The Insider

By Shelley K. Mesch
November 22, 2022 at 11:45 AM

The Air Force will hold one-on-one meetings with businesses in January to gauge interest in and availability of new radar capabilities that can detect small drones or birds, which the service says when struck cause millions of dollars in damage each year, according to an online posting.

The industry day for the Bird Detection Radar or Bird/Drone Detection Radar will be Jan. 9, but registration forms must be completed by Dec. 15.

Each year, Air Force aircraft strike thousands of birds, causing millions of dollars in damages, according to the post.

The service may seek to make contracts for sustaining current BDRs or B/DDRs at Air Force installations, replacement of aging radars or initial investments into detection radar technology, the post said.

Because small unmanned aerial systems, or drones, come in a variety of sizes, shapes, coloration and movement capabilities, they can be more difficult to detect than birds and could negatively impact safe flight operations, according to the statement of work attached to the posting.

“Unlike birds, the movement of a sUAS aircraft is unpredictable, especially if the sUAS operator has malicious intent for operation within a DAF airfield environment,” the SOW states. “Siting sUAS with ground observers and maintaining visual confirmation over significant linear distances is inefficient and impractical for assuring midair avoidance by manned aircraft operations.”

Some Air Force wings and major commands have “expressed interest and need” for radars that can detect both birds and drones that could impact air operations, according to the SOW.

By Shelley K. Mesch
November 21, 2022 at 2:27 PM

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is seeking information from businesses to develop tactical autonomy for its Artificial Intelligence Reinforcements program, according to a broad agency announcement.

AIR would be a dominant tactical autonomy for multiship, beyond-visual-range air combat missions, according to the listing, using AI that is compatible with existing hardware. Autonomy technology would be demonstrated on human-in-the-loop F-16 testbeds before transferring to uncrewed aircraft.

Creating a development process and testing assets to rapidly mature and continuously evolve the AI capabilities will also be important to the program, according to the notice.

DARPA expects to award multiple contracts for AIR’s four-year effort, according to the post. Six contracts would be awarded for Phase I at $30 million, and up to four contracts would be awarded for Phase II at $40 million.

Phase I would be a base period with the Phase II option covering the design, development and test of the AIR System, the post states. There are two technical areas for businesses to work on: Model Development and Multi-Agent AI Agent Training. Businesses can apply to both or either.

By John Liang
November 21, 2022 at 1:41 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Japan's Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor shooting down a target for the first time, engines for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and more.

Japan's co-developed Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor shot down a target for the first time:

Japan executes SM-3 Block IIA launch; key to new Aegis procurement, destroyer development

Japan executed its maiden launch of a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor -- the most advanced Aegis guided missile which it co-developed, and is co-producing, with the United States -- as part of a major ballistic missile defense live-fire event in the Pacific Ocean in concert with the U.S. Navy and Missile Defense Agency.

The F-35 Joint Program Office plans to order 119 F135 engines in fiscal year 2024 and 143 in FY-25:

JPO targets five-to-seven-year development for F-35 engine modernization

The F-35 Joint Program Office expects a modernized propulsion system for the Joint Strike Fighter will take between five to seven years to develop, a JPO spokesman told Inside Defense, a timeline that would see a new engine for the Lightning II by 2031 as the military services stand poised to choose an upgrade for the fighter's powerplant.

Armaments directors from around the world last week focused on four key areas: ground-based long-range fires, air defense systems, air-to-ground capabilities, and sustainment support:

LaPlante meets with U.S. allies to increase global weapons production

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante chaired a meeting in Brussels today with dozens of armaments chiefs from around the world looking to boost the production of critical weapon systems being used in Ukraine against the Russian military.

U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Samuel Paparo recently spoke at the Military Reporters & Editors Association’s annual conference:

Paparo: China has relented 'to an extent' in months following Pelosi's Taiwan visit

The Navy has seen Chinese military operations in the Pacific ease following China's initial, extensive military drills after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taiwan this summer, according to a top fleet commander.

In case you missed it on Friday, news on an Air Force effort to develop autonomous, uncrewed aircraft that can link up and team with traditional platforms:

'Significant investment' in CCA coming in Air Force's FY-24 budget request, official says

The Air Force will be requesting a "significant investment" for the Collaborative Combat Aircraft effort in the coming budget request, according to officials leading the program.

By Evan Ochsner
November 21, 2022 at 12:28 PM

BAE is forming a "strategic relationship" with a Polish defense company to support the production of tank recovery systems and other combat vehicles, the company announced Monday.

The deal with Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa, a large conglomerate of defense contractors owned by the Polish government, will center on BAE-made Abrams tank recovery vehicles, but also on the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, a new armored personnel carrier that is one of the Army’s modernization priorities.

The announcement comes after the U.S. agreed to ship $6 billion in arms to Poland earlier this year in a package that included 26 M88A2 Hercules combat recovery vehicles, along with 250 Abrams tanks.

According to Monday’s announcement, “the main area of cooperation” between BAE and PGZ will focus on the M88A2 recovery vehicle. The release said the recovery vehicles are a “key part of the M1A2 Abrams tank procurement program” in Poland.

“Today’s agreement underscores an important milestone in our developing industrial cooperation partnership with PGZ and demonstrates our commitment to delivering critical capabilities to support Poland’s defense modernization efforts,” Jeremy Tondreault, president of BAE Systems’ Platforms & Services sector said. “The M88 program now gives us the opportunity to deliver localization of sustainment services to Poland.”

The additional cooperation on AMPV comes a month after Army leaders said the service has support from Congress to buy 200 new armored personnel carriers in a one-for-one replacement of legacy troop carriers it sent to Ukraine. The service plans to buy 200 units of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, one of its modernization systems, to replace M113 troop carriers it sent to Ukraine out of Army stockpiles. The Army reached an agreement with BAE to produce the AMPV at a higher frequency in order to meet demand.

Defense companies have for months signaled their anticipation of growing demand for ground vehicles spurred by the conflict in Ukraine. General Dynamics, maker of the Abrams, said in its most recent earnings call that the company had begun to see a demand boost from Poland.

By Tony Bertuca
November 21, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Few events are scheduled this week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Tuesday

The Hudson Institute hosts a virtual discussion with Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) on leveraging commercial innovation for the U.S. military.

Thursday

Thanksgiving.

By Briana Reilly
November 18, 2022 at 3:33 PM

A new partnership between Microsoft and Lockheed Martin that gives the latter classified cloud access will ultimately allow executives to more quickly and cheaply provide solutions to Defense Department customers, the defense prime says.

Announced this week, the three-year framework makes Lockheed “the first non-government entity to independently operate inside the Microsoft Azure Government Secret cloud,” according to a joint press release.

Through the deal, Lockheed said in a statement to Inside Defense, the company will be able to save time in standing up IT infrastructures associated with new classified programs; nix traditional equipment procurement and accreditation processes; and allow executives to replicate known architectures in the cloud environment -- ultimately making it “easier to work with DOD.”

“Fundamentally the cloud collaboration helps LM become more agile and perform work more securely and at lower cost,” the statement added.

Asked about the dollar value of the agreement, Microsoft deferred to Lockheed, which did not provide comment on a figure, saying only in a statement that executives are “committed to investing in the advanced technologies needed to bring 21st century security capabilities to our customers.”

It’s unclear whether Microsoft plans to enter further classified cloud agreements with other defense industry partners. In a statement to Inside Defense addressing that possibility, Microsoft said the focus is currently on supporting Lockheed “to stand up this environment.”

Still, the statement noted the platform is “a potentially replicable” one long-term, which could support the more than 12,000 vendors accredited through the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency program, which Microsoft noted is the same one that is overseeing the Lockheed effort.

The partnership also involves three other lines of effort, among them artificial intelligence and machine learning and simulation capabilities. That category will involve Microsoft’s advanced gaming, exercising, modeling and simulation solutions, as well as Lockheed’s military planning AI, which Lockheed’s statement said would be combined to help DOD wargame and military plan, while digitally validating potential courses of action.

“This will be key to furthering DOD’s vision for joint all domain operations -- they’ll essentially be able to test in the digital environment how assets across domains can work together,” the Lockheed statement said.

By John Liang
November 18, 2022 at 3:01 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's Collaborative Combat Aircraft effort, the military's future use of 5G technologies, the Army's munitions industrial base and more.

We start off with news on an Air Force effort to develop autonomous, uncrewed aircraft that can link up and team with traditional platforms:

'Significant investment' in CCA coming in Air Force's FY-24 budget request, official says

The Air Force will be requesting a "significant investment" for the Collaborative Combat Aircraft effort in the coming budget request, officials leading the program said Thursday.

A new coalition of 5G providers is showing its wares to the Defense Department:

GDIT-led 5G coalition seeks to provide 'holistic' solutions for DOD, government

A recently announced coalition led by General Dynamics Information Technology seeks to provide "holistic" 5G capabilities and solutions to the military and other government agencies, according to a company executive.

The Army's acquisition chief spoke this week at an event in Texas hosted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency:

Bush: Munitions industrial base improvements are 'vitally important'

The Army's acquisition executive on Wednesday added to a growing chorus of senior government officials calling to modernize the service's ability to make munitions, continuing to highlight an issue that has increased in relevance as the Pentagon has shipped weapons to Ukraine.

Since 1995, the solid-rocket motor industry has consolidated from six U.S. manufacturers to two: Aerojet Rocketdyne and Northrop Grumman (which in 2018 acquired Orbital ATK). A potential new supplier appears to be throwing its hat into the ring:

Albuquerque start-up pitches new booster to help DOD surge hypersonic weapon production

X-Bow Systems -- a New Mexico-based start-up that claims to bring 21st-century manufacturing technologies and know-how to solid-rocket motor production -- has answered the Pentagon's call for a potential new domestic supplier of boosters needed to power Army and Navy plans to scale production of long-range hypersonic strike weapons.

We have more military spending details about the proposed Ukraine supplemental budget request:

New Ukraine supplemental seeks funds for DOD missile procurement and development

The White House's new emergency supplemental budget request to continue aiding Ukraine in its fight against Russia contains nearly $22 billion for the Defense Department, according to an Office of Management and Budget document that breaks down some of the proposed spending.

By Evan Ochsner
November 18, 2022 at 1:28 PM

The Defense Department is looking for information from companies about their ability to provide hardware, software, training and maintenance for a fire management software system to be provided to Ukraine, Taiwan and Latvia.

Companies responding to a Nov. 18 notice would be able to provide the International Field Artillery Tactical Data System, the foreign military service version of the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, which provides “fully automated support for planning, coordinating, controlling, and executing fires and effects such as mortars, field artillery cannons, rockets and missiles, close air support, attack aviation, and naval surface fire-support systems,” according to the Army, which operates the system along with the Navy and Marine Corps.

The Army says the system can take in situational awareness data and intelligence information to make targeting decisions and provide command, control and communications for fires capabilities.

The notice announcing the sources sought effort suggests the IFATDS systems would be used to support the High Mobility Advanced Rocket System, which has emerged as an essential part of Ukraine's success against Russian forces.

In the notice, DOD said it is seeking sources that can provide the software and computer hardware necessary to operate the system, as well as training materials and field service support. The Pentagon is interested in providing 55 IFATDS to Latvia, 18 to Ukraine and 16 to Taiwan, according to the notice. Companies would also provide a seven-week training course on how to use the system, install it and provide services on the system, per the notice.

By John Liang
November 17, 2022 at 3:57 PM

Northrop Grumman announced this week it has elected Arvind Krishna to the company's board of directors.

Krishna has been chief executive officer of IBM since April 2020, and was also named chairman of the board in January 2021.

Prior to becoming CEO, Krishna was senior vice president for cloud and cognitive software and he also headed IBM Research. He joined IBM in 1990.

Additionally, Krishna is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York board of directors.

By John Liang
November 17, 2022 at 3:54 PM

Red Cat Holdings announced this week that Mary Beth Long has been appointed to the company's board of directors.

Long served as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs from 2007 to 2009 -- the first woman confirmed by the Senate for the role.

Long was also the first female chair of NATO’s High Level Group, responsible for its nuclear policy and reporting directly to the alliance's secretary general.

Additionally, Long's law firm, MB Long & Associates PLLC, specializes in export compliance and defense. She is also co-founder and principal of Global Alliance Advisors and owner of Askari Defense and Intelligence, LLC. Early in her career, she served as a CIA operations officer from 1986 to 1999, according to Red Cat.

By Briana Reilly
November 17, 2022 at 3:22 PM

Two lawmakers are calling on appropriators to pump more money into the Defense Innovation Unit's fiscal year 2023 budget, lamenting the "chronically under-resourced" state of the outfit that aims to leverage commercial technologies for military use.

Sent to leaders of the House and Senate defense appropriations panels this week, the letter -- from Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) -- makes the case for a $39 million total increase to DIU, a sum that would represent a nearly 44% funding jump for the small-budget unit.

Most of the requested boost -- $22 million -- would go toward supporting core programming for the unit, which the Nov. 14 letter states “will enable DIU to fulfill its mission of facilitating the rapid adoption of commercial technology to meet critical national security needs.”

“Enhanced resources could play a critical role in expanding DIU in the coming years, including through new regional offices across the U.S.,” says the letter, a copy of which was provided to Inside Defense. “These field offices could focus on areas capable of facilitating innovation due to proximity to vibrant commercial partners, world-class research institutions, and critical national security capabilities and military installations.”

DIU earlier this year opened a new satellite office in Chicago, marking the organization's fifth outpost and first in the Midwest. The $22 million increase Gallagher and Ossoff are advocating for would bring core programming funding up to nearly $50 million from the almost $28 million included in the Defense Department’s request.

Meanwhile, the letter seeks to double funding for the recently stood-up National Security Innovation Capital program, which aims to provide funding for early-stage hardware start-ups developing dual-use products.

Housed under the DIU umbrella, NSIC has been operating for about a year and a half and has received a total of $20 million in funding over that period, according to a DIU budget breakdown previously shared with Inside Defense, which shows the effort got $15 million in FY-21 and $5 million in FY-22. The FY-23 budget request included around $15 million for NSIC.

Gallagher and Ossoff want to see another $15 million added to the program, in addition to $2 million more specifically earmarked for NSIC operations and maintenance funding, which the letter states “would better support US technology competitiveness.”

An NSIC fact sheet provided to Inside Defense this week shows the program has awarded funding for 12 companies since its inception, with contracts ranging from $600,000 to $3 million, on top of receiving nearly 240 submissions. The award winners are working on developments in areas ranging from batteries to space manufacturing, optical communications and metal foams, according to the fact sheet.

“Originally authorized at $75M per year, NSIC’s impact in supporting these domestic, high-tech companies developing critical technologies is limited only by its appropriated funding,” the letter states.

Congress has not yet passed its FY-23 budget, with the government operating under a stopgap continuing resolution set to expire Dec. 16.

By Michael Marrow
November 17, 2022 at 3:05 PM

Boeing announced today it is halving the number of divisions in the company's defense business unit as one of the nation's largest contractors struggles to regain its footing after a stretch of disappointing financial returns.

Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security business unit will reduce its eight divisions to four, consolidating programs under the categories of vertical lift; mobility, surveillance and bombers; air dominance; and space, intelligence and weapons systems, according to a company press release.

The move comes after another round of disappointing earnings during the company’s most recent investor report, which showed the defense business unit lost $2.8 billion in the third quarter. The losses were largely attributed to charges on fixed-price contracts -- particularly the VC-25B Air Force One replacement and KC-46A tanker -- that have been delayed by supply chain constraints and technical difficulties, though other programs like the MQ-25 drone and T-7A trainer also recorded losses.

Boeing says the shift aims to streamline leadership roles and responsibilities and increase efficiency. Mark Cherry will lead the vertical lift unit, Dan Gillian will helm the mobility division, Steve Nordlund will oversee air dominance platforms and Kay Sears will spearhead space systems, according to the release, which notes that all four will have the title of vice president and general manager.

Ted Colbert will remain as chief executive officer of the defense unit, though he will gain a new senior adviser in Jim Chilton, who currently heads Boeing’s space launch programs. Tim Peters and Cindy Gruensfelder, who respectively lead the existing mobility and surveillance and missile and weapon systems divisions, will retire following the transitions, the release adds.

Boeing Global Services also plans to integrate domestic and government services into a single organization that will be led by current BGS Vice President and General Manager Torbjorn Sjogren, according to the release.

For now, the reorganization will have a limited impact on the company’s labor force, with company spokeswoman Deborah VanNierop telling Inside Defense that Boeing is not expecting any layoffs.

By John Liang
November 17, 2022 at 1:44 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has a deep dive into the Navy's Triton unmanned aerial system plus news on the destroyer Zumwalt (DDG-1000) returning from a trip in the Pacific as well as a senior House lawmaker wanting more money for missiles and the Army's chief of staff talking about precision fires. There's also coverage of the Marine Corps' seeking a counter-UAS system.

We start off with a deep dive into the Navy's Triton unmanned aerial system, now available for all to read:

When 'unmanned' doesn't mean fewer people: Inside the Navy's Triton program

As the Navy's Triton unmanned aircraft program triples its theater requirements over the next two years, the service hopes to shake off the perception that its unmanned platforms might require less manpower and fewer resources than manned systems.

The Navy's expensive stealth destroyer recently returned from an "operational employment" to the Pacific:

Zumwalt returns from Pacific, will undergo more work before first traditional deployment

After test-driving stealth destroyer Zumwalt (DDG-1000) in the Indo-Pacific for three months, the Navy's troubled ship class had a successful first employment but will undergo more upgrades and testing before it conducts a full deployment.

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee wants more money spent on missiles:

Senior Dem calls for surge in missile production, says defense bill will pass this year

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) said today he believes the United States needs to surge missile production and other military systems to continue aiding Ukraine against an ongoing Russian invasion.

The Army's top uniformed official spoke at the Politico 2022 Defense Summit this week:

McConville: Long-range precision fires is Army's No. 1 modernization priority

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said Wednesday that long-range precision fires will be the service's "No. 1 priority" when it comes to modernization.

A request for information published Tuesday by the Marine Corps' Program Executive Officer Land Systems, Program Manager, Ground Based Air Defense (PM GBAD) expresses interest in Installation Counter Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (I-CsUAS) that can detect, track, identify and defeat UAS threats through "non-kinetic" means:

Marine Corps seeking C-UAS technology to protect installations

The Marine Corps is asking industry for information on technologies that can defeat the growing threat of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS).

By Audrey Decker
November 17, 2022 at 12:41 PM

As the Navy's Triton unmanned aircraft program triples its theater requirements over the next two years, the service hopes to shake off the perception that its unmanned platforms might require less manpower and fewer resources than manned systems.

The service’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system is on track to require more support than one may think, program officials say, due to the intricacy and expansion of the program.

This story is now available to all.

By Michael Marrow
November 17, 2022 at 11:42 AM

The Air Force is looking to raise service readiness by overhauling sustainment practices, asking industry in a recent request for information for solutions to fill gaps across its operations and maintenance enterprise.

The RFI encompasses air and space platforms and asks for resiliency solutions for “critical systems” ranging from ventilation to cybersecurity. A new approach to sustainment comes in response to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall’s seventh operational imperative, the RFI says, which is aimed at ensuring the service can transition to a wartime posture.

The RFI is the second released by the service in recent weeks that seeks new solutions to meet Kendall’s seventh operational imperative. A similar notice posted Oct. 31 asked industry to help the service revamp its testing and training infrastructure to prepare for a “high-end fight,” a reference to conflict with China.

According to the RFI, the service is specifically aiming to ensure warfighters are “properly positioned” and supported by “resilient infrastructure, responsive supply chains, and deployment and distribution networks that will deliver persistent mission generation.” Interested vendors will not need a solution for every topic, the notice says.

Gaps identified by the RFI suggest the service is exploring new approaches to force distribution to properly sustain its growing portfolio of space platforms, as one area asks industry for solutions to swap military and civilian personnel between Air Force Materiel Command and Space Force bases.

Other issues discussed by the notice indicate the service is incorporating lessons learned from Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, as the RFI calls for contractors to “identify surge capacity in operations” and a timeline for how long such a capability could be activated.

The criterion follows the steady flow of arms to Kyiv that has dwindled key weapons stockpiles, leading industry to restart dormant factory lines as the Pentagon and Congress call to surge production.

Some areas identified by the RFI may have quick fixes, but the notice suggests the Air Force is looking for long-term solutions: contractors are asked to “bridge the gap between ‘as is’ and ‘to be’ in 10 to 15 years,” signaling that the service’s sustainment modernization will be over a decade in the making.

Vendors are asked to respond to the RFI by Nov. 25.