The Insider

By Nickolai Sukharev
October 20, 2023 at 4:01 PM

The Army is requesting prototypes for electric reconnaissance vehicles, according to a public announcement, announced Thursday.

Announced as a request for prototype proposals, the service is seeking versions of the electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (eLRV) before awarding a production contract, the announcement reads.

“This is a prototype project because contractors will develop physical models of an eLRV to evaluate the technical feasibility and military utility of electrification of Army vehicles,” the announcement states. “Army Futures Command (AFC) has identified the need to incorporate a scalable and adaptable capability that reduces reliance on fossil fuels.”

Designed to carry six soldiers, the eLRV is designed to transport scout squads and their equipment to conduct mounted and dismounted reconnaissance missions while operating alongside other combat vehicles in multi-domain operations, according to the announcement.

Part of the Army’s effort to modernize combat vehicles, the announcement stipulates the eLRV to have extended range, increased speed, silent watch, silent mobility, low acoustic and thermal signature capabilities.

According to fiscal year 2024 budget documents, the Army will also invest in technology development to support predictive logistics, vehicle electronics, victory architecture, autonomous operations and other emerging technologies.

The Army is also procuring the Infantry Squad Vehicle, which is designed to motorize infantry combat units.

By Thomas Duffy
October 20, 2023 at 12:05 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest kicks off with House members asking for more information of the Pentagon’s Replicator unmanned program, government and industry prospects for space systems programs, a new strategy for countering weapons of mass destruction, the Pentagon’s new China military report, and more.

Several House members this week said they want more details on DOD’s Replicator program:

House lawmakers want to hear more from Hicks on Replicator following analyst skepticism

House lawmakers said today they want to hear from Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks and the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit, following testimony from defense analysts and industry experts citing concerns about the department’s new Replicator initiative.

Government and industry are strengthening efforts to produce space systems programs:

SSC introduces renewed partnership between the government and industry partners

U.S. Space Systems Command introduced a “renewed partnership between the government and the industry partners” to deliver resilient capabilities to “win a race” against adversaries, according to a senior official of the command.

The Pentagon has rolled out an updated strategy for defending against weapons of mass destruction:

DOD to implement updated strategy for countering weapons of mass destruction

The Defense Department is working to implement its updated strategy for countering weapons of mass destruction that was publicly released last month, according to a top DOD official yesterday.

The Defense Department is pointing out several differences in its new China military report:

DOD flags new focus areas in annual China Military Power Report

The Defense Department is highlighting several “notable updates” to the annual China Military Power Report released today, including heightened focus on Beijing’s “growing nuclear and strategic capabilities” and the “possible development of conventionally armed intercontinental range missile systems.”

A top space command is bolstering its efforts to compete against China:

Top SSC official says command is prepping big shifts to compete with China in 2026

U.S. Space Systems Command is accelerating its activities to compete with China in 2026, according to a top official, who referred to the year as a “real challenge.”

By Nick Wilson
October 20, 2023 at 11:55 AM

Defense Department and Navy officials will appear before House lawmakers next week to testify on the United States submarine industrial base and its ability to deliver on the AUKUS security partnership, according to a Friday announcement from the House Armed Services Committee.

Scheduled for October 25, the hearing will include testimony from Mara Karlin -- serving as the acting deputy under secretary of defense for policy and the assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities -- as well as Navy Under Secretary Erik Raven.

Witnesses will also include Vice Adm. William Houston, commander of Naval Submarine Forces, and Rear Adm. Jonathan Rucker, the program executive officer for attack submarines.

“The witnesses will provide testimony on the capabilities of the submarine industrial base to meet the strategic objectives of the AUKUS partnership,” the notice states.

The White House today announced it is requesting $3.4 billion in emergency supplemental spending for the submarine industrial base.

While the United States has committed to transferring at least three Virginia-class submarines to Australia starting in the early 2030s, there is concern among lawmakers that industry is not up to the task, as submarine producers continue to come up short of the Navy’s desired rate of Virginia construction.

During a September confirmation hearing, acting Navy Chief of Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti told lawmakers the industrial base is only producing about 1.2 Virginia submarines each year, and needs to reach a rate of 2.2 vessels per year to deliver on AUKUS.

At a prior AUKUS-focused hearing held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lawmakers pressed Karlin for concrete plans to boost domestic submarine production and requested cost estimates on the investment required to do so.

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of six senators lead by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) sent a letter to the White House requesting that an industrial base study on AUKUS implementation, performed by DOD’s cost assessment and program evaluation office, be provided to Congress by the end of the month.

Wicker, the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is blocking key AUKUS authorizations, including provisions to enable the sale of Virginia boats and allow the U.S. to accept $3 billion from Australia for investment in the U.S. industrial base, until the White House submits a supplemental spending package containing industrial base support.

By Shelley K. Mesch
October 19, 2023 at 12:56 PM

The Air Force is seeking proposals to develop and prototype multifunctional, maneuverable sensors to enable battle management command and control, terminal air traffic control and threat responses.

The goal with the Multi-band Multifunctional Tactical Radar System, or MB-MTRS, is to reduce the logistical supports needed for airlift, supply chains and support personnel while also reducing electromagnetic interference that comes from multiple disconnected and independent radar systems, according to the request for proposals posted this week.

“In order to execute the scheme of maneuver inherent with Agile Combat Employment (ACE) while contributing to the theater sensing grid in support of Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), lightweight multifunctional sensors are required,” the post states.

The system will be equipped with several capabilities, according to the post, such as air traffic control surveillance enabling aircraft identification, separation and sequencing; high-accuracy navigational guidance; detection, identification, classification and tracking of hostile aircraft; small unmanned aircraft systems, rocket and artillery surveillance; and weather sensing including reflectivity, radial velocity and spectrum width.

The system design and prototype effort in the RFP will be used to determine the operational utility for single and multi-missions, the extent of the open architecture, timeline for initial and full operational capability and program costs, according to the post.

The effort will be run in phases including initial system design, preliminary system design and prototype demonstration. The phases will be funded at up to $1 million, $5 million and $15 million respectively. The first two phases will each last up to 12 months with the third phase lasting 24 months.

A follow-on production contract for up to 50 MB-MTRSs may be awarded, according to the post.

MB-MTRS must be small enough to transport in “no more than three 463L pallet positions on a C-130J aircraft” with no more than six pallet positions when including the generator sets and all other ancillary equipment. It must be able to be transported by cargo vehicles, aircraft, rail and ship without damage and capable of withstanding world-wide deployment cycles.

Four technicians should be able to set up the system in less than four hours, the post states.

By Thomas Duffy
October 19, 2023 at 12:03 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest starts off with news on potential Army budget cuts, Bell Textron’s offer for a new Army aircraft, the Marine Corps has stood up a new unit, several senators are asking the White House for cost estimates on the AUKUS submarine program, and more.

If the continuing resolution the Defense Department is operating under continues past the first of the year, it may be trouble for Army budgeting:

Army plans to buy Tomahawk, a new combat boat fleet and more stymied by CR

More than a dozen key Army modernization initiatives -- including new ship-killing missiles, a fleet of more than 1,000 small combat craft, a follow-on to the RQ-7 Shadow uncrewed aircraft and more -- are ensnared by legislation blocking service investment plans in fiscal year 2024 under the current stopgap spending measure.

Bell Textron has laid out testing plans for its FARA prototype:

Bell eyes ground, flight tests for FARA prototype

Within the next year, Bell Textron will put its prototype for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft through ground and flight testing, while also refining the design for the aircraft.

The Marine Corps has established a new unit in Hawaii:

Marine Corps declares IOC for Hawaii-based 3rd MLR

The Marine Corps’ Hawaii-based 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment achieved initial operational capability in the final days of fiscal year 2023, making it the first of the service’s new MLRs to reach the milestone, a Marine Corps spokesperson confirmed to Inside Defense.

Several senators want pricing info on the Biden administration’s AUKUS submarine deal:

Senators want Pentagon’s AUKUS submarine cost estimates by Oct. 31

A bipartisan team of senators wants President Biden to share cost estimates for implementing the trilateral AUKUS submarine partnership the United States has entered into with Australia and the United Kingdom, noting that the Pentagon has said it does not intend to release the information until it submits its fiscal year 2025 budget request.

Details are emerging on the Defense Department’s microelectronics projects:

DOD officials detail process for reviewing and funding new microelectronics projects

A senior Pentagon official today laid out the plan by which projects will be selected and funded through the new Microelectronics Commons program.

Army officials recently discussed their plans for the newest ground combat vehicle:

Army hanging hopes for affordable XM-30 on MOSA, industry competition

The key to an affordable price tag for the XM-30 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle -- a replacement for the M-2 Bradley that an early Army estimate pegged at $11 million a copy, three times the cost of a Bradley -- will be government-defined and -owned open software standards, said a senior service official.

By Apurva Minchekar
October 19, 2023 at 11:20 AM

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has approved the Space Force’s plan to implement a commercial augmentation space reserve, according to the top Space Force official.

“It's an example of doing the planning and the expectation management before you actually need the capability,” Gen. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations, said at a Center for a New American Security event.

Saltzman said the strategy identifies the need for commercial augmentation in certain areas, such as “satellite communication bandwidth and commercial imagery.”

“I am OK with what I have now. But when in a time of crisis or in a natural disaster, I may need to increase the scale of imagery that's available,” he said.

He stressed that the CASR model would “pre-work the contract vehicles,” describing how the service can have immediate access to resources when required, so when a crisis occurs the force doesn’t have to start from a contracting action or discussion because they have already done the “legwork.”

Additionally, Space System Commander Gen. Michael Guetlein at the Space Industry Days conference yesterday said the command will be requesting funds for CASR in the 2025 or 2026 budget timeframe.

“Commercially augmented space reserve is about building capacity for times of crisis or conflict during peacetime. How do I build in the business processes, the relationships, the exercises, the funding during peacetime, so that when I need you during times of crisis or conflict, we don't start with an RFP as a point of departure,” Guetlein explained.

“We actually say we've already done this before, this is how much I need and this is where I need it,” he added.

The general also stated that he is expecting CASR to be rolled out by the administration by this fall.

By Nickolai Sukharev
October 18, 2023 at 4:29 PM

With AM General set to produce the next iteration of the Army’s light tactical vehicle, the company recently displayed an example it intends to produce.

The company made “several modifications” to improve the efficiency and durability of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, according to Bob Putnam, the company’s JLTV program director, who spoke with Inside Defense last week at the 2023 Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington.

Taking over production from Oshkosh Defense, AM General's JLTV A2 will include noise reduction features, lithium-ion batteries, a more powerful engine and expanded rear storage space, Putnam said.

Displayed at the conference, the vehicle resembles Oshkosh’s version externally, but Putnam said that AM General worked with the Army to redesign the front grille.

Putnam declined to provide details on the protection characteristics but said the JLTV A2’s armor “will do very well” and the vehicle can also be fitted with additional armor.

The company will also provide a 30-year warranty for anticorrosion on certain vehicle parts and greater efficiency in the engine.

Designed to replace a portion of the humvee fleet, the JLTV serves as the Army’s light tactical vehicle in combat environments.

The JLTV will have variants for general purpose use, utility, a heavy gun carrier and a close combat vehicle armed with anti-tank weapons.

In January, the Army awarded AM General a follow-on contract to produce the JLTV after a competition with Oshkosh. Oshkosh appealed the outcome, but the Government Accountability Office denied the company’s protest.

The Army is slated to procure 2,601 JLTVs, according to service budget documents for fiscal year 2024. The Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force will also procure smaller numbers of JLTVs.

By Shelley K. Mesch
October 18, 2023 at 4:21 PM

The Air Force is looking for ways to ensure recovery teams have secure data-sharing and communications beyond the line of sight in contested environments as the service implements its Agile Combat Employment strategy.

The capability would provide mobile, high-bandwidth connections from remote locations to major operating bases using military and commercial satellites, 4G LTE or 5G systems, secure WiFi and Bluetooth and the Tactical Data Link, according to a request for information released by the service this week.

The communications hubs the service is looking for would automatically -- and with little manual input -- determine the most effective and secure routes to send data. They would also be small, portable and easy to set up and take down.

“Failure to pursue and procure this technology will result in [Personnel Recovery] forces experiencing combat paralyses,” the post states, “making them ineffective in a peer-level fight.”

Personnel Recovery forces are currently reliant on third-party agencies for these kinds of capabilities.

“This causes a lapse in real-time information sharing, friendly force tracking, battlefield situational awareness, receiving and transmitting information through a Common Operating Picture and the ability to connect to Personnel Recovery Coordination Centers, Joint Personnel Recovery Centers, Personnel Recovery Mission Management and Government Cloud services,” the post states.

By Thomas Duffy
October 18, 2023 at 11:58 AM

This midweek INSIDER Daily Digest starts off with news about the Pentagon’s Microelectronics Commons venture, the Defense Department wants expanded power to monitor industry mergers, the Space Force needs a single contractor to build a space cyber defense shield, and Oshkosh plans to remain the Army’s top truck supplier.

A major Pentagon microelectronics effort expects to send out a notice for projects before year’s end:

Microelectronics Commons director says project call expected by end of year

The Pentagon’s Microelectronics Commons director told Inside Defense that a “call for projects” is expected by the end of the year for the regional innovation “hubs” that are the foundation of the initiative.

DOD wants to ramp up scrutiny of industry mergers:

Pentagon moves to expand monitoring of industry mergers

The Pentagon has plans to expand its monitoring of defense contractor mergers and acquisitions with an eye toward potential national security and innovation risks, according to a recent letter sent to the Government Accountability Office.

Single contractor sought to build Space Force cyber defense:

Space Force looking for single contractor to produce space cyber defense system

The Space Force is seeking a single contractor to produce a cyber defense system based on prototypes developed by several vendors, according to a notice posted today.

Oshkosh working to remain Army truck producer:

Oshkosh competing to continue producing tactical trucks for the Army

As the producer of the Army’s current tactical truck fleet, Oshkosh hopes to continue that trend as it aims to build the next iteration of the vehicles.

By Thomas Duffy
October 17, 2023 at 12:41 PM

Today’s INSIDER Defense Digest begins with the deputy defense secretary talking microelectronics, news on an Army helicopter engine, possible looming budget cuts for the Navy, and the Marine Corps stands up a new unit.

Microelectronics contracts was discussed this week by a senior defense department official:

Hicks kicks off Microelectronics Commons meeting with talk of future contracts

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said today that the Pentagon’s new Microelectronics Commons initiative -- and the regional “hubs” it will establish -- will be key for companies seeking to secure contracts for cutting-edge weapon systems.

Honeywell is making changes to one of its Army helicopter engines:

Honeywell repurposing FLRAA prototype engine for Chinook use

Honeywell Aerospace has plans to repurpose part of the engine it had supplied in an unsuccessful bid for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft for future use on the Chinook fleet.

The Navy could be faced with severe budget cuts if Congress doesn’t pass an appropriations bill soon:

Navy braces for 'pain' as budget cuts loom under extended CR

The Navy is preparing for the possibility of budget cuts that will be triggered if Congress is still operating under a continuing resolution at the start of the new calendar year, according to Navy Comptroller Russell Rumbaugh, who said there is little the service can do to soften the blow of the looming cuts.

The Marine Corps has stood up a new unit:

Marine Corps to officially redesignate 12th MLR in November

The Marine Corps will formally redesignate its existing 12th Marine Regiment as the new 12th Marine Littoral Regiment on Nov. 15, marking what the service says is a step forward in its effort to develop a more mobile, lethal and sustainable stand-in force.

By Nick Wilson
October 17, 2023 at 10:48 AM

The Marine Corps will formally redesignate its existing 12th Marine Regiment as the new 12th Marine Littoral Regiment on Nov. 15, marking what the service says is a step forward in its effort to develop a more mobile, lethal and sustainable stand-in force.

“The redesignation will mark the next historic chapter in the Marine Corps’ commitment to designing a force that is prepared to effectively respond to the challenges of the contemporary global security environment and serves as a testament to the regiment's role in the Marine Corps' global employment,” according to Marine Corps announcement released Tuesday.

The Pentagon initially announced plans to redesignate the Okinawa, Japan-based 12th Marine Regiment in January, indicating the new MLR would be established by 2025 and equipped with a variety of new capabilities.

Following redesignation, the 12th MLR will “continue to train and evolve to be ready to fight as part of 3d Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force,” the notice states, adding that the unit is currently participating in exercise Resolute Dragon 23.2 alongside Japan.

“During Resolute Dragon, 12th Marines will distribute in a similar manner to what is designed for the MLR: They will deploy to Japan’s Southwest Islands, Kyushu, and Hokkaido, provide sensing capabilities in a simulated battlespace, and integrate joint force firepower with our Japanese ally’s capabilities,” the release continues.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii-based 3rd MLR -- the first of the new units established by the Marine Corps -- was expected to achieve initial operational capability in the final days of FY-23, a Marine Corps spokesperson told Inside Defense in October. The service has yet to announce the completion of this milestone.

The Marine Corps is also preparing to establish at least one additional MLR. The service is considering multiple locations including Guam for the unit, but has shared few details publicly.

MLRs are an important piece of the Force Design 2030 initiative, which aims to modernize the force and better prepare for conflict in the Indo-Pacific. Each MLR will contain a littoral combat team, anti-air unit and combat logistics battalion.

By John Liang
October 16, 2023 at 2:27 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Missile Defense Agency's Next Generation Interceptor program, the Space Force's wariness over artificial intelligence and more.

We start off with news on the Missile Defense Agency's Next Generation Interceptor program:

Lockheed Martin's NGI proposal cleared to proceed with detailed design

Lockheed Martin's proposed design for a Next Generation Interceptor has passed muster with the Missile Defense Agency, clearing the way for the company to continue to mature critical technologies slated for the massive guided missile in pursuit of a critical design review slated for the summer of 2025.

The Space Force is wary of artificial intelligence:

Space Force temporarily bans use of GenAI over data breach concerns

The Space Force has suspended the use of artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT to protect the data of personnel and the service, according to a Sept. 29 memo.

A new Space Force report to Congress "contains a description of the strategic objectives for organizing, training, and equipping the Space Force":

Space Force projects cuts and linear growth by FY-28

Space Force funding projections show the service is planning for a budget of around $30 billion by fiscal year 2028, just slightly more than the amount it has requested for fiscal year 2024, according to a new “comprehensive strategy” sent to Congress.

Document: Space Force 'comprehensive strategy' report

In case you missed it, here's some of our coverage from last week's AUSA conference:

American Rheinmetall designing interchangeable cannon for XM30

American Rheinmetall's submission for the Army's next infantry fighting vehicle will have an interchangeable cannon, according to the company.

Army moving forward with 'counter UAS as a service' initiative

The Army is in the process of carrying out the Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office's initiative to have the military services purchase counter UAS capability from the private sector -- a concept known as "counter UAS as a service" (CaaS).

(Read our full AUSA 2023 coverage.)

By Apurva Minchekar
October 16, 2023 at 2:19 PM

The Space Force announced Friday it is creating a new "System Delta" model to leverage the Integrated Mission Deltas goals to organize mission area resources under one command.

“These units will directly complement IMDs by developing, acquiring and fielding capability that satisfies operational needs,” Gen. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations, said in the announcement.

“Organizing the Space Force so IMDs in [Space Operations Command] have a clear SYD counterpart in [Space Systems Command] will streamline the feedback and focus the reach-back support between capability development and readiness generation,” he said.

According to the announcement, the new SYDs prototype is to synchronize the advanced technology of “weapon systems in real-time input from operators.”

Recently, Saltzman, at the Air, Space and Cyber Conference, introduced IMD, a two-prototype unit, as part of the Space Force’s third element -- new force generation -- to create new structures and processes.

“There are no perfect organizational structures. The structuring of people to do their jobs will always create seams,” Saltzman said, explaining the new force-generation concept at the conference.

Saltzman added that one IMD prototype will support electromagnetic mission warfare and another prototype is a new organization to support positioning, navigation and timing.

Space Operations Command developed the first provisional IMDs for EW and PNT on Oct. 12 and SYDs will be developed by Space Systems Command in the coming months, the announcement reads.

By Tony Bertuca
October 16, 2023 at 5:00 AM

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


The Stimson Center hosts a discussion with the Navy comptroller.


The National Defense Industrial Association hosts its Systems and Engineering Conference in Norfolk, VA.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion with Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan.


The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on military to civilian transition.

The Brookings Institution hosts a discussion on countering weapons of mass destruction.

The Center for a New American Security hosts a discussion with Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman.


The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on the findings of the Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States.

The House Armed Services cyber, information technologies and innovation subcommittee holds a hearing on the Pentagon’s Replicator program with outside experts.

The Professional Services Council hosts its 2023 Defense Conference.

The Defense Department’s science and technology program protection director speaks during a webinar hosted by Leadership Connect.

By John Liang
October 13, 2023 at 1:14 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on counter-unmanned aerial systems, the recently released report from the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States and more.

We start off with continuing coverage of this week's AUSA conference:

DOD plans ambitious counter-drone demonstration to defeat 50-strong swarm of small UAS

The Defense Department is planning its most ambitious counter-drone demonstration to date, pitting a swarm of as many as 50 small uncrewed surrogate enemy aircraft over the New Mexico skies against a yet-to-be-determined group of candidate technologies in a contest where non-kinetic weapons, such as high-powered microwaves, may have an advantage.

Army moving forward with 'counter UAS as a service' initiative

The Army is in the process of carrying out the Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office's initiative to have the military services purchase counter UAS capability from the private sector -- a concept known as "counter UAS as a service" (CaaS).

HDT opts to submit wheeled Robotic Combat Vehicle

With the Army set to test prototypes of the Robotic Combat Vehicle, one contender believes wheels are more reliable than tracks.

(Read our full AUSA 2023 coverage.)

The Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States released its final unclassified report this week:

Congressional commission urges DOD to prep two-war nuclear deterrence strategy

A bipartisan congressional commission says the Defense Department must take urgent action to prepare to deter two nuclear adversaries at the same time -- China and Russia -- and commit to new investments, such as establishing a shipyard focused on nuclear-powered vessels, specifically submarines.

Document: Congressional commission's report on the U.S. strategic posture

The MH-139A is a multimission helicopter developed by Boeing and Leonardo that will replace the Bell UH-1N Iroquois to protect U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile installations as well as transport U.S. government officials and security forces:

Air Force and Boeing negotiating MH-139A technical data rights

The Air Force has received technical data rights from Boeing to support Boeing's MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopter program depot maintenance, an Air Force spokesperson told Inside Defense.