The Insider

By John Liang
April 4, 2024 at 3:25 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Navy testing high-power microwave technology, the Air Force looking to use "drone swarms" to disarm enemy defenses and more.

In this summer's Advanced Naval Technology Exercise Coastal Trident Program (ANTX-CT24) exercise, Epirus -- a Los Angeles-based technology company focusing on directed energy -- will participate in field experiments using its Leonidas HPM technology to "temporarily disable small vessels powered by outboard motors," like the uncrewed vessels seen in the Red Sea:

High-Power Microwave tech to be tested in Navy exercise

A defense start-up wants to successfully display High-Power Microwave technology that can potentially disrupt drones, similar to those launched recently by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central, spoke with reporters this week during a breakfast hosted by the Defense Writers Group:

AFCENT commander wants to use 'drone swarms' to disarm enemy defenses

As the Pentagon moves to rapidly deploy an affordable mass of uncrewed aircraft to get intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities up to speed for potential future challenges in the Indo-Pacific, Defense Department forces are already facing some drone-related issues amid conflict in the Middle East, according to a top U.S. Central Command official.

Navy Comptroller Russell Rumbaugh said at an American Enterprise Institute event this week, in remarks that followed the service's release of a shipbuilding review identifying rampant delays across key programs:

Navy can't 'buy its way out' of programmatic challenges, comptroller says

The Navy can't "buy its way out" of the problems facing key acquisitions programs, a senior official said today, though the service is still determining exactly what it can do to alleviate widespread delays across high-priority submarine and ship acquisition programs.

DARPA wants to slash $900 million in sensor funding:

DARPA's sensor portfolio slashed by half in new five-year plan

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's sensor technology portfolio that aims to improve the accuracy and timeliness of surveillance and targeting systems is being offered up as a bill payer in the Pentagon's new five-year spending plan, with proposed reductions of more than $900 million when compared to the current blueprint.

Document: DARPA's FY-25 budget justification book

The Air Force's top uniformed officer spoke about the Collaborative Combat Aircraft program this week:

Air Force to write affordability into CCA requirements

The Air Force will write affordability into the requirements for its Collaborative Combat Aircraft, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin said last week.

By Georgina DiNardo
April 4, 2024 at 1:55 PM

Shield AI, a U.S. defense technology company, announced its definitive agreement to acquire Sentient Vision Systems, an Australian artificial intelligence company, citing its focus on Pillar II of the AUKUS security agreement.

Together, the companies will blend their operational knowledge of AI and develop “superior intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities for today’s rapidly changing defense and security environment,” Shield AI said today.

The merger, which is subject to federal regulatory approval, comes amid Defense Department efforts to further AUKUS Pillar II, which focuses on tri-lateral involvement between the U.S., the U.K. and Australia to develop and field advanced defense technologies.

Mark Palmer, Sentient Vision Systems’ CEO, said the new partnership underscores the goals outlined in AUKUS Pillar II.

“What stood out to us about Shield AI is that they are the only company in the world with an operational AI pilot, and therefore have the technological expertise and maturity to really deliver on the AI technology workstream underlined in AUKUS Pillar 2,” Palmer said. “The innovation breakthrough combining our computer vision AI-enabled ViDAR and Shield AI’s Hivemind will increase situational awareness, enabling quicker more effective decision making and help to save lives.”

In October, Shield AI and Sentient announced a multiyear agreement to combine Sentient’s ViDAR, which is an AI system that uses Electro-Optic or Infrared sensors to identify and label targets invisible to a conventional radar, with Shield AI’s Hivemind, which is an AI pilot that does not require remote GPS operators, naming the collaboration the “Sentient Observer.”

“This acquisition unites Sentient’s ViDAR and our Hivemind AI pilot, creating the world’s most advanced AI-piloted ISR sensor package,” said Ryan Tseng, CEO and co-founder of Shield AI. “Considering the imperative of covering vast maritime areas, especially in the Pacific, joining forces with Sentient was a strategic choice given their expertise in optical radar solutions. The integration of WAMI on V-BAT will revolutionize our offering, enabling Group 3-sized aircraft to perform tasks that previously required larger, costlier aircraft, significantly enhancing our customers’ operational capabilities.”

Shield AI plans to fly the “Sentient Observer” this year, as well as roll out the first deliveries.

“The DOD has asked for an all-seeing eye over tens of thousands of square miles, 24/7, without the need for GPS or communication links,” said Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s president and cofounder. “For Shield AI, Sentient Observer is the final piece of that puzzle. The DOD can begin augmenting and replacing their legacy solutions for a distributed, low cost, low risk solution that doesn’t break the bank if an aircraft is shot down.”

By Vanessa Montalbano
April 4, 2024 at 11:32 AM

Skydweller Aero recently flew an unmanned, solar-powered and large-scale aircraft out of Stennis International Airport in Mississippi, according to a news release the company issued today.

The net-zero aircraft, dubbed Skydweller, can remain in the air for three months, or roughly 90 days, at an altitude of up to 45,000 feet, the aerospace company said. It is the first aircraft of its kind -- with a wingspan larger than that of a Boeing 747 -- that can take off, fly and land independently without assistance from a crew either on-board or in a remote location, it added.

“Our fleet of uncrewed aircraft will enable a multitude of long-duration missions that support national security and non-terrestrial communications with revolutionary cost savings,” Robert Miller, Skydweller’s chief executive, said in a statement.

In the release the company said Skydweller can complete several missions with one aircraft over large spans of time, while conventional combustion engine aircraft are typically limited to about 40 hours of perpetual flight time and require constant maintenance.

Part of the appeal attached to the solar-powered aircraft, Skydweller said, is that it would no longer deliberately place flight crews in hostile environments.

“A Skydweller aircraft can take off from the United States, fly itself to the South China Sea, and stay in the air on mission for weeks or months before returning home,” the company wrote. “Additionally, autonomy enables not just traditional long-duration missions, but also new missions that would have formerly been deemed unacceptable due to risk to the flight crew.”

The carbon neutral aircraft may also be used to collect long-term intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance above conflict zones, observe naval activity in contested waters and track illegal activity, including drug smuggling or wildlife poaching, according to Skydweller.

“This really is a first when it comes to national security and protecting Americans,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said. “It really is great news and it’s only the beginning.”

By Nickolai Sukharev
April 3, 2024 at 7:12 PM

(Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that three companies have been added to the original five selected to develop autonomous systems for the Army's Robotic Combat Vehicle.)

The Defense Innovation Unit announced yesterday it has selected Anduril Industries, Overland AI and Palantir Technologies and added them to five companies previously selected to develop autonomous systems for the service's Robotic Combat Vehicle.

“Together, these companies will support the Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) program in developing a robust, capable and compliant software system that can operate in a variety of autonomous modes and rapidly integrate a variety of payloads as they become available,” the April 3 release reads.

The DIU selected Forterra, Kodiak Robotics, Neya Systems and Overland AI to develop the autonomous navigation software for the vehicle while Applied Intuition and Scale AI will develop the machine learning capabilities.

Anduril Industries and Palantir Technologies will be responsible for software system integration.

“We are excited to work with these best-in-class autonomy providers, software experts and systems integrators as we drive towards merging software capabilities developed through the RCV Software Acquisition Pathway (SWP) into the RCV Full System Prototype (FSP),” RCV Product Manager Steve Herrick said in the release.

“Our software system integrators will also be the first to implement Traceability, Observability, Replaceability and automated Consumption (TORC) compliance for Army software-centric ground vehicles, thereby helping the Army ensure programmatic flexibility and performance over time.”

Part of the Army’s human-machine integration efforts, the Robotic Combat Vehicle is designed to conduct reconnaissance missions and protect the flanks of crewed armored units. The vehicle is intended to be attritable will have a flatbed to accommodate both lethal and non-lethal payloads.

The Army initially envisioned light, medium and heavy variants but, in August 2023, prioritized development on the light variant through a middle-tier acquisition pathway and rapid prototyping approach, according to the Congressional Research Service.

In September 2023, the Army down selected General Dynamics, Oshkosh, Textron and HDT to develop prototypes of the vehicle for delivery in August 2024.

While General Dynamics, Oshkosh and Textron are developing tracked vehicles, HDT opted for wheels in their design.

By Abby Shepherd
April 3, 2024 at 4:52 PM

The Navy successfully conducted a Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile flight test with four missiles in flight simultaneously, according to a Lockheed Martin news release issued Wednesday.

The successful flight test occurred during the Navy’s 12th Integrated Test Event, and the service demonstrated “the weapon’s inherent high-end lethality from mission planning through kill chain integration and its effects on the target,” the release said.

The Lockheed-built LRASM is designed to hit heavily defended surface combatants and can be carried on Air Force B-1 bombers and Navy F/A-18E/F fighters.

"We have continued to invest in the design and development of LRASM’s anti-surface warfare capabilities to ensure that warfighters have the 21st century security solutions they need to complete their missions and come home safely,” Lisbeth Vogelpohl, LRASM program director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in a statement. "This event was a testament to our commitment to deliver reliable products that work each and every time, ensuring those who serve stay ahead of ready.”

By John Liang
April 3, 2024 at 3:21 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Navy's F/A-18 fighter aircraft plus coverage of the electronic warfare suite for the F-15 Eagle completing initial operational test and evaluation and more.

In FY-24, the Navy forecasted a five-year plan to invest $11.7 billion to launch an air dominance program and define a follow-on to the F/A-18E/F. The FY-25 budget request zeroes out funding for the same project line entirely:

Navy rips $11.7B from F/A-XX, putting project in budget limbo after 12 years of study

The Navy has put on ice plans for a next-generation fighter aircraft, stripping nearly $12 billion from its five-year plan for the F/A-XX project, indicating funds previously programmed for future years were redirected to finance higher priorities and the new-start project will now have to compete anew in the fiscal year 2026 budget cycle for resources.

The Navy will keep pursuing additional technical data owned by Boeing suppliers to continue long-term sustainment of the F/A-18 aircraft:

Navy gains more access to F/A-18 technical data

The Navy now has additional access to Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler technical data, allowing the service to support full sustainment of the aircraft.

The Air Force's F-15 Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System is meant to bring improved radar warning, geolocation, situational awareness, self-protection and jamming to the legacy aircraft as the service prepares its fighter fleet for a potential fight in the Indo-Pacific:

F-15 EPAWSS competes IOT&E, fielding to kickoff this year

The Air Force has completed initial operational test and evaluation for the F-15 Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System, which will provide upgraded electronic warfare capabilities to the fighter jet on schedule, according to a news release from EPAWSS manufacturer BAE Systems.

The Navy secretary has released a one-page summary of the service's 45-day shipbuilding review:

Navy shipbuilding review details delays across submarine and ship acquisition portfolio

Delivery of the lead Columbia-class submarine is now expected to occur at least a year later than initially planned, while Virginia-class submarines are more than two years behind their contracted schedule, according to a Navy shipbuilding review that identifies significant schedule challenges across the service's ship and submarine portfolio.

Document: SECNAV's 45-day shipbuilding review

Army budget justification documents state the service plans to spend $255 million to procure the IVAS systems and another $100 million to procure 2,364 Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular systems in FY-25:

Army's IVAS procurement for FY-25 will be for 1.2 variant

The Army's fiscal year 2025 budget request includes funding for more than 5,600 night vision devices, including 3,162 of the newest variant of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS).

The Defense Department issued its 2024 Commercial Space Integration Strategy this week:

DOD releases Commercial Space Integration Strategy

The Defense Department today released its Commercial Space Integration Strategy that gives a roadmap of how the U.S. military can leverage commercial space in each of its space mission areas.

Document: DOD's commercial space integration strategy

By Georgina DiNardo
April 3, 2024 at 11:54 AM

The Defense Innovation Board will hold a public meeting April 17 to discuss two ongoing studies about innovating with U.S. allies and accelerating technology adoption, according to a Federal Register notice published today.

The first study, called “Optimizing How We Innovate with Our Allies and Partners,” centers around the importance of bolstering alliances and partnerships while adversaries attempt to threaten stability to security, munitions stockpiles and defense industrial capabilities.

David Honey, deputy under secretary of defense for research and engineering, tasked the board with performing this study due to the international challenges that threaten to pass the U.S. in critical technology areas in a Dec. 20 memo.

“This study will examine current challenges facing the way we innovate with allies and partners including tackling supply chain issues, understanding allies and partners’ technological innovation comparative advantages, examining threats to sustainable and enduring interoperable partnerships, and exploring opportunities to further deepen collaboration and partnership within the security innovation ecosystem,” the memo said.

The board will then host an open discussion on the study, before diving into updates about their next study called “Aligning Incentives to Drive Faster Tech Adoption,” which aims to aid the Defense Department in keeping a technological edge through smoother adoption of innovative technologies.

Honey tasked the board with holding this study in a Jan. 4 memo, calling for the ability to deliver at scale and speed while absorbing failure along the way.

“This study should produce recommendations that outline how the Department can calibrate and align its incentive structures, disseminate, and scale the implementation of such incentive structures, and track the progress thereof,” the memo said. “The recommendations should aim to promote an ecosystem which enables the Department to incentivize the stakeholder community to embrace prudent risk while adopting new technologies with speed and agility.”

In January, the board briefly announced these two studies, before moving on to discuss them in a closed session. This will be the first time updates on the studies are shared publicly.

By Tony Bertuca
April 3, 2024 at 11:36 AM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown are scheduled to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 9 to discuss the fiscal year 2025 defense budget request alongside Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord.

Pentagon modernization spending is slated to decrease under the new request though the military services and combatant commands have sent Congress “unfunded priorities lists” seeking tens of billions of dollars in new spending.

The Defense Department -- capped by a two-year congressional spending deal -- is seeking about $850 billion for FY-25, with $167.5 billion for procurement and $143.2 billion for research, development, test and evaluation for a total modernization investment of $310.7 billion that does not keep pace with inflation.

Congress, after months of partisan haggling, passed an FY-24 appropriations package in March that would fund DOD at $824.3 billion, an increase of $26.8 billion above what Congress enacted in FY-23.

The total modernization investment for FY-24 enacted by Congress is $320 billion with procurement funded at $172 billion (an increase of $3 billion over the FY-24 budget request and $9.8 billion more than the FY-23 enacted level) and RDT&E funded at $148.3 billion, an increase of $3.4 billion above the FY-24 request and $8.6 billion more than the FY-23 enacted level.

Some GOP lawmakers, like Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS), have said the FY-25 request is too small but have not openly advocated breaking the caps set by the 2023 Fiscal Responsibility Act.

Austin and Brown are also expected to push committee members to continue their support of a $95 billion security supplemental spending package that the Senate has already passed with bipartisan approval but remains stalled in the House.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), after months of opposing the package -- which would provide foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and modernize the U.S. submarine industrial base -- recently told Fox News he will soon bring a version of the measure up for a vote, eyeing use of federal law that would pay for some of the Ukraine aid by selling off Russian assets that have been frozen by the U.S. government.

Brown, speaking to reporters last week, said lawmakers need to appreciate that the supplemental actually invests billions in the U.S. defense industrial base.

“Eighty percent of that money comes back into our defense industrial base, our American workforce, American jobs,” he said. “We’ve got to talk more about how this actually supports our defense industrial base.”

By John Liang
April 2, 2024 at 2:00 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of a new Marine Corps "Fragmentary Order," the Army's plan to buy fewer Abrams main battle tanks, the Pentagon's latest legislative proposals package and more.

Titled "Maintain Momentum," a new "Fragmentary Order" issued by the Marine Corps' top uniformed officer indicates the service will continue its force design experimentation and modernization campaign:

Smith releases interim guidance affirming Marine Corps modernization trajectory

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith today released a "Fragmentary Order" document, intended to provide interim direction for the force ahead of an official Commandant's Planning Guidance, that reaffirms the service's force design modernization trajectory.

The Army plans to buy 140 Abrams main battle tanks for $3.6 billion following a decision last September to cancel development on an upgrade package:

Army seeks $873M in cuts to Abrams procurements for the next five years

The Army wants to cut $873 million from its Abrams program over the next five fiscal years, pulling the money and 45 tanks from its new spending plan, according to the first public accounting of a decision last fall to scrape a planned modernization project in favor of a new engineering upgrade.

The Pentagon recently submitted its second fiscal year 2025 legislative proposal package:

Pentagon proposes streamlining milestone B decision process

The Defense Department is asking Congress to consider legislation that would allow for the streamlining of the milestone B phase of the weapon system acquisition process, which, according to DOD, currently suffers from a "bureaucratic bottleneck."

New DOD legislative proposal seeks to bridge 'valley of death'

The Defense Department has sent Congress a legislative proposal intended to help small companies bridge the "valley of death" by hastening the progression of critical technologies from prototype to production.

Document: DOD's second FY-25 legislative proposals package

The National Guard Bureau has sent lawmakers its fiscal year 2025 unfunded priorities list:

National Guard Bureau submits $2.7B unfunded list including aircraft buys

The National Guard Bureau has sent Congress a $2.7 billion unfunded priorities list for fiscal year 2025, highlighting an unmet need for various readiness spending as well as big-ticket aircraft -- like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter -- that could not be procured due to "fiscal constraints," according to a document obtained by Inside Defense.

Document: National Guard Bureau's FY-25 unfunded priorities list

By Abby Shepherd
April 1, 2024 at 2:27 PM

Amid supply chain issues, the Navy is seeking industry solutions to mitigate risk for battery development and modernize the manufacturing of critical battery materials.

Focusing on four areas -- critical battery materials, components, critical processes assessment and mitigation and battery development and prototyping -- Naval Sea Systems Command wants to ease supply chain risks by improving manufacturing technologies, according to an announcement posted Monday for an upcoming request for solutions.

The Defense Department regularly needs specialty batteries, according to the notice, including batteries made with optimized chemicals, materials and components that are not easily substituted.

“When one of these specialty materials or processes becomes unusable or unavailable, major effort is required to find or develop economical substitutes that can be acquired in the volumes needed,” the notice states.

NAVSEA is seeking domestically sourced battery chemicals, components and subassemblies that can substitute those currently facing supply chain risks. The command also aims to develop supply chain risk assessments and mitigation approaches for critical manufacturing processes and identify a prototype manufacturing process capable of achieving a higher volume of production.

Finally, NAVSEA plans to identify a solution for the development and demonstration of prototype batteries that incorporate solutions from the other three focus areas.

“These battery prototypes will provide confidence that the new materials and processes will be capable of acceptably performing as intended,” the notice states. “Follow-on production is a possible outcome.”

The request for solutions is anticipated to be released May 7.

By John Liang
April 1, 2024 at 2:11 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the National Guard Bureau's unfunded priorities list, a recent missile defense test and more.

The National Guard Bureau has sent lawmakers its fiscal year 2025 unfunded priorities list:

National Guard Bureau submits $2.7B unfunded list including aircraft buys

The National Guard Bureau has sent Congress a $2.7 billion unfunded priorities list for fiscal year 2025, highlighting an unmet need for various readiness spending as well as big-ticket aircraft -- like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter -- that could not be procured due to "fiscal constraints," according to a document obtained by Inside Defense.

The Missile Defense Agency last week announced what it said was the successful intercept of an advanced medium-range ballistic missile target by a Standard Missile-6 Dual II with Software Upgrade -- a target that was defeated during the terminal phase, simulating the last line of defense of an aircraft carrier:

U.S.-Australia demo interoperability, integration in major BMD test

The United States teamed with Australia for the first time in a major ballistic missile defense test, demonstrating interoperability and integration during the intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile as part of a developmental and operational test for the U.S. Navy and Missile Defense Agency.

For a year, the National Reconnaissance Office, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Space Force have been working on a solution on how to divide up control of purchasing commercial ISR:

Maven being implemented by more COCOMs amid tensions with Space Force

Amid rising tensions between the Space Force and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency over commercial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, NGA's director said this week that more combatant commands are using Program Maven, noting increased opportunities for the program thanks to the Replicator initiative.

The Navy's fiscal year 2025 budget request indicates two Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles will be delivered in the final quarter of FY-24 with three more following in the first half of FY-25:

Boeing aims to complete delivery of initial XLUUV set within 2025

After delivering an initial prototype in December, Boeing plans to turn over the remaining five Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles to the Navy before the end of 2025, according to company executives and service budget documents.

The Pentagon's top uniformed officer is lobbying lawmakers to pass a multibillion-dollar supplemental spending bill:

Brown pushing for supplemental bill that would inject billions into U.S. defense industry

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. CQ Brown said he and other officials are working hard to get lawmakers to support a $95 billion supplemental spending package that would inject tens of billions of dollars into the U.S. defense industry, while also aiding Ukraine and Israel.

By Shelley K. Mesch
April 1, 2024 at 12:41 PM

John Plumb, the first assistant defense secretary for space policy, plans to leave the Defense Department next month, a department spokesperson confirmed today.

Plumb has told his staff he intends to leave his position in early May, the spokesperson said, without including what his next plans are.

Plumb’s departure was first reported by Breaking Defense.

The Pentagon created the assistant defense secretary for space policy position in late 2020 following a requirement in the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Space policy had previously been the work of a deputy assistant defense secretary.

Plumb was the first to hold the title after his Senate confirmation in March 2022.

By Georgina DiNardo
April 1, 2024 at 12:21 PM

Daniel Erikson, defense assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, will leave his position, Sasha Baker, acting defense under secretary for policy, said today, adding that James Alverson, currently the principal director for Western Hemisphere affairs, will take over the position as an acting official.

Baker said Erikson, who held the position since March 2021, left his mark on the office through “his strategic vision, the trust and confidence that he built with defense and military partners across the Americas, and his commitment to advancing the U.S. national interest through innovative approaches that transcended traditional bureaucratic barriers.”

Baker thanked Erikson for his “exceptional public service and his lasting contributions” to DOD, citing the National Defense Strategy’s implementation in the Western Hemisphere, furthering climate resiliency efforts, a stronger modernization of regional defenses and a larger emphasis on human rights as examples of his successful work.

“We wish him continued success as he assumes new responsibilities as the Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council,” Baker said.

Baker also said that DOD expresses its “appreciation” to Alverson for stepping in to serve as the acting DASD for Western Hemisphere affairs.

This change in leadership comes amid many policy shop position changes, including the looming planned departure of two of policy’s top officials.

Baker herself plans to resign at the end of April, with Amanda Dory, currently the director of the Africa Center of Strategic Studies at National Defense University, set to resume the role as acting under secretary as Derek Chollet, who was nominated for the post in July, has yet to be confirmed.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that Baker is stepping down to pursue “her next chapter.”

Melissa Dalton, who resumed Mara Karlin’s position performing the duties of the deputy defense under secretary for policy in December, is also set to leave the role as she was confirmed by the Senate two weeks ago to be under secretary of the Air Force.

By Georgina DiNardo
April 1, 2024 at 10:04 AM

Heidi Shyu, defense under secretary for research and engineering, administered the oath of office to Aprille Ericsson Friday, swearing her in as the inaugural defense assistant secretary for science and technology.

“Ericsson will oversee a broad range of S&T portfolios aimed at helping the department achieve leap-ahead defense capabilities, including the [four] areas of critical emerging technology Shyu prioritized as critical for national security,” a Defense Department press release said.

On top of establishing Ericsson’s new position, DOD created two other new research and engineering defense assistant secretary positions in July: defense assistant secretary for critical technologies and defense assistant secretary for mission capabilities.

Ericsson received Senate confirmation on Feb. 28 after being nominated by President Joe Biden last year.

Ericsson said she plans on concentrating on the lines-of-effort outlined in the National Defense Science and Technology Strategy.

"In this complex and rapidly evolving security environment, my vision aims to boost our technical advantages by shepherding our critical and emerging technologies, strengthening our industrial manufacturing base and protecting our intellectual property," she said.

Previously, Ericsson worked at NASA for over 30 years where she recently led the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Instrument Systems and Technology Division’s new business portfolio.

She was the also the first African-American woman to receive a PhD in mechanical engineering from Howard University and the first African-American woman to earn a NASA Goddard Space Flight Center PhD in engineering.

"I welcome and congratulate Dr. Ericsson as the first ASD S&T," Shyu said in the release. "She brings a distinguished record of service as a technologist from her time at NASA and a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility outreach with the HBCU and STEM K-12 communities. I look forward to working with Dr. Ericsson as the department remains focused on fielding the best technology investments across the critical technology areas."

By John Liang
April 1, 2024 at 5:00 AM

With lawmakers still on their Easter break, senior service officials are slated to speak at a number of industry events.


The Association of the United States Army holds a "Coffee Series" event featuring Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo.

The American Enterprise Institute hosts Navy Assistant Secretary Russell Rumbaugh for a discussion on the Navy's fiscal year 2025 budget request.

The Center for a New American Security holds a virtual event on AUKUS featuring Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell.


The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a Strategic Landpower Dialogue event featuring U.S. European Command chief and Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Christopher Cavoli.

CSIS also hosts an event on "Strengthening Australia-U.S. Defence Industrial Cooperation."