The Insider

By Courtney Albon
October 11, 2019 at 11:13 AM

The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center on Thursday awarded eight companies a contract worth $986 million to refresh a rapid launch services tool aimed at enabling the service to launch satellites to orbit within one or two years of an initial task order.

The Orbital Services Program-4 (OSP-4) contractor pool includes SpaceX, Xbow Launch Systems, Northrop Grumman, Firefly Black, United Launch Alliance, Aevum, VOX Space and Rocket Lab USA. The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract has a nine-year ordering period.

OSP-4 is a follow-on to OSP-3, which awarded five missions and is set to expire next month.

Inside Defense reported in August that the service had identified a Space Test Program mission as the first OSP-4 task order.

The program, managed by SMC's launch enterprise and small launch and targets division at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM, is meant to launch small- and medium-class payloads and is designed to be responsive to warfighter requirements.

"The contract seeks to capitalize on the emerging small launch providers while providing dedicated and primary launch services to the Department of Defense and other government agencies," this week's contract announcement states.

By Marjorie Censer
October 11, 2019 at 10:28 AM

Raytheon and United Technologies said their shareholders at respective meetings held today approved the proposals necessary to complete their merger.

The deal is set to unite Raytheon with United Technologies' aerospace businesses, made up of Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney.

"The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2020, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals, as well as completion by United Technologies of the separation of its Otis and Carrier businesses," the companies said.

By Courtney Albon
October 11, 2019 at 10:25 AM

The Air Force announced this week the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program has completed a preliminary design review for the geosynchronous earth orbit portion of the effort.

The milestone was completed Sept. 27, and the service said in a statement this week the program will now begin a yearlong "PDR campaign" to review subsystem and component-level designs. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the GEO satellites.

"The combined government and contractor team has demonstrated its ability to move with deliberate speed over the past 18 months while maintaining the technical and programmatic rigor needed to ensure success," Col. Dennis Bythewood, the Space and Missile Systems Center's program executive officer for space development, said in the statement.

The program is applying authorities provided in Section 804 of the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act to deliver Next-Gen OPIR on a faster schedule. The move required a change in acquisition strategy and a shift in the program's funding profile that required a significant budget increase in FY-19 and FY-20. Congress recently approved the service's request to reprogram more than $160 million for the program, but the initiative is still short about $472 million.

Bythewood said in the statement he's confident the service will fill that gap in FY-20.

The first block of Next-Gen OPIR satellites will include five space vehicles -- three in GEO and two in polar orbit.

By Sara Sirota
October 10, 2019 at 3:49 PM

(Editor's Note: This blog post has been updated to include a statement from XQ-58A provider Kratos.)

The Air Force is conducting a safety investigation into the XQ-58A Valkyrie after the aircraft was damaged during a flight test at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, yesterday.

The next demonstration will be delayed until officials complete their study, according to a statement released by the Air Force today. It attributes the mishap to "high surface winds and a malfunction of the vehicle's provisional flight test recovery system."

"In final descent, the prototype cushion system, which was employed for the initial test series but is not intended for ultimate operational use, suffered an anomaly resulting in the aircraft sustaining damage upon touchdown," XQ-58A provider Kratos said in a separate statement.

The company added that an initial evaluation showed the issue is "fully repairable." It will work with the subcontractor to improve the cushion system prior to the next demonstration.

Despite the mishap, the Air Force and Kratos consider the recent test to be a success.

"This third flight successfully completed its objectives and expanded the envelope from the first two flights," Air Force Research Lab Commander William Cooley said in the service's notice. "We have gathered a great deal of valuable data from the flight and will even learn from this mishap."

The XQ-58A is a demonstrator for the Air Force's Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Test program.

By John Liang
October 10, 2019 at 1:47 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the impact of the congressional impeachment inquiry on the Pentagon, Air Force space launch ranges, cybersecurity, Standard Missiles and more.

We start off with a deep dive into the implications of House lawmakers' impeachment inquiry into the president on the Defense Department:

White House vow to block impeachment inquiry could pull DOD deeper into controversy

The Defense Department says it remains ready to work with Congress on questions about stalled U.S. military aid to Ukraine, but the White House's assertion that the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is illegitimate could leave DOD unable to respond to a subpoena it received from three House committees.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Douglas Schiess, commander of the 45th Space Wing, said this week during a Mitchell Institute event the service is working to transition its "range of the future" concept into an architecture:

Air Force taking steps toward 'range of the future'

The Air Force is making progress on an incremental plan to upgrade its space launch ranges with new infrastructure, safety mechanisms and updated procedures by the mid-2020s.

The Defense Department is putting together a "control system tested product list" to better address cybersecurity risks posed by industrial control systems used by DOD:

Pentagon compiling 'control system tested product list' to address cyber risks

The Pentagon is developing a list of tested and approved control system products, as defense officials are increasingly concerned a cyberattack on unsecure critical infrastructure could disrupt military operations.

Mitch Stevison, Raytheon Missile Systems' vice president, recently told Inside Defense his company has a "handshake" agreement with the Navy to build billions of dollars' worth of Standard Missiles:

Raytheon reaches handshake with Navy on estimated $2B SM-6 buy, eyes MDA multiyear soon

Raytheon executives are optimistic about concluding negotiations with the Defense Department for multiyear procurement of Standard Missiles worth more than $3.5 billion, bolstered by a recent handshake agreement with the Navy for a five-year block buy of the SM-6 and continuing discussion with the Missile Defense Agency for SM-3 Block IB purchases across a similar term.

Once testing of the KC-46 remote vision system begins, the Air Force will work with Boeing to schedule a preliminary design review to determine whether the company's new design meets nine established critical performance parameters:

Air Force to review Boeing's new KC-46 RVS design in November

The Air Force plans to conduct a system requirements review of Boeing's fix to the KC-46 remote vision system in November and begin testing the upgraded system within the next six weeks, a service spokesman told Inside Defense this week.

The Air Force has a new cybersecurity and electronic warfare test facility:

Air Force awards $93M contract to stand up cyber, electronic warfare test facility

The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology has received a $93 million award to provide facilities at its military training range where the Air Force can develop operational cyber and electronic warfare capabilities in an "austere environment."

By Marjorie Censer
October 10, 2019 at 1:08 PM

LocatorX, which specializes in tracking technology, said today it has named four new members to its advisory board.

Among them is retired Maj. Gen. James Myles, who spent more than 36 years in the Army. From 2011 to 2015, he was an executive at DynCorp International.

The company also named Tanya Pemberton, senior vice president of the national systems group at the Aerospace Corp.; Andrew Briggs, professor of nanomaterials at Oxford University; and Tom Raferty, an executive at SAP.

LocatorX said the four will be useful to the company as it seeks to expand into new sectors and industries.

By Marjorie Censer
October 10, 2019 at 9:45 AM

Maxar Technologies said this week it will open a new facility in St. Louis, MO, to handle growth in its National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency programs.

Maxar said the facility will be located downtown and will initially have about 48 employees. Most will be new hires, the company said, and will work on NGA's Global EGD, Janus Geography and SBIR Phase III contracts.

By John Liang
October 9, 2019 at 1:59 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's soon-to-be-released "adaptive acquisition framework," an Air Force cybersecurity and electronic warfare test facility, the Marine Corps' Amphibious Combat Vehicle program and more.

Stacy Cummings, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for acquisition enablers, this week gave a speech at a defense technology conference in National Harbor, MD:

Pentagon set to unveil 'adaptive acquisition framework' with six pathways

The Pentagon will soon release an "adaptive acquisition framework" with six distinct pathways for program managers to select from, according to a Defense Department official.

The Air Force has a new cybersecurity and electronic warfare test facility:

Air Force awards $93M contract to stand up cyber, electronic warfare test facility

The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology has received a $93 million award to provide facilities at its military training range where the Air Force can develop operational cyber and electronic warfare capabilities in an "austere environment."

Lisa Porter, deputy under secretary of defense for research and engineering, this week revealed four use cases for Defense Department fifth-generation communications technologies:

DOD reveals four broad use cases for initial 5G experimentation

The Defense Department's initial use cases for fifth-generation communications technologies include virtual reality for training and simulation, "smart" bases, supply chain management, and depot automation, according to a top DOD official.

Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle Program Manager Col. Kirk Mullins during an Oct. 4 interview with Inside Defense said the program is still within its acquisition program baseline, but said the Marine Corps about a month ago chose to delay the beginning of IOT&E to July 2020:

Marine Corps delays IOT&E and full-rate production for new Amphibious Combat Vehicle

The Marine Corps has delayed the start of its initial operational test and evaluation stage for the new Amphibious Combat Vehicle after the program’s delivery schedule fell behind projections.

The Pentagon's chief management officer writes in a recent report to Congress that "a 25 percent reduction is dramatic to any function in a single year," especially considering DOD is "a complex enterprise" with "wartime requirements":

Pentagon proposes 5% cut to Fourth Estate; Congress sought 25%

The Defense Department's chief management officer says about 5% can be cut from the Pentagon's so-called "Fourth Estate" civilian management agencies next year, falling far short of the reductions Congress hoped to see.

Document: DOD CMO's report to Congress on Fourth Estate efficiencies

By Sara Sirota
October 9, 2019 at 1:43 PM

The Air Force intends to pay Northrop Grumman as much as $4.8 billion to develop, modernize and sustain all RQ-4 Global Hawk variants, according to a notice released today.

The service's program office expects to award an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract covering fiscal years 2021 through 2025. The notice does not say when the agreement is likely to be finished.

Several efforts are currently underway to upgrade the Air Force's Global Hawk fleet, including ground station modernization and the MS-177 sensor integration.

By Mallory Shelbourne
October 9, 2019 at 1:22 PM

The Navy's fiscal year 2020 shipbuilding plan would cost the service approximately $31 billion each year, according to an analysis released this week by the Congressional Budget Office.

"According to CBO's estimate, the full cost of the 2020 shipbuilding plan (including construction, refueling of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and other items) would average $31.0 billion per year over the 2020-2049 period," the report reads.

"That amount is nearly twice as much as the average annual funding the Navy has received over the past three decades," it continues.

The report notes the Navy has been allotted an average of $16 billion each year "over the past 30 years for all activities funded by its shipbuilding account."

The Navy earlier this year sent the FY-20 plan to Congress with the annual budget request. The long-term strategy found it would cost the service $40 billion in then-year funds to maintain the 355-ship fleet the Navy projects achieving in FY-34.

The CBO assessment also concluded that the construction of new ships in the plan would cost $28.8 billion each year on average, compared to the Navy’s $22 billion estimation.

By Justin Katz
October 9, 2019 at 12:54 PM

The Navy yesterday awarded HPI Federal, a subsidiary of HP, a $358 million contract to provide hardware for the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

The hardware contract is one of two deals the Navy will award as part of the Next Generation Enterprise Network recompetition.

The second contract, for services management, is scheduled to be awarded in the second quarter of fiscal year 2020.

The end user hardware contract has a three-year base period and six one-year options, according to a Navy statement. If all options are exercised, the cumulative value of the contract would reach $1.4 billion.

Mac Curtis, president and chief executive of Perspecta, said in a statement his company looks "forward to working with HP and the Navy and Marine Corps to ensure the smooth and successful transition of this portion of the program." Perspecta is the incumbent on the existing NMCI contract but did not bid on this portion of the recompetition.

HPI Federal did not immediately return requests for comment.

By John Liang
October 8, 2019 at 2:32 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has a look at a recent report to Congress on "Fourth Estate" efficiencies, the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA program, the Army's tactical network capability and more.

The Pentagon's chief management officer writes in a recent report to Congress that "a 25 percent reduction is dramatic to any function in a single year," especially considering DOD is "a complex enterprise" with "wartime requirements":

Pentagon proposes 5% cut to Fourth Estate; Congress sought 25%

The Defense Department's chief management officer says about 5% can be cut from the Pentagon's so-called "Fourth Estate" civilian management agencies next year, falling far short of the reductions Congress hoped to see.

Document: DOD CMO's report to Congress on Fourth Estate efficiencies

The Standard Missile-3 Block IIA program has received the go-ahead to begin production:

Pentagon approves initial production for U.S.-Japan SM-3 Block IIA program

The Pentagon's acquisition executive has cleared the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA program, in co-development since 2006 with Japan, for transition to production -- signaling confidence in the interceptor after early flight-test challenges and setting the stage for the rollout of a major operational enhancement to the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

More than 425 Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard units last month completed fielding of the service's latest software and hardware baseline:

Army completes two-year software baseline reduction effort

The Army recently completed a two-year effort that modernized the service's tactical network capability and reduced the number of software and hardware programs in hundreds of service units.

Navy acquisition chief Hondo Geurts spoke at a defense technology conference in National Harbor, MD this morning:

Geurts says Navy's major programs will not suffer severe impacts from CR

A senior Navy official today said the current continuing resolution will not cause any "egregious" problems with the service's major defense acquisition programs.

The Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle program was scheduled to award a detail design and construction contract for a prototype by the end of fiscal year 2019, but that has been delayed:

MUSV schedule delayed several months, prototype award now planned in 2020

An experimental unmanned surface vessel program initiated by Pentagon research agencies and bound for the Navy has fallen behind schedule by several months with a contract to build a prototype now expected early next year.

By Marjorie Censer
October 8, 2019 at 9:52 AM

Dedrone said today it has acquired DroneDefender from Battelle and launched a new consultancy called Dedrone Defense.

The purchase of DroneDefender, a counter-drone system developed by Battelle researchers, includes all assets and intellectual property, according to Dedrone.

Dedrone said its DroneTracker software analyzes the activity of small unmanned aircraft systems.

"DroneTracker recognizes and classifies radio frequency (RF), WiFi, and non-WiFi sUAS, transmits data to command and control centers, and can be programmed to automatically trigger alerts and countermeasures when a sUAS threat is confirmed," the company said. "DroneDefender uses radio control frequency disruption and is a lightweight, point-and-shoot system with a demonstrated range of 400 meters."

DroneDefender and its operations will be led from Dedrone's Washington, DC-area office.

"All current customers of DroneDefender will have access to acquire Dedrone's drone detection software and hardware solution to complete their counter-sUAS programs," Dedrone said, noting that DroneDefender is in use today by the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal organizations.

By John Liang
October 7, 2019 at 1:47 PM

In this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest, we have the latest on the Defense Department's plans for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program as well as an update on Raytheon's Standard Missile-3 Block IIA program.

DOD last week released a request for information appealing to non-profit organizations:

Pentagon explores establishing 'accreditation body' to run contractor cybersecurity program

The Pentagon's acquisition office is moving toward the establishment of an independent "accreditation body" to run a new contractor cybersecurity auditing program viewed as key to preventing the theft of sensitive national security information.

Meanwhile, Raytheon says the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA is positioned to significantly outperform the original design requirements:

Raytheon confident SM-3 Block IIA can intercept ICBM warheads

Raytheon is "very confident" the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA -- a new ballistic missile interceptor developed with Japan to defeat medium- and intermediate-range threats -- can also knock down intercontinental ballistic missiles, delivering Washington and Tokyo more than they originally bargained for.

A task force is planning an event later this year to showcase drone testing software:

Next demo of TACE autonomous drone testing software expected in December

Engineers at Edwards Air Force Base, CA, are partnering with the Skyborg manned-unmanned teaming program for another demonstration of an evolving software tool that’s intended to enable realistic and safe flight testing of autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles.

Alexis Ross of the Army met with reporters last week to explain how the service's new advanced manufacturing policy will help it compete with China:

Army releases new advanced manufacturing policy

The Army has released a new policy on advanced manufacturing that aims to bring the service up to par with foreign powers who have fully embraced new ways of building weapon systems, as well as the commercial sector, inspired by the National Defense Strategy.

The Pentagon is readying several key reform initiatives, including a rewrite of acquisition regulations:

Lord says key acquisition reforms near completion

This fall will be an inflection point for Defense Department acquisition chief Ellen Lord, who is working to finalize a series of acquisition reform initiatives intended to simplify and accelerate the military’s procurement process.

By Marjorie Censer
October 7, 2019 at 1:19 PM

Nearly a year after Parsons combined its federal and infrastructure businesses, the contractor's chief operating officer says the move has benefited both units.

"We have the ability to share technology across the entire company, and there are no stovepipes anymore," Carey Smith told Inside Defense from Parsons' Centreville, VA, office.

As an example, Smith said the federal unit's expertise in artificial intelligence and data analytics has proven useful to the infrastructure unit's technology for "smart cities."

Conversely, some of the connectedness in Parsons' smart cities work within the infrastructure business has applications for federal agencies such as the FBI, she said.

Meanwhile, Smith said Parsons is now completing the integration of Polaris Alpha, which it purchased last year.

Because Polaris Alpha was itself created through multiple acquisitions, Smith said Parsons needed to grapple with different human resources plans, benefit packages and IT systems, even within the single company.

Smith said Parsons remains interested in acquisitions but will stay focused on its core markets of cyber, space, missile defense and intelligence.

She also said she’s sees opportunities for Parsons to expand its work with the Navy and Air Force, noting it already has a large presence with the Army and the Missile Defense Agency.

The company partnered with PAE to pursue a spot on the Army's LOGCAP V program and were awarded U.S. Southern Command. While legal battles are underway over LOGCAP, Smith said any new work from the program will be "upside" given that the company wasn't an incumbent on the prior version.

"We're waiting to see the outcomes," she said of the legal battles, but "anything's new work for us."

Smith also noted she sees significant growth opportunity in the Pacific region.