The Insider

By John Liang
December 20, 2023 at 1:59 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Senate punting its national security funding debate to next year, possible budget implications to a couple of missile defense programs and more.

With the Senate on the brink of going on its end-of-year break, the White House is warning it will have exhausted all its funds used to provide weapons to Ukraine by the end of the month:

Senate looks to punt security spending fight into new year

Senior Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are preparing to leave for the holiday break, saying today that although progress has been made on a $110.5 billion national security supplemental spending package, lawmakers remain at odds over border security provisions.

The FY-25 budget squeeze could force the Missile Defense Agency to short-circuit the current competition between Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman for the Next Generation Interceptor program and RTX -- formerly Raytheon Technologies -- and Northrop Grumman for the counter-hypersonic project called Glide Phase Interceptor:

NGI and GPI eyed as billpayers in FY-25 budget squeeze, DOD could pick winners early

The Defense Department is considering earlier-than-planned design selections for the Next Generation Interceptor and Glide Phase Interceptor to free up funds needed to finance fiscal year 2025 shortfalls caused by GOP-mandated debt ceiling negotiations that trimmed the Biden administration's FY-25 military spending forecast.

BAE Systems will build M2A4 and M7A4 Bradley vehicles using “legacy source variants” for approximately $78.3 million by a completion date of Mar. 31, 2026, with work locations to be determined with each order, according to a recent contract announcement:

BAE wins contract to build Bradley fighting vehicles using legacy variants

BAE Systems won a contract to manufacture Bradley fighting vehicles using older variants, the Defense Department announced Thursday.

A new Microelectronics Commons "call for projects" released this week will provide up to $280 million to proposals that interest the Pentagon:

DOD announces new Microelectronics Commons 'call for projects'

The Defense Department released the Microelectronics Commons "call for projects" today for fiscal year 2024, with project awards scheduled for the third quarter.

The 25th Infantry Division, based at Schofield Barracks, HI, recently conducted an experiment in which they flew a small drone with a radio that allowed the unit to extend the network "significantly farther than they had in the past," Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications Tactical (PEO C3T) Mark Kitz said in an interview here at Technical Exchange Meeting 11 last week:

Army wants drones to play a role in extending network range

SAVANNAH, GA -- Army officials envision that unmanned aerial systems will eventually play a role in modernizing the network by extending its range.

By Georgina DiNardo
December 20, 2023 at 11:23 AM

A senior policy official at the Pentagon today announced new changes in leadership in roles handling Middle East and NATO issues.

Daniel Shapiro is taking over Dana Stroul’s position as deputy assistant defense secretary for the Middle East.

Shapiro was previously the U.S. ambassador to Israel and senior adviser to the special envoy for Iran, according to a DOD release issued today.

Sasha Baker, acting defense under secretary of defense for policy, thanked Stroul in a statement for her work in the role, particularly when it came to forging partnerships and alliances through defense policy and strategy.

Additionally, Lisa Sawyer is stepping into the role of the deputy assistant defense secretary for European and NATO policy, previously filled by Spencer Boyer.

Baker thanked Boyer for his work in addressing critical European and NATO issues that affected how the U.S. maintained global security and stability.

Sawyer is coming back to the Pentagon after working at the White House as a special adviser on European, Russian and defense matters to the vice president, according to a DOD statement.

“We are confident that her leadership will significantly contribute to our ongoing efforts in safeguarding national security and enhancing our transatlantic relationships,” Baker said in the statement.

Meanwhile, both areas of operation continue to be hotbeds of military activity, with U.S. forces being continuously attacked in the Middle East by Iran-backed militia groups as Ukraine remains locked in a war against Russian invaders.

By John Liang
December 20, 2023 at 10:13 AM

Lockheed Martin announced this week that Maria Ricciardone has been promoted to vice president and treasurer and Evan Scott as chief financial officer of the company's Missiles and Fire Control business unit.

Ricciardone will succeed Scott as treasurer, according to a company statement.

Scott succeeds Charles Hubbs, who after more than 40 years of service has announced his plans to retire, according to the statement, which adds: "Hubbs will transition into a strategic advisory role before departing the company in late 2024."

As vice president and treasurer, Ricciardone will lead Lockheed's worldwide banking activity, including global treasury operations, foreign exchange and capital markets, rating agency relations, capital planning and risk management. She joined the company in 2022 as vice president of investor relations and will maintain this role in her new position.

Prior to joining the company, Ricciardone was vice president of finance for financial planning and analysis and global components at Arrow Electronics in Colorado. She previously held positions at Hubbell Inc.; United Technologies and its subsidiary Otis Elevator Co.; Duff & Phelps; Affiliated Managers Group; and Booz Allen Hamilton.

As Missiles and Fire Control’s CFO, Scott will lead financial and business operations for that business unit. He began his career at Lockheed Martin in June 1999 and has served as vice president and treasurer since June 2022.

By Tony Bertuca
December 20, 2023 at 9:18 AM

The Senate voted last night to confirm 11 senior military nominees after the capitulation of Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who brought defense confirmations to a near standstill earlier this year because he was protesting the Pentagon's travel and leave policy for servicemembers seeking abortion services.

Tuberville, after being pressed for weeks by fellow Republicans who said he was endangering national security, removed a blanket hold earlier this month on more than 400 military nominees. He continued his holds on four-star promotions until last night.

Tuberville, however, has said he will continue to hold the Pentagon’s civilian nominees.

The Pentagon, at the direction of the White House, has not changed its abortion access policy.

Meanwhile, those newly confirmed include three combatant commanders: Gen. Stephen Whiting to be chief of U.S. Space Command, Gen. Gregory Guillot to be chief of U.S. Northern Command and Gen. Timothy Haugh to be chief of U.S. Cyber Command.

Four service vice chiefs were also confirmed: Lt. Gen. James Mingus for the Army, Vice Adm. James Kilby for the Navy, Lt. Gen. James Slife for the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein for the Space Force.

Other nominees include Vice Adm. Stephen Koehler to lead the Pacific Fleet, Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider to lead Pacific Air Forces, Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach to lead Air Combat Command and Vice Adm. William Houston to lead the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

By John Liang
December 19, 2023 at 12:35 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon issuing a "call for projects" for its Microelectronics Commons effort, plus coverage from the Army's recent Technical Exchange Meeting 11 in Savannah, GA and more.

A new Microelectronics Commons "call for projects" released this week will provide up to $280 million to proposals that interest the Pentagon:

DOD announces new Microelectronics Commons 'call for projects'

The Defense Department released the Microelectronics Commons "call for projects" today for fiscal year 2024, with project awards scheduled for the third quarter.

More coverage of last week's Technical Exchange Meeting 11:

Army wants drones to play a role in extending network range

SAVANNAH, GA -- Army officials envision that unmanned aerial systems will eventually play a role in modernizing the network by extending its range.

Two years ago, the Army had 16 organizational networks and that number is now down to nine:

Army leaders target 2025 for consolidating organizational networks

SAVANNAH, GA -- The Army's top leaders anticipate that by the end of 2025, the service will have consolidated all of its organizational networks into one.

Keep an eye out next month for the Pentagon to release the final version of its National Defense Industrial Strategy:

DOD plans to unveil National Defense Industrial Strategy next month

The Defense Department is planning to release its first-ever National Defense Industrial Strategy in January, a pre-decisional draft of which was obtained by Inside Defense earlier this month that calls for "generational change."

The final version of the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization conference bill largely restates missile defense objectives set forth in a FY-17 law, with just a slight tweak:

House gambit to expand national missile defense policy rolled back in final FY-24 policy bill

A proposal to dramatically expand in law the national missile defense policy -- with a provision proposed in the House version of the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill the Biden administration warned would be destabilizing, unaffordable and undoable -- was rolled back in the final version of the legislation.

By Dan Schere
December 19, 2023 at 5:30 AM

The Army intends to award RTX (formerly Raytheon Technologies) a contract for the Coyote counter-drone system and the Ku-Band Radio Frequency System, which will support a production requirement during the five-year period of fiscal year 2025 to FY-29, according to a sole-source notice posted yesterday.

The Coyote UAS system, manufactured by RTX, is a “small, expendable and tube-launched” system that can be deployed from the ground, air or a ship. The system can be used for surveillance, electronic warfare and strike, and can operate for up to one hour, according to the company.

RTX’s Ku-Band Radio Frequency System (KuRFS) is a 360-degree radar that senses incoming drones, rockets artillery and mortars. It was originally built to help the Army during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and can support the Coyote weapon system, according to the company. RTX won a $207 million contract for KuRFS and Coyote effectors in October 2022 to equip two Army divisions as well as to support flight tests and operational deployments.

Monday’s notice states the Army “has a need to develop, produce and maintain countermeasures against enemy-armed and intelligence gathering UASs operating at various speeds and altitudes which are targeting both the U.S. and their allies’ interests at home and abroad.” According to the notice, the Army’s production requirement for FY-25 through FY-29 is for:

  • 252 fixed-site Coyote launcher systems
  • 25 mobile Coyote launcher systems
  • 6,000 Coyote kinetic interceptors
  • 118 Ku-Band Radio Frequency Systems (KuRFS)
  • 33 mobile KuRFS

The notice also states the government is soliciting feedback from interested vendors that have “sufficient logistics, engineering and other expertise” to support the Coyote and KuRFS without the aid of a technical data package. Those sources, it notes, should be prepared to provide maintenance, training and spare parts for the Coyote and KuRFS as soon as March. Interested vendors must be able to maintain and repair the two systems at a minimum of 15 sites both in and outside the continental United States.

Interested vendors are asked to respond to the notice by Jan. 2, 2024.

By Tony Bertuca
December 18, 2023 at 4:59 PM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin today announced the establishment of a new multinational military operation to protect freedom of navigation in the Red Sea following continued attacks in the region on U.S. warships and commercial vessels.

Operation Prosperity Guardian will include forces from the United States, United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain, “to jointly address security challenges in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, with the goal of ensuring freedom of navigation for all countries and bolstering regional security and prosperity,” Austin said in a statement.

“The recent escalation in reckless Houthi attacks originating from Yemen threatens the free flow of commerce, endangers innocent mariners and violates international law,” he said. “The Red Sea is a critical waterway that has been essential to freedom of navigation and a major commercial corridor that facilitates international trade.”

Austin said the nations of Operation Prosperity Guardian will join to “tackle the challenge posed by this non-state actor launching ballistic missiles and uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) at merchant vessels from many nations lawfully transiting international waters.”

By Tony Bertuca
December 18, 2023 at 4:49 PM

The United States has signed five-year "roadmaps" for defense cooperation with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, according to the Pentagon.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Celeste Wallander hosted the triple signing ceremony today at the Pentagon.

“The defense cooperation roadmaps are intended to guide the collaborative relationships for defense and national security through 2028 as the nations work toward enhancing capability and interoperability between U.S. and the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian armed forces,” according to a Pentagon announcement.

The roadmaps involve cooperation in “integrated air and missile defense, maritime domain awareness, cyber, irregular warfare, participation in international military operations and exercises, infrastructure development and training,” the Pentagon said.

Additionally, the roadmaps convey the Defense Department’s intention to “provide heel-to-toe persistent rotational presence of U.S. forces in each Baltic State.”

By Tony Bertuca
December 18, 2023 at 2:20 PM

The United States has signed a new defense cooperation agreement with Finland, according to the State Department.

The agreement bolsters military ties between the United States and Finland, which joined NATO in April following concerns over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, allowing for joint training, interoperability and the stationing of U.S. troops.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking at a signing ceremony, brought up Finland’s tense history with Russia, according to a transcript of the event.

“In 1939, the Finns also faced a Russian invasion, and proved that a free nation can put up an incredibly powerful and resilient resistance," he said. “Your history is also a reminder of why it's so important that we all continue to stand with Ukraine. Autocrats who try to redraw one nation's border by force almost certainly will not stop there."

Finnish Defense Minister Antti Häkkänen said the agreement, though it bolsters military cooperation, does not transfer the responsibility of defending Finnish soil.

“We do not expect the United States to take care of the defense of Finland,” he said. “We continue to invest in our defense and shared burden in our area and beyond. However, this agreement significantly enhances our ability to act together in all situations in military, security, defense fields.”

All Nordic countries, he said, will soon have similar agreements in place.

“It gives us a powerful set of tools to work together in support of NATO plans,” the minister said. “It is a strong sign of U.S. commitment to the defense of Finland and the whole of Northern Europe.”

By John Liang
December 18, 2023 at 1:47 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's National Defense Industrial Strategy, homeland missile defense, Army networks and more.

Keep an eye out next month for the Pentagon to release the final version of its National Defense Industrial Strategy:

DOD plans to unveil National Defense Industrial Strategy next month

The Defense Department is planning to release its first-ever National Defense Industrial Strategy in January, a pre-decisional draft of which was obtained by Inside Defense earlier this month 219699 that calls for "generational change."

The final version of the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization conference bill largely restates missile defense objectives set forth in a FY-17 law; the only tweak is to break out as a separate line in the legislation the policy that the United States will rely on nuclear deterrence to address more sophisticated and larger-quantity, near-peer intercontinental missile threats to the homeland:

House gambit to expand national missile defense policy rolled back in final FY-24 policy bill

A proposal to dramatically expand in law the national missile defense policy -- with a provision proposed in the House version of the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill the Biden administration warned would be destabilizing, unaffordable and undoable -- was rolled back in the final version of the legislation.

Lt. Gen. John Morrison, the deputy chief of staff, G-6, said last week during Technical Exchange Meeting 11 that two years ago there were 16 organizational networks and that number is now down to nine:

Army leaders target 2025 for consolidating organizational networks

SAVANNAH, GA -- The Army's top leaders anticipate that by the end of 2025, the service will have consolidated all of its organizational networks into one.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. C.Q. Brown, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall each sent separate letters to Senate appropriators last week, warning of the damage a full-year continuing resolution would do to the U.S. military:

Pentagon leaders tally potential devastation from a full-year CR

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other senior Pentagon leaders have sent Senate appropriators five separate letters detailing the damage that a first-ever, full-year continuing resolution would visit upon thousands of U.S. weapons programs, resulting in a possible 4.1% across-the-board budget cut.

Document: DOD letters to Congress on yearlong CR

Leveraging technology, like generative AI, requires an entire organizational effort, according to a senior Defense Department official:

DOD working on responsibly integrating generative AI across department

A senior Pentagon official in the chief digital and artificial intelligence office today detailed what areas of emerging technology the office is focusing on in attempts to leverage AI usage across the Defense Department.

By Tony Bertuca
December 18, 2023 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are slated to speak at two key events this week. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is traveling to the Middle East.

Monday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on hypersonic missile defense.

Wednesday

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on the future of arms control and deterrence.

By Tony Bertuca
December 15, 2023 at 3:14 PM

U.S. Space Command, which has been at the center of a high-level political controversy for more than a year, has reached full operational capability in Colorado Springs, CO.

Army Gen. James Dickinson, SPACOM’s commander, declared FOC today during a town hall headquarters meeting.

“Since its establishment in 2019, USSPACECOM has been singularly focused on delivering exquisite capability to the joint force to deter conflict, defend our vital interests, and, if necessary, defeat aggression,” he said. “Thanks to the disciplined initiative of our people and the support of our joint, combined and partnered team, I can confidently say we have reached full operational capability.”

The announcement follows the declaration of Initial Operational Capability on Aug. 24, 2021.

“As the command has matured, challenges to a safe, secure, stable and sustainable space domain have significantly increased,” Dickinson said. “Both the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation are fielding counter space capabilities designed to hold U.S., Allied and partner space assets at risk. And North Korea and Iran are in the early stages of developing their space enterprise.”

But Congress, in a controversy that has pitted Republican lawmakers against one another, remains at odds over SPACECOM’s headquarters location.

The newly approved fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill blocked funding for further SPACECOM headquarters construction until June 30, 2024, pending reviews by the Government Accountability Office and Defense Department inspector general, which have been directed to review the Biden administration’s selection of Colorado Springs over Huntsville, AL.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) -- and the rest of the Alabama congressional delegation -- has said he wants to further investigate why a Trump administration decision to locate SPACECOM in his home state of Alabama was reversed by President Biden.

Meanwhile, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, released a statement praising SPACECOM’s work.

“This achievement continues to show that Colorado Springs is the right location for USSPACECOM for our nation’s readiness,” he said.

Dickinson, in the SPACECOM announcement, thanked the “Colorado Springs community for their continued support of our mission and our service members and their families.”

By John Liang
December 15, 2023 at 1:04 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the potential damage a full-year continuing resolution would wreak on major defense acquisition programs, the Pentagon's artificial intelligence efforts, AUKUS provisions in the FY-24 defense policy bill and more.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. C.Q. Brown, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall each sent separate letters to Senate appropriators this week, warning of the damage a full-year continuing resolution would do to the U.S. military:

Pentagon leaders tally potential devastation from a full-year CR

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other senior Pentagon leaders have sent Senate appropriators five separate letters detailing the damage that a first-ever, full-year continuing resolution would visit upon thousands of U.S. weapons programs, resulting in a possible 4.1% across-the-board budget cut.

Document: DOD letters to Congress on yearlong CR

Leveraging technology, like generative AI, requires an entire organizational effort, according to a senior Defense Department official:

DOD working on responsibly integrating generative AI across department

A senior Pentagon official in the chief digital and artificial intelligence office detailed what areas of emerging technology the office is focusing on in attempts to leverage AI usage across the Defense Department.

More on AI:

Air Force official: AI isn't going to create 'Robocop'-like systems that make attack decisions

While artificial intelligence systems may carry out lethal missions, humans will still be the decision-makers, according to a top adviser to the Air Force secretary.

The fiscal year 2024 defense policy conference bill, approved by both the House and Senate this week, includes several AUKUS-focused provisions requested by the Pentagon earlier this year:

Courtney: Authorization bill delivers 'core authorities' for AUKUS

The fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill contains the "core authorities" needed for AUKUS implementation, according to Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), who highlighted provisions in the bill that would grant Australia and the United Kingdom a partial exemption to export control laws and designate the two nations as "domestic sources" under the Defense Production Act.

The Navy's top civilian spoke this week at the National Defense Industrial Association's Naval Nuclear Submarine and Aircraft Carrier Suppliers Conference:

Del Toro: 'Imperative' to retake top maritime power spot from China

The Navy must take decisive action to lessen China's domination over maritime power, according to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro.

The compromise version of the fiscal year 2024 defense policy bill authorizes $433 million for MDA’s Hypersonic Defense, in what has become a ritual for the project where the Pentagon proposes a nominal amount for the project and then seeks a substantial increase -- which Congress supports -- in an unfunded priority list:

Congress doubles hypersonic defense funding, directs six-year acceleration

Lawmakers have more than doubled authorized spending for hypersonic defense in fiscal year 2024, fully funding the Missile Defense Agency's off-budget wish to add $225 million to the Pentagon's $208 million formal request and directing an accelerated development and fielding plan for the Glide Phase Interceptor.

Gen. James Rainey, the commanding general of Army Futures Command, spoke this week at a breakfast hosted by the Association of the United States Army:

Futures Command head says rifle squads should be more mobile, survivable and lethal

Army infantry rifle squads need to become more mobile, lethal and survivable on the battlefield, according to a top general.

By Nick Wilson
December 15, 2023 at 12:10 PM

A Marine was killed after an Amphibious Combat Vehicle rolled over during land-based training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, CA, on Tuesday evening, according to a service announcement.

Fourteen other embarked Marines -- all members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit -- were taken to hospitals for evaluation and treatment following the accident. As of Thursday evening, one Marine was still in the hospital but was in “good condition,” according to an update from I Marine Expeditionary Force.

The accident, which occurred as the vehicle was “making a ground movement,” is under investigation, the announcements state.

A series of past ACV accidents that occurred during waterborne training prompted the Marine Corps to suspend all exercises involving surf zone transit in October 2022. But unlike these prior incidents, this week’s ACV rollover occurred on land rather than in the water.

In April 2023, the service announced it would establish a new training program within its Assault Amphibian School to retrain and recertify ACV operators, citing operational differences between the legacy Assault Amphibious Vehicle and the newer ACV.

The Marine Corps’ fiscal year 2024 budget request includes $557.5 million for 80 more ACVs and forecasts that procurement will climb to over 100 vehicles in FY-25.

The initial ACV mission role variant, a personnel carrier that can transport 13 embarked Marines, achieved initial operational capability in FY-20. A second ACV variant, designed for command and control, is expected to achieve IOC in the second quarter of FY-24.

By Nickolai Sukharev
December 15, 2023 at 11:50 AM

The Army is looking to continue production of the latest Stryker vehicle variants, according to a public announcement.

The request for information seeks manufacturers to produce the Stryker DVH A1 armored personnel carrier, which will incorporate “powerpack improvements, chassis modifications to optimize the driveline matched to the upgraded powerpack, electrical power upgrades and in-vehicle network updates,” the announcement reads.

The upgrades sought were previously included when the Army began converting Strykers from the flat-hull to the double-v hull variant, the announcement adds.

Designed in the 2010s, the double-v hull is meant to protect the vehicle from improvised explosive devices and roadside mines, which affected the vehicle during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In November, the Army sought information on integrating hybrid-electric engines into the Stryker. Other requested capabilities included silent watch, exportable power along with heating and cooling systems to reduce fuel consumption.

In October, General Dynamics unveiled the Stryker QB which includes a hybrid-electric engine along with an active protection system, silent watch capabilities and an all-round situational awareness system dubbed “see-though armor.”

Fielded in 2002, the Stryker is the Army’s primary wheeled combat vehicle and can be deployed by aircraft. The vehicle has 18 variants that include an infantry carrier, reconnaissance vehicle, mortar carrier and numerous others.

The Army previously procured the Stryker Mobile Gun System, a variant fitted with a 105mm gun, but performance and engineering issues prompted the service to divest from the vehicle. The vehicle will eventually be replaced by the M10 Booker.

General Dynamics currently holds the production contract for the vehicle through June 9, 2025, the announcement adds.

The Army expects to procure 24 Stryker vehicles during fiscal year 2024, according to Defense Department budget documents.