The Insider

By Thomas Duffy
September 30, 2022 at 12:12 PM

This Friday INSIDER has news on the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier heading out to sea, a new AI contract, the Air Force gets a price tag on its newest nuclear weapon, the Navy looks to bolster its budget information to Congress, and more.

The Navy explained how its newest carrier would operate during its first time at sea:

Navy announces ‘service-retained’ deployment for first-in class Ford aircraft carrier

The Navy’s first-in class aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford, will embark on a “service-retained” deployment with U.S. 2nd Fleet this fall.

The Army handed out a new contract for work in artificial intelligence:

Palantir wins contract for expanded artificial intelligence work for Defense Department

Palantir will expand its work with the Army Research Laboratory to bring artificial intelligence into the hands of warfighters across the Defense Department under a new contract announced Wednesday evening.

It’s going to cost a lot of money to field and operate the Air Force’s newest nuclear missile:

Pentagon sets $188.8B Ground Based Strategic Deterrent life-cycle acquisition tab

The Pentagon has set a formal cost estimate for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program of $188.8 billion, a tally that includes $95.8 billion to develop and procure a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile fleet and $93 billion to operate and sustain the fleet across five decades.

The Navy looks to using analytics in its supporting budget material sent to Congress:

Navy eyes data efforts to bolster budget decisions

The Navy is working to use data analytics and force planning tools in the hopes it can assist with future budget decisions and address recent congressional criticisms that the service has not been transparent enough with its shipbuilding plans.

A top Army official explained how the service will spend some of its money next year:

Army to invest in network, artificial intelligence, more in FY-23

The Army will send industry a strong demand signal for science and technology investments in high-tech capabilities in fiscal year 2023 and is asking industry to determine how its innovations can help the Army fulfill priorities in those areas, one of the service's top acquisition officials said Wednesday.

By Michael Marrow
September 30, 2022 at 10:47 AM

The Senate voted by unanimous consent yesterday evening to confirm Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman as the next chief of space operations and promotion to general.

Saltzman will become the Space Force’s second space chief after outgoing incumbent Gen. John Raymond, who was tapped to lead the service when it was stood up in December 2019.

A former Minuteman III launch officer and satellite operator for the National Reconnaissance Office, Saltzman previously served as deputy chief of space operations for operations, cyber and nuclear.

President Biden nominated Saltzman on July 27 and the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on his nomination Sept. 13. During that hearing, Saltzman indicated the United States may need offensive capabilities in space to deter adversaries.

The confirmation was first reported by Space News.

Saltzman was confirmed following a 72-25 Senate vote on a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown. The House is expected to pass the CR today.

Senators will return on Oct. 11 to begin debate on the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill, with the first vote scheduled for Nov. 14, after the midterm elections.

By Tony Bertuca
September 29, 2022 at 4:32 PM

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said today the Senate will not vote on any legislation until Nov. 14, sending lawmakers home to campaign for mid-term elections and delaying passage of the chamber’s defense authorization bill.

While the Senate will meet to begin formal consideration of the bill on Oct. 11, most senators are expected to be out of town campaigning, meaning a vote will not occur until mid-November at the earliest.

Schumer, who previously said the Senate would be in session to pass the bill in October, said on the chamber floor today that senators should be prepared for “an extremely -- underline extremely -- final two months of this Congress.”

By Briana Reilly
September 29, 2022 at 3:38 PM

A bill to reauthorize two small business programs that serve as key pillars within the military's broader innovation environment has won approval from the House, clearing both chambers of Congress just one day before the initiatives are set to expire.

The plan’s passage today brings a legislative conclusion to a behind-the-scenes debate over the Small Business Innovation Research program in which lawmakers and aides considered a host of front-end programmatic changes to the four-decade-old effort that has drawn concerns over foreign influence and so-called “SBIR mills.”

Rather than being included in the continuing resolution that senators unveiled this week to keep the government funded through Dec. 16, or the defense policy bill, which has yet to get through the Senate, the framework is a standalone one that was green-lit on a 415-9 vote.

Speaking on the floor Wednesday when the legislation was first taken up, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), the House small business committee chair, said the plan bolsters oversight while informing “future program changes,” and she credited the “months-long bipartisan and bicameral negotiations” for producing the current framework.

“Unfortunately, S. 4900 does not include everything we wanted to accomplish during this reauthorization, but I remain committed to coming together again in the future to have those conversations,” she said.

Under the bill, which was advanced by the Senate via unanimous consent last week, both SBIR and the complementary Small Business Technology Transfer programs would see a three-year extension -- staving off another reauthorization debate through Sept. 30, 2025.

The timeframe under the proposal, from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the chair of the Senate small business committee, is shorter than the current five-year authorization period both programs are operating under, which was set in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

The legislation also includes a number of programmatic changes, products of negotiations among the so-called “six corners,” consisting of the House and Senate small business panels and the House science committee, that seek to boost the number of new entrants to SBIR and STTR while minimizing the presence of contractors who repeatedly win phase I and II awards but fail to commercialize their technology solutions.

For example, the bill features a requirement that would implement the use of open topics by allowing potential vendors to pitch solutions to Defense Department components at least once a year for the programs; set new transition standards for phase I and II awardees participating in the three-phase programs; and put in place a claw-back provision that would give agencies approval to recover funds in certain instances.

DOD and other federal agencies would also need to create “a due diligence program to assess the potential risk posed by foreign ties and obligations,” according to a summary of the legislation obtained last week by Inside Defense.

Concerns over those ties, vocalized by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the ranking member on the Senate small business committee, came after the topic was publicly highlighted in a Wall Street Journal article that cited an April 2021 DOD report on SBIR recipients that dissolved their U.S. companies to join efforts backed by the Chinese military, as well as award winners that took venture capital dollars from firms controlled by Beijing. Paul had also sounded the alarm over SBIR mill considerations.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), the ranking member of the House small business committee, said during a floor speech Wednesday that the legislation addresses both of those concerns, putting “a stop to the use of some of these programs as ATMs for different companies” and ending “the Chinese abuse of these programs as well.”

Other provisions of the bill would require the Government Accountability Office to review businesses that have won more than 50 phase II awards; conduct a series of studies comparing open versus conventional topics, in which government specifies its needs to industry; and assess the subcontracting practices and agreements of SBIR and STTR awardees.

Ahead of the legislation’s passage, the Defense Department -- one of 11 agency users of SBIR -- had already been bracing for a potential programmatic lapse, which would have prevented the posting of future solicitations and funding of ongoing or new projects.

By Tony Bertuca
September 29, 2022 at 2:36 PM

The Senate has voted 72-25 to pass a stopgap continuing resolution that would keep the federal government open until Dec. 16 and provide $12.3 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine.

The bill now advances to the House for final passage after which it will be sent to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The CR contains $7.5 billion in military aid for Ukraine and $4.5 billion in economic aid.

The measure includes $3 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the Defense Department to contract directly with industry to supply Ukraine with weapons, training, logistics and other military support.

The CR includes $1.5 billion to replenish U.S. stocks sent to Ukraine through presidential “drawdown” authority, and $540 million to increase production of critical munitions sent to Ukraine. Along with the new funds, the bill authorizes a total of $3.7 billion in drawdown "authority."

The CR also includes $2.8 billion for U.S. mission support, intelligence support, and special duty pay for troops deployed to the region.

Additionally, the CR also proposes $2 million for the Defense Department inspector general to report on U.S. assistance to Ukraine.

The bill would also provide $35 million to the National Nuclear Security Administration “to prepare for and respond to potential nuclear and radiological incidents in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, the CR freezes federal spending at previous-year levels and prohibits the Pentagon from launching new programs or ramping up production of weapon systems.

By Nick Wilson
September 29, 2022 at 2:30 PM

The Marine Corps is preparing to begin two large-scale bilateral exercises with key Pacific allies, Japan and the Philippines, according to a Thursday announcement from the service.

In early October, Marines will join members of the Philippine Marines, Navy and Air Force for KAMANDAG 6 in Luzon, Batanes, and Palawan in the Philippines. While in Hokkaido, Japan, 1,600 U.S. Marines will join 1,400 Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) members for Resolute Dragon 22.

The KAMANDAG 6 exercise, which will run from Oct. 3-14, aims to improve joint amphibious operations for maritime security and coastal defense. The event will also involve live-fire exercises with aircraft and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) over central Luzon.

Resolute Dragon 22, the second iteration of the exercise, will also involve live-fire testing of HIMARS in addition to the JGSDF’s Multiple Launch Rocket System. Resolute Dragon 22’s goals include improving bilateral command and control and multidomain maneuverability. The event spans Oct. 1-14.

The 3d Marine Division headquarters in Okinawa, Japan will perform command and control for all U.S. forces involved in both exercises, according to the announcement.

Aircraft participating in the two exercises include the F-35B Lightning II, MV-22B Osprey, CH-53E Super Stallion, AH-1Z Viper, UH-1Y Venom, KC-130J Super Hercules and F/A-18 Hornet.

“Resolute Dragon and KAMANDAG are important opportunities to bolster the defensive capabilities of our alliances with Japan and the Philippines through realistic combined training,” Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron, 3d Marine Division Commanding General, said in a statement included in the release. “These exercises will allow our forces to strengthen interoperability and readiness to ensure we are prepared to rapidly respond to crisis throughout the Indo-Pacific.”

By Thomas Duffy
September 29, 2022 at 11:39 AM

This Thursday INSIDER starts off with some contracting news from the National Reconnaissance Office, some space management news, and two budget stories from the Navy.

The NRO is reaching out to the commercial sector for some study and analysis:

NRO awards six commercial RF study contracts

The National Reconnaissance Office today awarded six commercial vendors study contracts for space-based radio frequency remote sensing, according to an agency press release.

Unless countries around the world work together, managing space will be difficult:

Thompson: Lack of international agreements will make space 'difficult' to manage

International agreements will be needed to control the burgeoning number of objects in orbit, a top Space Force official said today, warning that the continued growth of satellites without certain guardrails will harm future space operations.

The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier is running up its price tag:

Revised Ford-class program price tag wipes out at least half of expected block-buy savings

The projected price tag for the Navy's next-generation aircraft carrier effort increased by more than $2 billion over the last two years, wiping out half of the savings the Ford-class program hoped to harvest though bundling the acquisition of a third-and-fourth warship.

A Navy unmanned program gets a bad report card from government auditors:

Audit finds Navy's large robotic sub program years behind schedule, over budget

A government watchdog's analysis has found that the Navy's Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle program is at least three years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.

By Briana Reilly
September 29, 2022 at 10:29 AM

The National Defense Industrial Association board has elected Michael Bayer as its new chair effective Oct. 1, the organization announced today.

Bayer, the president and CEO of Dumbarton Strategies, will serve in the role for a two-year term, succeeding retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro, CEO of The Punaro Group, per NDIA.

Punaro is set to remain at NDIA as the board’s chair emeritus over the next two years, while holding positions at the helm of NDIA’s nomination and governance committee and head of the advisory board of the Emerging Technologies Institute.

Taking over for Bayer as vice chair of the board is Lisa Disbrow, the former under secretary of the Air Force from January 2015 to July 2017. Within that term, she had also served as acting Air Force secretary and the secretary of defense’s principal DOD space advisor. At NDIA, she most recently served as the organization’s compensation committee chair.

Meanwhile, Bayer previously chaired the Defense Business Board and was a member of the Defense Science Board.

By Tony Bertuca
September 28, 2022 at 2:38 PM

The Defense Department has announced a new $1.1 billion aid package that would begin the contracting process to eventually send an additional 18 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and other weapons to Ukraine.

The funds are being drawn from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows DOD to contract directly with defense contractors, rather than transfer weapons directly from U.S. stocks via presidential “drawdown” authority.

“This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional priority capabilities to Ukraine in the mid- and long-term,” DOD said in a statement. “It represents a multiyear investment in critical capabilities to build the enduring strength of Ukraine’s Armed Forces as it continues to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory in the face of Russian aggression.”

The USAI, however, is not intended for rapid delivery and it could take a year or two before the systems reach Ukraine.

Along with the 18 HIMARs, the package includes:

* 150 armored humvees

* 150 Tactical Vehicles to tow weapons

* 40 trucks and 80 trailers to transport heavy equipment

* two radars for unmanned aerial systems

* 20 multimission radars

* counter-unmanned aerial systems

* assorted tactical communications equipment

* explosive ordnance disposal equipment

* body armor

* funding for training, maintenance and sustainment

The United States has now committed approximately $16.9 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021, according to DOD.

By John Liang
September 28, 2022 at 1:53 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER has news on the Navy's DDG-1000 destroyer, the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, Air Force innovation and more.

The Navy's costliest destroyer is operating in the Pacific Ocean:

Navy test-driving Zumwalt in Pacific as part of fleet integration process

The Navy is integrating its most advanced warship with U.S. Pacific Fleet, introducing the troubled ship class into an operational environment.

The latest on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

CMMC accreditation body spins off assessor training work into separate business unit

The accreditation body behind the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program has formally started to spin off its work to certify assessors and build training with licensed providers into an independent business unit, as required by the organization’s no-cost contract signed in 2020 with the Defense Department.

Lockheed Martin and Verizon have recently flown four drones through a simulated mission to record and share intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information to geolocate targets:

Lockheed, Verizon pitch 5G-enabled 'all-domain' capabilities to DOD

Lockheed Martin and Verizon executives are working to develop and demonstrate 5G-enabled capabilities that they say would give the Defense Department a better sense of the battlespace while improving threat detection.

Speaking during a virtual Defense One State of the Air Force summit, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown noted that during much of the Cold War, the service tended to produce a new fighter aircraft every two and a half years:

Brown: Air Force 'not as innovative' as it used to be

The Air Force's slowed cadence of delivering new fighter aircraft is "concerning," the service's top uniformed official said Tuesday, emphasizing that quicker innovations are needed to maintain an edge over adversaries.

The Air Force's Next Generation Operational Control System program was delayed due to the pandemic and technical challenges as well as the replacement of key hardware prompted by the acquisition of an IBM product line by Chinese-owned company Lenovo:

Space Force sees another schedule slip for OCX delivery, risking GPS IIIF delay

Delivery of the Space Force's troubled Next Generation Operational Control System has been pushed from next month to December, according to a statement from the service's acquisition office, potentially shaving off the program's remaining schedule margin as officials work to meet an April 2023 deadline for initial operational capability.

By Briana Reilly
September 28, 2022 at 12:08 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee today green-lit President Biden's nominee for Pentagon deputy acquisition chief.

Radha Plumb, who was tapped to be the Defense Department’s deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, was advanced on a 21-5 roll call vote during a closed-door meeting this morning.

The move came after Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) in late July threatened to place a hold on Plumb and two other DOD picks over officials’ decision to suspend a years-in-the-work project to build an access road for the Ambler Mining District in northwestern Alaska.

In February, the Interior Department found “significant deficiencies” in past environmental reviews of the project, which was first approved in summer 2020, media reports earlier this year show. The two other nominees Sullivan targeted are Laura Taylor-Kale, Biden’s choice for assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy, and Brendan Owens, nominated to be assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations, and environment.

“I’m not going to help move your nominations forward, even though I think you’re qualified, you have important positions, but this is important,” he told Plumb and Taylor-Kale during their July 28 nomination hearing. “Same day the president holds a summit on critical minerals, they shut down the biggest critical mineral supplies in America, maybe in the world, because of their relentless war on the state of Alaska. I need answers, and then your nominations can move.”

Sullivan has since backed down, as Defense News reported last week, though he had signaled he’d force a roll call vote for Plumb. He and fellow Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently urged the Interior Department in a letter to quickly re-approve the access road project.

Separately, senators on the panel earlier this month signed off on Taylor-Kale's and Owens’ nominations.

By John Liang
September 27, 2022 at 1:07 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on U.S. industrial base cooperation with foreign allies, an Army missile defense program that's over budget, the Pentagon's work on the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve and more.

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante this morning offered a preview of his upcoming talks with European military acquisition counterparts:

LaPlante pushes 'friend-shoring' ahead of key global armaments conference

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante, who this week will chair a meeting in Brussels between dozens of national armaments directors, said today the United States must more closely align its defense industrial capabilities with those of foreign allies to not only respond to the "acute threat" stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but also to prepare "for the next Ukraine" in the future.

We continue our coverage of the Pentagon's latest Selected Acquisition Reports, this one on an Army missile defense program:

Army pours another $2 billion into IBCS; development cost 215% above original estimate

The Army committed an additional $1.6 billion in research and development funding to rectify the Integrated Air and Missile Defense program -- including the IAMD Battle Command Systems (IBCS) -- raising total start-up funding for the project to $5.1 billion, more than three times the original 2009 promise of $1.6 billion.

Document: DOD's FY-23 SARs

Inside Defense recently interviewed Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu:

Where critics see overlap, Shyu draws line between RDER, service-led demos

The Pentagon's chief technology officer says a fledgling experimentation initiative billed as a way to fill critical capability gaps across the joint force is unlike existing service-led demonstrations in large part because officials are approaching the problem set with different goals in mind.

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

Tech group urges NIST to prioritize reciprocity, tailoring in update to CUI series

The Information Technology Industry Council is offering ways the National Institute of Standards and Technology can work with other agencies to smooth the path toward reciprocity on the handling of sensitive federal data held on contractor systems, as NIST starts the update process to revise key publications.

Defense groups seek flexibility, mappings to other NIST publications in CUI series update

Two large defense groups are urging NIST to consider how to align its four-part publication series on controlled unclassified information to other frameworks, while also suggesting potential changes related to the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program.

By Tony Bertuca
September 27, 2022 at 1:06 PM

Senior Democratic lawmakers have proposed a stopgap continuing resolution that would keep the federal government funded through Dec. 16 as well as provide billions in continued military aid for Ukraine.

Congress must pass the funding patch before the federal government shuts down Friday at midnight.

The CR contains $7.5 billion in military aid for Ukraine and $4.5 billion in economic aid.

The CR, according to a summary, would include $3 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the Defense Department to contract directly with industry to supply Ukraine with weapons, training, logistics and other military support.

Additionally, the legislation includes $1.5 billion to replenish U.S. stocks sent to Ukraine through presidential “drawdown” authority, and $540 million to increase production of critical munitions sent to Ukraine. Along with the new funds, the bill authorizes a total of $3.7 billion in drawdown "authority."

The CR also includes $2.8 billion for U.S. “mission support, intelligence support, special duty pay for troops deployed to the region and equipment,” the summary states.

Further, the CR also proposes $2 million for the Defense Department inspector general to report on U.S. assistance to Ukraine, including a “comprehensive list of all defense articles and services provided to Ukraine, and a report on the end-use monitoring of defense articles sent to Ukraine.”

The bill would also provide $35 million to the National Nuclear Security Administration “to prepare for and respond to potential nuclear and radiological incidents in Ukraine.”

Senate Republicans and Democrats remain at odds, however, regarding language on permitting in West Virginia championed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the GOP will not support a CR that includes permitting reform.

“We have made significant progress toward a Continuing Resolution that is as clean as possible,” he said in a statement. “But, if the Democrats insist on including permitting reform, I will oppose it. Passing a clean CR will allow us to focus on completing the FY-23 appropriations process before the end of this year.”

By Nick Wilson
September 27, 2022 at 11:07 AM

The Marine Corps conducted a successful live-fire test of a radio frequency missile earlier this month, according to a Monday service announcement.

“The purpose of this live-fire exercise was to validate that a radio frequency missile can be employed against threats on or coming from the water surface," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jon Osborn, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance battalion gunner, in a statement included in the announcement.

Marines fired the missile from a Light Armored Vehicle using a tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile (TOW) system -- a system that typically uses a thin wire to maintain communication between the missile and launch tube.

The radio frequency missile communicates using a signal rather than a wire. Wireless communication enables greater control of the missile’s trajectory and prevents the wire from catching on debris and throwing the missile off course, according to the Marine Corps.

The service believes this successful test, conducted at Camp Lejeune, NC, demonstrates the radio frequency missile’s value in helping to control littoral areas and waterways with a reduced footprint, the announcement states.

“The TOW missile system on the LAV allows us to load two missiles and swiftly switch from one to another,” said Sgt. Courtland Mabe in another statement included in the release. “We could load different types of missiles and engage different types of targets within seconds on the battlefield.”

By Audrey Decker
September 27, 2022 at 10:36 AM

The Navy has accepted the delivery of Littoral Combat Ship Cooperstown (LCS-23) -- the second Freedom-variant LCS outfitted with the combining gear correction.

Designed by Lockheed Martin, the Cooperstown was delivered to the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, WI on Sept. 20, the service said in a press release.

The Navy announced a fix in November to the Freedom-class combining gear issue. The service stopped receipt of the monohulled Freedom class from Lockheed Martin in January 2021 after identifying a “material defect” with the combining gear.

The combining gear fix was first tested on Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21).

“LCS-23 is the second Freedom-variant ship outfitted with the combining gear correction that will allow unrestricted operations. The correction addresses a class-wide flaw that was identified as the fleet deployed these ships in greater numbers,” the Navy stated.

At the Fincantieri shipyard, the future Marinette (LCS-25) is under construction and scheduled for delivery in early 2023.

“Additional ships in various stages of construction include the future ships Nantucket (LCS-27), Beloit (LCS-29) and Cleveland (LCS-31). LCS-31 will be the final Freedom-variant LCS,” the Navy said.