The Insider

By Jason Sherman
February 21, 2023 at 10:00 AM

Lockheed Martin's venture capital arm, Hanwha Aerospace and AIM13|Crumpton Venture Partners are collectively investing $17.8 million in Fortem Technologies to help the Utah company scale its counter-drone capabilities, a market forecast to grow to $4.7 billion by 2027.

Fortem announced it closed the new funded round, which also included investments by previous backers DCVC and SIgnia Venture Partners, according to a company announcement.

“The capital will help Fortem scale to meet growing demands across multiple regions and market sectors in airspace and security,” Fortem said in a statement.

In addition to developing counter-uncrewed aircraft systems, Fortem is developing technologies for the advanced air mobility market -- which some call flying cars -- a market size the company believes will grow from $8.9 billion in 2022 to $45 billion by 2030.

“Rapid development and legitimate applications of UAS create an increasingly capable threat when in the hands of bad actors,” Chris Moran, Lockheed Martin Ventures vice president, said in a statement. “Lockheed Martin Ventures’ investment in Fortem Technologies signals our commitment to keeping pace with our customer’s requirements, ensuring the U.S. and its allies stay ahead of ready.”

Fortem’s systems have countered suicide drones, such as the Iranian-built Shahed-136, in Ukraine and helped protect skies over the World Cup games in Qatar, according to the company.

Other prior Fortem investors include Boeing, Toshiba and Mubadala Investment Company.

“We are extremely excited to be working with such respected companies in this funding raise,” Fortem Technologies Chief Executive Officer Jon Gruen said in a statement. “Not only does this investment help us address our rapidly growing market demand, but the level of support and industry experience these companies bring allows us to tap into unparalleled business, technical, and industry knowledge.”

By Jason Sherman
February 20, 2023 at 9:15 PM

A key House lawmaker is calling for wide ranging enhancements to homeland ballistic missile defense after North Korea over the weekend launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on a lofted flight into the sea that experts said demonstrated the potential for Pyongyang to strike anywhere in the United States.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Congress should “fully fund” homeland missile defense projects in the fiscal year 2024 budget that lawmakers will begin work on after the Pentagon delivers the Biden administration’s proposal next month.

“What has to be done is clear -- we must accelerate our missile defense development to outpace the DPRK threat,” Turner said in a Feb. 20 statement. “This includes speeding up the Next Generation Interceptor, putting more interceptors in the ground, and looking to space-based missile defenses.”

North Korea’s state media said that​ the country had tested its Hwasong-15 on Feb. 18, according to the New York Times.

"Japan’s defense minister, Yasukazu Hamada, told reporters that the North Korean missile had reached an altitude of roughly 3,540 miles. If fired at a normal ICBM trajectory, the missile could have traveled about 8,700 miles, enough to reach anywhere in the entire continental United States, he said,” the Times reported.

By Tony Bertuca
February 20, 2023 at 11:11 AM

The Defense Department, coinciding with President Biden’s surprise visit to Ukraine, has announced a $460 million military aid package that includes additional long-range ammunition and Javelin anti-tank weapons.

The package, funded through presidential “drawdown” authority, includes:

  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems;
  • Additional 155mm artillery rounds;
  • Additional 120mm mortar rounds;
  • Four air surveillance radars;
  • Additional Javelin anti-armor systems;
  • Approximately 2,000 anti-armor rockets;
  • Four Bradley Infantry Fire Support Team vehicles;
  • Two tactical vehicles to recover equipment;
  • Claymore anti-personnel munitions;
  • Demolition munitions;
  • Night vision devices;
  • Tactical secure communications systems;
  • Medical supplies;
  • Spare parts and other field equipment.

The Biden administration has provided about $30 billion in security aid to Ukraine since the start of a Russian invasion in February 2022.

“When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. He thought he could outlast us,” Biden said in a statement. “But he was dead wrong.”

Though a vocal minority of Republicans on Capitol Hill want to suspend aid to Ukraine, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) recently returned from a trip to Poland and Romania where he and other lawmakers went to conduct oversight of U.S. aid being sent to Ukraine and said he is “confident” the aid is being tracked and put to good use.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said additional U.S. weapons will continue flowing to Ukraine to prepare for a “spring offensive” to try to dislodge Russian forces.

By Tony Bertuca
February 20, 2023 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at several public events in the Washington area this week.


President's Day.


Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro speaks at the National Press Club.

The Air Force Association hosts a discussion with the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations.

The National Defense Industrial Association hosts a webinar with the Defense Department's director of small business programs.


The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion with Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman.

The National Defense Industrial Association hosts its Expeditionary Warfare Conference. The event runs through Thursday.

The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation hosts its Army Service Day conference.

The National Defense University Foundation hosts a discussion with the chief of Space Operations Command.


The Association of the United States Army hosts a discussion on Army aviation with senior service officials.

By Nick Wilson
February 17, 2023 at 7:11 PM

The Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.1 billion initial contract to integrate hypersonic strike capability onto Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers, according to a Friday announcement from the company.

The contract, which could be worth as much as $2 billion if all options are exercised, will see the Navy’s Zumwalt-class ships outfitted with Lockheed’s Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) -- a hypersonic boost-glide weapon system for long range missile flight.

According to a Feb. 17 Defense Department contract announcement, Lockheed will "provide program management, engineering development, systems integration, long lead material and special tooling and equipment in support of missile production."

Lockheed plans to have the system ready for the Navy’s use by the “mid-2020s,” the company's release states. Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics Mission Systems will also act as subcontractors for the project.

Lawmakers have indicated that expediting hypersonic program development is a priority, and Lockheed’s release says the company is accelerating development on an “unprecedented timeline.”

Once complete, the CPS system will be the nation’s first sea-based hypersonic strike capability.

Lockheed is also the prime contractor for the Army’s land-based Long Range Hypersonic Weapon program.

Hypersonic missiles can travel at more than five times the speed of sound and are highly maneuverable and survivable against enemy defenses, according to the release.

“Under this contract, prime contractor Lockheed Martin will provide launcher systems, weapon control, All Up Rounds (AURs), which are the integrated missile components, and platform integration support for this naval platform,” the release adds.

By John Liang
February 17, 2023 at 2:52 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the upcoming defense budget request, the Navy's Columbia-class submarine effort, the Army's "Arcane Thunder" exercise, the Air Force's Grey Wolf helicopter program and more.

The White House Office of Management and Budget is still expected to submit the president's main budget volume on March 9 but that it will be followed -- possibly on March 13 -- by more detailed programmatic information and justification materials submitted to Congress:

DOD budget to be released March 9 without detailed program information

The White House is planning to send Congress a defense budget request on March 9, but government officials say it won't contain many key programmatic details that will be released later.

Speaking Wednesday at the Nuclear Deterrence Summit, Navy Rear Adm. Scott Pappano discussed a Government Accountability Office report indicating a lack of schedule risk analysis by the service in its long-term planning and oversight of the Columbia submarine program:

Pappano: Navy must focus on timely Columbia fielding despite schedule oversight concerns

While the Navy looks to improve its schedule risk oversight of Columbia-class submarine production, it's too late for the type of long-term risk analysis that government auditors have recommended, and the service must maintain focus on fielding the submarines on time by any means necessary, according to a top official who oversees the program.

Keep an eye out later this summer for an Army exercise called "Arcane Thunder":

Army's inaugural Arcane Thunder exercise will bring together cyberspace, EW, intel for preparedness in European theater

The Army's inaugural Arcane Thunder exercise scheduled for this summer in Germany, Poland and Romania will integrate elements of intelligence, information, cyberspace and electronic warfare.

Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs, disclosed the U.S. role in a new radar program -- which Canada is leading -- during testimony before Congress on the Chinese spy balloon that crossed the United States earlier this month:

New 'Crossbow' radar network adds classified capability to aging North Warning System

The U.S. and Canadian governments are augmenting the aging North Warning System with a new radar network armed with classified collection capabilities called "Crossbow," which is intended to improve the ability to detect approaching airborne threats while the two nations work to develop and build a new Over the Horizon Radar system.

The Air Force's Grey Wolf helicopter program is nearing a low-rate initial production decision:

Following 'satisfactory' test campaign, MH-139A readies for production

Results from the MH-139A Grey Wolf's developmental testing have given the Air Force confidence to push ahead with a milestone C review for the helicopter program this month, a service spokeswoman confirmed to Inside Defense.

A senior Lockheed Martin executive spoke at an investors conference this week:

Lockheed Martin could see loss on production contract for classified program, CFO says

Lockheed Martin could see a loss on one of its contracts for a classified program in its Missiles and Fire Control section as the effort goes into production, Chief Financial Officer Jay Malave said Thursday at the Cowen Aerospace/Defense and Industrial Conference.

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

Tech group urges Pentagon to utilize FedRAMP program for zero-trust architecture transition

The Information Technology Industry Council wants the Defense Department to leverage the General Services Administration's FedRAMP program to help military services and agencies transition to zero trust with help from cloud service providers.

NIST outlines proposed updates to foundational publication for handling CUI

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is offering a preview into upcoming changes to its foundational guide for organizations handling sensitive federal data.

By Shelley K. Mesch
February 17, 2023 at 12:23 PM

Northrop Grumman's LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile has completed a series of wind tunnel tests, the company announced Thursday.

The tests used scaled models of the vehicle in subsonic and hypersonic speed wind tunnels, according to a news release from Northrop. The program underwent seven test campaigns, which used various atmospheric, load and speed conditions and simulated firing, stage separation and flight maneuvers, the company said.

Northrop says the success of the tests -- which began last year -- “validates” its digital engineering methods.

“This wind tunnel campaign is an opportunity to put our digitally engineered designs to the test, under conditions that mimic a missile launch,” Sarah Willoughby, vice president and program manager for Sentinel, said in the release. “Predictions from the modeling correlated with the testing results, giving us confidence in our model-based engineering approach.”

Sentinel is in development to replace the Minuteman III ICBM, which was fielded during the Cold War, to modernize the land-based leg of the nuclear triad. The air- and sea-based legs are also undergoing modernization efforts with the B-21 Raider bomber and Columbia-class submarine, respectively.

Frank DeMauro, vice president and general manager of Northrop’s Strategic Deterrent Systems Division, said in September that Sentinel’s first flight test is expected in 2024.

By Nick Wilson
February 17, 2023 at 12:05 PM

The Marine Corps has started the formal evaluation of three Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle prototypes as it seeks a replacement for its legacy Light Armored Vehicle (LAV).

The results of this initial testing period, scheduled to wrap up in the third quarter of fiscal year 2023, will contribute to a “multidomain reconnaissance decision,” according to a Thursday announcement from the service.

Textron Systems delivered its “Cottonmouth” ARV prototype to the Marine Corps in December, followed by a General Dynamics Land Systems prototype delivery later that month. The two companies were selected for the competition in 2021.

BAE Systems, which builds the service’s Amphibious Combat Vehicle, provided a third prototype that will also be tested to “provide the Marine Corps with trade space between a government off-the-shelf and purpose-built solution,” the announcement states.

While Textron and General Dynamics each spent 15 months developing and building their vehicles on the program office’s Middle Tier Acquisition timeline, BAE used an existing contract for the ACV to develop its prototype, according to the announcement.

All three vehicles are designed to serve as the ‘Command, Control, Communications and Computers/Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ version of the ARV -- the first of an undisclosed number of variants in the ARV family of vehicles.

The C4/UAS variant is intended to act as a “quarterback” for manned and unmanned teams, linking onboard and offboard sensors and serving as a “sensor node” to support expeditionary operations.

“The ARV will employ transformational sensors, communications and combat capabilities to collect and communicate information, while integrating robotics and artificial intelligence technologies into manned-unmanned teams,” the release states.

“The ARV will enable a crew to sense the operating environment and convey that information using advanced on-board sensors and networked communications systems that are augmented by unmanned systems to detect, recognize, identify, and report threats at extended ranges,” the announcement adds.

The Marine Corps initially planned to use the ARV as a direct replacement for the LAV, to serve as the primary combat system within light armored reconnaissance battalions, which conduct reconnaissance, surveillance and security operations. However, the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 initiative modified the ARV into a more versatile and mobile reconnaissance platform.

Subsequent comments from Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger and other service officials have raised questions about the role of the ARV in the service’s future force structure and operations.

The commandant’s 2022 force design update directs the Marine Corps to “review and validate all assumptions regarding programmed or potential future capabilities, such as the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV)-30 and Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV).”

The initial period of testing, labeled the “competitive prototyping phase,” will focus on the vehicles’ ability to navigate mission-representative terrain in addition to their C4/UAS capabilities, according to the service release.

By Audrey Decker
February 16, 2023 at 2:31 PM

After touring multiple combatant commands, the Defense Department's chief digital and artificial intelligence office has learned that implementing AI for DOD's warfighting mission will require more personnel, not less.

The Pentagon must realize that AI is “not a free lunch,” and while it will deliver “great capability,” it requires the right allocation of resources, said William Streilein, CDAO’s chief technology officer.

“AI isn't going to save the department bodies if you will. It's not going to save the department billets. It's going to require more, but it's going to enable more capability,” Streilein said at a Potomac Officers Club event today.

Charged with consolidating various AI and data integration efforts across the department, CDAO reached full operating capability last June, combining the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Chief Data Officer and Defense Digital Service.

Streilein said COCOMs, a “critical” part of DOD that is less resourced than the military services, are a main focus for CDAO.

Gathering the “use cases that teach us how data can be brought to bear” from COCOMs will help CDAO figure out how it can leverage AI for warfighting purposes, he said.

Currently, the Pentagon is utilizing AI more frequently within its “enterprise spaces,” rather than for warfighting purposes, according to Streilein.

“The data on the enterprise side is actually better formed. I'm not saying it's all warm and ready to go, but it is generally in better shape. On the warfighting side, that isn't necessarily the case,” he said.

Receiving data from the tactical edge remains a more complicated challenge for the Pentagon as warfighters operate in contested spaces with limited bandwidth.

“What we hope to do is learn and expand from the enterprise use cases we already know, sort of spreading out through the operations and the logistics side, out to the actual warfighting side,” Streilein said.

Amidst concerns over the ethical use of AI for national defense, DOD has released multiple policies over the past year to lay out the pathways to responsible AI adoption.

Concurrently, the State Department released a political declaration today on the military use of AI and autonomy, noting that the use of AI “can and should” be ethical, responsible and enhance international security.

By John Liang
February 16, 2023 at 2:19 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Navy's Littoral Combat Ships, Defense Department innovation, a recent congressional delegation trip to Europe and more.

The Navy is looking at other uses for its Littoral Combat Ship fleet:

Navy considering use of Freedom-class LCS as 'mothership' for unmanned platforms

As the Navy continues to explore alternative uses for its fleet of Littoral Combat Ships, it's evaluating the class' potential to serve as "motherships" for a variety of future unmanned systems.

Many lawmakers have signaled recently that the Pentagon needs to be a more agile innovator:

Harnessing start-ups to scale innovation seen as stubborn challenge for DOD

Concern over the Defense Department's inability to scale emerging technology has permeated the Pentagon and Capitol Hill in recent years, with criticism coming from Washington insiders and outsiders on the barriers -- and controversy -- surrounding start-ups in the defense industrial base.

Seven House lawmakers recently went on a congressional delegation trip to Europe to evaluate U.S. aid being sent to Ukraine:

Rogers 'confident' in U.S. aid to Ukraine after oversight trip

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) recently returned from Poland and Romania where he and other lawmakers went to conduct oversight of U.S. aid being sent to Ukraine, coming away with what he said is a "clear understanding of the various safeguards" that have been put in place to ensure donated weapons are tracked and accounted for.

A new Defense Department inspector general probe comes as U.S. lawmakers are pushing for closer scrutiny of purchases of U.S. farmland by Chinese nationals, labeling them threats to national security and economic sovereignty:

Pentagon IG to probe land purchases near military bases

The Defense Department's inspector general has opened a probe involving the national security risks associated with purchases of land near military installations by foreign entities.

Document: DOD IG memo on foreign buyers of land close to military bases

Over the last nine months, the Defense Information Systems Agency has been building a prototype -- known as Thunderdome -- that brings together a number of capabilities to enhance cyber defense:

DISA's Thunderdome prototype period ends, now scaling across enterprise

The Defense Information Systems Agency's zero-trust security program has finished its operational assessment period and has rolled out a series of technologies to demonstrate that its new program can deliver "all of the tenants of zero trust" for the Defense Department, an official announced this week.

By Dan Schere
February 16, 2023 at 11:30 AM

The Army plans to award $993.8 million in firm fixed-price contract orders for the production of 155 mm rounds, according to a contract notice posted Wednesday.

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems and American Ordnance will compete for each order of the contract, according to the notice. It has an estimated completion date of Feb. 14, 2028.

Wednesday’s announcement comes shortly after the Army awarded $522.3 million worth of orders to produce 155 mm artillery munitions as part of the continuing effort to help Ukraine in its war with Russia.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said earlier this week while in Brussels that he expects Ukraine to launch an offensive sometime in the spring.

By Audrey Decker
February 16, 2023 at 9:43 AM

As the Defense Department faces challenges to recruit and train "cyber warriors," the office of DOD Chief Information Officer John Sherman has released guidance aiming to unify its cyber workforce efforts under a common umbrella.

The manual, titled 8140.03 Cyberspace Workforce Qualification and Management Program, is the third issue in the CIO’s 8140 policy series, which helps the department identify, develop and qualify cyber personnel.

Specifically, the 8140.03 manual “modernizes DOD talent management, allowing for more targeted and flexible approaches within the cyber human capital lifecycle,” according to a DOD announcement yesterday.

While competing for cyber talent with the commercial tech industry, the Pentagon is hoping to track and manage its cyber workforce across the DOD enterprise with its 8140 policy series.

“The manual will guide the department’s ability to verify and advance capabilities for all 225,000 DOD cyber workforce civilians, military personnel, and contractors. Together, the upcoming DOD Cyber Workforce Strategy and DOD 8140 will enable the DOD to develop and deploy an agile, capable and ready cyber workforce," said Patrick Johnson, director of CIO’s workforce innovation directorate.

Concurrently, the Office of the National Cyber Director is working on a national cyber workforce strategy and more broadly, the Biden administration is expected to release a national cyber strategy in early 2023.

By Michael Marrow
February 15, 2023 at 4:01 PM

The Air Force has grounded its fleet of KC-135 air refueling tankers over concerns that a faulty connecting piece could cause an aircraft’s tail to fall off during flight, the service announced in a press release.

“Vertical terminal fitting pins,” as they are called, connect the aircraft’s tail to its body, which the Air Force fears could have been incorrectly installed. The grounding order extends to all KC-135s as well as the reconnaissance variant RC-135 and the WC-135 used for atmospheric collection and analysis.

"We're taking this action out of an abundance of caution, after consulting with our engineering experts," Col. Michael Kovalchek, senior materiel leader with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Legacy Tanker Division, said in the release. “We are working closely with Air Mobility Command and all operational users and anticipate all potentially affected aircraft will be inspected.”

The release notes that the issue has not caused any mishaps.

The backbone of the refueling fleet, the KC-135 first entered service during the Eisenhower administration and is slowly being replaced by deliveries of the KC-46 and the future KC-Y platform. The Air Force has 396 of the tankers in its inventory, according to a service fact sheet, along with 17 RC-135s and 2 WC-135s.

The tail pin issue, which was first reported by Defense News, requires a relatively simple 30-minute inspection, according to the Air Force release. Aircraft are then cleared for flight if the tail pin is compliant.

If the inspection turns up an issue with the tail pin, aircraft are authorized for a one-time flight to a repair location, a process the Air Force says will take about a day. The service anticipates that most tail pin replacement work will likely take place at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex.

The Air Force said that as of Feb. 12, 90 aircraft were inspected for the issue and 24 had non-conforming tail pins. Aircraft that have already been inspected and whose tail pins were found to be compliant have returned to flight.

By John Liang
February 15, 2023 at 3:24 PM

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced today the creation of a "Critical Undersea Infrastructure Coordination Cell" that would be based at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels.

"The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines has reminded us all of the vulnerabilities we face," Stoltenberg said. "Ministers tasked the NATO military authorities to provide advice on what more we should do, including through better coordination and cooperation with the private sector."

In response to the sabotage, NATO allies have significantly increased their military presence around key infrastructure, including ships and patrol aircraft, according to an alliance press release. In January, NATO and the EU also set up a joint task force to protect critical infrastructure.

The new cell "will facilitate engagement with industry and bring key military and civilian stakeholders together to share best practices, leverage innovative technologies and boost the security of our undersea infrastructure," Stoltenberg said.

The center will be led by retired German Lt. Gen. Hans-Werner Wiermann, who previously held the post of director general of the NATO International Military Staff at NATO headquarters in Brussels, according to the press release.

By Shelley K. Mesch
February 15, 2023 at 2:52 PM

Air Force Under Secretary Gina Ortiz Jones will step down from her role as the second-highest ranking civilian in the service, the Air Force announced this week.

Jones will leave the job March 6, and the Air Force Assistant Secretary for Financial Management and Comptroller Kristyn Jones (no relation) will manage the duties of the role on an interim basis until President Biden nominates a replacement.

“Throughout her tenure, Under Secretary Jones has been a tireless advocate for the Department of the Air Force and its people,” Secretary Frank Kendall said in a news release. “Her leadership in enabling all airmen, guardians and their families to serve to their full potential and providing the resources they need has enhanced the readiness of the Air and Space Force for years to come.”

The Senate confirmed Gina Ortiz Jones in July 2021. She had previously worked as an intelligence officer for the Air Force, in a civilian leadership role at U.S. Africa Command and as an adviser to the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, among other jobs.

The Air Force did not give a reason for Jones’ departure.

Kristyn Jones became comptroller in May of last year, and Kendall said she will “do a fantastic job keeping the momentum going.”