The Insider

Marjorie Censer | September 12, 2018 at 1:04 PM

Harris Corp. said today it has named Dana Mehnert president of its communication systems business, effective Sept. 30.

He succeeds Chris Young, who is retiring. Mehnert, who has worked at Harris for more than three decades, most recently served as chief global business development officer for the contractor.

He has also been president of the RF Communications business.

Justin Katz | September 12, 2018 at 12:42 PM

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent a letter last week urging the four top congressional defense appropriators to include funding for three Littoral Combat Ships in the fiscal year 2019 defense spending bill.

The Sept. 7 letter lauds the House and Senate Appropriations committees for their support of the shipbuilding program in previous years and says funding three ships is "essential" to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy.

"To meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy and make progress toward a 355-ship fleet, it is essential to continue that support by funding three LCS in FY-19," Baldwin wrote. "Doing so will also help revitalize American shipbuilding and manufacturing, strengthen the defense industrial base, and preserve American jobs.”

House appropriators in their version of the defense spending bill recommended $1.5 billion for three LCS. Senate appropriators in their version of the bill recommended two ships and $1.1 billion. The president's budget request included one ship and $646 million.

The joint House and Senate Conference Committee is expected to meet tomorrow to consider the minibus appropriations package that includes the defense spending bill.

In the FY-19 National Defense Authorization Act, lawmakers agreed to $1.6 billion to fund three LCS.

Baldwin's home state of Wisconsin houses the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard, which builds the Freedom-variant of LCS. Austal USA's shipyard in Mobile, AL, builds the Independence-class.

Ashley Tressel | September 12, 2018 at 12:19 PM

The Army last month awarded a potential $970 million, five-year contract to Michigan-based Loc Performance Products for "a major update" to its Multiple Launch Rocket System to improve the armored cab.

The MLRS, in service for 30 years, is in need of new crew armor and blast protection seating in the cab, which this new Improved Armored Cab modification kit seeks to provide, according to a notice posted on Federal Business Opportunities.

The Defense Department announced the initial award of $44 million on Aug. 16.

Tony Bertuca | September 12, 2018 at 10:01 AM

The Pentagon and White House have delayed the public release of a much-anticipated defense industrial base report amid the approach of Hurricane Florence along the Carolina coast.

“At this time, there's nothing planned for this week,” DOD spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews wrote in an email. “The report release could happen as early as next week.”

Andrews told Inside Defense the report's release was scheduled for Friday, but was delayed as the White House and President Trump prepared for the onset of Hurricane Florence.

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord said last week at a Defense News conference the report would, in part, review the fragility of DOD's supply chain and dependence on foreign sources.

"I think what we need to do is make sure that we understand the entire industrial base, and the report actually segments it very nicely," she said. "And then understand where in some situations we don't even have a value proposition for critical components to have a regular business make a reasonable profit enough to be able to reinvest in the business. That's the one time government should step in."

Lord also referenced China's aggressive purchase of rare-earth minerals needed for the manufacture of electronic devices.

"We need to talk with our allies and partners," she said. "Rare-earth metals are a real issue for us right now. China is buying up a lot of the supply in Africa and other places. We need to understand what alternate sources [there] are."

Tony Bertuca | September 11, 2018 at 3:55 PM

The federal government spent $33 billion more on defense in the first 11 months of fiscal year 2018 than it did over the same period in FY-17, which helped contribute to an overall $222 billion increase to the deficit from August 2017 to August 2018, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The federal budget deficit was $895 billion for the first 11 months of FY-18, CBO states in a recent report.

"Revenues were 1 percent higher than in the same period in fiscal year 2017, but outlays rose by about 7 percent," CBO states.

The report, however, notes some of the $222 billion deficit increase can be attributed to shifts in the timing of certain payments that otherwise would have been due on a weekend or holiday. Excluding the timing shifts, the deficit for the 11-month period would have been $154 billion larger than in FY-17.

Total spending in August 2018 was $430 billion, or $96 billion more than August 2017, according to CBO. Spending for Defense Department military programs rose $5 billion, or 10 percent, over that period.

John Liang | September 11, 2018 at 3:01 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on missile defense, Army multidomain maneuver, and cybersecurity.

A system meant to give the U.S. military the ability to ascertain whether a ballistic missile was intercepted is in the final phases of deployment:

MDA: Space-based Kill Assessment constellation nearly in place, set to deliver new capability

The Defense Department is putting the final pieces in place for its Spaced-based Kill Assessment project that aims to give combatant commanders the ability to determine whether an interceptor hit or missed an enemy ballistic missile, a new capability to help inform whether a second shot needs to be taken against an incoming threat.

A panel of Army officials described for attendees at a recent AUSA event the many challenges of multidomain maneuver and how the service is overcoming these hurdles:

Army leaders say future maneuver force needs to understand cyber, space

Getting commanders to recognize the utility of cyber, space and other assets is one of the most important parts of moving toward multidomain operations, according to Army officials.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have an analysis of how the Pentagon is defending economic and national security interests from cyberattacks:

Cybersecurity concerns pull Pentagon into non-traditional roles for protecting core infrastructure

The Defense Department is helping the federal government respond to growing and evolving cybersecurity threats by moving into non-traditional areas for the military such as protecting financial institutions and election systems, based on recent comments by high-ranking Pentagon and administration officials.

Related defense cyber news, in case you missed it:

NCCIC chief: Pentagon is assisting DHS with cyber incidents amid election security concerns

The Defense Department is providing backup resources to the Department of Homeland Security's center for tracking and responding to cyber threats under a new formal arrangement that will be set up within the next week, according to the director of the DHS' National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center.

Pentagon working with financial sector, DHS on model program for sharing cyber-threat indicators

The Pentagon is working with the Department of Homeland Security in gathering cyber-threat indicators from the financial services industry as part of a model program that is expected to be applied to other sectors, according to Defense Department Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy.

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Courtney Albon | September 11, 2018 at 10:13 AM

The Air Force this week awarded Boeing a $2.9 billion contract for the fourth KC-46 tanker production lot, which includes 18 new refuelers slated for deliver by 2022.

With the Sept. 10 award, Boeing is now on contract for 52 KC-46 tankers.

The contract comes as the service is eyeing first deliveries of KC-46 next month.

Justin Doubleday | September 10, 2018 at 4:57 PM

The State Department has approved the potential sale to Japan of up to nine E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft for $3.1 billion, the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced today.

Japan is the only foreign customer on the U.S. Navy's Advanced Hawkeye program, having been first approved to purchase the Northrop Grumman-made aircraft in 2015.

Last year, President Trump said he supported Japan and South Korea buying "substantially increased" amounts of U.S. weapons due to North Korea's long-range missile tests.  

While the tensions on the Korean Peninsula have since relaxed, Japan is still seen as a key partner in the newly re-branded Indo-Pacific region, where the U.S. Defense Department says it is in strategic competition with China.

"Japan is one of the major political and economic powers in East Asia and the Western Pacific and is a key partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability in that region," the DSCA announcement reads. "It is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability."

John Liang | September 10, 2018 at 3:43 PM

U.S. Central Command is hosting an annual, multinational exercise beginning this week at Camp Edwards on Joint Base Cape Cod, MA, according to a CENTCOM statement.

The Sept. 10-21 exercise, named Regional Cooperation 2018, involves more than 200 participants from Afghanistan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as observers from Kazakhstan who "will focus on stability operations, border security, counterterrorism, counternarcotics, and counterproliferation," the statement reads.

"The multinational team will develop a combined military response to several exercise scenarios to promote cooperation and interoperability, build functional capacity and enhance responsiveness between multinational organizations," CENTCOM said, adding that the exercise "includes support from the Massachusetts Army National Guard."

This exercise series has been conducted annually since 2001, with the last one hosted by Tajikistan in July 2017, according to CENTCOM.

John Liang | September 10, 2018 at 2:05 PM

Some big defense industry M&A news leads off this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest.

We start off with SAIC announcing a multibillion-dollar acquisition of Engility:

SAIC to acquire Engility in $2.5 billion deal

Science Applications International Corp. said today it has agreed to acquire Engility in an all-stock deal worth $2.5 billion to create a $6.5 billion government services contractor.

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The State Department, Pentagon and office of the director of national intelligence will soon be submitting a briefing to lawmakers on the war in Yemen:

White House taps State, DOD, DNI to provide briefing on war in Yemen

President Trump today signed out a directive directing the State Department, the Pentagon and the director of national intelligence to develop a congressionally mandated briefing on the war in Yemen.

Despite delays on other platforms, it looks like the Navy's Super Hornet attack aircraft will be getting Small Diameter Bombs by FY-20:

Navy on track to integrate SDB II with Super Hornet by 2020

The Navy is on track to field the Small Diameter Bomb Increment II on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet by its goal of fiscal year 2020, according to a spokesman for Naval Air Systems Command.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity nabbed an exclusive interview with a senior cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security:

NCCIC chief: Pentagon is assisting DHS with cyber incidents amid election security concerns

The Defense Department is providing backup resources to the Department of Homeland Security's center for tracking and responding to cyber threats under a new formal arrangement that will be set up within the next week, according to the director of the DHS' National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center.

Tony Bertuca | September 10, 2018 at 5:10 AM

Congress this week continues to debate the "minibus" containing the $675 billion defense spending bill, while senior Pentagon officials are scheduled to speak around the Washington area.

Monday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on the effort to establish a space force.

Tuesday

The anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is observed at the Pentagon.

Wednesday

Science Applications International Corp. executives are set to discuss the company's quarterly earnings.

Boeing is scheduled to present at Morgan Stanley's Laguna conference.

Thursday

The House Armed Services readiness subcommittee holds a hearing on Army Futures Command.

Aerojet Rocketydyne executives are slated to present at the G.research aerospace and defense conference.

Executives from Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman are set to speak at Morgan Stanley's Laguna conference.

Friday

The House Armed Services oversight and investigations subcommittee holds a hearing on U.S. strategy in Syria.

The Heritage Foundation hosts NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Executives from United Technologies are scheduled to present at Morgan Stanley's Laguna conference.

John Liang | September 10, 2018 at 5:05 AM

Some must-reads from this week's issue of Inside the Navy:

1. Ahead of the Navy's next force-structure assessment, the service aims to "pull together something" quicker to help inform the fiscal year 2020 budget request, according to the Navy's top requirements officer.

Full story: Ahead of FSA, Navy will send quick look to Congress to inform FY-20 budget

2. The United States will propose changes to how the Missile Technology Control Regime guides exports of unmanned aerial systems at an upcoming annual meeting, as officials want to enable U.S. companies to compete with countries like China for foreign UAS sales.

Full story: U.S. looks to November policy meeting to push foreign drone sales

3. Aggregating data from varied data systems presents the biggest challenge to the Navy's foray into artificial intelligence, the chief of naval research said last week.

Full story: ONR chief: 'Fragmented' data poses 'biggest challenge' to Navy's AI efforts

4. The Navy last week awarded Perspecta a contract worth up to $787 million to extend the existing Next Generation Enterprise Network contract.

Full story: Navy awards Perspecta NGEN extension

John Liang | September 10, 2018 at 5:00 AM

Some must-reads from this week's edition of Inside the Army:

1. The military services frequently decide which capabilities they want to pursue long before considering what they are willing to spend, according to the Army's Rapid Capabilities Office executive director.

Full story: Army RCO director hails cost-first acquisition approach

2. The Defense Department's inspector general has begun an audit to assess the affordability of the Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense program, the IG announced last month.

Full story: DOD IG to audit Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense program

3. The United States will propose changes to how the Missile Technology Control Regime guides exports of unmanned aerial systems at an upcoming annual meeting, as officials want to enable U.S. companies to compete with countries like China for foreign UAS sales.

Full story: U.S. looks to November policy meeting to push foreign drone sales

4. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord said this week the Pentagon is working on new standards for the procurement of intellectual property, something she acknowledged has long been a "thorny" issue between the government and defense contractors.

Full story: Lord: Pentagon drafting new intellectual property acquisition standards

John Liang | September 7, 2018 at 2:40 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Missile Technology Control Regime, a DOD IG audit into the Army's IAMD program and more.

The Missile Technology Control Regime could be re-worked soon:

U.S. looks to November policy meeting to push foreign drone sales

The United States will propose changes to how the Missile Technology Control Regime guides exports of unmanned aerial systems at an upcoming annual meeting, as officials want to enable U.S. companies to compete with countries like China for foreign UAS sales.

The Pentagon inspector general is looking into the Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense program:

DOD IG to audit Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense program

The Defense Department's inspector general has begun an audit to assess the affordability of the Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense program, the IG announced last month.

The Navy has challenges regarding artificial intelligence:

ONR chief: 'Fragmented' data poses 'biggest challenge' to Navy's artificial intelligence endeavors

Aggregating data from varied data systems presents the biggest challenge to the Navy's foray into artificial intelligence, the chief of naval research said this week.

The head of U.S. Cyber Command spoke at an event in Washington this week:

CYBERCOM chief calls for 'persistent engagement' in advance of new cyber strategy

The United States needs to pursue a new approach of "consistent engagement" in cyberspace, according to the head of U.S. cyber forces, potentially previewing a forthcoming revision of the military's cyber strategy.

CYBERCOM's acquisition efforts off to slow start

U.S. Cyber Command has had acquisition authority for more than two years, but the increasingly important command has struggled to make full use of its buying powers due to workforce gaps.

The Army is scrambling to keep its helicopter pilots:

Army aviation paying bonuses to prevent brain drain

The Army has been paying out three-year bonuses as an incentive to retain experienced pilots, according to the service's aviation head.

The Army's Rapid Capabilities Office executive director spoke at the Defense News conference this week:

Army RCO director hails cost-first acquisition approach

The military services frequently decide which capabilities they want to pursue long before considering what they are willing to spend, according to the Army's Rapid Capabilities Office executive director.

The Missile Defense Agency is upgrading the sensor on an unmanned aerial vehicle to be able to track ballistic missiles:

MDA chief says MQ-9 missile-tracking sensor configuration needs more work

The head of the Missile Defense Agency says more work is needed to mature the configuration of an updated missile-tracking sensor on General Atomics' MQ-9 Reaper ahead of flight tests in 2020.

Senior House Democrats don't really like a proposal to spend millions of dollars on a border barrier at a bombing range in Arizona:

Pentagon eyes $450M border barrier project at Arizona bombing range

The Pentagon is considering a plan to potentially spend $450 million to enhance existing fencing and construct additional barriers along 31 miles of an Arizona bombing range that borders Mexico.

Courtney Albon | September 7, 2018 at 2:23 PM

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency today announced plans for a “multiyear” $2 billion investment in artificial intelligence technology aimed at advancing machine learning capabilities to be more adaptable.

Agency director Steven Walker unveiled the AI Next campaign at a DARPA conference in National Harbor.

“Today, machines lack contextual reasoning capabilities, and their training must cover every eventuality, which is not only costly, but ultimately impossible,” Walker said. “We want to explore how machines can acquire human-like communication and reasoning capabilities, with the ability to recognize new situations and environments and adapt to them.”

DARPA currently has more than 20 active programs focused on advancing AI and more than 60 programs applying AI technology to some degree. The agency plans to issue multiple broad agency announcements over the next year for new programs under AI Next.

According to a press release, possible focus areas of AI Next will include automating DOD business practices, improving AI system reliability and resilience and reducing power and data inefficiencies.