The Insider

Tony Bertuca | September 17, 2018 at 5:15 AM

Senior Pentagon officials will appear at events around the Washington area this week, including the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference. Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is traveling to Macedonia.

Monday

The Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference begins at National Harbor, MD, featuring senior Pentagon officials.

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Tuesday

Defense One hosts an event on human-machine teaming.

Wednesday

The Association of the United States Army hosts a breakfast with the deputy chief of staff, G-8.

Thursday

KBR executives are slated to present at the D.A. Davidson conference in Chicago.

John Liang | September 17, 2018 at 5:10 AM

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

1. Lawmakers have cut $329 million from the Navy's fiscal year 2019 budget for programs the service has deemed "accelerated acquisitions," and are concerned the designation is causing "imprudent program management decisions."

Full story: Spending bill cuts $329 million from Navy's 'accelerated acquisitions'

2. The Marine Corps has issued a stop-work order to Science Applications International Corp. for the Assault Amphibious Vehicle survivability upgrade in the service's first step toward terminating the program's upgrade.

Full story: Marine Corps takes steps toward terminating AAV survivability upgrade effort

3. Lawmakers appropriated an additional $350 million for San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks, one of several large congressional additions to the Navy's shipbuilding accounts in the fiscal year 2019 defense spending bill.

Full story: Shipbuilding sees several major boosts in defense spending bill

4. The Navy's future topline budget will need to increase in order to support a $21 billion, 20-year shipyard recapitalization and optimization plan put together by Naval Sea Systems Command, according to the plan's executive summary obtained by Inside Defense.

Full story: Navy's shipyard recap, optimization plan will require bigger topline budget

John Liang | September 17, 2018 at 5:05 AM

Some must-reads from this week's edition of Inside the Army:

1. As the many pieces of Army Futures Command begin to move into place, service officials last week gave lawmakers a clearer idea of the command's organizational structure and the people who will steer it.

Full story: AFC chief focused on selecting the right leaders

2. Pentagon leaders have assigned the Army key responsibilities to synchronize Defense Department-wide activities to continue development of -- and prepare for production of -- a new class of long-range, ultrafast maneuvering missiles.

Full story: Army tapped for key roles to develop, build common hypersonic weapon

3. Congressional appropriators have deemed the Army's current acquisition strategy for a key air and missile defense system unattainable and are seeking cost estimates for alternative plans.

Full story: Army forced to find alternatives for critical missile defense needs

4. House and Senate appropriators are backing the Army's aim to upgrade its Stryker combat vehicles -- approving $94 million more than requested -- but are not assured the service has a feasible plan to complete the upgrades at the desired rate.

Full story: Army's Stryker upgrade plans still under scrutiny

John Liang | September 14, 2018 at 2:52 PM

The FY-19 defense spending conference bill dominates this Friday INSIDER Daily Digest.

We start off with funding for the Pentagon's JEDI Cloud program, then go into the services:

Spending bill restricts funding for Pentagon's JEDI cloud

The defense spending bill agreed to by conference negotiators limits how the Pentagon can spend its funding for cloud efforts, including the high-profile Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure initiative.

Army:

Defense spending bill cuts $20M from Army missile program

House and Senate conference negotiators have approved $256 million in the fiscal year 2019 defense spending bill for the Army's Joint Air-to-Ground Missile program -- $20 million less than the service requested.

Army forced to find alternatives for critical missile defense needs

Congressional appropriators have deemed the Army's current acquisition strategy for a key air and missile defense system unattainable and are seeking cost estimates for alternative plans.

Navy:

Spending bill cuts $329 million from Navy's 'accelerated acquisitions,' endorses aircraft carrier block buy

Lawmakers have cut $329 million from the Navy's fiscal year 2019 budget for programs the service has deemed "accelerated acquisitions," and are concerned the designation is causing "imprudent program management decisions."

Shipbuilding sees several major boosts in defense spending bill

Lawmakers appropriated an additional $350 million for San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks, one of several large congressional additions to the Navy's shipbuilding accounts in the fiscal year 2019 defense spending bill.

Lawmakers agree to boost F-35, LCS and other weapon systems in final spending bill

House and Senate appropriators have agreed to a final $675 billion fiscal year 2019 defense spending measure that includes the purchase of 93 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, 16 more than the Pentagon's request, and three Littoral Combat Ships, two beyond what was requested for FY-19.

Air Force:

Appropriators look to next steps for JSTARS as USAF seeks chief ABMS architect

House and Senate lawmakers, acquiescing to the Air Force's request to end the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System recapitalization program, are now turning to address maintenance issues with the legacy fleet.

Operational testing of the Joint Strike Fighter is slated for November:

JSF planning for November IOT&E start after DOT&E orders updated test software

The F-35 joint program office expects to start its first formal operational testing events in November, after Director of Operational Test & Evaluation Robert Behler directed the program to hold off on starting the tests until the newest version of software is available to the test aircraft fleet.

Hypersonic strike news:

DOD eyes Common Hypersonic Glide Body for use across Army, Navy, Air Force

The Defense Department is laying the groundwork for a new triad of conventional hypersonic strike weapons to arm the military services with a Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) paired with rockets tailored to launch from service-specific platforms, a major step toward ushering in a new class of ultrafast, maneuvering weapons across the U.S. military.

Army officials were on Capitol Hill this week talking about the service's new Futures Command:

AFC chief focused on selecting the right leaders

As the many pieces of Army Futures Command begin to move into place, service officials today gave lawmakers a clearer idea of the command's organizational structure and the people who will steer it.

More coverage of this week's Air Force Life-Cycle Industry Day in Dayton, OH:

Top-level liaisons, outside experts to help drive joint tech development under NDS

DAYTON, OH -- The Pentagon's top research official is assembling a group of liaisons to the services as they pursue the science and technology priorities laid out in the National Defense Strategy, an Air Force Research Laboratory official said this week.

Marjorie Censer | September 14, 2018 at 2:14 PM

House and Senate appropriators have agreed to allocate nearly $50 million in fiscal year 2019 for industrial base analysis and sustainment.

Conferees settled on a total of $48.9 million for the industrial base line, up from the $10.4 million sought by the Pentagon. The House bill approved the Pentagon's request, while the Senate bill provided $63.9 million for the line item.

According to the conference joint explanatory statement, the bill includes $15 million for "large scale classified electron beam welding" and $10 million for "risk reduction for tungsten defense products." It also sets aside $10 million to "expand manufacturing capability for cold rolled aluminum."

The legislation marks $15 million for a national security technology accelerator, though it notes the program is included under the defense-wide manufacturing science and technology line item.

The Pentagon is slated to soon release a long-anticipated industrial base report produced as the result of an executive order last year.

Tony Bertuca | September 14, 2018 at 1:16 PM

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said today he hopes the United States can iron out its disagreements with Turkey, which stem from Ankara's decision to purchase a Russian-made missile defense system and led the U.S. Congress to block the sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Turkey.

"It is well known there is a disagreement between the United States and Turkey on this issue," he said at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

Stoltenberg said it is problematic that Turkey, a NATO member, has chosen to purchase the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system that is not interoperable with NATO allies.

"I hope that it's possible to find a solution because what we see now is a challenge for all of us that there is this disagreement on the issue of S-400," he said. "NATO has been a kind of platform for this dialogue. Turkey is a very important ally for NATO for many reasons, but not least for its geographic location."

Turkey, bordering both Iraq and Syria, is home to several air bases and other defense infrastructure that have proven instrumental in projecting U.S. power in the Middle East and Africa.

But lawmakers recently agreed to a fiscal year 2019 defense appropriations bill that pauses all sales of F-35s to Turkey pending a Pentagon review of U.S.-Turkey relations. The pause in F-35 sales to Turkey is also part of the FY-19 National Defense Authorization Act.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who backed a Senate measure fully barring any F-35 sales to Turkey until it reverses its decision to purchase the S-400, released a statement saying current legislation does not go far enough.

"The language in the [appropriations] bill falls short of what is needed to prevent our national security from being compromised," he said. "The Senate provision established a clear, bright line to protect our security by prohibiting Turkey from obtaining the F-35 advanced aircraft if they proceed with their current plan to purchase the S-400 Russian missile defense system. The final bill replaces that bright line with fuzzy language that fails to send a strong message that such a combination would pose an unacceptable threat."

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, meanwhile, has requested that Congress allow Turkey to remain part of the F-35 program for fear of driving that nation -- and others -- further into the eager arms of Russia.

John Liang | September 14, 2018 at 10:24 AM

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

1. DAYTON, OH -- The program executive officer in charge of the Air Force's fighter and bomber fleets said this week his directorate is facing a significant modernization bow wave that is making it difficult to balance aircraft availability with the need for improved capability for an aging workhorse fleet.

Full story: Aircraft modernization bow wave driving availability concerns

2. DAYTON, OH -- As the Air Force looks for opportunities to use new rapid prototyping authorities, the service's acquisition executive said this week he's concerned early failures could lead to pushback from within the service and from lawmakers.

Full story: Roper concerned about failure response as USAF embraces section 804 authorities

3. DAYTON, OH -- The Pentagon's top research official is assembling a group of liaisons to the services as they pursue the science and technology priorities laid out in the National Defense Strategy, an Air Force Research Laboratory official said this week.

Full story: Top-level liaisons, outside experts to help drive joint tech development under NDS

4. DAYTON, OH -- The Air Force's battle-management program executive officer was tapped this week to become the service's first PEO Digital as the service seeks to spread agile development and operations to a wide range of software programs.

Full story: New PEO Digital to lead service-wide Agile DevOps implementation

Tony Bertuca | September 13, 2018 at 6:50 PM

House and Senate conferees have agreed on a massive omnibus spending bill that includes $675 billion for defense.

The defense spending measure is attached to appropriations for the departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services and other related agencies.

"With the changing global dynamics and ever-growing threats, it is absolutely imperative that our military is properly trained, equipped, and fully supported," a summary released by the House Appropriations Committee reads. "It is also critically important to provide our men and women in uniform with the funding and resources they need to execute their missions, assist and protect our allies around the world, provide for their families, and ensure the current and future security of our nation. This legislation does all of this by including robust funding for our troops, the defense programs and activities necessary to accomplish our national goals and ideals, and to continue to rebuild our military."

If Congress can pass a final defense appropriations package before the beginning of fiscal year 2019 on Oct. 1, it will be the first time in recent memory. If lawmakers cannot meet the deadline, they must either pass a stopgap continuing resolution or face a government shutdown.

Though several lawmakers said during a conference committee hearing today they were optimistic the minibus would pass and be sent to President Trump, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) said conferees would seek a stopgap CR to fund parts of the government until Dec. 7. A staffer said the CR is not being sought for defense, but for agencies not included in any existing “minibus” packages.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, has begun each of the past nine fiscal years on a CR that locks spending at previous-year levels and prohibits the start of new programs or production increases for weapon systems.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) said pairing the defense and non-defense spending bills was the "lynchpin" of a strategy he hatched with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the committee's ranking Democrat, to "return to regular order."

"I think we've come a long way and I'd like to finish the job," he said.

Frelinghuysen said today is the first time since 2007 the defense bill has been addressed by a conference committee.

Leahy, who noted the dysfunction of recent years, said being part of today's conference committee felt "like old times."

Watch Inside Defense for detailed breakdowns of the final bill.

Justin Doubleday | September 13, 2018 at 2:48 PM

The State Department has approved two major defense sales to South Korea, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

State approved the possible foreign military sale of six P-8A maritime patrol aircraft, as well as the potential FMS of 64 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhanced interceptors, according to two separate DSCA statements released today.

The estimated cost of the P-8A sale is $2.1 billion, while the PAC-3 deal could be worth $501 million, according to DSCA.

South Korean forces have operated the P-3 maritime surveillance aircraft for over 25 years and should have no difficulty transitioning to the P-8 aircraft, the statement notes. Meanwhile, South Korea will use the PAC-3 interceptors to "improve its missile defense capability, defend its territorial integrity and deter threats to regional stability," according to DSCA.

The announcement of the potential sales to South Korea comes days after Japan was approved to buy U.S. surveillance aircraft. Last August, in response to North Korea's long-range missile tests, President Trump announced South Korea and Japan would be able to buy "substantially increased" amounts of U.S. weapons.

John Liang | September 13, 2018 at 2:33 PM

Coverage of the Air Force's Life-Cycle Industry Day in Ohio leads off this Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest.

Our coverage so far of the Air Force's Life-Cycle Industry Day in Dayton, OH:

Air Force training investment boost to continue in FY-20 budget

DAYTON, OH -- The head of Air Combat Command said this week the fiscal year 2020 budget will see additional funding for key training capabilities to support readiness -- like improved threat emitters for F-35 training, contracted adversary air support and additional flying hours -- but hinted the service continues to face difficult decisions about how to balance the need for near-term readiness with investment in more future-looking training technology.

Air Force fighter, bomber modernization bow-wave driving availability concerns

DAYTON, OH -- The program executive officer in charge of the Air Force's fighter and bomber fleets said this week his directorate is facing a significant modernization bow wave that is making it difficult to balance aircraft availability with the need for improved capability for an aging workhorse fleet.

Roper concerned about failure response as Air Force embraces section 804 authorities

DAYTON, OH -- As the Air Force looks for opportunities to use new rapid prototyping authorities, the service's acquisition executive said this week he's concerned early failures could lead to pushback from within the service and from lawmakers.

New PEO Digital to lead service-wide Agile DevOps implementation

DAYTON, OH -- The Air Force’s battle-management program executive officer was tapped this week to become the service’s first PEO Digital as the service seeks to spread agile development and operations to a wide range of software programs.

Don't expect to see the Marine Corps' Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar Block 2 fielded this year:

G/ATOR on track for FY 2019 IOC, but no early fielding decision

The Marine Corps' Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar Block 2 is on track for initial operational capability in Fiscal Year 2019, but the service will not opt for a previously considered early fielding decision in 2018.

The Army recently issued an updated doctrine document on intelligence:

New Army intelligence doctrine focuses on multidomain operations

A document published by the Army this month details the role intelligence plays on the battlefield and the challenges to collecting intelligence within multidomain operations.

Document: Army's updated intelligence doctrine


It's cheaper to overhaul submarines at private shipyards, according to a new CBO report:

CBO: Attack sub overhauls have been less expensive at private shipyards than public

Despite the Navy's claims to the contrary, private shipyards are on average less expensive than public shipyards for the most common type of attack submarine overhaul, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Document: CBO report on sub maintenance


An Australian venture capital company is getting cash from Lockheed Martin Ventures:

Lockheed Martin Ventures invests in Australian innovation fund

Lockheed Martin today confirmed its venture capital arm has invested in Main Sequence Ventures, the VC firm managing the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Innovation Fund.

Marjorie Censer | September 13, 2018 at 12:05 PM

The plans to create a Space Force could boost Aerojet Rocketdyne's business, the company's chief executive said today.

Speaking at a G.research conference, Eileen Drake said she sees the new effort "as a positive."

"It shows that the president and the administration sees the importance" of space, she said. "We've never seen while we've all been in the industry such a buzz on space. . . . We're very optimistic about it."

Drake also said Aerojet is seeing more appetite within the Trump administration for foreign military sales.

She told the conference attendees Aerojet Rocketdyne's top priority for spending its capital is mergers and acquisitions. But, so far, "it's tough to find those opportunities."

"It doesn't necessarily mean buying a company, it could be buying a product line, it could be buying a portion of a business that fits with us," Drake added. "I just ask that you be patient with us. We want to find the right thing, we want to be smart about it, thoughtful about it and make sure it's a good fit with the company."

Justin Katz | September 13, 2018 at 10:34 AM

The Navy's future topline budget will need to increase in order to support a $21 billion, 20-year shipyard recapitalization and optimization plan put together by Naval Sea Systems Command, according to the plan's executive summary obtained by Inside Defense.

"This investment of approximately $21 billion represents a requirement that is well beyond [the] Navy's historical facilities investment funding and will require topline budgetary relief and its own program of record in order to avoid unacceptable impacts to other Navy programs that are equally as critical to the Navy's mission," a redacted version of the summary stated.

The three-pronged investment plan will improve the Navy's nuclear-capable shipyards by upgrading dry docks to accommodate future attack submarines and aircraft carriers, and optimize shipyard layouts to improve productivity, Inside the Navy reported in April. The full plan has not been released to the public.

The summary breaks down how the Navy will spend the $21 billion: $4 billion improving dry docks, $3 billion for capital equipment and $14 billion for construction costs to "provide the optimal layout of facilities within the shipyards," according to the summary.

Changing the shipyards' layouts is expected to reduce personnel and material travel movement for each future availability by an average of 65 percent, which equates to 328,000 man days per year, the summary states.

Meanwhile, the $4 billion spent on dry dock improvements is expected to recover 67 of 68 future maintenance availabilities that would otherwise have to be moved, deferred or rescheduled, the summary stated. The one availability not recovered is a submarine inactivation.

The Congressional Budget Office yesterday published a report stating that, contrary to the Navy's claims, it is less expensive to perform the most common type of attack submarine overhaul at private shipyards rather than public ones.

The executive summary was first reported by USNI News.

John Liang | September 13, 2018 at 10:28 AM

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

1. The Pentagon since 2011 has been unable to prove that a series of internal efficiency initiatives have saved billions and its latest effort may be headed for a significant disruption.

Full story: DOD's latest cost-savings effort hits turbulence amid watchdog criticism

2. The head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency says cost waivers granted to countries buying U.S. weapons are key to securing arms deals, as some lawmakers have questioned the practice of giving billions in discounts to rich Middle Eastern nations.

Full story: DSCA head defends cost waivers granted to foreign weapons buyers

3. The Defense Department is putting the final pieces in place for its Spaced-based Kill Assessment project that aims to give combatant commanders the ability to determine whether an interceptor hit or missed an enemy ballistic missile, a new capability to help inform whether a second shot needs to be taken against an incoming threat.

Full story: MDA: Space-based Kill Assessment constellation nearly in place

4. The United States will propose changes to how the Missile Technology Control Regime guides exports of unmanned aerial systems at an upcoming annual meeting, as officials want to enable U.S. companies to compete with countries like China for foreign UAS sales.

Full story: U.S. looks to November policy meeting to push foreign drone sales

Tony Bertuca | September 12, 2018 at 5:28 PM

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has named John Bonsell as majority staff director, according to a committee announcement.

Bonsell currently works at Science Applications International Corp. as vice president of government affairs. He previously served as the committee's minority staff director and has also served as Inhofe's deputy chief of staff, legislative director and military legislative assistant.

"I am pleased to announce John Bonsell as the new staff director for the committee," Inhofe said in a statement. "As a retired Army colonel with experience in both the government and private sector, John's knowledge and experience will be especially valuable as we address how to modernize and align our military to face the growing threats from China and Russia, while we continue to defend against rogue states and Islamic extremists."

Bonsell, who will join the committee Sept. 17, will succeed Chris Brose, who served as majority staff director for the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

John Liang | September 12, 2018 at 2:52 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's efficiency initiatives, foreign military sales incentives, missile defense and more.

The Pentagon's efficiency initiatives haven't been that successful:

DOD's latest cost-savings effort hits turbulence amid watchdog criticism

The Pentagon since 2011 has been unable to prove that a series of internal efficiency initiatives have saved billions and its latest effort may be headed for a significant disruption.

Giving foreign countries cost waivers as incentives for them to buy U.S. weapons isn't such a bad thing, according to the head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency:

DSCA head defends cost waivers granted to foreign weapons buyers

The head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency says cost waivers granted to countries buying U.S. weapons are key to securing arms deals, as some lawmakers have questioned the practice of giving billions in discounts to rich Middle Eastern nations.

Japan had a recent successful missile defense intercept test:

Japan's newest destroyer intercepts ballistic missile target in test with United States

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force this week validated the missile defense capability of its upgraded destroyers by intercepting a ballistic missile target during a flight test, marking "a significant milestone" in U.S.-Japan cooperative missile defense efforts, according to the Missile Defense Agency. 

The Army will be sending more troops to Germany:

Army permanently stationing new forces in Germany

U.S. Army Europe is reaffirming its commitment to NATO and deterring Russian aggression by adding 1,500 soldiers to its forces in Germany, the command announced this month.

Several big-ticket military aircraft programs saw their costs rise recently, according to the Government Accountability Office:

GAO: Operating costs on the rise for high-profile Navy, Air Force aircraft programs

A government watchdog has found the operating costs of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, EA-18G Growler and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet programs increased from fiscal year 2011 to FY-16, according to a new report.

The Marine Corps' Assault Amphibious Vehicle program is slowly inching toward termination:

Marine Corps takes steps toward terminating AAV survivability upgrade effort

The Marine Corps has issued a stop-work order to Science Applications International Corp. for the Assault Amphibious Vehicle survivability upgrade in the service's first step toward terminating the program's upgrade.