The Insider

By John Liang
December 7, 2021 at 1:45 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on deterring China, the Air Force's Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon program and more.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke this morning at a DefenseOne conference:

Austin pushes 'integrated deterrence' in face of Chinese hypersonic advancements

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin today, referencing what the Pentagon has characterized as a destabilizing Chinese hypersonic missile test, said the U.S. National Defense Strategy will be built upon networked dominance across all military domains, not just one "very fascinating" weapon.

The flight test timeline for the Air Force's Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon could have implications for the program's production schedule:

ARRW failure review board wraps up work; flight testing to resume in coming months

Flight testing for the Air Force's Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon is poised to resume in the coming months, the program's director said this week, following the conclusion of a failure review board's analysis of the hypersonic missile's latest testing mishap.

More coverage of this past weekend's Reagan National Security Forum:

Continuing resolution may delay DOD's rapid technology experimentation plans

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- The Pentagon's chief technology officer is aiming to address four critical capability gaps through a planned set of joint technology experiments starting in fiscal year 2023, but an appropriations delay on Capitol Hill could hold up the department's schedule.

The Missile Defense Agency this week announced the completion of the construction and installation of the radar arrays for the Long Range Discrimination Radar at Clear Space Force Station, AK:

DOD declares LRDR fielded and ready for testing, major step toward bringing new radar online

The U.S. military today took a key step toward operationalizing a major new component of its national missile defense system, declaring the Long Range Discrimination Radar -- a hulking pair of sensors in the heart of Alaska, each six stories tall and equally wide -- fielded and ready for testing to improve defense against North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Last but by no means least, some F-35 Joint Strike Fighter news:

New F-35 baseline, IOT&E schedule expected in early January, according to PEO

The head of the F-35 joint program office said today he expects an updated acquisition program baseline to be ready for release in January, setting a new schedule for completing a series of Joint Simulation Environment "runs for score."

By John Liang
December 7, 2021 at 1:31 PM

Here is the first portion of our coverage from this past weekend's Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, CA, now available to all:

DOD officials bracing for inflation squeeze with final FY-23 topline guidance

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- The Defense Department is awaiting "passback" guidance from the White House, a topline allocation that will allow Pentagon leaders to lock in the fiscal year 2023 budget proposal and account for inflation forecasts that could significantly diminish weapon system buying power.

Austin issues call to U.S. industry to help in contest against China

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued "a call" to U.S. industry -- particularly information and technology innovation firms -- to help "bring the American way of war to the 21st century," directly appealing to national interest in the contest against China, previewing what he said is a pillar of the forthcoming National Defense Strategy.

2026 target for INDOPACOM's No. 1 priority, Guam Defense System, appears to be slipping

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- The gambit to deliver Guam a new air and missile defense system by 2026 -- U.S. Indo-Pacific Command's No. 1 unfunded priority which the Pentagon is still working to define and Congress has not fully funded -- appears no longer achievable, with a new target date set to be identified in the fiscal year 2023 budget request.

Iron Dome 'not the answer' to Guam's air- and missile-defense requirement

SIMI VALLEY, CO -- The Army's maiden deployment of its Israeli-built Iron Dome air and missile defense system is wrapping up, capping a deployment to Guam -- billed as an experiment -- that began in early October to exercise transporting the system and setting up for operation but not conducting any live firings.

By Tony Bertuca
December 7, 2021 at 12:42 PM

House lawmakers, in cooperation with their Senate counterparts, have released a compromise version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill.

"Because enacting the [bill] in a timely manner is critical, the two bills were combined through a series of negotiations led by the leadership of the" House and Senate Armed Services committees, the lawmakers said.

The traditional legislative process broke down last week in the Senate when lawmakers were unable to agree on amendments.

"Negotiators considered proposals offered by members of both parties that were filed in the Senate," the lawmakers said. "The final text of the bill promotes resilience, innovation, and the right tools for U.S. success in strategic competition and provides vital quality of life improvements for the backbone of America's fighting force: Our service members and their families."

The bill authorizes $768 billion in national defense spending. It does not include an additional $10 billion outside of the legislation’s jurisdiction that is set to be appropriated elsewhere, which would bring total defense spending to about $778 billion for fiscal year 2023.

The bill includes $740 billion specifically for the Pentagon, which is $25 billion more than the President Biden requested earlier this year. The bill also authorizes about $28 billion for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons programs.

Additionally, the bill directs more than $7 billion be spent on the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, about $2 billion more than what the White House initially sought. The funds are intended to deter Chinese military activity in the region.

The bill also includes no sanctions related to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a Russian-backed natural gas pipeline Republicans says is harmful to U.S. allies in Europe. The pipeline is supported by Germany and has the backing of the White House. The House version of the bill had included sanctions on Nord Stream 2. The Senate, however, did not include any sanctions because of partisan disagreements.

The bill also does not include any repeal of the authorization for the use of military force related to the U.S. war in Iraq.

Watch Inside Defense for further reporting.

By Tony Bertuca
December 6, 2021 at 6:45 PM

House and Senate lawmakers are set to soon release a compromise version of the annual defense authorization bill in the hopes it can pass both chambers this week, according to multiple congressional aides.

Presently, the legislation is being worked through the House Rules Committee, which is expected to release text of the bill Tuesday, aides said.

The legislation process typically used to pass the bill stalled last week when senators became mired in partisan arguing over amendments. Now, leaders from the House and Senate Armed Services committees intend to release their own compromise version of the bill for final votes in both chambers.

While the House hopes to schedule the first votes on the bill as soon as Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Democrats in a “dear colleague” letter to expect final consideration of the bill this week, along with possible weekend votes.

The compromise version of the bill is expected to authorize around $778 billion in defense spending, $25 billion more than the White House requested.

By John Liang
December 6, 2021 at 4:44 PM

The Pentagon's Defense Policy Board will hold a classified meeting next week, according to a notice in today's Federal Register.

During the Dec. 15-16 meeting, the board "will receive classified briefings and hold classified discussions on the development of the Department of Defense National Defense Strategy (NDS) analysis and methodology," the notice continues. The defense secretary and under secretary of defense for policy are slated speak.

The board will also get "classified briefings on (1) a current intelligence baseline briefing on China military modernization; (2) a briefing on the NDS overall approach and security environment assessment; (3) a briefing on the NDS defense priorities, the strategic approach and integrated defense; (4) key considerations for nesting the NDS, the Nuclear Posture Review and Missile Defense Review; and (5) conduct classified member "red team" discussions and deliberation. Following discussions and deliberation, the DPB will provide their advice and recommendations to the secretary of defense for consideration."

By John Liang
December 6, 2021 at 4:13 PM

The Aerospace Industries Association announced today it has elected Huntington Ingalls Industries President and CEO Mike Petters to be AIA's chairman of the board of governors for 2022.

Spirit AeroSystems President and CEO Tom Gentile will serve as Vice Chairman.

Additionally, Eric Fanning has been re-elected as AIA president and CEO.

By Courtney Albon
December 6, 2021 at 2:32 PM

A continuing resolution that extends beyond the current Feb. 18 deadline would likely impact the Space Development Agency's plans to launch the first two tranches of its National Defense Space Architecture, according to the agency's leader.

“A CR through the month of January, we can weather that,” SDA Director Derek Tournear said during a Space Newsevent today. “A CR beyond that will start to have significant impacts unless we can get some kind of anomaly, because that is a major deal when your budget is changing as dramatically as ours.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released a statement today expressing concern about the possibility of a full-year CR, saying the “unprecedented move” would “cause enormous, if not irreparable damage for a wide range of bipartisan priorities.”

For the SDA, a new agency that requested its first-ever procurement funding in FY-22, frozen funding levels mean schedule delays and a loss of early momentum and growth. The agency requested $808 million for research and development in FY-22 and $74 million in procurement to fund launch services and integration for Tranche 0 satellites, which are slated to launch by next October, and initial support for Tranche 1 satellites, which are scheduled for a 2024 launch.

“If we are stuck at the ’21 levels through ’22, that will cause significant slips in . . . clearly Tranche 1 and probably it could impact Tranche 0 as well,” he said.

SDA is working with Congress and the Pentagon comptroller’s office to approve an anomaly for those efforts, Tournear said, noting that “everyone knows this would be such a major impact to delivering these capabilities.”

By John Liang
December 6, 2021 at 2:01 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of the past weekend's Reagan National Defense Forum and much more.

We start off with coverage from this past weekend's Reagan National Defense Forum in California:

DOD officials bracing for inflation squeeze with final FY-23 topline guidance

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- The Defense Department is awaiting "passback" guidance from the White House, a topline allocation that will allow Pentagon leaders to lock in the fiscal year 2023 budget proposal and account for inflation forecasts that could significantly diminish weapon system buying power.

Austin issues call to U.S. industry to help in contest against China

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued "a call" to U.S. industry -- particularly information and technology innovation firms -- to help "bring the American way of war to the 21st century," directly appealing to national interest in the contest against China, previewing what he said is a pillar of the forthcoming National Defense Strategy.

Poland seeking 250 Abrams tanks, DOD viewing request favorably

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- The Defense Department is considering a request from Poland to buy as many as 250 Abrams tanks, a deal likely worth more than $3 billion that would provide stability for the heavy armor production line and deliver an important capability to a European ally near Russia -- a package a senior DOD official involved in the process views very favorably.

2026 target for INDOPACOM's No. 1 priority, Guam Defense System, appears to be slipping

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- The gambit to deliver Guam a new air and missile defense system by 2026 -- U.S. Indo-Pacific Command's No. 1 unfunded priority which the Pentagon is still working to define and Congress has not fully funded -- appears no longer achievable, with a new target date set to be identified in the fiscal year 2023 budget request.

Iron Dome 'not the answer' to Guam's air- and missile-defense requirement

SIMI VALLEY, CO -- The Army's maiden deployment of its Israeli-built Iron Dome air and missile defense system is wrapping up, capping a deployment to Guam -- billed as an experiment -- that began in early October to exercise transporting the system and setting up for operation but not conducting any live firings.

(Check out our complete coverage of the Reagan Forum.)

Some F-35 Joint Strike Fighter news:

New F-35 baseline, IOT&E schedule expected in early January, according to PEO

The head of the F-35 joint program office said today he expects an updated acquisition program baseline to be ready for release in January, setting a new schedule for completing a series of Joint Simulation Environment "runs for score."

The Defense Department late Friday released new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program guidance:

Pentagon releases CMMC scoping guidance, updated maturity model

The Defense Department has released long-awaited scoping guidance for its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program that will help defense contractors determine what assets will be included under the assessment process, along with a new overview document describing key changes to the program.

Document: Pentagon's CMMC scoping guidance

We had a preview on Friday of an upcoming Space Test Program-3 launch:

STP-3 mission to fly Space Force's first LDPE ring

A Space Force mission set to launch early Sunday morning will include a new Long-Duration Propulsive ESPA ring the service is using to carry prototype payloads that, in some cases, could augment operational capabilities.

A CH-53K helicopter transported a 27,000-pound light armored vehicle (LAV-25) from an amphibious assault ship to a landing zone on shore during testing last month:

Marine Corps CH-53K transports light armored vehicle during ship-to-shore testing

The Marine Corps conducted over-the-horizon heavy lift and troop transport operations using a CH-53K for the first time, the service announced Friday.

A recent Government Accountability Office report recommends the Defense Department "take additional actions to improve how it approaches intellectual property":

GAO questions Pentagon's plans for intellectual property teams

The Defense Department has outlined its strategy for a "federated" organization of intellectual property experts to bolster the acquisition of weapon systems and services, but the Government Accountability Office says it still has questions about the plan.

Document: GAO report on DOD's approach to IP

By Tony Bertuca
December 6, 2021 at 12:10 PM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin today said ongoing partisan gridlock in Congress could imperil the Pentagon's budget, forcing billions of dollars in cuts should lawmakers be unable to pass a government funding package.

Congress last week agreed to a stopgap continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded through Feb. 18. But Austin today released a statement saying he is worried a dysfunctional Congress may opt for a full-year CR in the coming months.

“While the short-term CR passed by Congress was a necessary measure to keep the government open and provide additional time to reach agreement on full-year appropriations bills, some have even suggested a CR could last an entire year, an unprecedented move that would cause enormous, if not irreparable, damage for a wide range of bipartisan priorities -- from defense readiness and modernization, to research and development, to public health,” Austin said.

A CR, among other things, typically locks the Pentagon’s budget at previous-year levels and prohibits new contracts for weapons programs and production increases. Though many analysts see the possibility of a full-year CR as remote, the concern has become almost an annual tradition in Washington.

“A full-year CR,” Austin said, “would be a fiscally unsound way of funding the Department of Defense and government as a whole. It would misalign billions of dollars in resources in a manner inconsistent with evolving threats and the national security landscape, which would erode the U.S. military advantage relative to China, impede our ability to innovate and modernize, degrade readiness, and hurt our people and their families. And it would offer comfort to our enemies, disquiet to our allies, and unnecessary stress to our workforce.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) last week warned lawmakers that Congress continues to inch closer toward a full-year CR that would reduce defense spending by $37 billion below the level being proposed by the House and Senate Armed Services committees.

Austin said Congress’ failure to reach a final spending agreement would result in more than $5 billion in cuts to operations accounts and “significantly impact” new technology programs.

“The department’s efforts to address innovation priorities such as cyber, artificial intelligence and hypersonics programs would be slowed,” he said.

The full-year CR would also impact more than 100 military construction projects.

“And make no mistake about it,” Austin said, “the impacts of those delays would be felt not only across the department, but also in local communities around the country as job opportunities are lost and revenue for local businesses diminishes.”

Austin said DOD is beginning to “knit together a truly groundbreaking vision of integrated deterrence.”

But a full-year CR, he said, would mean DOD would be “forced to spend money on things we don’t need and stop spending money on investments we desperately do need.”

By Tony Bertuca
December 6, 2021 at 5:00 AM

The Senate returns this week to continue debating the stalled defense authorization bill. Meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee has rescheduled a hearing to consider the nominee for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Monday

Senior DOD officials speak at the National Defense Industrial Association's second virtual Systems and Mission Engineering Conference.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, director of operations at U.S. Central Command, speaks at an Air Force Association online event.

Tuesday

The House Oversight and Reform national security subcommittee holds a hearing on the "Worldwide Threat of al Qaeda, ISIS, and Other Foreign Terrorist Organizations."

The Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance hosts a virtual discussion on defending the Pacific.

The Heritage Foundation hosts a discussion on the future of U.S. nuclear declaratory policy.

Thursday

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing to consider the nomination of Adm. Christopher Grady to be vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

The Center for a New American Security hosts a discussion on the upcoming National Defense Strategy with the acting deputy under secretary of defense for policy.

Friday

The Air Force Association hosts a virtual Space Power Forum with senior defense officials.

By Tony Bertuca
December 3, 2021 at 3:33 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee has rescheduled the hearing to consider the nomination of Adm. Christopher Grady to become vice chairman of the Joint of Staff to Dec. 9.

The hearing was initially scheduled for Dec. 3 but was postponed amid ongoing work on the stalled fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill.

The job has been vacant since the Nov. 19 retirement of Gen. John Hyten.

If confirmed as vice chairman, Grady, the current commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, will serve a four-year term.

By John Liang
December 3, 2021 at 2:01 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Army cyber defense, the Navy's shipbuilding industrial base and more.

The Army's top cyber adviser spoke this week at the Association of Old Crows convention in Washington:

Cyber adviser: Army needs to protect power projection against cyber threats

The Army should prioritize insulating its power projection infrastructure against cyberattacks, given that the service will not have the funding to protect all its systems in the cyber domain, Terry Mitchell, the principal cyber adviser to the Army secretary and chief of staff, said Dec. 2.

The COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to affect the shipbuilding industrial base:

Navy, industry monitoring shipbuilding supply chain challenges

The Navy and shipbuilding industry are monitoring the supply chain issues caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the industrial base is experiencing some effects, according to Navy and industry sources.

The House Armed Services readiness subcommittee held a hearing this week on "Minding the Gap: How Operational Energy Can Help Us Address Logistics Challenges":

Army set to finish operational energy strategy next spring

The Army plans to complete its first-ever operational energy strategy in the spring of 2022, Lt. Gen. Duane Gamble, the deputy chief of staff for logistics (G-4), told a House panel Dec. 2.

Document: House hearing on operational energy

The Air Force has laid out the timeline for testing a particular component on the Compass Call electronic warfare aircraft:

BAE: Some developmental, operational testing for next Compass Call set for 2023-2024

Developmental and operational testing for one component of the Air Force's new Compass Call electronic warfare aircraft is slated to occur in calendar years 2023 and 2024, a BAE Systems official said, with the first operational platform set to be delivered in late 2024.

A Marine Corps attack helicopter recently tested the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile:

Marines fire JAGM from AH-1Z in bid to deploy weapon, proceed with full-rate production

The Marine Corps last month executed a key test -- previously delayed by software glitches that last year tripped up plans for a full-rate production decision of the $8.2 billion Joint Air-to-Ground Missile program -- firing the next-generation, airborne launched weapon from an AH-1Z Viper helicopter as part of an effort to integrate the weapon on the maritime aircraft fleet.

By Audrey Decker
December 3, 2021 at 11:51 AM

The Navy is hosting a workshop next February with industry and academia to explore autonomous capabilities on large and long-endurance unmanned undersea vehicles.

The Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office recently developed a list of capabilities for next-generation UUVs that need further development, according to a request for information released Tuesday.

Capabilities that could benefit Extra Large UUVs include estimation of on-site performance, prediction of future performance and the detection, prediction and mitigation of faults, according to the RFI.

"It is anticipated that performance, fault handling and overall reliability will become even more important as UUV missions increase in duration from hours to days or weeks of operation," the RFI states.

"The outcome of the workshop will be an understanding of the state of these capabilities and their applicability to Navy UUV systems, as well as the identification of areas that require additional research," it adds.

The Navy is committed to procuring XLUUVs because the vehicle will fill a "very specific mission" in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command region, according to Rear Adm. Doug Perry, director of undersea warfare.

However, there has been congressional pushback on the Orca XLUUV and Snakehead Large Displacement UUV.

The Senate Appropriations Committee's draft of the fiscal year 2022 defense spending bill, released in October, noted while the Navy is asking for funds for additional XLUUV requirements, the baseline program is performing poorly.

By Tony Bertuca
December 3, 2021 at 12:15 AM

Congress voted Thursday night to fund the federal government through Feb. 18 using a stopgap continuing resolution that averts a government shutdown.

The House passed the CR 221-212, while the Senate voted 69-28.

The federal government had already been operating on a CR which began Oct. 1.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) warned lawmakers that Congress continues to inch closer toward a full-year CR that would reduce defense spending by $37 billion below the level being proposed by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

“Every week it seems, I receive letters from advocacy groups and industry associations, detailing the problems that would come from a full-year CR and asking that we do our job and enact full-year bills, including the National Defense Industrial Association, the Aerospace Industries Association, and numerous veterans groups,” he said on the Senate floor.

Meanwhile, the Senate left town for the weekend unable to advance the annual defense authorization bill, which has become stalled due to partisan disagreements.

By John Liang
December 2, 2021 at 4:24 PM

Reston, VA-based Acclaim Technical Services announced today it has acquired Entegra Systems, LLC, a Hanover, MD-based cyber technology solutions company.

While terms of the purchase were not disclosed, the acquisition "further enhances ATS' strategic expansion into technology to support its clients' objectives, building upon the acquisition of Global Consulting Services (2020) and Axis of Engineering (2019)," ATS said in a statement.

Entegra Systems "develops integrated solutions for enhanced situational awareness, operational planning, intelligence and geospatial analysis, and cyber and intelligence operations," the statement reads. "Entegra is also a leading provider of services related to [signals intelligence] development, collection, and analysis; mission and collection management; and intelligence analysis."