The Insider

By Audrey Decker
July 26, 2021 at 4:22 PM

The Navy expects a new minehunting system carried abroad an unmanned vessel to reach operational capability before the end of September.

The Unmanned Influence Sweep System finished its initial operational test and evaluation in June, Navy spokeswoman Jamie Koehler told Inside Defense.

According to the Navy's fiscal year 2022 budget request, the UISS uses "an Unmanned Surface Vehicle integrated with an Unmanned Surface Sweep System, a magnetic/acoustic sweep system developed to sweep acoustic/magnetic influence mines. It can be deployed from the Littoral Combat Ship or a Vessel of Opportunity."

In FY-20, the UISS was brought under the umbrella of the Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Surface Vessel program. The Navy is asking for $20 million in FY-22 for the program.

The Navy expects MCM USV to complete IOT&E in FY-22, according to the budget request.

By Courtney Albon
July 26, 2021 at 3:55 PM

The Air Force may award a second company a Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar integration contract next month, a spokesman confirmed today.

The contract, if awarded, would include production options, service spokesman Kenneth Waters told Inside Defense in an email today, saying the Air Force will "potentially" select a second contractor in August.

The Air Force in March awarded Lockheed Martin an $8.5 million 3DELRR integration contract, which included options to produce up to 35 radars. At the time, the service left open the possibility it would make a second award to either Northrop Grumman or CEA Technologies, the program's two remaining bidders.

The service said in March the decision on a second contract hinged on whether "an agreement can be reached that's in the best interests of the Air Force."

The three companies all demonstrated production-ready radars last summer during the program's rapid prototyping phase, dubbed "Speed Dealer." The effort followed the service's January 2020 decision to cancel its previous 3DELRR development contract with Raytheon due to "numerous technical and supplier challenges."

The program's current plan is to use Mid-Tier Acquisition authorities to field the first six radars by fiscal year 2024. The Air Force's FY-22 budget request includes $96 million to buy the first three radars.

Lockheed confirmed to Inside Defense in May that it bid its TPY-X radar for the program. Northrop and CEA Technologies have yet to confirm which production-ready systems they proposed for the effort.

By Aidan Quigley
July 26, 2021 at 3:42 PM

Deloitte announced Monday it has acquired Sentek Consulting, a San Diego-based systems engineering and cybersecurity firm that primarily serves the Navy.

The acquisition will increase Deloitte's San Diego presence and enhance the company's ongoing systems engineering and cyber offerings to other military branches and federal agencies, Mike Canning, Deloitte's government and public services leader, said in the company's press release.

Sentek has a number of Navy contracts, including Naval Sea Systems Command's Seaport Enhanced contract which helps the Navy hire professional support services, according to the company's website.

Sentek has branch offices in South Carolina and Virginia, according to its website.

By John Liang
July 26, 2021 at 1:34 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Lockheed Martin's quarterly earnings, a recent missile defense intercept test and more.

We start off with Lockheed Martin's quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts this morning:

Lockheed discloses $225 million charge on classified aeronautics program

Lockheed Martin told investors today it took a $225 million hit in the second quarter of 2021 on a classified aeronautics development program.

. . . Followed by some missile defense news:

Simulated attack on aircraft carrier in 'most complex' missile defense test yields qualified result

The Missile Defense Agency, in the "most complex" missile defense flight test to date, is claiming partial success only in an attempted intercept of two short-range ballistic missile targets during the terminal phase -- a simulated last-line-of-defense for an aircraft carrier -- marking a second consecutive qualified result for the Standard Missile-6 Dual II variant since May.

Lawmakers want better insight into DOD missile defense decisions, advance other oversight proposals

A Senate panel wants better insight into high-level Pentagon missile defense acquisition matters, to block the Missile Defense Agency from long-term ownership of its fledgling Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor project and an independent review of major radars the agency and the Navy are procuring for similar purposes.

The Army has whittled down its choices of potential contractors for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle competition:

Army selects five companies for OMFV concept design

The Army has awarded contracts for the concept design phase of the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle competition to five companies, including one non-traditional contractor.

Last but certainly not least, some news on the Air Force's communications gateway prototype effort:

Following schedule slip, gateway prototype next slated to fly in early FY-22

The Air Force's communications gateway prototype is expected to next fly in early fiscal year 2022 after the product experienced a schedule slip that pushed back a planned demonstration slated for earlier this summer, according to a service spokesman.

By Tony Bertuca
July 26, 2021 at 5:00 AM

The House Armed Services Committee begins subcommittee work on the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill this week and defense contractors discuss their quarterly earnings.

Monday

Lockheed Martin holds its quarterly earnings call.

Tuesday

Raytheon Technologies holds its quarterly earnings call.

Wednesday

The House Armed Services Committee will begin subcommittee work on the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill. The subcommittees will convene through Thursday. The full committee will not vote on the bill until Sept. 1.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on national security in the Indo-Pacific region with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

The Air Force Association hosts a virtual space power forum with the service's vice chief of space operations.

General Dynamics and Boeing hold their quarterly earnings calls.

Thursday

The Heritage Foundation hosts a discussion on hypersonic munitions.

The American Enterprise Institute hosts a discussion on "America's ever-shrinking fighting force."

Northrop Grumman holds its quarterly earnings call.

By John Liang
July 23, 2021 at 4:07 PM

The Defense Department released a statement today reiterating its opposition to the U.S. military's use of small, commercial drones -- especially those made by Chinese company Da Jiang Innovations.

"The Department of Defense position is that systems produced by Da Jiang Innovations pose potential threats to national security," the Pentagon statement reads.

"A recent report indicated that certain models of DJI systems had been found to be approved for procurement and operations for US government departments and agencies," DOD said. "This report was inaccurate and uncoordinated, and its unauthorized release is currently under review by the department."

In 2018, DOD issued a ban on the purchase and use of all commercial off-the-shelf drones, regardless of manufacturer, due to cybersecurity concerns. The following year, Congress passed legislation specifically banning the purchase and use of drones and components manufactured in China.

The only exceptions to the law are when such drones are used as surrogates in counter-unmanned aerial systems operations, according to DOD, something which U.S. Special Operations Command has done.

Former Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord said in August 2019 the small UAS sector in the United States had "eroded," with China's DJI having cornered the market on quadcopters. Lord said DOD had become dependent in recent years on DJI, before discovering that "a lot of the information is sent back to China" from the company's systems, leading to a department-wide ban on its products.

"Small UAS are important to us," she said at the time. "We want to rebuild that capability."

A DJI spokesman subsequently called Lord's comments "false and misleading."

"DJI drones do not automatically send data to the Chinese government or to any unauthorized party," Michael Oldenburg said at the time, pointing to a February 2018 study of DJI's data practices conducted by Kivu Consulting, an independent cybersecurity auditor, that concluded "users have control over the types of data DJI drones collect, store, and transmit."

By Tony Bertuca
July 23, 2021 at 2:12 PM

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) spearheaded the inclusion of a provision in her chamber's upcoming defense policy bill that would extend the required time Pentagon officials must recuse themselves from matters involving companies where they have been previously employed.

The current recusal period for defense officials is two years, but Warren's provision would extend it to four years. The recusal extension would be similar to a pledge Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has made, along with other defense nominees.

Prior to becoming defense secretary, Austin sat on the board of Raytheon Technologies.

"I was glad to see a bipartisan group of my Senate Armed Services Committee colleagues approve my plan to toughen up ethics standards at the Pentagon," Warren said in a statement. "In the future, when defense officials want to spin through the revolving door between industry and government, they'll be banned from working on issues pertaining to their former employer, clients, or competitors for four years instead of two. That's a start, and I will be fighting until all of the stronger ethics standards in my Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act are made into law."

Warren had placed holds on Air Force Secretary nominee Frank Kendall and Heidi Shyu, who was recently confirmed as under secretary of defense for research and engineering, but lifted them when the nominees agreed to extend their recusal periods from two to four years. Both Kendall and Shyu have served as senior defense officials in the past, but both have numerous industry ties from their time in the private sector.

Warren, however, was not successful in her attempt to get Kendall and Shyu to agree to not seek employment with or compensation from any defense contractor for at least four years after completion of their government service. Austin, however, has agreed to the post-government employment restriction.

By John Liang
July 23, 2021 at 1:32 PM

This Friday INSIDER daily digest has lots of coverage of the Senate Armed Services Committee's fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill and more.

Let's start off with the FY-22 defense policy bill approved by Senate authorizers this week:

Senators boost defense spending by $25B in policy bill

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 23-3 to authorize a $25 billion increase to the fiscal year 2022 defense budget.

Lawmakers want better insight into DOD missile defense decisions, advance other oversight proposals

A Senate panel wants better insight into high-level Pentagon missile defense acquisition matters, to block the Missile Defense Agency from long-term ownership of its fledgling Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor project and an independent review of major radars the agency and the Navy are procuring for similar purposes.

Senate panel proposes expanding Space Force AQ exec authorities across DOD space architecture

The Senate Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill moves to expand the role of the future space acquisition executive to give them authority that stretches across the Defense Department space architecture.

Senate lawmakers boost tech, cyber funding in policy bill

Concerned with the pace of modernization across the Defense Department, the Senate Armed Services Committee wants to ramp up funding to accelerate the development of cutting-edge technologies and to strengthen cyber and supply chain security.

Senate authorizers fund second destroyer, extend Navy's amphibious block buy authority

The Senate Armed Services Committee has added a second destroyer to the Navy's budget and extended the service's ability to execute a block-buy contract for four amphibious ships.

Senate lawmakers restrict some USAF aircraft retirements, propose procurement, modernization boost

Senate authorizers passed a defense policy bill this week that would restrict a portion of the Air Force's proposed fiscal year 2022 aircraft retirements, add funding for fighter aircraft procurement and modernization, and block the service from developing a bridge tanker until the KC-46 remote vision system is fully operational.

Senate authorizers want increased funding for legacy Army ground vehicles

The Senate Armed Services Committee authorized increased funding for several legacy Army ground vehicles whose funding levels were cut in the service's fiscal year 2022 budget request, according to a summary the committee released July 22 of its version of the defense authorization bill.

We also have some Navy ship-related news:

Kitchener: Zumwalt-class destroyer likely to participate in exercises next year

The Navy is aiming to get the Zumwalt (DDG-1000), the lead ship of its new destroyer class, into exercises next year, Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, the commander of Naval Surface Forces, told reporters Thursday.

Navy has no plans to program another ESB, despite congressional funding

Despite Congress adding $73 million to the Navy's budget last year for an eighth Expeditionary Sea Base vessel, the service told Inside Defense it has no plans to build the ship.

Navy to award Doris Miller EMALS and AAG pre-production planning contract by end of year

The Navy will award a pre-production planning contract later this year for the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) for the Ford-class aircraft carrier Doris Miller (CVN-81), a service spokesman told Inside Defense.

Last but certainly not least, a story on funding for the Air Force's Long-Range Standoff Weapon program:

New LRSO cost estimate not the main driver for Air Force's $609M FY-22 budget ask

A recent projection showing the Air Force's new nuclear cruise missile will cost $29 billion wasn't the main driver in officials' $609 million budget ask for the program next fiscal year, according to a service spokeswoman.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 23, 2021 at 10:50 AM

Raytheon Technologies' Coyote Block 3 non-kinetic effector defeated a swarm of 10 drones in a recent test funded by the Army's Indirect Fires and Rapid Capabilities Office, the company announced July 21.

The system had its first air-to-air non-kinetic defeats, first recovery and reuse in the same event and the first successful launch from the Coyote Block 2 system, according to a Raytheon press release.

Coyote is a small unmanned aerial system from Raytheon, which can perform counter-UAS missions.

“Derived from the expendable Coyote loitering munition, the Block 3 utilizes a non-kinetic warhead to neutralize enemy drones, reducing potential collateral damage,” the company stated in the press release. “Unlike its expendable counterpart, the non-kinetic variant can be recovered, refurbished and reused without leaving the battlefield.”

The non-kinetic effector has a high technology readiness level, a company spokeswoman wrote to Inside Defense. Raytheon eventually hopes to field it to the Army and is in discussions with other services.

“The demonstration moves the variant closer to deployment and we are planning with our U.S. Army customer to determine timelines,” the spokeswoman wrote.

The spokeswoman declined to detail what types of non-kinetic effects the warhead used, citing an Army request for secrecy.

By John Liang
July 22, 2021 at 5:50 PM

The full Senate today confirmed the nomination of Heidi Shyu to be the Pentagon's research and engineering chief, along with the nominees to be Defense Department general counsel and Air Force under secretary, among others.

Noticeably absent from the list was Frank Kendall, whom President Biden has nominated to be Air Force secretary.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a longtime critic of the close relationships between government officials and defense contractors, earlier this month lifted holds she previously placed on the nominations of Kendall and Shyu after successfully getting the nominees to extend their government ethics pledges.

In addition to Shyu, senators today approved by unanimous consent the nominations of Caroline Krass for DOD general counsel, Gina Ortiz Jones for Air Force under secretary, Ely Ratner for assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security, Shawn Skelly for assistant secretary of defense for readiness and Meredith Berger for assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations, and environment.

Jill Hruby was also confirmed to be head of the National Nuclear Security Administration.

By John Liang
July 22, 2021 at 1:41 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a new congressional report on the defense supply chain, the Space Force seeking a deep-space radar capability and more.

The House Armed Services Committee's Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force released a report today outlining how the failure to address current supply chain vulnerabilities could weaken the U.S. government's response to a national crisis:

House lawmakers propose new legislation to protect defense supply chain

A group of House Armed Services Committee members have developed six legislative proposals for inclusion in the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill to address critical risks in the U.S. defense supply chain stemming from foreign dependencies, especially China.

Document: Defense critical supply chain task force report

The Space Force earlier this month released a request for prototype proposals for the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability:

Space Force seeks prototype bids for deep-space radar

The Space Force is soliciting prototype proposals for a new deep-space radar capability and aims to award a contract for the first radar site by the end of this year.

Steven Roberts, product lead for integration in the program executive office for combat support and combat service support, spoke at a recent conference hosted by Army Futures Command:

Humvee could be electrified, Army official says

The Army could electrify humvees when it introduces electric powertrains to its light tactical vehicle fleet, a service official said July 21.

In case you missed it, check out Inside Defense's interview with Mark Lewis, formerly the acting deputy under secretary of defense for research and engineering, who now runs the new Emerging Technologies Institute at the National Defense Industrial Association:

Former modernization official says DOD 'optimized for fairness,' not speed

The Defense Department needs to overhaul its acquisition system if it wants to outpace China in cutting-edge weapons development, according to a former Pentagon modernization official.

The Missile Defense Agency recently piggybacked on a long-planned Army developmental test to assess the Joint Track Management Capability, a new technology that is central to MDA's plan for a Guam Defense System:

MDA demonstrates new 'bridge' technology central to potential new Guam defense system

In what a senior military official called a "huge step toward joint interoperability," the Missile Defense Agency last week successfully demonstrated a new technology that could be key to a future 360-degree Guam missile defense capability, "bridging" Army and Navy air and missile defense systems along with Air Force fighter aircraft sensors to collaborate in defeating a cruise-missile target.

By John Liang
July 22, 2021 at 12:16 PM

San Diego-based, venture capital-backed defense technology company Shield AI announced today it has acquired Heron Systems, a maker of artificial intelligence products.

Shield AI specializes in using a self-driving software known as Hivemind to allow unmanned systems to operate in GPS- and communications-denied environments. The company counts the Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command among its customers and has worked with contractors including Textron Systems and L3Harris Technologies. It recently opened a new Washington, DC-area office.

Heron Systems is a software company known for defeating an experienced Air Force F-16 pilot 5-0, and five other AI-pilots, during the DARPA AlphaDogfight trials, according to a statement.

"Together, Shield AI and Heron will accelerate the deployment of advanced AI-pilots to legacy and future military aircraft -- an urgent and necessary step toward achieving national security priorities and remaining credible in the face of sophisticated peer countries. This acquisition is being executed as China recently announced the successful development of an AI-pilot for their fighter aircraft that can defeat China's best pilots," the statement reads.

Heron Systems will operate as a wholly owned division under Shield AI. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

By John Liang
July 22, 2021 at 10:39 AM

Northrop Grumman said today it has hired Michael Witt to be the company's vice president and chief sustainability officer.

Witt will lead Northrop's sustainability initiatives to include designing and implementing enterprise-wide business practices for carbon reduction, resource efficiency and materials management, according to a company statement, helping minimize its environmental impact and advance sustainability throughout the business.

Witt previously spend many years at Dow Inc. and holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Michigan State University and a Masters of Business Administration from Northwood University.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 22, 2021 at 9:41 AM

The Army has funded five companies to develop prototypes of robotic and artificial intelligence technologies that could make dismounted infantry platoons 10 times more effective, the service announced July 21.

"Modeling and simulation based on these 10x technologies demonstrated that adding robotic and AI capabilities to a 40-soldier infantry platoon could allow the platoon to operate over the same time and space as a current 600-soldier infantry battalion," an Army press release stated.

The Army's Maneuver Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate and the Ground Vehicle Systems Center selected five companies to build prototypes, according to the press release: Neya Systems, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Scientific Systems Co., Bounce Imaging and Persistent Systems.

The Georgia Tech Research Institute will integrate technologies from the companies into a system of systems, which will lead to a demonstration at Project Convergence 22 in October 2022.

The Army will fund the prototypes through its other transaction authority with the National Advanced Mobility Consortium.

By Tony Bertuca
July 22, 2021 at 8:29 AM

The Senate Armed Services Committee completed work on its version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill late last night in closed session, according to congressional staffers.

Watch Inside Defense for further reporting.