The Insider

By Marjorie Censer
October 1, 2019 at 12:13 PM

CAE said this week Gene Colabatistto, president of the company's defense and security group, will retire at the end of the year.

"A process is currently underway to identify an external candidate to succeed Mr. Colabatistto as CAE's Defence & Security Group President," the company said.

By Marjorie Censer
October 1, 2019 at 11:55 AM

Thales is seeing new ways to bolster its presence in the U.S. defense market, according to a top strategy executive.

Jacob Markish, vice president of strategy, marketing and corporate development at Thales North America, told Inside Defense late last month the company is a relatively small player here.

But, "we recognize today, maybe more than in the past, there’s a lot more opportunity," he said.

The driver, Markish told Inside Defense, is "multiple areas of defense where there’s a whole new set of threats and technologies."

He pointed to defense electronics and undersea warfare as examples of changing markets where Thales can offer new technology.

Markish said Thales has used acquisitions to bolster its capabilities in key areas. For example, the company in June picked up Psibernetix, an artificial intelligence business.

Thales is also looking to partnerships, such as the joint venture it formed with Raytheon, he noted.

Meanwhile, Thales' U.S. defense and security business this year also added three new board members to help it enhance its U.S. reach.

The company's board now includes retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones; former Lockheed Martin executive Ray Johnson; and former Thales executive Alan Kessler.

By Mallory Shelbourne
September 30, 2019 at 2:22 PM

The Navy last week announced it has awarded a $150.5 million contract modification to Lockheed Martin for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS).

According to the contract notice, the modification "provides for Autonomic Logistics Information System hardware and support equipment in support of low rate initial production Lot 11" for the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, as well as foreign military sales and international partners.

The service anticipates Lockheed Martin completing the work in November 2023, the announcement reads.

In June, the Defense Department announced it had achieved a $34 billion "handshake agreement" with Lockheed Martin for Lot 12 of the F-35 program, with options for lots 13 and 14.

By John Liang
September 30, 2019 at 2:12 PM

This INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's possible role in delaying military aid to Ukraine, the Air Force's Joint Air-to-Surface Missiles and Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles, the Navy and Marine Corps' ongoing integrated force-structure assessment and more.

A spokeswoman for the Pentagon inspector general told Inside Defense the office is reviewing a request for an investigation from several Senate Democrats on any influence defense officials may have had in delaying military aid to Ukraine:

Trump's impeachment controversy reaches Pentagon's doorstep

The Pentagon inspector general is reviewing a request from lawmakers to investigate what role defense officials may have played in delaying military aid to Ukraine, a controversy at the heart of an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

The Air Force recently issued a sources-sought notice that provides insight into the service's plans to boost its arsenal of the Lockheed Martin-built Joint Air-to-Surface Missiles and Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles:

Air Force reveals plans to grow stockpile of JASSM, LRASM missiles

The Air Force intends to increase the maximum production quantities and purchases of Joint Air-to-Surface Missiles and Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles -- including the first buy of the JASSM-D variant.

Document: Air Force's JASSM, LRASM sources-sought notice

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger have co-signed a memo committing the services to work on a "comprehensive naval force architecture":

Navy, Marine Corps conducting integrated force-structure assessment

The Navy and Marine Corps will complete by December an integrated force-structure assessment, according to a new memo.

Document: Navy memo on integrated force-structure assessment

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity covered a House Energy and Commerce communications and technology subcommittee hearing late last week on the Pentagon's role in securing wireless networks:

Lawmaker sees DOD encroachment on civilian agencies' spectrum management jurisdiction

House Energy and Commerce Committee members last week defended the jurisdiction of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission over 5G issues with security implications, amid what the lawmakers see as expansive Defense Department efforts on fifth-generation network applications and a greater role managing finite spectrum resources.

They also have the latest on Huawei's lawsuit against the U.S. government:

Court hints at ruling against U.S. in Huawei case over briefing on 'bill of attainder' question

A federal district judge has suggested he may rule against the U.S. government in a case challenging the constitutionality of a federal ban on purchases of products by China-based tech giant Huawei, in explaining why the Justice Department needs to file an additional brief on a core question in the dispute -- the Constitution's prohibition on a "bill of attainder."

By Tony Bertuca
September 30, 2019 at 12:21 PM

Army Gen. Mark Milley today became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, succeeding retiring Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford.

Dunford had served as chairman since October 2015. Milley was previously Army chief of staff.

President Trump announced Milley’s nomination last December in a tweet.

During a ceremony today, Milley promised to provide Trump his most "informed, candid and impartial military advice."

Trump said Milley is his “friend” and “adviser.”

“You deserve this position,” the president said. “I never had a doubt.”

By Tony Bertuca
September 30, 2019 at 11:09 AM

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX) says he will not seek re-election in 2020.

"With over a year to go, I will continue to represent the people of the 13th District to the best of my ability," he said in a statement. "Our nation faces many difficult challenges, and none of us can relax our efforts to meet and overcome them, whether at home or around the world."

Thornberry, who previously served as committee chairman from 2015 to 2019, was at the center of GOP efforts to increase defense spending by billions of dollars.

Thornberry also used his tenure as chairman to focus on defense acquisition reform, crafting policies intended to streamline the Pentagon's labyrinthine procurement system and cut spending at civilian management agencies collectively known as the "Fourth Estate."

"In January 2021, I will no longer have the honor of representing the people of the 13th District of Texas, but I will never be indifferent to the responsibility each of us has to serve and protect our beloved nation," he said.

Thornberry has been a member of Congress since 1995.

By Tony Bertuca
September 30, 2019 at 5:00 AM

Senior Pentagon officials are scheduled to appear at events around the Washington area this week. Congress is in recess.


Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood speaks at a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference on "navigating geostrategic flux" in Asia.

The Atlantic Council hosts a panel discussion on transatlantic space cooperation.

The chief of U.S. Southern Command speaks at an Association of the United States Army forum.


The Brookings Institution hosts a panel discussion on strategic competition between the United States and China.


Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger speaks at the Heritage Foundation.

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord is scheduled to speak at a government contracting conference hosted by George Mason University and Defense Acquisition University.

By John Liang
September 27, 2019 at 1:26 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an upcoming Navy-Marine Corps force-structure assessment, the Missile Defense Agency's Next Generation Interceptor program, the lowest price, technically acceptable contracting approach and more.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger recently co-signed a memo committing the services to work on a "comprehensive naval force architecture":

Navy, Marine Corps conducting integrated force-structure assessment

The Navy and Marine Corps will complete by December an integrated force-structure assessment, according to a new memo.

Document: Navy memo on integrated force-structure assessment

The second draft request for proposals for the Missile Defense Agency's Next Generation Interceptor program will be released only to potential prime contractors:

MDA to circulate second draft RFP for NGI next week to potential primes only

The Missile Defense Agency plans to release an updated version of a draft solicitation for a Next Generation Interceptor on Oct. 1, a revision of the preliminary request circulated to industry weeks ago as part of a rapid effort by the Pentagon to reboot the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program after terminating the Redesigned Kill Vehicle last month.

The Pentagon's final rule on the lowest price, technically acceptable contracting strategy is now out:

Pentagon issues final rule on LPTA restrictions

The Defense Department today issued a final rule meant to limit the use of the lowest price, technically acceptable contracting approach, according to a Federal Register notice.

Document: Final DOD rule on the LPTA process

In a new memo to Mike Griffin, the Pentagon's top technology officer, and other key Defense Department officials, the DOD inspector general's office announced its intent to conduct investigations into a program Griffin has ranked as the highest development priority for the U.S. military:

Hypersonic weapons light up DOD inspector general's radar, audits coming

The Defense Department's inspector general is planning this month to begin auditing hypersonic weapons research and development projects, a move that comes after Pentagon leaders announced plans to nearly double spending over the next five years on the new class of ultrafast weapons -- both offensive and defensive -- to more than $11 billion.

Document: DOD IG memo on hypersonic weapons research

The Air Force is working to increase its knowledge of the launch market in support of its National Security Space Launch acquisition strategy:

Air Force commissions independent launch market study to inform future AQ strategy

The Air Force has contracted with an independent organization to study the global launch market in order to inform the next phase of its Launch Services Procurement strategy.

Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes outlined the service's current thinking around the Next-Generation Air Dominance program at the Air Force Association's recent annual conference:

ACC chief: 'Century Series' approach has been in NGAD plan for years

The head of Air Force Air Combat Command told reporters recently that the Air Force's plan to apply a "Century Series" concept to the Next-Generation Air Dominance program is not a change of course, but instead aligns well with studies the service has been conducting over the last few years.

By Marjorie Censer
September 27, 2019 at 12:12 PM

Mercury Systems said this week it has named former Office of the Secretary of Defense official William Conley chief technology officer, effective Monday.

"In this role, Dr. Conley will direct and accelerate Mercury's technology vision and leadership in innovative technology that provides state-of-the-art solutions to the aerospace and defense industry," the company said.

Conley previously was a member of the federal senior executive service and director for electronic warfare in OSD.

"In that role, he led the $7 billion annual investment to develop and acquire electronic warfare weapon systems, while also serving as an executive secretary for the Electronic Warfare Executive Committee," Mercury said.

Conley also has worked as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and as a Navy engineer.

In an interview with Inside Defense this week, Conley said his new position will allow him to "get a little bit more hands-on with the technology."

He noted Mercury hasn't had a corporate-level CTO in several years, giving him the opportunity to establish the role and the value of the office.

"There's definitely going to be an evolution in terms of how we get this right," he said.

Conley also noted Mercury makes substantial investments in research and development already and said the CTO should not have full control over the company's internal R&D budget.

However, he said there will be areas where he can push for investments that will cut across business units.

Conley said the IRAD budget is "absolutely critical for Mercury’s future success."

By Ashley Tressel
September 27, 2019 at 12:06 PM

The Army next month will demonstrate autonomous research for next-generation combat vehicle development that the service has been collecting for nearly a decade.

The Army Research Laboratory is leading an effort, called the "Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance," a 10-year program for ground robotics technology research that has aimed to develop autonomy for manned-unmanned teaming, according to an Army press release issued this month.

Stuart Young, the laboratory's RCTA collaborative alliance manager, said in the release that over the program’s course they "created new knowledge and understanding in ground robotics autonomy that benefits government, academia and industry, and we forged the ARL Autonomy Enterprise to operationalize artificial intelligence for maneuver."

Young said researchers are immediately concerned with making the robots move faster, as well as making them more resilient both physically and in terms of software and intelligence.

The RCTA was awarded in 2010 and is expected to conclude early next fiscal year, according to the release.

The group over the last 10 years has identified four key technology areas that will be critical to future autonomous systems development: "perception, intelligence, human-robot interaction and dexterous manipulation and unique mobility," the release says.

The demonstration will be held at an Oct. 17 "integration showcase" at Carnegie Mellon University's National Research Engineering Center in Pittsburgh.

By John Liang
September 27, 2019 at 10:33 AM

The Pentagon has a contingency plan in case a stopgap spending bill isn't approved before Oct. 1.

The House last week and the Senate this week each passed a continuing resolution that would temporarily fund the government through Nov. 21. The president has not yet signed it.

On Aug. 26, Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist circulated a memo to Defense Department leadership outlining how the Pentagon will function in the event of a government shutdown on Oct. 1, the beginning of fiscal year 2020.

"[P]rudent management requires that the department be prepared for the possibility of a lapse in appropriations,” he writes.

An attachment to Norquist's memo "provides instructions for continuation of essential operations in the absence of appropriated funds," the deputy defense secretary writes. "The Department will, of course, continue to prosecute the war in Afghanistan and ongoing operations against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, including preparation of forces for deployment into those conflicts. The Department must, as well, continue many other operations necessary for the safety of human life or the protection of property (a copy of military operations necessary for national security will be supplied separately). These activities will be 'excepted' from the effects of a lapse in appropriations: all other activities would need to be shut down in an orderly and deliberate fashion, including -- with few exceptions -- the cessation of temporary duty travel."

While all military personnel on active duty will continue to work, they will not be paid, nor will civilians carrying out or supporting "excepted activities," the memo states.

By Sara Sirota
September 27, 2019 at 9:59 AM

The Air Force will pay Boeing up to $280 million to integrate the Small Diameter Bomb I onto "selected weapon platforms" and provide engineering support for the fielded system.

The service awarded the SDB I provider an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract following a sole-source acquisition, according to an announcement posted on the Defense Department website Wednesday.

Boeing is expected to complete the work in St. Louis, MO, by September 2024. At the time of the award, the Air Force obligated about $814,000 using fiscal year 2019 aircraft procurement funding.

By Justin Katz
September 27, 2019 at 9:54 AM

The Navy announced today Aaron Weis will become the service's chief information officer and special assistant to the secretary for cyber and information management.

Weis was formerly a senior adviser to the Pentagon’s chief information officer.

Navy Under Secretary Thomas Modly said last month the Navy was hiring a CIO, but did not disclose a name.

By Ashley Tressel
September 26, 2019 at 5:58 PM

The Senate today unanimously confirmed Ryan McCarthy as the next Army secretary.

McCarthy fills the seat vacated by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was confirmed this summer to lead the Pentagon.

McCarthy had been serving as acting Army secretary, his second time filling the acting role, and prior to that served as Army under secretary since Aug. 1, 2017. He was also unanimously confirmed for that position.

Before he was under secretary, he worked as an executive for Lockheed Martin on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and the company's global security policy.

McCarthy's confirmation means the Army will need a new under secretary, as McCarthy had kept the role after Esper's departure while also serving as acting secretary. The White House has not yet nominated anyone for that position.

By Tony Bertuca
September 26, 2019 at 2:38 PM

The Defense Department will deploy to Saudi Arabia an additional Patriot battery, four Sentinel radar systems and 200 personnel to deter Iran, according to a statement from the Pentagon.

"This deployment will augment the kingdom's air and missile defense of critical military and civilian infrastructure," chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. "This deployment augments an already significant presence of U.S. forces in the region."

Additionally, Hoffman said Defense Secretary Mark Esper has approved a "Prepare to Deploy Order" for two additional Patriot batteries and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system.

"While no decision has been made to deploy these additional forces, they will maintain a heightened state of readiness," Hoffman said.

The deployment of U.S. forces comes in response to an alleged Iranian drone and cruise missile attack on Saudi oil fields Sept. 14.

"It is important to note these steps are a demonstration of our commitment to regional partners, and the security and stability in the Middle East," Hoffman said.