The Insider

By Nick Wilson
January 11, 2024 at 12:15 PM

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith could return to duty “in the next several weeks,” according to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, who said Smith’s health is much improved following successful open-heart surgery.

“He's out of the ICU now, he’s in a more lower-level treatment room. Basically, he's walking around, he's in good spirits, he's strong, he's itching to get back,” Del Toro told reporters at the Surface Navy Association’s National Symposium.

“I foresee that there'll be some additional therapy that will be involved over the next two to three weeks to make sure that he recovers completely,” the secretary continued, adding that he has encouraged Smith to the take time to fully recover.

On Monday, the Marine Corps announced Smith had completed a successful surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve in his heart, which caused a heart attack on Oct 29. Smith plans to return to “full duty status as commandant” following his rehabilitation, the announcement states.

Assistant Commandant Gen. Christopher Mahoney continues to perform the duties of commandant while Smith recovers. On Wednesday, Del Toro praised Mahoney and the Marine Corps leadership team and said Smith and Mahoney have been in “constant conversation.”

“We have a great system and Gen. Mahoney has done a great job as the acting commandant,” Del Toro said. “I've expressed my personal opinion to Gen. Smith that he needs to recover, and he shouldn't be ‘in a rush’ to just get back.”

By Georgina DiNardo
January 11, 2024 at 11:16 AM

The Defense Department inspector general's office announced yesterday a new project that will review the notification procedures surrounding Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's recent hospitalization.

“The objective of the review is to examine the roles, processes, procedures, responsibilities and actions related to the Secretary of Defense’s hospitalization in December 2023-January 2024,” the notice said.

This report follows Austin’s hospitalization in the intensive care unit on Jan. 1 after an “elective medical procedure” on Dec. 22 left him in “severe pain,” according to Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman.

According to Walter Reed Medical Center officials, where the surgery occurred, Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had a “minimally invasive” prostatectomy that left no complications at time of discharge. However, a urinary tract infection caused complications and required Austin to return to the hospital on Jan. 1.

Ryder said that “certain authorities” were transferred to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks on Jan. 2, although Hicks and Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, didn’t find out about Austin’s hospitalization until Jan. 4.

This lack of communication, which Ryder attributes to Kelly Magsamen, Austin’s chief of staff, being sick with the flu and out of office, drew criticism from lawmakers about the chain of command and the delayed notification time.

The department launched a new 30-day review of DOD notification processes pertaining to the assumption of defense secretary duties, according to Ryder, which is a separate review than the IG’s.

The IG said it will “assess whether the DOD’s policies and procedures are sufficient to ensure timely and appropriate notifications and the effective transition of authorities as may be warranted due to health-based or other unavailability of senior leadership.”

By Tony Bertuca
January 10, 2024 at 4:26 PM

Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-PA) became the first congressional Democrat to call for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's resignation today over his failure to notify the White House and Congress for days following his Jan. 1 hospitalization.

DeLuzio, who represents a swing district, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee where Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) has stopped short of calling for Austin’s resignation but has launched a formal inquiry into the controversy surrounding his absence.

“I have lost trust in Secretary Lloyd Austin’s leadership of the Defense Department due to the lack of transparency about his recent medical treatment and its impact on the continuity of the chain of command,” Deluzio said in a statement. “I have a solemn duty in Congress to conduct oversight of the Defense Department through my service on the House Armed Services Committee. That duty today requires me to call on Secretary Austin to resign.”

Austin has been hospitalized since Jan. 1 with complications from a urinary tract infection following a Dec. 22 prostatectomy to treat prostate cancer.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has said President Biden continues to have full confidence in Austin and would not accept his resignation if he offered it.

Deluzio, whose statement was first reported by Politico, thanked Austin for “his leadership and years of dedicated service” and wished him a speedy recovery.

Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, released a statement today saying Austin is “in good condition” at Walter Reed Medical Center and is in contact with his senior staff, also having received an operational update from U.S. Central Command.

Ryder said the Pentagon does not yet have a specific date for Austin’s release from the hospital but committed to providing daily updates.

By Nickolai Sukharev
January 10, 2024 at 2:59 PM

Army units must "preserve themselves, be resilient and withstand enemy attack," according to an updated doctrine document.

“Effective protection preserves combat power and enables freedom of action,” the doctrine, released on Tuesday, states. “Commanders and staffs must understand their Soldiers, the enemy and the operational environment at each echelon to prioritize protection for applying critical resources and coordinating support in the conduct of combined arms operations.”

“When units are unable to protect themselves, commanders coordinate with higher command for protection support,” the doctrine adds.

Titled “Protection,” the doctrine outlines how Army units must protect themselves to preserve warfighting functions and which capabilities to use in crisis situations, low-intensity conflict, large-scale operations and other scenarios.

Broken into four chapters, the doctrine discusses protection fundamentals, protection during operations, integrating protection capabilities and protection cells.

“Protection determines the degree to which potential threats or hazards can disrupt operations and initiates active and passive measures to prevent and mitigate those disruptions,” the doctrine reads.

The doctrine outlines that protection measures must be comprehensive, integrated, layered, redundant and enduring.

Commanders must understand the operational environment through risks and opportunities as well as protect personnel from environmental and health hazards, it adds.

“The protection function manifests itself differently at each echelon, through competition below armed conflict, crisis and armed conflict,” the doctrine reads.

Theater armies conduct protection operations that secure ports, communication lines, critical facilities and the flow of forces and materials, the doctrine reads, while smaller units implement protection in their existing capabilities.

“Commanders integrate and synchronize capabilities of one warfighting function with other warfighting functions to achieve objectives and accomplish missions,” the doctrine adds.

Units should also collect intelligence, use targeting information, assess risks and manage information, the doctrine states.

The last chapter outlines how larger units should use subunits (called protection cells) to advise, visualize and outline protection requirements to the commander.

The doctrine follows an earlier version, published in 2019.

By Apurva Minchekar
January 10, 2024 at 2:57 PM

The Space Development Agency has scheduled a "top secret sensitive compartmented information level" industry presentation to discuss the Tranche 2 Transport Layer-Gamma variant solicitation, according to an announcement today.

SDA noted the industry day will be held Feb. 7-8 in Chantilly, VA, and will focus on T2TL Gamma Other Transaction solicitation for payload development for space systems to provide fire control solutions.

“The latter portion of February 7 and the entire day of February 8 will be reserved for a series of 1-on-1 sessions for selected offerors who submitted inputs to the request for information or draft solicitation,” the agency said.

Last year, SDA issued a request for information for developing the warlock payload, an advanced warfighting payload capability for the T2TL-Gamma variant satellite constellation.

Additionally, a draft solicitation was issued last month, noting the agency is planning to procure 20 Gamma-variant satellites equipped with unique payloads designed to “close future kill chains” through the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture.

The initial launch capability of T2TL Gamma variant satellites is scheduled for September 2026, as per today’s notice.

By John Liang
January 10, 2024 at 2:25 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from this week's Surface Navy Association annual symposium plus coverage of the Missile Defense Agency needing a deputy director and more.

We start off with coverage from this week's SNA symposium:

Navy developing 'Global Maritime Response Plan' in preparation for high-end conflict

The Navy is developing a new "Global Maritime Response Plan" that will enable naval forces to rapidly transition from peacetime to wartime operations if a high-end conflict begins, according to Adm. Daryl Caudle, the head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

Delay on CVN-82 could have negative effects, Newport News executive warns

A delay in awarding a contract for future aircraft carrier CVN-82 would have negative effects on the supply chain and production of other infrastructure like submarines, a Newport News shipbuilding executive told reporters Monday.

(Read our full SNA symposium coverage.)

The Missile Defense Agency has been mandated by Congress to reinstate a deputy director:

MDA required to reinstate deputy director position, must be two-star uniformed officer

The Missile Defense Agency, which limped along last year without a Senate-confirmed three-star director for an extended period during which some of its top projects were nominated for budget cuts, is reinstating a post eliminated as part of a 2020 organizational overhaul: a deputy director who must be a two-star general or flag officer.

Michael Horowitz, the deputy defense assistant secretary for force development and emerging capabilities, said at a CSIS event this week that Replicator is a great demonstration of how the department is launching initiatives to tackle challenges:

DOD policy official details Replicator update and international AI agreement opportunities

The Defense Department's Replicator initiative appears to be on track to achieve its goals with a defense official expressing optimism at a Center for Strategic and International Studies webcast today that an international political declaration about artificial intelligence responsibility will gain more signatures.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have ongoing coverage of the Pentagon's recently released Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program rule:

Pentagon details process to submit CMMC assessment results as part of information collection request

The Defense Department is asking for input on the process to report assessment results under its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program and proposed parameters to address potential gaps.

Powered by Microsoft's HoLoLens headsets, the Integrated, Immersive, Intelligent Environment is an "augmented reality space simulation" that will enable Space Force users to interact in a space-like environment with orbital objects on display in real-time:

SSC renews Microsoft contract to build I3E prototype for Guardians' readiness

Space Systems Command has renewed its contract with Microsoft to develop a new immersive simulated environment to increase Guardians' readiness for current and future space situations, according to a Jan. 5 announcement.

By Georgina DiNardo
January 10, 2024 at 2:04 PM

The head of the Aerospace Industries Association sent a letter to congressional leaders today, calling on them to pass full-year appropriations bills for national security and defense.

Eric Fanning, president and CEO of AIA, addressed the letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

Fanning called on Congress to pass an appropriations package with “topline budget numbers for FY-24” that lawmakers announced on Jan. 7 and the “related side agreement on offsets and additional resources for non-defense programs.”

The aerospace and defense industry, Fanning said, needs consistent “demand signals” from the federal government.

“Unfortunately, with fiscal year 2024 (FY24) funding still in flux, our industry continues to face the harmful consequences of a broken budget process,” he said. “If this impasse is not resolved soon, the country could face severe damage to our defense posture and our ability to enhance aviation safety. The uncertainty could also hinder our progress in developing next-generation space technologies and in supporting a growing commercial space industry.”

The federal government is operating under continuing resolutions that run through Jan. 19 and Feb. 2. The CR covering the Pentagon expires Feb. 2.

By the time the CRs expire, DOD and non-defense agencies will have been operating under CRs for “roughly one-third of the fiscal year,” according to Fanning.

“We cannot ask them to shoulder further delays or additional short-term CRs,” he said.

Fanning laid out two possible scenarios that could occur if the government does not pass full-year appropriations bills soon.

One scenario details what would happen if Congress fails to pass a full-year appropriations bill for the entire government by April 30. In that situation, the White House Office of Management and Budget is required to impose a “sequestration order” which gives agencies a budget that is 1% lower than FY-23. This scenario results in defense spending needing to be cut by $36.5 billion, causing many programs to fail due to lack of funding.

The second of Fanning’s scenarios outlines what he believes will happen if Congress introduces a CR for the entire year, something that has never been done before. This scenario ends with cutting DOD spending by $28 billion below its request, eliminating $5.8 billion for military personnel funding, causing significant health care challenges.

“The current topline agreement would resolve this impasse, provide modest increases to help agencies address urgent priorities and inflationary increases, avoid the worst effects of deep, across-the-board reductions, and allow Congress to turn its attention to the fiscal year 2025 budget, which is due in February,” Fanning said. “We urge you to move these bills as quickly as possible under the framework announced on January 7, 2024.”

By Abby Shepherd
January 10, 2024 at 12:10 PM

The national defense and Navy budget is on an "unsustainable course," Sen. Angus King (I-ME) told attendees gathered at today's annual Surface Navy Association Symposium. The speech follows months of uncertainty around the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act and funding appropriations.

“We’re on an unsustainable course, everyone knows that, not everybody knows how to fix it, but the budget issues are real and there’s not going to be a time where everybody is going to say, ‘Oh, we have an extra $100 million for shipbuilding’ -- I don't think that’s going to happen anytime soon,” King said.

King also called for the modernization of the nuclear triad, including the Air Force’s B-21 strike stealth bomber, the Columbia-class submarine and the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile system. Strengthening these programs is necessary for deterrence, he added.

“If we have a nonexistent or weak nuclear deterrent, it invites aggression,” the senator continued.

King also highlighted ongoing industrial base challenges, especially as the Navy develops the DDG(X) next-generation warship, meant to succeed the current Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers.

The industrial base “can’t turn off and on,” King said, and cooperation between the Navy and private sector when it comes to design and development of these ships can “be very useful and have positive budgetary outcomes.”

Multiyear procurement is also a tool that proves beneficial for taxpayers and the industrial base, King said.

With President Biden signing the FY-24 NDAA into law in December, no funding has been appropriated yet, with the Pentagon currently operating under stopgap continuing resolutions until Feb. 2.

By Abby Shepherd
January 9, 2024 at 6:48 PM

Warfighting, warfighters and a foundation that supports them are three key priorities for Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti, which she outlined for attendees at today's annual Surface Navy Association Symposium.

Franchetti, who was confirmed as CNO in early November, said these three priorities will ensure the Navy is the “most ready, combat-critical force that we can be.”

“We must have the best systems, the best weapons and platforms that will deter or defeat any adversary, anytime, anywhere,” Franchetti said.

Increased partnership with the private sector is necessary to strengthen the defense industrial base, she added, and the Navy is providing industry with a “clear demand signal.” This includes pursuing multiyear contracts, advance procurement timelines, supply chain investments and large-lot procurement of munitions, she said.

Franchetti also discussed the importance of what she called “getting more players on the field,” or increasing the number of operational ships and other platforms at the Navy’s command.

This effort, she said, will involve improving maintenance rates to keep more of the Navy’s existing ships active, fielding new ships on time and utilizing larger numbers of uncrewed platforms. Asked about the impact of this initiative on shipbuilding budgets, Franchetti declined to discuss future budget plans.

“It's about more platforms, getting our platforms that are on contract delivered on time [and] on cost. It's about getting the ships we have in maintenance out on time,” she explained.

“It's about stewardship, which is something a lot of us in this room have a big responsibility for -- how do we get the most out of our platforms as long as we can?” Franchetti continued. “It's also about integrating new and hybrid autonomous, unmanned technology to get more players on the field because again, this gives us more options.”

By Tony Bertuca
January 9, 2024 at 2:49 PM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who has been hospitalized since Jan. 1, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to a statement from Walter Reed Medical Center officials.

Austin underwent a "minimally invasive" prostatectomy at Walter Reed to “treat and cure prostate cancer” on Dec. 22 and was discharged without complications, the officials said. But Austin experienced complications from a urinary tract infection that led him to be hospitalized on Jan. 1.

“His prostate cancer was detected early, and his prognosis is excellent,” according to a statement from Dr. John Maddox, Trauma Medical Director, and Dr. Gregory Chesnut, Center for Prostate Disease Research of the Murtha Cancer Center Director, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.

Austin was transferred to the intensive care unit on Jan. 2. Doctors later discovered Austin was suffering from “abdominal fluid complications impairing the function of his small intestines.”

“This resulted in the back up of his intestinal contents which was treated by placing a tube through his nose to drain his stomach,” the doctors said. “The abdominal fluid collections were drained by non-surgical drain placement.”

Austin has “progressed steadily” and his infection has cleared.

Doctors said they anticipate Austin will make a full recovery though it can be a lengthy process.

The doctors said Austin never lost consciousness and never underwent general anesthesia.

Prior to now, the Pentagon has not released any specific information about Austin’s condition.

Austin and his staff, meanwhile, have faced criticism from lawmakers for failing to immediately notify the White House and Congress about his condition, with some Republicans calling for his resignation.

Austin has released a statement taking responsibility for the lack of transparency regarding his absence and Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, has apologized for not alerting the public to Austin’s condition shortly after he learned of it on Jan. 2. President Biden was not made aware of Austin's condition until Jan. 4.

Ryder said Austin’s chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, was sick and unable to immediately notify the National Security Council about Austin’s absence.

The doctors, meanwhile, note in their statement that prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer among American men, impacting one in every eight -- and one in every six black men -- during their lifetimes.

“Despite the frequency of prostate cancer, discussions about screening, treatment and support are often deeply personal and private ones,” the doctors said. “Early screening is important for detection and treatment of prostate cancer and people should talk to their doctors to see what screening is appropriate for them.”

Ryder, during a Pentagon press conference, said Austin is in full contact with his staff and continues to monitor U.S. military operations worldwide.

Ryder said the department has launched a new 30-day review of the department’s notification process for assumption of the duties of the defense secretary.

By John Liang
January 9, 2024 at 1:42 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from the annual Surface Navy Association symposium, the Army's recently released "Space Vision" and more.

We start off with coverage of this week's Surface Navy Association symposium:

Navy looks to field directed-energy weapons to counter increasingly cheap and prevalent drones

The Navy aims to accelerate the fielding of counter-drone capabilities -- including directed-energy weapons -- while increasing its total munition stocks after a series of recent attacks on Navy vessels in the Red Sea, according to senior surface warfare officers.

On Jan. 5, Naval Sea Systems Command announced plans for a new five-year procurement beginning in fiscal year 2026 of 31 radar sets for a range of surface warfare ships that aims to entice competitors -- such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman -- who in 2022 conceded the initial production contract to Raytheon, that developed the SPY-6 sensor:

After fumbling first SPY-6 production competition, Navy readies new FY-26 contest

The Navy -- which failed to draw more than a single bid during its inaugural $3.2 billion air-and-missile-defense radar production competition -- is readying a follow-on contest for the SPY-6 family of radars likely worth billions of dollars that appears to reflect a lesson learned from the initial acquisition stumble.

The Army's recently released Army "Space Vision Supporting Multidomain Operations" discusses the need to "integrate friendly joint and coalition space capabilities and interdict adversary space capabilities in support of ground force commanders":

Army's new space vision emphasizes role of 'space professionals' in multidomain operations

The Army today released a new "Space Vision Supporting Multidomain Operations" that emphasizes the need to "invest more in space capabilities and formations," and outlines a role for "Army space professionals."

Document: Army's space vision for MDO

The Army is retrofitting humvees with anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control systems made by Ricardo Defense that are designed to prevent rollovers, thus protecting the occupants from injury or death:

Army needs more funds to speed up humvee safety retrofits, says acquisition chief

More cash from Congress would allow the Army to accelerate by six years an effort to retrofit humvees with safety kits that prevent rollovers, the service's acquisition chief told Inside Defense.

The Army is seeking to modernize its remaining Black Hawk fleet:

Modernization the goal as Army aims to downsize Black Hawk fleet

As the Army lays out a plan to downsize its Black Hawk helicopter fleet by 157 of the oldest aircraft, the service says it is with the end goal of balancing modernization and readiness.

By Shelley K. Mesch
January 9, 2024 at 11:45 AM

The Defense Department awarded RTX a $345 million contract to produce 1,500 StormBreaker bombs, some of which will be sold in foreign military sales.

The GBU-53/B bombs, previously called Small Diameter Bomb II, will be purchased primarily by the Air Force, according to a DOD announcement last month. Breaking down the funding at the time of the award, $284.5 million comes from the Air Force, $58 million from the Navy and $2.1 million from foreign military sales.

DOD expects the bombs will be delivered by the end of August 2028.

The StormBreaker bombs are fielded on the F-15 Eagle and F/A-18E/F SuperHornet, and testing is underway to field on each of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter variants, according to an RTX news release.

The Joint Program Office expects the bombs to reach initial operational capability on the F-35 in fiscal year 2025, spokesman Russ Goemaere said.

The StormBreaker program was at risk in 2022 when the manufacturer of a needed microchip announced it would cease production. RTX spokeswoman Alyssa Shaffer said the program was able to purchase all of the needed chips, which are used to integrate the military M Code GPS signal.

Unit costs for the bomb increased by more than 20%, above the Nunn-McCurdy significant cost threshold, triggering a notice to Congress in 2022. The program has since been rebaselined, according to FY-24 budget request documents.

By Nick Wilson
January 9, 2024 at 9:40 AM

Shipbuilder HII has delivered the stern of the lead Columbia-class submarine to its construction partner, General Dynamics Electric Boat, HII President and CEO Chris Kastner said Monday.

The two companies are collaboratively building the next class of ballistic missile submarines with HII’s Newport News responsible for the bow and stern sections, or about 23% of total vessel construction, company executives said during a November earnings call.

Delivery of the lead vessel’s stern marks a step forward for the program, which is on a tight 84-month production schedule with a desired delivery date of October 2027.

“It's a pressurized schedule,” Kastner told reporters ahead of the Surface Navy Association’s National Symposium. “But we're delivering modules, and we delivered the stern this week.”

In November, service officials said the program is holding to its schedule, with lead boat Columbia (SSBN-826) approximately 40% complete.

However, officials also said Ohio-class submarine Alaska (SSBN-732) will receive a service life extension to reduce the risk of gaps appearing in the fleet as Columbias come online. Alaska is the first of five Ohio boats that could receive extensions to mitigate risk.

Construction of the second Columbia submarine, Wisconsin (SSBN-827), has also begun thanks to a carveout contained in Congress’s continuing resolution allowing shipbuilders to begin on the vessel without fiscal year 2024 defense spending legislation.

By Nick Wilson
January 9, 2024 at 9:00 AM

As instability grows in the Middle East, the Navy is considering deploying more Littoral Combat Ships to the Mediterranean and Red Sea to expand U.S. naval presence in the region, the commander of Naval Surface Forces said Friday.

A string of missile and drone attacks on U.S. warships has spurred the Navy to consider increasing the number of hulls in the Red Sea, Vice Adm. Brendan McLane affirmed, saying Freedom-variant LCS Indianapolis (LCS-17) is already operating in the area.

“It certainly is possible, long-term, to be able to use our LCS from both coasts, the Freedom-class and the Independence-class, really worldwide,” McLane told reporters ahead of the Surface Navy Association’s National Symposium.

Despite continued attempts by the Navy to retire LCSs early -- the most recent 30-year shipbuilding plan looks to decommission seven of the ships over the next three years, including two in fiscal year 2024 -- the service has been working to boost the offensive firepower of the LCS fleet.

By FY-26, The Navy plans to outfit all trimaran-hulled Independence ships with the Naval Strike Missile -- an anti-surface cruise missile with a range of up to 300 nautical miles -- and equip all monohull Freedom-variant ships with the missile by FY-32.

The Navy has also indicated it is considering equipping LCSs with Tomahawk missiles following an October demonstration in which Savannah (LCS-28) test-fired a Standard Missile-6 using a containerized launch system.

“The exercise demonstrated the modularity and lethality of Littoral Combat Ships and the ability to successfully integrate a containerized weapons system to engage a surface target,” Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson told Inside Defense Friday. “The exercise will inform continued testing, evaluation and integration of containerized weapons systems on afloat platforms.”

The addition of these offensive strike capabilities would expand the LCS’s firepower and add new relevance for the ships, originally designed for near-shore operations, in a fight against a near-peer adversary.

By Dan Schere
January 8, 2024 at 5:10 PM

With a $65 million contract awarded to AeroVironment last month, the Army has fulfilled an order for loitering munition systems to support a service requirement for lethal unmanned systems.

The Army awarded the contract for the Switchblade weapon system on Dec. 22, according to a Pentagon notice. The contract has an estimated completion date of April 30.

The contract fulfills funded orders for the Switchblade 600, Army spokesman Darrell Ames wrote in an email to Inside Defense on Jan. 8. It will support a directed requirement for lethal unmanned systems and foreign military sales, he wrote.

Switchblade 600 is an anti-armor munition that can loiter for more than 40 minutes, using high-resolution, electro-optical/infrared sensors and advanced precision flight controls.

Switchblade drones are among the weapons the United States has been sending in aid packages to Ukraine.

In July, the Army rolled out its new Low Altitude Stalking and Strike Ordnance (LASSO) initiative, which will give dismounted infantry man-portable, tube-launched uncrewed aircraft using an urgent capability acquisition pathway.

Ames noted that LASSO is considered an “emerging program of record” for the service and is a follow-on to the lethal unmanned systems directed requirement.

Army acquisition chief Doug Bush told multiple media outlets at last year’s Association of the United States Army conference that the service was acquiring more than 100 of the Switchblade 600.