The Insider

By John Liang
July 29, 2021 at 5:00 AM

Anduril Industries said today it has hired Shane Arnott to be the company's chief engineer.

Arnott comes to Anduril from Boeing, where he served in executive engineering and project management roles.

"Dr. Arnott will draw on his globally recognized technical expertise in autonomy, simulation, and new concept development to advance Anduril's mission of rapidly modernizing the defense capabilities of the U.S. and its allies," the company said in a statement.

Arnott earned his PhD in systems engineering from the University of Queensland in Australia.

By John Liang
July 28, 2021 at 4:02 PM

Shield AI announced today it has acquired Martin UAV, an aerospace company that makes the V-BAT unmanned aircraft.

San Diego-based Shield AI specializes in using a self-driving software known as Hivemind to allow unmanned systems to operate in GPS- and communications-denied environments. The company said today it would integrate Hivemind into the V-BAT.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is the second acquisition in as many weeks for Shield AI. Last week, the company announced it had bought Heron Systems.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 28, 2021 at 3:39 PM

The House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee's mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense bill, released today, would approve requests by the Army to sign multiyear procurement contracts for some of its helicopters.

The Army would be allowed to "enter into one or more multiyear contracts" for AH-64E Apache and UH/HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters beginning in FY-22, according to the subcommittee mark.

In June, the service sent legislative proposals to Congress requesting permission to use multiyear procurement contracts for the helicopters. Over five years, multiyear contracts could save $362 million on Black Hawk procurement and $213 million on Apache procurement compared to single-year contracts, according to the Army.

By Aidan Quigley
July 28, 2021 at 1:50 PM

The House Armed Services readiness subcommittee is concerned about the Navy's implementation of its Optimized Fleet Response Plan, which aims to address long-standing readiness issues.

The subcommittee’s mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense bill, released today, states the Navy launched the OFRP in 2014 to address increased ship deployment lengths, maintenance issues, decreased predictability for the industrial base and declining ship conditions.

“The Navy has faced persistent challenges in implementing OFRP since its inception and Navy readiness declined between 2017 and 2019,” the subcommittee's bill states. “In addition, the Navy has experienced continued difficulties with ship maintenance timeliness, implementing training for the high-end fight, limiting deployment lengths, maintaining ship readiness after deployment to provide for surge capacity, meeting ‘fit and fill’ crewing goals across the fleet, and maintaining carrier air wing readiness.”

The service updated the OFRP in October 2020 to implement additional changes, but the subcommittee stated in its mark that it remains concerned about OFRP implementation.

The subcommittee’s bill instructs the comptroller general to evaluate the extent to which the Navy has achieved OFRP goals for “maintenance completion, timeliness, training certifications, personnel fit/fill rates, operational availability, and others.”

The subcommittee also wants the comptroller to evaluate the extent to which OFRP has affected carrier wing maintenance, training and readiness and the extent to which the Navy has worked to improve the OFRP.

By John Liang
July 28, 2021 at 1:31 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has more news from the House Armed Services Committee's subcommittee mark-ups of the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill.

We start off with coverage of the tactical air and land forces subcommittee:

House authorizers seek details on increasing organic F-35 sustainment

House lawmakers want more information on the implications of shifting some contractor-led F-35 maintenance requirements to the government and are proposing a Comptroller General study on the topic.

House authorizers want Air Force to 'prioritize modernized data links' for RC-135

Citing concerns about data sharing between intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and tactical platforms, the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee is asking the Air Force to take steps to boost interoperability between the RC-135 and key weapons systems in its fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill draft.

House panel requests ground vehicle electrification briefings

The House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee wants to require the Army to brief the full committee on ground vehicle electrification research.

House panel proposes GAO lead DOD-wide tacair portfolio review

In parallel with a slew of tactical aircraft portfolio deep-dives the Defense Department and the Air Force have undertaken in the last year, House lawmakers propose directing the Government Accountability Office to conduct its own review of the services’ fighter force structure and inventory requirements to identify gaps and future requirements.

. . . Followed by the seapower and projection forces subcommittee:

House seapower subcommittee adds second destroyer, upset about omission

The House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee is recommending funding a second destroyer after the Navy omitted the ship from its budget request.

Lawmakers look to restrict C-130H retirements, propose 287-aircraft inventory floor

House lawmakers want to place limits on the Air Force's plan to retire 45 C-130 airlifters over the next several years, proposing a 287-aircraft floor on the inventory that would remain in place through fiscal year 2026.

Seapower subcommittee Chairman Joe Courtney (D-CT) and cyber subcommittee Chairman Jim Langevin (D-RI) both spoke this week at the AUSVI Unmanned Systems Defense 2021 conference:

Courtney, Langevin still cautious on Navy unmanned plans

Lawmakers and unmanned system experts discussed the future of, and hesitancy toward, Navy unmanned systems during an industry event on Tuesday.

Last but certainly not least, we have a look at the Air Force's Arctic strategy:

One year into Arctic strategy, Air Force officials tout progress

In the year after the Air Force unveiled its Arctic strategy, high-ranking service officials say they've worked to leverage ties with allies and partners and used wargaming to get a better grasp on the strategic threats facing the region, leading to "a major shift" in those exercises.

By Jaspreet Gill
July 28, 2021 at 12:37 PM

A lawmaker on the House Armed Services Committee is proposing a mission-based pilot program that would restructure funding so that it's tied to specific missions, instead of specific hardware.

Speaking at a virtual Hudson Institute event last week, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) said he wants to include this pilot in this year's defense policy bill.

"We can't just change what we buy, we also have to change how we buy it," Moulton said. "Software is going to win wars, so we need to change our buying habits. . . . And that means we have to have more flexible, quick funding that directly addresses the operational challenges our troops are facing . . . so that's why I'm working to establish what we're calling a mission-based pilot which would experiment with a new way of budgeting to fix these issues."

Instead of buying a single piece of hardware to address multiple missions over years and spending "billions of dollars fixing it, only deploying it decades after we wrote requirements for it," Moulton said the pilot would instead define an operational challenge troops are currently facing, assign funding to it and buy a flexible range of solutions that might help address it.

He added that's the approach China is taking, whereas "we just always buy gadgets."

"The F-35 is to me one of the best examples here," he said. "I mean, we've spent years and . . . billions of dollars developing the most expensive aircraft in world history to fight China and it can’t reach China. . . . What’s the point of buying one super-expensive piece of hardware to address a problem if it literally takes a year to get it out into the field?"

Moulton said he'd work with the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office to develop the pilot.

By Audrey Decker
July 28, 2021 at 12:23 PM

The House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee is skeptical of the Navy's analysis that shows the service will close its strike fighter shortfall within five years, according to a House staffer.

In its mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill, the subcommittee is asking the Government Accountability Office to review the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps tactical aircraft portfolio.

A committee aide said this morning the subcommittee is particularly interested in how the Navy thinks it can eliminate the shortfall in five years.

"We are kind of scratching our heads on how the Navy moved up their analysis in terms of eliminating the shortfall by about five years. One, they didn't reinstate the 36 aircraft Super Hornets that they were going to procure in '22, '23, '24," the aide said.

The Navy took out about 104 aircraft out of a service modification program, the aide noted.

"With us not being able to see their [future years defense program] numbers, we're kind of skeptical to understand how the Navy manipulated the data and their analysis to bring the shortfall to resolve five years earlier, 2025," the aide said.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 27, 2021 at 2:49 PM

The Army has invited industry to apply for the Extended Range Soft Recoil Technologies program, which will develop a soft recoil system for next-generation towed 155 mm howitzer projects, according to a July 20 Army notice.

"The primary program objective is the design, manufacture, test, and delivery of Extended Range Soft Recoil System Vehicle Demonstrators," an attachment to the notice stated.

Program Manager Towed Artillery Systems will lead the program, which is related to an overarching goal of creating more mobile and lethal artillery systems.

“Exploring current soft recoil technology is directly aligned with modernizing cannon artillery,” the notice stated. “Soft recoil has the potential to improve the range and mobility of the U.S. Army’s Mobile Artillery fleet by reducing carriage loads during firing as well as create the opportunity to utilize lighter weight structures.”

Simulation and live fire testing during the program would compare the performance of the soft recoil system on various combinations of the XM351 Extended Range cannon and the Next Generation Cannon with different vehicles and stands, according to the notice.

Some tests would also include parts from the M777 Extended Range howitzer program, which modified the M777 towed howitzer with a longer barrel and other improvements from the Extended Range Cannon Artillery self-propelled howitzer.

ERCA, which is scheduled to begin fielding in 2023, is a modified version of the M109A7 Paladin self-propelled howitzer that is designed to hit targets at 70 kilometers. ERCA’s barrel is nearly 30 feet long, roughly 50% longer than the Paladin’s barrel.

The Extended Range Soft Recoil Technologies program would take place over two phases, a two-year design, simulation and manufacturing phase and an 18-month live fire and mobility testing phase at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, according to the notice. The two phases can overlap.

Interested companies need to submit a white paper to the Army by August 4. The Army will then issue a request for prototype proposals to some of the companies that submitted a white paper, and one of those companies will win an Other Transaction Agreement for the program.

By Tony Bertuca
July 27, 2021 at 1:23 PM

Several nominees for senior Pentagon positions, including Navy secretary, are advancing to the full Senate for confirmation votes.

The Senate Armed Services Committee today voted to approve the nominations of Carlos Del Toro to be Navy secretary, Gilbert Cisneros to be under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, Kathleen Miller to be deputy Pentagon comptroller, Mara Karlin to be assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities, and Michael Connor to be assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

Connor's nomination has been forwarded to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where lawmakers will have 20 days to address his nomination or it will be placed on the calendar for a vote.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) is also advancing Caral Spangler, nominated to be assistant secretary of the Army for financial management and comptroller, as a "privileged nomination."

"The nomination has been placed on the Executive Calendar under the heading 'Privileged Nomination -- Information Received' and will remain there for 10 session days," the committee said. "During this period, any senator may request the nomination be referred to the appropriate committee of jurisdiction, otherwise following the 10 session days the nomination will move to the 'Nominations' section of the Executive Calendar, allowing for confirmation of the nomination by the full Senate."

By John Liang
July 27, 2021 at 1:18 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the House Armed Services strategic forces and cyber subcommittees' portions of the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill and more.

We start off with the subcommittee marks of the House Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill:

House panel recommends provision to reinstate MDA laser projects

A House panel is looking to reinstate the Missile Defense Agency's authority to develop lasers -- particularly research and development of a pair of technologies with potential for knocking down ballistic and hypersonic threats -- a move that aims to roll back an internal Pentagon decision two years ago that effectively took such projects away from the agency.

House authorizers seek details on weapons testing infrastructure needed for GBSD, LRSO

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee wants more information on the infrastructure needed to test the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, Long-Range Standoff weapon and others across the Defense Department as part of the panel's fiscal year 2022 mark of the defense policy bill.

Cyber subcommittee proposes pilot programs, flexible funding for DOD tech

The House Armed Services cyber, innovative technologies and information systems subcommittee wants the Defense Department to carry out a five-year pilot program focused on improving the transition of science and technology programs and consider if "flexible funding" would help move technologies into full implementation.

House authorizers direct Air Force to review IT systems, share Agility Prime updates

Lawmakers on the House Armed Services cyber subcommittee are calling on the Air Force to undertake its own effort to review the service's technology systems and identify those that could be sunset.

While we're on the subject of cyber, here's the latest from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

CMMC rulemaking faces delay at DOD, while accreditation body's efforts move forward

The Defense Department's work to complete the final rule for its cyber certification program has hit a snag in the review process, as officials work to provide a draft report to a key DOD regulations council.

We also have a follow-up to the Army's recent award of multimillion-dollar contracts for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program:

First increment of OMFV concept design worth $26.6 million

The first increment of the concept design phase of the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program will be worth $26.6 million for each of the five selected companies, a higher figure than the Army had previously advertised, according to July 26 contract announcements.

Last but by no means least, the Air Force has a new top civilian:

Kendall confirmed after Peters lifts hold

The Senate has confirmed former Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall as the next Air Force secretary.

By Tony Bertuca
July 27, 2021 at 12:45 PM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin today called on U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific region to align under a new policy of "integrated deterrence" to address Chinese military activities.

“Integrated deterrence is about using existing capabilities, and building new ones, and deploying them all in new and networked ways, all tailored to a region’s security landscape, and in growing partnership with our friends,” he said during a speech in a Singapore.

“We’re aiming to coordinate better, to network tighter and to innovate faster,” he continued. “And we’re working to ensure that our allies and partners have the capabilities, the capacities and the information that they need.”

Austin cited U.S. cooperation with Japan that resulted in that country’s first-ever firing of a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. He also said Japan and the United States are partnering to deploy new space sensors to “better detect potentially threatening behaviors.”

Austin said the United States is working with Singapore to “enter a new phase in cyber defense cooperation” and extolled that country’s purchase of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

“That’s going to boost our collective capabilities and open up new opportunities for high-end combined training,” he said.

Austin said the United States is also “working with Taiwan to enhance its own capabilities and to increase its readiness to deter threats and coercion” from China.

The defense secretary also criticized China, saying “Beijing’s claim to the vast majority of the South China Sea has no basis in international law.”

Austin also said China’s “unwillingness to resolve disputes peacefully and respect the rule of law isn’t just occurring on the water,” citing Beijing’s “genocide and crimes against humanity” regarding Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Still, Austin said the United States does not seek confrontation with China.

“Let me be clear: As secretary, I am committed to pursuing a constructive, stable relationship with China including stronger crisis communications with the People’s Liberation Army,” he said “You know, big powers need to model transparency and communication. And we hope that we can work together with Beijing on common challenges, especially the threat of climate change.”

By Courtney Albon
July 27, 2021 at 12:00 PM

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee is proposing language in its fiscal year 2022 draft defense policy bill directing the Defense Department to provide details on its space launch range infrastructure needs and to develop a plan for incorporating more commercial capabilities into its national security space architecture.

Committee aides told reporters Monday the launch range report the subcommittee is seeking would explore what additional authorities the Space Force needs to shore up launch infrastructure at its two major ranges to meet the growing demand for commercial and national security space launch.

The draft bill, which the subcommittee will mark on Wednesday, also includes a provision that would require either acquisition strategies or a plan to incorporate more commercial capabilities across several mission areas, including space situational awareness and satellite imagery.

Aides said the subcommittee did not address broader issues around space acquisition or Space Force organization and management, noting that those types of discussions are under the full committee's purview.

By Jason Sherman
July 27, 2021 at 12:00 PM

House lawmakers are proposing legislation that would ratchet up demands for information from the Defense Department on a new 360-degree air and missile defense system for Guam.

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee is proposing a provision in its mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill requiring the Pentagon to provide an architecture and acquisition strategy for any proposed Guam defense system, according to a congressional source.

The FY-21 National Defense Authorization Act required the Defense Department to conduct "a study on the defense of Guam from integrated air and missile threats, including such threats from ballistic, hypersonic, and cruise missiles."

"Last year, we asked them to give us a report; this year, we're telling them to tell us what the actual architecture is going to be," said a congressional source, who added that the draft legislation also mandates details about the acquisition strategy.

DOD officials say they are currently finalizing a report for lawmakers that proposes such an architecture. The House Appropriations Committee, frustrated with lack of detail about the project, cut funding for the effort from the Pentagon's FY-22 proposal.

By Sara Friedman
July 27, 2021 at 11:09 AM

Former Pentagon leaders are urging the Defense Department to consider how the zero-trust concept could be used to strengthen technological security across the department, in a new report from a leading defense association.

The National Defense Industrial Association released the report Monday to coincide with the formal launch of its new Emerging Technologies Institute. The report summarizes findings from a recent online ETI workshop, which "convened speakers and three groups of panelists who explored possible solutions from three perspectives: 1) Prioritizing the technology areas to maximize capability for cost, 2) Examining process changes to improve delivery, and 3) Reducing legislative barriers to fielding the technologies."

The report states: "Zero-Trust is a concept formulated initially for cybersecurity, where no user or data on a network is granted access beyond its direct scope, and where everything is verified. The Zero-Trust approach represents a very different view from the more traditional network security methods that have focused primarily on establishing seemingly secure perimeters that are intersected by trusted connections. The problem with this latter approach is that absolutely secure perimeters are all but unattainable, and trusted connections may in fact not be trustworthy."

The report continues: "The Zero-Trust concept should be expanded and applied to additional technology areas, particularly in the microelectronics area but also to autonomous systems, networked command and control, and next-generation communications. In practice, this expansion might include authorizing all personnel entering and exiting a given laboratory, monitoring data transfers on laboratory computers, and similar practices -- all without exception. To do so, the Department should consider commercial standards and advanced monitoring strategies as it applies Zero-Trust principles internally. Of note, another panelist pointed out some challenges with implementing Zero-Trust, including transitioning from current approaches, as well as the certification of new Zero-Trust systems."

DOD is in the process of moving to a zero-trust architecture and released its policy for services and agencies in February. The DOD Zero Trust Reference Architecture publication was led by the Defense Information Systems Agency, in partnership with the DOD chief information officer, U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is also interested in ZTA and directs DOD to develop "a joint zero-trust strategy and a model architecture for the Department of Defense Information Network and a data management strategy" in its version of the fiscal 2022 defense authorization bill. The legislation was approved by the full committee last week and the House Armed Services Committee marks up its version of the NDAA on Wednesday and Thursday.

Participants at the workshop included former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Alan Shaffer; acting Navy Under Secretary James Geurts; ETI Executive Director Mark Lewis; MIT Lincoln Laboratories Director Eric Evans; MITRE's Dana Jackson; Nicole Petta, former principal director, microelectronics in the office of the under secretary of defense for research and engineering; Kevin Fahey, former assistant secretary of defense for acquisition; Katharina McFarland, former assistant secretary of defense for acquisition; and NDIA President and CEO Hawk Carlisle.

House Armed Services Committee Staff Director Paul Arcangeli, Senate Appropriations Committee staffer Kate Käufer, and former senior DOD officials Elaine McCusker and William Greenwalt also participated.

The report focuses on modernizing DOD's acquisition practices and has recommendations for the Pentagon and Congress.

ETI argues that the U.S. government "should expand the limits of data that can be released to academic institutions to the maximum extent possible without compromising security" and DOD "should emulate digital engineering and data collection techniques used by industry."

They recommend:

The Department should overhaul the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution process to allow for increased flexibility and transparency.

The Department should clearly define ownership, use, and protection as they relate to data and intellectual property.

The Department should continue to integrate digital engineering into production processes to accelerate timelines and reduce costs.

The report does not specifically mention the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program that is designed to the use controlled unclassified information by the defense industrial base. However, one of the goals of the program, protecting intellectual property, is highlighted.

ETI says: "With the transition to digital engineering, it has been observed that there is an increasing need to examine data and IP rights. To do so, it was suggested that the Department not only be diligent in negotiating with industry partners about the ownership of data but also clearly delineate that data’s intended use. Multiple production and maintenance processes could be accelerated through greater access to collected data. Equal focus should also be given to protect this data and intellectual property through encryption methods and Zero-Trust policies. Cybersecurity standards ought to be followed to defend against potential cyber attacks, particularly those conducted by peer competitors."

Concluding the report, ETI says, "Modernizing the Pentagon is a challenge everyone agrees on; however, without consistent public and political commitment, it may prove impossible, thereby putting American security and prosperity at risk. As this report makes clear, the Biden administration has inherited a military at an inflection point. Making the right policy changes and investments now can ensure American supremacy for decades to come; the wrong policies and investments risk ceding global leadership."

By Tony Bertuca
July 27, 2021 at 11:03 AM

Anduril Industries announced today it has entered into a five-year agreement with the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit to provide autonomous systems to counter unmanned drones.

The deal, a "production other transaction agreement" worth up to just under $100 million, "enables government customers, including existing Anduril partners like the United States Marine Corps, to purchase Anduril's family of Counter Unmanned Aircraft System (C-UAS) solutions at scale for force protection," the company said.

The company said the deal is also significant because it allows DOD to purchase Anduril's C-UAS capabilities "as a service."

"This unique Production Other Transaction (P-OT) Agreement provides flexibility to the DOD to address dynamically changing C-UAS requirements in response to real-world events and conditions," the company said. "This agreement is proof that tech and defense can work together to accelerate adoption of advanced technology and scale innovations to modernize defense capabilities."

The C-UAS systems will use the Silicon Valley-based company's "Lattice artificial intelligence operating system and a network of sensors to autonomously detect, classify, and track targets, alerting operators to threats and allowing options for mitigation or engagement," according to Anduril.

Anduril said it worked with DIU for 18 months, "which included rigorous testing and assessment," to move the systems from prototype to production.

Brian Schimpf, co-Founder and CEO of the company, said the contract is a "milestone" for Anduril and DIU.

"Given the near continuous evolution of this particular threat and the urgency to field solutions that can also be routinely modernized to address it, we worked closely with DIU over the last year and a half to transition from prototype to production and quickly scale proven and fieldable solutions," he said.