The Insider

By John Liang
February 2, 2024 at 1:08 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Defense Department's latest operational test and evaluation report, a Senate hearing to consider the nomination of the next head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and more.

We start off with coverage from the Pentagon's latest operational test and evaluation report:

DOD's top weapons tester says Ukraine war validates live-fire evals

The acting head of the Pentagon's independent weapons testing office says that while his team has developed new digital tools to evaluate the military’s most expensive systems, the war in Ukraine demonstrates the deadly effectiveness of U.S. weapons that have been put through rigorous live-fire test and evaluation.

Pentagon tester says F-35 availability at serious low, program deficiencies persist

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is significantly behind schedule, with just 51% of the aircraft available last year for combat, testing or training as opposed to the fleet's stated goal of 65%, according to a Pentagon report published this week.

Ford IOT&E extended through FY-27, flight system reliability challenges persist

Initial operational test and evaluation for the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) aircraft carrier is expected to stretch through fiscal year 2027, according to an annual report from the Pentagon's chief weapons tester, which points to persistent reliability challenges for the vessel’s flight operations systems.

Document: DOT&E's 2023 annual report

(Read our full DOT&E report coverage.)

Navy Adm. Samuel Paparo submitted answers to advance policy questions ahead of his nomination hearing this week before the Senate Armed Services Committee to become chief of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command:

INDOPACOM needs 'persistent stare,' quality targeting to deter China; means to 'blind' and kill

The presumptive new head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command -- whose tenure, if confirmed, could extend to the cusp of a 2027 centennial celebration of the founding of China's armed forces and a potential move by Beijing to take Taiwan by force -- today outlined for Congress new capabilities needed for decision superiority to "blind, see and kill" adversary forces.

Document: Adm. Paparo's INDOPACOM nomination APQs

The Army's C5ISR Center Research and Technology Integration Directorate is asking companies to provide information on capabilities "that can help protect soldiers, vehicles and infrastructure from emerging and future [UAS] threats":

Army seeking non-kinetic solutions for May CUAS industry day

The Army is seeking non-kinetic solutions for a May industry day focused on counter-unmanned systems, according to a sources-sought notice posted this week.

CoorsTek, Goex/Estes Energetics, Lacamas Laboratories, Margrathea Metals, METSS Corp., Powdermet and Synthio Chemicals were selected for different awarded amounts to work on developing critical chemicals, all funded through the Defense Production Act Investments Program:

DPAI awards $192.5 million to increase domestic critical chemicals production

The Defense Department awarded seven companies contracts totaling $192.5 million today in efforts to generate critical chemicals domestic manufacturing capabilities.

HII Chief Executive Officer Chris Kastner spoke about his company's quarterly earnings this week:

HII hiring, revenue climbed in fourth quarter

Shipbuilder HII made progress with hiring in 2023 -- bringing in over 6,900 craft personnel -- and set a goal of hiring approximately 6,000 more in 2024, according to a fourth-quarter earnings call with investors held on Thursday.

Jill Hruby, who heads the National Nuclear Security Administration, said at the 16th annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit this week that Generative AI is a large tool for the Energy Department to use when it comes to efficiency:

NNSA chief says Generative AI needs to adhere to nuclear enterprise standards

A senior Energy Department official said today that Generative Artificial Intelligence needs to be integrated into DOE efforts under nuclear enterprise security standards.

By Abby Shepherd
February 2, 2024 at 12:54 PM

Hardware reliability issues and a lack of modeling are largely to blame for delays facing the Navy's Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band, according to an annual report released Thursday by the Pentagon's director of operational test and evaluation.

The DOT&E has not yet cleared the program to conduct initial operational test and evaluation due to “system immaturity,” the report notes. NGJ-MB was previously expected to clear this barrier in August 2023, and a Navy spokesperson told Inside Defense in October that testing and data collection were ongoing.

In January, a Navy spokesperson told Inside Defense that initial operational capability for NGJ-MB had once again been pushed back to spring of 2024, following the completion of IOT&E.

“Hardware reliability issues and a lack of validated or accredited digital models, which are derived from operational test data and are required to supplement NGJ-MB operational flight test evaluation, present a significant risk to NGJ-MB IOT&E,” the report said.

The NGJ-MB consists of two pods located under EA-18G aircraft wings and is the first of three programs meant to replace the AN/ALQ-99 Tactical Jammer System currently used by the aircraft.

In its report, DOT&E encourages the development and assessment of digital models of integrated test events to provide data necessary for modeling and simulation verification, validation and accreditation. Above all, DOT&E requests the program submit an IOT&E test plan for approval.

By Tony Bertuca
February 1, 2024 at 2:28 PM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, speaking to the press for the first time since his Jan. 1 emergency hospitalization, apologized for how he handled the secrecy surrounding his medical absence, including his failure to tell President Biden.

“I want to be crystal clear -- we did not handle this right, and I did not handle this right,” he told reporters during a Pentagon press conference.

Austin was hospitalized Jan. 1 due to complications from a Dec. 22 surgery to treat prostate cancer. Neither Austin nor his staff alerted senior White House officials, including the president, about his diagnosis, his surgery or his subsequent hospitalization. Biden did not learn Austin was in the hospital until Jan. 4, three days after he was admitted. The president and other White House officials did not learn of his cancer diagnosis until days later.

“I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I should have also told my team and the American public,” Austin said. “I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people.”

Austin, who was not released from Walter Reed Medical Center until Jan. 15, said he kept the matter a secret because he was “shook” by his cancer diagnosis and is a private person by nature.

“It was a gut punch, and frankly, my first instinct was to keep it private,” he said. “I don't think it's news that I'm a pretty private guy. I never like burdening others with my problems. It's just not my way. But I've learned from this experience. Taking this kind of job means losing some of the privacy that most of us expect.”

Austin, who is still recovering from his time in the hospital and using a small golf cart to move about the Pentagon, emphasized there were “no gaps” and “no risks” in the national security chain of command while he was in the hospital.

“At every moment, either I or the deputy secretary was in full charge,” he said. “And we've already put in place some new procedures to make sure that any lapses in notification don't happen.”

Still, Austin said he and his team will do a better job of notifying the White House if Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks must temporarily assume his duties. It is unclear what Hicks knew of Austin’s condition and when she was made aware of it.

“In the future, if the deputy secretary needs to temporarily assume the office -- the duties of my office, she and several White House offices will be immediately notified, including the White House Situation Room, and so will key officials across the department. And the reason for that assumption of duties will be included in writing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Austin’s staff is running an internal review of the matter and the DOD inspector general has begun its own investigation.

The news of Austin’s secret hospitalization consumed Washington for days, potentially become a political liability for Biden as he pursues re-election.

“I don't talk about conversations with my boss, but I can tell you I've apologized directly to President Biden, and I've told him that I'm deeply sorry for not letting him know immediately that I received a heavy diagnosis and was getting treatment,” Austin said.

Austin said he never considered resigning and the White House made clear early on that Biden continued to have confidence in him.

“He has responded with the grace and warm heart that anyone who knows President Biden would expect, and I'm grateful for his full confidence in me,” Austin said.

However, several congressional Republicans, and one Democrat, have called for Austin’s resignation.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) has requested that Austin appear before the panel on Feb. 14 to discuss the matter.

Austin did not commit to attending the hearing but did say he would remain in contact with Rogers and his office.

“Congress had some very relevant questions that they've asked us, and we will continue to answer those questions,” he said. “We'll continue to work with Chairman Rogers' office to address any additional questions or issues that he might have. And again, we'll stay in touch with Chairman Rogers' office as things play out.”

By John Liang
February 1, 2024 at 1:20 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Boeing's quarterly earnings, the Marine Corps' Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle competition, the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System and more.

Quarterly earnings news from Boeing:

Boeing defense unit still bleeding money, but 'poised to improve'

A senior Boeing executive today said the company's defense business is "poised to improve" after recording huge losses, yet fell short of announcing a blueprint for 2024 during the company's year-end earnings call.

Contractors General Dynamics Land Systems and Textron Systems each delivered an ARV prototype to the Marine Corps in early fiscal year 2023 and spent the remainder of the year running a gauntlet of government-directed tests to assess the vehicles' survivability, land and water mobility as well as command, control, communications and computer/uncrewed aerial systems (C4UAS) capabilities. Here's the story, now available to all:

Two contractors remain as ARV competition moves toward EMD phase

As the Marine Corps moves its Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle program toward the engineering and manufacturing development phase and narrows in on requirements for a family of six vehicle variants, two companies remain standing in the prototyping competition that will decide the maker of this next-generation family of vehicles.

Inside Defense recently interviewed C3BM Integrating Program Executive Officer Brig. Gen. Luke Cropsey:

Exclusive: ABMS IDIQ awardees now competing for follow-on work

The Air Force awarded the last of its indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts for the Advanced Battle Management System last year, and the awardees are now competing to bring their capabilities to fruition as the service seeks to rapidly field technology for its contribution to the Joint All Domain Command and Control effort.

Heidi Shyu, under secretary of defense for research and engineering, spoke this week at the 10th annual Defense R&D Summit in Alexandria, VA:

DOD official wants to focus on bridging 'valley of death' to counter China

The Pentagon's technology chief emphasized the importance of bridging the "valley of death" by creating pathways for innovation through the government's labyrinthine acquisition system, especially during a time of increased military challenge from China.

The goal of China's military-civil fusion strategy, according to DOD, is to support weapons modernization by ensuring Beijing can "acquire advanced technologies and expertise developed by PRC companies, universities and research programs that appear to be civilian entities":

DOD releases new list of 'Chinese military companies' connected to U.S.

The Defense Department has released an updated list of "Chinese military companies" operating directly or indirectly in the United States.

News on the latest happenings at the Defense Innovation Unit:

Upcoming DIU summit aims to scale commercial tech for INDOPACOM

A senior Defense Innovation Unit official said an upcoming industry summit will be an opportunity to focus on scaling commercial technologies for use by the Defense Department, specifically focusing on U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

DIU seeks autonomous surface vehicle prototype in line with Replicator

The Defense Innovation Unit is looking for submissions from industry that can produce small, unmanned, autonomous surface vehicle interceptors for the Navy, according to a new solicitation in line with the Defense Department's Replicator initiative.

The Missile Defense Agency completed a preliminary design review of Northrop Grumman's Next Generation Interceptor proposal last week:

MDA completes major review of Northrop's NGI design; fate of competition TBD in PB-25

The Defense Department last week completed the second of two major technical reviews for the Next Generation Interceptor, wrapping up an assessment of Northrop Grumman's design and select components for a homeland defense guided-missile prototype -- an event that potentially could form the basis of a source selection if funding for the project is curtailed.

By Nick Wilson
February 1, 2024 at 12:25 PM

Two contractors remain in the Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle competition as the program moves towards its engineering and manufacturing development phase and the Marine Corps narrows in on requirements for a family of six mission role variants.

After a year of government-lead testing using initial prototypes, contractors General Dynamics Land Systems and Textron Systems are maturing their platforms and preparing to deliver an additional ARV variant prototype in fiscal year 2024.

Read this story, now available to all.

By Tony Bertuca
February 1, 2024 at 11:42 AM

The State Department has approved a possible $4 billion foreign military sale to India for 31 Sky Guardian MQ-9B drones to conduct “unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation,” according to a congressional notification from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

The deal for the drones, made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, includes 170 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, 16 M36E9 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles, 310 GBU-39B/B Laser Small Diameter Bombs and eight GBU-39B/B LSDB Guided Test Vehicles with live fuzes. The sale would also cover a variety of communications and navigation equipment and sensors.

DSCA notes that India typically requires “offset” agreements to mitigate the impact on its domestic industrial base, though the terms will be defined in future negotiations.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defense partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” DSCA said.

Though the notice states the FMS will amount to $4 billion, DSCA adds that the final deal “will be lower depending on final requirements, budget authority and signed sales agreement(s), if and when concluded.”

By Shelley K. Mesch
February 1, 2024 at 10:45 AM

The Space Force will send its first guardian into space later this year as part of a NASA mission to the International Space Station, the service announced yesterday.

Col. Nick Hague will spend six months on the space station as a flight engineer conducting operations and research activities, the service said.

Hague will pilot the SpaceX Crew-9 mission on the Dragon spacecraft in August at the earliest. His crewmates include Zena Cardman, commander; Stephanie Wilson, mission specialist; and Aleksandr Gorbunov, mission specialist and Roscosmos cosmonaut.

“Being a part of this mission is a unique honor, but it’s truly a collective effort,” Hague said. “Guardians worldwide ensure safe and secure operations of critical systems for launch and on station. From GPS satellites that underpin our station navigation systems, to space domain awareness sites around the globe that help NASA prevent orbital debris from colliding with the space station, to the launch range that my crew will use when we liftoff, Guardians provide critical support without which our NASA human spaceflight program wouldn’t be possible.”

Before joining the Space Force, Hague took part in three NASA missions to the space station. He trained as an astronaut candidate from 2013 to 2015 and was selected for his first mission in 2018.

His first launch in 2018 experienced a malfunction, leading him and his crewmate Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos to abort the mission shortly after launch.

In 2019, Hague successfully traveled to the space station and spent 203 days on-orbit.

Hague had an extensive Air Force career prior to his astronaut training, according to his NASA profile. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1998, worked on advanced spacecraft technologies as well as on flight tests.

After returning from the space station, he transitioned to the Space Force and served as the director of test and evaluation for two years.

By Nick Wilson
February 1, 2024 at 10:38 AM

BAE Systems has delivered a new Amphibious Combat Vehicle variant to the Marine Corps, providing a production-representative test vehicle equipped with a 30mm cannon for government testing, according to a Thursday company announcement.

The ACV-30 is the third variant in the ACV vehicle family, currently being fielded by the Marine Corps. The ACV-30 is equipped with a stabilized, medium-caliber, remote turret system produced by Norwegian company Kongsberg.

The system “provides the lethality and protection Marines need while leaving ample room for troop capacity and payload while keeping the crew under armor,” BAE’s announcement states. “The remote turret eliminates the space requirement of legacy turreted cannon systems and provides more room to transport troops or mission essential equipment and reduces weight for better mobility.”

BAE, the prime contractor for the ACV program, has already entered full-rate production of two earlier vehicle variants: personnel carrier (ACV-P) and command and control (ACV-C) versions. The company delivered more than 70 ACV-Ps in FY-23 and announced it had delivered its first full-rate production ACV-C last month.

BAE is also on contract to design and develop a fourth ACV-R recovery variant, intended to provide field support and maintenance for the vehicle family.

Designed as a replacement for the legacy amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) with improved ocean swim, survivability and technical capabilities, the ACV family is an important piece of the Marine Corps’ force design plans, especially as an armored connector in the Indo-Pacific.

But the platform has struggled with a series of training incidents. Over the past year, multiple ACV rollovers occurred during waterborne training, prompting the Marine Corps to launch an effort to retrain and recertify vehicle operators. More recently, a Marine was killed in an ACV rollover on land.

Despite these incidents, last week Assistant Commandant Gen. Christopher Mahoney said the Marine Corps remains confident in the platform, attributing these accidents largely to inadequate operator training rather than material problems with the vehicles. The Marine Corps has resumed “protected waterborne operations” with the ACV and is preparing to deploy the vehicles to the 15th MEU, Mahoney said.

The Marine Corps’ FY-24 budget request includes $557.5 million for 80 more ACVs and predicts procurement will exceed 100 vehicles in FY-25.

By Vanessa Montalbano
January 31, 2024 at 9:41 AM

The Air Force will meet with defense contractors next month to consider the upcoming 2024 broad agency announcement for the Networking the Fight program, which is meant to encourage and secure information sharing across several domains, according to a notice published Tuesday.

The event is set to take place on Feb. 15 and will be hosted virtually by the Air Force Research Laboratory. It is intended to “discuss specific areas of interest, promote an early exchange of information, and provide an opportunity for both the Government and Industry to gather more information prior to the submission of white papers,” the posting said.

It describes three major focus areas for rapid integration. They include:

  • Next Generation Cross Domain Solution
  • Highly Dynamic Red/Black Networking
  • Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis

The meeting comes as the service is rapidly outlining its priority research areas in 2024, with companies due to respond to a market survey by Feb. 2 about whether they are qualified to engineer or design several breakthrough technologies, from artificial intelligence to advanced missile propulsion devices, for the 2024 Air Dominance broad agency announcement.

The Air Force said in Tuesday's posting that the industry day will be unclassified and that participation in the talks does not reflect a commitment of any kind, including for a proposed contract. Companies are asked to team together to meet the requirements where possible.

“This research will develop [a] capability to transmit and manage information flows seamlessly across various physical domains, including air, space and ground,” the service said in the notice. “By integrating these technologies, the goal is to strengthen information sharing and collaboration in tactical environments, ultimately enhancing mission success.”

By John Liang
January 30, 2024 at 1:53 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on foreign military sales, a pair of new Defense Innovation Board studies and more.

The State Department this week released its annual fact sheet on foreign military sales:

U.S. weapon sales surge by 56% as Washington looks to build up NATO

U.S. foreign military sales increased by 56% in fiscal year 2023 for a record-breaking total of $81 billion, a significant boost above the $52 billion reported in FY-22 and coming at a time when NATO is bolstering its defenses against Russia, according to new data from the State Department.

Speaking of FMS, an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter sale announced this week to the Czech Republic is the country's single largest military purchase ever:

U.S. advances F-35 deal with Czech Republic

The Czech Republic today penned a final deal with the Biden administration to buy 24 F-35 fighter aircraft, worth about 150 billion Czech koruna or $6.5 billion.

The Defense Innovation Board is conducting two new studies -- "Optimizing How We Innovate with Our Allies and Partners" and "Aligning Incentives to Drive Faster Tech Adoption":

Defense Innovation Board to study foreign partnerships and tech adoption incentives

Following memos from a senior Pentagon official, the Defense Innovation Board today announced two new studies to optimize innovation with U.S. allies and align incentives for faster acquisition and technology adoption.

With the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor fleet grounded, the Amphibious Combat Vehicle yet to be deployed and the landing ship medium not yet on contract, the Marine Corps is operating without critical platforms that, among other things, serve as logistics connectors for stand-in forces in the Indo-Pacific:

Marine Corps working to fix Osprey and ACV issues, stands by platforms

The Marine Corps remains confident in two key connector capabilities -- the V-22 Osprey and Amphibious Combat Vehicle -- despite recent training accidents in which service members lost their lives, according to Assistant Commandant Gen. Christopher Mahoney, who said the service is working to remedy the issues that caused these incidents.

The Thunderstorm series of events are collaboration efforts between DOD and interagency partners to unearth new technologies and supply feedback quickly to developers for faster technology maturation:

DOD looking for industry collaboration on persistent sensing tech

The Defense Department put out a notice today requesting private industry, government research and development organizations and academia to identify innovative technologies that could be included in Thunderstorm 24-2.

By Nickolai Sukharev
January 30, 2024 at 12:14 PM

Oshkosh Defense earnings increased by 11% even as the company draws down domestic production of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, company leaders said during their fourth-quarter earnings call today.

“Domestic JLTV production will conclude in early 2025 but we believe we will continue to have opportunities to supply JLTVs to foreign allies through the direct commercial sales process in 2025 and beyond,” Oshkosh President John Pfeifer said during the call.

Oshkosh Defense sales for the fourth quarter of 2023 increased 7.2%, driven by JLTV sales, in what Pfeifer called a “strong quarter.”

During an October earnings call, the company announced a decrease in sales for the defense segment but expected to increase production from other defense contracts.

Selected to build the JLTV in 2015, the four-wheeled vehicle is designed for combat operations and will replace a portion of the Army’s humvees.

In January 2023, the Army awarded AM General a follow-on production contract for the JLTV. Oshkosh appealed the outcome in June, but the Government Accountability Office denied the company’s protest.

Earlier this year, the Marine Corps selected Oshkosh for its Rogue Fires program, a JLTV variant with an anti-ship missile launcher.

Oshkosh is also scheduled to deliver Medium Equipment Trailers for testing a six-axle transport platform designed to carry 60-ton payloads on European roads.

Earlier this week, the Army announced it will extend a current contract for Oshkosh’s Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles.

In 2022, the Army selected Oshkosh to build the Medium Caliber Weapon System, a 30mm cannon designed for the Stryker combat vehicle.

The company is currently bidding for the Common Tactical Truck, a series of logistics trucks designed to replace the current Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck.

Oshkosh is also competing for the Robotic Combat Vehicle, an unmanned robotic vehicle designed to operate alongside manned units.

By Nickolai Sukharev
January 30, 2024 at 10:57 AM

The Army will order approximately 1,343 upgraded variants of medium tactical trucks in the next three years, according to a public announcement.

In an extension to a 2018 contract, Oshkosh will manufacture the A2 variant of the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV), the Jan. 29 announcement reads.

“Anticipated service requirements include engineering, configuration management, quality assurance, integrated logistics support, maintenance, test support and other support related to Government-initiated changes and improvements to the FMTV vehicles,” the announcement adds.

The Army intends to order cargo, recovery and load handling variants on the four-by-four- or six-by-six-wheel platforms as well as trailers, arctic kits and under-armor body kits.

The FMTV A2 variant has a more powerful engine, increased armor and can carry heavier payloads when compared to the earlier A1 variant, according to the Wisconsin-based company.

The A2 variant will also serve as wheelbase for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, Multi-Mission Launcher and numerous other mission-specific variants, according to Army budget documents.

In service since 1996, the FMTV is designed to operate on and off the battlefield and performs over 55% of the Army's local haul, line haul, and unit resupply missions, the budget documents read.

The Army intends to procure 221 and 234 FMTVs in fiscal years 2024 and 2025, respectively, the budget documents add.

Oshkosh also manufactures the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck and the M1070 tank transporter.

By Georgina DiNardo
January 29, 2024 at 5:29 PM

The Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office today launched the first of two artificial intelligence bias bounty exercises aimed at unearthing unknown risk areas in Large Language Models.

“Bias bounties are new crowdsourced efforts to help detect bias in AI systems,” a Defense Department release said.

Both exercises aim to develop new routes to “algorithmically auditing and red teaming AI models,” as well as conducting experiments that address the risks involved with LLMs.

The CDAO Responsible AI Division, which is leading both exercises, launched the first bias bounty today, noting that the second will “soon follow.”

The first public bounty will run from Jan. 29 through Feb. 27.

"The RAI team is thrilled to lead these AI Bias Bounties, as we are strongly committed to ensuring that the Department's AI-enabled systems -- and the contexts in which they run -- are safe, secure, reliable and bias free," Matthew Johnson, acting chief of the DOD's RAI Division, said in the release.

The bounty exercise launched today specifically looks at Large Language Models to discover potential areas of risk, starting with open source chatbots.

"Given the Department's current focus on risks associated with LLMs, the CDAO is actively monitoring this area; the outcome of the AI Bias Bounties could powerfully impact future DOD AI policies and adoption," Craig Martell, chief digital and artificial intelligence officer, said in the release.

In December, Bill Streilein, CDAO’s chief technology officer, said that DOD is focusing on responsibly adopting and leveraging technology, like Generative AI, across the department.

In October, the Space Force put a temporary ban on government computers allowing Generative AI and Large Language Models in efforts to enhance data protection. Inside Defense was not immediately able to determine if the ban is still in place.

A few weeks prior to the ban being announced, Heidi Shyu, under secretary of defense for research and engineering, released a memo establishing a Defense Science Board task force charged with “balancing security, reliability, and technological advantage” related to Generative AI.

The release today encourages public involvement, citing no coding experience necessary, to help uncover bias, adding that participants can earn money from scoring and evaluation through DOD funding.

ConductorAI-Bugcrowd and BiasBounty.AI have partnered with CDAO to help with development and execution of both projects, with the CDAO Defense Digital Service Directorate advising.

By John Liang
January 29, 2024 at 2:14 PM

Mercury Systems last week announced it hired Stuart Kupinsky as executive vice president and chief legal officer.

Reporting to Mercury Chairman and CEO Bill Ballhaus, Kupinsky will be responsible for the company’s legal strategy, including mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property and enterprise contracts, according to a Mercury statement.

Kupinsky succeeds Christopher Cambria, who has been Mercury’s general counsel and secretary since 2016. He will remain with the company through March and will consult for one year afterward "to ensure a smooth transition," the statement reads.

Kupinsky comes to Mercury after serving as chief legal officer and general counsel for five technology companies, including Blackboard through its sale to Anthology, now one of the largest global education technology companies, and Tekelec, a public global telecommunications technology company serving the Defense Department until its sale to Oracle.

Kupinsky was also chief counsel for FirstNet, a multibillion-dollar independent government agency building a nationwide network for first responders. Earlier in his career, he worked as a Justice Department trial attorney and as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

By Abby Shepherd
January 29, 2024 at 2:08 PM

Huntington Ingalls Industries will lead the refueling and complex overhaul of aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), the Defense Department announced Friday.

The $913 million contract awarded to HII will consist of “engineering, design, material procurement and fabrication, documentation, resource forecasting and pre-overhaul inspections,” the announcement added.

“Comprehensive planning is vitally important to the overall success of an engineering and construction project of this magnitude on the aircraft carriers that serve our nation,” said Rob Check, NNS vice president of in-service aircraft carrier programs, in a company statement. “This contract allows us to properly plan for each step in the overhaul process, from preparing for the ship’s arrival at NNS to its redelivery back to the Navy, so that Harry S. Truman and its sailors can continue to protect peace and prosperity around the world.”

Advanced planning and long-lead-time material procurement is set to be completed by June 2026, according to the contract.

The contract follows debate in 2019 over whether to push forward with refueling the aircraft carrier, with the Navy saying that retiring the ship would allow for greater exploration of unmanned systems technology. Yet, lawmakers from both parties opposed the ship’s retirement.

The contract announcement also comes ahead of HII’s fourth-quarter earnings call this Thursday.