The Insider

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

Lawmakers in the House and Senate are scheduled to meet this week to approve separate committee versions of the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill.


The House Armed Services Committee meets to approve its version of the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill.

The Senate Armed Services Committee meets in closed session to approve its version of the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill. The process could stretch into Friday.


The Senate Appropriations Committee meets to approve a spending bill related to military construction, veterans affairs and related agencies.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall speaks at the Center for a New American Security about recruitment, retention and quality of life in the force.

The House Foreign Affairs Europe subcommittee holds a hearing on U.S policy toward Europe and NATO.

The Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute hosts a discussion with Gen. Glen VanHerck, chief of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command.

By John Liang
June 16, 2023 at 2:37 PM

The Navy League announced today it has elected retired Navy Cmdr. Christopher Townsend to a two-year term as the organization's next national president.

A Delta Airlines pilot since 1997, Townsend before that spent 22 years in the Navy as a P-3C pilot and mission commander as well as over 15 years as an instructor pilot.

By John Liang
June 16, 2023 at 1:18 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Navy seeking to extend the life span of its Seahawk helicopter fleet, House authorizers calling for a report on radars that would help defend Hawaii against missile attack and more.

MH-60S helicopters will begin reaching the end of their service lives in the 2030s. But through a service life extension program (SLEP) and ongoing preventative maintenance, the Navy hopes to extend their use into the 2040s or beyond:

Navy eyes life extensions for MH-60S fleet, considers FVL options

The Navy plans to extend the service life of its fleet of MH-60S Seahawk aircraft into the 2040s, while an analysis of alternatives for a future vertical lift capability works its way through the Pentagon's internal review process.

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, in legislation proposed for the FY-24 defense policy bill, would mandate the defense secretary prepare a report within 90 days of the bill’s enactment on the integrated air and missile defense architecture for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command with particular focus on the role of Hawaii sensors:

Dubious of radar plan to protect Hawaii from missile attack, lawmakers direct new report

Lawmakers are skeptical of the Pentagon's latest radar plan to help protect Hawaii from missile attack, noting the fiscal year 2024 budget plan would halt funding for the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii project while also seeking permission to start a new sensor project that doesn't integrate into the U.S. military's wider missile defense sensor architecture.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted a panel discussion on Indo-Pacific strategy featuring the deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia:

U.S., allies focus on building 'common operating picture' in the Indo-Pacific

The Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness, launched to provide a near-real time view of waters and shores in an increasingly contested realm, will "be live across the region" by the end of the calendar year, according to Lindsey Ford, deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia.

Shield AI is developing its Hivemind pilot for multiple platforms and ran in-flight tests on a modified F-16 last year:

Shield AI partnering with Kratos for autonomous flight software

Defense software company Shield AI announced today it has formed a partnership with Kratos to put its artificial intelligence pilot on the XQ-58 Valkyrie drone.

The Army's top civilian spoke about the Extended Range Cannon Artillery program this week:

Army secretary says ERCA not likely to 'get over the finish line' this year

The Extended Range Cannon Artillery program is not likely to "get over the finish line" this year in terms of its development, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters this week.

By Apurva Minchekar
June 15, 2023 at 4:14 PM

The Air Force awarded Raytheon a $36 million contract to build a system to communicate with military platforms via multiple commercial space internet satellites.

On June 12, the company was awarded the contract under the Defense Experimentation Using Commercial Space Internet program, according to a Defense Department notice.

DEUCIS, an Air Force Research Laboratory initiative, focuses on establishing and experimenting with the capability to move and share data easily among a wide variety of fixed and mobile operating locations, constantly using available, high-bandwidth, beyond-line-of-sight communications.

The contractor is expected to build the system using multiple commercial space internet constellations in various orbital regimes using common user terminal and hardware elements, according to the notice.

“This award is the result of a competitive acquisition under the DEUCSI Advanced Research Announcement Open Two Step Solicitation,” the service said. “This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with one offer received.”

The service said fiscal year 2023 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $15 million are being obligated at the time of the award.

Raytheon is expected to complete the work by March 6, 2026, according to the notice.

By John Liang
June 15, 2023 at 3:00 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill, the Army's Extended Range Cannon Artillery program and more.

The House Appropriations Committee this week released its version of the fiscal year 2024 military spending bill, but Democrats don't like it:

GOP appropriators release draft defense bill, Dems decry cuts and riders

House Republicans have released a draft defense appropriations bill they say will counter China and protect conservative ideals, but Democrats are mustering opposition to the legislation over its cuts to the Pentagon's workforce, climate change initiatives, multiyear contracts and other "partisan riders."

Document: House appropriators' FY-24 defense spending bill

The Army's top civilian spoke about the Extended Range Cannon Artillery program this week:

Army secretary says ERCA not likely to 'get over the finish line' this year

The Extended Range Cannon Artillery program is not likely to "get over the finish line" this year in terms of its development, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters this week.

More news from the House Armed Services Committee's fiscal year 2024 defense policy bill:

House authorizers want DOD to be more laser-focused

Protection against directed-energy weapons should be a priority for the Defense Department at all levels of development, according to the House Armed Services Committee.

Lawmakers propose green light for U.S.-Japan collaboration on Glide Phase Interceptor

The United States, Japan and potentially other nations could formally begin collaborative development on the Glide Phase Interceptor as soon as the fiscal year 2024 defense policy bill is enacted if a proposed single-sentence provision in that legislation becomes law, a sign of support in Congress for a joint effort to develop a next-generation Aegis guided missile.

Air National Guard to fund unit's transfer to Space Force

The proposed Space National Guard will receive funds from the existing Air National Guard to transfer its mission and people to the Space Force, according to a senior House committee aide.

Looks like the delivery of 20 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets is getting closer to fruition:

Navy: Boeing contract maintains Super Hornet production

As part of a "time-critical parts modification," Boeing will deliver to the Navy a "subset of technical data" for production of Super Hornet strike fighters, a Navy spokeswoman told Inside Defense.

A recent Government Accountability Office report makes "three recommendations to the Air Force to ensure the [service's space command and control] program includes consistent metrics in annual and internal reports, and documents how it will meet requirements":

GAO recommends Pentagon improve tracking of Space C2

The Pentagon should improve its oversight of the Space Command and Control program using upgraded tracking and consistent metrics to demonstrate how much progress the program has made amidst ongoing delays, according to a June 8 Government Accountability Office report.

Document: GAO report on space C2

By Linda Hersey
June 15, 2023 at 2:39 PM

An industry day is scheduled for July 12 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA, for vendors with current capabilities for an Installation-Counter small Unmanned Aircraft System (I-CsUAS), according to a notice published by the Navy.

I-CsUAS systems detect, identify, track and disable small, unmanned aircraft by disrupting communication links.

Vendors are sought with solutions that include components and subsystems that don't require research and development, according to the notice published Wednesday.

At the industry day, the Navy will share the goals and schedule for procurement. It also will seek feedback from participants. Interested parties must respond by June 21.

The industry day will be hosted by the program manager for ground-based air defense.

The industry day is for vendors with solutions directly related to the requirement. There will be one-on-one breakout sessions between industry and the I-CsUAS project team.

Vendors and other participants must have clearance for a classified briefing.

By Apurva Minchekar
June 15, 2023 at 2:02 PM

The Air Force has released a final request for proposals for the Space Force Range today, following a three-week delay from its initial release date.

The effort aims to advance the national capability for Assured Access to Space from the eastern and western ranges through responsive and flexible operations, maintenance, sustainment, systems engineering and integration services, according to the RFP’s performance work statement.

The contract value quoted is a minimum of $100,000 to a maximum of $4 billion, according to the RFP, although the Air Force guarantees the minimum value will be awarded to the contractor under this contract.

“This is an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity type contract with multiple pricing arrangements available for use in pricing individual task orders,” the service said. “Current arrangements include Firm-Fixed-Price, Cost Plus Award Fee, Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee and Cost Reimbursable.”

The service is looking to collaborate with contractors who can support all aspects of operations, maintenance, sustainment and integration services of all systems and activities required for mission operation at the eastern range and western range, according to the performance work statement document.

The Defense Department is expecting to award the contract on June 5, 2024, the notice states.

By Tony Bertuca
June 15, 2023 at 1:36 PM

The Defense Department has entered into a $15 million agreement with Jervois Mining USA, a subsidiary of Jervois Global Limited, to conduct feasibility studies that could expand cobalt extraction in Idaho, according to a new Pentagon announcement.

The agreement, which taps Defense Production Act Title III funds, “will enable Jervois to undertake mineral resource drilling that will accelerate the improved definition and expansion of currently known cobalt resources at Jervois's Idaho Cobalt Operations (ICO) and the adjacent Sunrise deposit and studies to assess a domestic U.S. cobalt refinery,” DOD said.

Cobalt is important, DOD said, because it is a key component of multiple munitions and high-temperature aerospace alloys used in high-capacity batteries.

The project with Jervois, DOD said, “is a critical step” in the U.S. effort to decrease dependency on overseas sources for key minerals.

"In investing in domestic cobalt resources, Industrial Base Policy is building a sustainable, responsible industrial base capable of meeting our future national defense challenges" said Laura Taylor-Kale, the assistant secretary for industrial base policy.

“Investments such as these execute President Biden's focus on strengthening supply chains for critical minerals for large capacity batteries and are one step in the Defense Department's strategy for minerals and materials related to batteries,” she said.

By Dan Schere
June 15, 2023 at 12:36 PM

The Army is soliciting feedback from industry on providing synthetic aperture radar/moving target indicator payload capabilities for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system with an eye toward a possible “fly-off” this year or next.

A request for information posted Thursday notes that the MQ-1C uses multiple sensor payloads, including the electro-optic/infrared and others. The notice states the Army is in the process of updating the requirements for MQ-1C payloads and wishes to take stock of industry’s ability to provide “synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator/dismount moving target indicator payloads suitable for integration onto the MQ-1C.”

The notice asks industry for responses by July 14, and the Army plans to use the responses for a “potential sensor fly-off event” to “validate industry defined capabilities, sensor maturity and integration risk.”

The notice asks for solutions with technology readiness and manufacturing readiness levels of 7, meaning that prototypes can be demonstrated in a relevant environment and companies can produce the systems in a “production representative environment.”

The Army did not request funding for the procurement of additional Gray Eagles in its fiscal year 2024 budget, citing the fact that the service had reached its acquisition objective of 204 aircraft in 2019. However, in recent years Congress has added funding for the program in the National Defense Authorization Act to procure additional aircraft for the Army National Guard.

One provision in the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee’s draft mark-up of the FY-24 defense authorization bill asks the Army secretary to submit a report by Feb. 1, 2024 on the service’s plans for integrating the MQ-1C into the Guard.

The draft legislation states the report would include the status of existing requirements for integrating the aircraft into the Guard, “including the potential roles, missions and necessary support infrastructure for such integration.” It would also include cost and timeline estimates for the current and future integration process.

By Tony Bertuca
June 15, 2023 at 12:16 PM

The GOP-led House Appropriations defense subcommittee has approved a fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill that will now advance to the full committee for consideration amid partisan criticism over politically controversial cuts and policy riders.

The bill, which was approved in closed session, was first released yesterday but contains few details in terms of where money will be spent and reduced, though lawmakers have made some general assertions about how it would impact specific Defense Department programs.

Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) said the bill, which is aligned with a broader bipartisan agreement to provide $886 billion in total national defense funding for FY-24, “rejects many of the Biden administration’s misguided funding proposals, such as climate change initiatives, far-left social policies, and shrinking the Navy.”

Calvert also said the subcommittee found $20 billion in federal spending that was “redirected to improve the lethality and readiness of the force.” The bill also cuts $1 billion from the salaries of Pentagon civilian personnel.

Full Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) said the bill prioritizes national security, “not culture wars.”

But the bill has drawn heat from Democrats, who point out the bill bans funds for servicemembers seeking travel expenses for reproductive healthcare, climate change mitigation at military bases and security clearances for any signatory to the ‘Public Statement on the Hunter Biden Emails’ dated October 19, 2020.

Committee Ranking Member Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) said the bill, which is likely dead-on-arrival in the Democrat-led Senate, contains “the most extreme social policy riders I have ever seen in a defense appropriations bill.”

“It is regrettable that the Republican majority has produced a Defense Appropriations bill that would undermine our military’s readiness and leave us less secure in the world, not more,” she said.

By Linda Hersey
June 14, 2023 at 3:48 PM

Northrop Grumman recently completed a successful preliminary design review of Relay Ground Station-Asia for the U.S. Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific's missile warning system.

RGS-A is on track to be installed in Guam in late 2025, connecting current and next-generation missile warning and tracking satellites with end users, the company announced.

Plans are for developing six antennas for the Space Systems Command’s space-based infrared system, which keeps satellites in geosynchronous orbit.

The successful PDR confirms the company is on track to “transform” the existing missile-warning system, the company said.

The Space Force is modernizing the missile-warning system with the Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution (FORGE) system. Development includes installing ground stations to support current and future satellite systems.

Northrop Grumman announced that it completed the PDR a month ahead of schedule to show it is accelerating production processes to quickly meet and respond to critical defense needs.

The preliminary design review falls under a nearly $100 million, five-year contract Northrop has with the Naval Information Warfare Center.

Northrop Grumman was awarded the contract in 2022 to design, develop, test, deliver and integrate the relay ground station.

The work will take place at Northrop’s Boulder, CO facility.

By John Liang
June 14, 2023 at 1:56 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Marine Corps logistics, the Defense Department's fielding of emerging technologies and more.

We start off with Marine Corps news from both the current commandant as well as the one nominated to take his place:

Berger warns of risks to the industrial base

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger warned this week that in this modern era of global warfighting environment, logistics are at a greater risk of attack from cyber breaches and other types of strikes against the industrial supply chain.

Smith to continue force design 2030 evolution if confirmed as commandant

Assistant Commandant Gen. Eric Smith, who has been nominated to take the reins as the Marine Corps' next top officer, told lawmakers that if confirmed, he will continue the service's Force Design 2030 transformation effort.

. . . plus more coverage of the House defense policy bill:

House authorizers recommend expanding, streamlining DOD emerging tech strategy

The Defense Department should create an outside advisory committee focused on venture capital and simplify the fielding of emerging technologies, according to the House Armed Services Committee.

MDA directed to prepare formal report on extending NGI competition beyond 2025

Lawmakers want a formal exploration of extending the Next Generation Interceptor competition, delaying any source selection from 2025 until Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman fly prototypes -- a move that could add at least two years to the contest and set the stage for tandem production of a much larger NGI acquisition than the program of record.

Funding for Abrams upgrade included in House chairman's mark of defense bill

Program increases for several of the Army's legacy ground vehicle fleets such as Bradley, Stryker and Abrams are included in the chairman's mark of the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill, released by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) Monday.

House defense policy bill includes creation of Pentagon IP strategy, DIU realignment

The House Armed Services Committee today kicks off a series of fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill mark-ups, with the cyber subcommittee set to consider tech-focused measures including directing the Defense Department to develop an intellectual property strategy, moving the Defense Innovation Unit and studies on cyber initiatives.

Additionally, lawmakers want the Pentagon to keep certain amphibious ships the Navy says it doesn't need anymore:

Senators request updated shipbuilding plan meeting amphib requirement

A bipartisan group of senators is calling on the Navy to update its shipbuilding plan to maintain an amphibious warship fleet of at least 31 vessels, as required by law.

Document: Senators' letter on updated shipbuilding plan

Last but by no means least, the Pentagon wants to speed up its foreign military sales process:

Austin moves to speed foreign military sales following 'Tiger Team' recommendations

A special Pentagon "Tiger Team" has delivered recommendations to accelerate foreign military sales, leading Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to release department-wide guidance to support a faster and more streamlined process that will, among other things, allow for greater prioritization of weapons sales to key U.S. allies like Taiwan.

By Dan Schere
June 13, 2023 at 6:23 PM

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) says she still has questions for the Army following the award of the multibillion-dollar Joint Light Tactical Vehicle follow-on contract to AM General and a subsequent protest by competitor Oshkosh that was unsuccessful.

AM General was awarded the contract in February, which is worth more than $9 billion if all options are exercised. On March 6, Wisconsin-based Oshkosh filed a protest with GAO, alleging that the Army did not factor in problems with AM General’s production process, their low labor rates or their lack of experience in manufacturing JLTVs.

GAO denied Oshkosh’s protest on Monday, and the company responded by saying it will “assess the GAO’s findings and evaluate our next steps.”

Baldwin, a member of the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, wrote in a statement Tuesday that she is concerned about the Army’s decision to award the JLTV contract “to a New York private-equity-owned company that has never made these vehicles” and that it “poses a risk for our servicemembers and national security.”

Baldwin sent a letter to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Doug Bush, the service’s top acquisition official, on June 7 warning of AM General’s “very high credit risk as a result of the leveraged buyout of its private equity ownership group used to acquire the company -- and the impact of high leverage on the company’s ability to stand up a new production line in a timely fashion.”

Baldwin also wrote in the letter that AM General’s credit has been downgraded since being acquired by KPS Capital Partners in 2020, saddling the company with $675 million in debt.

“By increasing the chances of delayed delivery or a default, the award appears to pose a risk to the tactical wheeled vehicle industrial base and the fighting men and women who depend on it,” she wrote.

Baldwin also referenced reports from S&P and Moody’s Investor Service from December and January respectively that gave poor outlooks for AM General when it comes to its credit rating. She also expressed concern that when work for tactical wheeled vehicles is divided between two manufacturers, annual budget requests “will not provide enough work for both companies to sustain their workforce and supplier networks.”

“In the case of Oshkosh Defense, its workers and suppliers have seven years of successful JLTV production, continually incorporating lessons learned, data captured, process improvements and quality metrics to ensure the customer and the warfighter get the absolute best product possible. During that period, JLTV has been among those rare programs performing on schedule, under budget and delivering promised capabilities -- with no Nunn-McCurdy breaches. To date, the company has delivered over 20,000 vehicles to our men and women in uniform,” she wrote.

At the end of the letter, Baldwin asked a series of questions of Army officials, including the status of the tactical wheeled vehicle strategy that was due to be released in 2022, but has been delayed. On Tuesday, the senator reiterated that she has outstanding questions for the Army.

“I look forward to getting responses from the Army on my questions because the American people need certainty that our men and women in service are getting what they need, when they need it,” she wrote.

By John Liang
June 13, 2023 at 1:32 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has the latest on Oshkosh Defense's protest of a multibillion-dollar Joint Light Tactical Vehicle contract, plus lots of coverage of the House Armed Services Committee's draft fiscal year 2024 defense policy bill.

Before we get to the bill, let's start off with the Government Accountability Office denying Oshkosh Defense's multibillion-dollar Joint Light Tactical Vehicle contract protest:

GAO denies Oshkosh's JLTV protest

The Government Accountability Office has denied a protest by Oshkosh Defense of the Army's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle award to AM General, the office announced Monday.

On to the draft defense policy bill, where we'll start with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program:

House committee would continue funding AETP for F-35

The House Armed Services Committee, under the "chairman's mark" released Monday evening, would continue to fund the Adaptive Engine Transition Program for close to $600 million in the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill.


House Armed Services Committee proposes axing CAPE over amphib debate

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) has submitted legislation that, if included in the final defense authorization bill, would eliminate the Pentagon cost assessment and program evaluation office.

House seapower mark would add LPD to shipbuilding budget and save five vessels from decommissioning

House lawmakers plan to add an amphibious transport dock to the Navy's shipbuilding plan and prevent the decommissioning of three amphibious warships and two cruisers in fiscal year 2024.

Lawmakers interested in potential for modifying current VLS to expand naval hypersonic strike

Lawmakers are exploring the potential for arming the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer fleet -- and possibly new frigates -- with offensive hypersonic missiles, a move that could dramatically extend the striking range of the Navy's surface combatant force to hold at risk a larger set of inland targets by modifying current vertical launch systems to accommodate larger-diameter rockets.

Navy's plans for uncrewed vessels buoy interest from House lawmakers

The House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee is asking the Navy to schedule briefings with lawmakers by Dec. 1 on plans for developing, deploying and integrating uncrewed vessels and autonomous vehicle technology into maritime operations.


Navigation Satellite System earns House lawmakers' support

Lawmakers will continue to support the Space Force's first navigation satellite system to ensure a resilient Global Positioning System architecture, according to draft legislation from the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee.

Lawmakers favor acquiring on-orbit capabilities for communication satellites

The House Armed Service strategic forces subcommittee supports the Space Development Agency's Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture, according to draft legislation released Monday, which will benefit joint operations with assured, resilient, low-latency military data and communications connectivity to space-based capabilities.


House panel wants Army to further explore hybrid and electric propulsion for FVL

House lawmakers are asking the Army to provide briefings to the House Armed Services Committee on hybrid and electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities, as well as dual-use digital engineering on future vertical lift drive systems.

Nuclear weapons and more:

House committee would again prevent retirement of nuclear weapons

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee would limit the number of nuclear weapons the Defense Department is hoping to retire in fiscal year 2024 unless it can show there won't be a capability gap, according to a draft of the subcommittee's mark-up of the defense policy bill released Monday morning.

House panel wants annual report on DOD tech investments, new IP strategy

Lawmakers from the House Armed Services Committee want the Defense Department to begin producing a new annual report that tracks how much money is being spent on weapon systems expected to "make an impact for the warfighter" in the next five years and beyond.

By Tony Bertuca
June 13, 2023 at 12:29 PM

The Defense Department today announced a $325 million presidential "drawdown" package that will immediately transfer weapons from U.S. stocks to Ukraine, including ammunition and combat fighting vehicles that could support the ongoing counteroffensive against Russia.

The capabilities in the package include:

  • Additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems;
  • Stinger anti-aircraft systems;
  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems;
  • 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds;
  • 15 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles;
  • 10 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers;
  • Javelin anti-armor systems;
  • Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire-Guided missiles;
  • AT-4 anti-armor systems;
  • Over 22 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenades;
  • Demolition munitions for obstacle clearing;
  • Tactical secure communications support equipment;
  • Spare parts and other field equipment.

The action represents the 40th drawdown from DOD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.

Because DOD is reviewing an accounting error of at least $3 billion, it remains unclear how much congressionally appropriated funding the department has for Ukraine or when the White House may need to head back to Capitol Hill with a supplemental spending request.