The Insider

By John Liang
October 7, 2022 at 1:59 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an ongoing Defense Science Board task force looking at the relationship between furthering academic study and safeguarding U.S. interests, an upcoming Army doctrine release and more.

A new Defense Science Board study is underway:

New DSB task force to assess openness, security considerations for critical research areas

The Pentagon's technology chief has stood up a task force charged with finding "the right balance of openness and security" for each of the areas she's named as critical for research and engineering -- the latest in a long line of reviews centering on the relationship between furthering academic study and safeguarding U.S. interests.

Document: DSB terms or reference memo for academic research enterprise study

The Army's top uniformed official spoke this week at a virtual event hosted by Defense News:

McConville: New Army doctrine will bring 'fundamental' change

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said new service doctrine that will inform multidomain operations will present a "fundamental change in how we look at things."

A new Space Development Agency firm, fixed-price contract totaling approximately $200 million for 12 space vehicles will test critical capabilities for the agency's forthcoming low-earth orbit data transport constellation:

SDA picks York Space Systems for T1DES satellites

The Space Development Agency has tapped York Space Systems to deliver Tranche 1 Demonstration and Experimentation System satellites, SDA Director Derek Tournear told reporters during a virtual roundtable.

The Air Force Nuclear Weapon Center has approved a certification for the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter to carry the B61-12 thermonuclear gravity bomb:

Air Force greenlights initial design for F-35A nuclear payload

The Air Force has certified an initial design for the F-35A to carry nuclear bombs, Inside Defense has learned, putting the service months ahead of its January 2023 goal.

Last but by no means least, we have coverage of the Pentagon's Selected Acquisition report on the Air Force's B-52 bomber fleet:

New engines for B-52 fleet could cost around $11.7B, Air Force tells Congress

The Air Force, in a rough estimate, believes the cost to re-engine the B-52 bomber fleet is about $11.7 billion, including $3.7 billion to develop and $8 billion to procure -- a figure not previously reported that will likely be refined next summer when the service formally launches the program.

By Michael Marrow
October 7, 2022 at 12:27 PM

Market research for an electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft is underway for the Air Force, according to a request for information posted by the service.

The eVTOL aircraft would be tasked with distinguished visitor transport and logistics support missions, the Oct. 6 RFI says.

The Air Force envisions the aircraft would serve as a “commercial air taxi,” shuttling personnel and supplies within and between urban areas. Typical intra-urban flights would span about 15 to 30 nautical miles per one way trip, according to the RFI, whereas an inter-urban flight would likely stretch between 30 to 90 nautical miles.

Officials are seeking to cut down on operations and maintenance costs for legacy aircraft, meaning that sustainment for the platform would have to be cheaper than upkeep required for aging assets. The Air Force is also interested in advancing a dual-purpose design that can serve commercial needs, the RFI says, making the platform a “mutually beneficial early use case for the military and commercial industry.”

The Air Force plans to begin evaluating the platform with transport of personnel and equipment around DOD test ranges. According to the notice, this mission would be executable within the “late 2023 timeframe.”

Following successful testing range operations, the program could then transition to distinguished visitor transport missions, the RFI adds.

Several procurement options are on the table for an eVTOL platform. The aircraft could either be government owned and operated; contractor owned and government operated; or contractor owned and operated. Responses to the RFI are due Nov. 4, the notice says.

Market research and potential acquisition of an eVTOL aircraft could aid other Air Force requirements. A House amendment to the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill would mandate the Air Force to study options for an eVTOL aircraft to support combat rescue operations, filling a gap left by the truncated buy of the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter.

By Briana Reilly
October 7, 2022 at 10:47 AM

Citing Russian and Chinese attempts to boost their influence over the Arctic, the Biden administration's newly released strategy covering the region aims to establish the United States as a counter-balance, calling for deeper coordination with allies and greater security investments.

Aiming to position the United States “to both effectively compete and manage tensions” in the Arctic, the framework, released today, lays out an updated national agenda governing a region that is becoming increasingly accessible because of climate change.

Covering the 2022 to 2032 timeframe, the strategy serves as an update to its 2013 predecessor and follows the release of the Defense Department’s -- as well as each of the military services’ -- own Arctic strategic objectives.

The latest document covers both military and civilian capabilities, calling for enhancements to each “to deter threats and to anticipate, prevent and respond to both natural and human-made incidents” as part of the strategy’s first pillar, which focuses on security. The remaining pillars range from climate change and environment protection to sustainable economic development, and intentional cooperation and governance.

In addition to committing to an increased investment in “modernized domain awareness to detect and track potential airborne and maritime threats and improve sensing and observational capabilities,” the framework pledges to develop communications and data networks that can operate in northern latitudes, while holding “regular, transparent and consistent training” and exercises.

The strategy also noted the investments Russia has made in upgrading its Arctic military bases and airfields, submarines and defense missile systems as well as China’s efforts to expand its “economic, diplomatic, scientific, and military activities” in the region.

Though Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created “challenges to Arctic cooperation,” officials wrote that the United States will continue to support institutions seeking to achieve that, such as the Arctic Council. While the document states that the war “has rendered government-to-government cooperation with Russia in the Arctic virtually impossible,” it acknowledges the possibility exists “to resume cooperation under certain conditions” in the coming decade.

By John Liang
October 6, 2022 at 2:23 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Air Force electromagnetic warfare efforts, plus that service's plan to replace its existing Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft fleet and more.

Inside Defense recently interviewed the new head of the Air Force's 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing:

350th Spectrum Warfare Wing promises holistic approach to EMS, new commander says

The new commander of the Air Force's 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing said he's focusing on having the right people develop the right capabilities to speed up adoption of electromagnetic warfare as called for in the Air Force secretary's operational imperatives.

The Air Force has requested about $16 million to establish its program office team for the new-start E-7 Wedgetail program:

Air Force seeks $16 million reprogramming for E-7 Wedgetail to stave off CR delays

The Air Force has asked Congress to reprogram funds from its fiscal year 2022 budget to stave off any delays a continuing resolution would have on replacing the degrading E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System.

The Air Force has issued a new Climate Action Plan:

Air Force Climate Action Plan calls for boosted resiliency, emissions reductions

The Air Force released its Climate Action Plan yesterday, outlining ways to preserve operational capability and improve resiliency in the face of climate change, which threatens to damage military infrastructure and decrease operational readiness.

Document: Air Force climate action plan

We also have coverage of the Army's latest Selected Acquisition Report on the Precision Strike Missile program:

Army commits $8 billion in its modernization plan for Precision Strike Missile

The Army has staked out an $8 billion place in its modernization portfolio to buy nearly 4,000 rounds of the Precision Strike Missile, according to a report that details for the first time in a public document the program's full cost and scope.

Last but by no means least, our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have the latest on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

Natsec agencies seek inclusion of SBOM in update to NIST series on CUI

The National Institute of Standards and Technology's update to the Special Publication 800-171 series should include guidance on Software Bill of Materials in regards to how contractors are handling the use of controlled unclassified information held on nonfederal systems, according to recent feedback from the Defense Department and the National Security Agency.

By Nick Wilson
October 6, 2022 at 1:37 PM

Navy officials and industry partners cut the ribbon yesterday on a new additive manufacturing facility intended to bolster the service's submarine industrial base.

Located within the Center for Manufacturing Advancement (CMA) in Danville, VA, the Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AM CoE) aims to promote growth and resiliency of submarine production, according to a press release from shipbuilder Austal.

“Recognizing the compelling need to increase manufacturing capacity within the industrial base, the Navy established the AM CoE to design a ‘build-to-print’ capability aimed at long-lead-time parts in order to achieve schedule adherence, build production reserves, and ultimately deliver Virginia and Columbia-class submarines to the Nation,” the release states.

The AM CoE will be used for skilled workforce training and will develop “qualified part recipes” that can be transferred to industry for large-scale production. It will include Navy-dedicated printing, non-destructive testing (NDT), metrology, and other supporting technologies.

“The CoE will also focus on exploiting AM for distributed production, working to bring new entrants to the submarine industrial base while also supporting forward-leaning casting foundries looking to adopt AM to bolster their production volume,” Austal’s announcement continues.

Austal will oversee a group of industry experts at the center, including Phillips, Industrial Inspection and Analysis, IALR, FasTech, Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing and The Spectrum Group.

The University of Virginia and shipbuilders General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington-Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding will also participate in AM CoE efforts.

The facility is expected to achieve full operational capability late in 2023. Until this milestone, work will take place at partners’ in-house facilities.

At an August event, Rear Adm. Scott Pappano, who oversees the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program, stressed the importance of the industrial base and the need for a larger skilled workforce to meet the Navy’s submarine building and maintenance needs.

The first of 12 Columbia-class submarines, which will replace the ageing Ohio-class submarines as the Navy’s primary sea-based nuclear deterrent, is approximately 25% complete. But workforce shortages and supply chain issues have caused delays.

The simultaneous construction of Columbia-class and Virginia-class submarines, in addition to continuing maintenance of the 14 Ohio-class submarines, has stretched U.S. shipbuilding capabilities.

In August, Pappano signaled the service will play a more active role facilitating training for skilled trade workers, including training in additive manufacturing.

Last year, the Defense Department published an instruction that "establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and details procedures regarding the implementation and use of additive manufacturing (AM) within the DOD."

By Tony Bertuca
October 6, 2022 at 11:53 AM

Congress has granted the Defense Department authority to reprogram $700 million to pay for increases in the cost of fuel, according to a new Pentagon budget document.

The funds, which are being made available from DOD's foreign currency fluctuations account, will be transferred to the Defense Logistics Agency.

“The Defense Logistics Agency has experienced cash losses caused by significant increases in prices for refined fuel products above the Standard Fuel Price budgeted for these products,” the reprogramming document states.

Congress approved a separate fuel reprogramming earlier this year for $969 million.

DOD Comptroller Mike McCord told Congress in April he expected the department would need an additional $1.8 billion in fiscal year 2022 to address the ongoing spike in global fuel prices, despite having already been provided with an additional $1.5 billion to cover the bill.

“Fuel is our most volatile and the most easily recognizable price increase when prices change,” he told the House Budget Committee on April 27.

Meanwhile, the OPEC+ alliance, which includes Russia, has announced it will cut 2 million barrels a day in oil production, likely leading to another spike in oil and gas prices around the world.

By John Liang
October 5, 2022 at 4:51 PM

Oshkosh Corp. announced today that John Bryant, the company's executive vice president and president of Oshkosh Defense, will retire on Nov. 1.

Tim Bleck, vice president of finance for the Defense segment, has been appointed as Bryant's successor, the company said. Bryant will stay on "in an advisory role to support the transition through June 30, 2023."

Bryant was with Oshkosh for 12 years. Bleck has worked for the company since 2006.

By Briana Reilly
October 5, 2022 at 4:27 PM

The Army has begun rolling out Google Workspace across the service, an arrangement that will ultimately provide up to 250,000 soldiers with access to the company's software tools.

The news, announced Tuesday, was lauded by the Army chief information officer and marks one of Google Public Sector’s first major partnerships since its launch in July.

Calling the suite “now operational and live,” CIO Raj Iyer wrote in a LinkedIn post this week that officials “have implemented the first Impact Level 4 Google Workspace in the federal government to process Controlled Unclassified Information.” The products received the Defense Department’s IL4 security requirement authorization earlier this summer.

As part of the move, Iyer wrote, new Army entrants within the active duty, Reserve and National Guard units will receive a Google Workspace account and usa.army.mil email address upon obtaining their Common Access Card. Those soldiers will hold onto their Google accounts until they complete basic and advanced individual training, at which point commanders will make a determination about whether an Army365 account is needed, according to the post.

The effort is run out of the Army’s Enterprise Cloud Management Agency and will also include the transition of the Army Software Factory to Google Workspace, Iyer wrote.

Asked about the timeline for giving soldiers access, Army spokesman Bryce Dubee noted that while the service has the option to onboard up to 250,000 users, “additional operational assessments are needed to determine whether the Army will hit that number.”

“Any new user groups identified will be transitioned on a rolling wave basis provided their data access requirements continue to be at the CUI level for which the IL4 cloud is accredited,” he added in an email to Inside Defense.

The development comes after a preliminary test of Google Workspace earlier this year, which was previously reported by C4ISRNET, as service officials grappled with a shortage of Microsoft 365 licenses that would have left some 250,000 without access to official email accounts following a transition from Defense Enterprise Email, according to reporting from Army Times.

Google Workspace is currently leveraged elsewhere in DOD, including the Air Force Research Lab, where it’s available for a few thousand AFRL scientists and engineers to broaden channels of communication with academic, industrial, small business and other collaborators outside of government.

Google, one of four companies that has submitted bids for the multivendor Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, DOD’s new cloud enterprise solution, has been working to broaden its deals with the military services, as Google Cloud’s federal director, Shannon Sullivan, previously detailed to Inside Defense.

By Audrey Decker
October 5, 2022 at 3:00 PM

A Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship, the Sioux City (LCS-11), has returned from its first deployment to U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet in support of allies and partners.

The ship operated during the five-month deployment in the Baltic Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and Arabian Gulf.

The Navy has been plagued by a combining gear issue with the Freedom-variant LCS after identifying a material defect. However, the service announced a fix in November to the issue.

So far, two LCS have been outfitted with the correction: Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21) and Cooperstown (LCS-23).

Sioux City has not received the combining gear fix, but the Navy said that didn't impact the ship’s deployment.

“Sioux City participated in various at-sea evolutions and operated alongside U.S. and allied units on multiple occasions, including the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), two Egyptian Navy ships, the Italian Navy Cassiopea-class MM Patrol Boat 'Vega' (P404) and a German Navy patrol aircraft (P3C),” according to an Oct. 2 press release.

During the deployment, Sioux City also supported Combined Task Force 153, one of four multinational task forces organized under the Combined Maritime Forces, consisting of 34 nations.

“Sioux City’s arrival was not only historic, but essential to regional maritime security given its immediate integration with our new multinational naval task force,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.

By Tony Bertuca
October 5, 2022 at 2:50 PM

The Defense Department today released a list of "Chinese military companies" it believes are operating directly or indirectly in the United States.

The list, which has been produced and released in accordance with the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, was first released in June 2021. The updated list contains additional companies DOD has deemed “Chinese military companies.”

“The department is determined to highlight and counter the PRC Military-Civil Fusion strategy, which supports the modernization goals of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by ensuring its access to advanced technologies and expertise are acquired and developed by PRC companies, universities and research programs that appear to be civilian entities,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

DOD notes it plans to continue to update the list with “additional entities as appropriate.”

By John Liang
October 5, 2022 at 2:08 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on inflation relief for defense contractors, Navy unmanned programs and more.

An amendment offered by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) would give the Defense Department the authority to provide contractors with an "economic price adjustment" to help against inflation:

New Senate amendment would allow DOD to modify contracts for inflation relief

The defense industry has thrown its support behind a new amendment to the Senate's version of the annual defense authorization bill that would allow the Pentagon to modify existing contracts to grant inflation relief to contractors.

The Navy is at the "precipice" in its decision-making for its unmanned programs, according to Capt. Jason Weed, the commodore of Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron One:

Navy failing to make 'critical pivot' in unmanned investment

A Navy official says the service is facing challenges advancing unmanned systems due to risk aversion and congressional lawmakers who have parochial interests in capital assets.

Lockheed Martin executives say the Sentinel A4, which was previously selected to provide radar capabilities in defense of Guam, will improve the lethality of the National Capital Region Integrated Air Defense System:

Lockheed announces expanded Army radar acquisitions

The Army has selected Lockheed Martin's Sentinel A4 radar to replace legacy radars that contribute to the integrated air defense of the Washington area, the company announced.

Still circulating on Capitol Hill, a yet-to-be delivered letter from lawmakers addressed to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin underscores the need to deliver next-generation engine technology "as quickly as possible" to the military services' fighter fleets:

Lawmakers back funding for adaptive engine tech development in FY-24

More than two-dozen lawmakers have signed a bipartisan letter urging the Defense Department to continue funding its adaptive propulsion efforts heading into the next budget cycle.

News from the Pentagon's latest Selected Acquisition Report on missile defense programs:

MDA tallies $226 billion tab for current project portfolio; cuts SM-3 Block IIA, boosts THAAD

The Defense Department has formally recalibrated the price tag for the Missile Defense System, dialing the total acquisition cost up to $226 billion, a $23 billion hike compared to the last formal accounting provided to Congress two years ago that doesn't necessarily reflect cost growth.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have the latest Defense Department cyber news:

CISA, partners issue alert on threat actors targeting defense industrial base organization's network

An alert from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and other federal agencies provides details on advanced persistent threat activity targeting a defense industrial base entity with a tool designed to extract sensitive information.

By Evan Ochsner
October 5, 2022 at 1:52 PM

The Army in recent days awarded BAE Systems with sustainment contracts for some of the company's longtime vehicles, including the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the company announced.

BAE announced on Wednesday that the Army had awarded it a $383 million contract to perform technical and sustainment services for the Bradley and the Bradley-based M993 Multiple Launch Rocket System carrier.

BAE teams will provide ongoing engineering and logistics services for the Bradley, including the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle and M7 Bradley Fire Support Team variants, as well as the MLRS heavy-launch platform.

“Equipping our men and women on the front lines with proven combat capabilities positions them to be unmatched in battle,” Scott Davis, vice president of BAE Systems’ ground vehicles product line, said in the announcement. “We are proud to continue our partnership with the U.S. Army to ensure the Bradley and M993 MLRS are prepared to support mission readiness.”

BAE said it will complete the work at facilities in San Jose, CA, Sterling Heights, MI, and Phoenix, AZ among others.

On Tuesday, BAE announced it was awarded a $34 million contract -- with options of up to $110 million over a five-year period -- to provide sustainment services in support of the Army’s heavy combat vehicle recovery system. The contract funds work on the Army’s entire family of M88 recovery vehicles, which are capable of lifting over 70 tons, according to BAE.

By Audrey Decker
October 5, 2022 at 9:45 AM

The Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit has awarded Nauticus Robotics a second contract for the development of an amphibious unmanned system.

The system will use the company’s autonomous command-and-control software platform -- ToolKITT, according to today’s press release.

While the company said it’s a multimillion-dollar contract, the specific number is undisclosed per the agreement with DIU.

“ToolKITT is a unified software platform utilizing advances in machine learning to identify, classify and perform complex underwater activities, which can be applied to remove, detect, identify, inspect and neutralize hazards underwater,” the press release states.

In February, DIU awarded Nauticus a contract to prototype ToolKITT aboard the Navy’s VideoRay Defender, a remotely operated vehicle that neutralizes mines and collects data underwater.

“We are thrilled with the additional work the DIU and the Marine Corps have awarded us to continue providing leading maritime robotics and autonomy solutions to assist the warfighter,” said Ed Tovar, director of business development for defense systems at Nauticus. “We are humbled and honored to be doing our part to advance the usage of robotics and autonomous systems to remove servicemembers from harm’s way.”

DIU also released a solicitation in August for small expeditionary boats to conduct littoral and distributed maritime operations.

While the solicitation doesn’t list a specific service intended for the platform, it stated that solution use cases could include “integration with standard U.S. Marine Corps communications platforms/sensor suites.”

By Michael Marrow
October 4, 2022 at 4:36 PM

(Editor's Note: This post has been updated with additional information from the Space Development Agency.)

The Space Development Agency today awarded Ball Aerospace a $176 million contract for 10 space vehicles for the National Defense Space Architecture Experimental Testbed, according to an SDA press release.

All satellites are planned to launch within two years of today’s award, an SDA official told Inside Defense. Work on the contract, including satellite operations, is slated to conclude at the end of 2027.

“NExT is an exciting program that has a lot of tie-in with our mission partners and will help to advance future tranches of the National Defense Space Architecture,” SDA Director Derek Tournear said in the release. “We’re confident that selection of the Ball Aerospace team provides the best overall solution to deliver NExT, including payload integration and launch.”

Ball will provide the space vehicles and integration services of government-provided payloads and will operate the satellites from a company facility in Colorado. Ahead of SDA’s tranche launches for communications and missile warning satellites, NDSA NExT will “demonstrate low-latency data transport and beyond line-of-sight command and control,” the release says.

The NExT program is separate from the SDA tranche satellites but will evaluate their critical capabilities. Once SDA’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer satellites are in orbit, which are planned to connect warfighters around the globe, the NExT satellites will test the architecture’s interoperability with new space vehicles and various payloads, according to the release.

By Nick Wilson
October 4, 2022 at 3:05 PM

The Navy's first-in-class aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford, left Naval Station Norfolk, VA today for its first official deployment.

Ford (CVN-78) was initially scheduled to depart on Monday, but was delayed for one day by strong winds and adverse weather conditions.

The Ford Carrier Strike Group will join a coalition of partner nations in the North Atlantic to conduct a variety of exercises in what the Navy has designated as a “service-retained” deployment.

The exact operating area and length of the deployment are unknown, but it is expected to be relatively brief. Ford is scheduled to begin its first Global Force Management Deployment sometime in the coming year.

The strike group includes multiple destroyers, the guided missile cruiser Normandy (CG-60), replenishment oiler Joshua Humphreys (T-AO 188) and the majority of Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8), according to an announcement last week from U.S. 2nd Fleet.

Exercises will focus on air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, distributed maritime operations, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations, the announcement said. Last week, Ford’s commanding officer said the carrier will also conduct a foreign port call during the deployment.

Persistent issues with Ford’s weapons elevators and electromagnetic aircraft launch system and arresting gear have long delayed deployment. The carrier was commissioned in 2017, but did not reach initial operational capability until December 2021.

The vessel is the first of at least four Ford-class carriers the Navy plans to procure. Delivery of the John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) is anticipated in 2024 and the Enterprise (CVN-80) is expected in 2028.