The Insider

By Nickolai Sukharev
November 21, 2023 at 9:45 AM

Oshkosh won a $160 million contract to produce the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle for seven foreign militaries, the Defense Department announced Thursday.

The company will manufacture JLTVs for Mongolia, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia at the company’s facility in Oshkosh, WI, by an estimated completion date of Sept. 25, 2025, the announcement reads.

Other foreign purchasers of the JLTV include Brazil, Lithuania and Montenegro. Oshkosh received contracts earlier this month and in September to produce the JLTV for the Army.

Intended to replace a portion of the Army’s humvees, the JLTV is a family of four-wheeled vehicles designed to transport personnel and payloads during military operations.

It has a four-seat combat tactical variant and a two-seat combat support variant. The combat tactical variant features a turret and cargo hold designed to carry heavier weapons. The combat support variant is designed to transport cargo.

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

Earlier this month, the Army issued a request for information for a Mobile Long Range Precision Strike Missile designed to be carried on the JTLV and Army’s forthcoming electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle.

In October, Oshkosh announced a decrease in sales after losing the next JLTV production contract to AM General. In June, the Government Accountability Office denied Oshkosh’s protest of the Army’s decision.

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

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

By John Liang
November 20, 2023 at 1:59 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army’s Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor system, the Air Force's newly minted chief of staff giving his first remarks, the White House's new National Spectrum Strategy and more.

The Army's Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) took part in a recent live-fire event:

LTAMDS 'nominal' in first live-fire test; surrogate cruise missile intercepted

The Army's Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) -- in a seminal event for the service's decade-long effort to field a next-generation, 360-degree radar -- detected a cruise missile target and guided a Patriot interceptor to destroy the threat during a live-fire test at White Sands Missile Range, NM.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin gave remarks at his welcome ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, MD last week:

Allvin says 'adjustments' and 'variations in execution' are necessary

The Air Force needs to make some "adjustments" and "variations in [its] execution" to adapt to the current strategic environment and defend the U.S. from aggressors, the service's newly appointed chief of staff said Thursday.

The White House's new National Spectrum Strategy isn't going over well with some congressional lawmakers:

Lawmakers split over DOD spectrum sharing in new White House strategy

Lawmakers disagree over the White House's new National Spectrum Strategy announced Monday, with parties divided over the possibility of spectrum sharing between the Defense Department and the private sector.

Mara Karlin, assistant defense secretary for strategy, plans and capabilities, who is also performing the duties of the deputy defense under secretary for policy, told reporters last week that conversations between U.S. military officials and their Chinese counterparts will resume after positive results from a summit held Wednesday:

Pentagon official details resumption of U.S-China mil-to-mil communications

A senior Pentagon policy official said recently that military-to-military communications with China will resume, following a high-profile meeting between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Air Force Scientific Advisory Board recently completed a study on artificial intelligence:

AFSAB studies responsible AI, offers recommendations and roadmap

The Air Force Scientific Advisory Board has recommended several ways for the service to advance the use of responsible artificial intelligence for supporting combat engagements.

Gen. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations, spoke at a recent Atlantic Council event:

Saltzman says China's ASAT capabilities are major challenge to service

The Space Force chief yesterday highlighted China's anti-satellite missile capabilities as one of the significant challenges to the service.

By Tony Bertuca
November 20, 2023 at 1:41 PM

The Defense Department announced a $100 million weapons transfer to Ukraine today, including additional air defense capabilities, artillery ammunition and anti-tank weapons.

The latest package, funded via presidential drawdown authority, includes:

  • Stinger anti-aircraft missiles;
  • One High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and additional ammunition;
  • 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds;
  • Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles;
  • Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems;
  • More than 3 million rounds of small arms ammunition;
  • Demolitions munitions for obstacle clearing;
  • Cold weather gear; and
  • Spare parts, maintenance, and other ancillary equipment.

The transfer is the 51st PDA action for Ukraine since August 2021.

Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord said last week that DOD has about $5 billion in authority remaining to transfer U.S. weapons to Ukraine, but only $1 billion available to replenish those weapons.

The White House included funds for Ukraine in a $106 billion emergency supplemental spending request it sent Congress last month, but House GOP lawmakers remain at odds over whether the aid should be provided.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has sought to frame the additional assistance as a boost for the U.S. economy.

“Security assistance for Ukraine is a smart investment in our national security,” DOD said today. “It helps to prevent a larger conflict in the region and deter potential aggression elsewhere, while strengthening our defense industrial base and creating highly skilled jobs for the American people in dozens of states across the country. It is critical that Congress take action to support Ukraine by passing the President’s supplemental funding request.”

By Jason Sherman
November 20, 2023 at 12:05 AM

Ursa Major, a rocket propulsion company focused on space and hypersonic systems, is jumping into the solid-rocket motor sector, offering state-of-the-art manufacturing processes -- including 3D printing -- to help replenish inventories depleted by U.S. donations to Ukraine and Israel.

The Berthoud, CO-based company has bundled what it says is a new approach to solid rocket motor design and manufacturing, branded it “Lynx” in a marketing campaign unveiled today, and claims it will redefine a market “plagued by a broken supply chain and an overextended industrial base.”

“Lynx is taking our experience in 3D printing for small motors . . and giving us the ability to build hundreds or thousands of everything from Stinger up through 22-inch diameter Standard Missile-class motors with one production cell,” Joe Laurienti, Ursa Major founder and chief executive officer, told Inside Defense Nov. 16.

A Lynx “production cell” is the collection of 3D printers and engineers needed to produce any given solid rocket motor.

A January report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found -- among other things -- it could take more than five years to rebuild U.S. inventories of key munitions, including 155mm artillery rounds, Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and more.

“Lynx meets the defense industry’s need for a faster, cheaper, scalable, and flexible SRM production process that results in better-performing solid rocket motors,” Laurienti said in a statement. “We’ve adapted our extensive experience in additive manufacturing, materials development, and propulsion production to the most pressing problems facing the SRM industry. The result is an adaptable manufacturing process that is designed to mass produce multiple systems, rapidly switching from one model to another, producing reliable SRMs quickly and at scale, while leaving room to collaborate across the industry on energetics.”

By Tony Bertuca
November 17, 2023 at 5:07 PM

The State Department has approved a possible $2.35 billion foreign military sale of Tomahawk missiles to Japan, according to an announcement from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

Japan seeks to purchase up to 200 Tomahawk Block IV All Up Rounds (AURs) (RGM-109E); up to 200 Tomahawk Block V AURs (RGM-109E); and 14 Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control Systems (TTWCS), DSCA said.

The principal contractor will be Raytheon in Tucson, AZ.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific region,” DSCA said.

By Tony Bertuca
November 17, 2023 at 4:56 PM

The U.S. government intends to host a two-day Ukrainian Defense Industrial Base Conference next month that aims to connect industry representatives with government officials to “explore opportunities for co-production and other industrial cooperation in Ukraine,” according to the White House National Security Council.

The conference will run Dec. 6-7 and “is part of the U.S. government’s efforts to significantly increase weapons production to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom and security,” the NSC said.

The conference will include officials from the Departments of Defense, State, Commerce and the NSC, as well as officials from the Ukrainian government.

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante teased the conference during the Politico Defense Summit earlier this week, saying DOD hopes to soon “pivot” toward helping to build out a domestic defense industrial base in Ukraine.

“Everyone wants to help Ukrainians build an indigenous capability,” he said.

By Nickolai Sukharev
November 17, 2023 at 4:49 PM

The Army is surveying industry for artillery rounds that are “capable of successfully combating armored vehicles,” according to a public announcement.

Issued as a market survey, the Army is seeking sources to manufacture 155mm caliber BONUS Mk 2 with a production rate of 450 rounds per month.

“Compatible with most existing artillery guns, BONUS Mk 2 is handled just like a conventional shell,” the announcement reads.

Developed by Swedish manufacturer, Bofors during the 1980s, a BONUS round deploys two submunitions that search for separate targets within a given footprint using an explosive warhead. Once deployed, the submunitions spin and descend without a parachute that “make it difficult to detect and countermeasure,” the announcement describes.

“If no targets are identified, the system self-destructs to avoid leaving live munitions on the battlefield,” the announcement adds.

Within the Army, one variant of BONUS ammunition is designed to counter lightly armored vehicles and personnel while another is designed to counter heavily armored vehicles, according to Army spokeswoman Ellen Lovett, who told Inside Defense in an email in September.

Though BONUS ammunition deploys submunitions, similar to conventional cluster munitions, the BONUS system meets the standards specified in the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Lovett added in the email.

The announcement follows an October market survey seeking production of XM1180 Cannon-Delivered Area Effects Munition (C-DAEM), designed to be fired from the Extended Range Cannon Artillery, a self-propelled howitzer slated to replace the M109A7 Paladin.

The Army procures numerous types of 155mm rounds, including tracer, smoke and high explosive variants, according to service budget documents.

For fiscal year 2024, the Army allocated $150.8 million to procure 55,832 155mm rounds of all types, service documents state.

By Abby Shepherd
November 17, 2023 at 2:40 PM

The Navy has awarded HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding a $130 million contract to fund advance procurement for components of an amphibious assault ship, according to a notice posted Thursday.

Work on LHA-10 is expected to be completed by July 2028, according to the notice. The advance procurement of long lead time material ­­-- components that take the longest to design and fabricate for the ship -- is one aspect of the funding.

LHA-10 will be the third Flight I America-class ship and includes a well deck.

Yet, if the continuing resolution ​​the Navy is now operating under stretches past the first quarter of fiscal year 2024, funding for the buildup of LHA-10 may be at risk.

By Thomas Duffy
November 17, 2023 at 1:27 PM

We close out this week’s INSIDER Daily Digest with news of the Army training soldiers to defend against drones, a hypersonic missile defense contract awarded by the Missile Defense Agency, budget news from Capitol Hill, the Pentagon missed getting a clean audit again, and more.

Army soldiers will soon begin learning the ways to defense against unmanned air systems:

Counter UAS component to be incorporated into Army basic training

Responding to unmanned system threats will be incorporated into Army basic training, and possibly the training of other services, an official from the Defense Department’s Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office (JCO) said this week.

Two major defense contractors will continue to develop a hypersonic defense system:

MDA awards new round of funding for GPI technology development

The Missile Defense Agency is pumping $104 million into the Glide Phase Interceptor program, awarding RTX, formerly Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman $52 million options each for competing technology development efforts to design variants of a ship-launched missile capable of protecting an aircraft carrier from a long-range hypersonic weapon.

Looks like the government will stay open for now:

Senate passes CR, moves to conference defense bill with House

The Senate voted 87-11 last night to pass a stopgap continuing resolution to temporarily avert a looming government shutdown and agreed to enter conference committee negotiations with the House on the annual defense authorization bill.

Another year, another missed audit for the Pentagon:

DOD again misses mark on annual audit

The Defense Department has for the sixth consecutive year failed to achieve a “clean” audit, citing the same number of “material weaknesses” as last year, but noting that progress continues to be addressed by the replacement of outdated software systems that make it difficult to track DOD’s $3.8 trillion in assets.

The Pentagon’s top budget guy doesn’t like what he sees coming down the tracks:

DOD comptroller calls upcoming budget sequester a ‘slow-moving train wreck’

Though Congress appears poised to temporarily avert a government shutdown, Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord is sounding the alarm on a massive budget sequester scheduled to hit the Defense Department if lawmakers don’t act.

By Nick Wilson
November 17, 2023 at 12:25 PM

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith has been released from the hospital and is continuing his recovery at home and preparing for an upcoming heart procedure after suffering a cardiac arrest on Oct. 29, according to a service press release.

The upcoming procedure will repair a bicuspid aortic valve in Smith’s heart, which directly contributed to his cardiac arrest according to doctors, the release states.

A bicuspid aortic valve is a condition present from birth in which the heart’s aortic valve has two rather than three cusps, or flaps of tissue that open and close with each heartbeat to help control blood flow, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The notice does not specify when the procedure will take place but says Smith’s recovery is “well ahead of schedule.” In a Nov. 8 statement, Smith indicated he intends to return to the role of commandant once his recovery is complete.

In the meantime, Assistant Commandant Gen. Christopher Mahoney continues to perform the duties of commandant -- a role he assumed after the Senate voted to confirm him as the service’s No. 2 officer on Nov. 2. Smith has “been in contact with Mahoney,” the service notice states.

“Gen. Mahoney and I see eye to eye on the strategic direction of our Corps and we are fortunate to be surrounded by a Marine Corps family filled with America’s finest leaders,” Smith said in a statement included in the release. “We continue to focus on finding the right balance between modernizing through Force Design and our day-to-day crisis response mission, while also on taking care of our Marines and Sailors.”

Prior to Mahoney’s confirmation, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, deputy commandant for combat development and integration and commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, stepped in to fill the role of commandant in Smith’s absence.

Although Mahoney was nominated to the assistant commandant post in July, Smith had been performing the duties of both the Marine Corps No. 1 and No. 2 positions due to a hold on military nominees and promotions exercised by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who continues to block the Senate’s normal confirmation process in opposition to the Pentagon’s leave and travel policies for servicemembers seeking abortion services.

Smith previously called the workload “unsustainable,” saying he was working 18-hour days to fulfill the responsibilities of both positions.

The Senate used a workaround to individually confirm Smith, Mahoney and a handful of other senior military officials. This week, the Senate Rules Committee voted to advance a proposal that would allow the Senate to temporarily override the hold and confirm over 400 defense nominees.

By Nick Wilson
November 16, 2023 at 12:40 PM

The Navy plans to establish its own variant of the Army’s Man Transportable Robotic System Increment II, a remotely operated platform used to detect and dispose of landmines and other explosives, according to a request for information posted earlier this month.

“The U.S. Navy has decided to establish a stand-alone configuration of the MTRS II system from the U.S. Army Program of Record,” the notice states. “The purpose of this separate configuration is to address Navy specific user requirements which include integration of the Flexible Cyber Secure Radio (FlexCSR).”

The notice asks interested vendors to detail their approach to “supporting government efforts to integrate FlexCSR system into the MTRS II systems” and “supporting government with integrating any Risk Management Framework security controls that are required to establish the Authority to Operate for the Navy configuration.”

In April, The Navy awarded a five-year, $55 million contract for FlexCRS radios to contractor Tomahawk Robotics.

While MTRS Inc. II is an Army program of record, the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force also employ the platform. Contractor Teledyne FLIR was selected to build the system in 2017, and in June 2023 announced it had delivered 1,000 MTRS Inc. II units to the U.S. military. The company has received orders for more than 1,800 systems totaling over $250 million, the notice adds.

The 160-pound robot is equipped with a visual and thermal camera and a robotic arm with a reach of six feet. It is controlled by a remote operator using a handheld controller. In addition to ordinance disposal, the system can be equipped with “different sensors and payloads” for other missions including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, according to the system’s maker.

By Thomas Duffy
November 16, 2023 at 12:00 PM

We start this Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest with news about the Air Force operationally combining manned and unmanned aircraft, lots of news on the impact of a continuing resolution, a major contractor is putting its money into a new startup operation, and two studies coming out of the Defense Innovation Board.

The Air Force wants to test manned and unmanned aircraft operating together:

Experimental ops unit to assess CCA integration ahead of planned FY-28 production

The Air Force plans to establish an experimental operations unit next year to assess how Collaborative Combat Aircraft will work within fighter squadrons, the head of Air Force Futures said today.

The Navy sees bad things ahead if it keeps operating under a continuing resolution:

Key Navy acquisitions at risk under a long-term CR

The Navy is well-equipped to weather a continuing resolution running through the first quarter of fiscal year 2024 but the service will see significant disruptions to high-priority acquisition programs -- including key submarines, surface ships and munitions -- if the CR stretches to a full year.

Lockheed Martin is putting some money into a new, innovative start-up:

Lockheed invests in startup that envisions micro factories, mass customization, robotics

Lockheed Martin today announced an undisclosed investment in Launchpad.build -- a start-up that aims to collapse the traditional prototype and testing cycle by using a set of artificial intelligence driven technologies to convert an idea directly to final physical product, upending the manufacturing paradigm.

A pentagon technology board recently discussed publicly two new studies:

Defense Innovation Board discusses ‘lowering barriers’ and building data economy

The Defense Innovation Board hosted its fall public meeting today, reporting progress on two ongoing studies focused on lowering barriers to Defense Department innovation and building the DOD data economy, while also highlighting topics for future studies.

The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer recently talked about working under a continuing resolution:

LaPlante: ‘People get laid off because of continuing resolutions’

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante said today that he meets with other defense officials every day at 1 p.m. to discuss a potential government shutdown and the impact of stopgap funding on U.S. weapons production.

By Georgina DiNardo
November 15, 2023 at 2:26 PM

The Defense Innovation Unit announced Monday that two new companies were awarded contracts to help with different aspects of the Hypersonic and High-Cadence Airborne Testing Capabilities (HyCAT) initiative.

HyCAT, originally announced in April, was implemented to develop inexpensive, high-cadence hypersonic testing capabilities, according to a DIU press release issued Monday.

DIU has now announced that Hermeus Corp. and Innoveering have secured contracts since the project has grown to include further experimental cruise flight teams.

Hermeus will focus on providing “turbine-based combined cycle propulsion and a pathway for dual use, reusable hypersonic flight aircraft,” DIU said.

“Hermeus will emphasize demonstration of enabling technologies -- aircraft sub-systems and mission integration -- needed for future hypersonic aircraft,” according to DIU.

Meanwhile, DIU said Innoveering, which is a GE Aerospace company, received a contract to prototype an “affordable air-launched air-breathing hypersonic testbed.” The company will use subcontractors Specter Aerospace and Starfighters International to complete the prototype.

“Innoveering will mature the design, conduct supporting modeling and simulation and perform system integration to deliver a robust, hypersonic mission in the coming years,” DIU said.

“Our objective is to provide a diverse set of dual-use technology solutions to the hypersonic testing apparatus, addressing immediate and long-term needs,” Lt. Col. Nicholas Estep said. “This is the ideal conduit for DIU’s involvement -- providing mission-relevant, flight testbeds and novel technology insertions to the Defense Department hypersonic community of interest.”

DIU has tentatively set the initial mission date for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2024.

“This suite of current and future commercial capabilities provides the DOD cost-effective, high cadence test options using the best of today’s recoverable technologies and tomorrow’s reusable technologies,” said Barry Kirkendall, technical director of DIU’s space portfolio.

Fenix Space Inc. was awarded a contract at the beginning stages of the HyCAT initiative and completed the initial concept design and flight trajectories for the project.

In May 2023, DIU launched HyCAT 2, targeting “technical insertions” deemed vital to the hypersonic community.

In HyCAT 2, NXTRAC was one of the initial performers, focusing on commercializing high performance GNC solutions.

“Their solution will be aggressively designed, ground tested, then integrated for hypersonic flight evaluation,” DIU said. “In addition to hypersonics, NXTRAC’s TDSA technology is being explored for a broad range of U.S. government lines of effort, to include seismic monitoring and geothermal exploration with the Department of Energy and informing dynamic space missions with the United States Space Force.”

By Thomas Duffy
November 15, 2023 at 12:33 PM

We start this midweek INSIDER Daily Digest with news on the U.S.-Australia submarine program, the Army sees trouble ahead if Congress doesn’t pass an appropriations bill soon, a cruise missile defense project has fallen behind schedule, and several lawmakers want Israel to get new air refueling tankers.

Two congressmen expect legislation to be approved for the AUKUS effort:

Lawmakers ‘optimistic’ AUKUS legislation will pass this year

Two members of the House Armed Services Committee today said they are “optimistic” a series of legislative proposals intended to help implement the AUKUS security partnership will soon be enacted by Congress.

The Army may run into trouble if the congressional continuing resolution lasts much longer:

Wormuth says at least $6B in programs would be delayed under six-month CR

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said Tuesday that under a hypothetical six-month continuing resolution, at least $6 billion in programs would be either delayed or disrupted.

An Army missile defense project has fallen behind schedule:

IFPC Inc 2 suffering delay of at least 8 months; ‘aggressive’ effort to support Guam fielding

The Army project to develop a next-generation cruise missile defense system is facing a delay even as the effort -- called the Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 -- is carrying out what one senior official calls “aggressive activity” to support fielding in Guam by 2027 as part of a new air and missile defense system intended to counter China’s designs on Taiwan.

Several members of Congress want new tankers delivered to Israel quickly:

Lawmakers urge DOD to announce expedited delivery of KC-46A to Israel

Lawmakers are urging the Defense Department to accelerate delivery of the KC-46A tankers purchased by Israel, according to a letter sent last week.

By Georgina DiNardo
November 15, 2023 at 11:25 AM

The Defense Department has released a Responsible Artificial Intelligence Toolkit that aims to guide best practices for AI among DOD users and industry contractors.

The RAI Toolkit, coming out of the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office, is a critical part of the RAI Strategy and Implementation Pathway that Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks signed in June 2022.

“To ensure that our citizens, warfighters and leaders can trust the outputs of DOD AI capabilities, DOD must demonstrate that our military's steadfast commitment to lawful and ethical behavior apply when designing, developing, testing, procuring, deploying and using Al,” Hicks wrote. “The Responsible AI (RAI) Strategy and Implementation (S&I) Pathway illuminates our path forward by defining and communicating our framework for harnessing AI.”

The goal of the strategy, Hicks wrote, is to “eliminate uncertainty and hesitancy” among DOD users, industry and U.S. allies.

“Integrating ethics from the start also empowers the DOD to maintain the trust of our allies and coalition partners as we work alongside them to promote democratic norms and international standards,” she wrote.

A key part of this strategy and implementation plan was the development of an AI-related test and evaluation toolkit that would “draw upon best practices and innovative research from industry and the academic community, as well as commercially available technology where appropriate,” DOD said in a press release yesterday.

The toolkit was released to DOD users yesterday. It was created using the Responsible AI Guidelines and Worksheets, made by the Defense Innovation Unit, the NIST AI Risk Management Framework and Toolkit and the IEEE 7000 Standard Model Process for Addressing Ethical Concerns during System Design as a basis for its foundation.

"Responsible AI is foundational for anything that the DoD builds and ships,” CDAO Craig Martell said in a statement.

“So, I am thrilled about the release of the RAI Toolkit,” he continued. “This release demonstrates our commitment to ethics, risk assessment, internal governance, and external collaboration. We promised to establish processes to design and employ human fail-safes in AI development and deployment, and we're excited to provide this applied toolkit for our end users."

DOD also noted that the toolkit counsels users through “tailorable and modular assessments, tools and artifacts throughout the AI Product lifecycle.”

The department reports that the toolkit will be continuously updated as it is a living document.