The Insider

By John Liang
August 5, 2022 at 1:46 PM

QinetiQ's U.S. subsidiary announced today it has agreed to acquire Avantus Federal LLC from NewSpring Holdings for $590 million.

Avantus is a provider of cyber, data analytics and software development solutions to the Defense Department, intelligence community, Department of Homeland Security and other federal civilian agencies, according to a QinetiQ statement.

From June 2021 to June 2022, Avantus generated revenues of $298 million, QinetiQ said.

"This acquisition is an important step in the execution of QinetiQ's five-year ambitions to expand our presence in the U.S., the largest security and defense market in the world," Steve Wadey, group CEO of QinetiQ, said in the statement. "Avantus significantly enhances our U.S. offering and provides a strong platform from which to further grow our U.S. operations. Avantus has a track record of high growth at attractive margins and is well-positioned across priority areas for key defense and intelligence customers in the U.S. We have a high confidence plan to integrate Avantus in order to deliver our global growth strategy."

By John Liang
August 5, 2022 at 1:29 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on lessons learned from the recently concluded Rim of the Pacific naval exercise, Joint All-Domain Command and Control, Army network modernization funding and more.

The annual Rim of the Pacific exercise is proof that partners and allies are committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific, according to Vice Adm. Michael Boyle:

Navy wraps up RIMPAC, considers lessons learned

As tensions rise in the Indo-Pacific and the annual Rim of the Pacific exercise concludes, the commander of U.S. 3rd Fleet emphasized the importance of partnerships and maintaining the rules-based order.

Frederick Stanley, the coalition operations and integration branch chief for the coalition interoperability division on the Joint Staff (J-6), spoke this week at an ExecutiveBiz technology forum in Falls Church, VA:

Pentagon focused on building 'a global capability' for MPE ahead of JADC2 integration

Officials working on the Pentagon's years-in-the-making effort to boost data sharing with its partners are currently focused on creating a common infrastructure to generate "a global capability" that would foster enhanced mission planning and execution, according to one leader with the Joint Staff (J-6).

The Senate Appropriations Committee isn't in sync with the other congressional committees on funding for Army network modernization:

Proposed Senate spending cuts to Army network modernization are at odds with other committees

The Senate Appropriations Committee is seeking to cut tens of millions of dollars from the Army's budget to procure new tactical radios, at-the-halt communications capabilities and satellite communication, a move that is at odds with funding levels proposed or approved by other congressional committees.

The head of the National Reconnaissance Office spoke this week during a virtual forum for the Mitchell Institute:

NRO 'working through' how it will operate during conflict, director says

With the standing up of the Space Force, reconstitution of U.S. Space Command and the rapid growth of space operations, the National Reconnaissance Office, long the leader of space acquisitions, has often found itself at the forefront of vexing issues over jurisdiction and its role in the future of space architecture.

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

'CHIPS-plus' is a step but 'considerable work' remains to meet challenges from China

Enactment of the "CHIPS-plus" law to bolster semiconductor production and U.S. technological innovation is an important step, says Mark Montgomery of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, but more is needed on research, investment and workforce training to meet the security and economic challenges emanating from China.

By John Liang
August 4, 2022 at 2:13 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a proposed munitions acquisition fund, Air Force and Navy airborne early warning aircraft and more.

We start off with coverage of Senate appropriators' disapproval of a Defense Department proposal for a new munitions acquisition fund:

Senate appropriators look to block new 'Critical Munitions Acquisition Fund'

The Senate Appropriations Committee is taking a dim view of a new Pentagon proposal to create a $500 million "Critical Munitions Acquisitions Fund" intended to help the United States surge production of key anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to continue to aid Ukraine and prepare for other potential crises.

Appropriators also want the Air Force to speed up its replacement of aging E-3 early warning aircraft:

Senate appropriators push for faster E-7A fielding to replace E-3 AWACS

Senate appropriators could double the budget for the Air Force's program to replace its aging E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, according to a committee mark-up of the fiscal year 2023 defense spending bill.

Speaking of early warning, Northrop Grumman paid for reporters to visit the company's facility that builds the Navy's E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft:

What's next for the E-2D? Northrop looks to sixth-gen capability

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL -- As the Navy's E-2D Advanced Hawkeye operates in the Mediterranean Sea and the Indo-Pacific, Northrop Grumman is pursuing a sixth-generation command and control capability to keep the aircraft relevant into the 2040s and beyond.

Senate appropriators also want to plus up funding for the Army's Future Vertical Lift efforts:

Senate panel proposes increase for new technologies under FVL umbrella

The Army would receive additional funding for some key programs underneath its broad effort to develop future aviation systems under a draft spending bill released by a Senate panel.

Last but by no means least, the last of the Space Force's Space Based Infrared System satellites was launched this week:

Space Force launches sixth and final SBIRS satellite

The sixth Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Orbit satellite launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, FL this morning aboard an Atlas V United Launch Alliance rocket, rounding out the current generation of missile warning and tracking satellites for the Space Force as the service looks to pivot to the next generation of threat detection.

By Tony Bertuca
August 4, 2022 at 10:33 AM

Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, currently the Air Force public affairs director, has been named the Defense Department's new press secretary, according to a Pentagon announcement.

Ryder succeeds John Kirby, who left DOD for a communications role at the White House National Security Council.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that Ryder “will fill a critical role, leading our efforts to provide timely, accurate information to the media, and through the media to the American people.”

“He will spend the next few weeks closing out his Air Force and Space Force responsibilities before assuming his new role later this month,” Austin continued. “He brings a wealth of experience, including joint and deployed assignments that will serve him well as he informs the media of our activities around the world. I am confident that I will benefit from his counsel, and that the American people will benefit from his ability to clearly and consistently communicate our efforts to protect the United States and its interests around the world, take care of our people, and strengthen our unrivaled alliances and partnerships.”

By John Liang
August 3, 2022 at 1:12 PM

This INSIDER Wednesday Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System, plus the service's Compass Call aircraft program, unmanned surface vessels operating during the annual Rim of the Pacific naval exercise and more.

A new Air Force model, the Advanced Battle Management System cross functional team lead, will create a sort of digital twin that will help the service understand how it makes decisions now and how it will make decisions in the future:

Air Force will release model for industry input on decision-making in ABMS

The Air Force is using a Model-Based System Engineering methodology to analyze its decision-making and battle management processes, and it will release a model of those processes to industry partners later this month.

The fiscal year 2023 budget request did not include any procurement funding for the Compass Call electronic warfare aircraft, but it was one of the biggest-ticket items on the Air Force's unfunded priorities list:

Senate appropriators could add four Compass Call aircraft to Air Force fleet

Senate appropriators could give the Air Force funding to procure four aircraft designed for electromagnetic warfare operations, according to a committee mark-up.

The Navy is working to make the unmanned surface vessels participating in this year's Rim of the Pacific exercise to be more reliable:

Navy fleet wants more USV payloads following RIMPAC exercise

As the Navy begins to draw key takeaways from the world's largest naval exercise this summer, the fleet wants more payloads for its unmanned surface vessels.

The Marine Corps is looking into developing a new kind of munition system:

Marine Corps reaches out to industry for new precision fires program

The Marine Corps is exploring the development of an Organic Precision Fires (OPF) Munition System with loitering, beyond-line-of-sight precision engagement capabilities, eying a possible fiscal year 2023 contract.

In case you missed it, we have a cruise missile defense story available to all:

Hicks breaks bureaucratic logjam, taps Air Force to lead homeland cruise missile defense

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks has assigned the Air Force responsibility for acquiring a capability to defend the homeland against cruise missiles, setting the stage for a potential multibillion-dollar project and breaking a long-running bureaucratic logjam that in recent years had the Missile Defense Agency lobbying for the role.

By Briana Reilly
August 3, 2022 at 12:38 PM

The Pentagon has launched a trio of new projects to explore 5G and future wireless technologies, including one that aims to become the military's "hub" for next-generation communications efforts, the Defense Department announced this week.

That undertaking, known as Open6G, was initiated through the Pentagon’s Innovate Beyond 5G program and seeks to “jump-start 6G systems research on open radio access networks,” according to the DOD release posted Tuesday.

Funded through a $1.77 million IB5G award, the effort is led by Northeastern University’s Kostas Research Institute in Massachusetts, in conjunction with a cooperative agreement struck through the Army Research Laboratory, per the release. Technical work will be completed at the university’s Institute for Wireless Internet of Things.

“Open6G will serve as the DOD’s hub for development, testing, and integration of trusted enhancements, supporting an industry and federal government NextG ecosystem pursuing 6G technology goals,” the release states.

Beyond Open6G, DOD announced the kick-start of two other projects: one, in partnership with Zylinium Research, focused on spectrum exchange security and scalability, and another with Nokia Bell Labs on massive multi-input, multi-output (MIMO).

The latter, which deals with exploring the scalability of massive MIMO solutions across tactical communications networks, received a $3.69 million award. A request for solutions solicitation for distributed MIMO, first posted in late April, noted that scaling through increasing the number of antennas has previously been demonstrated for terrestrial, cellular operations, but difficulties arise in military tactical networks given the nodes that reside on armored vehicles, satellites, unmanned aerial systems and dismounted soldiers.

Spectrum sharing, meanwhile, has been a focal point for DOD in recent years, with the department supporting experimentation to ensure existing 5G networks and military radars, for example, can coexist or work together on overlapping spectral bands. Such experimentation is currently happening at Hill Air Force Base, UT, though DOD has also funded a range of 5G projects across five U.S. military test sites.

Zylinium’s spectrum exchange research, which dives into the potential for leveraging “blockchain in order to provide data persistence, scalability, and robustness,” per the DOD release, is funded through a $1.64 million award.

“The DOD has a vital interest in advancing 5G-to-NextG wireless technologies and concept demonstrations,” Sumit Roy, IB5G program director, said in the release. “These efforts represent our continuing investments via public and private sector collaboration on research & development for critical Beyond 5G technology enablers necessary to realize high-performance, secure and resilient network operations for the future warfighter.”

The new projects feed into the IB5G initiative’s aims to “support ideation, design, prototyping and integration of novel” concepts and components, the MIMO solicitation, posted to the National Security Technology Accelerator website, explains. Through the program, officials are looking for “novel advances and engineered solutions” from the commercial sector that can be adopted to meet the military’s needs, according to the notice.

By John Liang
August 2, 2022 at 1:10 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on cruise missile defense, unmanned surface vessels and more.

We start off with a cruise missile defense story available to all:

Hicks breaks bureaucratic logjam, taps Air Force to lead homeland cruise missile defense

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks has assigned the Air Force responsibility for acquiring a capability to defend the homeland against cruise missiles, setting the stage for a potential multibillion-dollar project and breaking a long-running bureaucratic logjam that in recent years had the Missile Defense Agency lobbying for the role.

Four unmanned surface vessels are participating in this year's Rim of the Pacific exercise to gain fleet experience:

Navy fleet wants more USV payloads following RIMPAC exercise

As the Navy begins to draw key takeaways from the world's largest naval exercise this summer, the fleet wants more payloads for its unmanned surface vessels.

The fiscal year 2023 budget request did not include any procurement funding for the Compass Call electronic warfare aircraft, but it was one of the biggest-ticket items on the Air Force's unfunded priorities list:

Senate appropriators could add four Compass Call aircraft to Air Force fleet

Senate appropriators could give the Air Force funding to procure four aircraft designed for electromagnetic warfare operations, according to a committee mark-up.

The Marine Corps is looking into developing a new kind of munition system:

Marine Corps reaches out to industry for new precision fires program

The Marine Corps is exploring the development of an Organic Precision Fires (OPF) Munition System with loitering, beyond-line-of-sight precision engagement capabilities, eying a possible fiscal year 2023 contract.

The fiscal year 2023 appropriations bill announced by the Senate Appropriations Committee would provide $1.26 billion in procurement funds for the Army to upgrade 90 Abrams tanks, a $602 million increase over the service’s request to spend $656 million to upgrade 44 tanks:

Senate appropriators want big increase for Abrams funding

A Senate committee is seeking to nearly double funding for the Army to procure upgraded Abrams tanks in fiscal year 2023, bringing the total for the upgrades closer to the levels the program received in FY-22 and tracking closely with an Army request for additional funds.

By Michael Marrow
August 2, 2022 at 10:58 AM

The Space Force is looking to retire legacy space domain awareness systems and introduce new capabilities for the 18th Space Defense Squadron at Vandenberg Space Force Base, according to a request for information posted by the service yesterday.

A total of 18 mission areas with numerous sub-capabilities are identified by the RFI as candidates for new systems, ranging from observation and space threat processing to sensor tasking and calibration.

The Space Force expects several criteria from the new software, including government purpose rights or details for how unique intellectual property would function in an open architecture environment; modern cloud technologies and methodologies; web-based user interfaces; enterprise services; a test, training and exercise capability; and integration of the new systems with existing capabilities and subsequent sustainment support.

If selected, the new software could facilitate decommissioning of systems such as the Space Defense Operations Center and Astrodynamics Support Workstation and could enhance other mission areas like cooperative and non-cooperative proliferated low earth orbit launches, the RFI states.

The service is seeking responses that can connect and contribute across existing capabilities, according to the RFI, and additional RFIs may be issued concerning other capabilities or mission imperatives.

Responses are due Aug. 16 and will be reviewed by a collection of government employees, academics and private contractors, the RFI says.

By John Liang
August 2, 2022 at 9:34 AM

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks has assigned the Air Force responsibility for acquiring a capability to defend the homeland against cruise missiles, setting the stage for a potential multibillion-dollar project and breaking a long-running bureaucratic logjam that in recent years had the Missile Defense Agency lobbying for the role.

Check out the story, available to all.

By Briana Reilly
August 1, 2022 at 3:24 PM

Garrett Yee has joined General Dynamics Information Technology as the vice president and general manager of the company's Army sector, executives announced today.

In his new role, Yee, a retired Army major general, will focus on “driving growth and innovation and meeting customer needs,” through specialized technology solutions and services that range from artificial intelligence and cybersecurity to 5G and high-performance computing, GDIT said in a press release.

The move comes in the months after Yee retired from his post as assistant to the Defense Information Systems Agency director following a 35-year military career that included a stint as the military deputy and chief information security officer for the Army CIO/G-6, then a dual role that has since been split into two.

Yee’s retirement ceremony was April 28.

By Tony Bertuca
August 1, 2022 at 2:50 PM

The United States will be transferring $550 million in artillery ammunition to help Ukraine fend off an ongoing Russian invasion, including additional rounds for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, according to a Defense Department statement released today.

The transfer, which includes 75,000 rounds of 155 mm ammunition, will come directly from U.S. stocks and will be the 17th such “drawdown” ordered by President Biden since August 2021.

Last month, the United States announced it has transferred a total of 16 HIMARS to the Ukrainian military to help defend the eastern region of the country from Russian military advancements.

“In total, the United States has committed approximately $8.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration,” DOD said. “Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $10 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.”

By John Liang
August 1, 2022 at 1:25 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Missile Defense Agency's Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the Guam air defense project, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and more.

The Pentagon has awarded a multibillion-dollar missile defense contract to Northrop Grumman:

MDA competition for GMD futures fails to draw more than single bid, $3.2 billion for Northrop

The Missile Defense Agency, after nearly four years of market research and analysis on how best to inject competition into the nearly billion-dollar-a-year effort to sustain, maintain and improve the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, managed to draw only a single proposal for a major new GMD Futures contract -- handing Northrop Grumman a $3.2 billion prize.

More missile defense news:

Senate panel cuts Guam project by nearly 10%, directs DEPSECDEF-led accounting

Senate appropriators want to dock $80 million from the high-priority Guam air defense project in fiscal year 2023 because the Pentagon has failed to account for its plans for the new project -- specifically the architecture -- in accordance with congressional directives issued a year ago.

Coverage of the leadership change in the office that oversees the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program:

Following norm-breaking PEO selection, JPO AQ precedent intact

Although the F-35 Joint Program Office has broken norms in its selection of a new director, officials are still adhering to a key precedent when it comes to acquisition oversight of the Defense Department's largest procurement effort.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, in its fiscal year 2023 spending bill approved last week, wants to plus up Air Force and Space Force procurement:

Senate appropriators seek to raise Air Force procurement; boost procurement and RDT&E for space

Senate appropriators would increase procurement for the Air Force and raise both procurement and research, development, test and evaluation funds for the Space Force in their version of the fiscal year 2023 defense spending bill.

Pentagon officials have sought to ensure the U.S. military has a current and classified network in place to protect data in light of the war in Ukraine:

DISA extends Thunderdome prototype to include classified network

The Defense Information Systems Agency is lengthening its Thunderdome zero-trust environment program timeline by six months and expanding it to include a classified network prototype, according to officials.

During a recent quarterly earnings call, Textron CEO Scott Donnelly spoke about the Army's Black Hawk helicopter replacement effort:

FLRAA delay will cut into Bell profits, CEO says

The Army's multimonth delay in announcing the winner of the competition to replace the Black Hawk helicopter will result in a decrease in annual profits for Bell, according to its parent company's CEO.

By John Liang
August 1, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Senior military officials speak at a variety of conferences this week.

Wednesday

The Association of the U.S. Army holds a Coffee Series day with Army Reserve Command chief Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels.

The Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Exchange 2022 takes place in person and virtually in Honolulu, HI through Friday.

Thursday

National Reconnaissance Office Director Christopher Scolese speaks at a Mitchell Institute Spacepower Forum event.

By John Liang
July 29, 2022 at 2:45 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense spending bill and more.

The Senate Appropriations Committee this week marked up its version of the fiscal year 2023 defense spending bill:

Senate appropriators float $792 billion FY-23 defense budget

Senate appropriators today released their $792.1 billion fiscal year 2023 defense spending bill, proposing a nearly $12 billion boost in procurement in a plan that represents a nearly 4% increase over the president's budget request.

Senate appropriators seek to raise Air Force procurement; boost procurement and RDT&E for space

Senate appropriators would increase procurement for the Air Force and raise both procurement and research, development, test and evaluation funds for the Space Force in their version of the fiscal year 2023 defense spending bill.

Senate appropriations bill would cut nearly all IVAS funding

The Senate Appropriations Committee is seeking to cut nearly all fiscal year 2023 procurement funding from the Army's new augmented reality headset, according to an explanatory statement accompanying the chairman's mark of the spending bill.

News on U.S. Cyber Command and Air Force networks:

CYBERCOM AQ team poised for expansion

U.S. Cyber Command's acquisition arm is preparing to bring on dozens of new hires in the coming years as officials await the receipt of enhanced budgeting authority in fiscal year 2024 amid quickening adversarial moves to exploit network vulnerabilities.

Air Force CIO lays out goals to work more closely with industry partners

The Air Force hopes to build tighter ties with companies to field needed software capabilities and updates more quickly, Air Force Chief Information Officer Lauren Knausenberger said Tuesday.

Plus the latest defense cyber news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

First CMMC voluntary assessment scheduled for August as DOD 'joint surveillance' program begins

The first official Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification assessment starts Aug. 22 under the Pentagon's "joint surveillance voluntary program," where a certified third-party assessment organization will conduct the examination and report results to the Defense Contract Management Agency for final approval.

NIST official: Timing on update to CUI series subject to stakeholder feedback

Plans to update the National Institute of Standards and Technology's controlled unclassified information publications will depend on input gathered in a current pre-call for comments due in September, according to 800-171 series leader Victoria Pillitteri, who spoke at a July 27 summit focused on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model certification program.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) this week put a pause on the Senate Armed Services Committee's ability to move forward with the nominations of Radha Plumb and Laura Taylor-Kale, tapped to be deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment and assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy, respectively:

Senator announces hold on DOD nominees for industrial policy, deputy AQ chiefs

Two of President Biden's picks for key Defense Department posts -- deputy acquisition chief and the newly created industrial policy head -- are facing a roadblock in their path for Senate approval after one lawmaker today warned he would be placing a hold on their nominations.

Gen. Stephen Townsend, who has led U.S. Africa Command for three years, spoke during a virtual event this week:

Outgoing AFRICOM chief warns of rising extremist threat

The outgoing commander of U.S forces in Africa on Thursday said the U.S. faces a growing threat from violent extremism on the continent, although he believes the force has the funds necessary to counter it.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, in its mark of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill, includes a provision urging the defense secretary to encourage the Air Force to transfer the RQ-4 Block 30 aircraft slated for divestiture to the Test Resource Management Center:

DOD testers acquire additional retired Global Hawks to support hypersonic weapon testing

The Defense Department is poised this month to significantly expand its fledgling fleet of high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft dedicated to monitor U.S. hypersonic flight tests, a development intended to support plans for an increased pace of assessments as well as opening new corridors for regular testing off the East Coast into the Atlantic Ocean.

The House-passed version of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill proposes a provision that would require the Pentagon to hire a federally funded research and development center to execute a study and deliver findings on the domestic, precision-munition industrial base within six months of enactment:

Eyeing Ukraine's war, lawmakers seek assessment on precision-munition surge options

Lawmakers want an independent assessment of the domestic, precision-munition industrial base, particularly any gap limitations on the Pentagon's capacity to replenish nearly two-dozen "critical" weapon systems in the event of a fight against Russia or China that extends more than six months.

By John Liang
July 29, 2022 at 11:04 AM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has named Abraham Denmark to serve as his senior adviser on the tripartite alliance between the United States, Australia and United Kingdom, the Pentagon announced today.

According to a statement from acting Pentagon Press Secretary Todd Breasseale, Denmark "will advise the secretary and coordinate efforts across the department to move rapidly in delivering on the promise of this historic partnership to help Australia establish a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability and to accelerate development of advanced capabilities to serve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific."

Denmark is currently vice president of programs at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, and from 2015 to 2017 served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, according to Breasseale's statement.

"In his new role he will help move forward one of America’s most important partnerships in the Indo-Pacific," Breasseale said.

James Miller will continue to serve as the U.S. coordinator for AUKUS at the National Security Council, according to the statement.

In April, the White House announced that the three countries had expanded the scope of efforts under the trilateral agreement to include hypersonic and electronic warfare capabilities.

Additionally, earlier this month, Australia's defense minister said he is hoping to use the pact to build a foundation of "seamless" industrial bases between the three countries as they look to leverage a host of emerging technologies and capabilities.