The Insider

By John Liang
February 21, 2024 at 2:08 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the precarious state of U.S. weapons funding for Ukraine, an undisclosed Patriot intercept test and more.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh this week said DOD is not considering providing additional weapons to Ukraine via presidential drawdown authority until Congress authorizes a supplemental security spending package:

DOD won't risk supplying Ukraine without replenishment funds from Congress

The Defense Department has $4 billion in remaining spending authority it could tap to send additional weapons to Ukraine but assesses that the risk of doing so to be too great as Congress has thus far failed to appropriate money that would be needed to replenish U.S. stocks.

The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, in an annual report to Congress and the defense secretary last month, revealed the results of a developmental test of a major Patriot software upgrade called Post Development Build 8.1:

Patriot shoots down electronic-jamming aircraft target in test of major software upgrade

The Defense Department has improved the Patriot lower-tier air and missile shield, boosting the system's ability to search, discriminate and destroy tactical ballistic missiles as well as demonstrating a new capability to fend off electronic attack while hunting down enemy threats.

Keep an eye out for a Defense Business Board meeting taking place later this month:

Upcoming DBB meeting to provide updates on digital ecosystem study

The Defense Business Board will hold a meeting Feb. 29 to hear updates from its business transformation advisory subcommittee on a study pertaining to leveraging digital ecosystems, according to a notice published in the Federal Register.

Navy officials are sounding the alarm over the negative effects a full-year continuing resolution could have on the service's budget and programs:

Extended CR could affect contracting for several Navy missiles

Congress' inability to pass a fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill may have a major effect on the Navy’s plans to contract for the production of several missile programs, with current funding set to expire March 8.

In a recent terms of reference memo, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu calls on the Defense Science Board to "conduct a study to consider the topic of commercial provision of navigation signals for operational use":

DSB study sought on military use for commercial navigation signals

Pentagon technology chief Heidi Shyu has tasked the Defense Science Board's Permanent Subcommittee on Strategic Options with running a study that would evaluate the use of commercial navigation signals for potential military operations.

Document: DSB memo on using commercial navigation systems for military use

By Tony Bertuca
February 21, 2024 at 11:33 AM

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie plans to retire at the end of the month, according to a Pentagon statement.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called Moultrie a “a key member of the department's senior leadership team.”

“He has shown a far-sighted approach to complex intelligence issues, built a rapport with domestic and international intelligence leaders, and established stewardship of our Defense Intelligence and Security Enterprise,” Austin said. “His achievements include the designation of the under secretary of defense for intelligence and security as the principal staff assistant for law enforcement; advancing the department's ability to provide insights into adversary capabilities via the Foreign Language Roadmap; and initiating a landmark review of the department's credibility assessment program that supports criminal investigations and the process of adjudicating security clearances.”

Moultrie was confirmed in May 2021. Prior to serving as DOD’s intelligence chief, he worked as president and CEO of Oceanus Security Strategies and previously served as the National Security Agency's director of operations.

By Georgina DiNardo
February 21, 2024 at 10:59 AM

The Defense Innovation Board will hold a public meeting on March 5 to hear from defense entrepreneurship experts in preparation for the panel's upcoming spring meeting.

“The objective of this DIB meeting is to gather information from guest speakers and discuss relevant issues related to its current research in preparation for the upcoming Spring 2024 Public Meeting,” a notice published in the Federal Register today said.

The DIB is scheduled to meet with members of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum Board to “gather information and discuss specific issues regarding talent management, partnerships and collaboration, responsible [artificial intelligence], internal barriers, risk taking and tech adoption in preparation for the DIB's upcoming Spring 2024 Public Meeting scheduled on April 17, 2024, to ensure proposed recommendations are practical and actionable to drive and scale innovation across the DOD,” the notice said.

The agenda for the spring meeting has not yet been released, although if the DIB’s pattern of releasing study information continues, an update on the two studies announced at the winter public meeting could be expected.

At the DIB’s winter public meeting, the board announced two new studies about optimizing innovation among allies and aligning incentives for faster technology adoption and acquisition.

DIB Chair Mike Bloomberg said at the winter meeting that insight into those studies will be provided in the “coming months.”

By Nick Wilson
February 20, 2024 at 2:31 PM

The Marine Corps will award two separate contracts to Textron Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems for the design and construction of a new Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle prototype outfitted with a 30mm medium-caliber autocannon.

According to government notices posted last week by Army Contracting Command on behalf of the Marine Corps’ Program Manager for Light Armored Vehicles, Textron and General Dynamics will each be contracted to build their own ARV-30 prototypes, with options to also produce system integration laboratories for the new vehicles.

Though the notices provide few additional details on the upcoming award, a November 2023 sources-sought notice indicated each contract would be worth up to $17.5 million.

The two companies delivered initial ARV prototypes -- designed to provide command, control, communications and computer/uncrewed aerial systems capabilities -- in early fiscal year 2023.

After a year testing these C4UAS prototypes, the Marine Corps is looking to procure the ARV-30 variant for additional testing before launching the program’s engineering and manufacturing development phase. Last month, a General Dynamics executive told Inside Defense that the company had already started designing its ARV-30 prototype.

The service plans to procure a family of six ARV mission-role variants to replace the legacy Amphibious Assault Vehicle as the primary platform supporting the new mobile reconnaissance battalions.

Earlier this month, the Marine Corps announced it would postpone an ARV industry day, first scheduled for Feb. 29, to an undisclosed date later in FY-24 to further refine program requirements. At the industry day, the Marine Corps is expected to provide information on the upcoming EMD phase.

The service anticipates releasing a request for proposals in the second quarter of FY-25 and awarding an EMD contract in the second quarter of FY-26. FY-24 budget documents request $63.6 million in continuing research and development funding for the program and project procurement to begin in FY-28.

By John Liang
February 20, 2024 at 2:05 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Navy officials sounding the alarm over the effect a full-year continuing resolution could have on the service, plus an upcoming Defense Science Board report and more.

Navy officials are sounding the alarm over the negative effects a full-year continuing resolution could have on the service's budget and programs:

Extended CR could affect contracting for several Navy missiles

Congress' inability to pass a fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill may have a major effect on the Navy’s plans to contract for the production of several missile programs, with current funding set to expire March 8.

'Completely misaligned': Navy officials sound alarm on budgetary dysfunction

SAN DIEGO -- With the release of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2025 budget request only weeks away and no FY-24 appropriations in sight, senior Navy officials this week raised the alarm on the consequences of budgetary dysfunction and the possibility that it could stretch to a full year, citing serious funding misalignments and impaired military readiness.

The Defense Science Board will be conducting a study into using commercial navigation signals in military operations:

DSB study sought on military use for commercial navigation signals

Pentagon technology chief Heidi Shyu has tasked the Defense Science Board's Permanent Subcommittee on Strategic Options with running a study that would evaluate the use of commercial navigation signals for potential military operations.

More coverage of last week's Air and Space Forces Association's Warfare Symposium in Colorado:

Air Force fields 16 'basic building blocks' of its JADC2 effort

DENVER -- The Air Force has fielded 16 deployable computer hardware systems that are a key enabler of the Department of the Air Force Battle Network vision, according to the integrating program executive officer.

Air Force to host first multicombatant command exercise in Indo-Pacific in 2025

DENVER -- Key to the Air Force's massive reoptimization plan to ensure readiness and prepare for future conflict is conducting large-scale and complicated exercises, senior Air Force officials said throughout the Air and Space Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium here.

The latest on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

DOD officials outline key provisions in CMMC proposed rule, upcoming acquisition requirements

Pentagon officials are providing an overview of major ecosystem components and upcoming regulations for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program in a new recorded video posted in advance of a Feb. 26 public comment deadline for the first rulemaking and eight draft guidance documents.

By Tony Bertuca
February 19, 2024 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at several public events this week.


Presidents' Day.


The CDAO Advantage DOD Data and AI Symposium is held in Washington. The event runs through Thursday.

The AFCEA Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium is held in Colorado Springs, CO. The event runs through Thursday.


DOD Engineer’s Week 2024 hosts virtual remarks from Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu.


The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion with the assistant Air Force secretary for space acquisition.

By John Liang
February 16, 2024 at 2:35 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's airborne refueling tanker development effort, the V-22 Osprey, taking risks when acquiring weapons and more.

Inside Defense got a chance to chat with the head of Air Mobility Command at this week's Air and Space Force Association’s Warfare Symposium in Colorado:

AMC commander: Follow-on to the KC-46A should have some next-gen characteristics

DENVER -- Any aircraft procured following the last deliveries of the KC-46A tanker “needs to absolutely have some of the characteristics of what we need in NGAS,” or the Air Force’s highly secretive Next Generation Air-Refueling System, Air Mobility Command’s top commander told Inside Defense in an exclusive interview.

News on the status of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor:

Air Force wants to fly Osprey again, but safety investigations are ongoing

DENVER -- The Air Force is eager to get its fleet of CV-22 Ospreys back into the air, but Air Force Special Operations Command officials said the tiltrotor will remain grounded until they are confident in its safety.

(Full coverage from the AFA Warfare Symposium.)

The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing this week on "Outpacing China: Expediting the Fielding of Innovation":

Lawmakers want DOD to take more risk in weapons programs

Lawmakers and Pentagon officials say the Defense Department needs to take more risks and change its compliance-based culture, aligning DOD development efforts more closely with Silicon Valley’s approach to innovation.

A Defense Department pilot program aims to speed up innovative technology fielding by helping small companies quickly transition into the production stage by bridging the “valley of death,” a time when many companies fail due to lack of funding:

APFIT announces four new projects; Shyu plans to fund additive solid-rocket motor tech

The Defense Department has announced the projects selected for the next batch of funding through the "Accelerate the Procurement and Fielding of Innovative Technologies" pilot program as Pentagon technology chief Heidi Shyu touted APFIT's success during a congressional hearing.

More news from that hearing:

DOD acquisition chief focusing on unit cost dilemma in counter-drone fight

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante told House lawmakers today that the Defense Department is preparing to fund about 40 developmental systems to counter small drones, but he stressed that the individual "interceptors" many of the systems use are still too expensive when compared to the cheaply made targets they are meant to shoot down.

Document: House hearing on 'outpacing China'

The Pentagon this week announced that a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lofted into orbit six satellites, two for the Missile Defense Agency -- a pair of Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor prototypes -- and the final four Space Development Agency Tranche 0 (T0) Tracking Layer satellites of its Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture:

DOD says new missile-tracking satellites in orbit just in time for new Russian threat

The Defense Department confirmed the successful launch of new, low-orbit missile tracking satellites on the same day the public learned U.S. intelligence assesses Russia is developing a space-based nuclear weapon to destroy America's satellite network, highlighting the risk to Pentagon plans for proliferating new capabilities in low-earth orbit.

Last but by no means least, coverage of remarks by the Navy's top civilian official at this week's AFCEA West Conference in California:

Navy to test at-sea Transportable Re-Arming Mechanism this summer

SAN DIEGO -- Naval Sea Systems Command is planning an at-sea demonstration of the developing Transportable Re-Arming Mechanism, a capability aiming to re-arm a warship’s missile tubes while underway, according to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro.

By Dan Schere
February 16, 2024 at 12:43 PM

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), the congressman who represents the district home to one of the companies involved in the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft competition, said this week that the Army's decision to terminate the program was done with a "lack of transparency."

The Army announced the FARA cancellation on Feb. 8, with the service saying it plans to instead prioritize funding for investments in the upgraded Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, as well as unmanned aerial reconnaissance capabilities.

Bell, one of the two finalists in the competition, is located in the district Jackson represents.

During a Feb. 15 House Armed Services Committee hearing, Jackson said Army officials came into his office about six weeks ago to update him on FARA. He added that there was no mention of terminating FARA even when he “asked directly about this possibility.”

“My concern is that this is the third failed attempt at fielding this capability. At a time with constrained budgets and record inflation, we simply can’t afford . . . to mislead our industry partners to some extent,” he said.

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante responded by noting the Army terminated FARA prior to milestone B, the start of engineering and manufacturing development.

“Really what the Army was doing was coming up to a decision of whether or not I’m actually going to go put in a significant amount of money to actually commit to develop and produce them at scale,” LaPlante said.

Jackson’s office could not be reached for comment Thursday or Friday.

Sikorsky, the other competitor in the competition, is in Connecticut. Last week, that state’s congressional delegation released a similar statement expressing concerns about the Army’s decision and demanded a detailed explanation from the service.

By Vanessa Montalbano
February 15, 2024 at 5:45 PM

The State Department today approved a $69.3 million foreign military sale of AIM-120C-8 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles and related equipment, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

The deal includes 12 AMRAAM munitions plus engineering, technical, logistics, integration and test support, DSCA said. It builds on an original $32.5 million sale that also included 12 of the missiles.

“Italy already has AMRAAMs in its inventory and will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces,” DSCA notes in a news release. “The proposed sale will improve Italy’s capability to meet current and future threats by ensuring Italy has modern, capable air-to-air munitions. It will also advance United States interoperability with NATO and the Italian Armed Forces.”

Also on Thursday, the State Department approved the sale of 173 Small Diameter Bomb IIs and 14 Captive Carry Reliability Tests to Italy, valued at an estimated $150 million, DSCA said.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a NATO Ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe,” the agency states in a release. “The proposed sale will improve Italy’s capability to meet current and future threats by improving the Italian Air Force and Navy’s F-35 weapons capabilities.”

The main contractor for both sales is RTX in Arlington, VA.

By Abby Shepherd
February 15, 2024 at 5:24 PM

A "new, regional security architecture" is emerging in the Indo-Pacific, according to a defense official.

Two years after the Biden administration released its Indo-Pacific Strategy, various officials gathered Thursday at the U.S. Institute of Peace to discuss the strategy’s ongoing implications for foreign relations and U.S. military operations in the region.

The new, emerging dynamic is “exciting and significant,” said Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs.

“What we are seeing is the birth of a new regional security architecture that’s in its very early formations but is going to be -- it’s not going to be NATO, it’s not going to be a singular counterbalancing coalition, that’s not what we’re aiming for,” Ratner said. “It’s going to be something that’s uniquely built and tailored for the challenges in the region.”

Panel speakers highlighted the varying trilateral and quadrilateral partnerships between the U.S., Australia, the Philippines, Japan and the Republic of Korea armed forces. The transfers of weapons, aircraft and other technology between these countries have increased in the past year, with the State Department approving a possible $2.35 billion sale of Tomahawk missiles to Japan in November.

Partnership between the U.S. and Australia, specifically with submarine sales, will also increase as the U.S. seeks to deliver on the AUKUS agreement.

“2023 stood as the most transformative year in our regional force posture in a generation,” Ratner added.

By Dan Schere
February 15, 2024 at 4:04 PM

The Army selected 15 small businesses for its initial xTechPrime initiative -- a new program that connects small businesses with technology integrators.

The xTech program was started in 2018 by former Army acquisition chief Bruce Jette as a way to spur innovation by connecting the service with small businesses through prize competitions.

The xTechPrime competition, started in April 2023, “will challenge small businesses to work together in teams with technology integrators to submit their innovative solutions that contribute to the Army’s current modernization goals.”

The Army does about $400 million per year in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) activity, current acquisition head Doug Bush told reporters during a briefing Feb. 14 at the Pentagon. Since the xTech program was started, there have been 30 competitions, more than $20 million in cash prizes and 1,374 awards given out, he said.

Through the xTech competitions, Bush said the Army is trying to make SBIR “more focused, faster and targeted.”

“We've got this down by centralizing contracting expertise for small business to, like, 30-day contract awards. I mean, that's a dramatic change from the past where companies might have to wait, like, 200-plus days, which they can't because they're small,” he said.

Matt Willis, the director of Army Prize Competitions and the Army Applied SBIR Program, said the service received 377 submissions for xTechPrime from businesses across the United States, with winners being chosen based on the technical solution they were proposing and the ability to demonstrate a “high propensity for transition and integration into or with an integrator.”

The 15 winning companies were chosen in December, with each receiving $40,000 in cash prizes. This will be followed by Direct to Phase II SBIR prototyping awards of up to $2 million each.

The 15 companies selected were:

  • Alitheon -- “Digital fingerprinting to overcome distance and complexity for supply chain security”
  • Amprius Technologies -- “Reduce weight, double endurance with Amprius Silicon Lithium-Ion Cells.”
  • Atomics -- “Sustainable, molecular data storage”
  • AxNano -- “Mobile supercritical water oxidation (mSCWO) for treatment of PFAS in Army waste streams”
  • DotBliss -- “Screen-printed, textile-based interactive touch displays with spectral control, electronic sensors with haptic feedback enabling covert communication”
  • Enveil -- “Encrypted machine learning model evaluation for model & data integrity”
  • FluxWorks -- “Non-contact, lubrication-free magnetic gear integrated motor generator for reduced maintenance, increased survivability, extended range, and enhanced payload capacity of Autonomous Vehicles”
  • GDI -- “Scalable 100% Silicon anodes for superior energy storage”
  • Latent AI -- “MLOps for optimized and secured edge AI”
  • Lunewave -- “Luneburg lens enabled broadband RF signal detection, direction finding and geolocation system in a drone network”
  • Mesodyne -- “Light cell power generation for long-endurance, high-reliability autonomous systems”
  • Modal AI -- “Soldier borne unmanned aerial 3D geospatial intelligence”
  • Neurable -- “Non-invasive brain-computer interface for soldier performance optimization”
  • Notch -- “No power, low SWaP, RF metasurface GPS anti-jam system for autonomous vehicles”
  • Teradar -- “Enhancing target detection through Teradar’s breakthrough sensor technology for advanced perception.”

Willis said the Army wanted to focus on companies that specialized in focus areas such as climate/clean tech, artificial intelligence/machine learning, autonomy and other research and development programs such as Project Linchpin -- the service’s first pipeline for AI/ML.

“We really wanted to broaden the aperture and widen the funnel for small businesses contributing to the Army tech base while, you know, really foundationally changing the value proposition for these companies,” he said, speaking at the same roundtable.

The prototyping awards will begin either this month or next month, and will last 18-24 months each, Willis said.

“And there might be an opportunity at the end of that either to have another follow-on award to broaden the R&D, or if the prototype is ready and capable, to be integrated into a system. Then the Army can directly fund that follow-on contract,” he said.

To date, the Army has awarded more than $20 million through the xTech program, and that has yielded nearly $180 million in follow-on contracts, Willis said.

“Essentially for every one dollar in cash that we’re providing, the Army is going back and investing $8 in follow-on research and development,” he said.

By John Liang
February 15, 2024 at 2:43 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Marine Corps seeking to change its "risk-aversion culture," U.S. Pacific Fleet standing up a second unmanned surface vessel squadron and more.

Changing the "risk-aversion culture" within the Marine Corps acquisition community was recognized as a priority by former Commandant Gen. David Berger shortly before he retired in July. The service is now looking to deliver on this charge under current Commandant Gen. Eric Smith:

Marine Corps to increase risk tolerance in acquisitions, restructure systems command

SAN DIEGO -- The Marine Corps needs to get comfortable with more risk -- both technical and financial -- within its acquisition system to expeditiously field warfighting capabilities in the face of heightened great power competition, according to Brig. Gen. David Walsh, who leads Marine Corps Systems Command, the service’s chief acquisition body.

More news from the AFCEA West 2024 Conference:

Pacific Fleet will stand up second USV squadron in May, though Navy is tight-lipped on developing tech

SAN DIEGO -- U.S. Pacific Fleet will stand up a second unmanned surface vessel squadron in May as the Navy pushes to develop uncrewed and autonomous systems, the presumptive new head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said today, while indicating that the service is deliberately withholding specific information on its developing unmanned capabilities.

The U.S. needs to work with allies to make sure it has access to space launch facilities outside the country:

Space Force will need to work with allies, partners for more launch sites

DENVER -- To ensure U.S. access to space-launch capabilities, the Space Force will need to work with allies and partners to use or build launch facilities in other countries, the commander of U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific said.

Adm. Samuel Paparo, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet who has been nominated to be head of INDOPACOM, spoke at a Defense Innovation Unit summit Tuesday, saying it is INDOPACOM’s goal to begin using autonomous systems to deter China from attacking Taiwan through "constant stare":

INDOPACOM seeks autonomous 'stare' to deter China in the Taiwan Strait

The presumptive chief of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said he is wrestling with how to interweave autonomy into weapons platforms and systems controls to provide "constant stare" for a new era of warfare, while the Pentagon continues work on the first tranche of Replicator drone capabilities to meet his stated needs.

Inside Defense previewed a space launch that successfully took place yesterday:

New 'cradle-to-grave' hypersonic tracking satellite prototypes set for launch, testing

The Defense Department today plans to put in orbit new space capabilities -- including a pair of competing prototype satellites built by L3Harris Technologies and Northrop Grumman -- that aim to solve one of the U.S. military's most vexing and pressing technical challenges: how to detect and track hypersonic glide vehicles that exploit blind spots in today's radar networks.

Maj. Theresa Christie, the executive officer of the Army's Indo-Pacific Sustainment Command, spoke this week at an event hosted by Vertex in Austin, TX:

Army and Marines need joint solution on supplies when deployed abroad, says sustainment officer

The Army and the Marine Corps need a joint solution to maintain supplies when abroad and before the onset of conflict, according to an Army sustainment officer.

By Nick Wilson
February 15, 2024 at 2:38 PM

SAN DIEGO -- Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro today questioned the defense industry’s commitment to delivering naval capabilities on time and on budget, suggesting some unnamed companies are prioritizing stock prices and executive compensation over necessary capital investments, and promising to take legal action to ensure taxpayers receive adequate return on investment.

“Through initiatives like the Taxpayer Advocacy Project, I have directed our contract community and Office of General Counsel to ensure that we will leverage all legal means at our disposal to ensure that the American people are getting what they paid for,” Del Toro said, though he provided few additional details on this new initiative.

Speaking to a room full of defense contractors during the West 2024 conference, Del Toro congratulated companies for record profits, pointing to quarterly financial statements. But, he said, industry needs to deliver key warfighting capabilities -- including submarines, ships and aircraft -- on time, on budget and without excuses.

“You can't be asking for the American taxpayer to make greater public investments while you continue to goose your stock prices through stock buybacks, deferring promised capital investments, and other accounting maneuvers that -- to some -- seem to prioritize stock prices that drive executive compensation rather than making the needed, fundamental investments in the industrial base at a time when our nation needs us to be all ahead flank,” he said.

Del Toro’s comments break from the typical talking points of senior Navy officials, who generally emphasize the partnership between defense contractors and the service and promote collaboratively tackling industrial base issues.

But as the Navy faces heightened pressure to maintain an advantage over China, industry is struggling with often-cited workforce and supply chain issues, and key weapon and shipbuilding programs like the Virginia-class submarine face significant delays.

Now, the Navy is serious about holding industry accountable for poor performance and misconduct, according to Del Toro, who said he has directed a “deep dive into holding individuals accountable” for these offenses too.

By Georgina DiNardo
February 14, 2024 at 3:09 PM

A recent joint military experiment showcased a variety of multidomain uncrewed systems at Camp Roberts, CA, earlier this month, testing emerging technology being pursued by the Pentagon.

The Joint Interagency Field Experimentation event, which took place Feb. 6-8, aimed to “foster the defense innovation ecosystem by bringing together stakeholders across the Department of Defense and U.S. government with technology developers from industry and academia,” according to DOD.

JIFX 24-2, hosted by the office of the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, centered on multidomain uncrewed systems and countermeasures and included about 25 companies and “non-traditional performers” showcasing their technologies.

“Multi-Domain UxS encompasses autonomous vehicles capable of traversing between physical environments, such as moving along in ‘boat mode’ before taking off above the waves as an Unmanned Aircraft System,” DOD said.

The JIFX 24-2 experiments, according to the event website, included a variety of systems ranging from unmanned aerial systems, compact aerial inspection, GPS-denied unmanned aerial vehicles navigation, swarming meteorological measurement systems, systems that assessed off-road autonomous driving capabilities, intelligent humanoid robots, physical tokens for variable text encryption, C5ISR technologies for the tactical edge, target detection using neuromorphic vision, multidomain expeditionary artificial intelligence that analyzes behavior, frontline perception system and holographic situational awareness.

Many of the systems, however, are in line with the stated requirements of the Pentagon’s Replicator initiative, which aims to field thousands of attritable autonomous weapon systems by February-August 2025. However, Cdr. Tim Gorman, a Pentagon spokesman, told Inside Defense that JIFX 24-2 has "no ties to Replicator."

The systems that JIFX 24-2 showcased are all from small businesses, which is also where Replicator aims to collaborate to strengthen the domestic defense industrial base and explore creative, innovative solutions.

"Collaboration with industry is key to the Department of Defense's ability to resolve some of our greatest technological and security challenges," Heidi Shyu, DOD’s chief technology officer, said in a statement about JIFX 24-2.

"Field showcases like JIFX will allow us to explore, develop and field the capabilities that our troops deserve,” she continued.

By John Liang
February 14, 2024 at 2:22 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from the Air and Space Force Association's annual Warfare Symposium out in Colorado as well as the AFCEA West Conference in San Diego.

The Air Force is warning of the negative effects of a full-year continuing resolution on the service:

Air Force paints ugly budget picture of full-year CR

The Air Force and Space Force will lose a combined total of $6 billion in modernization investments and suffer $13 billion in lost buying power if Congress cannot pass a fiscal year 2024 defense appropriation and opts for a yearlong funding patch, according to a new fact sheet.

More news from the AFA Warfare Symposium:

Kendall: Air Force having 'hard time' negotiating E-7 Wedgetail contract with Boeing

DENVER -- Senior Air Force leaders disclosed that negotiations with Boeing to contract for the first E-7A Wedgetail aircraft have been "difficult" due to non-recurring engineering development.

Space Force creating Space Futures Command to handle capabilities requirements

DENVER -- As part of the Air Force's organizational shakeup, the Space Force will create a new field command to streamline requirements generation for the young service.

Air Force to down select for CCA program in coming months

DENVER -- The Air Force is on track to down select for the first increment of Collaborative Combat Aircraft in the coming months, but budgetary constraints may only allow for two vendors instead of a preferred three, service Secretary Frank Kendall said today.

We also have coverage from this week's AFCEA West Conference out in San Diego:

Red and Black Seas demonstrate mounting tactical challenges to defending ships, naval officials say

SAN DIEGO -- Two ongoing naval conflicts, one playing out in the Red Sea and other in the Black Sea, have illuminated a single critical lesson: the Navy and Marine Corps must rapidly advance their techniques and tactics to stay abreast with the rapidly changing "character of war," especially when it comes to defending ships from missiles and drones, service officials said.

CNO: Navy on track to begin operationalizing a hybrid manned-unmanned fleet as early as FY-29

SAN DIEGO -- The Navy is making progress in the development of a hybrid manned-unmanned fleet, according to the chief of naval operations, who said the service is on path to begin widespread integration and operationalizing of unmanned platforms as early as fiscal year 2029.