The Insider

By Courtney Albon
May 18, 2020 at 12:22 PM

The Air Force this week released a sources-sought notice seeking companies to provide the propulsion system for the F-15EX, which will replace the aging F-15 C/D fleet.

The call for market research comes after the service in January announced its intent to sole-source an engine contract to General Electric, which builds the F110 propulsion system that powers most of the F-15E fleet.

Today's notice states that the service plans to buy up to 461 engines, with initial deliveries in June 2023. Responses are due June 8.

Boeing builds the F-15, and the service has indicated it could buy as many as 144 jets.

By Justin Katz
May 18, 2020 at 11:35 AM

The Navy last week announced that its 12th and final active duty patrol squadron completed the transition from the legacy P-3 Orion to the P-8 Poseidon airplane.

Patrol Squadron 40, based in Jacksonville, FL, completed a "Safe-For-Flight" evaluation May 14, according to a Naval Air Systems Command.

The Navy's transition from Lockheed's P-3 Orion to Boeing's P-8 Poseidon, a maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, lasted seven years, the statement added.

Separately, the service's latest budget request stops buying the new aircraft to "free up time, money and manpower," Inside Defense reported in April. The service's fiscal year 2021 budget justification documents indicate the Navy is allowing for an 18-plane gap between the program of record, 120, and the warfighting requirement, 138.

Asked about the savings achieved by not procuring the planes, Navy spokesman Lt. Tim Pietrack said, "There was no savings or investment achieved by not purchasing additional P-8As. Aircraft not procured represent an unquantifiable cost avoidance."

By Marjorie Censer
May 18, 2020 at 8:14 AM

Science Applications International Corp. said today it has named Dee Dee Helfenstein chief strategic growth officer, effective immediately.

"In this newly created position, Helfenstein will lead SAIC's corporate strategy and growth initiatives, reporting directly to SAIC CEO Nazzic Keene," the company said.

Helfenstein joins from Booz Allen Hamilton, where she led the company's solutions business.

By Tony Bertuca
May 18, 2020 at 5:00 AM

Defense officials are scheduled to participate in a virtual conference this week, while one company hosts a quarterly earnings call.

Tuesday

The AFCEA/GMU Critical Issues in C4I Symposium begins and runs through Wednesday.

Wednesday

Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin speaks at a Washington Space Business Roundtable virtual breakfast.

Thursday

Perspecta executives are slated to discuss quarterly earnings.

By Marjorie Censer
May 15, 2020 at 2:49 PM

The head of KBR's U.S. government solutions business said this week the company is expecting the remaining protest of the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program V to be resolved imminently and that transition work is already underway.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs virtual conference, Byron Bright said there is only one remaining protest for the program.

"That really should be decided any day," he said. "We really see that winding down and expect a good outcome."

In the meantime, Bright said, "I can tell you that LOGCAP V has already started."

"We are actively planning the various transitions," he added. "I will say that some of the transition of the activities have been delayed."

Vectrus' chief executive said earlier this week that its transition work has been slowed by travel restrictions related to the coronavirus crisis.

Bright said KBR is optimistic about soon moving forward.

"As we understand the environment over the next several months, we hope to see that begin to ramp up," he said.

However, the Army is "in no hurry," Bright added. "There's plenty of time to do this right."

By John Liang
May 15, 2020 at 2:16 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of the Air Force's new helicopters that will patrol ICBM fields, plus missile defense and more.

The Grey Wolf helicopter program is pursuing a streamlined testing schedule featuring an integrated developmental and operational testing team as well as a mixed crew of Air Force and Boeing personnel:

Boeing to finish delivering Grey Wolf test helicopters in coming months

The Boeing-Leonardo team that's building MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters to patrol the military's intercontinental ballistic missile silos will deliver three remaining test aircraft to the Air Force in the coming months.

Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper spoke to the media this week:

Roper approves accelerated satellite contract amid space industrial base concerns

The Air Force's top acquisition official told reporters yesterday he's approved an accelerated award of a "major satellite contract" that could be announced this week -- part of a larger effort to increase companies' cash flow during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Missile Defense Agency this week published a solicitation seeking information from interested parties in being an "other transaction consortium manager," a potential precursor to establishing a dedicated track to expedite contract execution and award in an effort to speed development and fielding of missile defense capabilities:

MDA considers dedicated 'other transaction' entity for missile defense

The Missile Defense Agency is eyeing formation of a third-party entity dedicated to managing rapid prototyping of missile defense projects, following a pivot by the Army, Navy, and Air Force from traditional acquisition rules to a new pathway called "middle-tier" acquisition intended to experiment with and potentially deliver new weapons in two to five years.

Document: MDA RFI for prototype projects other transaction consortium manager

The Army has winnowed the contracting schedule for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft to two options:

Army, industry deciding path forward on FLRAA schedule

The Army is asking industry to help it choose a contracting schedule for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft, for which the service has narrowed down to two options, and whether the Army should award a hybrid fixed-price type contract after executing the initial portion under other transaction authority.

The Defense Department inspector general's office intends to investigate several new areas including cybersecurity in DOD's newly expanded telework environment "to determine whether DOD components maintained network protections" amid the coronavirus pandemic:

DOD IG announces new COVID-19 oversight plan

The Defense Department inspector general today released new plans to audit the Pentagon's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including oversight of $10.6 billion Congress has authorized for DOD to focus on the pandemic.

Document: DOD IG's COVID-19 oversight plan

By Tony Bertuca
May 15, 2020 at 2:09 PM

President Trump today launched a whole-of-government COVID-19 vaccine effort called "Operation Warp Speed" and said the Pentagon will have a major role to play.

"When a vaccine is ready, the U.S. government will deploy every plane, truck and soldier required to help distribute it to the American people as quickly as possible," he said during a White House press conference alongside senior government officials.

Trump has named Army Materiel Command chief Gen. Gus Perna to the "Operation Warp Speed" leadership team.

Perna, who appeared with the president today in the Rose Garden, said DOD would rely on its logistical and sustainment capabilities to bolster the vaccine effort.

"It will be a herculean task," he said, but added: "We will defeat the enemy. Why? Because winning matters."

Perna will be working with venture capitalist Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines division, who will be the chief adviser on "Operation Warp Speed."

Defense Secretary Mark Esper promised the full weight of the Defense Department and pledged a vaccine would be ready by the end of the year "at scale to treat the American people and our partners abroad."

Esper's pledge, however, does not align with the statements of many public health experts who think it will take much longer for a vaccine to be developed, tested and distributed.

Earlier this week, DOD announced a $138 million contract with ApiJect Systems America to "dramatically expand" U.S. production of domestically manufactured, medical-grade injection devices starting by October 2020. To ensure rapid distribution, DOD said, hundreds of millions of syringes will be at the ready in the event a vaccine is developed.

Meanwhile, DOD has removed Jen Santos as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy, where she was the point person for leveraging the Defense Production Act to ramp up medical supplies to fight COVID-19. Santos has been reassigned to the Navy.

Chief DOD spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said today the personnel situation presented an “opportunity” for the department to identify someone with a different "background" from Santos who could better assist Operation Warp Speed.

The same day Santos' removal went public, Trump signed an executive order delegating new and sweeping DPA authorities to Adam Boehler, chief executive officer of the United States International Development Finance Corporation.

"Accordingly, I am delegating authority under title III of the Act to make loans, make provision for purchases and commitments to purchase, and take additional actions to create, maintain, protect, expand, and restore the domestic industrial base capabilities, including supply chains within the United States and its territories ("domestic supply chains"), needed to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak," Trump wrote.

During the press conference, Trump said Operation Warp Speed would integrate existing lines of federal effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and try to cut as much red tape as possible.

Trump said, however, the U.S. economy must begin to re-open soon, despite the warnings of many health experts who worry that ending economically costly social distancing policies too soon could cause a spike in infections.

"I want to make one thing clear," he said. "Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back."

By Ashley Tressel
May 15, 2020 at 1:20 PM

The Army is conducting a three-year project, funded by U.S. Transportation Command, to develop a capability that would allow the service to airdrop four Joint Light Tactical Vehicles from a C-17 aircraft, doubling the current capability.

The Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center in Natick, MA, is leading the project.

The current C-17 Dual Row Airdrop System for humvees uses "side-by-side logistics rail/lock systems" to carry eight humvees on a single aircraft, according to a notice posted last month. But the current system for the JLTV, the larger and heavier replacement for the humvee, can only tote two JLTVs. That system is the conventional Low Velocity Airdrop System, which "uses a standard, 24-foot, Type V airdrop platform."

The Army is considering two approaches to increase the number of JLTVs per C-17 from two to four under the "Gravity Airdrop System," or GADS, capability, according to the notice.

The first approach is to increase the current DRAS capability, while the second approach involves using the conventional airdrop rail system to gravity airdrop the JLTV on a platform shorter than the standard 24-foot platform.

Both options come with their challenges, which are detailed in the request for project proposals.

"Drawings of the JLTV can be made available to U.S. contractors after completing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the JLTV Joint Program Office," the notice states.

By Sara Sirota
May 15, 2020 at 1:10 PM

The Air Force last month completed a virtual preliminary design review of Northrop Grumman's plan for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent -- the replacement to the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system.

"The PDR ensured Northrop Grumman's design is sufficiently mature and ready to proceed into detailed design with acceptable risk, and will meet performance requirements within budget and on schedule," Col. Jason Bartolomei, GBSD system program manager, said in a notice the Air Force released today.

Since the service ended funding for Boeing's technology maturation and risk-reduction contract, Northrop is the only company still maturing a GBSD design. It was also the sole bidder for the engineering and manufacturing development prime contract, which the Air Force is expected to award in the coming months.

Despite the coronavirus national emergency, the Air Force managed to host PDR meetings over a classified network at 19 locations across the country, according to the service's notice.

"Accomplishing this PDR is a huge success for the program, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic," Bartolomei said. "The GBSD team overcame many challenges to accomplish such a large, complex PDR for an Acquisition Category 1-D program."

By Ashley Tressel
May 15, 2020 at 12:23 PM

The Army is seeking firm-fixed price proposals under a small business set-aside for a Bradley Fighting Vehicle Track Guide Repair Kit, according to a recent notice.

A solicitation posted last month, updated Monday, says the required quantity of kits is 9,803, at a rate of 1,000 kits per month starting Nov. 15. The order includes an option for an additional 9,803 kits at the same rate.

The Track Guide Repair Kit is used on the A3 and A4 Bradley variants, the notice says.

The service is making the technical data package available to interested vendors. Responses are due May 20.

By Marjorie Censer
May 14, 2020 at 5:03 PM

Raytheon Technologies has flowed $450 million in accelerated progress payments from the Pentagon to suppliers over the last two months, according to the company's chief executive.

Speaking at a Bank of America conference earlier this week, Greg Hayes said the company has delivered the funds "to our suppliers to make sure that they can maintain their financial viability."

Additionally, he said, Raytheon has set up a "special office" within its supply chain operations "to provide logistical support and to provide support [in] helping them access government funds."

While Hayes said he recognizes the company's airline customers "are going to have a tough time, it is the small business suppliers I am most worried about."

He also said that while Raytheon is not particularly interested in potential acquisitions during this timeframe, it is not ruling it out.

"It would have to be the deal of the century for us to think about" mergers and acquisitions, Hayes said. "But I would never say no if that rare opportunity were to present itself."

"If we see a buying opportunity, we're not going to be shy," Hayes added. "We're not going to be stupid either."

By Ashley Tressel
May 14, 2020 at 3:58 PM

The Combat Capabilities Development Command Data and Analysis Center at Research Triangle Park, NC, is seeking to enter into a partnership intermediary agreement for cooperating with outside organizations such as small businesses and universities, the Army announced this month.

The service issued a request for information May 8, looking to work only with a state or local government agency or nonprofit organization owned or partially owned, funded or operated by a state or local government, per the limits of a PIA.

"CCDC DAC is interested in creating a more efficient and effective laboratory that can be adaptive and responsive to the challenges of the future Army," the notice states.

"By bringing together academia, industry and government, the Army can enhance its performance through collocated [research and development] collaboration," the RFI adds. "CCDC DAC [seeks help with] facilitating access to useful regional facilities and researchers . . . to support the development of knowledge, methods, techniques, and capabilities relevant to the future Army to enable maneuver support and protection to [multidomain] operations."

The DAC is specifically looking to "meet challenges in the maneuver support and protection functions necessary in" multidomain operations, according to the notice.

"CCDC DAC supports the Maneuver Support Center's responsibility to develop new materiel requirements based on the needs of the Soldier and provide research and analysis solutions to defeat operational deficiencies," the RFI states.

Objectives include protecting soldiers and facilities, investigating "fundamentals of assured mobility at every echelon," providing "an improved ability to enable freedom of action by Army forces," and developing force protection.

The chosen partner will extend outreach from the CCDC DAC, the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and the Battle Laboratory at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, and Army Futures Command "to research, entrepreneurial and industrial communities both physically and virtually via data hubs, blogs and other web strategies consistent with the CCDC Data and Analysis Center's CCDC collaboration and technology transfer plan," the RFI states.

By Justin Katz
May 14, 2020 at 3:23 PM

The Navy today announced a virtual industry day for a new class of vessels meant to complement its logistics forces, dubbing them a "Next Generation Logistics Ship."

The new vessels are expected to be "commercial ship designs tailored for military applications to conduct logistics missions," according to a Navy notice.

The Navy will divide the June 25 industry day into two sessions, the notice said. The first session will include a brief provided by the NGLS program, while the second session will answer industry's questions.

"The NGLS will enable refueling, rearming, and resupply of naval assets -- afloat and ashore -- in support of Distributed Maritime Operations, Littoral Operations Contested Environment, and Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations," according to the notice.

"The NGLS is envisioned to be smaller than existing ships in the Combat Logistics Force, and will operate near contested environments, sustaining afloat (Surface Action Group) and ashore (Expeditionary Advanced Base) requirements," the notice continued.

To build the new class of logistics ship, the service is considering platform supply vessels, fast supply vessels and "other types" of offshore support vessels.

"The Navy is considering conversion of existing vessels, new construction, or a combination of conversions and new construction in order to acquire the required number of Next Generation Logistics Ships," the notice said.

The notice did not provide additional details about how many vessels the service will look to purchase or requirements for the ship.

The service is requesting $30 million in research and development funding in fiscal year 2021 for a "next-generation medium logistics ship."

"The Navy established the Intra-Theater Small Auxiliary Logistics Platform Task Force in support of the Integrated Naval Force Structure Assessment to evaluate next generation medium platform solutions for logistics mission requirements in support" of the service's concepts of operations, according to the Navy's FY-21 budget justification documents.

"This includes a family of vessels with commercial designs tailored for military applications," the budget documents continued.

By John Liang
May 14, 2020 at 2:13 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon inspector general's COVID-19 oversight plan and more.

The Defense Department inspector general's office intends to investigate several new areas including cybersecurity in DOD's newly expanded telework environment "to determine whether DOD components maintained network protections" amid the coronavirua pandemic:

DOD IG announces new COVID-19 oversight plan

The Defense Department inspector general today released new plans to audit the Pentagon's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including oversight of $10.6 billion Congress has authorized for DOD to focus on the pandemic.'

Document: DOD IG's COVID-19 oversight plan

Inside Defense recently interviewed Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, head of the Air Force Sustainment Center:

AFSC closely tracking supply chain, depot workflow amid COVID-19

The Air Force Sustainment Center is working to mitigate possible supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, paying close attention to potential component shortages and reductions across the transportation network.

The Air Force's FY-21 budget request proposes shutting down MQ-9 Reaper production early and retiring the service's Block 20 and Block 30 RQ-4 Global Hawks -- about two-thirds of the fleet:

Lawmakers concerned about Air Force's ISR capabilities amid Reaper, Global Hawk divestments

Lawmakers are voicing concern that the Air Force's fiscal year 2021 plan to divest from legacy drone programs before next-generation platforms are ready could leave a gap in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities -- putting the service on the defensive as budget negotiations ramp up.

The Defense Department recently sent a legislative proposal to lawmakers that would allow DOD and the Coast Guard to "react immediately to reports of intrusions that may affect critical data of the armed forces":

Pentagon seeks automatic access to 'operationally critical' contractor networks following cyber incidents

The Pentagon is proposing changes to the law that would require "operationally critical" contractors to let Defense Department investigators access their unclassified information systems in the wake of a cyber incident.

Document: DOD's fourth, fifth FY-21 defense authorization legislative proposal packages

A notional new weapon would outmatch anything currently fielded by potential U.S. adversaries, according to an industry official, and give U.S. forces a new counter-battery, anti-armor capability to fight inside a contested environment against near-peer adversaries such as Russia and China:

Army taps U.S.-European industry team to design ramjet artillery prototype

The Army has tapped a U.S.-European industry team to design a potentially revolutionary munition that would pair an artillery round with an air-breathing engine to form a kind of quasi-missile to strike targets as far away as 100 kilometers, doubling the reach of current howitzers.

By Tony Bertuca
May 14, 2020 at 1:54 PM

Jen Santos is leaving her current position as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy to take a new job with Hondo Guerts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development, and acquisition, according to a Pentagon statement.

Santos' new job with the Navy will be to "support critical projects," Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said.

"The department's commitment to closely partnering with the defense industry remains unwavering, and we will continue to identify and mitigate impacts from the COVID-19 national emergency to ensure readiness and modernization," Andrews said.

Scott Baum, currently the principal director for industrial policy, will take over in an acting capacity.

Santos' exit was first reported by Politico, which said she told her staff Thursday morning she had been fired.

DOD did not immediately respond when asked if it disputes that characterization of the event.

A defense official stressed that Santos is not under suspicion of "anything illegal or immoral."

Still, the official said, "she was moved to another position."

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord has mentioned Santos and her work in previous public statements about how much DOD is engaging with industry amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lord praised the work of Santos' office, including her four weekly calls with defense industry associations and executives.

Santos was also a key member of Lord's team tasked with leveraging the Defense Production Act to bolster DOD's response to COVID-19.

Santos assumed the job in June 2019, succeeding Eric Chewning who became chief of staff to former Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan.