The Insider

By Tony Bertuca
January 19, 2023 at 6:34 PM

The Defense Department today announced a $2.5 billion military aid package for Ukraine that includes the transfer of hundreds of combat vehicles from U.S. stocks including Strykers, Bradleys and mine-resistant trucks as well as other weapons.

The package, funded via presidential “drawdown” authority, includes:

  • additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS);
  • eight Avenger air defense systems; 
  • 59 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles with 590 anti-tank missiles and 295,000 rounds of 25mm ammunition;
  • 90 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers with 20 mine rollers;
  • 53 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles;
  • 350 humvees;
  • 20,000 155 mm artillery rounds;
  • approximately 600 precision-guided 155 mm artillery rounds;
  • 95,000 105 mm artillery rounds;
  • approximately 11,800 120 mm mortar rounds;
  • additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
  • 12 ammunition support vehicles;
  • six command post vehicles;
  • 22 tactical vehicles to tow weapons;
  • High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARMs);
  • approximately 2,000 anti-armor rockets;
  • over 3,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition;
  • demolition equipment for obstacle clearing;
  • claymore anti-personnel munitions;
  • night vision devices;
  • spare parts and other field equipment.

DOD said the 59 Bradleys included in this package, when combined with the 90 Strykers and the 50 Bradleys the United States previously committed, will provide Ukraine with “two brigades of armored capability.”

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl recently told reporters that the Ukraine war is moving into its “next phase” in which armored vehicles will be needed to confront Russian troops entrenched behind the front lines of battle.

The announcement of the new aid comes as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is meeting with NATO officials in Germany to discuss support for Ukraine and the contribution of future weapon systems.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to withhold Abrams tanks from Ukraine, despite a request from Kyiv and the stated intention of Germany to withhold delivery of its Leopard tank until U.S. tanks are pledged.

Kahl said the Abrams “may nor may not be the right system for Ukraine,” but stressed how demanding it is to maintain the system.

“I just don’t think we’re there yet,” he said. “The Abrams tank is a very complicated piece of equipment. It’s expensive, it’s hard to train on, it has a jet engine. I think it’s about three gallons to the mile with jet fuel. It is not the easiest system to maintain.”

The Pentagon said the latest aid package, along with including hundreds of combat vehicles, also contains additional support for Ukraine’s air defenses.

“The Kremlin’s most recent air attacks against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure again demonstrate the devastating impact of Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine,” DOD said in a statement. “This package provides additional NASAMS munitions and Avenger air defense systems to help Ukraine counter a range of short and medium range threats and bolster Ukraine’s layered air defense.”

The United States has committed more than $26.7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

By Thomas Duffy
January 19, 2023 at 11:56 AM

Today’s INSIDER Defense Digest starts off with a look at the next phase of the Russia-Ukraine war, news from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s artificial intelligence program, the Army is expanding its data platform project, and an Army missile defense program is close to operational capability.

A senior Pentagon official says armored vehicles will be key to the future of the war in Ukraine:

DOD sees armored vehicles as key to ‘next phase’ of Ukraine war

Under Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl said the war in Ukraine has entered a new phase in which Ukrainian troops will need more armored vehicles to battle an invading force of Russians now entrenched behind the front lines.

The Pentagon is launching a new artificial intelligence program:

New DARPA initiative focusing on making AI trustworthy for national security

As the private sector is trailblazing in the field of artificial intelligence, the Pentagon is seeking to develop AI through its own avenues and working to find where industry and Defense Department priorities align.

The Army wants to make data available to soldiers as close to real time as possible:

Army Vantage data platform evolving to increase availability of real-time information

The Army is in the process of evolving its Army Vantage data platform so soldiers and leaders can make “data driven decisions” in real time, according to service officials. In late 2019, the Army awarded Palantir Technologies a $458 million production agreement for Army Vantage -- the service’s platform for data-driven operations.

The Army expects to deliver a new air and missile defense system to the field in a few months:

IBCS on track for major acquisition milestone in April: initial operational capability declaration

The Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense program is on track to declare initial operational capability in April -- a delay of one year from the objective plan but still within the approved schedule -- a milestone that will allow soldiers, who for years have been testing the IAMD Battle Command Systems (IBCS), to pivot to real-world missions.

By Shelley K. Mesch
January 19, 2023 at 10:32 AM

The Air Force is seeking information from the defense industry for ways to keep its cyberspace operations system relevant, opening the possibility for a recompete on a sustainment contract currently held by Northrop Grumman.

The Cyber Mission Platform, which was developed by Northrop beginning in 2014, is a comprehensive system for offensive cyber operations and mission planning, generation, execution and more, according to a request for information posted by the service Life Cycle Management Center earlier this month.

Northrop still maintains CMP, managing logistics, a help desk, software development and other support capabilities, according to the post.

“The [Program Management Office] is looking at options on how best to approach sustainment of CMP and is looking for industry input on how this can be done,” the office said in an email. “If it is determined that a new contract structure would be most advantageous to the government, then a recompete is possible.”

AFLCMC wants to know if responding companies have experience with Agile methodology and processes, models-based systems engineering, enterprise logistics solutions and Defense Department cyber operations, along with other information on how the companies would work with the DOD and prime contractors.

By Thomas Duffy
January 18, 2023 at 2:25 PM

This midweek INSIDER Daily Digest starts off with the Army chief of staff commenting on replacing equipment sent to Ukraine, a new missile defense laser study, Joint Strike Fighter news, and news from the cyber world.

The Army chief of staff sees opportunity in replacing equipment sent to Ukraine:

McConville: Army should avoid buying ‘new, old stuff’ when replacing equipment sent to Ukraine

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said Wednesday that the service should resist purchasing “new, old stuff” when replenishing supplies and weapons that have been sent to Ukraine.

The Missile Defense Agency is launching a new laser weapon study:

MDA taps General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems for new DPAL study project

The Missile Defense Agency has tapped General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems to study diode-pumped alkali laser (DPAL) technology -- including potential applications for shooting down long-range threats as part of the Missile Defense System.

The schedule for improving F-35 aircraft may get an adjustment:

Integration timeline in jeopardy after F-35 makes first flight with TR-3

The F-35 Joint Program Office plans to cut in Technology Refresh 3 hardware following the results of a developmental test campaign that a spokesman said will "continue through 2023," a timeline that jeopardizes the program's goal of integrating the hardware into production this summer.

Industry wants a single pathway for sharing incident reports:

Defense industry urges CISA to create single 'channel' for sharing incident reports under upcoming regime

Leaders from the defense industrial base are urging the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to consolidate how it will collect mandatory incident reports from the sector into a single "channel" where information is shared between the Defense Department and CISA.

By Nick Wilson
January 18, 2023 at 1:43 PM

The Navy successfully tested a prototype electronic attack system intended to provide anti-ship missile defense capabilities to small ships, according to a release from Northrop Grumman, the contractor.

Published last week, the announcement states that an initial demonstration of the future Ultra-Lite Electronic Attack (EA) prototype was conducted by Northrop Grumman and the Naval Research Laboratory during last summer’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

The system is undergoing additional concept demonstrations this month to assess reliability and scalability.

The earlier demonstration was conducted aboard an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, where the prototype transceiver technology was paired with the Navy’s EA antenna. The “scaled-down” system is small and light to enable use on small vessels.

“This at-sea demonstration proves Northrop Grumman's future low-size, weight and power, scaled EA solution can effectively support U.S. Navy missions,” said Monta Harrell, Northrop Grumman’s director of maritime electronic warfare advanced solutions, in a statement included in the release.

“The lessons learned from the RIMPAC exercise provide real-world insights into our low-risk architectural solution for smaller ships that will revolutionize EA for the U.S. Navy,” Harrell’s statement continues.

By Michael Marrow
January 18, 2023 at 12:49 PM

The Space Force successfully launched another Global Positioning System III-series satellite from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, FL, the morning of Jan. 18 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the GPS III satellites provide up to three times greater accuracy and an eightfold increase in anti-jamming capabilities compared to earlier systems, Space Systems Command said in a press release.

“With the GPS III SV06 launch, GPS has accomplished another step towards Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT)’s overall mission of modernizing capabilities for our civilians and military users while maintaining the performance and resiliency of our existing architecture,” Program Executive Officer for Military Communications & PNT Directorate Cordell DeLaPena Jr. said in the release.

The rocket carrying the satellite was reused from a previous National Aeronautics and Space Administration mission, and SSC said the rocket was recovered and will be refurbished for a future launch.

Four more GPS III satellites remain to join the medium-earth orbit constellation, which now numbers 32, following the launch of the sixth III-series vehicle today. A Lockheed official previously said in an interview with Inside Defense that the company was planning to finish construction of the last two satellites in the first quarter of 2023.

Other capabilities -- such as the addition of the L1C civil signal that offers compatibility with international satellite navigation systems -- will depend on the launch of GPS IIIF satellites, the follow-on space vehicles that are also being manufactured by Lockheed.

The Space Force is looking to launch the IIIF satellites beginning in 2026, though risk remains that deployment of its ground control segment could be delayed.

By Tony Bertuca
January 18, 2023 at 10:25 AM

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute plans to host its first annual National Security Innovation Base Summit in Washington on March 14, accompanied by a “report card” for the Pentagon and panel discussions featuring defense and congressional officials.

Reagan Institute Policy Director Rachel Hoff told reporters the event is meant to continue national security conversations begun at the Reagan National Defense Forum held in Simi Valley, CA, last month.

“We along with a set of advisors had understood that we needed a tool to kind of track where future areas for interventions are needed,” she said. “Then also to look back on previous efforts -- and to do this over time -- to track the effectiveness of various interventions, legislation or reform efforts.”

Hoff said a key feature of the upcoming event will be the launch of the NSIB Report Card, intended to be a policy tool for the institute to measure the effectiveness and productivity of the defense industrial base regarding innovation.

“This will be kind of an innovative policy tool that will allow policymakers and key stakeholders [to assess] this national security innovation base ecosystem,” she said.

Hoff said she and her team are developing a “short list of key indicators that will measure across a set of metrics and will assess with a letter grade . . . which areas are performing well . . . and which areas are ripe for future policy interventions or resources or need a new strategy or what have you.”

Hoff said examples of report card metrics include access to innovative capital and a well-trained 21st century workforce.

“We’re building the report card now,” she said, adding that it will likely be released a day or two before the summit.

“What we hope comes of it is that there’s a real conversation around the indicators that are at the bottom of the list and what we need to do to improve,” she said.

The report may also include fiscal recommendations, but Hoff said it remains to be seen if specific dollar amounts would be attached.

The announcement of the NSIB Summit follows Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recent establishment of the Office of Strategic Capital, which is intended to invest in companies developing key defense technologies and help them bridge the so-called “valley of death” that lies between prototyping and production.

By Dan Schere
January 17, 2023 at 4:27 PM

(Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information from Oshkosh Defense.)

The Army has awarded Oshkosh Defense a $141 million contract for A2 medium tactical trucks and medium tactical trailers, according to a Defense Department notice.

The contract includes an order of 414 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles and 56 FMTV trailers, according to a press release Oshkosh issued on Wednesday.

Oshkosh’s medium tactical vehicles and vehicle systems are used for ammunition resupply, maintenance and recover, engineer support missions, troop transport and combat support in tactical environments, among other purposes, according to the company’s website.

The FMTV A2 is a modernized version of a previous FMTV that offers increased force protection, more payload capacity, better off-road mobility and an upgraded electrical system, according to the company. Pat Williams, the chief program officer for Oshkosh Defense, said in a statement Wednesday that the company has worked with the Army to refine the FMTV A2 since being awarded a production contract in 2018.

“We’re confident that we are delivering the best performing medium tactical vehicle in the world,” he said.

The contract announcement, posted Friday afternoon, states that bids were solicited online and two were received. The estimated completion date is Nov. 30, 2024.

According to Oshkosh, the company has received orders for 1,412 FMTV A2s and 800 FMTV trailers to date.

By Michael Marrow
January 17, 2023 at 2:08 PM

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying military payloads blasted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, FL on Jan. 15, marking the second Falcon Heavy launch for the Space Force.

The mission, dubbed USSF-67, carried two spacecraft to geosynchronous orbit, Space Systems Command said in a Jan. 16 press release announcing the successful launch.

“We’re certainly on a roll with 96 consecutive successful national security space launches, and the takeaway is that we’ve really got a spectacular team working together on our most challenging launch profiles to ensure our mission partners get on orbit with confidence,” Program Executive Officer for Assured Access to Space Maj. Gen. Stephen Purdy said in the release.

According to Space Systems Command, the first space vehicle, called Continuous Broadcast Augmenting Satellites Communications (CBAS), is a satellite that will supplement existing SATCOM relay capabilities “in support of our senior leaders and combatant commanders.”

A Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter, or LDPE, was the second spacecraft mounted on the rocket. Based on Northrop Grumman’s ESPAStar platform, the spacecraft carried two satellites for SSC and three for the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (SpRCO).

“From conception and development of next-generation space technology, like ESPAStar, to on-orbit command and control, we are prepared to support the full lifecycle of our customer’s missions throughout the ever-evolving threat environment,” Vice President for National Security Systems Troy Brashear said in a Northrop Grumman press release.

According to Space News, the two SSC satellites, called Catcher and WASSAT, are prototypes that will respectively study space domain awareness capabilities and track other objects in orbit.

Meanwhile, the three SpRCO satellites “include two operational prototypes for enhanced situational awareness, and an operational prototype crypto/interface encryption payload providing secure space-to-ground communications capability,” SSC said in the release.

Space Development Agency Director Derek Tournear said in September 2022 that SpRCO’s satellites are “highly classified” prototypes and systems, though an official previously stated SpRCO is only interested in procuring mature capabilities.

The Jan. 15 Falcon Heavy mission is the second for the service following a successful launch on Nov. 1, which similarly carried payloads to geosynchronous orbit. Mounted on that rocket as well was an LDPE spacecraft, which SSC said in the Jan. 16 press release “will continue to provide access to space for multiple DOD space Science & Technology (S&T) demonstration experiments.”

By John Liang
January 17, 2023 at 1:33 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the resolution of an F-35 power module shortfall, Army cloud computing, the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship program and more.

An F-35 power module shortfall, which previously caused long queues for maintenance and threatened to render an increasing number of jets non-mission-capable, was overcome in November:

F-35 power module backlog cleared, JPO says

A critical shortage of power modules for the F-35's engines has ended, a Joint Program Office spokesman confirmed to Inside Defense.

Last October, the Army announced the Enterprise Application Migration and Modernization effort -- a $1 billion multi-award, multivendor contract to further its cloud efforts:

Army's EAMM contract will do 'heavy lifting' for cloud migration

While hundreds of the Army's applications have already moved to the cloud, a senior service official says there's still "a lot more to lift," which could be accomplished through an upcoming enterprise-wide cloud contract.

After saving five Littoral Combat Ships from early decommissioning, lawmakers directed the Navy to determine alternative uses for the remaining Freedom-class variants, which have struggled with the anti-submarine warfare mission module and their drive trains:

Navy considers new uses for LCS variants

The Navy is exploring new ways to use its fleet of Littoral Combat Ships, according to service officials who discussed plans for LCSs to be outfitted with the Naval Strike Missile and take on mine countermeasure missions in 5th Fleet.

The Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act mandates the Army craft an Extended Range Cannon Artillery program acquisition strategy that includes full-and-open competition using best-value criteria for all post-prototype production:

ERCA strategy now required to include 'best value' competition for post-prototype production

The Army is now required by law to open the Extended Range Cannon Artillery program to competition after the service buys an initial batch of 20 prototypes, setting the stage for a contest before the planned production decision late next year.

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

Defense industry urges CISA to create single 'channel' for sharing incident reports under upcoming regime

Leaders from the defense industrial base are urging the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to consolidate how it will collect mandatory incident reports from the sector into a single "channel" where information is shared between the Defense Department and CISA.

By Tony Bertuca
January 17, 2023 at 1:08 PM

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) has been named chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

“There is no higher priority for Congress than defending the American people and the liberties we hold dear,” he said in a statement. “Serving as the chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee is one of the greatest honors of my service to this nation. It is also a role that comes with tremendous responsibilities.”

Calvert said Congress needs to be “wide-eyed” about growing Russian and Chinese military aggression.

“America cannot expect to lead the free world in the decades to come if we are not in the position of being the unquestioned defense superpower we have been for decades,” he said.

But Calvert, who has said he wants to increase defense spending, will be going up against some fiscal hawks in his party who want to cap discretionary spending amounts used in fiscal year 2022. Doing so could mean a $75 billion cut to the Defense Department.

“As Alexander Hamilton once wrote, ‘the circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite.’ Yet, as we know all too well, American tax dollars are very much finite,” he said.

Calvert pledged to “eliminate waste, create efficiencies, and prioritize investments in the tools that will provide the foundation for our defense for decades to come.”

Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), who will chair the full committee, released a statement saying Calvert has her full support.

“Ken’s tremendous experience and understanding of defense issues will enable him to work together with our subcommittee members to tackle our many national security challenges,” she said. “Ken and I share the belief that we cannot shortchange our men and women in uniform, and that we must invest in the defense priorities that are required to meet a rising China and other potential threats to our security.”

By Tony Bertuca
January 17, 2023 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at several events this week.

Wednesday

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville speaks at an Association of the United States Army event.

The Navy League hosts a discussion with Rear Adm. Tracy Hines, the Navy Cyber Security division director at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

Senior defense officials speak at the 2023 Space Acquisition Forum.

Thursday

Gen. Laura Richardson, the chief of U.S. Southern Command, speaks at the Atlantic Council.

By John Liang
January 13, 2023 at 1:32 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a U.S.-Japan military technology agreement, the Marine Corps' need for the Light Amphibious Warship and more.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Japan’s Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu have signed a bilateral Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Memorandum of Understanding and a Security of Supply Agreement; the former is legally binding, the latter is not:

U.S., Japan mark 'consequential moment' with agreements to increase tech cooperation

The United States and Japan -- two global technology innovation powerhouses -- are teaming up to collaborate on high-power microwaves, autonomous systems and counter-hypersonic weapons, inking new agreements to expand military research and development while advancing plans for potential collaboration on a new Aegis guided-missile interceptor.

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Roger Turner, the director of operations division plans, policies and operations, spoke this week at the Surface Navy Association's National Symposium:

LAW procurement critical to closing capability gap, Marine Corps official says

The Marine Corps' largest capability gap is the absence of the Light Amphibious Warship, according to a senior service official, who said closing this gap depends upon industry's ability to expediently deliver a "sufficient quantity" of the vessels.

More Marine Corps-related news:

Marines to base new regiment with robotically controlled ship-killing vehicles in Japan

The Defense Department plans to bolster the U.S. military presence in the Pacific region by converting a unit based in Japan to a Marine Littoral Regiment, a new formation designed to fight its way onto islands and maritime choke points, deploy its own long-range strike capabilities and create anti-access challenges for Chinese forces.

. . . Plus continuing coverage of the SNA Symposium:

Frustrated with shipyard delays, Navy officials talk tough on industry

Reducing shipyard delays is a top priority for the Navy, according to the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, who expressed deep dissatisfaction today with the performance of the defense industrial base.

5th Fleet commander details 'digital ocean' concept after TF-59 reaches FOC

Over a year after its inception, the Navy's Mideast-based unmanned task force has reached full operational capability and U.S. 5th Fleet aims to expand its presence to create a "digital ocean" in the region as threats from Iran and other malign actors remain "very real."

By Dan Schere
January 13, 2023 at 11:20 AM

The Army plans to invest billions of dollars in cybersecurity and network modernization as part of the service's effort to achieve its technological advancement goals.

According to Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo, the service will invest:

  • More than $290 million in cloud migration;
  • More than $2 billion in cyber and cybersecurity operations and research; and
  • More than $9.8 billion in network modernization

According to a statement from Camarillo provided to Inside Defense, the Army’s digital transformation is “daunting in scope, incredibly complex and urgent.”

“But, if you take one thing away from this discussion, it’s that we -- meaning the Army, our partners in and outside government, and the people in this room -- can succeed and we have a plan to do so.”

Camarillo made the announcement on Thursday during the Army IT Day conference in McLean, VA, hosted by Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association International, Defense News reported.

By Michael Marrow
January 12, 2023 at 7:31 PM

After three years of effort to flesh out the Space Force, its second and newest chief of space operations said the service is now sufficiently mature to tackle the challenges ahead of it.

“We're not standing up the Space Force anymore, although there’s probably still some work,” Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, who took the reins of the service Nov. 2, said during a video interview with the Space Force Association Jan. 12. “We’re here. Now it’s time to deliver, to build capabilities, start producing on some of the promises that we’ve laid out,” he added.

The Space Force has a sizeable agenda for 2023. The Space Development Agency is set to begin launching Tranche 0 missile tracking and data transport satellites in March, advancing critical initiatives for modernized sensing capabilities and an infrastructure that can support more robust data transfer. The service is also gearing up to field its long-delayed, modernized GPS ground segment and pursue new acquisitions for key programs like space launches.

“My priorities are not going to surprise you, because they're really a continuation of all the work that's been done,” Saltzman said when asked about his top issues for the service going forward.

“No. 1 is we are going to have resilient, ready combat credible forces,” the general said. Noting “technology is not enough,” the service will need to invest in proper training and testing so that the force can deter adversaries, he added.

Saltzman described his “second line of effort” as “amplifying the Guardian spirit,” referencing enthusiasm for joining the Space Force and the need to “empower” service members to pursue new ideas. “That means we’ve got to put structures in place to take care of them,” he observed.

Saltzman listed partnerships as his third priority, underscoring the need to strengthen ties with other military services and nations. “It's got to be a deep, rich partnership based on mutual trust, mutual benefit. Everybody's got to get something out of it. This is not transactional,” he said.

Pointing to the Space Force having more applicants than it can accommodate, Saltzman said the service will need to be selective with the Guardians it brings on, but that the bigger challenge will be getting them to stay in.

“The hard part is retaining,” the general said.