The Insider

By Briana Reilly
September 21, 2022 at 8:41 AM

The Senate quietly approved a bipartisan plan to extend the Small Business Innovation Research and complementary Small Business Technology Transfer programs by three years on Tuesday, teeing up a possible House vote in the coming days.

The move brings the efforts one step closer to reauthorization following weeks of negotiations on a potential standalone deal that have culminated in a framework that includes a number of programmatic changes targeting concerns over foreign influence and so-called “SBIR mills.”

Those changes include a requirement that would let potential vendors pitch solutions to Defense Department components at least once a year for the programs; new transition standards for phase I and II awardees participating in the three-phase programs; and the implementation of 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 Tuesday by Inside Defense.

The bill from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the chair of the Senate small business committee, cleared the Senate this week after lawmakers leveraged a hotline process to limit debate and get it through the chamber via unanimous consent.

The programs need to be reauthorized by Sept. 30 to avoid a lapse, a potential scenario DOD -- one of the biggest users of the SBIR and STTR programs as part of its innovation landscape -- has spent weeks preparing for.

The reauthorization process has been closely watched thus far as observers waited for the “six corners,” consisting of the House and Senate small business panels and the House science committee, to reach consensus as the window for legislative action this month draws to a close.

The three-year reauthorization timeline that lawmakers decided upon, which would stave off another extension debate through Sept. 30, 2025, is less than the current five-year one both programs are operating under. SBIR and STTR were most recently reauthorized in 2016 under the FY-17 National Defense Authorization Act.

By Nick Wilson
September 20, 2022 at 5:39 PM

The Marine Corps is interested in remotely operated/unmanned vehicles capable of hosting "various large weapons platforms," according to a request for information published on Monday evening.

The service anticipates an acquisition objective of 60 units, ready for initial fielding in the first quarter of fiscal year 2024.

“This Special Notice serves as announcement of the Intent to Sole Source for the modification of the base award to Oshkosh Defense, LLC. for the procurement of additional Carriers, also known as, Remote Operated Ground Unit Expeditionary-FIRES and ancillary support equipment and services for the Long-Range Fires program,” the RFI states.

The announcement stipulates the system’s mobility and deployability should be roughly equal to that of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Systems that are based upon or incorporate existing Marine Corps technology are favored by the service.

The system must be able to load C-130 and larger aircraft in addition to “amphibious shipping and connectors,” the announcement states. The complete system can weigh no more than 24,000 lbs with platform power of up to 10 kW.

Responses to the RFI are required by Oct. 3.

By Tony Bertuca
September 20, 2022 at 5:00 PM

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said today the Senate will be meeting in October to debate the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill.

“We will be meeting October,” he said during a press conference, adding that the defense authorization bill “will be part of what we do.”

Schumer said the Senate will not be meeting the first week of October because of the Yom Kippur holiday.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) had said he hoped to move the bill in September but was aware it could slip to the right.

By Evan Ochsner
September 20, 2022 at 3:42 PM

The Army will hold an industry day next month to provide further information on its program to replace the tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile, the service announced Monday.

The Army will provide new information on the program timeline and desired characteristics of the Close Combat Missile System-Heavy during the virtual industry day on Oct. 20. The service first announced the program last year and the following June released a request for information that said the new capability will be used to defeat armored threats and field fortification. It will initially augment existing stockpiles of the TOW family of missiles, while maintaining compatibility with platforms and launchers.

The industry day will include a brief overview of the program, a question-and-answer session and individual sessions for vendors to talk directly with the project manager office, according to the notice.

Companies interested in attending the industry day must RSVP to Staci Doss at by Oct. 3.

By Shelley K. Mesch
September 20, 2022 at 1:36 PM

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- The Air Force will unveil its B-21 Raider in December, acquisition chief Andrew Hunter said Monday.

The service has been tight-lipped on the next-generation nuclear bomber for the past several years.

A specific date for the rollout has not been set, but it is slated for first week of December, Hunter told reporters at the Air and Space Forces Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference.

Northrop Grumman began manufacturing five B-21 test aircraft last year, and the Air Force awarded the business $108 million earlier this year for advance procurement funds.

By John Liang
September 20, 2022 at 1:23 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on congressional efforts to extend small business legislation, the Defense Department's work on a national spectrum strategy and more.

We start off with coverage of lawmakers' work on extending small business legislation:

SBIR reauthorization bill includes three-year extension, multiple programmatic changes

Lawmakers are looking to move forward with a standalone, three-year extension for a key, decades-old program that administers small business grants across nearly a dozen federal agencies, including the Defense Department, according to a bill draft and summary.

Document: SBIR/STTR extension act of 2022

DOD Chief Information Officer John Sherman spoke this week at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration spectrum policy symposium:

DOD 'engaged' in work to develop national spectrum strategy

A top Pentagon official said the Defense Department is "engaged" in work on a national spectrum strategy that would guide 5G wireless technology deployment and ensure a coordinated, cross-government approach to shape future policies.

More coverage of this week's annual AFA Air, Space and Cyber Conference:

AFCENT Detachment 99 to tackle C-UAS, digital innovation

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- Air Force Central Command has launched a new group charged with experimenting with off-the-shelf technologies to identify capabilities that can be used in the Middle East theater.

AMC approves KC-46A for combat deployment

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- The KC-46A Pegasus has been cleared by Air Mobility Command for combat deployment, AMC’s top official told reporters today, marking a turning point for the troubled tanker that had previously been sidelined by technical defects and cost overruns.

L3Harris, Embraer enter KC-Z consideration with KC-390 tanker

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- L3Harris Technologies and Brazilian aerospace company Embraer are offering a jointly developed KC-390 Millennium as a new tanker for the Air Force’s consideration, aiming to break into the U.S. military air refueling market as the service looks to field a new generation of aircraft, the two companies announced this week.

By John Liang
September 19, 2022 at 4:48 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from the first day of the annual AFA Air, Space and Cyber Conference, Army lasers and more.

We start off with our initial coverage of this year's AFA Air, Space and Cyber Conference:

L3Harris, Embraer enter KC-Z consideration with KC-390 tanker

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- L3Harris Technologies and Brazilian aerospace company Embraer are offering a jointly developed KC-390 Millennium as a new tanker for the Air Force’s consideration, aiming to break into the U.S. military air refueling market as the service looks to field a new generation of aircraft, the two companies announced today.

(Follow our continuing AFA coverage.)

Lockheed Martin recently delivered to the office of the under secretary of defense for research and engineering the most powerful laser the company has ever built: an electric 300 kW-class laser designed for tactical operations:

U.S. military receives first of three planned 300-kilowatt lasers, Army integration begins

The U.S. military has taken ownership of a prototype 300-kilowatt laser -- the first of three different variants of a high-energy weapon with cruise-missile killing power -- marking a key milestone in the Defense Department program to scale up directed-energy technology.

Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Joseph Clearfield spoke recently at an event hosted by Defense One:

Clearfield: Partnerships crucial to preserving peace in the Indo-Pacific

Maintaining strong partnerships with allied nations is integral to maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, according to the Marine Corps' deputy commander of Pacific forces.

The latest from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

DOD, DOJ urge FCC to take action on internet routing system protocol security risks

The Defense and Justice departments are urging the Federal Communications Commission to move forward with work to secure the Border Gateway Protocol in a new filing, which explains associated national security risks and argues against using a voluntary approach to address vulnerabilities.

The Navy wants to decommission nine monohull, Freedom-variant LCS in its fiscal year 2023 budget request, which have faced challenges with anti-submarine warfare capability and drive trains, raising the question of whether mission packages will be left without a host LCS:

Navy: LCS mission package funding not 'hull-specific'

Despite the Navy's proposed early retirement of nine Littoral Combat Ships, the program's mission packages, aimed to provide modularity and flexibility for the ship class, are not dependent on the number of LCS in the fleet.

In case you missed it, check out our deep dive into the government's effort to renew the Small Business Innovation Research program and its effects on the defense industry:

SBIR faces down-to-the-wire program reauthorization

With two weeks remaining until the Small Business Innovation Research effort is set to expire, congressional negotiations surrounding a potential standalone reauthorization plan -- characterized by a keen interest in front-end changes to the decades-old program -- are getting down to the wire.

By Shelley K. Mesch
September 19, 2022 at 10:29 AM

The Air Force has appointed a program executive officer to integrate Command, Control, Communications and Battle Management capabilities across the service, according to a news release posted Monday.

The Rapid Capabilities Office, which had managed C3BM capabilities, will now be a “supporting element” for the Integrating PEO after it set a “strong foundation,” according to the release.

"The high-end fight against today's pacing challenge will be much more complex than any undertaking the DAF has managed to date," said Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. "The DAF must develop and migrate to a C3BM architecture that includes resilient, distributed battle management, as well as the operational ability to disaggregate C3BM execution to reduce or eliminate single points of failure for optimal survivability against emerging threats."

Brig. Gen. Luke Cropsey will serve as the first Integrating PEO for C3BM, which is a core component of the Defense Department’s Joint All Domain Command and Control effort. He will work with service acquisition executive Andrew Hunter, who appointed him, and Assistant Secretary for Space Integration Frank Calvelli.

"Luke's charge will be to build the organizational infrastructure to solve the complex systems engineering and integration challenge for C3BM across the DAF and externally, and he will be empowered as the leader to make this happen,” Hunter said in the news release.

Cropsey will also work with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and other military departments on the Air Force’s JADC2-related efforts.

Hunter will also appoint a chief of engineering for the PEO who will lead system engineering for the C3BM system of systems. Resources from the service’s chief architect’s office will be aligned under the PEO to support the architecture and engineering work.

By Tony Bertuca
September 19, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are slated to speak at an annual Air Force Association conference this week.

Monday

The Air Force Association hosts its annual Air, Space and Cyber Conference. The event runs through Wednesday.

DOD Chief Information Officer John Sherman speaks at the 2022 NTIA Spectrum Policy Symposium.

Tuesday

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on U.S. nuclear strategy and policy.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on current challenges facing the defense industrial base.

Thursday

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on future competition between the U.S. and Chinese navies.

The Air Force Association hosts a discussion on Space Force training.

By John Liang
September 16, 2022 at 1:45 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on efforts to renew the Small Business Innovation Research program, Navy Littoral Combat Ships, Marine Corps unmanned systems and more.

We start off with a deep dive into the government's effort to renew the Small Business Innovation Research program and its effects on the defense industry:

SBIR faces down-to-the-wire program reauthorization

With two weeks remaining until the Small Business Innovation Research effort is set to expire, congressional negotiations surrounding a potential standalone reauthorization plan -- characterized by a keen interest in front-end changes to the decades-old program -- are getting down to the wire.

Navy and Marine Corps news:

Navy: LCS mission package funding not 'hull-specific'

Despite the Navy's proposed early retirement of nine Littoral Combat Ships, the program's mission packages, aimed to provide modularity and flexibility for the ship class, are not dependent on the number of LCS in the fleet.

Berger: Marine Corps pressing forward with unmanned systems

The Marine Corps is rapidly pressing forward with the development of unmanned systems for use in the air, on the ground and both above and below the water's surface, according to the service's commandant.

Pointing to how the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the vital role of commercial platforms, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said during an Intelligence & National Security Summit event this week that DOD is exploring ways to shield companies from threats as the line between private and government systems blurs:

DOD considering indemnification for commercial space vendors, officials say

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- As the United States increasingly leverages commercial space capabilities to support national security objectives, the Defense Department is considering steps to indemnify private space vendors due to risks to their systems, according to top officials.

Defense Department acquisition chief Bill LaPlante spoke at a Defense Scoop conference this week:

LaPlante: DOD has budgeted for 'tens' of production-level hypersonic weapons

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante said today the Defense Department's future-years budget plan has a "wedge" to purchase production-level hypersonic weapons.

Air Force Deputy Chief Information Officer Winston Beauchamp outlined a timeline this week for integrating the Advanced Battle Management System:

Air Force poised to release ABMS model to industry next week

Air Force officials are planning to release a model next week to help guide industry involvement in the service's push to connect its sensors and shooters through the Advanced Battle Management System program.

By Tony Bertuca
September 16, 2022 at 10:44 AM

The Defense Department announced another military aid package for Ukraine, this time valued at $600 million to include additional ammunition for long-range artillery, counter-drone systems, mine-clearing equipment and more.

The package, being sent via presidential “drawdown” authority, marks the 21st time the Biden administration has transferred equipment to Ukraine from U.S. stocks since August 2021.

Capabilities in the package include:

- Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS)

- 36,000 105 mm artillery rounds

- 1,000 precision-guided 155 mm artillery rounds

- Four counter-artillery radars

- Four trucks and eight trailers to transport heavy equipment

- Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems

- Mine clearing equipment

- Claymore anti-personnel munitions

- Demolition munitions and equipment

- Small arms and ammunition

- Night vision devices, cold weather gear, and other field equipment

In total, the United States has committed approximately $15.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, according to DOD.

By John Liang
September 16, 2022 at 10:35 AM

Inside Defense earlier this week learned that the Air Force has been quietly carrying out a fleetwide hardware fix for the F-22 Raptor after the aircraft logged several incidents due to a significant problem with the fighter’s dual F119 engines.

The issue has racked up nearly $23 million in damages for the service stemming from seven Class A engine mishaps -- the Defense Department's most serious accident classification -- that spanned nearly a decade and prompted a retrofit effort beginning in 2019 that is slated to finish next year.

That story is now available to all. Read it here.

By John Liang
September 15, 2022 at 2:11 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Australia buying Triton unmanned aerial vehicles, low-earth orbit satellite launch delays and more.

Australia's first MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle was unveiled yesterday:

U.S., Australia considering shared maintenance for Triton, details yet to be decided

Australia's purchase of the Triton unmanned aerial vehicle has opened the door for the U.S. Navy to possibly have a maintenance repair facility in the Western Pacific.

The Space Development Agency originally planned to launch the first of its Tranche 0 low-earth orbit satellites by late September, but that date has been pushed back to December:

First SDA Tranche 0 launch pushed to December

The Space Development Agency's planned launch later this month for its first low-earth orbit satellites has been postponed to December, according to SDA Director Derek Tournear, causing a minor setback for the agency's goal to deliver a proliferated architecture of low-earth orbit satellites that will serve as the backbone of the Defense Department's Joint All-Domain Command and Control effort.

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), a member of the House Armed Services seapower subcommittee and a former surface warfare officer, argued this week that the Defense Department's objectives must drive requirements:

Luria: OSD's topline process is roadblock to bigger Navy fleet

Amidst unclear targets for the Navy's fleet size, a House lawmaker cites the process of distributing the Defense Department's budget among the three services as a major hindrance for the Navy if it wants to build a bigger fleet.

The Missile Defense Agency recently announced Japan's Aegis System-Equipped Vessel (ASEV) successfully demonstrated a new variant of the software tailored to Japan's version of Aegis as part of Tokyo's effort to protect the island nation from North Korean ballistic missile attack:

MDA demonstrates SPY-7 linkage with new sea-based variant of Japan's former Aegis Ashore

The United States and Japan advanced a project to field a new ballistic missile defense capability by demonstrating improved software on a special variant of the Aegis system -- one slated for land deployment but now on a ship -- that integrated for the first time the SPY-7 radar, marking completion of a "majority of the development" effort.

In case you missed it, Inside Defense this week interviewed Bob Hale, a former Defense Department comptroller who serves as chairman of the Planning, Programming, Budget and Execution Reform Commission:

After slow start, work now underway at key DOD budget reform commission

A new commission charged with reforming the Pentagon's 1960s-era budget planning and programming process got off to a slow start this summer, but the group's chairman says members have been meeting for months and have made "significant progress," though a final report will be delayed.

By Tony Bertuca
September 15, 2022 at 10:11 AM

The Army has awarded a $311 million contract to Raytheon Missiles and Defense and Lockheed Martin for the delivery of more than 1,800 Javelin anti-tank systems to replenish those that have been sent from U.S. stocks to support Ukraine in its fight against an ongoing Russian invasion.

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante said in a statement that the award is a “great example of our continued commitment to strengthening our domestic industrial base while supporting our allies and partners.”

LaPlante said industry should expect to see “a strong, persistent demand signal” as the United States continues to replenish its weapons stocks.

The procurement is part of the Ukraine supplemental appropriation granted by Congress.

“This award demonstrates the Army’s ability to use the new authorities given to us by Congress to acquire critical capabilities for our Soldiers, allies, and partners rapidly and responsibly,” said Army acquisition chief Doug Bush.

The award was made to Raytheon and Lockheed’s Javelin Joint Venture, which the Pentagon says has produced more than 50,000 Javelin missiles and more than 12,000 reusable command launch units.

“Javelin is expected to remain in the U.S. weapon arsenal until 2050 and is subject to continual upgrades to support evolving operational needs,” the Pentagon said.

By John Liang
September 14, 2022 at 2:59 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on U.S.-Japanese missile defense cooperation efforts, reforming the Pentagon's budget process and more.

We start off with news on U.S. and Japanese missile defense cooperation:

MDA demonstrates SPY-7 linkage with new sea-based variant of Japan's former Aegis Ashore

The United States and Japan advanced a project to field a new ballistic missile defense capability by demonstrating improved software on a special variant of the Aegis system -- one slated for land deployment but now on a ship -- that integrated for the first time the SPY-7 radar, marking completion of a "majority of the development" effort.

Inside Defense this week interviewed Bob Hale, a former Defense Department comptroller who serves as chairman of the Planning, Programming, Budget and Execution Reform Commission:

After slow start, work now underway at key DOD budget reform commission

A new commission charged with reforming the Pentagon's 1960s-era budget planning and programming process got off to a slow start this summer, but the group's chairman says members have been meeting for months and have made "significant progress," though a final report will be delayed.

The former head of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit has been cleared of ethics charges by the Defense Department inspector general's office:

DOD IG clears ex-DIU head of 'improper personnel practices,' closes probe

The Defense Department inspector general has cleared the former head of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit and closed an ethics probe in the days after his departure from the small-budget outfit that aims to leverage commercial technologies for military use cases.

Air Force Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week on his nomination to be the next head of the Space Force:

Saltzman: U.S. will need offensive capabilities in space to deter adversaries

The United States will need offensive capabilities in space to deter potential adversaries from attacking orbital systems, Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman told the Senate Armed Services Committee today, as senators consider whether to confirm Saltzman as the Space Force's next chief of space operations and pin on him his fourth star.

Document: CSO nomination hearing

The new phase for DISA's Thunderdome program, which began in late August, is slated to last through the end of the calendar year and see the program through its recently extended pilot timeframe:

Thunderdome begins operational assessment, on track for 2023 fielding decision

The Defense Information Systems Agency's zero-trust security program has kicked off its operational assessment period as officials prepare for a 2023 fielding decision to scale up the capability.