The Insider

By John Liang
June 9, 2023 at 2:28 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has a deep dive into the political wrangling behind the Republican Party's efforts to rein in government spending while keeping the U.S. military adequately funded, plus more coverage of the Government Accountability Office's annual weapon systems assessment.

Senior GOP leaders, pitted against each other via hallway soundbites and floor speeches, continue to disagree over whether Congress should stick to the fiscal year 2024 spending cap agreed to in the debt limit/spending deal passed last week, or inject more money into the Pentagon through an "emergency defense supplemental":

Defense budget watchers eye Ukraine counteroffensive and 'Chaos Caucus' for spending clues

A deal to avert default on the national debt has given way to uncertainty and confusion concerning how much money Congress will actually appropriate for the Pentagon, a matter further complicated by U.S. aid policy toward Ukraine and ongoing internal strife in the Republican Party.

We also have plenty more coverage of GAO's annual weapon systems assessment:

Cost overruns, delivery delays affect John Lewis-class oilers

Plans for delivering the next five John Lewis-class fleet replenishment oilers are delayed between 22 months and two and a half years because of shipyard challenges, according to the Government Accountability Office's latest annual weapon system assessment report.

GAO: Delivery dates pushed back for F-15EX

Production-related problems have pushed delivery dates of the Boeing-made F-15EX Eagle II, which could lead to further milestone delays for the Air Force program, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Thursday.

GAO: Space Force's DARC program faces schedule risk

The Space Force's new deep space radar system is estimated to take an additional year to complete the program beyond the middle-tier acquisition timeframe of five years, the Government Accountability Office reported today, indicating a schedule risk.

GAO: Second Ford-class carrier likely to exceed cost estimate

As construction of the second ship in the Navy's new line of Ford-class aircraft carriers nears completion, shipbuilders are likely to exceed the vessel's $12.7 billion cost baseline, according to the Government Accountability Office's annual weapon system report.

GAO: Schedule change possible for Sentinel nuclear missiles

The Air Force and Northrop Grumman are discussing changes to the schedule for the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile to remedy the "many deficiencies" in the current master schedule, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Thursday.

GAO: Zumwalt operational capability delayed further, CPS schedule risks emerge

The Navy has postponed the initial operational capability of its Zumwalt-class destroyer program to the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2024 -- more than a year later than the April 2023 IOC target reported in the Government Accountability Office's annual weapon system report.

By Tony Bertuca
June 9, 2023 at 2:26 PM

Inside Defense has obtained draft copies of several House Armed Services subcommittee marks of the fiscal year 2024 defense policy bill, though the hearings to officially approve them are not scheduled until next week.

Marks obtained thus far are:

Tactical Air and Land Forces



Watch Inside Defense for further news on this developing story.

By Linda Hersey
June 9, 2023 at 12:40 PM

The Navy has announced plans to undertake a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) as it seeks to update homeport facilities at Naval Air Station North Island in California for three Nimitz-class aircraft carriers that support the Pacific fleet.

NAS North Island is part of Naval Base Coronado and spans 2,800 acres. Berths for the aircraft carriers are on the northeast side of North Island, in San Diego Bay. 

Improvements will enable three nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to simultaneously port at North Island “for more intermittent, nonconsecutive days per year,” according to a Navy notice published June 9.

Plans would allow for electrical upgrades to extend off base along the utility corridor in Coronado, the Navy said on a website that details the project for the public.

“The presence of three aircraft carriers may include all three NAS North Island-homeported aircraft carriers or two NAS North Island-homeported aircraft carriers and one transient aircraft carrier,” the notice said.

NAS North Island also provides port facilities for visiting or transient aircraft carriers, according to the Navy’s notice.

The Navy’s new Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers also may berth at NAS North Island after deployment on the West Coast, according to the notice.

There are no plans for more aircraft carriers to be homeported at NAS North Island.

An original 1999 environmental impact statement expected a need for three aircraft carriers to be in port simultaneously for 13 days per year. A 2008 SEIS increased the duration to 29 days per year.

“Because of the number of variables involved with predicting aircraft carrier berthing requirements, the Navy plans to analyze the impacts of an anticipated need for three aircraft carriers to be in port simultaneously for an average of 180 intermittent, nonconsecutive days per year,” the Navy said.

The Navy’s announcement triggers a 45-day process for public comments on the scope of the proposed SEIS. The comment period runs from June 9-July 24.

The Navy will hold three informational meetings in the community scheduled for June 27-29. Information will be available online, with meeting announcements published in local newspapers.

The Navy is in the initial stages of the process. Preparation of a draft SEIS is expected to take place in 2023-2024, with a second public comment period expected next summer.

Development of the final SEIS would follow in 2024-2025. A record of decision is expected in spring 2025.

By Dan Schere
June 9, 2023 at 12:24 PM

Six members of Congress have released a bipartisan resolution urging the Biden administration to send Army Tactical Missile Systems to Ukraine.

ATACMS are 24/7, all-weather, surface-to-surface guided missiles that engage targets, according to the Army. Targets can include air defense artillery sites, surface-to-surface missile units, logistics sites, command and control complexes and helicopter forward operating bases. They were used in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War by the joint force, Joint Special Operations Forces and Army Land Component Command.

The bipartisan resolution comes amid reports that Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive in its war with Russia.

Among the lawmakers who have introduced the resolution is House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX). In a statement Friday, McCaul said “by not giving Ukraine the weapons it needs to win this war, the administration is prolonging the conflict and costing countless Ukrainian lives.”

“The success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive is directly tied to the military assistance provided by the U.S. and our allies,” he continued. “As such, it is extremely disappointing the administration is sitting on billions in remaining military funding with which it could immediately transfer ATACMS to Ukraine and, in turn, help their Armed Forces make a major difference on the battlefield.”

The other lawmakers sponsoring the legislation are:

  • Rep. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-NJ)
  • Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)
  • Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA)
  • Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) 
  • Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME)

The Pentagon, meanwhile, announced another security assistance package to Ukraine on Friday worth $2.1 billion. It includes munitions for Patriot air defense systems, HAWK defense systems as well as missiles and additional artillery rounds, among other weapons.

By Tony Bertuca
June 9, 2023 at 11:20 AM

The Pentagon today announced a $2.1B security assistance package for Ukraine, including air defense and munitions capabilities, though the weapons likely won't arrive immediately on the battlefield as they are being funded through a long-term agreement with defense contractors.

The package being provided via the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative is slated to provide:

•             Additional munitions for Patriot air defense systems;

•             HAWK air defense systems and missiles;

•             105mm and 203mm artillery rounds; 

•             Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems;

•             Laser-guided rocket system munitions;

•             Support for training, maintenance, and sustainment activities.

Unlike presidential “drawdown” authority that transfers weapons directly from U.S. stocks, USAI equipment can take months or years before it arrives on the battlefield.

“This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional priority capabilities to Ukraine,” the Defense Department said.

The announcement follows reports that Ukraine has begun a counteroffensive to dislodge Russian forces.

Meanwhile, DOD continues to review its past drawdown transfers to account for a valuation error of at least $3 billion.

By Dan Schere
June 9, 2023 at 9:52 AM

The Army has awarded Leonardo DRS a firm fixed-price contract for $94 million to produce the next-generation infrared weapon sights for infantry snipers, the company announced Thursday.

The five-year contract is for the production of the Family of Weapon Sights-Sniper, Improved Night/Day Observation Device Block III, according to the announcement. It is designed for sniper or reconnaissance operators “that require extended-range target detection and identification, observation of environmental indicators and a capability to track bullet trajectory.”

The weapon sights use “passive, micro-cooled, mid-wave” infrared technology that is intended to increase the size of imagery for soldiers to make their missions more effective, according to the company.

By John Liang
June 8, 2023 at 2:09 PM

The bulk of this Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of the Government Accountability Office's annual weapon systems assessment report.

We start off with the Government Accountability Office's annual weapon systems assessment report, which is chock-full of program details (and stay tuned for more coverage in the coming days):

Watchdog report finds DOD 'paying more for less,' taking 11 years to field weapon systems

The Defense Department's major weapons programs cost more and take longer to field than in the past, despite efforts to revamp the Pentagon's notoriously bureaucratic acquisition process, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, which asserts DOD is now "paying more for less."

Document: GAO's 2023 weapon systems assessment report

GAO on an Army artillery program:

GAO: DOD denied Army's request to extend MTA timeframe for ERCA

Top brass at the Pentagon denied an Army request for a waiver to push the middle tier acquisition timeframe beyond the standard five-year mark for the Extended Range Cannon Artillery program, according to the Government Accountability Office's Weapon Systems Annual Assessment.

GAO on the Navy's Virginia-class submarine program:

GAO: Virginia construction languishes as labor is funneled to Columbia

Virginia-class submarine production is struggling with increasingly severe labor shortages, according to the Government Accountability Office’s annual review of Defense Department weapons programs, which estimates construction time for Block V vessels will take an average of more than two years longer than the previous year’s report predicted.

GAO on an Air Force satellite program:

GAO: Next-Gen OPIR 2025 launch likely delayed

The payload deliveries of the new missile warning satellite will likely be delayed, pushing back the initial launch of the satellite scheduled in 2025, the Government Accountability Office reported on June 6.

There was also another GAO report on missile defense that came out this week:

GAO: DOD needs better plan to sustain, maintain Missile Defense System

The Defense Department "lacks comprehensive guidance" for sustaining and maintaining the Missile Defense System -- a sprawling collection of radars, launchers and command and control systems -- that, if not corrected, places at risk the readiness of the nation to defend against long-range missile threats.

Document: GAO report on missile defense oversight

Navigation Technology Satellite-3 is the Defense Department's first experimental, integrated navigation satellite system in nearly 50 years:

Air Force tests its first navigation satellite system

The Air Force successfully tested its first experimental navigation, positioning and timing satellite, which is expected to lift off in late 2023, the service announced on June 5.

Last but by no means least, the latest cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Small business advocacy office to weigh in on CMMC rulemaking once it runs through DOD process

The Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy will get a chance to provide feedback on the upcoming rulemaking to establish the Pentagon's cyber certification program before it is finalized, according to chief counsel Major Clark, who spoke with Inside Cybersecurity on how SBA is involved in the review process.

By Apurva Minchekar
June 7, 2023 at 4:08 PM

The Space Force’s Space Systems Command has opened a collaboration center in Virginia to strengthen its commercial space strategy and facilitate the delivery of commercial capabilities to the warfighter, the command announced June 6.

The Commercial Space Marketplace for Innovation and Collaboration is a newly established effort between SSC and the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corp., providing a platform for the command to increase its partnership with industry and drive cooperation with government agency partners, according to the announcement.

“The National Capital Region is a sweet spot for connecting with government agencies in the intelligence community as well as with key space agencies such as NASA and the Space Development Agency,” Col. Richard Kniseley, SSC’s commercial space office senior materiel leader, said. “It is also a major hub for commercial space industry companies.”

In addition, the COSMIC center will also provide space for analysis, STEM outreach, workforce development and technology transition and transfer advertisement provided by VT-ARC, according to the announcement.

COSMIC is SSC’s newly rebranded and expanded version of the Commercial Service Office, focused on facilitating commercial technology and service transfer whenever required, SSC said.

According to the announcement, COMSO is currently working via COSMIC and SSC’s Front Door for rapid scale-up of commercial tactical surveillance, reconnaissance and tracking services as well as other off-the-shelf capabilities that can be enhanced to scale with speed and cost efficiency.

The command said COSMIC was possible through a partnership intermediary agreement between the Basic Research Innovation and Collaboration Partnership and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

By Linda Hersey
June 7, 2023 at 2:54 PM

Raytheon Technologies has been awarded a $2 billion fixed-priced contract to buy engine parts for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, as well as foreign military service participants and other non-U.S. defense customers.

Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, a division of the aerospace company based in East Hartford, CT, is the contract recipient.

Announced June 5, the contract modifies a previous award to acquire materials, parts and components for Lot 17 of the F135 propulsion system. It also allows for the procurement of global spare parts, including engines, power modules and other hardware.

Work will be performed at more than a dozen facilities that include plants in East Hartford (at 17%), Indianapolis, IN (10%); Middletown, CT (8%); and Kent, WA (7%).

Naval Air Systems Command is managing the contract, with the work expected to be completed in December 2025. Funds for the acquisition were approved in fiscal years 2022-23 as follows:

  • Navy: $645.5 million in FY-23, and $1.4 million, FY-22;
  • Air Force: $527.6 million, FY-23, and $30.3 million, FY-22;
  • Non-U.S. defense customers: $417.5 million, obligated with the award;
  • Foreign military sales participants: $400.5 million, obligated with the award.

FMS participants include the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway.

According to a May 31 Government Accountability Office report, program participants acquire spare parts from a global pool that DOD owns and the prime contractors manage. Spare parts are in more than 50 facilities in the U.S. and across the world.

The report cited the F-35 Joint Program Office for a lack of oversight that has resulted in lost and/or missing parts. The report stated that DOD “doesn’t account for or oversee the parts,” and that Defense officials “have not agreed on whether the spare parts should be “categorized” as government-furnished property.

DOD reviewed just 2% of 1 million missing parts identified since 2018, according to the report, which estimated the value of the lost parts at $85 million.

The report recommended that steps should be taken to categorize and track the global spare parts pool.

By John Liang
June 7, 2023 at 2:23 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a pair of Defense Business Board studies currently underway, Lockheed Martin's choice for the engine for its next-generation tanker and more.

The Defense Business Board has been tasked to conduct a pair of studies:

Hicks directs Defense Business Board to review space acquisition

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks has directed the Defense Business Board to review the Pentagon's process for procuring space systems to potentially develop a "clean sheet approach to space acquisition."

Document: DBB terms of reference memo for space acquisition review

Advisory board to review DOD business operations culture

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks is directing the Defense Business Board to find ways to "improve the business operations culture" at the Pentagon.

Document: DBB terms of reference memo for DOD business operations culture study

GE will be the engine provider for Lockheed Martin's next-generation tanker submission:

Lockheed selects GE to provide engine on LMXT tanker aircraft

Lockheed Martin today announced it has selected General Electric Aerospace to provide the engine for the company's LMXT tanker, which it is offering for the Air Force's KC-135 recapitalization program.

Textron is among the companies bidding for the RCV-L, which is being developed as part of the Army’s Next Generation of Combat Vehicle Family of Vehicles:

Textron executive expects to hear from Army in September about RCV-L downselect

An executive with Textron Systems says the company anticipates the Army will announce its downselect in September for the Robotic Combat Vehicle-Light prototype competition.

As the Marine Corps enters the fourth year of its Force Design 2030 initiative, it will look to accelerate procurement of both vehicle-mounted OPF capabilities and lighter systems that can be carried by infantry Marines:

Marine Corps looks to accelerate Organic Precision Fires fielding, releases RFI

The Marine Corps' development of organic precision fires is moving too slowly, according to the service's annual Force Design update, which outlines an effort to speed up the acquisition and training processes for OPF capabilities.

By John Liang
June 7, 2023 at 1:09 PM

General Dynamics announced today that retired Army Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper has joined the company's board of directors.

Hooper retired from the Army in 2020 after 41 years of service. While in the Army, he was head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. He has also served as a U.S. defense attaché to Egypt and China as well as director of strategy, plans and programs at U.S. Africa Command.

Additionally, Hooper was deputy director of strategic planning and policy at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and senior director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

At the moment, Hooper is a senior counselor for the Cohen Group and is affiliated with the National Bureau of Asian Research, the Atlantic Council and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and serves on the board of directors for UL Solutions as well as the board of trustees for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

By John Liang
June 7, 2023 at 10:55 AM

The Defense Policy Board will meet next week in closed session to discuss China's activities in the Taiwan Strait and other issues.

The June 13-14 meetings will cover "classified briefings and hold classified discussions on the long-term regional and global strategic implications of potential coercion by the People's Republic of China (PRC) across the Taiwan Strait, including implications for U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific and around the world," according to a notice published in this morning's Federal Register.

Other topics the board will cover include:

"(1) conduct classified deliberations as a Board regarding the Information Operations terms of reference discussed at the December 13-14, 2022, and the March 7-8, 2023, meetings;

"(2) receive classified briefings on reactions by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) from the National Intelligence Officer for East Asia, National Intelligence Council, and Dr. Dale Rielage, Senior Director for Strategic Competition, OSD Red Team, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security;

"(3) deliberate as a Board on classified CCP and PLA scenarios;

"(4) receive a classified briefing regarding reactions by Central & South American partners to these scenarios from GEN Laura Richardson (U.S. Army), Commander, U.S. Southern Command;

"(5) receive a classified briefing regarding reactions by South Korea, Japan, and Australia from the National Intelligence Officer for Near East, National Intelligence Council, and Honorable Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs;

"(6) receive a classified briefing regarding reactions by India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia, from the National Intelligence Officer for South Asia, National Intelligence Council, and Hon. Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs;

"(7) receive a classified briefing regarding reactions by NATO Allies from AMB Julie Smith, U.S. Ambassador to NATO, and Ms. Rachel Ellehuss, U.S. NATO Defense Advisor;

"(8) conduct classified deliberations as a Board regarding the Taiwan topic terms of reference;

"(9) receive a classified briefing regarding reactions by African Partners from Gen Michael Langley (USMC), Commander, U.S. Africa Command;

"(10) receive a classified briefing regarding reactions by Russia and Iran from the National Intelligence Officer for Russia & Eurasia, National Intelligence Council;

"(11) receive a classified briefing regarding reactions by North Korea from the National Intelligence Officer for North Korea, National Intelligence Council;

"(12) discuss these briefings in a classified session with the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Under Secretary of Defense; and

"(13) finally conduct a final classified deliberation as a Board regarding the Taiwan topic terms of reference."

By John Liang
June 7, 2023 at 10:30 AM

C3 Integrated Solutions today announced the appointment of Robert Metzger to the company's board of directors.

As a board member, Metzger "will help advise C3 on how to further strengthen its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) service offerings and expand its reach within the industry," according to a company statement.

Metzger contributed to the 2017 Defense Science Board Cyber Supply Chain Report and co-authorship of the MITRE Corp.'s 2018 "Deliver Uncompromised" Report which is widely recognized as having helped shaped federal cyber initiatives such as DOD's CMMC program.

He currently heads the Washington, DC office of Rogers Joseph O'Donnell, PC, a boutique law firm specializing in government contracts and chairs the firm's Cybersecurity and Privacy Practice Group. Before that, Metzger was a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, LLP, an equity partner at Kirkland & Ellis, and a partner of Latham & Watkins.

By John Liang
June 6, 2023 at 2:09 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a nascent Marine Corps counter-UAS program, plus that service's efforts to establish new reconnaissance battalions and more.

The Marine Corps has released a pre-solicitation containing a draft request for proposals for a counter-UAS engagement system (CES) described as "an advanced, highly autonomous effector" to take down UAS threats at "significant ranges from the launch location":

Marine Corps begins search for counter-UAS component of future air defense system

Continuing efforts to field ground-based air defense capabilities, the Marine Corps is looking to industry to produce a counter unmanned aircraft system component to support its prototype Marine Air Defense Integrated System (MADIS) Increment One.

The Marine Corps' annual update to its Force Design 2030 initiative is out:

Marine Corps continues development of new recon units, MLR capabilities with Force Design update

As the Marine Corps begins the fourth year of its Force Design modernization effort, the service is continuing its push to improve the mobility and lethality of its stand-in forces by establishing new reconnaissance battalions, solidifying operating concepts for its Marine Littoral Regiments and continuing to experiment with new technologies.

Document: Marine Corps' force design 2030 annual update

L3Harris Technologies CEO Chris Kubasik recently spoke about fixed-price contracts at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference held in New York:

L3Harris CEO: Industry turning away from fixed-price development contracts

L3Harris Technologies, and likely other defense contractors, won't continue bidding for fixed-price contracts, CEO Chris Kubasik said Thursday.

Raytheon Technologies has nabbed a Missile Defense Agency sole-source, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity Ground-based Midcourse Defense system sustainment contract:

MDA awards penultimate contract in project to break up legacy GMD sustainment

The Defense Department has awarded Raytheon Technologies a new deal as part of the project to break up the former Ground-based Midcourse Defense system continuing sustainment and development contract -- executing a potential $621 million, five-year package to keep modern and operational exoatmospheric kill vehicles in the deployed homeland defense interceptor fleet.

A recent report from the Defense Department inspector general's office determined "the extent to which the DOD developed guidance, conducted training, and oversaw the implementation of the DOD Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) Program":

DOD watchdog finds oversight lacking on 'controlled unclassified' info restrictions

The Defense Department inspector general has found the Pentagon does not "effectively oversee" officials who mark government documents as "controlled unclassified information," potentially restricting transparency without an appropriate rationale.

Document: DOD IG report on CUI program implementation

By Linda Hersey
June 6, 2023 at 12:18 PM

An evaluation of contested mobility requirements and personnel training in support of the surge sealift mission in the Indo-Pacific will get underway this month, the Defense Department inspector general announced.

The goal is to examine sealift skills and competencies and the availability of training for personnel operating in a “contested mobility environment.”

“We may revise the objective as the evaluation proceeds, and we will also consider suggestions from management for additional or revised objectives,” the IG’s office said in a Monday memo.

Bryan Clark, acting assistant inspector general for evaluations programs, combatant commands and overseas contingency operations, announced the evaluation to leadership of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Transportation Command, Military Sealift Command, the Navy’s Joint Staff Auditor General and the Coast Guard.

The review will take place at the following locations: Navy, Joint Staff, INDOPACOM, TRANSCOM, MSC, Coast Guard and the Transportation Department’s Maritime Administration. Additional locations may be identified during the evaluation, according to the IG memo.