The Insider

By Audrey Decker
May 6, 2022 at 9:53 AM

A Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship, the Sioux City (LCS-11), has deployed with U.S. 6th Fleet in support of allies and partners -- a first for the region.

The ship will operate in Europe and Africa, but the Navy did not give a specific location.

The deployment will give the Navy an opportunity to operate the LCS where it has never operated before, the service said yesterday.

“Sioux City’s deployment allows us to integrate the LCS’ unique operational capability into our already diverse fleet. The agility of Littoral Combat Ships allows them to operate in both near-shore and open-ocean environments, enhancing our ability to provide security and stability across the European theater,” Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet, said in the press release.

A detachment of two MH-60S Seahawk helicopters from the Sea Knights of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 supports the deployment, the Navy said.

In its fiscal year 2023 budget request, the Navy is decommissioning nine LCS -- all of which are the monohull Freedom variant.

By John Liang
May 5, 2022 at 3:48 PM

Boeing announced today that it will move its global headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, VA.

"In addition to designating northern Virginia as its new headquarters, Boeing plans to develop a research & technology hub in the area to harness and attract engineering and technical capabilities," a company statement reads.

"We are excited to build on our foundation here in northern Virginia. The region makes strategic sense for our global headquarters given its proximity to our customers and stakeholders, and its access to world-class engineering and technical talent," Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun said in the statement.

Boeing said it will maintain a "significant presence" at its Chicago offices, where the company had had its headquarters since 2001.

By John Liang
May 5, 2022 at 2:50 PM

General Dynamics announced today it has appointed Charles Krugh to be president of the company's Bath Iron Works.

Krugh succeeds Dirk Lesko, who abruptly resigned from the company last month.

“Chuck’s leadership, proven track record in manufacturing and expertise in managing complex supply chains will be an enabler to Bath Iron Works as it expands and increases the pace of shipbuilding for the U.S. Navy,” Robert Smith, GD's executive vice president for Marine Systems who has been running Bath Iron Works in the interim, said in a statement.

An Army veteran, Krugh served in a variety of aerospace manufacturing roles before joining General Dynamics in 2011 as a senior vice president and general manager for Jet Aviation, according to the statement. He was appointed as Gulfstream’s vice president for supplier operational support in 2018.

By John Liang
May 5, 2022 at 1:40 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the impact of inflation on the defense budget, the Marine Corps' Force Design 2030 effort and more.

In a letter sent this week to Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord and the three service secretaries answer congressional questions about the impact of inflation on the defense budget:

DOD says inflation has spooked some defense contractors

Though it is "too early to tell" the true impact of historic inflation on major defense acquisition programs, the Pentagon says it has seen several "changes in behavior" among contractors, including companies being skittish about entering into long-term agreements, and at least one that wants to pull out of an existing contract, according to a new letter sent to senior Republican lawmakers.

Document: DOD letter on inflation's impact

Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, spoke about the service's Force Design 2030 effort this week:

Heckl: Force Design 2030 will make it 'damn hard' for China to make a move

The Marine Corps' Force Design 2030 will interrupt China's calculus on making a move in the Indo-Pacific, according to a senior service official.

The Army is looking into whether any other company other than AeroVironment can make a loitering antitank munition:

Army issues sources-sought notice for antitank Switchblade

The Army wants to know whether any companies besides AeroVironment can produce the antitank variant of the company's Switchblade loitering munition, or a comparable capability, to fulfill urgent operational requirements, according to a May 3 sources-sought notice.

On May 3, the Army revealed a new feature in a public notice of a planned sole-source request for prototype proposals that outlined the scope of improved capabilities slated for Long Range Hypersonic Weapon batteries the service aims to deploy in 2025 and 2027:

DOD readying hypersonic weapon with new feature: ability to strike moving targets

The Defense Department is developing an upgraded, long-range hypersonic weapon with a dynamic new capability: the means to attack a moving target.

While the Landing Craft Utility has completed autonomous missions, the ship always has a fully manned crew on board, even if the crew is just watching the system conduct an autonomous operation:

Autonomous landing craft to be deployed later this year

The Navy and Marine Corps' first autonomous landing craft will deploy later this year with Amphibious Squadron 8 in U.S. 2nd Fleet.

The Airbase Air Defense Systems' Battle Management Command and Control, or BMC2, would start with $47 million for research, development, test and evaluation in the next fiscal year to create an integrated system to defend airbases from threats including small-unmanned aircraft systems, rockets and other missiles:

Air Force eyes new battle management system to protect air bases

The Air Force will begin development of a new battle management system to protect air bases from airborne threats should the request in the fiscal year 2023 budget pass, according to recently released justification books.

The latest cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

CMMC assessors see momentum to get official certifications underway while rulemaking uncertainty continues

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification assessment organizations are waiting on several details to fall into place so they can start conducting official assessments for companies that want to compete for defense contracts, but stakeholders say uncertainty over rulemaking timing is not impacting demand from companies wanting to be early adopters.

The Defense Department is ramping up its Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft System efforts:

Air Force C-sUAS effort advances with third contract to Black River Systems

The Air Force awarded another $76 million to a company developing open systems architecture for an Operational Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft System.

By Michael Marrow
May 5, 2022 at 1:04 PM

As the United States seeks to outpace China in the Indo-Pacific, the Air Force is researching the development of a new radar station in Palau that will close surveillance gaps for the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command theater, according to the service's fiscal year 2023 budget justification documents.

The radar station, called the Tactical Multi-Mission Over the Horizon Radar, or TACMOR, will transmit high-frequency, over-the-horizon flight information using a high frequency sounder antenna and backscatter sounder. Work on TACMOR expands upon modeling and simulation that was conducted for up to four potential over-the-horizon radar sites in the continental U.S. in the FY-22 budget. It also complements another air and maritime domain awareness radar station in Palau that was announced in 2017.

Data collected by TACMOR will be transmitted to a secure, undisclosed receiver site, which can then be sent to an offsite operations control center. Real-time target tracking and extraction information can be used by the control center to support combatant command missions and can also be accessed by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center for post-event analysis, the justification documents say.

The Air Force is seeking $12.2 million in FY-23 and $5.1 million in FY-24 for the initiative. The service anticipates a single indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract with multiple task orders will be awarded competitively.

The system will be production-ready after the completion of a military utility assessment and system-level production readiness review, according to the justification documents.

By Michael Marrow
May 4, 2022 at 4:22 PM

Northrop Grumman was awarded an unpriced change order contract to continue preparation for the AN/ALQ-257 Integrated Viper Electronic Warfare Suite, according to a company press release.

The UCO follows a $40 million other transaction agreement modification award that Northrop Grumman received in June 2021 to develop the IVEWS. The UCO was awarded March 9.

The IVEWS program is aimed at upgrading the F-16’s electronic warfare capabilities and is in the engineering and manufacturing development phase, according to James Conroy, vice president of navigation, targeting and survivability at Northrop Grumman.

“We continue to develop the Integrated Viper Electronic Warfare Suite (IVEWS) to provide protection against increasing near-peer threats in contested electromagnetic spectrum environments,” Conroy said in a statement to Inside Defense. “IVEWS uses an ultra-wideband architecture to detect and defeat these threats, including millimeter-wave systems. We are using this common architecture in multiple electronic warfare systems and are able to scale these capabilities to fit a range of platforms. IVEWS has also demonstrated pulse-to-pulse interoperability with the AN/APG-83 SABR radar, a critical capability as fourth-generation aircraft gain AESA radars.”

Work will continue over the next 18 months to develop and install the system for flight testing, according to an Air Force press release. The EMD phase will run through September 2023 and delivery is expected by November 2023, Conroy said. The IVEWS is expected to be fielded beginning in 2024.

By John Liang
May 4, 2022 at 3:06 PM

Retired Army Gen. David Perkins has joined Oshkosh's board of directors, the company announced today.

Perkins' last post in the service was as head of Army Training and Doctrine Command.

Prior to commanding TRADOC, Perkins was the head of the Combined Arms Center and commandant of the Army's Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.

By John Liang
May 4, 2022 at 1:55 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on artificial intelligence, the Marine Corps' latest aviation plan and more.

Executives from Microsoft and Google testified this week at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s cyber panel:

Microsoft, Google execs say broader AI adoption, top-down push needed in DOD

While cyber experts gave credit to some in the Pentagon for their work to leverage artificial intelligence, they said broader adoption and a top-down push is needed to ensure implementation of a military-wide strategy.

The Marine Corps this week unveiled its new aviation plan:

Marine Corps' new aviation plan invests in digital interoperability

A new aviation plan outlines how the Marine Corps will be fully networked to enable the force to operate from distributed locations.

Document: Marine Corps aviation plan

Research, development, test and evaluation funding for the Joint Effects Targeting System increased to $11.4 million for FY-23 from the Army’s $5.1 million request for FY-22, according to Pentagon budget documents:

Funding shifts to next-generation targeting system as Army announces industry day

The Army will hold an industry day for a new targeting system in June to discuss the service's fiscal year 2023 efforts for the program after it bumped its funding request for the program to support product development.

Despite congressional skepticism, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee this week that DOD's request for $773 billion in FY-23 contains "significant capability":

Senate appropriators question planned cuts in DOD's budget

Senate appropriators today questioned Pentagon leaders and voiced concern regarding the Defense Department's plans to divest two-dozen ships and hundreds of aircraft in its fiscal year 2023 budget proposal, which they also noted does not keep pace with the current level of inflation.

Cost growth in FY-23 comes from the planned beginning of the detailed design phase for three contractors in the OMFV competition:

OMFV spending could double in FY-23, then reach $1 billion in FY-24

The Army wants to double development funding for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle in fiscal year 2023, to $560 million, and development costs could surge again the following year, to more than $1 billion.

The latest on the Missile Defense Agency's effort to develop a missile defense system for Guam:

MDA readies first of more than two-dozen contracts slated to launch new Guam project

The Missile Defense Agency this month is set to award the first of nearly two-dozen contracts planned this calendar year worth almost $500 million to begin in earnest the race to develop and field by 2026 a new mobile missile defense system that draws on existing Navy and Army technologies to bolster Guam against advanced Chinese air threats.

In response to a lawmaker's question about transparency for KC-Y production and concepts for a future KC-Z tanker, the Air Force's top civilian said this week that shifting conditions and new assessments have caused service leadership to re-evaluate the need for a bridge tanker:

Kendall: Air Force might not pursue KC-Y tanker

The Air Force is reconsidering its plan to field a bridge tanker, known as the KC-Y, that will follow the KC-46 Pegasus, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said today during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

By Michael Marrow
May 4, 2022 at 1:42 PM

Market research is underway for multiple upgrades to the T-6A avionics suite, according to a request for information posted today by the Air Force.

Diminishing material and manufacturing sources are driving the request for the upgrades, since current avionics are composed of first generation and analog components. Improvements to the aircraft, part of the T-6 Avionics Replacement Program, are aimed at reducing sustainment costs and fulfilling FAA compliance issues and outstanding safety recommendations, according to the Air Force’s research, development, test and evaluation budget justification documents.

The aircraft’s modernization will extend its service life as the Air Force eyes retiring the aging T-38 Talon trainer and roll out the T-7 Red Hawk in its place. The service has ordered 351 Red Hawks, and the first was unveiled last week.

The Air Force has previously hosted industry days concerning other elements of the T-6 ARP. The RFI posted today concerns upgrades to the aircraft’s heads-up display. Responses are due by May 18, according to the RFI.

By Tony Bertuca
May 3, 2022 at 5:15 PM

President Biden traveled to a Lockheed Martin factory in Troy, AL today and spoke about the importance of the Javelin anti-tank missile in Ukraine's fight against a Russian invasion.

"You're allowing the Ukrainians to defend themselves, and quite frankly, we're making fools of the Russian military in many instances," he said before a crowd of factory workers.

The United States has sent more than 5,500 Javelins to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion and Biden has recently requested billions in military aid so the United States can send even more and replenish U.S. stocks.

“This fight is not going to be cheap, but caving to aggression would be even more costly,” he said.

Biden’s $33 billion request for emergency supplemental funds for Ukraine includes $16.4 billion for the Pentagon. The request also includes $500 million to establish a new "Critical Munitions Acquisition Fund," which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said will help surge production of “vital munitions” now and in the future.

Lawmakers and defense industry executives have voiced concern in recent weeks, however, that munitions production lines are stressed and might be unable to replenish U.S. stocks transferred to Ukraine.

Lockheed Martin chief executive James Taiclet said last week the company is planning to help increase production of the Javelin anti-tank missile, which it makes in partnership with Raytheon Technologies, as well as ramp up other weapon systems.

By John Liang
May 3, 2022 at 2:00 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Leidos' quarterly earnings, the survivability and quality of Air Force assets and more.

Leidos held its quarterly earnings call this week:

Defense Enclave Services contract win 'a slow ramp' for Leidos

Leidos' top executives cautioned today that their recently won $11.5 billion contract to unify the Pentagon's so-called Fourth Estate IT environments will face, in the words of the chief executive officer, "a slow ramp" before becoming "a significant program" for the company.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall spoke this week at a Brookings Institution event:

Kendall: Survivability and quality are highest priorities

Survivability and quality should be the Air Force's focus, service Secretary Frank Kendall said, compared to former-Defense Secretary Gen. Jim Mattis' priority of lethality and the Cold War-era mindset of maintaining the highest quantity of platforms.

The House Armed Services Committee's top Republican spoke at a virtual discussion with the Hudson Institute this week:

Rogers promises bigger defense budget, halt to DOD's planned divestitures

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, said today he is confident Congress will increase defense spending for fiscal year 2023 beyond what President Biden has requested, and will also block the Pentagon's plans to divest two-dozen ships and hundreds of aircraft.

Navy Vice Adm. David Dwyer, commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet, spoke with reporters recently about his organization's deployment of ships to support Europe:

Recent surge of destroyers supports Europe, 2nd Fleet commander says

Several guided-missile destroyers were deployed on short notice to support Europe and "reaffirm our commitment to our NATO allies and partners," according to a senior Navy official.

Microsoft recently signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Naval Postgraduate School:

Microsoft, Naval Postgraduate School ink research agreement

Microsoft and the Naval Postgraduate School are partnering under a new framework to research how a host of technologies could support the Navy's broader operational needs -- an undertaking that those involved say could help explore the military applications of rapidly maturing, commercial-driven solutions.

By Tony Bertuca
May 3, 2022 at 1:03 PM

Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, currently the head of U.S. Army-Europe Africa, has been nominated to serve as the next chief of U.S. European Command, as well as the supreme allied commander of NATO, according to the Pentagon.

The nomination comes as Ukraine is defending itself from an ongoing Russian invasion and coincides with a renewed push to bolster U.S. forces in Europe and reassure NATO allies.

If confirmed, Cavoli would succeed Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters as EUCOM chief.

Cavoli has led U.S. Army Europe since 2018 but became the head of the Army’s combined Europe and Africa commands when the organizations consolidated in 2020.

By Shelley K. Mesch
May 3, 2022 at 12:15 PM

The Air Force released a draft request for proposals Monday for its Enterprise Cyber Capabilities program and announced it will hold a pre-solicitation conference for the program later this month.

The draft RFP comes after a request for information was released in March.

In the draft RFP, the Air Force gives a broad definition of the EC2 vehicle as supporting and enabling “the entire cyber framework.” This would include command and control, threat assessment support, real-time operation and integration support and more.

The Air Force has projected contracts will be awarded in the first quarter of fiscal year 2023, or later this calendar year. The estimated value of the program is between $5 billion and $6 billion according to the program’s online filing.

The conference will be held on a Zoom video call May 17.

By Briana Reilly
May 2, 2022 at 1:46 PM

In the days after Microsoft revealed it has identified more than 237 cyberattacks perpetuated by Russian actors in Ukraine alone over the course of the invasion, the company's executive vice president of strategic missions and technologies said today the operations are "only getting more and more disruptive."

The company first disclosed its understanding of the scope of Russia’s offensive cyber activity in a report released April 27, which shows those cyberattacks appear to be linked with kinetic military action on the ground, with both seeming to work “in tandem against a shared target set.”

Specifically, during the period spanning from the day before the Feb. 24 invasion through April 8, Microsoft reported it observed 37 destructive attacks aimed at “hundreds of systems.” Nearly one-third of those were directed at Ukrainian governmental organizations, according to the report, while more than 40% focused on “critical infrastructure sectors.”

But the report found that threat groups began targeting organizations inside or allied with Ukraine long before that -- as early as March 2021.

To counter those actors, Microsoft’s Jason Zander told an audience at the company’s National Security Symposium this morning in Washington, DC that executives have been working with both the Ukrainian government and cybersecurity officials to share “real time threat intelligence,” while “deploying tech countermeasures.”

The findings come as officials -- including Air Force Maj. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, U.S. Cyber Command’s director of operations -- have openly acknowledged that Russia’s cyber deployment has appeared less robust than initially anticipated.

During the TechNet Cyber conference in Baltimore, MD last week, Kennedy cautioned there could be a “more complex” set of reasons for that: “a conflation of intent, increased resilience, lack of capability, lack of will and then also failure of execution, like most operations when you look at them if they didn’t go the way you expected.”

At Microsoft, CEO Satya Nadella noted during a separate address today the company has been “on the front lines” in Ukraine, coordinating with both that country’s government and U.S. officials in the cyber defense realm.

“Long before you had the bombs dropped, you had cyberattacks and we were able to sense it and then we were able to help protect critical infrastructure,” he said.

Nadella also noted Microsoft has been “heavily involved in essentially migrating the entire Ukrainian government to be operating off of our cloud infrastructure all over Europe.”

By Michael Marrow
May 2, 2022 at 1:45 PM

As the Air Force aims to maintain the aging KC-135, the service is seeking a slate of four upgrades to the aircraft that will shore up its mission capabilities until the fleet of nearly 400 Stratotankers can be fully divested.

Plans for the aircraft’s upgrades are detailed in the service’s research, development, test and evaluation budget justification documents for fiscal year 2023. Three of the four upgrades are new starts in FY-23; the application of the Mobile User Objective System, which upgrades communication capabilities across a range of aircraft, commenced in FY-20.

The three latest enhancements to the KC-135 consist of the onboarding of new advanced fuel management and flight display systems -- part of an initiative called Center Console Refresh, implementation of state-of-the-art high frequency radio equipment and replacement of the legacy ARC-210 very high frequency radio that is expected to become obsolete in October 2023, according to the documents.

The Air Force is currently pushing ahead with the Center Console Refresh initiative, and a request for information posted April 29 announced that an industry day for the project will be held on May 10 and 11. Responses are due May 4, according to the RFI.

The Stratotanker is scheduled to be replaced by the KC-46, but delays and defects with the Pegasus program have pushed back divestment. The suite of upgrades will allow the aircraft, which first deployed in 1956, to extend its service life as more KC-46s are delivered. The Air Force currently intends to maintain a small fleet of KC-135s until the 2050s.