The Insider

By Thomas Duffy
May 20, 2022 at 12:30 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest starts off with GAO’s look at Defense Department cybersecurity, the Navy is making an argument for cutting the number of carrier air wings it has, a Navy plan to buy destroyers in bulk, and we wrap up with good news about the Space Force’s acquisition process.

The Government Accountability Office has generally good things to say about DOD cybersecurity:

GAO: DOD mostly meets cybersecurity requirements in key CUI areas

While the Defense Department has taken steps to safeguard sensitive data, it has yet to fully implement cybersecurity requirements surrounding its controlled unclassified information across the military's components, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The Navy says it can save money by trimming its carrier air wings:

Navy proposes legislation to move from 10 to 9 carrier air wings

The Navy has sent legislation to Congress that would reduce the number of carrier air wings to nine until additional aircraft carriers can fully support a 10th air wing.

And the service wants to go shopping for new destroyers:

Navy seeks multiyear deal for nine destroyers plus an option ship

The Navy will submit a legislative proposal to Congress that will include nine destroyers in a multiyear contract plus an option ship to "provide flexibility," according to a senior service official.

The new Space Force is doing a good job on the acquisition front:

Space Force proceeding 'much faster' with acquisitions, official says

As the Space Force works to rapidly field new capabilities to maintain space dominance, the service's interagency coordination and commercial partnerships have resulted in "dramatic increases" in the speed of acquisitions, according to Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber, and Nuclear Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman.

By Michael Marrow
May 20, 2022 at 12:25 PM

Raytheon Intelligence & Space announced a new name for its secretive advanced technology division, according to a company press release.

The branch, whose work is largely classified, has been relatively anonymous for the past two decades and was previously known as Advanced Concepts and Technology, the release says. It will now be called Department 22.

“This team is designed to go fast, learn along the way, take big risks and chase what others call impossible,” RI&S President Roy Azevedo said in the release. “They are at the forefront of innovation, operating on the edge of discovery with one goal in mind -- making the world a safer place.”

Department 22 will develop a mix of technologies ranging from sensors to autonomous missions systems and spearhead research in artificial intelligence, quantum computing and synthetic biology, the company says.

The team is headquartered in McKinney, TX, according to the announcement, and is planning to hire over 400 engineers, scientists and technologists before the year’s end.

By Audrey Decker
May 20, 2022 at 12:23 PM

The Navy is asking for industry’s input on an air vehicle that can accurately deliver a maritime mine.

The service is looking to field the Long-Range Aerial Delivered Maritime Mine “in the shortest practical timeline,” according to a notice released today.

“Combatant commanders require the capability to precisely and accurately emplace maritime mines in contested environments from an extended standoff range,” the notice states. “Existing mine laying aircraft must fly directly over each planned minefield at low altitude and speed to deliver mines, leaving the aircraft vulnerable to adversary air defense systems.”

The vehicle needs to deliver an explosive payload of at least 1,000 lb, according to the service. The minimum distance required for the system’s powered flight is classified.

“The LRADMM system shall at a minimum be capable of launching from U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft external munition stores stations with internal munitions stores stations as an option,” the notice states.

By Tony Bertuca
May 19, 2022 at 3:26 PM

The Defense Department is transferring $100 million in U.S. weapons to Ukraine, including 18 155 mm howitzers with 18 towing vehicles, and three AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars.

The announcement, made by Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, is the 10th transfer of U.S. weapons to Ukraine using presidential “drawdown authority” since August 2021.

The announcement follows Congress’ passage of a $40 billion emergency supplemental bill to aid Ukraine.

The Pentagon noted the United States has now committed approximately $4.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, including approximately $3.9 billion since the beginning of the ongoing Russian military invasion.

By John Liang
May 19, 2022 at 2:07 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a potential new delay to the Air Force One replacement effort, the Army canceling its 1,000-mile cannon program and more.

The Air Force's presidential aircraft replacement program faces a new delay:

Hunter: New Air Force One could now be delayed another year

The Air Force One replacement could now be delayed up to 36 months, potentially adding another year to the embattled program's timeline, the Air Force acquisition chief said Thursday.

Army officials were concerned about the cost of developing a 1,000-mile cannon at the same time the service develops missiles that can reach the same ranges:

Army nixes 1,000-mile cannon program

The Army has ended its effort to develop a cannon that can fire 1,000 miles, which had been one of its 35 priority modernization programs, according to service acquisition executive Doug Bush.

Initially, the Navy said it would mitigate the strike fighter shortfall by 2025. However, that timeline has been pushed out to 2031, according to the service's top uniformed official:

Navy wants to shorten service life extension timeline for strike fighters

The Navy hopes to drive down service life extension work for existing strike fighters from 18 months to 12 months by 2024 to reduce risk during the service's strike fighter shortfall, according to the chief of naval operations.

The Navy's fiscal year 2023 budget request pushes the LHA-10 amphibious assault ship out to 2031, which is about a nine- or 10-year gap in production from LHA-9:

Stefany: Gap in LHA production poses cost increase and industrial base impact

The gap in production between the LHA-9 and LHA-10 amphibious assault ships will result in a cost increase for the Navy and impact the industrial base, according to a service leader.

The Army has existing capabilities in place to stave off diseases, but its "medicine chest" needs improvement, according to John Dye, a top virologist at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases:

Official recommends changes to Army's infectious disease practices

The Army can play a leading role in staving off the next pandemic, but it will need to upgrade its practices to do so, a service infectious disease official said Tuesday.

By Tony Bertuca
May 19, 2022 at 1:42 PM

The Senate has followed the House's lead and voted to pass a $40 billion emergency supplemental bill to aid Ukraine amid a Russian military invasion, sending the measure to President Biden's desk for his signature.

The Senate voted today to pass the package 86-11. The House last week passed the bill, which contains about $20 billion in defense-related spending -- $7 billion more than the White House initially sought.

The supplemental funding brings the total U.S. investment in Ukrainian military and humanitarian aid to around $54 billion in the past two months.

The bill would provide $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the Defense Department to purchase weapons and other military services for Ukraine directly from defense contractors. The bill would also direct $8.7 billion -- Biden had requested $5.4 billion -- to replenish U.S. weapons sent to Ukraine through presidential “drawdown authority.”

Additionally, the bill would provide $3.9 billion for “European Command Operations,” which covers mission and intelligence support, hardship pay for troops deployed to the region as well as equipment including a Patriot battery.

The bill also seeks to increase the cap on assistance that can be provided to U.S. allies from $450 million to $950 million.

Another $600 million would be provided to DOD to accelerate missile production and expand domestic sources of critical minerals.

The bill also authorizes $500 million to procure critical munitions to increase DOD’s stocks and $50 million to develop programs for possible future export.

Additionally, the DOD inspector general would be required to report on the execution of the funds and “measures taken to require enhanced end-use monitoring of equipment provided to Ukraine.”

The remainder of the funds in the emergency supplemental package are slated for humanitarian aid, including nearly $14 billion for the State Department and nearly $4.4 billion for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

By Michael Marrow
May 18, 2022 at 4:07 PM

The boom system for the LMXT air refueling tanker would be manufactured at an unspecified location in western Arkansas if the LMXT wins a potential bridge tanker competition, according to a Lockheed Martin press release.

The LMXT, designed by a joint Lockheed-Airbus team, is being offered by the two companies as a candidate for the KC-Y program floated by the Air Force that will field a bridge tanker after the delivery of the KC-46 Pegasus. Under current plans, the KC-Y will be followed by a futuristic KC-Z tanker that has yet to be defined by the service.

The Air Force plans to recapitalize the air refueling fleet, composed largely of the aging KC-135 Stratotanker, over the next 30 years, according to the service’s fiscal year 2023 budget justification documents. The service is requesting $11 million in FY-23 to support market research and pre-production analysis for the KC-Y, the documents say.

A business case analysis for the KC-Y is currently underway and is expected to conclude in mid-FY-23. Results from the analysis will then inform an acquisition strategy that will be announced by the service, according to Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Samantha Morrison.

The business case analysis is being pursued parallel to a formal joint requirements approval process that will commence in the third quarter of FY-22, Morrison added.

Lawmakers, many of whom have been frustrated by delays and defects with delivery of the KC-46, have recently pushed for a competition for the KC-Y contract in interviews with Inside Defense.

However, a future LMXT program may be in question after Air Force officials indicated the service may not pursue a competition, opting instead to modify the KC-46. “As we look at the requirements, it doesn’t look as necessary or cost-effective as it once did to introduce another aircraft, this KC-Y,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this month. “So, we’re not sure what we’re going to do about that yet.”

Initial delivery for the KC-Y is expected in FY-27, according to the justification documents.

By John Liang
May 18, 2022 at 1:24 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Air Force aircraft divestments, updated Javelin and Stinger contracts, unmanned systems deploying to Hawaii and more.

Senators this week had questions about the Air Force's plan to divest nearly half of the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System fleet:

Lawmakers press Air Force officials on planned divestments

The Air Force's goal of divesting several platforms raised concerns among lawmakers during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services airland subcommittee today, who are wary that the divestments will leave the service with critical capability gaps that will take years to close.

Funding for the service to replace weapons sent to Ukraine was approved by Congress earlier this month:

Bush: Javelin, Stinger contracts ready by the end of this week

The Army plans to have contracts in place by the end of the week to replace the Javelins and Stingers that have been sent to Ukraine, and to accelerate production through "different targeted authorities," according to Doug Bush, the Army acquisition executive.

An order for the first eight aircraft in the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Unmanned Expeditionary program will go through in the next month or two:

GA-ASI to deliver two MQ-9As to 3rd MRL in Hawaii next summer

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems will deliver two MQ-9A unmanned aircraft to the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment next summer, a company official said.

The Missile Defense Agency is working on a project called Cruise Missile Defense of the Homeland:

MDA working on simulated domestic cruise missile defense, hopes for FY-23 plus-up

The Missile Defense Agency has launched a project that aims to set the technical groundwork for a potential live-fire demonstration of a domestic cruise missile defense architecture by working first to execute simulated events connecting Army and Navy battle management tools with the guided-missile launcher system used to defend Washington, DC, 24/7.

The Defense Innovation Unit is asking for 60% more funding in fiscal year 2023:

DIU seeks $15M in FY-23 for new battery storage effort

The Defense Innovation Unit wants $15 million in fiscal year 2023 to kick-start a new research effort centered on the prototyping and deployment of commercial battery technologies for military purposes.

By Michael Marrow
May 18, 2022 at 12:11 PM

The Air Force is hosting an industry day on June 3 to explore upgrades for the KC-135 COMM 2 Video Data Link-2000 communications system, according to a notice posted by the service today.

Plans for the upgrades are detailed in the service’s fiscal year 2023 research, development, test and evaluation budget justification documents. According to the documents, the Air Force is seeking a suite of four enhancements that will improve the aircraft’s fuel management, flight display and communications systems.

The COMM 2 modernization will replace the ARC-210 radios onboard the aircraft that are slated to become obsolete in October 2023. Updates for the radios, which first entered service in the 1990s, are being sought due to new requirements for encryption and anti-jam capabilities, according to the justification documents.

The oldest in the air refueling fleet, the KC-135 Stratotanker first entered service in 1956. Air Force officials plan to continue flying the aircraft until the 2050s as the aircraft is gradually divested alongside deliveries of the KC-46. According to legislative proposals recently released by the department, the Air Force is seeking to accelerate its divestment of the aircraft by retiring a total of 31 in FY-23.

By Shelley K. Mesch
May 17, 2022 at 5:01 PM

The Air Force Research Laboratory is seeking information from industry on the capability and capacity for domestic production of position, navigation and guidance components for hypersonic systems, according to an online solicitation posted this month.

The PNG components, subcomponents and their constituent materials must be designed for the “unique, harsh environment” of hypersonic flight, according to the request for information. Scaling production of these components could be “critical” to the success of the hypersonic missile strategy, which the RFI called “essential to the national defense.”

“To date, the [Defense Department] has supported proof of concept and prototyping efforts in this area, however the expansion of the industrial base capacity is required to meet expected future demand,” the RFI stated.

The Defense Production Act Title III Program Office is seeking information to reach a goal of initial production capacity of 48 all-up-rounds and up to 72 all-up-rounds per year.

By John Liang
May 17, 2022 at 2:29 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on funding for the Defense Innovation Unit, an upcoming hypersonic target intercept test and more.

The Defense Innovation Unit is asking for 60% more funding in fiscal year 2023:

DIU seeks $15M in FY-23 for new battery storage effort

The Defense Innovation Unit wants $15 million in fiscal year 2023 to kick-start a new research effort centered on the prototyping and deployment of commercial battery technologies for military purposes.

Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill revealed new details about planned tests of the Standard Missile-6 and the Aegis weapon system in written testimony prepared for the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee on May 11:

U.S. military sets plan for high-stakes, shoot-down attempt of hypersonic glide vehicle

The U.S. military will attempt to shoot down a hypersonic glide vehicle in a high-stakes test that will inform plans for a next-generation guided-missile interceptor as well as assess the efficacy of currently deployed systems that are supposed to provide a last line of defense for aircraft carrier strike groups against Russian and Chinese ultrafast maneuvering weapons.

Document: House hearing on missile defense

The Navy has a new unmanned surface vessel command:

Navy will have seven USVs operating out of new unmanned vessel command

The Navy will have seven unmanned surface vessels operating out of a new West Coast-based command established on Friday.

Some Army network news:

Network officials emphasize simplicity, outline UNO acquisition strategy, during meeting with industry

PHILADELPHIA -- Army officials say their plan to create a simplified network is designed to fix a central problem: The network has too many tools.

At least one lawmaker is OK with the Air Force reaching the number of A-10 Warthog ground-attack aircraft:

McCollum signals support for A-10 divestment

House Appropriations defense subcommittee Chairwoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) will support the Air Force's planned divestment of 21 A-10 aircraft, according to a statement provided to Inside Defense.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
May 17, 2022 at 2:12 PM

The Army's prototype air defense laser system shot down 60 mm mortar rounds and drones during a recent four-week-long exercise, Raytheon Technologies announced May 16.

Raytheon's Intelligence & Space business unit makes the 50-kilowatt laser on the Directed Energy Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense, which mounts a laser on a Stryker combat vehicle and will work in tandem with other M-SHORAD vehicles that use kinetic interceptors. Kord, a KBR subsidiary, is the prime contractor on the directed energy variant.

During the testing at White Sands Missile Range, NM, the DE M-SHORAD “acquired, tracked, targeted and defeated multiple mortars and successfully accomplished multiple tests simulating real-world scenarios,” according to a Raytheon press release.

A Raytheon spokeswoman declined to comment on exactly how many mortars the laser shot down, or whether it failed any attempts.

“The Army designed very clear vignettes that they wanted the system to perform against, and we successfully met all their objectives,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email to Inside Defense. “In the vignettes, the DE M-SHORAD system shot down multiple mortars, demonstrating repeatable success with a high-energy laser in combat-realistic scenarios.”

The laser also defeated “several small, medium and large drones,” according to the press release, that included “fixed-wing and quadcopter-type UAS in Groups 1, 2 and 3,” according to the spokeswoman.

DE M-SHORAD tracked targets with both its built-in radar and off-board radar, according to the scenarios set up by the Army, the spokeswoman added.

“With an effectively infinite magazine and near-zero cost per shot, [high-energy laser] is now the proven answer to asymmetric threats like drones and mortars,” Byron Bright, president of KBR Government Solutions, said in the press release.

Operational Army units will receive four DE M-SHORAD systems this year, according to the press release.

By Briana Reilly
May 17, 2022 at 12:22 PM

The Defense Department's first emerging capabilities policy director is calling on the military to move with "responsible speed" as it works to quicken the pace of development, experimentation and integration of new technologies.

That responsibility element, Michael Horowitz said during the Nexus 22 symposium today, is particularly important when it comes to artificial intelligence initiatives and “the need for sufficient safety and testing of systems.”

“Everybody wants us to go faster . . . and that’s right, and the top priority of our office is ensuring that emerging capabilities are more clearly, more effectively integrated into what the department does and policy’s role in strategy and plans and budgets, but the responsibility part of that is really important,” he said.

As the head of the newly created office, Horowitz, who began in the role last month, reports to Mara Karlin, the assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities. Through the post, Horowitz said officials aim to lead the Office of the Secretary Defense’s policy work on emerging technology diplomacy and capability strategic development in areas ranging from AI to hypersonics and directed energy.

That work includes bolstering diplomatic ties surrounding the development and deployment of new technologies and working to advance those capabilities in promotion of the National Defense Strategy, he said, all while keeping in mind “ethical questions, strategic stability questions associated with emerging technologies.”

Moving forward, Horowitz said his office is poised to ensure that AI and autonomous systems “especially” are reflected in the Pentagon’s policy and not just “the technical parts of the department” as DOD moves toward implementing its National Defense Strategy.

Asked about whether AI is receiving the appropriate level of emphasis from DOD, Horowitz said he’s hopeful given the interest in emerging technologies, the creation of his office and the stand-up of the new chief digital and AI officer in late 2021.

“I think all of those things make me optimistic that as we enter the [fiscal year 2024] budget cycle, that we’re going to start seeing that payoff as the department becomes -- it’s not a question of just more, but smarter, at thinking about AI and autonomous systems and investments in a way that really pays off for the joint force,” he said.

By Shelley K. Mesch
May 17, 2022 at 9:20 AM

The Air Force successfully tested its Air-launched Rapid Response hypersonic missile Saturday, the service announced this week.

Released from the B-52H Stratofortress off the coast of Southern California, the ARRW’s booster ignited and reached speeds five times the speed of sound, according to a statement released Monday evening.

“This was a major accomplishment by the ARRW team, for the weapons enterprise, and our Air Force,” said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, program executive officer for weapons. “The team's tenacity, expertise, and commitment were key in overcoming the past year's challenges to get us to the recent success. We are ready to build on what we've learned and continue moving hypersonics forward.”

This is the first successful test of the embattled ARRW program, following three failed tests last year. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has signaled caution with the program, and the service announced with its fiscal year 2023 budget that it would not seek any procurement funding, as had been expected.

“We want to see proof of success before we commit to production,” Kendall told members of the House Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee just last week.

ARRW is designed to threaten fixed, high-value and time-sensitive targets from stand-off distances and to expand precision-strike capabilities, according to the news release.

Kendall has on several occasions stressed the importance of designing weapons, including hypersonics, to meet U.S. needs, rather than “mirroring” the capabilities of adversaries like China. He told the House Armed Services Committee last month that hypersonics have a role in the Air Force arsenal but they are not a “panacea.”

By John Liang
May 16, 2022 at 1:37 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on space intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor and more.

Space Operations Command chief Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting spoke at a Mitchell Institute event this morning:

Space Force to stand up new squadrons for space ISR

The Space Force's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance Delta 7 wing will stand up three new squadrons to expand ISR capabilities in the next two years, according to Space Operations Command's top official.

The latest CMMC news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

CMMC early adoption program could be delayed due to rulemaking efforts

The Defense Department faces a calculated risk in terms of starting up third-party assessments under the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program for early adopters, according to contracting attorney Robert Metzger, who sees ongoing work to finalize changes to the Pentagon's acquisition rules as one barrier for the delayed interim launch.

International demand for the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor is "very strong," according to a Raytheon Technologies executive:

Raytheon aims to lock in foreign LTAMDS orders in tandem with Army's first production run

Raytheon Technologies is hoping to secure an overseas buyer for the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor in tandem with planned orders for the Army's initial production run in a bid to lower the current $130 million radar price tag, realize economies of scale and give a foreign military immediate parity with the service's newest and most sophisticated ground radar.

The Army is looking to set up a bunch of new maintenance teams for armored units:

Army plans nine platoon-sized maintenance surge teams by FY-26

The Army plans to create nine platoon-sized maintenance surge teams in echelon-above-brigade formations by fiscal year 2026, at least some of which will use armored recovery vehicles divested from the Marine Corps, according to an Army spokesman.

In case you missed it last week, Inside Defense obtained the Pentagon's multibillion-dollar unfunded priorities list for Defense Department labs and testing facilities:

Shyu sends Congress $5.7B unfunded priorities list for DOD labs

Heidi Shyu, the Pentagon's chief technology officer, has sent Congress a $5.7 billion unfunded priorities list containing 126 military construction items related to Defense Department labs and testing facilities, according to documents obtained by Inside Defense.

Document: Shyu's FY-23 MILCON, DOD lab unfunded priorities list