The Insider

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.”

By Jaspreet Gill
October 6, 2021 at 11:24 AM

The Defense Information Systems Agency has created a new, centralized organization for its cloud and enterprise service offices, a DISA official said yesterday.

Sharon Woods, executive director for DISA’s Cloud Computing Program Office, took over as acting director of the Hosting and Compute Center Oct 1.

She said Tuesday during the FCW IT Modernization Summit the new unified office is going to “make a really significant difference” for the Defense Department moving forward.

“So the DISA data centers -- and those have a global footprint -- that is now compute operations within the Hosting and Compute Center, and then on the other side is all the different cloud initiatives to include milCloud or [the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability] . . . so now they’re all together as one center in this unified hosting and compute universe where the idea is, you know, let’s make sure that global fabric is in place that’s multilayered with optionality that has both on-[premise] and off-[premise] capabilities so that mission owners have the diversity and optionality that they need,” Woods said.

The Pentagon this month plans to release a solicitation for proposals for the multivendor Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, the successor to the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud contract.

DOD is seeking a “limited number of sources,” namely Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, for the new effort. John Sherman, acting DOD chief information officer, told reporters in July the department planned to also talk to Google, Oracle and IBM.

The Pentagon plans to make the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity awards by April 2022.

By Aidan Quigley
October 6, 2021 at 11:02 AM

The Navy awarded Austal USA a $144 million contract for two towing, salvage and rescue ships (T-ATS), marking the shipyard’s first new steel ship construction.

The Navy announced the detail design and construction contract, awarded Sept. 30, on Tuesday. A majority of the work will be performed at Austal’s shipyard in Mobile, AL, and the contract includes an option for up to three additional ships that will bring the total cumulative value up to $385 million.

Austal announced this spring that it is transitioning one of its aluminum production lines into a steel line as part of a $110 million shipyard construction project. The company is set to complete construction of the steel line in April 2022.

With its new steel line, the company is planning on competing for the Navy and Marine Corps’ Light Amphibious Warship program and to be the follow-on shipyard for the Navy’s frigate program.

The Navy awarded Austal a $3.6 million T-ATS functional design contract in June.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
October 6, 2021 at 10:54 AM

Palantir Technologies won the competition to provide the Distributed Common Ground System-Army Capability Drop 2, which is expected to be worth $823 million, the Army announced Oct. 6.

“The Delivery Order enables the operational testing of Distributed Common Ground System-Army Capability Drop 2,” according to a press release from the Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors. “This award is the culmination of a year’s worth of intense vendor competition that included multiple tests with Soldiers.”

Palantir competed against BAE Systems for Capability Drop 2 orders, which will add new data about terrain, weather and threats to the DCGS, a system for collecting and disseminating intelligence among commanders at various echelons.

The upgrades will take existing data from different sources and present them in a single platform, according to a Palantir press release. Existing Army intelligence data platforms will also migrate to the platform provided in Capability Drop 2.

Palantir’s platform for Capability Drop 2 “is an operating system for defense decision making and is specifically designed to connect the dots between disparate sources,” the Palantir press release stated. “The Army Intelligence community will use this capability to modernize their data foundation by migrating legacy programs to CD-2.”

By Ethan Sterenfeld
October 5, 2021 at 2:44 PM

Officials from Army Futures Command will meet with industry on Oct. 21 to discuss Project Convergence 22, which will include British and Australian army participation, according to an Oct. 5 Army notice.

Futures Command officials will discuss the plan for PC 22 and the capabilities that will be required, according to the notice. There will also be a chance for industry to ask questions.

PC 22 will feature a division or brigade headquarters at the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, CA, which will compete against an opposing force at White Sands Missile Range, NM, according to the notice.

A Multi-Domain Task Force will participate in the exercise, which will demonstrate areas of interoperability between the different branches of the U.S. military and foreign partners, according to the notice. The exercise will include a denied or degraded electromagnetic environment, as well as new technologies and tactics that are designed around those situations.

This year’s Project Convergence exercise begins this week, and will run for six weeks.

By John Liang
October 5, 2021 at 1:26 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Air Force acquisition, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program and more.

The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing this morning on several presidential nominations, including Andrew Hunter to be Air Force acquisition chief:

Hunter would seek to lower sustainment costs, leverage software acquisition pathways

Andrew Hunter, President Biden's nominee to serve as the Air Force's next acquisition executive, told senators today that if confirmed, he'd work to leverage different avenues to acquire software, "bake in sustainability on the front end" for systems in development and seek to focus the acquisition process on delivering operational capabilities.

Document: Senate hearing on Camarillo, Hunter, Jacobson, Wagner nominations

Inside Defense interviewed the head of GM Defense this week about the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program:

GM Defense watching cuts to JLTV follow-on contract

GM Defense remains interested in the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle follow-on contract after the Army announced it would buy 40% fewer vehicles than initially planned, but the company is paying attention to the changing economics of producing the vehicle, according to Steve duMont, GM Defense's president.

The Senate Armed Services Committee's mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill includes a number of provisions related to Taiwan:

Senate bill would require Pentagon to help Taiwan beef up defenses, defend self-governing island

The Pentagon would be required in fiscal year 2022 to draft a plan to help Taiwan improve its defenses against mainland China as well as adopt measures -- in accordance with a proposed new explicit policy -- ensuring U.S. forces can deny Beijing a fait accompli that would unilaterally alter the status quo with the self-governing island.

The Defense Department recently sought congressional permission to shift $504.4 million among various accounts:

DOD reprograms $400M in spending

The Defense Department is reprograming nearly $400 million in spending to cover shortfalls in several areas, including the operation of Air Force and Space Force installations and mobility aircraft, according to a new notice from the Pentagon comptroller.

Document: DOD's $504M reprogramming request

The Navy has transferred custody of the Surface Ship Support Barge to APTIM Federal Services in Mobile, AL:

Navy expects Surface Ship Support Barge dismantlement to start this fall

The Navy expects the dismantlement of the Surface Ship Support Barge to start this fall, a process which could help the service determine how it will discard its first retired nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-65).