The Insider

By Tony Bertuca
May 3, 2023 at 11:15 AM

(Editor's note: This story has been updated with detailed schedule information.)

The House Armed Services Committee will convene to mark up its annual defense authorization bill May 23, with subcommittees meeting May 11 and 12.

During the marathon mark-up session, lawmakers are expected to debate, among many other things, a topline budget increase to President Biden’s fiscal year 2024 request for national defense that currently stands at $886.4 billion, with $842 billion specifically for the Defense Department.

Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) has said the request, which would be a .08% increase above what Congress enacted for FY-23, is too small to keep pace with China’s ongoing military modernization and deter Russia.

Meanwhile, the defense topline debate will play out amid broader partisan disagreements over spending and raising the federal debt limit to avoid default.

The committee has released a detailed schedule:

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Subcommittee on Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation

at 9:00am ET

(Rayburn – 2118 – Open)

Subcommittee on Strategic Forces

10:00am ET

(Rayburn – 2212 – Open)

Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces

at 11:00am ET

(Rayburn – 2118 – Open)

Subcommittee on Military Personnel

at 12:00pm ET

(Rayburn – 2212 – Open)

Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces

at 1:00pm ET

(Rayburn – 2118 – Open)

Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations

at 3:00pm ET

(Rayburn – 2212 – Open)

Friday, May 12

Subcommittee on Readiness

at 8:30am ET

(Rayburn – 2118 – Open)

Tuesday, May 23

Full Committee Markup

at 10:00am ET

(Rayburn – 2118 – Open)

By John Liang
May 2, 2023 at 2:29 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on mine countermeasures, cybersecurity, Army rotorcraft and more.

Littoral Combat Ships are one step closer to being able to deploy with mine warfare gear onboard:

Navy declares IOC for LCS mine countermeasures mission package

The Littoral Combat Ship mine countermeasures mission package has achieved initial operational capability, clearing the way for the Navy to field the new suite of unmanned MCM capabilities designed to keep sailors out of harm's way.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have the latest on the Pentagon's cybersecurity efforts:

Pentagon proposes expansion of voluntary cyber info-sharing program for defense industrial base

The Defense Department has issued a proposed rule to expand its Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity information-sharing program to include more contractors who hold sensitive data for the services and DOD agencies, in response to an increased interest in wider community participation.

More coverage from last week's Quad-A conference:

Army, industry envisioning future of legacy aircraft

NASHVILLE, TN -- Army and industry leaders continue to express a commitment to continuing the service's enduring aircraft fleets such as Black Hawks, Apaches and Chinooks for several more decades.

Northrop Grumman announced this week that the Integrated Air and Missile Defense program had achieved initial operational capability:

Army declares 'game-changing' IBCS operational, major milestone seven years late

The Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense program has passed muster with the Army's top air defender and head of Forces Command, clearing the way for the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) -- which began in 2009 and fought termination after major developmental failures -- to begin operational fielding.

Iris Ferguson, deputy assistant under secretary of defense for arctic and global resilience, told Inside Defense this week that "given its strategic location, the Arctic is a potential avenue for expanded great power competition and aggression":

U.S. concerned China will partner with Russia to push Arctic goals

Protecting U.S. navigational rights and freedoms in Arctic waterways is key to keeping the Arctic region stable and secure, as thawing ice opens sea lanes and yields growing geopolitical competition for access to minerals critical to defense systems and other smart technologies, according to a Pentagon official.

By Tony Bertuca
May 2, 2023 at 2:24 PM

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the Defense Department would face severe consequences if Congress and the White House remain stalemated and allow the federal government to default on the nation's debt.

“The short answer to your question is it would be devastating,” Kendall told Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today.

“I think most people would predict a severe recession at least,” he said. “Going forward, one of the biggest parts of the federal budget is the interest on the debt. If those interest rates go up -- which is what happens to you when you default, if you can borrow money at all -- then that expense becomes much greater. The interest on the debt is already roughly at the level of the defense budget.”

Kendall also said news of U.S. default would likely be welcome news among military planners in Beijing.

“Obviously, anything that damages us would be a benefit to China,” he said. “For any creditor to default on their debt causes a number of reactions. It's more expensive for you to get money. Your creditors aren't as willing to lend money. All the economists I've seen suggest it will be an absolutely devastating impact.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has sent a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) warning that the United States could be unable to pay its debts “as early as June 1” if Congress does not agree to increase the federal government’s borrowing limit, urging lawmakers to “act as soon as possible.”

But the clock is ticking, especially in the House, which has 12 legislative days left in May and is in recess this week.

McCarthy said last month at the New York Stock Exchange that defaulting on the debt is “not an option” but will not support any effort to increase the debt limit until congressional Democrats and the White House agree to significant spending cuts.

President Biden and senior Democrats in Congress, however, have rejected the spending cuts, which would lock discretionary spending at levels not seen since fiscal year 2022. Biden has invited McCarthy and other congressional leaders to the White House for a May 9 meeting on the debt limit.

By Tony Bertuca
May 2, 2023 at 2:02 PM

The Defense Department is sending 1,500 active-duty troops for a 90-day mission to help assist the Department of Homeland Security at the southwestern border, according to the Pentagon's chief spokesman.

Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement that DOD would deploy the troops at the request of DHS to “supplement” U.S. Customs and Border Protection efforts.

“For 90 days, these 1,500 military personnel will fill critical capability gaps, such as ground-based detection and monitoring, data entry and warehouse support, until CBP can address these needs through contracted support,” Ryder said.

Military personnel “will not directly participate in law enforcement activities,” he said.

“This deployment to the border is consistent with other forms of military support to DHS over many years,” according to Ryder.

There are already 2,500 National Guard troops already assisting DHS at the border and the past three presidential administrations have sent U.S. troops there. But the latest deployment comes in advance of the May 11 expiration of a law permitting the United States to deny asylum and immigration claims on the grounds of public health, which could set off a new migration surge.

Ryder said during a press conference that the deployments will not impact the readiness of the active-duty force, though DOD is assessing other options for eventually replacing them with troops from the reserve or Guard forces.

By Tony Bertuca
May 2, 2023 at 1:35 PM

The Defense Department is reviewing its in-person and telework policies following the roll back of COVID-19 federal emergency requirements, according to a new DOD-wide memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

“Department leaders are reviewing the new [Office of Management and Budget] guidance to determine how it will affect the department and its posture related to in-person and telework,” Hicks said. “Over the next 60 days we will also review and update (as required) the department' s Work Environment Plan. This review will be data-driven and informed by the wealth of experience the department gained with work environment flexibilities required by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Hicks says DOD’s approach will be “grounded in continuing efforts to understand and embrace the future of work to ensure our department is a leading employer in its endeavor to maximize both performance and employee satisfaction.”

The review will be led by the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness in coordination with the chief improvement office.

Hicks notes DOD’s workforce “has demonstrated both extraordinary commitment and incredible flexibility” over the past three years, with most employees returning to in-person work and complying with the department’s current telework policy, which predates the pandemic.

“The department, given its national security mission, kept its offices open during the pandemic,” she said. “The department, and our workforce, embraced new work environments -- ones that took us out of a physical office when appropriate,” she said. “Many members of our Total Force continued, or quickly returned to, their in-person work to ensure mission success.”

DOD last month announced that, in accordance with President Biden's termination of the national emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic, the department would be ending several contracting and acquisition policies aimed at mitigating damage to the U.S. defense industrial base, including increased progress payment rates for large contractors.

By Shelley K. Mesch
May 2, 2023 at 9:22 AM

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems will build four MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones for Taiwan under a foreign military sales contract worth up to $217.6 million, according to a Defense Department contract notice posted Monday.

To procure the four uncrewed aircraft as well as two Certifiable Ground Control Stations, spares and support equipment, $107 million was obligated at the time of the award, according to the notice.

Work on the systems, which will be done in California, is expected to be completed in early May 2025, the post states.

By Apurva Minchekar
May 1, 2023 at 5:11 PM

The Space Force and other agencies will host an industry day in Colorado Springs, CO on its proposed National Space Test and Training Complex idea from June 22 to June 23, according to a recent notice posted by the Air Force.

The industry day aims to share information on the NSTTC system concept, acquisition strategy and projected timelines.

According to the notice, the NSTTC is an effort led by Space Training and Readiness Command in partnership with Space Systems Command and the Space Force Office of Test and Evaluation, that comprises an electromagnetic spectrum range, cyber range, orbital range and digital complex.

The NSTTC also supports the development of new joint multidomain operating concepts and integrates joint mission partners.

“For the services, STARCOM will train Guardians on the NSTTC to effectively execute their missions in support of named operations and tasked numbered Operations Plans, deliberately developing Guardians for their primary roles of in-domain space warfighters and joint combat enablers,” the Space Force said when it unveiled its plan for the training range in a vision document late last year.

In addition, it will also provide space forces with realistic, threat-informed test and training environments to enhance their ability to analyze and respond to current and future threats within a joint warfighting context, according to the document.

NSTTC's vision is to provide space warfighters interconnected, scalable, and distributed physical and digital ranges for full spectrum test and training, which will help to develop, validate and sharpen joint warfighting solutions in conflict, states the vision document. It focuses on four areas: Service Capability, Joint Applicability, Integrated Test and Threat Replication.

By John Liang
May 1, 2023 at 1:53 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a Defense Science Board task force, the Navy's fiscal year 2024 budget request and more.

Pentagon research and engineering chief Heidi Shyu wants a Defense Science Board task force to identify critical materials unavailable in the United States that are required for weapon systems manufacturing and recommend any needed additions to the Defense Logistics Agency:

DOD 'refocuses' industrial base task force on supply chain security

The Pentagon's technology chief is directing a special task force to "refocus" its efforts on improving the resilience of the U.S. defense industrial base, specifically for supply chain security and manufacturing issues that have already garnered the attention of senior defense officials amid ongoing efforts to supply Ukraine with weapons to defend itself against Russia.

Document: DSB 'refocused' terms of reference memo for DIB task force

The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing late last week on the Navy's fiscal year 2024 budget request:

Gilday: Closer U.S. and Australian integration key to AUKUS success

A close partnership between the United States and Australian navies and industry will be key to the success of AUKUS, according to the U.S. Navy's highest-ranking officer, who emphasized the importance of Australian personnel having adequate access to U.S. facilities and information.

Gilday offers 'best military advice' for long-term shipbuilding

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday told lawmakers Friday that he supports a 30-year shipbuilding plan that calls for the service to increase to 356 crewed ships by fiscal year 2042 and to 367 crewed ships by FY-53.

Smith: House spending cap bill could threaten DOD funding

The recently passed House bill proposing steep cuts to discretionary federal spending could result in reduced funding for the Pentagon, according to House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), who said the bill could put Navy leadership in an "impossible position."

The Pentagon has awarded contracts to General Electric, Carbon-Carbon Advanced Technologies and Northrop Grumman for hypersonic missile components:

DOD makes targeted investments to grow U.S. hypersonics industrial base

The Defense Department has made three awards to companies intended to strengthen the supply chain for hypersonic missiles.

Executives from L3Harris Technologies spoke about their company's latest earnings last week:

L3Harris confident it can close Aerojet Rocketdyne acquisition this year

L3Harris Technologies executives are confident that the company's $4.7 billion acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne will go through this year despite a delay last month, CEO Chris Kubasik said Friday.

The annual Quad-A conference took place last week:

Army leaders expect milestone B for FLRAA in third quarter of FY-24

NASHVILLE, TN -- Army leaders said this week they expect the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft to enter milestone B in the third quarter of fiscal year 2024.

Read our full Quad-A coverage.

By Shelley K. Mesch
May 1, 2023 at 12:12 PM

The Air Force is beginning research into its Next Generation Reentry Vehicle for the LGM-35A Sentinel nuclear missile, according to a request for information posted last week.

The Air Force wants industry information on future advanced reentry vehicles and countermeasure concepts, according to the post. Responses will inform the government on contractor capabilities and interest from the industrial base, it states.

In its fiscal year 2024 budget request, the service is seeking $15.5 million to begin early acquisition activities for the NGRV to integrate with current and future warheads.

With the funding, the service would expect a materiel development decision in FY-24 and milestone A in FY-26, the justification documents released with the budget request state.

By Dan Schere
May 1, 2023 at 11:35 AM

The Army has awarded Lockheed Martin a $615 million contract to produce launchers and equipment associated with the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), the Pentagon announced in an April 28 notice.

According to the announcement, more than $207 million in Recovery Act funds were obligated at the time of the award, and the contract has an estimated completion date of May 30, 2026.

The additional HIMARS production is meant to expand the Army’s fleet of launchers and fulfill orders from other nations, according to Lockheed Martin.

Jay Price, the company’s vice president of precision fires, said in a statement that they are working with the Army and suppliers to ramp up production capacity.

“We’ve taken steps to shorten manufacturing lead time and we’re on track to meet increased capacity,” he said in the statement.

Lockheed’s announcement comes one day after the Army awarded the company a $4.7 billion contract modification for additional Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. Both HIMARS and GMLRS are among the weapon systems that the United States has continued to send to Ukraine during the Russian invasion, as the Defense Department attempts to increase investment in weapons to replenish U.S. stocks.

By Tony Bertuca
May 1, 2023 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill this week for several key posture hearings.


The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on "rebuilding" U.S. naval dominance.


The AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference takes place in Baltimore, MD and runs through Thursday.

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on the Air Force budget.

The Senate Armed Services readiness and management support subcommittee holds a hearing on the readiness of the joint force.

The Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee holds a hearing on the military space budget.

The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee holds a hearing on the Army budget.


The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee holds a hearing on nuclear security.


The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on worldwide threats.

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion with the chief of Air Force Global Strike Command.

By John Liang
April 28, 2023 at 6:49 PM

Army Chief of Staff James McConville has ordered a 24-hour aviation stand down in the wake of two helicopter collision incidents that killed 12 soldiers.

All Army helicopter pilots are to be grounded, "except those participating in critical missions, until they complete the required training," according to a service statement, which further reads:

"The safety of our aviators is our top priority, and this stand down is an important step to make certain we are doing everything possible to prevent accidents and protect our personnel,” said McConville, who, in addition to being Chief of Staff, is a senior Army aviator qualified in numerous aircraft. “During this stand down, we will focus on safety and training protocols to ensure our pilots and crews have the knowledge, training and awareness to safely complete their assigned mission.”

The order comes after yesterday’s mid-air collision of two AH-64 Apache helicopters returning from a training mission near Fort Wainwright, Alaska. Three soldiers were killed, and another was hospitalized. A month earlier, nine Soldiers were killed during a routine night training flight near Fort Campbell, Kentucky, when their HH-60 Blackhawks collided. While both incidents remain under investigation, there is no indication of any pattern between the two mishaps.

“We are deeply saddened by those we have lost,” McConville said. “It is their loss that makes it all the more important we review our safety procedures and training protocols, and ensure we are training and operating at the highest levels of safety and proficiency.”

During the stand down, the Army will review the risk approval/risk management process, aviation maintenance training program, aircrew training standardization and management, and supervisory responsibility. They will also assess the flight-mission briefing process with an emphasis on risk mitigation, crew selection, flight planning, crew/flight briefings, debriefings and after-action reviews.

Active-duty units are required to complete the 24-hour stand down between May 1st and 5th, while the Army National Guard and Reserve will have until May 31 to coincide with their respective training schedules. Army aviation units will resume normal operations following the stand down, after any corrective actions are taken on issues identified in safety or training.

By John Liang
April 28, 2023 at 2:37 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage from this year's Quad-A conference in Nashville, plus news on defense contractor earnings and more.

We start off with coverage from this year's Quad-A conference in Nashville:

Army leaders expect milestone B for FLRAA in third quarter of FY-24

NASHVILLE, TN -- Army leaders said this week they expect the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft to enter milestone B in the third quarter of fiscal year 2024.

McConville: Getting FLRAA and FARA 'over the hump' must be the priority

NASHVILLE, TN -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said the service's priority for future vertical lift must be getting the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft "over the hump," meaning quickly fielded and transitioned to being programs of record.

McConville: Army must maintain enduring aircraft while seeking future vertical lift

NASHVILLE, TN -- The Army must continue to improve its enduring aircraft fleets and simultaneously move ahead on future vertical lift priorities, Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told an audience at the Army Aviation Association of America's annual conference Thursday.

Check out our full Quad-A coverage.

On April 21, Bill LaPlante, the Pentagon’s acquisition executive, approved a recommendation to transition the Glide Phase Interceptor program from the Material Solutions Analysis phase into Technology Development, the equivalent of a milestone A review:

DOD leaders, top brass advance hypersonic defense system through major acquisition review

Defense Department leaders last week approved the Glide Phase Interceptor program to proceed into technology development, signaling support for the Missile Defense Agency's proposed acquisition strategy and plan to mature technologies essential to producing a guided missile designed to hunt down and destroy enemy hypersonic glide vehicles.

Boeing and Northrop Grumman executives discussed their quarterly earnings this week:

Boeing suffers $245M loss from KC-46A in Q1

Boeing experienced a loss of $245 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2023 due to added costs on the Air Force's KC-46A tanker program, the company disclosed in an earnings call Wednesday.

Northrop Grumman sees benefits in FY-24 budget request, executives say

Funding increases requested in the Defense Department's fiscal year 2024 budget reflect good opportunities for revenue growth for some of Northrop Grumman's key programs, executives said during the company's first-quarter earnings call Thursday morning.

Lockheed Martin has nabbed a multibillion-dollar Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System contract:

Lockheed awarded $4.7B GMLRS contract as DOD eyes munitions replenishments

The Army has awarded Lockheed Martin a $4.7 billion contract modification to produce additional Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, a weapon that has proved critical in ongoing U.S. support to Ukraine.

By Dan Schere
April 27, 2023 at 5:08 PM

NASHVILLE, TN -- The Army will release its updated doctrine on aviation this fall, service officials told reporters Thursday at the Army Aviation Association of America's annual conference here.

In October, the Army released Field Manual 3-0, which is its new combat operations capstone doctrine. The field manual emphasizes the importance of multidomain operations and using data in how soldiers fight. The release of FM 3-0 was delayed in order for the Army to send analysts to Ukraine to study ground combat there in its war with Russia.

Maj. Gen. Michael McCurry, the commanding general of the Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Ft. Novosel, AL, told reporters Thursday that the aviation doctrine is a companion document to FM 3-0 for the specific warfighting capability of aviation. The document will be released this fall, he said.

“I think you can expect us to talk a little bit about how we influence land and maritime from the lower tier of the air domain, and how we do that as we transition different capabilities from what we’ve had in the past to the future,” he said.

The last update to the Army aviation doctrine was in April 2020.

By John Liang
April 27, 2023 at 2:22 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on defense contractor earnings, the ethics of defense contractors hiring former military personnel and more.

It's earnings season, so let's start off with several defense contractors:

GD execs: Columbia is on schedule while Virginia supply chain challenges remain

The lead Columbia-class submarine is approximately one-third complete and remains ahead of its official 84-month delivery schedule, while supply chain challenges continue to delay Virginia construction, according to General Dynamics executives.

Textron executives anticipate revenue growth following FLRAA protest resolution

Textron executives reported a slow first quarter for Bell, the company's helicopter-building subsidiary, but expect to see revenue growth for the remainder of the year as the company resumes work on the Army's Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft.

Oshkosh highlights JLTV protest, looks to upcoming combat vehicle contests

Oshkosh, amid the ongoing protest over its loss of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle contract, reported sales growth in a quarterly earnings call today that exceeded Wall Street expectations and asserted the Army is taking "significant risk" with its JLTV award to AM General.

At least one senator is concerned about a "too-cozy relationship" between the Defense Department and an increasingly powerful group of defense contractors:

Warren again targets post-service employment of ex-DOD officials

Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee Chairwoman Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is again pushing legislation that would restrict the employment of former defense officials, citing ethical concerns about the "ugly underbelly" she says exists between the Pentagon and defense contractors.

Document: DOD's ethics testimony

Don Yeske, the Navy’s acting chief technology officer, spoke this week about his service's zero-trust strategy:

Navy CTO emphasizes data-centric security approach

Applying zero trust across the information environment -- from ships and bases to mobile devices and national security systems -- is critical to safeguarding data, according to the Navy's chief technology officer.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote, deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements, spoke about unmanned systems at a congressional hearing this week:

Air Force sets requirements for first of its uncrewed CCAs

Air Combat Command has set the requirements for the first of its Collaborative Combat Aircraft, the uncrewed platform being designed to autonomously operate and partner with existing and future platforms, a top service official said Wednesday.

The Pentagon's top weapons tester found that the Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle's command and control variant was operationally effective as a stationary command post but struggled to meet mission requirements while moving:

Marine Corps upgrading ACV-C to improve command and control capabilities

The Marine Corps is implementing engineering upgrades for one of its Amphibious Combat Vehicle variants to improve command and control capabilities following an assessment from the Pentagon's chief weapons tester.

Last but by no means least, our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have been covering the RAS Conference out in San Francisco this week:

Contracting attorney Metzger: Concerns over small business burden could delay release of CMMC rulemaking

SAN FRANCISCO -- Contracting attorney Robert Metzger offered two potential reasons behind why the Pentagon's process to issue a rulemaking implementing its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is delayed, following a panel discussion at an industry event here at the RSA conference.