The Insider

By Nick Wilson
July 3, 2024 at 5:58 PM

Erik Raven will step down from his post as Navy under secretary in August, according to a Wednesday announcement from the office of the Navy secretary.

Raven assumed the role of under secretary in April of 2022, becoming the second-highest ranking civilian Navy official and performing the roles chief operating officer and chief management officer for the service.

According to a statement from Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, Raven has been “a driving force for actions that will have long-lasting, positive impacts, not just for the United States but also for our Allies and partners.”

“His efforts contributed significantly to the AUKUS trilateral security partnership, the largest-ever investment in shipbuilding, improving Guam’s infrastructure to support defense in the [U.S. Indo-Pacific Command] region as well as improving the Department of Navy’s business operations, optimizing information management and cyber operations while improving efficiency,” the statement continues.

By Tony Bertuca
July 3, 2024 at 2:45 PM

The Defense Department has announced a new $2.3 billion military aid package for Ukraine, mostly funding a large purchase of air defense interceptors.

The package, first announced by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday, would immediately transfer U.S. weapons valued at $150 million via presidential drawdown authority, while $2.2 billion in aid would be provided through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

The $2.2 billion USAI action, which contracts with defense companies to provide Ukraine with long-term aid, would pay for a “significant package of air defense interceptors,” according to DOD.

“This funding will be used to purchase interceptors for Patriot and [National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems] for Ukraine,” DOD said.

The Biden administration, as previously announced, plans to accelerate delivery of the interceptors by “re-sequencing” foreign military sales involving other U.S. allies.

“As a result, Ukraine will be provided with the interceptors it urgently needs to protect its people and critical infrastructure against Russia's aerial attacks,” DOD said.

Meanwhile, the $150 million PDA transfer includes:

  • Missiles for HAWK air defense systems;
  • Ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
  • 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds;
  • 81mm mortar rounds;
  • Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles;
  • Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems;
  • Small arms ammunition and grenades;
  • Demolition equipment and munitions;
  • Tactical vehicles to tow equipment;
  • Tactical air navigation systems and aircraft support equipment; and,
  • Spare parts, maintenance, and other equipment.
By John Liang
July 3, 2024 at 1:33 PM

This pre-Independence Day INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of a pair of omnibus reprogramming requests that involve the Air Force's Collaborative Combat Aircraft effort and other programs.

On June 28, Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord submitted a pair of omnibus reprogramming requests to Congress to shift funds appropriated in fiscal years 2024 and 2023 to higher-priority programs in FY-23. Inside Defense obtained a copy of the documents. Here's our coverage so far:

DOD seeks additional funding for CCA -- suffering nearly 40% cost growth -- SM-6, and more

The Pentagon is seeking congressional permission to shift $3.3 billion among budget accounts to launch a handful of new-start projects, including additional funding needed for the Air Force's Collaborative Combat Aircraft program, Army accounts to buy ship-sinking missiles needed for its Mid-Range Capability program and a new Mobile-Long Range Precision Strike Missile.

AF delays procurement of Homeland Defense Over-the-Horizon Radar to 'future' budget

The Defense Department has scrapped plans to launch the Homeland Defense Over the Horizon Radar program this fiscal year, postponing the projected start to at least fiscal year 2026, delaying plans to improve long-range sensor coverage of the United States and Canada from aircraft, cruise missiles, maneuvering hypersonic weapons and ships.

Further coverage of the Government Accountability Office's annual weapon systems report:

Navy's AARGM-ER missile faces schedule delays after testing problems emerge

The Navy's Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range program will not achieve initial operational capability in July as previously expected due to undisclosed challenges that occurred during system testing, according to a program official.

Document: GAO's annual weapon system assessment report

The Marine Corps' top general spoke this week at a Brookings Institution event:

Smith: Classified MQ-9 cloaking pods bring enhanced capability to Marine Corps MLRs

A cloaking pod equipped on the Marine Corps' MQ-9 Reaper drones, making them "mostly undetectable" to enemy radar, is enhancing the surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the service's new Marine Littoral Regiments, according to Commandant Gen. Eric Smith.

The Defense Innovation Unit's Opportunistic Resilient and Innovative Expeditionary Network Topology effort is looking for unmanned and autonomous platforms that can guarantee the Navy’s Pacific Fleet’s unmanned vehicle connectivity remains unaffected and maintains the "freedom of navigation and access to waterways":

DIU seeks unmanned solutions to solve swarming network challenges at sea

The Defense Innovation Unit has released solicitations seeking industry technology that can connect hundreds -- or even thousands -- of autonomous weapon systems across great distances at sea.

By Shelley K. Mesch
July 3, 2024 at 11:51 AM

The Defense Department will spend $10 billion over the next few years to modernize tactical aircraft based across Japan, DOD announced today.

The Air Force plans to replace 48 F-15C/D fighters with 36 F-15EXs at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa and replace 35 F-16s with 48 F-35As at Misawa Air Base on the northern coast of Honshu.

The joint force will continue to rotate fouth- and fifth-generation fighters at Kadena throughout the transition to F-15EXs.

The Marine Corps will “modify the number” of F-35B fighters at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni on the southwestern coast of Honshu, DOD stated.

The goals of the modernization is to “enhance the U.S.-Japan Alliance, bolster regional deterrence and strengthen peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” according to DOD.

The modernization at air bases in Japan comes after the Air Force announced its “Reoptimization for Great Power Competition,” which shifts the focus of service programs to the Indo-Pacific.

By Dan Schere
July 3, 2024 at 10:27 AM

The Army awarded Lockheed Martin a $227 million contract for the Army Tactical Missile System guided missile and launching assembly, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

The contract is for foreign military sales to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco and Poland.

The contract has an estimated completion date of Dec. 30, 2028, according to the contract notice.

The United States, in April, secretly sent long-range ATACMS to Ukraine.

By Tony Bertuca
July 2, 2024 at 3:42 PM

The Pentagon's Office of Defense Pricing and Contracting (DPC) will now be known as the Office of Defense Pricing, Contracting and Acquisition Policy (DPCAP), according to a new departmental memo.

“This new name reflects an expanded organizational portfolio to include both acquisition and contracting responsibilities, and synergies to be realized across these functions,” according to the July 2 memo from John Tenaglia, chief of DPCAP.

The office is also adding a fifth directorate -- acquisition policy and innovation, which will join the four existing directorates for contract policy, contracting e-business, defense acquisition regulations systems and price, cost and finance.

The API directorate, according to the memo, will manage the Defense Department’s adaptive acquisition framework policies, acquisition data analytics, the intellectual property cadre, the Acquisition Innovation Research Center and the Defense Civilian Training Corps.

By John Liang
July 2, 2024 at 1:40 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army's Mid-Range Capability weapon system, Air Force refueling tankers and more.

The Army plans to deliver three Mid-Range Capability batteries by fiscal year 2026 under the current rapid prototyping effort:

GAO: Mid-Range Capability has yet to establish a 'sound business case'

The Army's new Mid-Range Capability (MRC) weapon system, a new middle tier acquisition rapid prototyping effort, has yet to establish a "sound business case," according to the Government Accountability Office's Weapon Systems Annual Assessment.

Document: GAO's annual weapon system assessment report

Air Force officials have long said delivering more air refuelers during the gap period between the end of production for current KC-46A Pegasus’ in 2028 and the planned delivery of the Next Generation Air Refueling System in the late 2030s is necessary to maintain air dominance in a potential fight in the Indo-Pacific:

Air Force still quiet on follow-on tanker recapitalization before NGAS

The Air Force is not ready to discuss its plans to replace retiring KC-135 Stratotankers, despite previously stating information that the effort would be released in June.

In June, the Army and Navy apparently resolved engineering problems that for two years bedeviled efforts to rapidly field the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon by launching -- from a stand -- a two-stage missile from Hawaii across the Pacific Ocean more than 2,000 miles to a test range in the Marshall Islands:

Long-range hypersonic weapon 'perfect' in key flight test of missile over Pacific

The U.S. military conducted a successful test flight of a hypersonic missile -- a significant milestone in the Defense Department's 16-year project to develop a conventionally armed, ultra-fast glide body designed for precision strike -- giving Pentagon leaders renewed confidence in a new weapon system slated for fielding in 2025 by the Army and Navy.

The Navy has said arming P-8 Poseidon aircraft with Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles is crucial to protecting ships from evolving threats in a potential future fight in the Indo-Pacific:

Tests to fit LRASM on P-8 aircraft to conclude this summer

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- The Navy's P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will soon be outfitted to carry up to four Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles under its wings, with integration testing poised to wrap up later this summer.

The Pentagon is inching closer to formally launching the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

Final rule to implement CMMC program heads into OMB interagency review process

The Defense Department has submitted the first final rule to implement its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program to the White House Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, marking a significant milestone in getting the necessary regulatory steps in order to officially launch the Pentagon initiative.

By Tony Bertuca
July 2, 2024 at 1:04 PM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin today announced a new $2.3 billion military aid package for Ukraine that includes additional artillery, air defense interceptors and an "accelerated" delivery timeline by the "re-sequencing" of some weapon sales to other U.S. allies.

“Ukraine is not alone, and the United States will never waver in our support,” he said during a meeting at the Pentagon with Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov.

Austin said the new $2.3 billion package, which is being provided under presidential drawdown authority, will include “more air defense inceptors, anti-tank weapons and other critical munitions from U.S. inventories.”

The Pentagon, meanwhile, has not yet announced what will be specifically provided by the $2.3 billion aid package.

Additionally, Austin said the United States has worked with other U.S. allies to redirect foreign military sales so aid can be rushed to Ukraine.

The White House announced the “re-sequencing” of FMS in June.

The aid announcements come a week before a NATO summit in Washington where, Austin said, the United States and its allies will “take steps to build a bridge to NATO membership for Ukraine.”

Umerov thanked Austin and the United States for its support.

“With that support, we have stopped Russia, stopped the aggression towards our people, towards our values, national interests,” he said. “And we look forward to discussing with you how we could continue our partnership and be, in the future, a member of NATO. Hopefully soon, Ukraine will receive its invitation. But at the moment, we will discuss the issues, how to increase our capabilities and plans.”

By John Liang
July 1, 2024 at 1:30 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on P-8 Poseidon aircraft being armed with Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles, the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program and more.

The Navy has said enabling P-8 Poseidon aircraft with Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles is crucial to protecting ships from evolving threats in a potential future fight in the Indo-Pacific:

Tests to fit LRASM on P-8 aircraft to conclude this summer

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- The Navy's P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will soon be outfitted to carry up to four Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles under its wings, with integration testing poised to wrap up later this summer.

The Pentagon is inching closer to formally launching the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

Final rule to implement CMMC program heads into OMB interagency review process

The Defense Department has submitted the first final rule to implement its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program to the White House Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, marking a significant milestone in getting the necessary regulatory steps to officially launch the Pentagon initiative.

On June 28, the Army’s program executive office for missiles and space announced a contract with Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, a deal that exercises authorization from Congress for a block buy using funds between fiscal years 2024 and 2026:

Army awards Lockheed $2.2B of potential $4.5B PAC-3 MSE purchase of 870 interceptors

The Army today announced it awarded Lockheed Martin a potential $4.5 billion contract for the latest-generation, hit-to-kill Patriot interceptors -- establishing options to buy 25% more Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Enhancement Segment interceptors under a three-year, multiyear procurement package than previously disclosed.

The Army is testing some new helicopter engines:

Army accepts two T901 engines for testing on Black Hawks

The Army has accepted two T901 engines that will be integrated and tested under the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP), manufacturer GE Aerospace announced Thursday. The two engines will be flight tested on the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

An upcoming meeting of national armaments directors in the Indo-Pacific will be focused on four lines of effort: innovation, production, sustainment and supply chains:

DOD to host Indo-Pacific armaments forum to strengthen industrial partnerships

The Defense Department intends to host a meeting of national armaments directors in the Indo-Pacific in September, following a similar format of meetings held with European allies to promote the co-production of weapon systems and the bolstering of critical supply chains, according to a senior Pentagon official.

By Dan Schere
July 1, 2024 at 12:10 PM

The Army has awarded Mastodon Design LLC a contract worth nearly $100 million for the procurement, training and fielding of the Terrestrial Layer System-Brigade Combat Team Manpack system, the service announced today.

The TLS-BCT Manpack system is a “tailorable, modular, terrestrial capability” that gives brigade combat team commanders an electronic warfare capability for multidomain operations. The system is capable of radio frequency surveying, signals collection, “direction-finding operations,” and electromagnetic attack and force protection, among other attributes.

The TLS-BCT can integrate “signals intelligence and electromagnetic warfare collection, processing, exploitation, reporting and effects capabilities,” according to the Army.

The Army received approval to transition the TLS-BCT Manpack program into a Middle Tier of Acquisition rapid fielding effort following successful prototyping and operational demonstration during soldier touchpoints, the service stated in a press release Monday. The first unit is expected to be issued sometime this year.

Ken Strayer, the Army’s project manager for Electronic Warfare and Cyber, said in a statement that testing and rapidly procuring a commercial off-the-shelf product “significantly accelerated the procurement timeline and will result in early capability to the field starting this year.”

The contract has an estimated completion date of June 27, 2029 according to a June 28 Pentagon notice.

By Shelley K. Mesch
July 1, 2024 at 11:18 AM

Boeing has agreed to buy Spirit AeroSystems for an all-stock transaction valued at $4.7 billion, the company announced today, which will include taking on Spirit's Defense Department-related work.

The acquisition -- which is valued at about $8.3 billion when taking Spirit’s debt into consideration -- reunites the companies as Spirit was formed after Boeing sold off its Wichita, KS manufacturing business in 2005.

"We believe this deal is in the best interest of the flying public, our airline customers, the employees of Spirit and Boeing, our shareholders and the country more broadly," Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun said. "By reintegrating Spirit, we can fully align our commercial production systems, including our Safety and Quality Management Systems, and our workforce to the same priorities, incentives and outcomes -- centered on safety and quality."

Airbus will also acquire the parts of Spirit that had ongoing contracts with Airbus, Boeing stated. That sale will happen concurrently with Boeing’s acquisition and is expected to close midway through 2025.

Boeing and Spirit are proposing to sell other sections of the business, including operations in Belfast, Northern Ireland; Prestwick, Scotland; and Subang Malaysia.

Boeing’s commercial business has had a rocky year amid mishaps with its 737s, including a midair door plug blowout that grounded an Alaska Airlines flight early on Jan. 5.

Spirit makes the fuselages for the 737s and shouldered much of the blame for the commercial problems.

Spirit also builds parts of the Boeing-made KC-46A Pegasus tanker, Sikorsky-made CH-53K King Stallion and Northrop Grumman-made B-21 Raider bomber.

By Tony Bertuca
July 1, 2024 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are slated to speak in public this holiday week.

Tuesday

The Association of the United States Army hosts a discussion on Army cyber capabilities and information access.

The Brookings Institute hosts a discussion with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith.

Thursday

Independence Day.

By John Liang
June 28, 2024 at 2:18 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an upcoming meeting of national armaments directors in the Indo-Pacific, plus the Pentagon's Replicator program and more.

An upcoming meeting of national armaments directors in the Indo-Pacific will be focused on four lines of effort: innovation, production, sustainment and supply chains:

DOD to host Indo-Pacific armaments forum to strengthen industrial partnerships

The Defense Department intends to host a meeting of national armaments directors in the Indo-Pacific in September, following a similar format of meetings held with European allies to promote the co-production of weapon systems and the bolstering of critical supply chains, according to a senior Pentagon official.

Former Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work spoke this week on a panel hosted by the Center for a New American Security:

Former deputy defense secretary talks Replicator concerns, outlines how it could be used in Taiwan

It's been about a month since the Defense Department announced it has begun fielding autonomous Replicator drones to troops and Bob Work, a former deputy defense secretary, is voicing praise and concern for the fledgling program, especially regarding funding and its potential impact on operations in the Taiwan Strait.

On June 25, the Defense Department inspector general's office and Army officials executed searches in Florida as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, according to representatives from both organizations:

DOD investigators conduct raids in Florida; Army simulation supplier apparent target

Army criminal investigators -- supported by other law enforcement agencies -- raided offices of at least one defense contractor in Florida this week as part of a “substantial” probe, according to one source, into irregularities that appear to involve a major supplier of simulation and training equipment.

Some defense analysts and members of the Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution Reform Commission say they are hopeful that the group's nearly two years of work has at least paved a path for possible change to a bureaucratic process that has been deemed too slow to modernize the U.S. military for 21st century security challenges:

House appropriators seek few reforms as key budget commission prepares to fold tent

The House Appropriations Committee has advanced a defense spending bill that adopts practically none of the sweeping changes sought by a bipartisan commission tasked with recommending reforms to the Pentagon’s 1960’s-era budgeting process.

Stretched out over the next three months, the M10 Booker combat vehicle will be judged under operational conditions:

M10 Booker operational tests scheduled for next three months at Ft. Liberty

Starting next month, the Army will begin a crucial series of operational tests of a multibillion-dollar program designed to bring a new direct-fire capability to the battlefield in support of infantry units.

By Nickolai Sukharev
June 28, 2024 at 2:14 PM

General Dynamics Land Systems will build additional Booker combat vehicles for the Army in the low-rate initial production phase, the Defense Department announced Thursday.

In a modification to an earlier contract, the Michigan-based company will manufacture the M10 Booker for approximately $322.7 million by an estimated completion date of Oct. 20, 2026, with the work taking place in Sterling Heights, MI; Anniston, AL; and Lima, OH, the announcement reads.

Providing firepower similar to an Abrams main battle tank combined with the mobility of a Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the M10 Booker is designed to provide infantry units with direct-fire capability against entrenchments and hardened targets.

General Dynamics received earlier contracts in June 2023 and January 2024, after winning the initial LRIP contract.

In July, the Army will begin a four-month operational testing phase on 13 of 24 initial production vehicles, which will inform the decision on a full-rate production contract, Inside Defense reported this week.

The remaining 11 will be used for separate tests to assess the vehicle’s survivability, reliability and maintainability as well as production qualification testing that focuses on automotive, lethality, cyber and other capabilities.

According to September 2023 figures from the Government Accountability Office, the M10 Booker program is priced at $7.2 billion, with per-unit costs pegged at $19 million.

The Army plans to procure 504 vehicles by 2035 for the active-duty Army and National Guard.

By Tony Bertuca
June 28, 2024 at 12:15 PM

The House voted 217-198 today to pass the fiscal year 2025 defense appropriations bill amid opposition from Democrats and a veto threat from the White House.

The bill, which garnered the support of only five Democrats and drew opposition from only one Republican, would provide $833 billion for the Defense Department and is aligned with the cap mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

The bill also adds funds to procure additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and would buy only one Virginia-class submarine, two key areas in which it differs from legislation passed by House authorizers.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, released a statement highlighting the bill’s investments in emerging technologies and a pay raise for junior servicemembers.

“I am proud of this year’s defense appropriations bill, which adheres to the fiscal constraints of the Fiscal Responsibility Act while providing a strong military to defend America, our allies and partners,” he said.

But Democrats decried the bill’s inclusion of “poison pill” provisions aimed at abortion services, climate change mitigation efforts, and diversity initiatives.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) released a statement saying she is disappointed “to see the Republican majority continue to use this important legislation as a vehicle to advance extreme MAGA social policies that are not supported by the American people.”

“The Fiscal Year 2025 Defense Appropriations Act is once again loaded with offensive and unnecessary provisions that divide Americans and weaken our national security,” she continued. “Like last year, Republicans have made a bad bill worse on the floor of the House of Representatives, and I am deeply concerned about the negative impacts on recruitment and retention efforts across the military if this bill were to be enacted as written.”

Meanwhile, the bill is likely dead-on-arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate and where bipartisan support has emerged to explore increasing defense spending beyond the FRA cap.