The Insider

By Thomas Duffy
July 6, 2020 at 2:30 PM

Today’s INSIDER Daily Digest includes news on a Senate Huawei ban, the Army’s MQ-1 Gray Eagle UAV, congressional action on the Space Force and the Army’s simulation program.

An amendment to the fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill filed this month would delay the statutory ban on federal contractors using products and services from Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese technology companies until August 2021:

Senate proposal to delay Huawei ban faces stiff opposition from China hawks

U.S. industry is urging lawmakers to delay a looming ban on the government contracting with companies that use certain Chinese products, but it's unclear whether a Congress keen on taking a hard line against China will consider the proposal.

Congress is pushing back after the Army's fiscal year 2021 budget request showed zeroed-out procurement funding for the Gray Eagle:

House, Senate lawmakers concerned with temporary halt, lack of funding for Army's MQ-1 Gray Eagle

House and Senate lawmakers are pushing to fund the Army's MQ-1 Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system after concerns that a temporary halt to the program will result in increased costs and requirement delays.

The Air Force produced earlier this year a draft report on Space Force acquisition, but lawmakers aren’t satisfied:

House panel's mark raises concerns about Space Force acquisition reform proposals

The House Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill, which the panel approved last night, includes several amendments related to space acquisition programs -- including one that questions the Air Force's efforts to craft an alternate Space Force acquisition system.

House lawmakers included a provision in defense authorization legislation seeking a briefing on the service’s plan "to continue to integrate virtual training and simulations into its future force design decisions”:

House panel pushes Army briefing on simulations, virtual training

The House Armed Services Committee is directing the Army to submit a briefing on virtual training and simulations through legislation passed yesterday.

By Justin Katz
July 6, 2020 at 10:31 AM

The Navy expects its new training helicopter, the TH-73A, to reach initial operational capability in 2021, according to a service statement.

The service has not previously disclosed an IOC date for the program. In the same statement, the service said Leonardo has begun training instructor pilots.

Separately, the Pentagon’s annual omnibus reprogramming request said the Navy had $24 million available for reprogramming as a result of TH-73A “contract savings.”

By Marjorie Censer
July 6, 2020 at 9:45 AM

MAG Aerospace said this month it has named Nicholas Veasey chief financial officer.

Veasey previously was vice president of investor relations at Booz Allen Hamilton.

In his new role, “Veasey will oversee all financial activities of the company, including accounting, treasury, tax, and financial planning and analysis.

By Marjorie Censer
July 6, 2020 at 9:43 AM

Former Engility chief executive Tony Smeraglinolo has established a new company, Sincerus Global Solutions, which has acquired the international development services portfolio of Science Applications International Corp.

Sincerus said today the portfolio includes “peacekeeping and law enforcement training, ‘rule of law’ consulting, and related implementation services for the State Department and the Department of Justice.”

“Effective immediately, employees and contractors serving programs operating in Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East will transition to Sincerus,” the company added.

The privately-held Sincerus is led by Smeraglinolo, who is its chief executive, and Glen Schuhmacher, who is now chief operating officer and previously was vice president of the SAIC international development services business unit.

By Tony Bertuca
July 6, 2020 at 5:00 AM

Senior Pentagon officials are scheduled to speak publicly this week about the future of defense spending and the military's role in recent protests.


Pentagon acquisition Ellen Lord speaks at a Brookings Institution online event about defense spending and capabilities after COVID-19.


The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to discuss the military response to recent protests.

The Air Force Association hosts an online discussion with the Air Force deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering and force protection.

By John Liang
July 2, 2020 at 1:42 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's chief management officer position, the Air Force's Passive Active Warning Survivability System, the Marine Corps wanting to integrate the Iron Dome system and more.

The Pentagon's chief management officer position looks to be on thin ice:

Pentagon CMO job increasingly endangered after House vote

The House Armed Services Committee has joined Senate lawmakers in adopting a fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill measure that would eliminate the Pentagon's chief management officer position.

The F-15 program office confirmed in a recent email to Inside Defense that the Air Force updated the Passive Active Warning Survivability System cost estimate as part of a program rebaseline that was approved Jan. 31:

EPAWSS cost estimate grows by $2 billion as USAF moves to buy 144 systems for F-15EX

The Air Force has approved a new, $5.2 billion lifecycle cost estimate for the F-15 Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System -- a $2 billion increase that reflects the Air Force's decision to buy 144 additional systems for the new F-15EX even as the program faces significant fielding delays due to an unexpected component redesign.

The Marine Corps wants more money to integrate the Israeli-developed Iron Dome system:

Marine Corps wants to double FY-20 funding to integrate Iron Dome launcher, missiles with organic systems

The Marine Corps wants to double the cash it has on hand in fiscal year 2020 to continue development of a new air defense capability that aims to stitch together elements of the Israeli-designed Iron Dome system with the service's organic sensors and command-and-control tools.

Platform One is the go-to team for programs in the Defense Department looking to adopt commercial best practices to develop software:

Platform One modernizing DOD software development to enable digital operations

The Air Force's nascent DevSecOps initiative is giving warfighters modern software development services while tapping into the private sector's data analytics, artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies to build more virtual-friendly weapon systems and operations.

The new joint all-domain command and control contract winners, announced in a Defense Department notice Wednesday, accompany 28 contractors that last month received IDIQ vehicles to deliver JADC2 capabilities over a five-year period:

Air Force adds 18 companies to list of JADC2 IDIQ contractors

The Air Force has awarded another 18 companies indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts each worth up to $950 million to share technologies that enable joint all-domain command and control.

Last but certainly not least, some defense cyber news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

House authorizers' defense policy bill clears Armed Services panel, steeped in cyber provisions

The annual defense authorization bill cleared a hurdle late Wednesday, passing the House Armed Services Committee on a 56-0 vote and advancing a number of Cyberspace Solarium Commission and other cybersecurity proposals.

Happy Fourth!

The next INSIDER Daily Digest will be published Monday, July 6.

By Tony Bertuca
July 2, 2020 at 1:17 PM

Navy Comptroller Thomas Harker has been tapped to served as acting Defense Department comptroller now that Elaine McCusker has resigned, according to the Pentagon's chief spokesman.

McCusker, who was confirmed as deputy comptroller in August 2017, was nominated to serve as Pentagon comptroller last November, but President Trump withdrew her nomination in March following reports about internal emails in which she opposed the White House decision to withhold aid from Ukraine, a matter that was at the center of Trump's impeachment.

Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, tweeted today that Harker would retain his position with the Navy along with serving as acting DOD comptroller.

By Tony Bertuca
July 2, 2020 at 1:10 PM

The Senate plans to vote on the fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill when Congress returns from the July 4 recess, according to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

Inhofe said on the Senate floor today that Republicans and Democrats have come to agreement on a number of amendments and plan to pass the legislation when they come back in two weeks.

"I feel very good about the progress we're making," he said. "When we come back from this Fourth of July recess, we're going to be able to finish it and it should be in good shape. . . . We'll set up so when we come back from the recess, we'll be able to pass this bill."

Meanwhile, the House Armed Services Committee passed its version of the bill late last night. That bill will now advance to the House Rules Committee and then to the full House for a final vote in the coming weeks.

A final bill agreed upon by the House and Senate is not expected to reach President Trump's desk until this fall.

By Ashley Tressel
July 2, 2020 at 12:27 PM

The House Armed Services Committee yesterday advanced legislation requiring the Government Accountability Office to provide a report on the Army's tactical wheeled vehicle industrial base, joining Senate authorizers in their concern for the service's current fleet amid efforts to develop next-generation systems.

The panel's fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill, voted 56-0 out of committee late last night, includes language stating "tactical wheeled vehicle fleets throughout the Army appear to be aging without significant technology upgrades or replacement by taking advantage of commercial industry investments in new technologies such as emissions controls, autonomous operation, and electric and hybrid-electric drive."

"The committee is concerned about the potential impacts this has for the defense industrial base, the acquisition of commercially available technology, and the broader implications this may have for competition and cost for future wheeled vehicles acquisitions," the legislation states.

The language comes after the Senate Armed Services Committee included in its report accompanying the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill a provision seeking a briefing from the service on the fleet's minimum sustaining rates and its plan to support those rates, due by Sept. 30 of this year.

House authorizers are requesting a briefing by March 1, 2021, from GAO on the Army's tactical wheeled vehicle strategy and implementation efforts as well as "potential opportunities, if any, for significant advancements in technology and savings through competition."

"The assessment should also include the identification of and recommendations for overcoming obstacles to insertion of new technology and competition," the legislation states.

The committee wants a preliminary report by Dec. 11.

By Justin Katz
July 2, 2020 at 12:17 PM

The Navy is seeking congressional approval to reprogram $51 million for a variety of research and development efforts, including several aimed at the Marine Corps commandant's new force design priorities.

The request is detailed in the annual omnibus reprogramming signed June 23 by then-acting Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker and obtained by Inside Defense.

The largest share of the $51 million is about $20 million "in support of the Commandant's Force Design priorities to focus on rapidly developing and prototyping critical technology to enable a dispersed, expeditionary, and agile force," according to the document.

While the Marine Corps has shared some details on Commandant Gen. David Berger's vision for the service, the reprogramming request sheds light on specific technologies the service sees as important to Berger's priorities.

The funding would provide "for sufficient support costs, to inform requirements towards initial operating capability (IOC) of a replacement maritime [Marine Expeditionary Unit intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] platform," according to the document.

The ISR platform will "operationalize new commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) force design capabilities for expeditionary air-base operations (EABO)/littoral operations in a contested environment (LOCE)," the document continues.

Part of those funds would go towards "Artemis," which the document describes as a rapid prototyping effort to modernize infantry units with "emerging and disruptive technologies."

Separate from the funding for the Marine Corp chief's research and development efforts, the $51 million also includes roughly $11 million for a "critical shortfall" for the Network Tactical Common Data Link.

"Funding will prevent a prime and subcontractor stop-work situation during critical final engineering development model integration and test of no less than six months, followed by a six-month prime/subcontractor restart and ramp up," according to the document.

The rest of the funds would be used for munitions testing associated with a fast-attack craft, continued development of the Marine Corps' ground-based defense systems against aerial threats and an ammunition inventory management system being developed by the Marine Corps, Air Force and Army.

By Justin Katz
July 2, 2020 at 11:05 AM

The House Armed Services Committee yesterday advanced legislation to require the Navy to brief lawmakers regularly on the status of its 20-year plan to overhaul the four public shipyards.

The language was included in the panel's fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill which was voted 56-0 out of committee late last night.

Lawmakers would direct the Navy secretary to brief them every six months for the next five years about the progress of the 20-year, $21 billion dollar effort, dubbed the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan.

The briefing would include a master plan for infrastructure development and military construction, a planning and design update for various projects and performance metrics.

The legislation also authorizes a dedicated funding line for the project. The service in previous years has spread out the funding for SIOP in both military construction and operations and maintenance accounts making it unclear how much funding the service was requesting overall.

Navy acquisition chief Hondo Geurts said last year during a hearing with the House panel the disaggregated requests also resulted in the shipyards competing against each other for funding.

In that same hearing, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) questioned Geurts and then-head of Naval Sea Systems Command, Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, if the service was underfunding its plan.

Moore disputed that characterization, saying the program will receive a "substantial uptick" in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

By Tony Bertuca
July 2, 2020 at 9:10 AM

The House Armed Services Committee last night voted 56-0 to approve its version of the fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill.

The bipartisan vote stands in stark contrast to last year, when not a single House Republican voted for the committee’s bill.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), the committee’s ranking Republican, said the bill is on track to pass for the 60th consecutive year.

“While I don’t agree with everything in this bill, we have many opportunities ahead of us to continue perfecting it and I am pleased to support it,” he said in a statement.

The committee was largely able to sidestep heavily partisan issues and a previously agreed upon budgetary topline allowed the panel to bypass debates on defense spending.

But the committee did not eschew controversial debate altogether, voting down an amendment that would have transferred $1 billion from the Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program to a pandemic preparedness fund.

Additionally, the bill would restrict President Trump’s ability to move 9,500 U.S. troops out of Germany.

The legislation would also rename military bases that currently honor Confederate leaders, something Trump has said would make him the veto the bill.

The bill must pass the full House before it can be reconciled with one slated to soon be passed in the Senate.

Stay with Inside Defense for continued coverage.

By Justin Katz
July 1, 2020 at 4:00 PM

A House panel today moved to direct the Trump administration to provide a wide-ranging report about the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The direction came in the form of an amendment offered by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) to the House Armed Services Committee's 2021 defense authorization bill. The amendment, packaged with dozens of others as an en bloc, was approved by voice vote. The panel today is marking up its policy bill.

The report would be produced by the secretaries of defense and state and due to lawmakers by February 2021.

"The committee is concerned that revisionist states seek to undermine and reshape the rules-based international order," according to the amendment. "The United States efforts to counter and deter such activities may be impacted by the U.S.' status as a non-party to the" agreement.

The United States' position on UNCLOS is a longstanding debate between lawmakers and national security officials.

While the U.S. Navy largely follows the laws laid out by UNCLOS -- an international agreement governing how commercial and military maritime entities should behave while at sea -- the country is not officially part of the agreement.

Proponents of UNCLOS argue the U.S. already follows the international agreement and being a party to it would pressure adversarial nations to do the same.

Opponents counter that being a party to UNCLOS would limit the Navy's ability to project power abroad and object to any foreign entity governing how the U.S. employs the military sea services.

By Jaspreet Gill
July 1, 2020 at 3:58 PM

The Defense Department is asking Congress for a $122.6 million transfer to support Army flight training to mitigate readiness risk resulting from the service's pilot shortage.

Funding would support rotary wing flight instructor support, simulations, maintenance of training aircraft and more.

"Without additional funding, the aviation readiness levels will degrade as the Army will continue to have a pilot deficit across the Army’s aviation formations," according to the request obtained by Inside Defense. "Additionally, lack of funding will impact the graduate pilot course, which generates the Army’s instructor pilots and maintenance test pilots, thereby limiting the Army's ability to train pilots in future years."

The shift would bring the Army's total fiscal year 2020 training and recruiting funding to over $5.3 billion.

DOD in its request is also asking to shift $9.9 million to the Army's cyberspace operations effort as a part of its annual omnibus reprogramming request.

The funding would be used to reduce and address risk from adversaries targeting mission critical cyber vulnerabilities in defense weapon systems, the document states.

The requested increase is divided into two new starts: $6.3 million to "expedite technology transition from laboratory to operational use for anomaly detection/data analysis to 'detect, prevent, analyze and neutralize' malicious events for enhanced Vehicle Security System to an existing platform" and $3.6 million to "provide an automated, distributed, scalable and web-based platform for planning, executing and assessing full spectrum cyber tactical operations to include RF-enabled operations."

The transfer would bring the Army's FY-20 funding for cyberspace operations support to $62 million.

By John Liang
July 1, 2020 at 3:09 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's latest omnibus reprogramming request plus coverage of the House Armed Services Committee marking up the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill.

We start off with coverage of the Pentagon's latest omnibus reprogramming request, which Inside Defense obtained:

DOD seeks OK to shift $2 billion between accounts, launch new starts and SPACECOM

The Pentagon is seeking congressional permission to shift $2 billion between budget accounts as part of an annual reallocation of funds the U.S. military has in hand, launch five new-start projects and shift funds the Defense Department says are required immediately to achieve U.S. Space Command "critical mission capability."

New reprogramming would shift USAF funds to support bomb production, counter-UAS

The Air Force is asking lawmakers to approve a funding transfer to support additional production efforts for general purpose bombs and integrate counter-small unmanned aerial system software into enterprise systems.

The full House Armed Services Committee today is marking up the fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill:

Echoing Senate criticisms, House lawmakers pressing Navy on ship subsystem failures

A House panel wants the Navy to detail how many times it has accepted a ship in the past two decades before completing work on major subsystems and explain the circumstances that led to the acceptance decision.

The Defense Department inspector general has found cybersecurity problems with the U.S. military's artificial intelligence assets:

Pentagon watchdog finds military's AI data, technologies at risk of cyberattack

The data and technologies supporting the U.S. military's artificial intelligence developments could be at risk of cyberattack because the Defense Department and its contractors neglected to use important security controls, according to a new audit.

Some Joint Strike Fighter news:

Lockheed demonstrates virtual training capability that connects F-35s to multiple USAF aircraft

The F-35 program team recently demonstrated a key Distributed Mission Training milestone, connecting the Joint Strike Fighter with the F-22, F-16 and E3 Sentry in a simulated, highly contested environment, prime contractor Lockheed Martin announced today.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the Air Force's third GPS III satellite this week:

Space Force, SpaceX launch third GPS satellite, recover Falcon 9 booster

The Space Force today successfully launched the third GPS III satellite from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket -- the company's second GPS mission and the Defense Department's launch to include a booster recovery.