The Insider

By Tony Bertuca
February 26, 2024 at 3:12 PM

The Pentagon has concluded in an internal review that there was no "ill intent or an attempt to obfuscate" in how senior officials and staff handled the secrecy surrounding Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's hospitalization last month, releasing an unclassified summary today of key events and observations intended to improve the department's "transfer of authorities" and notification processes.

The classified review covers the period between Jan. 1 and Jan. 5 in which Austin was hospitalized for complications following surgery to treat prostate cancer. A key focus of the review was to evaluate the processes and procedures through which Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks was notified that she would be assuming Austin’s duties due to his medical absence.

The review found that Hicks was “at all times positioned” to perform Austin’s duties while he was hospitalized.

Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, told reporters today that “there was no gap in terms of when the transfer of authorities occurred.”

“There was never any gap in authorities of command and control,” he said.

Additionally, the 30-day review “focused on understanding the facts and evaluating the processes and procedures in place at the time to inform recommendations on process improvements, including relating to notifications,” the unclassified summary states.

Austin has been the target of significant criticism, especially from congressional Republicans, following news of his hospitalization as he did not notify President Biden, the White House National Security Council or Congress.

The internal review, which is separate from an ongoing Pentagon inspector general investigation, is unlikely to end the political controversy around the matter as Austin, who has apologized for how he handled the situation, is scheduled to testify before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday. Some lawmakers on the committee have called for his resignation over the incident.

The internal review itself has also been criticized by congressional Republicans as it was directed by Austin’s chief of staff Kelly Magsamen, who herself has been criticized by lawmakers for not notifying the White House and congressional defense committees.

The full review, which is classified, makes eight specific recommendations, while the unclassified summary attempts to provide “context” for the incident, noting Austin’s staff was “limited in three significant ways” when it came to notifying the White House and the public about his condition.

“First, medical privacy laws prohibited medical providers from candid sharing of medical information with the secretary’s staff,” the summary states. “Second, for privacy reasons, his staff were hesitant to pry or share any information that they did learn. Third, the secretary’s medical situation remained in flux and as long as he remained in the Critical Care Unit, timely secured communications could not be assured.”

The review summary states that in “hindsight” the department’s “process for making decisions to transfer the secretary’s authority could and should be improved.”

The summary states that “nothing examined during this review demonstrated any indication of ill intent or an attempt to obfuscate.”

By John Liang
February 26, 2024 at 2:10 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the continuing dysfunction on Capitol Hill over not having a full-year spending bill passed, plus the Marine Corps being the first military service branch to achieve a clean audit and more.

The continuing dysfunction on Capitol Hill over the lack of an enacted full-year spending bill has affected a variety of defense programs. Here are two examples:

Counter-drone programs in spotlight as Congress stalls $560M in supplemental funding

Ongoing congressional dysfunction is blocking $560 million in supplemental spending intended to help U.S. Central Command counter drone attacks against U.S. troops in the Middle East.

MQ-25 reprogramming hung up by continuing resolution

The Navy's MQ-25 Stingray uncrewed aircraft system program has been slowed awaiting congressional approval of a reprogramming request, from which money will go toward remedying obsolescence issues tied to the MQ-25's design.

The Marine Corps has accomplished a goal it has been working towards for almost two decades and becomes the first service branch to achieve a clean audit:

Marine Corps passes audit, becoming first service branch to do so

The Marine Corps passed its fiscal year 2023 audit, according to senior officials, who today announced they received an "unmodified audit opinion" from an independent public accountant after a two-year review of the service's equipment and its financial and information control systems.

Autonomous aircraft operator Xwing wants to be included in the Air Force's first large-scale multicombatant command exercise scheduled to take place in the Indo-Pacific in 2025:

Xwing eyes exercises in Indo-Pacific to demonstrate autonomous capability

After receiving approval to perform critical cargo missions for the Air Force, autonomous aircraft operator Xwing said their "phones started ringing" from other "partners in the military" interested in working with the company, including Pacific Air Forces.

Inside Defense recently interviewed the top Republican on the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee about the Army's termination of a multibillion-dollar helicopter program:

Wittman believes hearing on Army aviation restructure will help bring clarity

House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman (R-VA) still has unanswered questions about the Army's announcement earlier this month that it would be canceling the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program, as part of a reorganization of the service's aviation portfolio.

By Nick Wilson
February 26, 2024 at 12:13 PM

The Navy has awarded shipbuilder HII a contract modification worth approximately $1.2 billion for the engineering overhaul of the Los Angeles-class submarine Boise (SSN-764), according to a Pentagon contract announcement.

Boise has been sidelined since 2017, with the fast-attack submarine awaiting its overhaul while the Navy worked to dig its way out of a maintenance backlog. A series of delays prevented Boise from beginning its maintenance availability at Naval Station Norfolk, a public shipyard.

The Feb. 23 award clears the way for HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding to begin work on the submarine, with the overhaul expected to be finished by September 2029.

In March 2023, a Navy spokesperson told Inside Defense the vessel was undergoing early production work at Newport News to support the overhaul.

During an October hearing, then-Naval Submarine Forces Commander Adm. William Houston told lawmakers that maintenance backlogs pose the greatest challenge to submarine fleet readiness.

The Navy improved submarine operational availability from a rate of 60% to 66% within the past year, Houston said at the time, and is leveraging ongoing investments in both public and private infrastructure to achieve further improvements. The service is on track to reach an 80% operational availability rate for its attack submarines by late 2027 or early 2028, he said.

By Tony Bertuca
February 26, 2024 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to testify before the House Armed Services Committee this week to discuss his unannounced medical absence, while senior defense officials are slated to speak at a variety of other public events.

Monday

The National Security Space Association hosts the Defense and Intelligence Space Conference in Reston, VA. The event runs through Wednesday.

Tuesday

The Cybersecurity Summit 2024 is held in Washington.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on security issues in Yemen and the Red Sea.

Wednesday

The Brookings Institute hosts a discussion with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin.

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on Ukraine with the Joint Staff director for logistics.

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on workforce challenges related to the U.S. defense industrial base.

Thursday

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on his unannounced medical absence.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion with Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Christopher Grady.

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a budget posture hearing with the heads of U.S. Space Command and U.S. Strategic Command.

By John Liang
February 23, 2024 at 1:42 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on autonomous aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region, the Army's cancellation of a multibillion-dollar helicopter program, the Navy's MQ-95 Stingray effort and more.

Autonomous aircraft operator Xwing wants to be included in the Air Force's first large-scale multicombatant command exercise scheduled to take place in the Indo-Pacific in 2025:

Xwing eyes exercises in Indo-Pacific to demonstrate autonomous capability

After receiving approval to perform critical cargo missions for the Air Force, autonomous aircraft operator Xwing said their "phones started ringing" from other "partners in the military" interested in working with the company, including Pacific Air Forces.

Inside Defense recently interviewed the top Republican on the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee about the Army's termination of a multibillion-dollar helicopter program:

Wittman believes hearing on Army aviation restructure will help bring clarity

House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman (R-VA) still has unanswered questions about the Army's announcement earlier this month that it would be canceling the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program, as part of a reorganization of the service's aviation portfolio.

Due to contractor design, production and testing delays, the MQ-25 Stingray program in June 2023 extended its engineering and manufacturing development phase by 24 months "to ensure system currency":

MQ-25 reprogramming hung up by continuing resolution

The Navy's MQ-25 Stingray uncrewed aircraft system program has been slowed awaiting congressional approval of a reprogramming request, from which money will go toward remedying obsolescence issues tied to the MQ-25's design.

The Pentagon's No. 2 civilian spoke this week at the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office's three-day symposium on defense data and AI:

Hicks stresses 'speed and safety' to integrate AI into military operations

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks stressed "speed and safety" to an audience of tech and defense industry officials as core elements of the Pentagon's strategy for integrating artificial intelligence into its operations, with the goal of upgrading the military's threat assessments and outmaneuvering adversaries.

Yet another military organization is sounding the alarm over the potential damage a full-year continuing resolution would have on defense programs:

AFRL warns of 'broad departmental effects' without FY-24 appropriations bill

DENVER -- The Air Force Research Laboratory is poised to play a major role in the Air Force's massive reorganization plan to outpace China, but a full-year continuing resolution for fiscal year 2024 may derail such efforts, according to service leaders at the Air and Space Forces Association's Warfare Symposium.

By Nickolai Sukharev
February 22, 2024 at 5:04 PM

The Army is asking industry for feedback to develop a hybrid-electric version of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, according to a public notice.

“The HEV is envisioned to be a new propulsion system design for light vehicle platforms,” the Feb. 22 announcement reads.

Though the performance requirements are classified, the JLTV joint program office will use the effort “to support potential future light tactical vehicle procurements.”

“While HEV technology is prevalent in the commercial market, its application in a military setting is far less common,” the announcement adds. “The draft technical performance requirements developed convey the unique military use cases, duty cycles and performance to meet the anticipated operational needs.”

The solicitation also asks respondents to estimate the cost of replacing existing propulsion systems with the hybrid-electric system.

Oshkosh, which currently produces the JLTV for the Army, also produces an electric variant with silent drive, silent watch, enhanced fuel economy and increased exportable power, according to the company’s website.

In November 2023, the Army issued a solicitation for a hybrid-electric M1126 Stryker infantry carrier vehicle.

Slated to replace a portion of the Army’s humvees, the non-hybrid JLTV is a family of four-wheel-drive vehicles designed to transport personnel and payloads during military operations.

Variants include a general-purpose vehicle, heavy gun carrier, utility/shelter carrier and close combat weapons carrier.

To reduce fuel consumption and minimize engine noise, the non-hybrid JLTV will also feature lithium-ion batteries.

In June 2023, the Government Accountability Office denied Oshkosh’s protest of the Army’s decision to award the next production phase of the JLTV to AM General.

The Army is slated to procure 2,601 JLTVs in fiscal year 2024, according to budget documents.

The Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force will also procure smaller portions of JLTVs.

By Georgina DiNardo
February 22, 2024 at 2:29 PM

The Defense Department's Large Scale Global Exercise 2024 begins this month with goals of strengthening allied interoperability through demonstrations of joint military cooperation across branches and nations.

LSGE 24 will be the third time the global series has run, which aims to showcase “all-domain military exercises alongside allies and partners around the globe,” according to a U.S. European Command Public Affairs statement released today.

This year’s exercise will be run by EUCOM, with help from DOD combatant commands that are participating, including the incorporation of personnel from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Space Force.

“Our commitment to peace and security not only here in Europe, but throughout the world, is unwavering,” Deputy EUCOM Commander Lt. Gen. Steven Basham said in the release. “Large Scale Global Exercise 24 is another opportunity to showcase our commitment and resolve, while demonstrating our readiness to respond to any security challenge.”

LSGE 24 aims to highlight interoperability and bolster agility between allies and partners through a series of exercises, the release noted.

“The LSGE 24 series will incorporate nearly 30 wide-ranging exercises and military activities with discrete objectives,” the release said. “Collectively, these activities will highlight America’s robust presence and capabilities alongside Allies, partners and fellow U.S. combatant commands.”

Eleven events associated with LSGE 24 are set to occur in the EUCOM area of responsibility. These events will include “Allied Spirit, Trojan Footprint, two iterations of Bomber Task Force, Nordic Response, Arctic Shock, Saber Strike, Immediate Response, Swift Response, Astral Knight and BALTOPS.”

The other events will be led by combatant commands with help from allied nations.

The exercise begins this month but will run until its conclusion in June.

By John Liang
February 22, 2024 at 2:14 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force Research Laboratory warning of the effects of a potential full-year continuing resolution plus coverage of a pair of Defense Department inspector general reports on U.S. military aid to Ukraine and more.

Yet another military organization is sounding the alarm over the potential damage a full-year continuing resolution would have on defense programs:

AFRL warns of 'broad departmental effects' without FY-24 appropriations bill

DENVER -- The Air Force Research Laboratory is poised to play a major role in the Air Force's massive reorganization plan to outpace China, but a full-year continuing resolution for fiscal year 2024 may derail such efforts, according to service leaders at the Air and Space Forces Association's Warfare Symposium.

The Defense Department's inspector general has raised issues with the sustainment of U.S. military equipment sent to Ukraine:

IG: Pentagon lacked plan to sustain weapons sent to Ukraine

The Defense Department did not develop or implement a plan to sustain the combat vehicles and air defense systems provided to Ukraine as military aid beyond 2024, according to the Pentagon's inspector general.

Document: DOD IG report on sustainment plan for combat vehicles transferred to Ukraine

Document: DOD IG report on sustainment strategies for Patriot systems transferred to Ukraine

From Ukraine, we turn to a U.S.-Indian defense innovation cooperation initiative:

INDUS-X summit announces winners and launches new challenges

The second India-U.S. Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) Summit today announced the winners of the first set of INDUS-X joint challenges, launched new challenges, and discussed bolstering defense supply chain initiatives through new consortiums and co-producing military capabilities.

A Microelectronics Commons initiative is underway to bolster the U.S. microchip industrial base through prototyping, manufacturing and producing at scale:

DOD seeks solutions for quicker microelectronics prototypes

A Defense Department contractor focused on microelectronics acquisition released a request for solutions today seeking state-of-the-art microelectronics prototype devices from industry to convert into military systems.

Document: S2MARTS request for solutions for microelectronics prototypes

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

Pentagon presses ahead with CMMC rulemaking deadline after release of 'informational' video

The Defense Department is limiting its engagement plans to an "informational" video for the first rulemaking under the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program in advance of the Feb. 26 comment deadline, according to a Federal Register notice published this week.

By Georgina DiNardo
February 22, 2024 at 11:32 AM

The Defense Innovation Unit director is set to speak at the South by Southwest 2024 conference in Austin, TX, held March 8-10, discussing technology projects with industry executives and national security innovation leaders.

“Our presence in key technology ecosystems like Austin helps us identify the best technology and talent for national security,” DIU Director Doug Beck said in a press release announcing his participation in the high-profile event.

SXSW is a wide-ranging conference and festival that focuses on an array of subjects, including technology, film, music and culture. Beck will speak on two panels at the conference portion focused on technology.

The discussion will include talk about “defense priorities and trending technologies that can help solve national and global security challenges” from a variety of individuals from industry, private capital, technology experts and senior leaders, DIU said in the release.

“Events are aimed at helping cultivate and propel the defense innovation ecosystem with allies and partners by creating an uncommon opportunity to converge in the same place, at the same time and with a shared purpose,” DIU said.

A new Capital Factory joint innovation space will be launched at the conference, including a ribbon-cutting event, with Beck set to speak at the launch on March 9.

“The joint workspace will enable innovation-focused entities to connect and collaborate support of the DIU mission to rapidly deliver capabilities to maximize strategic impact,” DIU said.

On March 10, Beck will be on a panel called “Secret Squirrel: The Future of Defense and Intelligence” with John Beiler, director of science and technology in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, discussing the “transformative role” technology plays in defense and intelligence.

“They [will] explore the evolving landscape of national defense and intelligence in the age of rapid technological advancement,” the release said. “This session offers a deep dive into new initiatives with insights into how the DIU and the ODNI are collaborating with tech innovators and startups to embrace innovative technologies.”

Beck will join a second panel that same day, called “Greatest Innovator in the History of the World,” that also includes Stefanie Tompkins, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, that aims to spread awareness of the impact defense innovation has on society.

By Nick Wilson
February 21, 2024 at 5:19 PM

Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) today signaled his opposition to a possible move by the Navy to reduce Virginia-class submarine procurement to only one vessel in fiscal year 2025.

“Attack submarines are the crown jewels of the U.S. military and critical to deterring China. Slashing production weakens American power. We cannot afford to shortchange our deterrent during this dangerous moment,” Wicker said in a statement. “I urge the administration to reverse course on this harmful decision.”

This announcement from Wicker follows a report by USNI News indicating the Navy will seek fewer Virginia boats in its upcoming FY-25 budget request.

In a statement shared with Inside Defense, a Navy spokesperson said all FY-25 procurement information is still pre-decisional. The service plans to release its official budget request on March 11.

With workforce and supply chain challenges plaguing the submarine industrial base, shipbuilders are currently producing between 1.2 and 1.4 Virginia submarines per year compared to the Navy’s target rate of two vessels. In September, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti said the Navy aims to build at least 1.5 Virginia submarines per year by the end of 2024.

On top of domestic demand for the boats, the AUKUS security partnership will require the United States to transfer at least three of the vessels to Australia in the early 2030s. This increased demand will require industry to further increase production to at least 2.33 Virginia submarines annually, according to Wicker’s release.

By Abby Shepherd
February 21, 2024 at 3:27 PM

Following the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System’s reliability challenges on the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), HII’s Newport News shipbuilding division announced Wednesday it successfully began topside testing the launch system on the John F. Kennedy (CVN-79).

“As we make sustained progress in the construction, testing and turnover of John F. Kennedy, reaching the dead load testing phase is a visual demonstration of how far we’ve come,” vice president of the CVN-79 new construction aircraft carrier program Lucas Hicks said in a statement.

In dead load testing, structures weighing up to 80,000 pounds -- meant to simulate aircraft weight -- are launched off the carrier’s bow.

“The first dead-load launch off the flight deck is a historic moment for [pre-commissioning unit] John F. Kennedy, and a testament to the power of great teamwork between our JFK crew, HII team, and [Naval Air Systems Command] engineers,” CVN-79 commanding officer Capt. Colin Day said in a statement. “I’m particularly proud of our Air Department and the hard-working Aviation Boatswain Mates who worked tirelessly alongside the engineering and testing teams to get us to this critical moment.”

Meanwhile, CVN-78 encountered problems with EMALS reliability in the past year, as noted in this month’s director of operational test and evaluation report.

Despite upgrades to hardware and software, “reliability has not appreciably changed from prior years,” according to the report. To help, NAVAIR implemented a software update and upgraded sensors before CVN-78 was deployed.

Additionally, DOT&E noted that delivery of CVN-79 is scheduled for late fiscal year 2025 -- previously meant for FY-24. The delay is due to the Navy “moving some work from CVN-79’s post-delivery Post Shakedown Availability to before delivery, to mitigate schedule risk to its first deployment,” the report said.

By John Liang
February 21, 2024 at 2:08 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the precarious state of U.S. weapons funding for Ukraine, an undisclosed Patriot intercept test and more.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh this week said DOD is not considering providing additional weapons to Ukraine via presidential drawdown authority until Congress authorizes a supplemental security spending package:

DOD won't risk supplying Ukraine without replenishment funds from Congress

The Defense Department has $4 billion in remaining spending authority it could tap to send additional weapons to Ukraine but assesses that the risk of doing so to be too great as Congress has thus far failed to appropriate money that would be needed to replenish U.S. stocks.

The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, in an annual report to Congress and the defense secretary last month, revealed the results of a developmental test of a major Patriot software upgrade called Post Development Build 8.1:

Patriot shoots down electronic-jamming aircraft target in test of major software upgrade

The Defense Department has improved the Patriot lower-tier air and missile shield, boosting the system's ability to search, discriminate and destroy tactical ballistic missiles as well as demonstrating a new capability to fend off electronic attack while hunting down enemy threats.

Keep an eye out for a Defense Business Board meeting taking place later this month:

Upcoming DBB meeting to provide updates on digital ecosystem study

The Defense Business Board will hold a meeting Feb. 29 to hear updates from its business transformation advisory subcommittee on a study pertaining to leveraging digital ecosystems, according to a notice published in the Federal Register.

Navy officials are sounding the alarm over the negative effects a full-year continuing resolution could have on the service's budget and programs:

Extended CR could affect contracting for several Navy missiles

Congress' inability to pass a fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill may have a major effect on the Navy’s plans to contract for the production of several missile programs, with current funding set to expire March 8.

In a recent terms of reference memo, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu calls on the Defense Science Board to "conduct a study to consider the topic of commercial provision of navigation signals for operational use":

DSB study sought on military use for commercial navigation signals

Pentagon technology chief Heidi Shyu has tasked the Defense Science Board's Permanent Subcommittee on Strategic Options with running a study that would evaluate the use of commercial navigation signals for potential military operations.

Document: DSB memo on using commercial navigation systems for military use

By Tony Bertuca
February 21, 2024 at 11:33 AM

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie plans to retire at the end of the month, according to a Pentagon statement.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called Moultrie a “a key member of the department's senior leadership team.”

“He has shown a far-sighted approach to complex intelligence issues, built a rapport with domestic and international intelligence leaders, and established stewardship of our Defense Intelligence and Security Enterprise,” Austin said. “His achievements include the designation of the under secretary of defense for intelligence and security as the principal staff assistant for law enforcement; advancing the department's ability to provide insights into adversary capabilities via the Foreign Language Roadmap; and initiating a landmark review of the department's credibility assessment program that supports criminal investigations and the process of adjudicating security clearances.”

Moultrie was confirmed in May 2021. Prior to serving as DOD’s intelligence chief, he worked as president and CEO of Oceanus Security Strategies and previously served as the National Security Agency's director of operations.

By Georgina DiNardo
February 21, 2024 at 10:59 AM

The Defense Innovation Board will hold a public meeting on March 5 to hear from defense entrepreneurship experts in preparation for the panel's upcoming spring meeting.

“The objective of this DIB meeting is to gather information from guest speakers and discuss relevant issues related to its current research in preparation for the upcoming Spring 2024 Public Meeting,” a notice published in the Federal Register today said.

The DIB is scheduled to meet with members of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum Board to “gather information and discuss specific issues regarding talent management, partnerships and collaboration, responsible [artificial intelligence], internal barriers, risk taking and tech adoption in preparation for the DIB's upcoming Spring 2024 Public Meeting scheduled on April 17, 2024, to ensure proposed recommendations are practical and actionable to drive and scale innovation across the DOD,” the notice said.

The agenda for the spring meeting has not yet been released, although if the DIB’s pattern of releasing study information continues, an update on the two studies announced at the winter public meeting could be expected.

At the DIB’s winter public meeting, the board announced two new studies about optimizing innovation among allies and aligning incentives for faster technology adoption and acquisition.

DIB Chair Mike Bloomberg said at the winter meeting that insight into those studies will be provided in the “coming months.”

By Nick Wilson
February 20, 2024 at 2:31 PM

The Marine Corps will award two separate contracts to Textron Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems for the design and construction of a new Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle prototype outfitted with a 30mm medium-caliber autocannon.

According to government notices posted last week by Army Contracting Command on behalf of the Marine Corps’ Program Manager for Light Armored Vehicles, Textron and General Dynamics will each be contracted to build their own ARV-30 prototypes, with options to also produce system integration laboratories for the new vehicles.

Though the notices provide few additional details on the upcoming award, a November 2023 sources-sought notice indicated each contract would be worth up to $17.5 million.

The two companies delivered initial ARV prototypes -- designed to provide command, control, communications and computer/uncrewed aerial systems capabilities -- in early fiscal year 2023.

After a year testing these C4UAS prototypes, the Marine Corps is looking to procure the ARV-30 variant for additional testing before launching the program’s engineering and manufacturing development phase. Last month, a General Dynamics executive told Inside Defense that the company had already started designing its ARV-30 prototype.

The service plans to procure a family of six ARV mission-role variants to replace the legacy Amphibious Assault Vehicle as the primary platform supporting the new mobile reconnaissance battalions.

Earlier this month, the Marine Corps announced it would postpone an ARV industry day, first scheduled for Feb. 29, to an undisclosed date later in FY-24 to further refine program requirements. At the industry day, the Marine Corps is expected to provide information on the upcoming EMD phase.

The service anticipates releasing a request for proposals in the second quarter of FY-25 and awarding an EMD contract in the second quarter of FY-26. FY-24 budget documents request $63.6 million in continuing research and development funding for the program and project procurement to begin in FY-28.