The Insider

By Justin Katz
May 22, 2019 at 12:48 PM

Austal USA this week filed a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office over a shipyard services contract worth up to $931 million awarded to Huntington Ingalls Industries late last month.

The contract was a recompetition for Littoral Combat Ship planning yard services.

According to GAO's docket, the bid protest was filed May 20 and will be decided by August 28.

In a May 1 statement, HII said the contract "will provide the LCS program with post-delivery life-cycle support, which includes fleet modernization program planning, design engineering and modeling, logistics support, long-lead-time material support, and preventative and planned maintenance system item development and scheduling."

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works was the incumbent, but has not filed a protest, according to GAO's docket.

An HII spokesman acknowledged the protest, but declined to comment further. Austal and BIW representatives declined to comment.

By Sara Sirota
May 22, 2019 at 11:26 AM

House appropriators are recommending an additional $50 million in fiscal year 2020 to further develop the Air Force's low-cost attritable unmanned aerial vehicle effort.

The funding boost is intended to develop, prototype and integrate Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology air vehicles, payloads, and launch and recovery concepts, as well as datalinks, human-machine interface enhancements and teaming, sustainment systems and other efforts.

Lawmakers explained their interest in this capability in a report accompanying the House Appropriations Committee's mark of the FY-20 defense spending bill, which the full committee approved Tuesday.

"The committee believes that LCAAT has the potential for game-changing capability and capacity across both permissive and contested environments while avoiding the high cost, long development timelines, and inflexible production lines of traditional aircraft programs," the report said.

If passed, the act would direct the Air Force secretary to submit a spending plan to the congressional defense committees for LCAAT funding in the budget request and the additional sums provided by appropriators.

LCAAT does not have its own funding line in the FY-20 budget request but is split across the Air Force's aerospace vehicle technologies, aerospace technology development/demonstration and manufacturing technology programs.

The service is asking for $148 million, $103 million and $43 million for these programs respectively. In addition to LCAAT, the funding is intended to support other initiatives, such as development of an economic service life analysis capability for legacy aircraft.

The service said in its budget request it aims to complete LCAAT affordable manufacturing methods, wing structure developments and flight demonstration analysis, among other efforts, in FY-20.

LCAAT achieved a major milestone in early March, when Kratos' XQ-58-A Valkyrie -- a long-range, high subsonic UAV -- had its first flight at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ. The Air Force Research Laboratory awarded Kratos a $40.8 million cost-share contract to develop the platform in 2016.

By Ashley Tressel
May 22, 2019 at 10:42 AM

The Army plans to award a $122.2 million contract to Israel-based IMI Systems and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems to put the Iron Fist non-developmental active protection system on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, according to a recent notice.

A May 21 industry notice states the service expects to award in January 2020 the contract for 154 systems, 14 maintenance kits and 2,484 countermeasures in response to an urgent need in Europe.

The Army Requirements Oversight Council late last year approved Iron Fist to move forward for initial production and additional testing, as Inside Defense reported.

By John Liang
May 21, 2019 at 6:23 PM

The House Appropriations Committee today marked up the fiscal year 2020 energy and water development spending bill that includes nearly $16 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The amount constitutes an increase of $665.7 million above the FY-19 level, according to a committee summary.

"This funding will maintain a safe, secure, and credible nuclear deterrent while addressing the threat of nuclear proliferation and terrorism," the summary states.

The funding breaks down as follows, according to the summary:

* "Weapons Activities -- $11.76 billion, an increase of $661 million above the fiscal year 2019 level to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent.

* "Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation -- $2.07 billion, an increase of $145 million above the fiscal year 2019 level and $82 million above the [Energy Department's FY-20] request. This funding secures nuclear material both globally and domestically. Funding is included to advance the Surplus Plutonium Disposition project.

* "Naval Nuclear Reactors -- $1.63 billion, which is $160 million below the fiscal year 2019 level, to continue safe and reliable operation of the Navy's nuclear-powered fleet and consistent with planned reductions as projects near completion.

* "Federal Salaries and Expenses -- $430 million, an increase of $20 million above the fiscal year 2019 level, to strengthen federal oversight and program and project management."

Read the full text of the bill here and the accompanying report here.

By Courtney Albon
May 21, 2019 at 5:17 PM

President Trump announced on Twitter today he plans to nominate former Aerospace Corp. Chairwoman Barbara Barrett as the next Air Force secretary.

"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force. She will be an outstanding Secretary," Trump wrote in the tweet.

Barrett also serves on the boards of the California Institute of Technology, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Rand Corp., and was previously a U.S. ambassador to Finland. She was nominated in 2003 to serve as Air Force secretary under President George W. Bush, but was never confirmed.

Barrett will replace outgoing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who will resign her post at the end of this month to serve as president of the University of Texas at El Paso.

By Tony Bertuca
May 21, 2019 at 4:27 PM

The House Appropriations Committee voted 30-22 today to pass the fiscal year 2020 defense spending bill.

Lawmakers from both parties, however, lamented that the bill is being considered in the House in the absence of a broader budget agreement to lift spending caps mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

House Appropriations defense subcommittee Chairman Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN) said the BCA has been an "albatross" around the neck of the committee for years.

Senate leaders said today, however, that a morning meeting with White House officials gave them cause to be optimistic that a two-year deal could be reached.

Meanwhile, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee said they would decline to support the defense spending bill at this time because it is not part of a broader budget agreement.

"We aren't making spending decisions based on reality," said House Appropriations defense subcommittee Ranking Member Ken Calvert (R-CA).

House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) also said she opposed the bill’s restrictions on the Defense Department's budgetary reprogramming authority, warning that it could have "unintended consequences."

The Democratic majority said they put the restrictions in place because the Defense Department overturned decades of precedent by transferring funding to build border barriers without the approval of Congress.

The bill sets the limit for DOD’s total annual reprogramming authority at $1 billion, compared to the $5 billion requested for FY-20 and the current level of $4 billion. The bill also limits annual OCO reprogramming to $500 million, compared to $4.5 billion in the budget request and the current level of $2 billion.

The bill also includes amendments that would repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force and prohibit the United States from cooperating with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Additionally, the bill includes an amendment that would provide $242 million in disaster aid for military bases damaged by natural disasters.

By Jaspreet Gill
May 21, 2019 at 4:14 PM

Army Aviation and Missile Command is hosting an advance planning briefing for industry on July 17-18.

The forum will focus on Team Redstone Center of Excellence’s core technical capabilities, acquisition needs and future opportunities, according to a May 21 Federal Business Opportunities announcement.

This year's theme is "Building Supply Chain Depth through Strategic Partnerships and Increased Capacity."

Among the forum guests, the Aviation Program Executive Office and Missiles and Space Program Executive Office will attend.

By Ashley Tressel
May 21, 2019 at 3:08 PM

The Army's Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office is holding an industry open house June 12 to introduce its new leadership and focus.

The office will discuss "the Army's planned time line, structure and opportunities in developing a hypersonic prototype, new directed energy capabilities, and space technologies," a May 20 Federal Business Opportunities notice states.

The RCCTO, formerly called the Rapid Capabilities Office, now has a new director, Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, who previously served as director for test at the Missile Defense Agency.

Army acquisition executive Bruce Jette late last year redesignated the office to focus on "the most strategic, highest-priority projects," according to its former acting director, Col. John Eggert.

Among those projects is the Army's new hypersonic weapon (the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon), which the service wants to start fielding in fiscal year 2023.

By Tony Bertuca
May 21, 2019 at 2:54 PM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said today a two-year spending deal that includes raising the debt ceiling could be made between Republicans and Democrats as soon as the end of the day.

McConnell told reporters at the Capitol he had a "very encouraging" meeting this morning with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Other members of the GOP and Democratic leadership were also present.

"We are anxious to reach a caps agreement," McConnell said. "Our hope is to make a deal before the day is over."

Still, the majority leader said he did not want to get too far ahead of the process.

"I've been to a lot of these meetings over the years," he said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he is similarly optimistic, though he noted there remain "some significant issues outstanding" on increasing non-defense spending.

"We're working hard on it," he told reporters. "It was a good productive meeting. We're having good discussions."

The meeting is scheduled to resume at 4:15pm.

McConnell said he believes President Trump understands that a deal to lift spending caps for both defense and non-defense spending is better than other alternatives, one of which would mean a $70 billion cut to defense.

"The American people have given us divided government," he said. "We've got to talk to each other."

By John Liang
May 21, 2019 at 2:25 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of a new GAO report on the Next-Generation GPS Operational Control System's schedule, the Air National Guard's plans for the proposed Space Force, an interview with the Army secretary and more.

GPS OCX contractor Raytheon is calling a new GAO report on the program "inaccurate":

GAO recommends independent assessment of OCX schedule

A new report from the Government Accountability Office urges the Defense Department to direct an independent review of the Next-Generation GPS Operational Control System's schedule, noting that the information could offer lawmakers and department leaders key information to mitigate risk of future delays.

Document: GAO report on GPS OCX

Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Scott Rice spoke at an Air Force Association breakfast this morning:

ANG director sees role for future 'Space Guard'

The director of the Air National Guard said today he has a team working closely with Pentagon leaders to make sure that the Guard component of the future Space Force remains lean and transitions to the new service smoothly and with minimal new bureaucracy.

Inside Defense interviewed the Army's senior civilian official this week:

Esper: Congress supports modernization

Army Secretary Mark Esper said this week that despite an early potential setback to the Army's fiscal year 2020 budget plans, he feels assured Congress and the service are aligned on funding shifts.

The White House Office of Management and Budget has sent congressional appropriators a letter listing the administration's objections to the House version of the FY-20 defense spending bill:

White House opposes House defense spending bill

The absence of a broad budget deal in Congress is being highlighted by the release of a White House letter opposing the defense spending bill crafted by House Democrats.

Document: OMB letter on House defense spending bill

House appropriators want the Air Force secretary to provide Congress detailed reports about two hypersonic prototyping projects:

House lawmakers question Air Force commitment to key hypersonic projects

House lawmakers are stepping up congressional oversight of the Air Force's Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon and Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon projects, arguing the Pentagon's new five-year spending plan indicates a potential lack of commitment to seeing them completed.

More coverage of the House Appropriations Committee's FY-20 defense spending bill:

House defense spending bill would rescind $3B

The House Appropriations Committee is poised to pass a fiscal year 2020 defense spending bill Tuesday that would rescind more than $3 billion from major weapon system programs.

House appropriators direct Navy to purchase four additional V-22s

The House Appropriations Committee is recommending the Navy procure four additional V-22 Ospreys in fiscal year 2020.

Pentagon's Space Force proposal lacks substance, House lawmakers say

House appropriators say the Defense Department's case to create a Space Force lacks substance and suggest in a draft of the fiscal year 2020 defense funding bill that the Pentagon can improve the military space enterprise without creating a separate service.

By Justin Katz
May 21, 2019 at 8:56 AM

The Navy yesterday awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat a $497 million contract modification for submarine industrial base development to support the Columbia-class submarine program.

“This work is furtherance of the [Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act] and the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019 . . . which authorized and appropriated additional funds for submarine industrial base development and expansion to ensure second- and third-tier contractors are able to meet increased production requirements,” according to a Defense Department statement.

The industrial base supporting the Columbia- and Virginia-class submarine programs includes 5,000 businesses across the United States and “will need to expand its output by 250% in the period of peak production” to meet the Navy’s demands, according to a May 20 statement from GDEB President Jeff Geiger.

By Sara Sirota
May 20, 2019 at 4:13 PM

House appropriators are recommending cutting $10 million from the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System because they say the program lacks a "clear execution plan."

If their draft of the fiscal year 2020 defense spending bill is passed, it would cut nearly 30% of the $36 million the service requested for ABMS in its proposed budget.

The FY-20 funding is intended to support major tasks overseen by the program's lead architect, according to justification books submitted to Congress with the Air Force's FY-20 budget request. These tasks include sensor development, prototyping and risk reduction, architecture analysis, development and management of open architecture standards, Phase 1 and Phase 2 bridge capabilities and Phase 3 development.

On May 2, Michael Sullivan, director of defense weapon system acquisitions at the Government Accountability Office, warned lawmakers about ABMS, saying the program "is in the early stages of planning. The capabilities and the strategy to deliver those capabilities are still to be determined."

He also stated Air Combat Command is expected to complete an analysis of alternatives this summer, during which the Air Force anticipates fully defining ABMS, according to his written testimony, prepared for a hearing before the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee.

ABMS will provide command and control and surveillance capabilities with an integrated network of sensors and enhancements to the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System, Airborne Early Warning and Control System and Control and Reporting Center. It replaces the JSTARS recapitalization effort, which the Pentagon abandoned last year.

By John Liang
May 20, 2019 at 2:12 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has plenty of coverage from the House Appropriations Committee's proposed FY-20 defense spending bill.

Before we get to the defense spending bill, though, here's a look at the potential for the Senate to pass its version of the FY-20 defense authorization bill before the House does:

Senate faces pros and cons in crafting defense policy bill ahead of House

This week, for the first time in 10 years, the Senate Armed Services Committee will be marking up its version of the defense authorization bill ahead of its House counterpart, a timing shakeup that has distinct pros and cons for lawmakers, according to former congressional staffers.

Here's our coverage of the defense spending bill, beginning with funding for a couple of defense-wide programs:

House panel proposes $85M to improve hypersonics research, new university consortium

House lawmakers are proposing legislation that would elevate the role of academic research in tackling hypersonic weapons by establishing a university consortium to support U.S. military efforts to expedite testing, evaluation and acquisition.

House legislation would fence funding for Pentagon's JEDI cloud program

House appropriators are seeking to block the Defense Department from migrating any data and applications to the commercial cloud provider who wins the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract until DOD provides more information on how it will transition to a multi cloud environment.

Navy funding:

House appropriators recommend $541M for P-8A squadron recapitalization

House defense appropriators are recommending an additional $541 million to the Navy's aircraft procurement budget for three P-8A Poseidons, citing concerns that two Navy Reserve squadrons would otherwise be decommissioned in fiscal year 2023, according to a draft of the FY-20 defense spending bill released by the committee today.

House appropriators direct Navy to shift $653M from Virginia program to sub maintenance

House appropriators are seeking to move $653 million from the Navy's Virginia-class submarine program to its operations and maintenance account to force the service to address its submarine backlog at several shipyards.

House defense appropriators would fund Navy nuclear cruise missile AOA, but direct SECNAV report

House appropriators are recommending full funding in the fiscal year 2020 defense spending bill for the Navy's upcoming sea-launched cruise missile analysis of alternatives but are concerned about the costs and operational impacts of the program, according to the defense subcommittee's mark.

Army funding:

House appropriators restore funding for Chinook Block II

House appropriators in a show of support for the Boeing-made Chinook helicopter are directing the Army to follow through on its original plan to upgrade the CH-47, which service leaders had proposed cancelling.

Air Force funding:

Lawmakers question F-35 buy plan, call for balanced investment in new capability, capacity

House appropriators are concerned the Air Force's fiscal year 2020 budget request doesn't include the resources to adequately grow its fighter fleet, saying in a report accompanying a draft mark of the funding bill the service needs to boost F-35 procurement even as it recapitalizes its fourth-generation fleet.

House appropriators would cut $108M from GBSD

House appropriators are recommending cutting more than $100 million the Air Force requested in fiscal year 2020 to begin a major development phase of its intercontinental ballistic missile replacement program.

In other Air Force news, the service's Combat Rescue Helicopter flew for the first time this month:

Sikorsky combat rescue helicopter achieves first flight

Sikorsky's Combat Rescue Helicopter -- the Air Force's replacement to its legacy Pave Hawk fleet -- achieved its first flight last week at a company facility in West Palm Beach, FL.

By Mallory Shelbourne
May 20, 2019 at 11:22 AM

The Navy last week announced a $1.1 billion contract modification award to Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky for the Marine Corps' new heavy-lift helicopter.

The award is for Lot 2 and Lot 3 of the CH-53K King Stallion's low-rate initial production phase.

"This modification provides for the procurement of 12 Lot II and Lot III low-rate initial production CH-53K aircraft, including programmatic support, logistics support, and peculiar support equipment," the announcement reads.

Navy acquisition chief Hondo Geurts told lawmakers last month the Navy would award the contract after reformatting the program, which has faced delays as the contractor and service grapple with technical issues.

Congressional defense committees earlier this year approved a partial reprogramming request for the CH-53K, allowing the Navy to shift $79 million from its aircraft procurement account to its research and development portfolio. The service said it needed the funds to conduct more flight tests for the helicopter.

The CH-53K is meant to haul heavy cargo and can lift the Marine Corps' Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

By Tony Bertuca
May 20, 2019 at 5:05 AM

House and Senate committees are scheduled to begin moving defense appropriations and authorization bills this week.

Monday

The Senate Armed Services Committee begins subcommittee mark-ups in closed sessions.

Tuesday

The House Appropriations Committee marks up the FY-20 defense spending bill.

Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Scott Rice speaks at an Air Force Association breakfast.

Wednesday

The full Senate Armed Services Committee marks up the FY-20 defense authorization bill in closed session.

Thursday

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters Peter Fanta speaks at a Mitchell Institute breakfast on "Strategic Capabilities: An Assessment of Progress Post NPR."