The Insider

By John Liang
September 28, 2022 at 1:53 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER has news on the Navy's DDG-1000 destroyer, the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, Air Force innovation and more.

The Navy's costliest destroyer is operating in the Pacific Ocean:

Navy test-driving Zumwalt in Pacific as part of fleet integration process

The Navy is integrating its most advanced warship with U.S. Pacific Fleet, introducing the troubled ship class into an operational environment.

The latest on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

CMMC accreditation body spins off assessor training work into separate business unit

The accreditation body behind the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program has formally started to spin off its work to certify assessors and build training with licensed providers into an independent business unit, as required by the organization’s no-cost contract signed in 2020 with the Defense Department.

Lockheed Martin and Verizon have recently flown four drones through a simulated mission to record and share intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information to geolocate targets:

Lockheed, Verizon pitch 5G-enabled 'all-domain' capabilities to DOD

Lockheed Martin and Verizon executives are working to develop and demonstrate 5G-enabled capabilities that they say would give the Defense Department a better sense of the battlespace while improving threat detection.

Speaking during a virtual Defense One State of the Air Force summit, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown noted that during much of the Cold War, the service tended to produce a new fighter aircraft every two and a half years:

Brown: Air Force 'not as innovative' as it used to be

The Air Force's slowed cadence of delivering new fighter aircraft is "concerning," the service's top uniformed official said Tuesday, emphasizing that quicker innovations are needed to maintain an edge over adversaries.

The Air Force's Next Generation Operational Control System program was delayed due to the pandemic and technical challenges as well as the replacement of key hardware prompted by the acquisition of an IBM product line by Chinese-owned company Lenovo:

Space Force sees another schedule slip for OCX delivery, risking GPS IIIF delay

Delivery of the Space Force's troubled Next Generation Operational Control System has been pushed from next month to December, according to a statement from the service's acquisition office, potentially shaving off the program's remaining schedule margin as officials work to meet an April 2023 deadline for initial operational capability.

By Briana Reilly
September 28, 2022 at 12:08 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee today green-lit President Biden's nominee for Pentagon deputy acquisition chief.

Radha Plumb, who was tapped to be the Defense Department’s deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, was advanced on a 21-5 roll call vote during a closed-door meeting this morning.

The move came after Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) in late July threatened to place a hold on Plumb and two other DOD picks over officials’ decision to suspend a years-in-the-work project to build an access road for the Ambler Mining District in northwestern Alaska.

In February, the Interior Department found “significant deficiencies” in past environmental reviews of the project, which was first approved in summer 2020, media reports earlier this year show. The two other nominees Sullivan targeted are Laura Taylor-Kale, Biden’s choice for assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy, and Brendan Owens, nominated to be assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations, and environment.

“I’m not going to help move your nominations forward, even though I think you’re qualified, you have important positions, but this is important,” he told Plumb and Taylor-Kale during their July 28 nomination hearing. “Same day the president holds a summit on critical minerals, they shut down the biggest critical mineral supplies in America, maybe in the world, because of their relentless war on the state of Alaska. I need answers, and then your nominations can move.”

Sullivan has since backed down, as Defense News reported last week, though he had signaled he’d force a roll call vote for Plumb. He and fellow Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently urged the Interior Department in a letter to quickly re-approve the access road project.

Separately, senators on the panel earlier this month signed off on Taylor-Kale's and Owens’ nominations.

By John Liang
September 27, 2022 at 1:07 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on U.S. industrial base cooperation with foreign allies, an Army missile defense program that's over budget, the Pentagon's work on the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve and more.

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante this morning offered a preview of his upcoming talks with European military acquisition counterparts:

LaPlante pushes 'friend-shoring' ahead of key global armaments conference

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante, who this week will chair a meeting in Brussels between dozens of national armaments directors, said today the United States must more closely align its defense industrial capabilities with those of foreign allies to not only respond to the "acute threat" stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but also to prepare "for the next Ukraine" in the future.

We continue our coverage of the Pentagon's latest Selected Acquisition Reports, this one on an Army missile defense program:

Army pours another $2 billion into IBCS; development cost 215% above original estimate

The Army committed an additional $1.6 billion in research and development funding to rectify the Integrated Air and Missile Defense program -- including the IAMD Battle Command Systems (IBCS) -- raising total start-up funding for the project to $5.1 billion, more than three times the original 2009 promise of $1.6 billion.

Document: DOD's FY-23 SARs

Inside Defense recently interviewed Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu:

Where critics see overlap, Shyu draws line between RDER, service-led demos

The Pentagon's chief technology officer says a fledgling experimentation initiative billed as a way to fill critical capability gaps across the joint force is unlike existing service-led demonstrations in large part because officials are approaching the problem set with different goals in mind.

The latest cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Tech group urges NIST to prioritize reciprocity, tailoring in update to CUI series

The Information Technology Industry Council is offering ways the National Institute of Standards and Technology can work with other agencies to smooth the path toward reciprocity on the handling of sensitive federal data held on contractor systems, as NIST starts the update process to revise key publications.

Defense groups seek flexibility, mappings to other NIST publications in CUI series update

Two large defense groups are urging NIST to consider how to align its four-part publication series on controlled unclassified information to other frameworks, while also suggesting potential changes related to the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program.

By Tony Bertuca
September 27, 2022 at 1:06 PM

Senior Democratic lawmakers have proposed a stopgap continuing resolution that would keep the federal government funded through Dec. 16 as well as provide billions in continued military aid for Ukraine.

Congress must pass the funding patch before the federal government shuts down Friday at midnight.

The CR contains $7.5 billion in military aid for Ukraine and $4.5 billion in economic aid.

The CR, according to a summary, would include $3 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the Defense Department to contract directly with industry to supply Ukraine with weapons, training, logistics and other military support.

Additionally, the legislation includes $1.5 billion to replenish U.S. stocks sent to Ukraine through presidential “drawdown” authority, and $540 million to increase production of critical munitions sent to Ukraine. Along with the new funds, the bill authorizes a total of $3.7 billion in drawdown "authority."

The CR also includes $2.8 billion for U.S. “mission support, intelligence support, special duty pay for troops deployed to the region and equipment,” the summary states.

Further, the CR also proposes $2 million for the Defense Department inspector general to report on U.S. assistance to Ukraine, including a “comprehensive list of all defense articles and services provided to Ukraine, and a report on the end-use monitoring of defense articles sent to Ukraine.”

The bill would also provide $35 million to the National Nuclear Security Administration “to prepare for and respond to potential nuclear and radiological incidents in Ukraine.”

Senate Republicans and Democrats remain at odds, however, regarding language on permitting in West Virginia championed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the GOP will not support a CR that includes permitting reform.

“We have made significant progress toward a Continuing Resolution that is as clean as possible,” he said in a statement. “But, if the Democrats insist on including permitting reform, I will oppose it. Passing a clean CR will allow us to focus on completing the FY-23 appropriations process before the end of this year.”

By Nick Wilson
September 27, 2022 at 11:07 AM

The Marine Corps conducted a successful live-fire test of a radio frequency missile earlier this month, according to a Monday service announcement.

“The purpose of this live-fire exercise was to validate that a radio frequency missile can be employed against threats on or coming from the water surface," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jon Osborn, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance battalion gunner, in a statement included in the announcement.

Marines fired the missile from a Light Armored Vehicle using a tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile (TOW) system -- a system that typically uses a thin wire to maintain communication between the missile and launch tube.

The radio frequency missile communicates using a signal rather than a wire. Wireless communication enables greater control of the missile’s trajectory and prevents the wire from catching on debris and throwing the missile off course, according to the Marine Corps.

The service believes this successful test, conducted at Camp Lejeune, NC, demonstrates the radio frequency missile’s value in helping to control littoral areas and waterways with a reduced footprint, the announcement states.

“The TOW missile system on the LAV allows us to load two missiles and swiftly switch from one to another,” said Sgt. Courtland Mabe in another statement included in the release. “We could load different types of missiles and engage different types of targets within seconds on the battlefield.”

By Audrey Decker
September 27, 2022 at 10:36 AM

The Navy has accepted the delivery of Littoral Combat Ship Cooperstown (LCS-23) -- the second Freedom-variant LCS outfitted with the combining gear correction.

Designed by Lockheed Martin, the Cooperstown was delivered to the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, WI on Sept. 20, the service said in a press release.

The Navy announced a fix in November to the Freedom-class combining gear issue. The service stopped receipt of the monohulled Freedom class from Lockheed Martin in January 2021 after identifying a “material defect” with the combining gear.

The combining gear fix was first tested on Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21).

“LCS-23 is the second Freedom-variant ship outfitted with the combining gear correction that will allow unrestricted operations. The correction addresses a class-wide flaw that was identified as the fleet deployed these ships in greater numbers,” the Navy stated.

At the Fincantieri shipyard, the future Marinette (LCS-25) is under construction and scheduled for delivery in early 2023.

“Additional ships in various stages of construction include the future ships Nantucket (LCS-27), Beloit (LCS-29) and Cleveland (LCS-31). LCS-31 will be the final Freedom-variant LCS,” the Navy said.

By Michael Marrow
September 27, 2022 at 10:04 AM

The Defense Department inspector general plans to launch a review next month of critical technologies associated with the Air Force's Next Generation Air Dominance platform.

Officials will convene an entrance conference the week of Oct. 17 to start coordinating the evaluation, according to a memo released yesterday. The process will assess whether key technologies associated with NGAD “were mature enough to support entry into the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the NGAD program’s acquisition timeline.

“We may revise the objective as the evaluation proceeds, and we will also consider suggestions from management for additional or revised objectives,” the memo adds.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said earlier this year that the program had entered EMD but has since clarified NGAD has not formally conducted preliminary design review, which paves the way to approval for milestone B and formally launches the EMD phase.

“We are working on the actual design of the aircraft. So for me that means we are in engineering and manufacturing development,” Kendall said during a media roundtable at the Air and Space Forces Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference last week.

He then reiterated the program intends to deliver a capability by the end of the decade.

By John Liang
September 26, 2022 at 4:02 PM

HII announced today that Todd Borkey has been promoted to be the company's next executive vice president and chief technology officer.

Borkey has been CTO of HII’s Mission Technologies division since 2021, according to a company statement.

"In his new role, Borkey will oversee the company’s technology strategy, including research and development, to enhance HII’s existing products and services and to develop new capabilities to drive market growth," the statement reads.

Prior to joining HII, Borkey worked as a CTO at Alion Science and Technology, Thales Defense and Security, and DRS Defense Solutions. He also previously worked for Northrop Grumman and AT&T Bell Labs.

By John Liang
September 26, 2022 at 1:55 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's latest Selected Acquisition Reports, a new Defense Science Board "tabletop exercise" and more.

The Pentagon's most recent Selected Acquisition Reports are out, about five months after they were required by law. We have a story on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, and be on the lookout in the coming days for more coverage:

Revised F-35 price tag now $416 billion; O&S cost estimate worsens from $1.1T to $1.2T

The estimated price tag for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program pierced the $400 billion mark in a new report to Congress, an upward revision that accounts for related funding previously not tallied in the acquisition cost and a reminder of how far the project has strayed from the original 2002 promise to deliver the stealth fleet for $199 billion.

Document: DOD's FY-23 SARs

A new Defense Science Board effort is underway:

Shyu commissions new 'tabletop exercise' focused on Asia-Pacific region

The Pentagon's chief technology officer has directed an influential science advisory board to conduct a "tabletop exercise" focused on strategic, operational and budgetary recommendations to bolster the U.S. military in the Asia-Pacific region.

Document: DSB terms of reference memo for Asia-Pacific 'tabletop exercise'

The Army has awarded Oshkosh Defense a multimillion-dollar contract to provide the enhanced Heavy Equipment Transporter System trailer through 2027:

Oshkosh wins contract to provide upgraded tank trailers

Oshkosh Defense won a $260 million contract to provide the Army with an enhanced heavy transport trailer capable of hauling Abrams tanks, which have grown increasingly heavy in recent years as they have been upgraded.

We also have the latest cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Defense groups seek flexibility, mappings to other NIST publications in CUI series update

Two large defense groups are urging NIST to consider how to align its four-part publication series on controlled unclassified information to other frameworks, while also suggesting potential changes related to the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program.

Solarium leaders: Changes are expected to 'systemically important entities' bill following industry pushback

Lawmakers are preparing to make changes to the "systemically important entities" proposal in the House version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote next month, according to Cyberspace Solarium Commission leaders who responded to significant industry criticism at a recent event.

By Briana Reilly
September 26, 2022 at 12:15 PM

U.S. Strategic Command's advisory panel is poised to meet next month to assess the nuclear stockpile, discuss the mission surety of legacy nuclear triad systems and more, a notice posted to the Federal Register today states.

The listing shows members are also planning to cover dual near-peer threat assessment and integrated deterrence; a next-generation technology survey tied to nuclear command, control and communications; and the ties between STRATCOM and the intelligence community.

The closed-to-the-public meeting, slated for Oct. 19 and 20, is held to share advice with the STRATCOM commander “on scientific, technical, intelligence, and policy-related issues” amid “the development of the nation’s strategic war plans,” the notice adds.

By Tony Bertuca
September 26, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are slated to speak at several events this week. Meanwhile, Congress must pass a stopgap continuing resolution to ensure federal funding or the government will shut down after Friday.

Tuesday

Senior defense officials speak at the ComDef: Integrated Deterrence conference in Washington.

Defense One hosts senior Air Force officials at a "State of Defense" event.

Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Christopher Cavoli and various senators speak at the virtual Center for European Policy Analysis Forum that runs through Thursday.

Wednesday

Defense One hosts senior Space Force officials at a "State of Defense" event.

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on establishing and fortifying U.S. national security supply chains.

Thursday

The Center for American Progress hosts a discussion with Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.

By Tony Bertuca
September 23, 2022 at 5:08 PM

The Pentagon has sent Congress its annual collection of selected acquisition reports summarizing the cost, schedule and performance status for dozens of major weapon systems.

The reports cover the performance of 79 major defense acquisition programs like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The list includes 19 Middle Tier Acquisition programs that meet the MDAP cost threshold.

The reports are intended for Congress to provide oversight of the Pentagon’s acquisition process, which often faces cost, schedule and performance challenges. For instance, the reports are used to monitor any “Nunn-McCurdy” cost breaches DOD programs might experience.

The Defense Department, however, did not submit SARs to Congress last year.

“SARs are prepared annually in conjunction with submission of the President’s Budget,” DOD said in a press release announcing the SARs submission.

“The President’s Budget 2022 only included one year of funding and therefore DOD did not produce SARs last year,” the statement continued.

The department did not immediately respond to a request for further information.

Read the SARs here and watch Inside Defense for further in-depth reporting on the Pentagon’s SARs submission.

By John Liang
September 23, 2022 at 1:29 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on hypersonic weapons, naval exercises being too predictable and more.

The Air Force has awarded Raytheon Technologies a multimillion-dollar contract to develop the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile:

DOD catapults forward new class of weapon for U.S. inventory: hypersonic cruise missile

The Defense Department today marked a major milestone in the race against China and Russia to field hypersonic weapons, furnishing Raytheon with a nearly $1 billion commitment to design, develop and deliver a new class of ultra-fast, maneuvering munition for U.S. fighter aircraft: a hypersonic cruise missile.

Navy fleet exercises tend to be "heavily scripted" and often warfighters go into the exercise knowing the outcome, according to analysts:

Analysts say Navy exercises are heavily scripted, need to include risk

Naval analysts argue that the Navy's fleet exercises are predictable and if the service wants to win against China, it needs to change how it learns at sea.

Check out the latest cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Solarium Commission releases report evaluating 2022 implementation progress for key proposals

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission has released its second annual report evaluating how Congress, agencies and the White House are implementing recommendations from the 2020 landmark report and subsequent white papers on important cyber topics.

Solarium leaders: Changes are expected to 'systemically important entities' bill following industry pushback

Lawmakers are preparing to make changes to the "systemically important entities" proposal in the House version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote next month, according to Cyberspace Solarium Commission leaders who responded to significant industry criticism at a recent event.

'Know the opponent': CISA-NSA advisory addresses industrial control system challenges

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Security Agency have put out a new advisory on evolving threats to "operational technology/industrial control system assets," saying "traditional approaches" are insufficient against increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks and offering an array of mitigations.

By Nick Wilson
September 23, 2022 at 12:34 PM

The Marine Corps authorized its Amphibious Combat Vehicles to resume operations in the open ocean after establishing guidance to improve safety during ACV training, the service announced Thursday.

Waterborne ACV operations were paused in July, after two ACVs capsized during a training exercise off the coast of California. The accident did not result in any injuries.

After this incident, the service performed an internal review of ACV practices and procedures, and updated its rules for surf conditions.

“The interim maximum surf conditions identified include a significant breaker height of 4 feet, which allows the ACV to operate safely while maintaining a high-state of readiness for the ACV community,” the release states.

“We remain steadfast to the safety of our Marines who conduct amphibious operations, and expect strict adherence to established standards that allows our ACVs to return to waterborne operations,” said Lt. Gen. David Furness, deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations, in a statement included in the release.

ACV waterborne operations were previously suspended in September 2021 due to an issue with the vehicle’s towing mechanism.

The ACV is expected to replace the Amphibious Assault Vehicle and outperformed the legacy system “across all mission profiles” during initial operational testing and evaluation in 2020.

AAVs were permanently banned from waterborne operations in December, but continued to operate on land. In 2020, eight Marines and one sailor were killed when an AAV sank during a training exercise.

In its fiscal year 2023 budget, the Navy requested $536.6 million to procure 74 ACVs, after acquiring 83 in FY-22.

By Evan Ochsner
September 22, 2022 at 4:54 PM

The Army on Thursday announced the appointment of 20 new members to a volunteer board that advises the service's leadership on technological advances.

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth nominated the new members, and the nominations were approved by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last month.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Williamson and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Katharina McFarland will lead the board as chair and vice chair, according to the Army.

The other new members are: Gisele Bennett, Peter Chiarelli, Kathryn Condon, Mackenzie Eaglen, Charlotte Farmer, Kimberly Field, William Guyton, Rhett Hernandez, Terri Hogue, Andrew Krepinevich, Robert Lennox, Marcel Lettre II, Sean Macfarland, Thomas Mahnken, Terry Mitchell, Venkat Mummalaneni, Susan Myers and William Neal.

The board, which traces its origins to the Korean War, works closely with Army acquisition executive Doug Bush.

“I want to welcome the new members of the board, and to thank the current members of the board for their volunteer service to the men and women of the United States Army,” Bush said in the announcement. “We are embarking on the most ambitious Army modernization effort in more than 40 years, so their knowledge and experience could not come at a better time.”