The Insider

By Ashley Tressel
October 16, 2019 at 3:15 PM

Army Futures Command today released the latest version of the service's modernization strategy, focusing on a multidomain force in 2035 and expanding on the first version published last year.

Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, director of AFC's Futures and Concepts Center, in charge of developing the modernization strategy, told reporters Monday at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting this new version follows the approval by former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley of the Multidomain Operations Concept, "which describes an Army in a much more aggregate manner."

He added the first iteration was largely focused on materiel modernization.

"So what this [2019] modernization strategy does is [it] looks at the problem holistically, and it nests why and where we need the materiel modernization alongside all the other elements of Army modernization, which includes doctrine, organizational structure, training, leader development, policies, personnel -- all of these things have to be holistically and in a synchronized manner evolved over time," he said. "And this modernization strategy describes that really complex roadmap over the next 10 to 15 years."

"We don't know the exact organizational structures, we know the capabilities and functions that have to exist to achieve MDO," Wesley said. "And right now, we're doing multiple iterations of experimentation and wargaming to see the optimum design of those structures."

By Marjorie Censer
October 16, 2019 at 3:00 PM

Despite not winning spots on two Army programs, AeroVironment continues to watch the initiatives, according to the company's chief executive.

AeroVironment disclosed earlier this year that it was not selected for the Army's Soldier Borne Sensor program and did not win a spot "among the initial candidates" for the service's Short Range Reconnaissance effort.

However, Wahid Nawabi told Inside Defense this week at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference that the programs are "not completely out of the question."

"We still are watching it," he said, declining to definitively say whether AeroVironment will pursue the efforts, citing competitive reasons.

Meanwhile, Nawabi said AeroVironment last year saw its international sales surpass its domestic sales for the first time. According to its annual report, 52% of AeroVironment's sales in fiscal year 2019 were international; 48% were domestic.

Nawabi said AeroVironment has diversified, making it "more resilient to changing markets and conditions."

By John Liang
October 16, 2019 at 2:14 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of the Pentagon's refusing to comply with a House subpoena plus news from the AUSA annual conference.

Don't expect the Pentagon to comply with a House subpoena related to the presidential impeachment inquiry:

Pentagon will not comply with House impeachment subpoena

The Defense Department will not comply with a subpoena from House committees seeking information related to an impeachment inquiry into President Trump and the decision to withhold U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

Document: DOD letter on House impeachment subpoena

The acting head of the Space Development Agency spoke to the media this morning at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual convention:

Acting SDA director: Near-term architecture work continuing as planned under CR

The acting director of the Space Development Agency told reporters today his organization is not under immediate pressure due to the lack of a fiscal year 2020 budget, but noted that if the continuing resolution continues into February, early launch plans could face delays.

More AUSA news:

First Integrated Tactical Network 'capability set' on schedule

The Army will wrap up the final design of "Capability Set 21" of the Integrated Tactical Network in fiscal year 2020 following delivery this past summer to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, NC.

Precision Strike Missile range could reach 800 km

The Army's Precision Strike Missile could eventually reach a range of up to 800 km, following the dissolution of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty which had a 500 km limit.

Army picks LTAMDS winner, in 'active negotiations' to finalize contract

The Army has picked a winner in the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor program -- a contest between Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to replace the Patriot radar -- but will not identify the company yet because the service is in "active negotiations" to finalize contract terms, according to a senior official.

Army to test first ERCA prototype soon

The first Extended Range Cannon Artillery prototype is going through final assembly at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, and the Army expects to test it in the next 30 days.

By Justin Katz
October 16, 2019 at 1:43 PM

(Editor's Note: This post has been updated to reflect that the Mobile User Objective System has demonstrated full operational capability, but has not declared the formal acquisition milestone.)

The Navy today announced its next-generation satellite has demonstrated full operational capability.

"The successful completion of this testing demonstrates the system's full operational capability and its readiness for forces to transition it into unrestricted operations," according to the Navy statement.

Navy spokesman Capt. Danny Hernandez told Inside Defense today that the system did not formally declare the acquisition milestone. "We're in the final stages before we can declare FOC," he said.

Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) is a narrowband military satellite communications system and is expected to provide 10 times the system capacity of the Pentagon's legacy Ultra High Frequency constellation.

Inside Defense reported in 2017 the program had previously estimated it would achieve FOC in January 2017.

However, the Navy's acquisition executive at the time changed that estimate to April 2020 after the Pentagon's top weapon tester deemed the satellite "not operationally effective and not operationally suitable," according to a December 2016 selected acquisition report.

By Jaspreet Gill
October 16, 2019 at 1:28 PM

The Army is in the beginning stages of developing a space strategy to help the service utilize space in four different areas.

The idea for the strategy came to fruition 18 months ago from the service's then-Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy and then-Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, according to Willie Nelson, director of the Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing cross-functional team.

"[They] asked that we pull together Army space strategy needs, how does the Army utilize space as a tactical warfighting campaign to enable synchronized efforts on the ground?" Nelson told reporters Oct. 16 at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting. "Out of that really came four main thrusts for the Army."

The first component of the strategy involves communications capabilities the service is trying to leverage, including high database bandwidth and multiple avenues to get data in and out of the battlefield. The second area of the strategy is assured PNT capabilities that will aid soldiers in GPS-contested environments. Nelson added the Army is working with the Air Force on the conversion to Military-Code GPS.

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance is the third component of the strategy, including capabilities like overhead sensors and figuring out the best ways to use them to provide situational awareness.

"And then lastly, how do you bring that all together? How do you use all that data . . . and how do you bring that data to the battlefield system?" Nelson said. "And that really is a consolidation of a lot of current capabilities on the battlefield."

Gen. Mike Murray, head of Army Futures Command, told reporters today the notional strategy will be developed in conjunction with the service’s Space and Missile Defense Command, and "the Department of Defense has a large say in the Army's role in space" as well.

"Part of that is: SMDC will always be part of the Army, but with the standup of [U.S.] Space Command . . . how does that all work itself out over the next months in terms of what roles, responsibilities, services, versus in this case a global commander?" he added.

By Justin Katz
October 16, 2019 at 1:03 PM

The Navy today announced it plans to issue a draft "build-to-print solicitation" to produce an unmanned surface vessel focused on mine countermeasures in the coming months.

The Pentagon last year approved the Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Surface Vehicle program. The Navy's initial plans are to equip Textron's Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle with the AQS-20C and AQS-24B mine-hunting sonar systems, according to Capt. Pete Small, the Navy program manager overseeing most of the service's unmanned efforts. Small said the Navy would also explore other payloads moving forward.

"The Government anticipates releasing a draft [request for proposals] in calendar year 2019. The formal solicitation release is anticipated in fiscal year 2020," according to a Federal Business Opportunities notice posted today.

MCM USV is one of several solicitations in various stages of development concerning unmanned and autonomous efforts. Other solicitations for unmanned programs being developed or circulated to industry include Medium and Large USVs as well as Medium and Large Unmanned Undersea vehicles.

By Jaspreet Gill
October 16, 2019 at 9:21 AM

The Army has chosen three principal vendors for Enterprise IT As-a-Service, the service’s effort to more quickly modernize its enterprise network.

Army Cyber Command Commanding General Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty told reporters Tuesday at the Association of the U.S. Army annual convention the service awarded contracts under other transaction agreements to AT&T, Verizon and Microsoft.

The EITAaS idea was formed last year when Fogarty and Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, Army chief information officer/G-6, started examining commercial practices and weighing an as-a-service model, instead of a service owned and operated model. EITAaS is expected to be implemented in 288 of the Army’s posts, camps and stations.

Fogarty added the Army is two and a half years behind the Air Force’s own EITAaS effort, but the two services are working together to help close the enterprise network gap. The Army is currently testing pilots for EITAaS.

“It was their willingness to work with us that we were able to close that gap and when we chose our acquisition strategy, we did it differently,” Fogarty said. “So [the Air Force] is piloting a way of doing business, we’re piloting a way to do business. We’re comparing those constantly, and we hope, at the end of this, we will see multiple ways of getting the mission accomplished.”

By Jaspreet Gill
October 16, 2019 at 9:16 AM

The Army will be standing up an enterprise cloud management office soon, according to the service’s chief information officer/G-6.

Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford told reporters Tuesday at the Association of the U.S. Army annual convention the service has selected a leader for its enterprise cloud management office. The office is currently operating in a provisional state with an initial operating capability timeframe projected for later this quarter.

“The intent of this enterprise cloud management office is to literally centralize oversight for all things cloud inside the Army that we’ve never had before . . . kind of reimagine a space where we got one organization that is responsible for two big things,” Crawford said. “One, helping people move, decide the managed services, which has been a barrier to entry in the past if you go and talk to people that have done it. And then making sure that once we move into a cloud hosting environment that all the users, the mission owners, are aware of the enterprise capabilities that we brought for the entire Army.”

By Tony Bertuca
October 15, 2019 at 5:44 PM

The State Department plans to craft waivers to continue U.S. arms sales to Turkey, despite escalating diplomatic tensions and economic sanctions over Ankara's ongoing military operations against Kurdish forces in northern Syria, according to a senior defense official.

The official said the Pentagon expects the waivers soon so that "official business" between the United States and Turkey -- a NATO ally -- can continue.

Proponents of the arms sales have said Turkey would go to Russia for its weapons if the United States does not allow them to continue.

U.S. relations with Turkey hit a speed bump earlier this year when the Turks were booted from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program over their purchase of a Russian-made missile system.

However, other nations, including the United Kingdom, have suspended all arms sales to Turkey over fears the weapons could be used in the Syrian conflict.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said he intends to discuss the situation in Syria with other NATO allies next week at a meeting in Brussels.

Meanwhile, congressional members from both parties have argued President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria gave Turkey license to attack Kurdish forces that helped the United States fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

By Justin Doubleday
October 15, 2019 at 4:26 PM

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced $55.4 billion in weapons sales in fiscal year 2019, as U.S. arms exports remain strong despite the Trump administration's controversial decision this year to buck congressional opposition and continue selling weapons to Saudi Arabia.

DSCA announced the $55.4 billion figure in a release today. The total is slightly down from the $55.6 billion in arms deals announced in FY-18. The U.S. government has averaged $51 billion in sales annually over the last three fiscal years, according to DSCA.

The FY-19 sales included $48.25 billion funded by foreign nations, while $3.67 billion worth of sales were funded by the State Department and $3.47 billion funded through Defense Department accounts.

Potential sales announced in FY-19 included a $2.6 billion MH-60R Seahawk helicopter sale to India, a $6.5 billion F-35 deal with Poland, and an $8 billion sale of F-16s to Taiwan.

But the Trump administration also courted controversy by using an "emergency" provision in the law to bypass lawmaker opposition and sell weapons to Saudi Arabia. Both chambers of Congress passed bills to block the sales, but the Senate lacked a veto-proof majority.

Meanwhile, DSCA said a 2018 review led to the agency reducing the FMS contract administration surcharge from 1.2 percent to 1.0 percent, "which will reduce the overall cost of FMS procurements" going forward, according to DSCA’s release.

In 2020, DSCA said it plans to make policy changes "regarding the development of FMS payment schedules and calculation of termination liability," the release adds.

By John Liang
October 15, 2019 at 1:51 PM

The Association of the U.S. Army conference dominates this Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest.

We start off with news from AUSA:

Army testing RCV platforms in Colorado next spring

The Next Generation Combat Vehicle's cross-functional team will deliver Robotic Combat Vehicle test platforms to Colorado in the spring for the next round of experimentation, following a "rodeo" in Texas that took place earlier this year.

Boeing adding countries to Chinook Block ll portfolio

Boeing is on track with its current CH-47 Block ll foreign military sales and is adding new countries to its portfolio, according to company executives.

OMFV moves to prototyping phase with one bidder

The general in charge of Army Futures Command today confirmed one of the two expected competitors for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program did not make the initial evaluation and will be sitting out the prototyping phase.

(Related: Army estimates $45 billion total price tag -- or $11 million per vehicle -- for OMFV)

Army advances plan to realign $10B to boost investments in 'signature systems'

The Army's fiscal year 2021 budget will propose realigning $10 billion in investments across the Pentagon's new five-year spending plan to pump additional resources into 31 so-called "signature systems" that underpin the service's modernization plan.

In other Army news, Inside Defense accompanied senior service officials to Texas A&M University over the weekend for the opening of a new hypersonic testing facility:

Army to open hypersonic testing facility at Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- Texas A&M University and Army Futures Command broke ground Saturday on the new Bush Combat Development Complex, featuring a hypersonic weapon testing facility for the Army Research Laboratory and industry.

Turning to the Air Force, Inside Defense recently interviewed the head of the munitions directorate at the Air Force Research Lab:

Ill-fated Gray Wolf networked cruise missile program extended into 2020

The initial and final phase of the Air Force's Gray Wolf project -- a short-lived effort to create a networked cruise missile capability -- will not come to an end this year as expected, since scheduling issues have delayed flight tests of the preliminary platform developed by Northrop Grumman.

On the Navy side, Inside Defense also spoke last week with the director of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile program:

LRASM misses September 2019 EOC goal due to 'minor production discrepancies'

The Defense Department's developmental anti-ship missile last month did not reach early operational capability on the Navy's F/A-18 fleet, missing the program's stated goal.

By Marjorie Censer
October 15, 2019 at 11:16 AM

AECOM said this week it has agreed to sell its management services business for $2.4 billion to affiliates of private-equity firms American Securities and Lindsay Goldberg.

In its announcement, American Securities and Lindsay Goldberg said the Germantown, MD-based management services unit, which is a contractor to the Pentagon, the Energy Department and other agencies, has more than 25,000 employees.

They said the deal will create a standalone government services provider.

AECOM said the transaction will make its remaining business a "lower-risk, higher-returning professional services firm focused on its industry-leading design, planning, architecture, engineering, program management and construction management capabilities."

AECOM said John Vollmer, who heads the group, will continue to lead it. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

By Justin Katz
October 15, 2019 at 11:11 AM

The Pentagon comptroller this month approved shifting $1.6 billion to a special account that funds the Columbia-class submarine, according to a recent reprogramming document.

The document, dated Oct. 10 and signed by acting Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker, moves the money from the Navy's shipbuilding and conversion account to the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund.

NSBDF is a supplemental account created specifically to fund the Columbia-class submarine program.

The funds will come from the "Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020," referring to the continuing resolution passed by Congress last month to avoid a government shutdown.

A continuing resolution sets spending at the previous fiscal year's level and bars the Pentagon from spending on new programs or increasing weapon system production. The current CR expires Nov. 21.

The only explanation given for the transfer refers to a statute that says, "There shall be deposited in the [NSBDF] all funds appropriated to the Department of Defense for construction (including design of vessels), purchase, alteration, and conversion of national sea-based deterrence vessels."

A Navy spokesman was not immediately able to comment on the reprogramming request.

By Marjorie Censer
October 15, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Mercury Systems said today it will invest $15 million to expand its microelectronics packaging business.

Mark Aslett, Mercury's chief executive, told Inside Defense the company sees itself as a link between high-tech commercial innovation and the Pentagon.

"How does the Defense Department or defense industry gain access to this critical technology in a way in which they can benefit from that investment or innovation?" he said. "What we're focused on is really becoming that conduit for all of that innovation that’s occurring in the high-tech world."

Mercury, Aslett said, already has a custom microelectronics business in Phoenix that it acquired with the purchase of Microsemi assets in 2016.

"They've got a facility that's already doing the trusted packaging of commercial silicon for use inside of the defense industry," Aslett said. "What we are going to do is expand both the scope initially of what that business can do in terms of the types of silicon it can combine together . . . and, over time, we’ll be seeking to actually expand the scale, meaning the capacity of that business as well."

He said the company plans to focus on expanding the scope in its fiscal year 2020, which started in July. The $15 million investment will go toward that effort.

"What we're enabling are dramatic SWAP -- size, weight and power -- improvements," Aslett said.

He told Inside Defense the company is refurbishing part of an existing facility to support the scope improvements and will be making new hires as well.

In FY-21, Mercury plans to focus on growing the scale of the business.

Mercury said Thomas Smelker, a vice president and general manager at the company, will lead the effort.

By Ashley Tressel
October 14, 2019 at 1:39 PM

The Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center has established a cooperative research and development agreement with General Motors for vehicle cybersecurity, the service announced today.

“Cybersecurity experts from both parties will share best practices, methodologies, tools and approaches focused on conducting penetration testing and cybersecurity risk analysis,” according to a press release from the service. “In addition to improving cybersecurity processes, both organizations aim to share key [lessons] with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) for the development of common standards.”

The CRADA will aid the Army’s efforts in autonomous driving technology and artificial intelligence, according to the press release. Work under the CRADA will extend into 2021, with Army engineers working in GM's Global Technical Center in Warren, MI, and GM engineers working with the Army's Ground Vehicle Cybersecurity Team at Detroit Arsenal.

“Working with our collaborative partners in the automotive industry, like we're doing here with General Motors, is a key component to quickly and efficiently develop our automotive cybersecurity capabilities,” Jeff Langhout, GVSC’s director, said in the release.