The Insider

By Thomas Duffy
November 14, 2023 at 12:53 PM

We start this Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest with a look at the Army’s counter-unmanned air systems effort, there’s troubling news on the Air Force’s ICBM replacement program, the White House has issued a national spectrum strategy, and several lawmakers are asking the Defense Department to send Israel new air refueling tankers.

The Army is planning a series of operational looks at systems that can protect against unmanned air systems:

Army preps for operational assessment of ‘counter UAS-as-a-service’

The Army will begin its operational assessment of two potential counter UAS-as-a-service (CaaS) sites this fiscal year, joining other services that have taken an interest in the model.

The Air Force secretary says he is worried about a big-ticket program:

Kendall: Sentinel program at risk from ‘unknown unknowns’

The Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile program might be the largest effort undertaken by the Air Force, service Secretary Frank Kendall said today, but it may be at risk of further disruptions.

The Biden administration has issued a strategy for radio frequency bandwidths:

White House releases National Spectrum Strategy

The White House released a National Spectrum Strategy today, aiming to structure the future of U.S. innovation and national security requirements in advanced wireless technologies.

Several House lawmakers are asking the Defense Department to send Israel the newest refueling tanker:

Lawmakers urge DOD to announce expedited delivery of KC-46A to Israel

Lawmakers are urging the Defense Department to accelerate delivery of the KC-46A tankers purchased by Israel, according to a letter sent last week.

By Georgina DiNardo
November 13, 2023 at 4:52 PM

The White House released a National Spectrum Strategy today, aiming to structure the future of U.S. innovation and national security requirements in advanced wireless technologies.

“My administration’s goal is to accelerate United States leadership in wireless communications and other spectrum-based technologies and to unlock innovations that benefit the American people, while ensuring necessary access to spectrum for agencies and private-sector users, such as for scientific, public safety, critical infrastructure, and national security uses, now and into the future,” President Biden wrote in a Presidential memorandum released today.

The White House outlined “four pillars” for advancing this goal in the National Spectrum Strategy released today.

The first pillar calls for “a spectrum pipeline to ensure U.S. leadership in advanced and emerging technologies.” This includes a two-year-long study of 2,786 megahertz of spectrum for potential repurposing and the creation of guiding principles from stakeholders and data analysts on near-term allocation.

The second pillar advocates for collaboration across private stakeholders and government agencies to deliver a long-term plan that will aid developing spectrum needs.

The third pillar cites the need for innovative spectrum technologies and techniques, like spectrum sharing, to be used in technology management and development. Through this, the White House plans to establish spectrum testbeds, create a National Spectrum Research and Development plan and support private sector R&D over the next 12-18 months.

The fourth pillar plans to broaden national spectrum awareness and focuses on implementing a national spectrum workforce plan and educating the public and policymakers to widen spectrum knowledge.

The memo also directs the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Interagency Spectrum Advisory Council, which the memo also established for agency heads to communicate, to create a strategy that is a “roadmap to make spectrum resources available,” has data-driven processes, spectrum management optimization plans, emerging technological advancements in spectrum management plans and recommendations for developing a managed shared spectrum across the federal government.

The memo gives the NTIA 90 days to publish a charter for the Council and the commerce secretary until 120 days after submission of the strategy to create and publish an implementation plan for the strategy.

“The policy of my administration is to ensure that spectrum management, usage, and allocation decisions are coordinated, consistent, and reflect the needs and diverse missions of agencies and non-federal users,” Biden wrote in the memo.

By Thomas Duffy
November 13, 2023 at 1:40 PM

We begin this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest with news about the Air Force secretary’s priorities, a recent technology readiness event, new Space Force contracts, and the Air Force gets its new bomber off the ground:

The Air Force is digging in on Secretary Frank Kendall’s operational priorities list:

Air Force running exercises on mobility, sustainment and space launch for Kendall's OI7

The Air Force will run three tabletop exercises on the service’s readiness to transition to a wartime posture in an effort to build one of Secretary Frank Kendall's Operational Imperatives into the fiscal year 2026 program objective memorandum.

The Pentagon says several technologies tied to the Australian submarine program prove capable:

DOD says AUKUS Pillar II capabilities tested at recent tech readiness experiment

The Pentagon reports that AUKUS Pillar II capabilities were among the technologies tested at the second 2023 Technology Readiness Experimentation, where 10 of 11 systems were deemed worthy of further operational evaluation.

Four space contractors have been chosen to build command and control prototypes:

Space Force selects four contractors to develop FORGE C2 prototype

The Space Force awarded Ball Aerospace, Parsons, General Dynamics and Omni Federal $9.75 million each to develop new prototype ground systems for missile warning satellites, according to an announcement issued yesterday.

The Air Force’s newest bomber has taken to the skies for the first time:

B-21 takes off in first flight test

The B-21 Raider nuclear bomber is running flight tests, an Air Force spokeswoman confirmed to Inside Defense today.

By Tony Bertuca
November 13, 2023 at 5:00 AM

Senior Pentagon officials are scheduled to speak at several events this week. Meanwhile, if Congress doesn't act, the federal government is slated to shut down upon the expiration of a stopgap continuing resolution that runs through Friday.


The Mitchell Institute hosts a discussion with the 16th Air Force's commander for cyber.

The Center for a New American Security hosts a discussion with Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.


The Politico Defense Summit is held in Washington.

The Intel Public Sector Summit takes place in Washington.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion with the director of the Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office.

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Biden administration's Afghanistan policy since the U.S. withdrawal.


The Mitchell Institute hosts a discussion with the acting chief of Air Force Futures.

The Atlantic Council hosts a discussion with Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman.


The federal government will shut down at midnight if Congress doesn't pass another temporary funding measure.

By John Liang
November 10, 2023 at 1:54 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the naval submarine industrial base, the Army's AN/TPQ-53 radar system and more.

Speaking this week at the Naval Submarine League Symposium, Executive Director of Strategic Submarines Matt Sermon said two recent industrial base studies performed by the Pentagon’s cost assessment and program evaluation office indicate the submarine industrial base is "gated by workforce":

Navy tackling workforce development to meet submarine goals

Hiring and retaining a robust workforce is the key challenge the submarine industrial base must overcome to reach the Navy's desired production rate of one Columbia- and two Virginia-class submarines each year, according to a senior official.

The Army increased its acquisition objective for the AN/TPQ-53 radar system to 217 in fiscal year 2023, the service's acquisition office confirmed to Inside Defense this week:

As Army increases Q-53 acquisition goal, Lockheed envisions multimission role for radars

SYRACUSE, NY -- With the Army continuing to increase its acquisition target for the AN/TPQ-53 radar system, manufacturer Lockheed Martin is envisioning a future for the radar that serves multiple missions, including a counter-drone capability.

Boeing ran a flight test of the third F-15EX fighter aircraft last week:

F-15EX flyaway costs between $90-97 million, Boeing prepares lot 1B delivery

F-15EX Eagle II jets will cost between $90 million and $97 million each, according to the Air Force, after the service awarded Boeing a $3.9 billion contract for 48 of the fighters.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters this week that ongoing fiscal gridlock in Congress has forced DOD to "meter out our support" for Ukraine:

DOD says it has $1B left to replenish U.S. weapons sent to Ukraine

The Defense Department has $1 billion remaining to replenish U.S. weapons transferred to Ukraine and has been shrinking its military packages, while Congress remains at odds over President Biden's request for an emergency security spending package.

Rheinmetall executives discussed the company's quarterly earnings this week:

Rheinmetall sales increase while competing for Army contracts

Rheinmetall reported a sales increase during the third quarter of 2023 with stronger earnings expected as the company competes for several Army contracts, according to an earnings call the company held yesterday.

By Dan Schere
November 10, 2023 at 12:33 PM

The Army has released a request for information with the goal of soliciting feedback from industry on the fulfillment of future joint fires trainer (JFT) and use of force (UoF) capabilities.

JFT and UoF are capabilities that are part of the Soldier Virtual Trainer system, the RFI notes. The Soldier Virtual Trainer System “will increase the quality and quantity of realistic training task repetitions, accelerate and sustaining soldier skill target acquisition and increase soldier lethality and unit readiness.” Awards for the SVT “core,” which is the centralized hardware and software that supports the capabilities, have already been issued, the RFI notes.

The JFT capability will replace the Army’s legacy training device, Call for Fire Trainer III, which is almost at the end of its life cycle. The JFT capability will use “advanced technology while maximizing soldier participation and throughput in joint fires training.”

The UoF capability is needed because the Army Military Police currently do not have a program of record for training the force, the RFI states. The Army is asking for a solution that “is portable and utilizes leading technology to train the soldier in use of force.”

For both capabilities, the service is interested in using both commercial- and government-off-the-shelf products that will include hardware and software solutions, it states.

The Army is asking interested vendors to submit white papers by Nov. 20. The service expects to eventually release a request for solutions that will result in other transaction authority agreement prototype awards, the RFI states.

By Nickolai Sukharev
November 10, 2023 at 9:08 AM

BAE Systems was awarded a $63 million contract to produce self-propelled Paladin howitzers and ammunition carrier vehicles, the Defense Department announced Thursday.

Continuing an earlier contract, the company will build and deliver M109A7 self-propelled howitzers and M992A3 ammunition carrier vehicles by an estimated completion date of Dec. 30, 2027, with work being completed in York, PA.

Earlier this year, BAE received contracts to manufacture the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle and the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle.

The M109A7 serves as the Army’s self-propelled 155mm howitzer, designed to provide fire support as well as keep pace with the Bradley fighting vehicle and the Abrams main battle tank.

Each howitzer is paired with the M992A3 Carrier Ammunition Tracked vehicle, which stores and transports the ammunition.

During the Army’s first delivery of the M109A7, BAE sourced parts from the older M109A6 and M992A2 vehicles.

The M109A7 is set to be replaced by the Extended Range Cannon Artillery,which will use the same wheelbase but feature a longer-range cannon.

By John Liang
November 9, 2023 at 1:59 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the AUKUS program, the Pentagon's counter-drone efforts, delays to two Space Force programs and more.

The U.S., U.K. and Australia aim to begin delivering the new submarines in the late 2030s, following the transfer of at least three Virginia-class submarines to Australia:

Canberra to announce SSN-AUKUS 'shipbuilding partner' within the next year

Within the next year, the Australian government will announce the "shipbuilding partner" that will build the future SSN-AUKUS submarine and help to develop the vessel's requirements, an Australian Navy official said today at the Naval Submarine League Symposium.

A demonstration will take place in New Mexico next June and will involve pitting anywhere from 20 to 50 small UAS, which are meant to simulate enemy aircraft, against candidate counter-drone technologies:

Counter-swarm demonstration next year will incorporate AI, ML

The Pentagon's Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft System Office plans to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning into a demonstration planned for next summer focusing on UAS swarms.

The Next Generational Operational Control System for Global Positioning System satellites is now expected to be operational by early summer next year, while the Advanced Tracking and Launch Analysis System, which was expected to be operational by the end of this year, has been delayed until August next year:

Space Force's OCX and ATLAS programs face schedule delays

A top Space Force official has announced new timelines for two of the service's major programs that have been delayed by several months.

The X-37B Mission 7 is a collaboration between the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and the Space Force that will launch on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center, FL:

X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle to launch next month to expand space domain awareness

The Space Force announced yesterday that the seventh mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle will lift off on Dec. 7 to advance the service's knowledge of the space environment.

Since the beginning of the year, the Army has been increasing its production of 155mm rounds, due initially to the Ukraine war. Service acquisition chief Doug Bush told reporters during a roundtable at the Pentagon this week that as it stands, Congress has given the Army “a path” to produce 75,000 to 80,000 rounds per month:

Bush: Without supplemental funding, U.S. won't reach artillery ramp-up goal

Army acquisition chief Doug Bush said Tuesday that the more than $3 billion designated for increased 155mm artillery production and modernization of production facilities will be required if the service is to meet its goal of producing 100,000 rounds per month by late 2025.

By Tony Bertuca
November 8, 2023 at 3:23 PM

The Defense Innovation Unit, in coordination with the Indian Ministry of Defence, will be establishing a monthly series of meetings between government officials and the private sector to discuss potential business and technology investment opportunities, according to the Pentagon.

The monthly “education series” will be conducted under the auspices of the India-U.S. Defense Acceleration Ecosystem program, or INDUS-X, which was announced in June to expand the defense industrial cooperation between the two countries.

The monthly meetings, called INDUS-X Gurukul Education Series, will bring government officials and private-sector leaders together with U.S. and Indian start-ups “to discuss business and technology development, regulatory regimes and investor pitches,” according to a Pentagon announcement. “The Education Series will inform start-ups of new programs and opportunities available through INDUS-X and be tied to priorities established by both governments, as well as other areas of interest[.]”

The announcement comes as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are in New Delhi for the fifth 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, during which U.S. and Indian defense officials participated in the “first investor strategy session” for INDUS-X.

The session included DIU Director Doug Beck and Innovations for Defence Excellence Chief Operating Officer Vivek Virmani of the Indian MOD.

“Beck addressed investors alongside joined investors and start-ups to discuss harnessing private capital to drive defense innovation and equip both countries' armed forces with the capabilities to defend a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the Pentagon said.

The strategy session follows recent collaboration between DIU and iDEX, which have “opened applications for joint challenges that enable start-ups in both countries to develop technological solutions for shared defense challenges,” according to the Pentagon.

“Aligned with the Roadmap for U.S.-India Defense Industrial Cooperation, the challenges will culminate in financial awards for the most promising technology along with potential procurement opportunities,” the Pentagon said.

By John Liang
November 8, 2023 at 1:55 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on production of 155mm artillery rounds, the Navy planning a service life extension for its Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines and more.

Since the beginning of the year, the Army has been increasing its production of 155mm rounds, due initially to the Ukraine war. Service acquisition chief Doug Bush told reporters during a roundtable at the Pentagon Tuesday that as it stands, Congress has given the Army “a path” to produce 75,000 to 80,000 rounds per month:

Bush: Without supplemental funding, U.S. won't reach artillery ramp-up goal

Army acquisition chief Doug Bush said Tuesday that the more than $3 billion designated for increased 155mm artillery production and modernization of production facilities will be required if the service is to meet its goal of producing 100,000 rounds per month by late 2025.

In September, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti said the Navy is prepared to lengthen the lifespan of select Ohio vessels to prevent capability gaps if the Columbia program experiences delivery delays. That appears to be happening now:

Navy planning Ohio service life extension to mitigate risk as Columbia construction continues

The Navy plans to extend the service life of the ballistic missile submarine Alaska (SSBN-732), the first of five Ohio-class boats that could receive life extensions to reduce the risk of gaps appearing in the fleet as next-generation Columbia-class submarines come online.

The Oct. 24 launch of a Standard Missile-6 from a containerized launcher on the deck of the Littoral Combat Ship Savannah (LCS-28) in the Eastern Pacific implied potential for fitting a Tomahawk missile on such a vessel:

Navy thinking about Tomahawk-armed LCS after experimental SM-6 launch success

The Navy is entertaining the idea of increasing the offensive strike capability for Littoral Combat Ships after indirectly demonstrating the ability last month to fire a Tomahawk from the ship class -- a move that would add new punch and relevance for LCS, originally designed for shore-hugging missions, in a fight against a near-peer adversary.

How long will Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (R-AL) hold on all military nominations last?

Tuberville now holding 452 defense nominations

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks called on the Senate today to work quickly to override Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) monthslong military nomination blockade, which is now impacting 452 nominees.

Defense contractor groups are pointing out problems with the Pentagon's controlled unclassified information rules and how they relate to the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

Defense groups raise concerns to ONCD over CUI in push for regulatory harmonization

Industry groups representing the defense industrial base are highlighting inconsistencies across the federal government over regulations addressing the handling of controlled unclassified information and potential impacts from the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, in filings to the Office of the National Cyber Director.

By Nick Wilson
November 8, 2023 at 1:06 PM

The Navy is nearing completion of an initial capabilities document for the future SSN(X) submarine and expects to begin conducting an analysis of alternatives for the program in 2024, a senior service official said today.

“We are on plan and nearing completion of the initial capabilities document. It has cleared the Navy and is on its way to the joint staff, with the intent to commence the analysis of alternatives for this platform here in 2024,” Rear Adm. Mark Behning, director of the Undersea Warfare Division (N97), said today at the Naval Submarine League Symposium.

SSN(X) will succeed the Virginia-class submarine program as the next-generation attack boat, bringing improved speed, stealth and sensing capabilities. The Navy plans to begin procurement in the mid-2030s, budget documents indicate.

While the Navy will continue fielding and operating Virginia vessels well into the future, Behning said the service will soon reach the limit of the Virginia hulls’ ability to support “significant modernization and capability insertion.”

The Navy is looking to develop four key attributes in SSN(X), Behning said, “that’s speed, payload capacity, decision superiority and operational availability.”

“We are in the development stage with the next key milestone being research and development and the trade studies to ensure we get the right mix of warfighting capabilities at an affordable cost to ensure our continued dominance,” he added.

The Navy’s fiscal year 2024 budget request includes $362 million in R&D funding for SSN(X), following a $134 million investment in FY-23, according to budget documents.

By John Liang
November 8, 2023 at 11:26 AM

The Missile Defense Agency announced today it has stopped work on an environmental impact statement for the construction and operation of a homeland defense radar based in Hawaii.

In a Federal Register notice issued this morning, MDA said the Defense Department "postponed the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii (HDR-H) in 2019, and no funds have been appropriated for the program since fiscal year 2022. The DOD is not moving forward with the HDR-H. As such, the MDA is terminating preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the construction and operation of an HDR-H."

MDA launched the HDR-H project five years ago to increase the ability of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system to protect the archipelago state by helping to better determine threats at extreme distances to guide Ground-based Interceptors to destroy enemy re-entry vehicles with a higher degree of confidence.

The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2024 budget request marks the fourth consecutive year without funding for the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii, a project lawmakers have kept alive by reinstating funds annually.

In December 2018, MDA awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to build HDR-H to improve the U.S. military's intercontinental ballistic missile defense architecture by adding a ground-based sensor on Hawaii to better defend it against North Korean long-range rockets. The original $585 million contract called for Lockheed to design, develop and deliver the HDR-H for a yet-to-be-identified site.

Three years ago, however, the office of cost assessment and program evaluation completed a "Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii Study" that led to a recommendation to stop funding the project and instead divert money toward space-based sensor projects.

Last year, CAPE initiated yet another study taking a broader look at the defense of Hawaii and assessing options to address the evolved threat, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, in legislation proposed for the FY-24 defense policy bill, would mandate the defense secretary prepare a report within 90 days of the bill's enactment on the integrated air and missile defense architecture for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command with particular focus on the role of Hawaii sensors, Inside Defense reported in June.

If enacted, the provision would require this Defense Department report to identify “investment that should be made to increase the detection of non-ballistic threats and improve the discrimination of ballistic missile threats, particularly with regard to Hawaii.”

In addition, the proposed law would require DOD to outline the costs associated with integrating into the missile defense system any additional sensor to help protect Hawaii.

By Dan Schere
November 7, 2023 at 7:28 PM

Doug Bush, the Army's top acquisition executive, told reporters Tuesday that the Iron Dome batteries the United States has committed to Israel are "in transit."

The Pentagon announced last month that it would be sending two Iron Dome air defense batteries and additional missile interceptors to Israel to aid the country following Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7. The batteries are made by Rafael, an Israeli company.

Bush said during a roundtable Tuesday that the batteries are in transit and “most of the missiles are already there.”

The quickest way to get the batteries and missiles to Israel was by leasing them under a foreign military sale, Bush explained.

“So, it’s not free. But it's a lease for a relatively small amount of money for 11 months, with payback to be determined and status of the units to be determined,” he said.

Bush said after the 11 months are up, Israel could decide to keep the Iron Dome systems and pay for them, or another arrangement might be possible “depending on factors on the ground.”

President Biden’s $106 billion supplemental spending request to Congress includes $1.2 billion for research, development, test and evaluation for Iron Beam -- a laser upgrade to Iron Dome also made by Rafael.

By John Liang
November 7, 2023 at 1:50 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an Army prototype directed-energy air-defense system, the newly confirmed Air Force chief of staff's first message to airmen, the Navy's Large Unmanned Surface Vessel program and more.

Epirus, a Los Angeles-based technology company, recently announced delivery of the first of four planned Indirect Fire Protection Capability-High Power Microwave systems to the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, marking the completion of government acceptance testing in Nevada:

Army syncs up directed-energy, counter-swarm prototype weapon with key air defense C2

The Army has validated the ability of a prototype speed-of-light weapon to connect with the service's main air defense command and control system, a key development in an effort to deliver a high-power microwave capable of swatting down small drone swarms to operational units as soon as next summer.

The Air Force's recently confirmed chief of staff sent out his first message to airmen:

Allvin: Air Force 'must now follow through' on transformation goals

The Air Force "must now follow through" on the plans set in motion by previous service leaders, newly confirmed Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin told airmen in a letter Monday.

Document: Allvin's letter to airmen

The Navy's Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants is looking to industry to assist in the establishment of specific requirements for LUSV detail, design and construction before beginning procurement in fiscal year 2025:

Navy issues RFI for Large Unmanned Surface Vessel

The Navy has released a request for information for the Large Unmanned Surface Vessel, a future platform intended to carry a variety of modular payloads and provide anti-surface warfare capabilities to the fleet.

More cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Defense groups raise concerns to ONCD over CUI in push for regulatory harmonization

Industry groups representing the defense industrial base are highlighting inconsistencies across the federal government over regulations addressing the handling of controlled unclassified information and potential impacts from the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, in filings to the Office of the National Cyber Director.

Defense primes highlight compliance needs, support for suppliers in reaching CMMC requirements

Stakeholders from large defense prime contractors at an industry event last week emphasized the need for their suppliers to reach compliance with requirements under the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, while also highlighting how they are working together to provide resources.

By Apurva Minchekar
November 6, 2023 at 3:45 PM

The Space Development Agency is asking industry to provide feedback on optical communications waveforms for future Tranche satellites, according to a notice posted today.

According to the notice, the agency is looking for “risk-reduction efforts to support low data rate links and long-range links,” including “space-to-space geometries” of low Earth orbit to medium Earth orbit and LEO to geosynchronous Earth orbit ranges.

“Responses to this [request for information] will specifically inform SDA’s Transport Layer Tranche 3 planning beginning in fiscal year 2024 for subsequent acquisition efforts slated to begin in FY 2025,” the agency noted.

SDA in the RFI has posed questions on “direct-detect waveform extension” for industry, which it expects to receive by Dec. 8.