurdy cost breach, a program official told reporters recently, though the service has separately advanced the airworthiness of the MH-139 Grey Wolf and will soon begin military utility testing.

(Read our full coverage of the Dayton industry days.)

By Audrey Decker
August 16, 2022 at 1:18 PM

The Navy wants to decommission 39 ships in fiscal year 2023, according to its annual ship inactivation schedule.

Out of the 39 ships, 17 have been marked by either House or Senate committees to be saved in FY-23, according to a list released Friday.

The plan will be adjusted based on “subsequent execution year decisions made by leadership or as required by final congressional action,” the Navy states.

The House Armed Services Committee’s fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill would prohibit the inactivation of more than four guided-missile cruisers and specifically saves the Vicksburg (CG-69) from decommissioning. The bill also would prohibit the retirement of four amphibious vessels: Germantown (LSD-42), Gunston Hall (LSD-44), Tortuga (LSD-46) and Ashland (LSD-48).

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee’s FY-23 spending bill would prohibit the decommissioning of five Littoral Combat Ships: Fort Worth (LCS-3), Wichita (LCS-13), Billings (LCS-15), Indianapolis (LCS-17) and St. Louis (LCS-19).

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s defense policy bill would prohibit the retirement of five LCS, four LSDs and two Expeditionary Transfer Docks, as well as the Vicksburg (CG-69).

The committees will reconcile a final number when the House and Senate meet in conference.

By Tony Bertuca
August 16, 2022 at 12:42 PM

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks is scheduled to travel to four different states this week to discuss the Pentagon's efforts to strengthen the defense industrial base.

Hicks, who will depart Wednesday, will first visit Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where she is expected to “highlight department efforts to strengthen American manufacturing and supply chain resilience,” according to a Pentagon statement.

Hicks plans to visit multiple facilities and meet scientists researching energy storage, materials science, and other areas of interest to DOD.

She will then travel to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio to visit the Air Force Research Laboratory to discuss research into “cutting-edge innovation, experimentation, and partnerships with academia which further national security objectives,” according to DOD.

Hicks’ next stop will be U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois to “gain insight into future mobility, lift and sustainment requirements, and receive an update on efforts to integrate artificial intelligence and Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) into our logistics systems,” according to DOD.

Lastly, Hicks will travel to Purdue University in Indiana, where she will visit the Hypersonics Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center and receive briefings on microelectronics programs and microelectronics workforce development. She is also expected to make a public speech and participate in a question-and-answer session.

“Throughout her travel, Deputy Secretary Hicks will focus on linking the department’s resources to our strategic competition priorities, including the pacing threat of China, and ensuring DOD remains the world leader in cutting-edge innovation,” DOD said.

By Shelley K. Mesch
August 16, 2022 at 10:44 AM

Air Force Global Strike Command launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile off the coast of California in the early morning hours Tuesday, conducting a test of the missile that has been delayed amid international conflict and posturing.

The missile launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base at 12:49 a.m. local time, and the test re-entry vehicle traveled 4,200 miles to an atoll in the Marshall Islands, according to a GSC news release.

The Defense Department had planned tests in both March and earlier this month.

The ICBM test in March was canceled as Russia continued to threaten nuclear strikes in the early days of its war in Ukraine.

The test scheduled for Aug. 4 was delayed as China conducted military exercises in the Taiwan Strait following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

GSC called the test a routine way to ensure the weapon is safe, secure, reliable and effective in deterring modern threats.

"Our test launches are scheduled well in advance and are not reactionary to world events,” said Maj. Armand Wong, Task Force commander. “A meticulous planning process for each launch begins six months to a year prior to launch.”

By John Liang
August 15, 2022 at 1:25 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ejection seats, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's work on advanced telescopes and more.

Nearly every Joint Strike Fighter has been checked for a faulty ejection seat component:

Air Force F-35s resume operations following ejection seat concerns

All of the Air Force's F-35s "have resumed normal operations," a service spokeswoman told Inside Defense today, after concerns tied to a potentially defective ejection seat component prompted a fleetwide stand-down and review.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking into developing advanced telescopes:

DARPA explores potential research investment in liquid mirror telescopes

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is exploring the potential for advancing ground- and space-based telescope technology that one official says could ultimately be leveraged to improve the military's battlespace awareness.

Air Force acquisition chief Andrew Hunter spoke last week during the service's Life Cycle Industry Days in Dayton, OH:

Hunter: Competition key to collaborative combat aircraft component of NGAD

Competition will be "fundamental" for the success of the Next Generation Air Dominance program's collaborative combat aircraft component, Air Force acquisition chief Andrew Hunter told reporters yesterday, warning that progress on the effort could be stifled if Congress does not grant the service’s request to divest certain aircraft.

(Read our continuing coverage of the Dayton industry days.)

A U.S. missile defense intercept test took place last week off the coast of Hawaii:

U.S. intercepted ballistic missile target over Pacific while China exercised around Taiwan

The United States executed a ballistic missile intercept test over the Pacific Ocean during a multinational maritime exercise that included Japan, South Korea and other nations, in an event that overlapped with China's coercive military exercises -- including missile launches -- around Taiwan.

The United States is lagging behind China on hypersonic missile development:

RCCTO chief updates on China

The head of the Army's rapid capability development unit on Wednesday said China's strong development of hypersonics was due to a major head start over the U.S. and called on the defense industry to harden its cyber defenses against China and other adversaries.

By Tony Bertuca
August 15, 2022 at 5:00 AM

The week ahead is slated to be a quiet one in Washington but senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at different events hosted around the country.

Tuesday

AFCEA hosts Technet Augusta in Augusta, GA.

Wednesday

The Surface Navy Association hosts its Waterfront Symposium in San Diego, CA.

Thursday

The National Defense Industrial Association hosts the 2022 Space Warfighting Integration Forum in Colorado Springs, CO.

By Evan Ochsner
August 12, 2022 at 4:37 PM

The Army will temporarily deploy a 260-soldier sustainment brigade to Europe this fall in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the service announced Friday.

The 101st Division Sustainment Brigade will deploy from Ft. Campbell, KY, “to support the United States’ unrelenting commitment to our European and NATO allies,” the service said.

Discussions this year among NATO countries should lead to updated force posture requirements, which could include the deployment of more U.S. soldiers, either permanently or on a rotational basis, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said earlier this year.

“Certainly, our sort of frontline states, like Poland, like the Baltics, are very interested in having [a] permanent presence,” Wormuth told the House Armed Services Committee in May. “We stand ready in the Army to support those decisions, once those decisions are made, as to where we might have a continuing presence of U.S. troops, and whether those would be permanent or rotational.”

By John Liang
August 12, 2022 at 2:04 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a recent U.S. missile defense intercept test off Hawaii, hypersonic missile development, Navy Super Hornet aircraft and more.

A U.S. missile defense intercept test took place this week off the coast of Hawaii:

U.S. intercepted ballistic missile target over Pacific while China exercised around Taiwan

The United States executed a ballistic missile intercept test over the Pacific Ocean during a multinational maritime exercise that included Japan, South Korea and other nations, in an event that overlapped with China's coercive military exercises -- including missile launches -- around Taiwan.

The United States is lagging behind China on hypersonic missile development:

RCCTO chief updates on China

The head of the Army's rapid capability development unit on Wednesday said China's strong development of hypersonics was due to a major head start over the U.S. and called on the defense industry to harden its cyber defenses against China and other adversaries.

Inside Defense recently interviewed Mark Sears, Boeing’s vice president and program manager of F/A-18s and EA-18Gs:

First Block II Super Hornet will be inducted for full kit upgrade in December

Boeing will begin converting the first Block II F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to the most advanced version of the fighter jet at the end of this year.

Two T-7a trainer aircraft prototypes have now been delivered and are flying with the Air Force:

T-7A on track for milestone C timeline despite program issues, official says

The Air Force's newest training jet, the T-7A Red Hawk, is on track to meet a milestone C decision in July 2023 despite recent challenges encountered in the aircraft's development, a key official told reporters this week.

Some Joint Strike Fighter news:

AETP will not enter EMD without F-35 re-engine, official says

DAYTON, OH -- The future of the Air Force's Adaptive Engine Transition Program hinges on whether the F-35 receives a new AETP engine, a top official said today, which would determine whether AETP enters the engineering and manufacturing development phase or is discontinued.

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

Nakasone: DOD consideration of CMMC managed service providers should incorporate civilian agencies

Using managed service providers to help companies reach Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification compliance should extend beyond the Defense Department by incorporating civilian agencies that also handle controlled unclassified information, according to a former General Services Administration senior official.

By John Liang
August 11, 2022 at 1:25 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on analysts' takes on the recent Taiwan Strait crisis, plus Army high-energy lasers and more.

We start off with a deep dive into the Navy's options for defending Taiwan against a belligerent mainland China:

Analysts weigh scenarios for Chinese blockade of Taiwan and impact on U.S. Navy

As China flexes its military muscle around Taiwan and the U.S. Navy continues its freedom-of-navigation operations, analysts say a potential blockade or quarantine of Taiwan is more likely than an invasion of the island, a scenario that will weigh heavily on U.S. policy decisions.

Army Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, director of the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, spoke about high-energy lasers this week at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, AL:

Army set to deliver first 50-kilowatt lasers

The Army will deliver its first battery of high-energy lasers to Ft. Sill, OK by the end of next month, the head of the service's rapid capability development department said Wednesday.

Air Force Materiel Command's Digital Directorate Program Executive Officer Steven Wert spoke this week at the Life Cycle Industry Days in Dayton, OH:

Continuing resolution could impact contract for Air Force's E-7 Wedgetail

DAYTON, OH -- The Air Force's replacement for the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft would be one of the more significant new starts impacted by a failure of Congress to pass a budget for fiscal year 2023, but the service has taken steps to mitigate delays in that instance.

News on the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System program:

Air Force to bolster feedback process for ABMS contracts with small businesses

DAYTON, OH -- The Air Force can improve its relationships with small businesses competing for Advanced Battle Management System contracts by bolstering its process when the service decides not to award a contract, Gen. Duke Richardson said.

(Read continuing coverage of the Dayton industry days.)

The Defense Department inspector general's office has begun an assessment this month on hypersonic weapon systems:

DOD IG auditing U.S. military hypersonic fielding plans; are 2023, 2025 targets achievable?

The Pentagon's inspector general is beginning an audit of the U.S. military's marquee hypersonic strike project that will focus on one of the most salient aspects of the program: scheduled plans to begin fielding a new class of ultra-fast weapons by the Army in 2023 and the Navy in 2025.

Document: DOD IG memo on Army, Navy hypersonic weapon system program offices

By Nick Wilson
August 11, 2022 at 12:29 PM

The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group has become the first CSG to deploy with a Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II squadron, and the second ever to deploy with F-35C stealth fighters.

The strike group, with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, returns to its home port in San Diego today after a seven-month deployment in the 7th and 3rd Fleet operating areas.

Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt, the Abraham Lincoln’s (CVN-72) commanding officer, said integrating the 10 F-35Cs was largely “seamless and flawless.” She commended both the weapon systems and the data collection capabilities the aircraft provided.

“The situational awareness that they were able to provide to the commander was pretty impressive,” she said. “They were really able to demonstrate simply amazing capabilities for collecting, analyzing and sharing data amongst everyone in the strike group in order to make the best operational decisions.”

VMFA-314 is the first Marine squadron to transition from the retiring F/A-18A/C to the F-35C, which reached initial operational capability in Dec. 2020.

After the emergence of potential problems with F-35 ejection seats, a July 19 directive mandated that the entire F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet be inspected for faulty seat initiator cartridges within a 90-day period.

Bauernschmidt said that both the F-35Cs and F-18s embarked with the CSG were inspected for this issue, with little impact to their mission.

“We had the right people and the right parts. Within a matter of hours, we were able to keep all of those aircraft up and completing the mission as required,” she said.

According to a Navy press release, a total of 21,307 fixed-wing and helicopter flight hours --including 10,250 sorties, 8,437 launches and 8,487 aircraft arrestments -- were completed during the deployment.

By Michael Marrow
August 10, 2022 at 4:58 PM

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency today announced the selection of 11 teams that will lead Phase 1 efforts for the Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node program, moving the agency closer to its goal of fielding a system that can enable different low earth orbit satellite constellations to communicate.

The 11 teams, DARPA’s press release says, are composed of representatives from large and small companies as well as academia. They are from CACI, Mbryonics, Mynaric, II-VI Aerospace & Defense, Arizona State University, Intel Federal, SpaceX, Telesat, SpaceLink, Viasat and Amazon subsidiary Kuiper Government Solutions.

Most satellite constellations are currently isolated from one another since they operate on different waveforms with incompatible optical intersatellite links, a potential roadblock for future Defense Department projects like Joint All Domain Command and Control.

To bridge this gap, Space-BACN would construct an “internet” of LEO satellites, the release states, fostering interoperability between government and commercial satellites.

DARPA envisions the capability fielded by the program will be a go-to solution for future constellations and adhere to three main criteria, which the agency calls 1003: 100 gigabits per second to support most optical standards, 100 watts to limit power consumption and a unit price of $100,000.

The Space-BACN effort, first unveiled last year, has three planned phases with two separate technical tracks that will conclude in the development and testing of a prototype.

The first track will develop a flexible, low size, weight, power and cost, or SWaP-C, optical aperture. The second is aimed at fielding a reconfigurable modem that can support most optical waveforms.

After completing an architectural study for Phase 0, the announcement of Phase 1 teams today kicks off the next round of the program, a 14-month long effort that will involve component demonstrations in a benchtop environment and completion of preliminary design reviews.

Selected performers for the aperture and modem projects will then participate in an 18-month Phase 2 effort to develop engineering design units of the optical terminal components, concluding in a critical design review.

Throughout Phase 1 and Phase 2, a modular integration working group will meet periodically to design the system’s interface and achieve full connectivity of the terminals. The end of Phase 2 is then expected to achieve an interoperability demonstration.

“The culmination of this activity will be Space-BACN terminals with interchangeable components communicating with one another using different standards,” Space-BACN Program Manager Greg Kuperman explained in a video announcing the program.

CACI, Mbryonics and Mynaric were selected for the aperture project. The second track effort to develop the modem will consist of II-VI Aerospace & Defense, ASU and Intel Federal, the release says.

The remaining teams of SpaceX, Telesat, SpaceLink, Viasat and KGS will spearhead command-and-control solutions that can support interoperability between constellations and conduct a connectivity demonstration, according to the release.

As the aperture and modem projects progress, the release says, the third team will continue to test the cross-constellation command and control schema to evaluate its performance “in more challenging and dynamic scenarios.”

By Nick Wilson
August 10, 2022 at 3:12 PM

The Marine Corps successfully completed ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship transport of a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle using a CH-53E Super Stallion -- the first time that a Marine JLTV was moved from shore to ship by air.

The successful operation demonstrates the capabilities of both systems and opens the door for new Expeditionary Advanced Base Operation (EABO) applications, according to an Aug. 10 announcement from the service.

The exercise was a combined effort that included the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 31, and the aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squdron-262.

The CH-53E first lifted the JLTV from a military training area in Okinawa, Japan and carried it over water to Expeditionary Sea Base Miguel Keith (ESB-5). The CH-53E then performed multiple lifts to simulate the establishment of an expeditionary advanced base from naval amphibious shipping, before carrying the vehicle back to shore.

“CLB-31 is focused on challenging and realistic training that employs expeditionary advanced base logistical resupply and prepositioning of critical equipment in support of the Naval Expeditionary Force,” said CLB-31 commanding officer Lt. Col. Matthew Verdin in a statement included in the press release.

By John Liang
August 10, 2022 at 1:17 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on hypersonic missile fielding plans, the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System program and more.

The Defense Department inspector general's office has begun an assessment this month on hypersonic weapon systems:

DOD IG auditing U.S. military hypersonic fielding plans; are 2023, 2025 targets achievable?

The Pentagon's inspector general is beginning an audit of the U.S. military's marquee hypersonic strike project that will focus on one of the most salient aspects of the program: scheduled plans to begin fielding a new class of ultra-fast weapons by the Army in 2023 and the Navy in 2025.

Document: DOD IG memo on Army, Navy hypersonic weapon system program offices

The Air Force Lifecycle Management Center is hosting a three-day industry event in Dayton, OH to discuss current and future Air Force weapon systems as well as near- and long-term warfighter requirements:

Air Force to bolster feedback process for ABMS contracts with small businesses

DAYTON, OH -- The Air Force can improve its relationships with small businesses competing for Advanced Battle Management System contracts by bolstering its process when the service decides not to award a contract, Gen. Duke Richardson said.

(Read continuing coverage of the Dayton industry days.)

Some F-35 Joint Strike Fighter news:

JPO: 'Majority' of F-35 fleet cleared for flight amid ejection seat concerns

A "majority" of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet has been cleared for flying operations amid an enterprise-wide review stemming from a potential ejection seat malfunction issue, according to a Joint Program Office spokesman.

Army Maj. Gen. Robert Rasch, program executive officer for missiles and space, spoke this week at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, AL:

Industry proposals 'unaffordable,' 'almost unaffordable' for $9 billion Army missile portfolio

Industry proposals for new weapon projects are "almost unaffordable," a senior Defense Department acquisition official said today, sounding a clarion call for the private sector to better account for increased costs attributed to economic uncertainty, including rising inflation, supply chain interruptions and labor shortages.

Frustrated by "the lack of detail" accompanying the Pentagon's budget for the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve, the Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended reducing funding for the effort to nearly $176.6 million:

Senate appropriators seek to slash funding for rapid experimentation effort

Senate appropriators want to halve spending for the Defense Department's rapid experimentation effort in fiscal year 2023, knocking the Pentagon for a lack of "defined program goals" tied to the recently launched effort that aims to bridge innovative solutions with military applications.

By Audrey Decker
August 9, 2022 at 2:20 PM

The Government Accountability Office has shut down a contract award protest from Textron Systems over the Navy's Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Surface Vessel, according to an Aug. 1 decision.

In April, Bollinger Shipyards was awarded a contract to build the Navy's MCM USV which was a major blow to Textron -- a company that has worked closely with the service over the years to develop its MCM USV program.

Textron argued the Navy “misevaluated proposals and made an unreasonable source-selection decision,” GAO states.

However, Textron failed to demonstrate that the Navy’s evaluation was unreasonable or inconsistent with the terms of the solicitation, according to GAO.

The Navy Department “performed a best-value tradeoff that was reasonable and adequately documented,” the GAO decision states.

The competition was for a “build-to-print contract” for the initial production of the three MCM USVs, with the ability to procure up to six in the base year and options for up to 24 additional vehicles. The contract award totals $13.7 million, with options to bring the value of the contract up to $122.9 million.