The Insider

By Evan Ochsner
March 30, 2022 at 1:16 PM

The Army on Friday awarded production contracts to two firms to produce a voice and data radio intended to modernize the service's existing system, according to an Army announcement.

L3Harris and Thales Defense Security were awarded an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for the new Combat Net Radio, according to an Army release issued Monday. The Army placed an initial delivery for more than 1,100 radio assets, according to the release, which includes those designated for first article test and to satisfy the required minimum government purchase.

The delivery order is for $20.6M for L3Harris and $18.2M for Thales Defense, according to the announcement.

The Combat Net Radio is part of a “holistic effort” to phase out the Army’s Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, according to the release. It supports multiple National Security Agency, Defense Department and Army modernization goals and increases the number of communications options available to commanders, according to the release. The CNR will provide “assured command and control voice, and limited Fires and Air Defense data in environments where access to the Integrated Tactical Network is degraded.”

The capability will improve frequency hopping and transmission security and will be available to mounted and dismounted missions, the release adds.

The Army intends to field the first CNR units in FY-24, according to the release, and the overall CNR contract ceiling is $6.1 billion.

By Briana Reilly
March 30, 2022 at 10:54 AM

General Electric's second XA100 adaptive cycle engine has begun Phase 2 testing at the Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Complex, the company announced today.

The next round of testing, which started March 25, comes after GE wrapped up its first phase in November 2021.

The multimonth Phase 2 work will allow the company to “fill in” its current dataset, leverage more precise measurements, and complete the full-flight envelope for its offering, David Tweedie, GE’s general manager for advanced combat engines, told Inside Defense recently.

“If you want to know if the engine works, we already have that data; we’ve shared it with the Air Force,” he said in an interview at the Air Force Association’s Warfare Symposium earlier this month. “If you want to have the engineers have all the data in hand so they can execute a low-risk [engineering and manufacturing development] program in five years, filling out all that last bit of data for the engineers is what we’re [working toward] at this point.”

Company executives developed the XA100 through the Air Force’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program, in which engine manufacturers are creating prototypes to fit the F-35A conventional variant. Pratt & Whitney, the F-35’s F135 engine maker, is also maturing advanced engine technology through AETP with its own XA101.

The Air Force in late January published a sources-sought listing for the EMD phase of the AETP effort. Called the F-35 Adaptive Engine Replacement Program, the notice directed companies to describe their “capability to enter into a contract committing to the delivery of F-35 engines” and begin low-rate initial production in fiscal year 2028.

Meanwhile, the service is working with the Navy and Marine Corps through the F-35’s Joint Program Office to develop options to incrementally upgrade the current F135 engine, an approach Pratt favors, or replace it.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
March 30, 2022 at 10:22 AM

The Army will buy 65 new dump trucks with fiscal year 2022 procurement money, compared with the previously planned 21, after congressional appropriators nearly tripled funding for the vehicle.

An omnibus appropriations bill that President Biden signed earlier this month included $29 million for the M917A3 heavy dump truck program. The Army had requested $10 million for the program in its FY-22 budget.

The funding increase will allow the Army to buy an additional 44 dump trucks in FY-22, a spokesman for the program executive office for combat support and combat service support wrote in a statement to Inside Defense.

New dump trucks will replace vehicles that are up to 50 years old, for which repair parts are difficult to find. Mack Defense builds the M917A3, and it has announced plans to compete in the Army’s next-generation truck program with a related platform.

The dump truck would not receive any procurement funding under the FY-23 budget request, according to Pentagon budget documents. That request proposed deep cuts to procurement programs outside the Army modernization priorities, as the service attempts to develop and field dozens of new platforms amid shrinking procurement and research budgets.

By Michael Marrow
March 30, 2022 at 10:02 AM

Boeing announced the debut of a new high-throughput, small satellite production facility this morning.

The 30,000 square-foot operation, located in the company's 1-million-square-foot El Segundo, CA facility, will be chiefly run by Boeing subsidiary Millennium Space Systems. A company whose primary clients are government customers, Boeing acquired Millennium Space Systems in 2018 to gain a larger foothold in the small satellite market.

The new production line will offer quicker turnaround times for small satellites and employ tools such as 3D printing of space-qualified satellite buses, the company said in a press release.

The enterprise can build satellites for different security levels on the same assembly line and host environmental and specialty testing capabilities. Initial operational capability for the facility began in September 2021 and it's expected to reach full capacity later this year.

By Tony Bertuca
March 29, 2022 at 4:19 PM

The Defense Department has sent Congress classified copies of the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review and Missile Defense Review, according to a Pentagon fact sheet.

Much like the 2022 National Defense Strategy, unclassified versions of the reports are not available but are “forthcoming,” according to a one-page fact sheet released by DOD.

The NPR, according to the Pentagon, “represents a comprehensive, balanced approach to U.S. nuclear strategy, policy, posture, and forces.”

Meanwhile, a senior defense official told reporters last week the fiscal year 2023 budget proposes the elimination of a low-yield, sea-launched cruise missile program established by the Trump administration.

“We had direction from the president to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our defense strategy,” the official said.

The NPR, according to the Pentagon, “underscores our commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons and reestablishing our leadership in arms control.”

Additionally, the Biden administration will “continue to emphasize strategic stability, seek to avoid costly arms races, and facilitate risk reduction and arms control arrangements where possible.”

The Pentagon also notes President Biden’s nuclear deterrence doctrine: “As long as nuclear weapons exist, the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies and partners. The United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.”

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said, the MDR provides a framework for U.S. missile defense that is informed by the “evolving missile threat environment.”

“Missiles are a principal means for projecting military power, which makes missile defense a key component of integrated deterrence,” DOD said. “The MDR assures the vital contributions of missile defenses to a resilient defense posture that reduces adversary confidence in missile use, reassures Allies, and offers military options to avoid risks of escalation.”

By Ethan Sterenfeld
March 29, 2022 at 3:17 PM

Rafael's European joint venture with General Dynamics European Land Systems and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann could build the Trophy active protection system in Europe, according to an announcement today from Rafael.

“The transfer of state-of-the-art technology, local production, maintenance and services will significantly improve the security of the Trophy APS in Europe,” according to the announcement.

EuroTrophy, a previously announced joint venture between the three companies, was formally incorporated March 28, according to the announcement. It will focus on marketing, selling and maintaining Trophy systems throughout NATO and the European Union.

The U.S. Army has purchased four brigade sets of Trophy for its M1 Abrams tanks, for which Rafael partnered with Leonardo DRS. The Rafael-designed Trophy shoots down incoming rockets and missiles to protect combat vehicles.

By John Liang
March 29, 2022 at 1:32 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has continuing coverage of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2023 budget request and more.

We start off with congressional reactions to the Defense Department's FY-23 budget request:

Defense committee Republicans want answers on DOD inflation math

Senior Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services committees want the Defense Department to provide more clarity on the inflation estimates it used to build its fiscal year 2023 defense budget request.

GOP derides defense budget request, Dems see a 'starting point'

Congressional Republicans say President Biden's defense budget is not large enough to keep up with inflation and looming threats from China and Russia, while Democrats offered support for the White House's spending "blueprint."

More overall defense budget news:

Biden defense strategy embraces key tenet of Trump military blueprint

The Biden administration is adopting a key formulation of national objectives for the non-nuclear forces established by the Trump administration in 2018, a force planning construct that calls for the U.S. military to be able to defeat aggression by a major power while simultaneously deterring opportunistic aggression elsewhere.

Army budget news:

Real growth in Army budget? 'It's more complicated than it sounds'

The Army's budget director was not immediately able to answer a question today about the rate of real growth in the service's fiscal year 2023 budget request compared with the FY-22 budget.

Aircraft procurement cut in Army's FY-23 budget request

Aircraft procurement would decline to $2.8 billion, from $3.3 billion under the Army's FY-23 budget request, according to service officials and Pentagon budget documents.

Air Force budget news:

Air Force won't seek ARRW procurement funding in FY-23

The Air Force won't seek procurement funding for one of its highest-profile hypersonic missile programs in fiscal year 2023, Maj. Gen. James Peccia said Monday.

Air Force seeks big funding increases for nuclear programs

The Air Force is seeking billions more in funding to support several of its nuclear modernization programs that would replace Cold War-era systems, according to the service's fiscal year 2023 budget request released Monday.

Air Force seeks to resume MH-139A procurement, complete HH-60W buy

The Air Force is looking to re-start procurement of the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter and scale back planned buys for the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter in its fiscal year 2023 budget request.

Missile defense budget news:

MDA seeks $9.6B in FY-23 to expand deployment and continue new development

The Missile Defense Agency is seeking $9.6 billion in fiscal year 2023 to grow the guided missile inventory and support key projects, such as launching prototype Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensors, designing a new Guam defense system and continuing development on new interceptors to defeat a limited ICBM attack and hypersonic glide vehicles.

More missile defense news:

Five-year project to expand Korean missile shield wraps with flight test intercept

The Defense Department today successfully executed a major test that caps a five-year project to meet an "urgent requirement" to expand the protective shield over South Korea against the North's ballistic missile threats by forging new connections between the U.S. Army's upper- and lower-tier missile defense systems.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has sent lawmakers an assessment of the Pacific Defense Initiative:

INDOPACOM tells Congress it needs $76B for Pacific Deterrence Initiative

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is telling Congress it needs to spend $76 billion over the next five fiscal years on the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a key Pentagon effort to counter China's increasing military activity in the region.

Document: INDOPACOM Pacific Deterrence Initiative assessment

By Ethan Sterenfeld
March 29, 2022 at 10:43 AM

Budget pressures did not cause the Army's decision to cut end strength in the active-duty force by 12,000 soldiers in the fiscal year 2023 budget request, service Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo said March 28.

“I would just want to emphasize that this is not a budget-driven decision,” Camarillo said at a press conference for the rollout of the service’s budget request. “It’s about maintaining high quality of our talent and of our recruiting.”

The service decided to reduce its end strength from 485,000 soldiers to 476,000 in FY-22, and then to 473,000 in FY-23, he said. The Army plans to return to 485,000 soldiers over the course of the following five years.

Recruitment has become more difficult amid the tight labor market, especially for enlisted positions, Camarillo said.

“Like every other employer in the economy, we’re facing, obviously, some challenging conditions in terms of our ability to recruit and attract talent,” he said. “Given the particular conditions of a very tight labor market, our ability to meet all of our projected recruiting goals were a little bit challenged in FY-22 and ’23. So, we made the assessment that we would not want to adjust our specific criteria for quality.”

By Tony Bertuca
March 28, 2022 at 5:59 PM

The Defense Department is requesting $26.6 billion for its military intelligence program for fiscal year 2023, a $3.3 billion increase above what it requested for FY-22.

Additional information about the request is classified.

By Tony Bertuca
March 28, 2022 at 5:38 PM

The Defense Department has sent Congress a classified 2022 National Defense Strategy to accompany the fiscal year 2023 budget request.

The Pentagon did not release an unclassified version of the strategy but did put out a fact sheet covering the NDS’ main themes and priorities. The unclassified NDS is “forthcoming,” according to DOD.

Deterring China remains DOD’s No. 1 priority, while the NDS acknowledges that Russia poses an “acute” threat in the near-term. DOD says it must also remain capable of managing other persistent threats from North Korea, Iran and violent extremist organizations.

Additionally, the NDS prioritizes the mitigation of climate change and “dangerous transboundary threats, including pandemics.”

By John Liang
March 28, 2022 at 4:38 PM

Boeing announced today that Ted Colbert has been appointed as president and chief executive officer of the company's Defense, Space and Security business.

Colbert succeeds Leanne Caret who is retiring following nearly 35 years of service with Boeing. Colbert up until now has been president and CEO of Boeing Global Services.

Stephanie Pope, who is currently Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief financial officer, will succeed Colbert.

Colbert and Pope's new roles will be effective April 1, according to a company statement.

By John Liang
March 28, 2022 at 3:26 PM

The Pentagon's fiscal year 2023 budget request dominates this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest.

We start off with a broad look at the Defense Department's budget numbers, followed by the individual services:

Pentagon submits 1.5% 'real growth' budget to Congress

The Biden administration is proposing a fiscal year 2023 budget that seeks to insulate the Pentagon from rising inflation, increasing the topline by $43 billion compared to a prior White House forecast to provide a sum that delivers 1.5% real growth compared to the recently enacted FY-22 budget.

Navy:

Navy fleet size shrinking in FY-23 budget despite topline increasing

Despite an increasing topline, the Navy will procure nine ships in its fiscal year 2023 budget request, one more than last year, while decommissioning 24 ships.

Army:

Army seeks to cut end strength, procurement in FY-23 budget

The Army has proposed cutting end strength and procurement funding in fiscal year 2023 as increases to the personnel and operations budgets outstrip topline growth.

Air Force:

Air Force proposes 150 retirements, slashes planned F-35 buy in $169B budget request

The Air Force is seeking to retire 150 aircraft in its $169 billion fiscal year 2023 budget request, while accelerating its purchase of F-15EXs and slashing its planned F-35 buy.

Space Force:

Space Force's $24.5 billion budget request seeks to bolster resiliency

The Space Force is seeking to continue efforts to bolster space resiliency in its $24.5 billion budget request, funneling an additional $1 billion toward a proliferated, disaggregated, multi-orbit architecture for missile warning in fiscal year 2023.

Last but by no means least, the latest on the Army's virtual reality headset effort:

Bush projects confidence in IVAS, other modernization programs

The Army's acquisition executive on Friday said some of the issues with the service's augmented reality headset were not "completely surprising," given that the development of the system was carried out through an accelerated process favored by Congress and industry.

By Briana Reilly
March 28, 2022 at 3:08 PM

As the Air Force continues to put the finishing touches on its requirements for the KC-Y bridge tanker, service Secretary Frank Kendall said a potential competition for the effort is appearing to be less likely.

Seeking to serve as a bridge between the end of Boeing’s KC-46 production in the late 2020s and the follow-on Advanced Aerial Refueling program, requirements for a future tanker “started to look like a modified KC-46 more than they do a completely new design,” Kendall told reporters during a Pentagon briefing Friday.

Still, he emphasized service officials will “be doing due diligence and market research analysis” as they work to finalize their requirements over the next several months.

“I’m going to be very transparent about this: I think that there’s still a possibility of a competition out there, but as we’ve looked at our requirements, the likelihood of a competition has come down,” Kendall said.

A request for information last summer showed the service had expected it would need to buy between 140 and 160 non-developmental tankers to supplement its fleet by 2030. In late January, Lockheed Martin announced it plans to build its offering for the KC-Y competition in Mobile, AL, and Marietta, GA, should its LMXT aircraft win the service's contract.

The Air Force’s fiscal year 2023 budget request seeks to add $222 million to procure 15 KC-46 tankers, while aiming to retire 13 KC-135s: four from March Air Reserve Base, CA, and nine from Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst, NJ, a service spokeswoman said.

By Tony Bertuca
March 28, 2022 at 12:05 AM

President Biden is scheduled to release the fiscal year 2023 federal budget request this week. Meanwhile, senior defense officials are slated to speak at several events around Washington.

Monday

The White House releases the fiscal year 2023 federal budget request.

The Heritage Foundation hosts a discussion on reforming the Pentagon’s programming, planning, budget and execution process.

Tuesday

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing with the chiefs of U.S. European Command and U.S. Transportation Command.

Wednesday

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on U.S. military activity in Europe.

The Air Force Association hosts a discussion on air and space warfighters.

The Hill hosts its Future Defense Summit.

Thursday

The House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee holds a hearing on the modernization of conventional munitions production.

The House Armed Services seapower and projection forces and readiness subcommittees hold a joint hearing on mobility readiness and posture.

The Brookings Institution hosts a discussion on governing the world’s oceans.

Friday

The House Armed Services intelligence and special operations subcommittee holds a hearing on countering weapons of mass destruction.

By Audrey Decker
March 25, 2022 at 3:14 PM

Two House lawmakers announced the creation of the bipartisan Public Shipyard Caucus today, which aims to support the nation's four public shipyards.

Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) founded the caucus to address the needs of Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Washington and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Hawaii, according to a press release from Wittman.

“The Public Shipyard Caucus is the only congressional caucus focused exclusively on the nation’s public shipyards and serves as a venue to discuss public shipyard issues, increase stakeholder support for public shipyards, and raise awareness of their importance to Congress,” the press release states.

Other original caucus members include Rep. Ed Case (D-HI), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Rep. Kaialiʻi Kahele (D-HI), Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA).

“I am thrilled by the strides in recent years in support for the Navy’s Shipyard Infrastructure Organization Program; however, Congress must continue to embrace every opportunity to revitalize the Navy’s public shipyards. We cannot afford to be distracted from allocating the resources necessary to continue and accelerate the Navy’s plans to fund shipyard facilities, docks and dry docks, capital equipment improvements, and dredging,” Wittman said in the press release.