The Insider

May 23, 2018 at 12:11 PM | Tony Bertuca

The U.S. military has disinvited the Chinese navy from the Rim of the Pacific joint military exercise because of Beijing's actions in the South China Sea to "raise tensions and destabilize the region," according to a Pentagon statement.

"The United States is committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific," the Pentagon states. "China's behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise."

The Pentagon asserts its has "strong evidence" that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems and electronic jammers to contested areas in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea.

"China's landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island has also raised tensions," according to the Pentagon, referencing China's largest military outpost in the South China Sea.

Though China maintains that the construction on the islands is to "ensure safety at sea, navigation assistance, search and rescue, fisheries protection, and other non-military functions the placement of these weapon systems is only for military use," according to the Pentagon.

"We have called on China to remove the military systems immediately and to reverse course on the militarization of disputed South China Sea features," the Pentagon states. "We believe these recent deployments and the continued militarization of these features is a violation of the promise that President Xi made to the United States and the world not to militarize the Spratly Islands."

May 23, 2018 at 11:43 AM | John Liang

The Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee this week approved $14.8 billion in nuclear security funding for fiscal year 2019.

"The subcommittee measure provides added resources to strengthen the U.S. nuclear deterrence posture, ensure nuclear stockpile readiness and safety, and prepare for existing and future nuclear threats," according to a statement issued May 22.

The $14.8 billion in FY-19 nuclear security funding is $111 million above the FY-18 enacted level and $311 million below the Trump administration's budget request, and includes money for Energy Department nuclear security programs, "including Weapons Activities, Naval Reactors, and Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation," the statement reads, including:

* $10.9 billion for Weapons Activities, $208 million above the FY2018 enacted level and $311 million below the budget request,

* $1.6 billion for Naval Reactors, the same as the FY2018 enacted level and $167 million below the budget request, and

* $1.9 billion for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, $97 million below the FY2018 enacted level and $39 million above the budget request.

The full committee is scheduled to consider the bill May 24.

House appropriators passed their version of the bill on May 16 by a 29-20 vote. Their $44.7 billion overall bill was $1.5 billion above the FY-18 enacted level and $8.17 billion above the administration's budget request.

"Funding is targeted toward national security efforts -- including nuclear weapons activities -- and energy and water infrastructure investments," according to a House Appropriations Committee statement.

"This legislation will provide the resources to ensure America has the strongest possible nuclear deterrent, which is critically important during this time of rapidly changing global dynamics and emerging threats," committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) said.

Energy and water subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) said the bill "places emphasis where it is needed most: meeting critical national security needs and investing in our nation's infrastructure. It prioritizes the maintenance and security of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also supporting infrastructure projects and strategic research and development that will increase U.S. economic growth and competitiveness."

May 23, 2018 at 11:34 AM | Lee Hudson

The Navy plans next year to provide the Pentagon materiel investment recommendations for its Next Generation Air Dominance initiative, set to determine the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler replacement.

The service began conducting an analysis of alternatives for its sixth-generation fighter in May 2016. The Super Hornet and Growler will both retire in the 2030s.

 At the time, the Navy anticipated the study would last about 18 months. Concepts under review include a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft with advanced propulsion technologies, varying stealth characteristics, advanced standoff weapons, sensors and networks, according to the Pentagon's annual aviation and inventory plan submitted to Congress April 19.

"The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment USD (A&S), as well as the Office of Cost Assessment and Performance Evaluation, directed the Navy and the Air Force to conduct separate but coordinated examinations of [materiel] solution options," the report reads.

Additionally, the Navy completed a capability based assessment to inform replacing two adversary aircraft, the F-5F IN Tiger II and the F-16A/B Fighting Falcon. The service continues studying various operating concepts, including live, virtual and constructive solutions, to recapitalize capabilities in the current platforms.

"This effort will describe air combat training requirements for Naval Aviators so that they can achieve operational goals, given training requirements of more capable and integrated systems, expected tactical situations and assessed threats," the report reads.

In April, Navy and Marine Corps senior service officials told Congress the service is still working to identify options for the F/A-XX, also called NGAD.

"The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved the Initial Capabilities Document that frames NGAD study requirements to support the full range of military operations from carrier-based platforms," according to the written testimony. "The AOA is considering the widest possible range of materiel concepts while balancing capability, cost/affordability, schedule, and supportability."

The Navy's FY-19 budget request seeks more than $25 million across the five-year spending plan in research and development funding for management support.

Further, the report notes the Air Force began its AOA for NGAD after achieving a materiel development decision in January 2017. The service anticipates the AOA will wrap up this summer.

May 23, 2018 at 11:04 AM | Marjorie Censer

Standard & Poor's Global Ratings this week changed its outlook on Lockheed Martin to positive from stable.

"Although we expect Lockheed's credit measures to weaken in 2018 due to a voluntary pension contribution, the outlook revision reflects our belief that the benefits from U.S. tax reform, increasing defense budgets, and a moderation of the company's financial policy could cause its [funds from operations]-to-debt ratio to increase above our upgrade trigger of 40 percent in 2019," S&P said in a statement.

S&P added that it could raise its ratings on the company if the contractor's cash flows improve as a result of lower taxes and the absence of required pension contributions. However, it might revise the outlook back to stable if Lockheed doesn't reduce its share repurchases or pay down upcoming debt maturities.

May 22, 2018 at 2:09 PM | John Liang

DOD's latest industrial capabilities report leads off this Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest.

The Pentagon's latest industrial capabilities report touches on space and ground vehicles, among other areas:

DOD industrial base report highlights top four risk areas for space sector

The Defense Department's latest industrial capabilities report identifies the national security space sector's highest risk technologies and resources areas, which it has labeled "essential to the national defense."

DOD report warns of 'fragility' in ground vehicles supply chain

The scarcity of new ground vehicle development programs means future systems that rely more heavily on cutting-edge technologies will encounter "cost, schedule and performance challenges," according to a new report.

Document: DOD's FY-18 industrial capabilities report

The Missile Defense Agency has issued a request for information for an intercontinental ballistic missile kinetic interceptor:

MDA solicits ideas for kinetic interceptors to destroy ICBMs during boost-phase

The Missile Defense Agency is soliciting ideas for a kinetic interceptor to destroy ballistic missiles during the boost-phase of flight, a first step in establishing a parallel -- or potential rival -- program to the technologically ambitious effort to develop a speed-of-light weapon to kill long-range enemy missiles immediately after launch.

The Defense Department is reviewing its cyber posture:

Pentagon kicks off landmark cyber posture review

The Pentagon has embarked on a review of the Defense Department's cyber posture mandated by lawmakers to help clarify the U.S. policy on deterrence in cyberspace.

The Marine Corps will have a bombing range for its Joint Strike Fighter aircraft by the end of the year:

Marines will have F-35 bombing range on the East Coast by December 2019

Beginning in December 2019 the Marine Corps will have a precision-guided munitions training range that supports the Joint Strike Fighter on the East Coast.

Finding a headquarters building for Army Futures Command could face hurdles:

Meadows amendment on real property leases could affect AFC site

A proposed amendment to the House version of the fiscal year 2019 defense policy bill would impose new restrictions on real property leases by the Defense Department, and could add new hurdles to the headquarters selection for Army Futures Command.

May 22, 2018 at 1:51 PM | Ashley Tressel

The Army on May 22 announced two upcoming deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY, will deploy this summer to Afghanistan. The unit, commanded by Col. Craig Alia, will replace the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

The XVIII Airborne Corps headquarters at Ft. Bragg, NC, will deploy this fall to Iraq. The unit, commanded by Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera, will replace the III Corps headquarters in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

May 22, 2018 at 1:31 PM | Marjorie Censer

The Professional Services Council, an industry group, is criticizing a legislative proposal by the Pentagon that would limit companies' options for protesting award decisions.

The legislative proposal, released earlier this year, would limit the time frame in which a company can challenge an award decision in the Court of Federal Claims. Already, a company faces timeliness rules in filing a protest with the Government Accountability Office. As a result, the new proposal would prevent contractors from taking a losing decision from GAO to the federal court.

PSC has sent a letter to Capitol Hill opposing the provision, arguing the move is premature given that the recent RAND Corp. report on bid protests recommended looking more deeply into cases before the court that were previously considered by GAO.

In its May 15 letter, sent to the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, PSC writes: "Congress would benefit from a review of the outcomes of COFC cases to determine if the sustained rate reflects the concerns expressed by the Department of Defense.

"Our own research finds that there are few covered cases that arise in any one year, which does not justify such a significant legislative change," the letter added.

Alan Chvotkin of PSC told Inside Defense this proposal has been made twice before but not been adopted.

"We've been to this movie before," he said.

In its proposal, DOD argues the change would more quickly resolve protests.

"The expeditious resolution of protests is greatly hindered by the ability of a protestor to seek redress at GAO and, faced with a negative outcome, then seek another review of the agency's actions by filing a protest with the COFC," the document reads.

In recent years, Congress has shown a willingness to alter the bid-protest process. Last year's defense authorization legislation included a new provision that starts in two years requiring a contractor with at least $250 million in revenue to reimburse DOD for the cost of an unsuccessful protest.

May 22, 2018 at 11:45 AM | Rachel Karas

Boeing will receive a contract worth up to $250 million to study how to make the Long-Range Standoff Weapon safe to fly on the B-52 bomber.

Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center spokeswoman Leah Bryant said May 18 the contract, slated to begin Jan. 1, 2019, will ensure the next-generation nuclear cruise missile's airworthiness. Boeing will look into modified aircraft hardware, computer systems and software, crew systems, cybersecurity and flight technology, among other issues.

According to an April 10 notice, the Air Force expects the contract will last five to six years. Bryant did not offer specifics on how the B-52 or LRSO might have to be modified to work together.

Boeing's studies will last into the engineering and manufacturing development phase, slated to begin in early 2022. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are now refining their LRSO designs under the technology-maturation and risk-reduction phase. The new missile will fly on the B-52 and Northrop Grumman's developing B-21, while the Air Force plans to retire the B-2 in the early 2030s.

May 22, 2018 at 11:19 AM | Tony Bertuca

The full House is set to begin debate on the fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill tonight.

The House Rules Committee has set the rules for debate and cleared more than 100 amendments for consideration. The committee will meet again today to dispense with an additional 500 amendments for possible consideration.

May 22, 2018 at 11:15 AM | Courtney Albon

BAE Systems announced today it has received a five-year contract worth more than $100 million from F-35 Joint Strike Fighter prime contractor Lockheed Martin to help strengthen the supply chain that supports the jet's electronic warfare suite.

"BAE Systems will maintain regional warehouses with on-hand inventories of critical EW components to improve fill rates and reduce wait times," according to a May 22 press release. "The company will also establish various metrics that will be used to further strengthen confidence in the supply chain."

BAE builds the F-35's EW system, the AN/ASQ-239, which is designed to provide improved situational awareness, advanced sensors and avionics and broadband protection.

May 22, 2018 at 10:46 AM | John Liang

The Army has deployed Northrop Grumman-built enhanced Joint Tactical Ground Station capabilities in Japan "to advance battlespace awareness and missile defense," according to a company statement.

The system was first fielded in 1997 to provide in-theater missile warning using data directly from satellite sensors, Northrop said.

"The work is part of the pre-planned product improvement program previously awarded to Northrop Grumman to modernize JTAGS," the statement reads.

Northrop has updated JTAGS' hardware, software and communication systems. Additional JTAGS data sources include feeds from the Space Based Infrared System and Defense Support Program satellites. The company also made improvements to soldier-machine interfaces and for cyber protection.

JTAGS receives and processes data directly downlinked from infrared satellite sensors and then disseminates near-real-time warning, alerting and cueing information on ballistic missile launches and other tactical events of interest throughout the theater using multiple communications networks.

Northrop Grumman has been the JTAGS prime contractor since 1994 under the direction of the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command.

May 21, 2018 at 3:29 PM | Lee Hudson

The Marine Corps may upgrade the tracks on its amphibious vehicles using elastomer, a material that is used on wearable fitness tracking devices, instead of steel because the rubber provides greater mobility with reduced weight.

The service is seeking a track system that can exceed T157 track performance, which is a modified Army M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle suspension system.

Research shows elastomer generates less ground pressure, better traction and lateral stability than steel. The polymer reduces platform vibration, noise, radar and acoustic signatures, weight and rolling resistance, according to questions and answers posted by the service on the Federal Business Opportunities website. The Q&A is in response to an April 17 request for information.

Compared with steel, elastomer will improve track life energy efficiency, lower life-cycle costs and does not corrode, the document reads.

Inside the Navy reported last month that the Marine Corps was looking to U.S. allies to find a lighter-weight track. The service plans to purchase new tracks to outfit both the Assault Amphibious Vehicle Survivability Upgrade and legacy platforms.

The AAV SU increases the gross vehicle weight to 75,000 pounds. The current tracks are made of steel links integrated with rubber track pads that are 71.4 pounds per foot.

The Marine Corps anticipates awarding a contract for new tracks in December and delivery beginning in October 2021. The service requests 100 track sets be delivered each year.

"The mobility of the AAV SU allows the vehicle to operate effectively with M1A1 main battle tanks and other motorized/mechanized forces as well as the conduct of mounted security operations in urban or restrictive terrain alongside wheeled and tracked vehicles of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force," according to the April 17 RFI.

ITN reported in February the Marine Corps modified the interior layout of the AAV SU so that a troop commander can easily exit the vehicle through the ramp in the back.

Service spokesman Manny Pacheco told ITN Feb. 1 the reason the troop commander could not quickly exit the vehicle was due to where radios were located in the vehicle. "A design change was developed to move the radios closer to the hull and change the approach for cabling the radios to remove any intrusions that restricted TC movement," he said.

The design fix will be incorporated into low-rate initial production vehicles the service will take delivery of in the second half of fiscal year 2018.

The legacy AAV entered the service in 1972 and it was to have been replaced by the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. But the Defense Department canceled the EFV program in January 2011 after investing nearly $3 billion in the effort.

The Marine Corps decided to upgrade a portion of the legacy fleet, dubbed AAV SU, and selected Science Applications International Corp. to build 10 prototype vehicles.

May 21, 2018 at 3:19 PM | Marjorie Censer

Lockheed Martin said today it has named Michele Evans deputy executive vice president for its aeronautics business, effective June 4.

She will be based in Fort Worth, TX.

Evans was most recently general manager for integrated warfare systems and sensors in Lockheed's rotary and mission systems business. She also previously served as vice president of modernization and sustainment, Lockheed said.

Paul Lemmo has been tapped to succeed Evans as general manager for integrated warfare systems and sensors in the rotary and missions systems unit. He previously was vice president of fire control/SOF GLSS business.

May 21, 2018 at 2:11 PM | John Liang

A chat with the CEO of L3 Technologies leads off this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest.

Inside Defense recently chatted with the head of L3 Technologies:

Kubasik, taking the reins of L3, seeks non-traditional approach

L3 Technologies is moving to focus its research and development and invest in or acquire innovative companies as it seeks to become a "non-traditional sixth prime" under new chief executive Chris Kubasik.

Don't expect the Littoral Combat Ship to get synthetic aperture sonar technologies anytime soon:

Navy reviews synthetic aperture sonar technologies for LCS

The Navy has reviewed synthetic aperture sonar technologies at the request of Congress, including products that are in use with allied navies but none provide "adequate performance," according to the service's acquisition executive.

The Air Force's acquisition strategy for the Compass Call recapitalization program has been officially certified:

Lord certifies Air Force's Compass Call acquisition strategy

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord certified the Air Force's acquisition strategy for the Compass Call recapitalization program in a May 14 memo to Congress, a Defense Department spokesman confirmed Friday.

The Pentagon will have to reprogram money to pay to fix problems on the first-of-its-class aircraft carrier Ford:

Pentagon notifies Congress of special transfer action authority to pay for Ford deficiencies

The Pentagon notified Congress last week of the special transfer authority action it needs to fix deficiencies in the multibillion-dollar aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78).

Lessons learned from an ongoing light-attack aircraft acquisition program could be applied to other platforms:

ACC official: Command may consider future experiments after light attack

A top Air Combat Command planning and requirements official said Friday that if the service's experimentation with a potential light-attack acquisition program proves successful, he wouldn't rule out the possibility of future experiments to further boost the service's attack aircraft fleet.

The MH-60S helicopter could be getting a new mounted gun system:

Navy seeks information on mounted gun system for MH-60S

The Navy is seeking information from industry to support an externally mounted gun system demonstration on an MH-60S aircraft, according to a Federal Business Opportunities notice.

Document: Navy RFI on mounted gun system for MH-60S

News on the Army's Cyber Center of Excellence:

Army's cyber COE focused on integration for new systems

The Army's Cyber Center of Excellence is honed in on ensuring coordination with all other operations in the cyber domain, according to a service official.

May 21, 2018 at 10:13 AM | John Liang

Some must-reads from this week's issue of Inside the Navy:

1. As new aircraft come online like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, CH-53K King Stallion and a slew of unmanned aerial systems, the Marine Corps is revising its maintenance qualification standards to make the transition easier for mechanics and other personnel.

Full story: Marines revise standards for maintenance as new aircraft come online

2. The Navy has disestablished the office of the deputy assistant secretary for unmanned systems and the service will transfer the portfolio to the "appropriate" deputy assistant secretary offices, Inside the Navy has learned.

Full story: Navy dissolves unmanned systems office after completing roadmap

3. The Navy has reviewed synthetic aperture sonar technologies at the request of Congress, including products that are in use with allied navies but none provide "adequate performance," according to the service's acquisition executive.

Full story: Navy reviews synthetic aperture sonar technologies for LCS

4. A war-funding account that has been derided by critics for years as a "slush fund" may have finally reached a political inflection point in Congress, but statutory budget caps set to return next year could derail ongoing efforts to increase fiscal transparency at the Pentagon.

Full story: Pentagon's controversial war account could be poised for political reckoning