The Insider

By John Liang
March 14, 2023 at 1:55 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has continuing coverage of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2024 budget request, along with the official announcement of the U.S.-U.K.-Australia submarine development program and the latest on the engine replacement effort for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

We start off with budget request coverage, including Air Force hypersonics procurement, Army munitions and the prospects for supplemental funding for Ukraine:

No hypersonics procurement money in Air Force FY-24 budget request

The Air Force will not seek any procurement funding for hypersonic missile efforts, but research funding has been requested for two of the service's highest-profile hypersonic programs, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget Maj. Gen. Mike Greiner said Monday.

Army seeks $1.5 billion to bolster munitions industrial base in FY-24 request

The Army is including $1.5 billion in its fiscal year 2024 budget request to support the organic industrial base for the production and resupply of critical munitions.

DOD says 0.8% 'real growth' budget sufficient for China-focused strategy; supplemental likely for Ukraine

Senior Pentagon officials said today the fiscal year 2024 budget request represents less than 1% real growth above what Congress enacted for FY-23 but asserted that the topline is sufficient to implement a National Defense Strategy focused on deterring China.

Here's the latest on the official announcement of Australia getting nuclear-powered submarines:

New AUKUS plan has Australia buying three U.S. subs in early 2030s, followed by 'SSN-AUKUS'

The United States, the U.K. and Australia have announced a three-phased plan for Australia to obtain U.S. nuclear-powered submarines by the early 2030s, followed by "SSN-AUKUS" in the early 2040s.

Last but by no means least, the latest on the competition to replace the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's engine:

GE still touting new engine as Air Force moves away from AETP for F-35

General Electric doubled down Monday on its belief that it has the best solution for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engine update despite the Air Force's decision not to move forward with an Adaptive Engine Transition Program.

By Tony Bertuca
March 13, 2023 at 4:31 PM

The Defense Department is requesting $29.3 billion for its classified Military Intelligence Program in fiscal year 2024.

“The department determined that releasing this top line figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP,” DOD said. “No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons.”

The department requested $26.3 billion for MIP in FY-23, while Congress enacted $24 billion for FY-22.

By Ben Dupont
March 13, 2023 at 3:29 PM

The Pentagon's top advisory committee plans to meet later this month to discuss an upcoming study on climate change and global security.

The closed-door Defense Science Board meetings will be held March 21-22, according to a March 13 meeting notice. The board will discuss “classified strategies for anticipating the global stresses and possible conflict due to climate change,” it states.

The board, in its “2023 Summer Study on Climate Change and Global Security,” aims to predict changing defense stability and investment needs in the face of climate change, according to a Jan. 10 announcement.

The board also will assess conflicts that could arise from a changing climate, citing food insecurity, migration, resource competition and instability as climate consequences that could “further intensify tensions,” the announcement reads.

By Ben Dupont
March 13, 2023 at 3:25 PM

Leaders of four Air Force Scientific Advisory Board studies will report on their progress during meetings set for later this month.

The studies are focused on “Developmental and Operational Testing,” “Assessing Advanced Aerospace Mobility Concepts,” “Scalable Approaches to Resilient Air Operations” and “Air and Surface Moving Target Indication,” according to the meeting notice, set to take place March 30-31.

The four studies make up the board’s assessment of the Air Force's modernization efforts. The panel will make recommendations related to the service’s Advanced Battle Management System, Agile Combat Employment and E-3 and E-8 aircraft, among other initiatives.

The meeting Is closed to the public, according to the notice.

By Ben Dupont
March 13, 2023 at 3:21 PM

Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, will be briefed by the STRATCOM Strategic Advisory Group later this month.

The March 29-30 meeting will include updates on “Stockpile Assessment, Operational Risk and Cost Framework for Next Generation NC3 Capabilities, NC3 Readiness and Sustainment, USSTRATCOM Inter-Combatant Command Planning and Coordination, Resource Sharing in Parallel and Phased Planning and Engagements in Cyber, Nuclear Weapons Tracking, and Multi-Party Nuclear Dynamics and Deterrence,” according to a March 13 Federal Register notice.

Cotton released a posture statement last week detailing STRATCOM’s outlook for fiscal year 2024.

The meeting is closed to the public, according to the notice.

By John Liang
March 13, 2023 at 2:29 PM

Details surrounding the Pentagon's fiscal year 2024 budget request dominate this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest.

We start off with the overall Defense Department budget request:

Pentagon budget request eyes key munitions investments for bulk buys

The Pentagon is requesting $170 billion for procurement in fiscal year 2024, with $30.6 billion slated for missiles and munitions, focusing on weapon systems with industrial base shortfalls highlighted by the ongoing war in Ukraine and also on those that could deter China from acting militarily against Taiwan.

Document: OSD's FY-24 budget overview

Document: DOD's FY-24 program acquisition cost by weapon system


Navy FY-24 topline increasing while shipbuilding plans remain flat

The Navy plans to procure nine ships and decommission eight in its fiscal year 2024 budget request, investing in submarines, destroyers and frigates but likely teeing up a fight in Congress over amphibious warship requirements and a fleet size projected to remain flat over the next five years.

Document: Navy's FY-24 budget overview briefing slides


Army FY-24 budget request includes increases for PAC-3, Precision Strike Missile

The Army’s fiscal year 2024 budget request includes increases for the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and Precision Strike Missile, among its major weapon systems, according to documents from the Defense Department.

Document: Army's FY-24 budget overview, highlights

Air Force:

Air Force not seeking AETP competition, Kendall announces with $215.1B budget request

The Air Force will not move forward with the Adaptive Engine Technology Program that would have refitted F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft with a new engine and will instead pursue an engine core upgrade for the platform, Secretary Frank Kendall said.

Document: Air Force's FY-24 budget overview

Missile Defense Agency:

DOD seeks $29.8 billion for FY-24 missile defense and defeat, including $10.9B for MDA

The Biden administration is proposing nearly $30 billion in fiscal year 2024 to counter missiles, a request that includes $10.9 billion for the Missile Defense Agency, funds improved space-based sensors, seeks $1.5 billion to defend Guam against Chinese ballistic, cruise and hypersonic threats and bolsters the U.S. military's all-domain missile defense backbone.

Document: MDA's FY-24 budget overview

In non-budget news, a big hypersonic weapon test scheduled for last week was postponed:

DOD scrubs key hypersonic weapons test, adding risk to Army FY-23 fielding plans

The Pentagon last week scrubbed a long-delayed, high-stakes hypersonic weapon flight test after discovering a faulty component during a pre-flight check of the joint Army-Navy program to develop an ultra-fast, maneuvering, intermediate-range offensive capability, setting in motion a review to resolve the root cause of the problem.

By John Liang
March 13, 2023 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are slated to speak on Capitol Hill and at industry events this week, which is also expected to feature the release of more specific details on the fiscal year 2024 defense budget request.


Senior Defense Department officials are expected to hold briefings on the FY-24 budget request.


Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Berger speaks at the National Press Club.

The Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee holds a hearing on the Space Force.

The Reagan Institute hosts a National Security Innovation Base Summit.

The Intelligence and National Security Alliance hosts a virtual "Coffee and Conversation" discussion on China's military capabilities and cyber strategies.

Defense One hosts a virtual session on "The Future of Defense Data and IT."

The Center for Strategic and International Studies holds a conversation with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Rossi about IAEA's mission in Ukraine.


McAleese & Associates hosts its annual defense budget conference.

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing to consider the nominations of Ronald Keohane to be assistant defense secretary for manpower and reserve affairs and Nickolas Guertin to be assistant Navy secretary for research, development and acquisition.

The Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee holds a hearing on Defense Department military and civilian personnel programs.


The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on U.S. Central and Africa commands.

Defense One holds its "State of the Marine Corps" event.

Lockheed Martin Chief Financial Officer Jay Malave is slated to speak at the JP Morgan Industrials Conference.

CSIS hosts a discussion on South Korea-U.S. defense industrial cooperation.


CSIS holds a virtual discussion on DOD's Office of Strategic Capital.

By Tony Bertuca
March 13, 2023 at 12:01 AM

(Correction: The NSIB Summit will be held Tuesday not Wednesday as previously reported.)

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute has released a "National Security Innovation Base Report Card," giving the Pentagon poor grades when it comes to providing "clarity" to defense contractors and for failing to expand its pipeline for technological talent.

The report card, crafted in partnership with McKinsey & Co., states there is “broad consensus” that the Pentagon’s acquisition process must “go faster and be bolder” if it is to meet its stated goal of keeping pace with China.

“Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP) cycle times remain close to their 20-year averages, record venture funding has not sufficiently addressed the ‘valley of death’ for startups, and the talent gap is the widest in a generation -- and growing,” the report card states. “The metabolic rate of change will need to increase substantially, given the negative trendlines noted for many of the key outputs.”

The group is releasing the report card ahead of a Washington conference it plans to host Tuesday.

In terms of “customer clarity,” the group gave the Pentagon a “D,” the lowest grade on the report card, indicating “ongoing major vulnerabilities that are significantly undermining health of the NSIB.”

“There is a noticeable gap in late-stage [research and development], prototyping and procurement funds available for NSIB actors,” the report states. “Recent efforts such as the Accelerate the Procurement for Fielding of Innovative Technology (APFIT) program seek to address this gap but should be increased to $1 billion and minimum award size increased to $30 million.”

The report card notes the failure of lawmakers to submit and pass on-time budgets and appropriations further complicates the issue.

Additionally, the group notes there is “no clearly articulated pathway to a program of record for a majority of the priority NSIB technologies outlined by the U.S. Government.”

The lack of a path is “particularly notable in ‘fast follower,’ commercially led technology areas (e.g., [artificial intelligence], microelectronics, biotech) where the DOD does not have the same level of market power that it commanded from industry during the Cold War,” the report states.

The report card also gives the U.S. government a "D+" regarding the management of its innovation talent base.

“The United States will need to foster a diverse global talent pipeline that not only attracts the world’s top talent but provides a mechanism to remain in the country upon graduation. Interventions under discussion have included H1-B reform and Congress establishing a National Security Innovation Base Visa program,” the report states.

The group, however, gave the government an “A-” for “innovation leadership,” the highest grade on the report card.

“America’s overall innovation leadership across a range of emerging technology areas remains a competitive advantage, but one that cannot remain static,” the report states. “Strategic competitors are investing heavily to catch up.”

The group, however, gave the government a “C” for “defense modernization.”

“While DOD use of prototype Other Transaction Authorities (OTAs) is on the rise, the increase is slowing. The key is to award follow-on production OTAs to field new capabilities,” the report states. “There is an opportunity to expand the Software and Digital Technology Pilot Program to a greater number of programs, as requested by the Secretary of Defense in both FY-22 and FY-23. In order to justify growth of the pilot program, the DOD must provide the requested data to allow for a thorough evaluation of the programs impact.”

The report also recommends increasing the “number and scope of bilateral and multilateral technology alliances to better compete against growing Chinese investments.”

By John Liang
March 10, 2023 at 2:21 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the fiscal year 2024 federal defense budget request submitted this week, plus more coverage from the Air and Space Forces Association's Warfare Symposium in Colorado and more.

We start off with Republican criticism of the Biden administration's fiscal year 2024 budget request:

GOP slams Biden's defense budget, top Dem sees 'useful starting point'

Congressional Republicans were united today in their criticism of President Biden's defense budget request, with some saying it is too small when compared to the rate of inflation and the planned surge in non-defense spending sought by the White House.

. . . Followed by more coverage of this past week's AFA Warfare Symposium in Colorado:

AFRL stands up Digital Capabilities Department in 'digital transformation' effort

DENVER -- The Air Force Research Laboratory moved forward its "digital transformation" effort by standing up a Digital Capabilities Department to better share data and digital tools among AFRL's teams, lab Commander Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle announced at the Air and Space Force Association's Warfare Symposium Tuesday.

Air Force anticipating 10% recruitment shortfall

DENVER -- The Air Force expects to fall short of its recruitment goals this year, the service's top leaders said this week at the Air and Space Forces Association Warfare Symposium.

View Inside Defense's complete AFA Warfare Symposium coverage.

John Plumb, assistant secretary of defense for space policy, spoke about the Pentagon's 5G policy this week during a House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing:

Vacating mid-band for commercial 5G would cost DOD at least $120 billion and take 20 years

The Pentagon estimates it will cost at least $120 billion and 20 years to vacate the mid-band electromagnetic spectrum being eyed for auction to telecommunications companies developing the 5G commercial market and put at risk military capabilities that currently use S-band systems such as the Aegis radar and assured navigation and more for strategic missions.

Document: STRATCOM, SPACECOM, NORTHCOM FY-24 posture statements

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger spoke yesterday about the amphibious ship fleet at a forum hosted by the Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition:

Commandant endorses block buys for amphibious warships

The Marine Corps' highest-ranking officer today doubled down on the need for 31 traditional amphibious warships and endorsed block buys and other contracting strategies to signal consistent demand to industry.

By John Liang
March 9, 2023 at 2:21 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the White House's release of the fiscal year 2024 budget request, a new Air Force helicopter program reaching a major milestone, the Army's recruiting woes and more.

The Biden administration has released the preliminary details of its multibillion-dollar fiscal year 2024 budget request:

White House seeks 3.2% Pentagon budget increase for FY-24

The White House has submitted a fiscal year 2024 budget to Congress requesting $886.4 billion in total national defense spending, with $842 billion specifically for the Defense Department, or an increase of slightly more than 3% above what lawmakers enacted for FY-23, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

In case you missed it, here's yesterday's reaction from analysts to leaked details of the defense budget request:

Analysts react to leaked DOD investment numbers ahead of White House rollout

Leaked budget numbers indicate the White House intends to send a fiscal year 2024 request to Congress that would increase the Pentagon's modernization investments by about 4% above what lawmakers enacted for FY-23, but some analysts say that represents flat growth, or even a small cut when adjusted for inflation.

The Air Force's new helicopter designed to patrol ballistic missile fields has reached a major development milestone:

MH-139A enters LRIP after Air Force and Boeing set plan for technical data

DENVER -- The MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter program reached milestone C and will enter low-rate initial production after the Air Force successfully negotiated data rights, service acquisition chief Andrew Hunter told reporters Monday.

More from this week's AFA Warfare symposium:

Saltzman details 'Competitive Endurance' theory for Space Force

DENVER -- Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman expanded upon his three lines of effort for "Competitive Endurance" at the Air and Space Forces Association Warfare Symposium on Tuesday.

View Inside Defense's complete AFA Warfare Symposium coverage.

The Army's top civilian official this week characterized getting and keeping new soldiers as "the most challenging recruiting landscape in decades":

Wormuth: Emphasis on Army's recruiting campaign could be reflected in budgets for next few years

A new marketing campaign rolled out this week aimed at helping the Army solve its recent recruiting problems could mean there will be additional emphasis in that area of the budget for the next few years, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said Wednesday.

Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of U.S. Northern Command, told the House Armed Services Committee this week that while he has confidence in the ability of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system to counter North Korean threats today, he's less sure about the ability of the nation's main homeland ballistic missile defense capability to be effective in the future:

NORTHCOM 'concerned' about future U.S. ability to defeat North Korean ICBM strike

The top U.S. military official responsible for defending the nation against a North Korean nuclear strike said he is "concerned" about the Pentagon's ability in the future to defend the nation against a limited attack.

By Jason Sherman
March 9, 2023 at 1:33 PM

China quietly destroyed a high-flying spy balloon last month over the Atlantic Ocean in waters off South America, somehow downing an airship previously spotted over Costa Rica at about the same time a platform that appeared identical was transiting the United States last month, according to senior military officials.

“The PRC actually terminated that balloon in the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast of South America,” Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace and Defense Command, told the House Armed Services Committee on March 8, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

Gen. Linda Richardson, head of U.S. Southern Command testifying at the same hearing, added: “That’s what I understand as well.”

This development adds an intriguing postscript to the Chinese spy-balloon saga -- implying Beijing potentially had the ability to activate a self-destruct mechanism as the large airship and its payload drifted from Montana to South Carolina.

VanHerck last month assessed the balloon that flew over the United States was about 200-feet in height and carried a payload the size of a regional jet weighing between 1,000 pounds to 2,000 pounds. At that time, he said military leaders determined the sensor packages included photographic equipment and potentially explosives. The high-altitude balloon was eventually shot down by the Air Force in waters off South Carolina.

DOD officials at the time said the U.S. military took "maximum precautions" to prevent the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon from collecting intelligence on domestic military sites during its flight over states with sensitive installations -- including key strategic nuclear locations.

“We know with certainty they intended to surveil sensitive U.S. military and critical infrastructure sites,” Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs, told the House panel. “By shooting down the balloon in our territorial waters, we sent a clear message to the PRC that activity such as this is unacceptable.”

By Nick Wilson
March 9, 2023 at 1:05 PM

The Marine Corps will procure 16 additional units of a ground-based radar system, with plans to award Northrop Grumman a contract modification in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023.

The company currently holds a full-rate production contract for 30 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) systems -- a multirole, expeditionary 3D radar capability the Marine Corps sees as critical in its force design efforts.

According to a Thursday service announcement, Northrop is the only company capable of producing and certifying the additional units due to its possession of the system’s comprehensive technical data package.

The release explains that Northrop has “asserted restrictions to much of this data,” and as a result, the Marine Corps’ Program Executive Officer Land Systems (PEO LS) cannot provide the information needed to manufacture these G/ATOR units to other prospective contractors.

The production, testing and delivery of the new units is projected to span approximately 72 months from the time of award, the announcement states.

G/ATOR will provide situational awareness to the Marine Corps’ newly announced Marine Littoral Regiments and is a component of the prototype Medium Range Intercept Capability, an air defense system intended to protect ground forces from cruise missiles and other airborne threats.

By Dan Schere
March 9, 2023 at 12:38 PM

The Army intends to award a follow-on production contract for the Stryker Double-V Hull A1 starting in fiscal year 2026, according to a service request for information posted Thursday.

The Double-V Hull A1 is the newest variant of the Stryker and was developed more than a decade ago to give soldiers additional protection from improvised explosive devices and roadside mines during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Double-V Hull design uses enhanced armor and blast-attenuating seats.

General Dynamics Land Systems produces the DVH A1, and its contract runs through June 2025, according to the notice. The vehicle has been upgraded over the years with engine/powerpack improvements, chassis modifications, in-vehicle network updates and electrical power upgrades.

The government anticipates awarding a follow-on production contract for FY-26 through FY-31, according to the notice.

The RFI states its purpose is to determine capability to produce the DVH A1 from industry. The government hopes to avoid a “substantial duplication of cost or unacceptable delay,” and will use a multiple year requirements contract to establish pricing for the requirements.

The government will assess industry’s capabilities to produce the DVH A1, produce new hulls for the vehicles and other tasks such as configuration management, vehicle inspection and final inspection.

By Shelley K. Mesch
March 9, 2023 at 11:39 AM

DENVER -- Boeing and Shield AI have signed an agreement to collaborate on autonomous capability development and artificial intelligence on defense programs, the companies announced Wednesday at the Air and Space Forces Association Warfare Symposium.

Boeing’s Phantom Works division will work with the software company -- which created an AI pilot called Hivemind -- according to a news release from Boeing.

“Boeing continues to leverage talent from across the enterprise to make great strides in autonomous capabilities and programs in recent years,” Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager for Boeing’s Air Dominance organization, said in the news release. “Collaborating with Shield AI, the leader in AI pilots, will accelerate our ability to deliver these capabilities to the warfighter.”

Shield AI ran an in-flight test of Hivemind on a modified F-16 in December, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

During a panel discussion at the symposium Wednesday on the Collaborative Combat Aircraft concept, Shield AI director of product Mike Benitez talked about the importance of developing capable AI if the Air Force is going to move forward toward its early estimate of 1,000 CCAs.

Uncrewed aircraft today require about four times as many people to operate than their crewed counterparts, Benitez said.

“The unmanned, remotely piloted fleet that we have today is certainly manpower intensive,” Benitez said. “It has not delivered on the promise that the past two-and-a-half generations have promised that we’re going to take the man out of the cockpit, we’re going to save on manpower.”

AI needs to be leveraged to cut down on manpower, Benitez said, if the service is going to successfully scale an autonomous fleet that can team with crewed aircraft under the CCA plan.

By John Liang
March 8, 2023 at 2:11 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the upcoming fiscal year 2024 defense budget request, the AFA Warfare Symposium in Colorado and more.

With the White House set to release its fiscal year 2024 budget request tomorrow, some analysts are already underwhelmed over leaked details on proposed Pentagon spending:

Analysts react to leaked DOD investment numbers ahead of White House rollout

Leaked budget numbers indicate the White House intends to send a fiscal year 2024 request to Congress that would increase the Pentagon's modernization investments by about 4% above what lawmakers enacted for FY-23, but some analysts say that represents flat growth, or even a small cut when adjusted for inflation.

Check out our latest coverage of the Air and Space Forces Association's annual Warfare Symposium in Colorado:

Air Force launches next-generation tanker acquisition strategy

DENVER -- The Air Force is moving away from a previous aerial refueling modernization blueprint to instead develop what it’s calling the Next Generation Aerial-refueling System, or NGAS, service acquisition chief Andrew Hunter told reporters this week.

Kendall highlights themes of FY-24 budget with focus on NGAD, space systems

DENVER -- The Air Force will seek to procure roughly 1,000 uncrewed collaborative aircraft as part of its Next-Generation Air Dominance plan for the future fighter fleet, service Secretary Frank Kendall said Tuesday morning.

View Inside Defense's complete AFA Warfare Symposium coverage.

Don't expect the head of U.S. Special Operations Command to not send Congress an unfunded priorities list:

Warren clashes with SOCOM chief over unfunded priorities

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) today unsuccessfully tried to get the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command to pledge that he would not send Congress an unfunded priorities list following the White House's regular budget request.

Document: SOCOM, CYBERCOM FY-24 posture statements

An agreement is slated to be signed March 10 at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX, outlining a collaborative effort between the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Capital and the Small Business Association:

DOD Office of Strategic Capital to ink new agreement with Small Business Administration

The Defense Department's recently established Office of Strategic Capital intends to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Small Business Administration's Office of Investment and Innovation to help increase early-stage private investment in critical technologies, according to a Pentagon announcement.

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

CMMC leaders push for using NIST CUI standard across federal government

The Defense Department's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification leader Stacy Bostjanick and accreditation body CEO Matthew Travis are pushing for the entire federal government to adopt National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-171, the Pentagon's foundational standard for handling sensitive federal data for its CMMC program, to ensure consistency between defense and civilian requirements.