The Insider

By Tony Bertuca
May 17, 2019 at 4:42 PM

Inside Defense has obtained the draft report accompanying the House Appropriations Committee’s upcoming fiscal year 2020 defense spending bill.

The full committee is slated to mark up the bill Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Inside Defense subscribers can read the report here.

By John Liang
May 17, 2019 at 2:26 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army's Robotic Combat Vehicle program, an imminent Ground Based Strategic Deterrent request for proposals, an "Allied Prototyping Initiative" and much more.

The Army held an unmanned combat vehicle rodeo this week at Texas A&M University's RELLIS Campus:

Six companies, 10 vehicles saddle up in Texas for RCV rodeo

The Army's unmanned combat vehicle rodeo in Texas included six companies, some of which offered more than one candidate, putting 10 robotic systems through their paces in a technological maturity assessment for the Robotic Combat Vehicle program.

Keep an eye out for the Air Force's Ground Based Strategic Deterrent request for proposals, due out this summer:

New nuke engineering and manufacturing RFP expected in July

The Air Force anticipates releasing a request for proposals in July to launch the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the nuclear triad’s intercontinental ballistic missile replacement program.

DOD's R&E office wants to use a new initiative to partner with allies on key developments, especially those related to Pentagon technology chief Mike Griffin's top 10 technology modernization priorities:

Pentagon to prototype key technologies with allies through new initiative

The Defense Department's research and engineering arm has established an "Allied Prototyping Initiative" to collaborate with foreign partners on DOD's top technology goals, including hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

The Air Force is in the early stages of implementing its VAULT -- visible, accessible, understandable, linked, trusted -- data framework that is intended for cloud-based analytics tools:

Air Force CDO in early stages of VAULT data framework, releases reference architecture

An effort is underway in the Air Force to shift data analytics from restricted and disaggregated projects to a shared ecosystem with potential implications for the way the service makes decisions about investments, training, logistics and finances.

A new bill introduced by the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee is focused on getting DOD to implement rapid prototyping and fielding authorities:

Thornberry's new bill would pressure DOD to deliver acquisition reforms

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX) has drafted a defense acquisition reform bill that would fence Pentagon funding until the department begins implementing reform measures already on the books.

The Air Force is planning to team with the Missile Defense Agency on the Extended Range Weapon -- dubbed ERWn -- in fiscal year 2019 in direct support of the new National Defense Strategy:

Air Force, MDA eye kinetic boost-phase interceptor in new $661M project

The Air Force has started a rapid-prototyping project to develop a new guided-missile interceptor designed to be fired from fighter aircraft to chase down and destroy enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles immediately after launch during the boost phase of flight, a capability that -- if it works -- could deliver a powerful new layer to the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Alan Shaffer spoke at a U.S.-Sweden defense industry conference in Washington this week:

DOD developing new guidance for international arms cooperation

The Defense Department's acquisition and sustainment office is drafting new guidance for international arms cooperation with nations in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region.

By John Liang
May 16, 2019 at 5:02 PM

The chairmen of the House Armed Services, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees have sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raising concerns over what they call the abuse of classification and politicization of intelligence regarding Iran and other countries in the State Department's latest arms control report.

"We are deeply concerned by recent reporting that the 2019 State Department Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, which the State Department submitted to Congress on April 15, may have been the product of political appointees disregarding intelligence or distorting its meaning in order to potentially 'lay the groundwork to justify military action' against countries mentioned in the report," Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY) state in the May 16 letter.

On April 15, the State Department issued its annual report assessing the United States' and other nations' adherence to a range of arms control and nonproliferation treaties. The lawmakers assert that this year's report disproportionately focused on Iran to the exclusion of other countries with serious proliferation concerns, including Russia and North Korea.

The lawmakers' letter raises concerns that the report provides significantly less unclassified information, that the administration selectively ignores facts or injects non-factual information, and that the administration has failed to file a key report to congress about Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal. Consequently, the lawmakers request an immediate briefing and documents related to the preparation of the report be provided to the committees.

By Justin Katz
May 16, 2019 at 4:21 PM

The Navy's top civilian says $600 million ships to revitalize its surge sealift fleet is something he can't afford, a reality that is in stark contrast with the service's projections in a recent business case analysis.

"We're looking at different acquisition paths across the board. . . . We're looking at new vessels, we're looking at the [Common Hull Auxiliary Multimission Platform]," Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said today at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments while discussing the think tank's new report on maritime logistics.

"Putting my business hat on from a business case, I can't afford a lot of $600 million ships. I can't really afford a lot of $400 million ships. I can go out and buy used [roll-on/roll-off ships] for $35 [million] to $40 million," he continued.

Although Navy officials often speak about the increasing demands put on the shipbuilding budget, Spencer's comments are significant because they come as lawmakers are reviewing a business case analysis that projects the service buying at least 18 new vessels potentially costing up to $1.14 billion each.

That report outlines four options to recapitalize the surge sealift fleet, and the price tags range from $22 billion to $38 billion through 2048. Potential used vessels the service could procure range in price from $70 million to $245 million per ship.

By Marjorie Censer
May 16, 2019 at 2:55 PM

BAE Systems' U.S. business said today it has named Tom Arseneault president and chief operating officer.

Jerry DeMuro will continue as the company's chief executive.

"For several years, Arseneault has served as COO, responsible for operational performance and delivering key business objectives across the enterprise, to include leading the Inc. Strategy and Corporate Development team," the company said. "As president & COO, his responsibilities will expand to include functional leadership of the BAE Systems, Inc. organization."

Arseneault has previously served as president of BAE's electronic systems sector and as executive vice president of its product sectors.

By Marjorie Censer
May 16, 2019 at 1:45 PM

Northrop Grumman's chief financial officer said today he's optimistic about the prospects for the contractor's technology services business, which has posted sales declines in recent years.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs conference, Ken Bedingfield said the unit was dogged by several key programs. As an example, he pointed to the company's loss in the recompetition of the KC-10 maintenance program, which was awarded to Vertex Aerospace, owned at the time by L3 Technologies.

"That was a tough program from a performance perspective," Bedingfield told attendees. "We got it performing well for the customer; it was just tough in terms of margin."

"We were unsuccessful in the recompete," he continued. "There was a pretty aggressive fixed-price bid that was successful, and we want to take on good business deals so that one wasn't for us."

But Bedingfield said the TS business is seeing growth, noting that its global logistics and modernization unit grew 4% to 5% in 2018.

"That's a solid business for us," he said.

Bedingfield said the technology services unit remains an area in which Northrop performs well.

"As we look forward, it's just about winning some new business and starting to get back to growth," he said. "I believe that TS can grow in 2020."

Earlier this year, Northrop announced the technology services business recorded an 8% decline in sales in 2018 compared to 2019.

Kathy Warden, Northrop's chief executive, said at the time the contractor would combine within TS its advanced defense services and system modernization and services units into one group, dubbed global services.

"That is intended to create a more competitive, integrated services portfolio that is focused on high-end services for IT as well as analytics and operations in the areas of cyber, health care and intelligence," she said. "We now have that segment positioned to begin growing."

By John Liang
May 16, 2019 at 1:37 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on contractors potentially being held accountable for the cybersecurity of their products, the Army's Synthetic Training Environment cross-functional team, a Navy report on mine countermeasures and more.

DISA Director Rear Adm. Nancy Norton spoke to the media this week at the AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference:

New DOD contracts language will hold companies 'accountable' for cyber, supply chain security

BALTIMORE -- New contracting language under development at the Defense Department aims to hold contractors "accountable" for the cybersecurity of the products they deliver to the government, as well as the security of the companies in their supply chains, according to the chief of the Defense Information Systems Agency.

The head of the Army's Synthetic Training Environment cross-functional team said his organization is on track to award its second round of other transaction agreements:

Synthetic Training Environment CFT completes key user tests, nearing next awards

The Army's Synthetic Training Environment cross-functional team is "very encouraged" by its progress after the first 18 months of operation, this year completing user assessments for its next-generation helicopter and ground vehicle trainers and fielding a new training software to several units.

Inside Defense recently obtained a Navy report on mine countermeasure mission packages aboard vessels of opportunity:

Navy estimates price tag of at least $50M to integrate LCS MCM capabilities on other vessels

The Navy has five categories of vessels under consideration for a new package of mine countermeasure capabilities and estimates it would need at least $50 million in future years to equip six select vessels, according to a report obtained by Inside Defense.

A recent GAO report states the "planned modifications to support the new mission" of the Zumwalt-class destroyer will cost the Navy $1 billion "from non-acquisition accounts":

GAO: Zumwalt-class mission change to cost $1 billion

The mission alteration for the Navy's Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers will cost approximately $1 billion, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report that cites service officials.

Document: GAO's 2019 weapon systems annual assessment

The Defense Information Systems Agency is considering a single-contract award in fiscal year 2021 for DES to provide network services for Fourth Estate organizations:

DOD eyes investment in FY-21 to consolidate Fourth Estate networks, use savings for 'lethality programs'

The Defense Department will consider investing in a new program to collapse more than 600 contracts for unclassified and classified network services across 14 civilian, "Fourth Estate" agencies into a single, 10-year services contract, with the aim of realigning cost savings toward "lethality programs."

The Pentagon's latest budget "Green Book" is out:

DOD eyes budget 'gimmick' repeat in FY-21, plowing $65B from OCO to base

The Defense Department is laying the groundwork for a fiscal year 2021 budget request that would prop up its base budget by plowing $65 billion previously forecast as war spending into routine appropriation accounts, including nearly $20 billion for weapons investment, repeating a central strategy of the Trump administration's FY-20 budget request.

By John Liang
May 16, 2019 at 10:38 AM

The Defense Science Board is holding its closed-to-the-public "Spring Quarterly Meeting" today to discuss the classified findings of a "Quantum Task Force" along with "current and future defense challenges," according to a Federal Register notice published this morning.

"The first presentation will be from Dr. John Manferdelli and Dr. Robert Wisnieff, Co-Chairs of the DSB Task Force on Applications of Quantum Technologies (Quantum Task Force), who will provide a classified brief on the Quantum Task Force's findings and recommendations and engage in discussion with the DSB," the notice reads.

Quantum technologies was one of five key areas in emerging military technology the DSB was tasked to study in May 2017, but those efforts were paused following governmental reorganization from the presidential transition. The studies, which have been delayed by more than a year, were subsequently re-ordered in July 2018.

The studies, which in addition to quantum technologies included counter-autonomy, space resiliency, counterintelligence for "insider threats," and gaming, exercising, modeling and simulation, were originally ordered in May 2017 by James MacStravic, who was then-acting Pentagon acquisition executive.

However, before DSB task forces could begin work on those areas, the "sponsorship" of the board was transferred to Ellen Lord, a Trump administration official the Senate confirmed in August 2017 to serve as the next Pentagon acquisition executive, Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza, a DOD spokeswoman, said last July.

In the terms of reference memo for the quantum technologies study, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin wrote that such technologies "have shown increasing capabilities in metrology, sensing, communications, and computation. Increases in precision and sensitivity will extend the capability of existing systems and allow new types of measurements to be made. Quantum-based communication techniques have been developed for over 30 years and provide a means for secure communications in contested environments. Quantum computation and simulation have made significant progress in recent years. Understanding the state-of-the-art and the likely trajectory of these technologies will allow the Department of Defense (DoD) to strategically incorporate these technologies into its systems."

To that end, Griffin's memo tasked the DSB to answer the following questions:

"* What is the level of technology readiness of these technologies? What technological challenges do they face in order to be considered for DOD applications?

"* What is the level of research and development in these technologies in universities, Government laboratories and industries both domestically and in other countries?

"* Which technologies will be developed for commercial applications? Which areas will be applicable to primarily unique DOD applications? For DOD applications: will the technologies required for design, fabrication, testing, and use provide a persistent differentiation?

"* What are the ancillary technologies (refrigeration, filters, interconnect, packaging, specialized materials, etc.) required for implementation of these technologies?"

After voting today on the task force's findings and recommendations, Army Futures Command chief Gen. John Murray, National Intelligence Council Chairwoman Amy McAuliffe, Director of Operational Test and Evaluation Robert Behler and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Lisa Porter will each provide classified briefings on their views of "current and future defense challenges," according to this morning's notice.

By Tony Bertuca
May 16, 2019 at 10:29 AM

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has released a proposal to reform the "military industrial complex" that would, among other things, require that private defense companies like Lockheed Martin comply with federal open records laws.

Warren, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who has made cutting defense spending a signature feature of her 2020 presidential campaign, posted her new reform proposal on the website Medium.

"Defense contractors should be required to disclose the true scope of their lobbying activities -- including who they're meeting with at the DOD, what they're lobbying about, and what (unclassified) information they're sharing," Warren wrote. "And federal open records laws should apply to private defense contractors so the public can understand what they're doing."

Warren said Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contractor, received more than $35 billion in defense contracts in 2017 -- more than the budget for NASA.

"Many of these private companies are under pressure to show year over year revenue to their shareholders and investors on Wall Street," she wrote. "That means they are constantly pressuring the federal government for more spending  --  regardless of our national security needs. It's long past time for real reform."

Another of Warren's proposed reforms would stop the "revolving door" between the Pentagon and the private sector by barring senior defense officials from working as defense contractors or lobbyists for a period of four years once they have left government service. Contractors would also be required to identify former DOD officials working for them.

Warren said that in 2018 the top 20 defense contractors hired 645 former government officials.

"There are talented and patriotic Americans who work in the defense industry," Warren wrote. "But today, the coziness between defense lobbyists, Congress, and the Pentagon -- what former President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex -- tilts countless decisions, big and small, away from legitimate national security interests, and toward the desires of giant corporations that thrive off taxpayer dollars."

By Tony Bertuca
May 15, 2019 at 5:18 PM

President Trump today issued a new executive order declaring a national emergency to protect to the U.S. information and communications technology services supply chain.

"I have issued an Executive Order declaring a national emergency to deal with the threat posed by the unrestricted acquisition or use in the United States of information and communications technology or services designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of foreign adversaries," Trump wrote in a letter to Congress.

The order requires the commerce secretary to work with other cabinet members to publish new rules and regulations within 150 days to protect the U.S. information and communications technology supply chain.

Among other things, the executive order prohibits transactions involving entities or persons deemed to be a "foreign adversary" that pose an "undue risk of sabotage."

By Courtney Albon
May 15, 2019 at 4:48 PM

Air Force Under Secretary Matt Donovan will serve as acting secretary beginning June 1.

Secretary Heather Wilson will resign May 31, after being selected to serve as president of the University of Texas at El Paso. Wilson began her service in May 2017.

"In her two years as secretary, Heather defined the Air Force the nation needs and made incredible progress in implementing the strategy to get us there," acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said in a statement today. "It is fitting that a key member of her leadership team will assume her role to keep the momentum going. Matt will do a fantastic job."

Donovan was confirmed as Air Force under secretary in August 2017. He previously served as policy director for the Senate Armed Services Committee.

By Tony Bertuca
May 15, 2019 at 4:13 PM

Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee have proposed legislation that would prevent the Defense Department from reprogramming military construction funds to build barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The bill, introduced by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA), Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and John Garamendi (D-CA) would cap national emergency military construction authority at $250 million per emergency and "tighten the ability to waive other provisions of law in carrying out the projects," according to a statement from the lawmakers.

"The bill would only allow money that cannot be spent for its intended purpose to be used for an emergency, would require additional information in a congressional notification, and delay the start of construction until after a waiting period following the notification going to Congress," the statement reads.

Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan is vetting a list of military construction projects that can be deferred so the Pentagon can transfer $3.6 billion to the border security effort.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, has reprogrammed $2.5 billion to build about 135 miles of border fencing, though it bucked decades of tradition by doing so without the approval of Congress.

Democratic appropriators are now moving to restrict DOD's budgetary reprogramming authority.

"I've said it before, in no uncertain terms: The Trump administration's repeated efforts to divert previously appropriated funds from the Department of Defense to finance his misguided border wall is an affront to military readiness," Smith said. "While Congress has for years granted the department the flexibility to carry out military construction projects that support troops responding to a national emergency, such as after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the president's threat to use military construction funding to build portions of the border wall would be an inappropriate use of that authority."

The bill's other cosponsors include Reps. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), Lori Trahan (D-MA) and Filemon Vela (D-TX).

By John Liang
May 15, 2019 at 1:53 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of a House hearing where lawmakers excoriated a defense contractor for price gouging and more.

TransDigm Group didn't exactly win any friends during a Capitol Hill hearing today:

DOD taking steps to fight price gouging after contractor reaps 'excessive' profits

A senior Pentagon acquisition official told Congress today the "sickening business practices" of contractor TransDigm Group Inc. have led the Defense Department to take new steps to mitigate alleged price gouging, including creating a new watchlist of companies that refuse to provide cost data.

Dynetics has won a contract to build a high-energy laser system:

Dynetics team to build high-energy laser weapon system for Army

The Army has chosen Dynetics to build and test the 100-kilowatt High-Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator weapon system for Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, the company announced this week.

DARPA, working with the Army's utility helicopter project office, is developing the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System, or ALIAS, to provide an autonomous "teammate" to improve manned aviation:

DARPA, Army working on AI co-piloting software

Sikorsky at its West Palm Beach, FL, test site next week will host the first flight of a Black Hawk helicopter retrofitted with a new artificial intelligence "co-piloting" software, as part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program.

Here's some news from AFCEA's TechNet Cyber conference in Baltimore this week:

DISA's new Emerging Technology Directorate leveraging OTAs

The Defense Information Systems Agency's newly established Emerging Technology Directorate is using other transaction agreements to pursue several programs, including a new assured identity capability for personnel using Defense Department networks.

The Air Force recently released a justification and approval document that notes that five companies submitted proposals for the "Pegasus Combat Capability" work in response to a sources-sought notice that was originally posted in August 2016:

Boeing to craft tanker capability roadmap under first post-production delivery order

The Air Force plans to use an expansive, sole-source KC-46 Pegasus post-production contract, worth up to $5.7 billion over 10 years, to craft and implement a roadmap for future tanker capabilities.

Document: Air Force J&A document for KC-46 contract

By Courtney Albon
May 15, 2019 at 12:15 PM

The Air Force has announced six installations as candidate locations for the new U.S. Space Command.

According to a May 14 news release, the locations under consideration are: Buckley Air Force Base, CO; Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, CO; Peterson Air Force Base, CO; Redstone Arsenal, AL; Schriever Air Force Base, CO; and Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA.

CNN first reported on a draft of the list in April.

The service's next step is to conduct a site survey and analysis of each base and according to the release, expects to approve a preferred location this summer. Following that decision, the Air Force will perform an environmental analysis.

By Tony Bertuca
May 15, 2019 at 10:52 AM

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee today approved by voice vote its version of the fiscal year 2020 defense spending bill.

"In total, the bill provides $690.2 billion in new discretionary spending authority for the Department of Defense for functions under the Defense Subcommittee's jurisdiction, an increase of $15.8 billion above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level, and $8 billion below the President's budget request," according to a statement from committee Democrats.

Staffers have said the funding in the bill aligns with the $733 billion total defense budget being eyed by Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee for their FY-20 defense authorization. 

The Trump administration, however, has requested a total defense budget of $750 billion. 

Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, said the GOP does not support the defense spending bill because the topline is too small.  

 “I support many of the investments made in this defense appropriations bill to strengthen our armed forces, such as improving our weapons systems and providing better health services for our troops,” she said. “Unfortunately, the Democrats have proposed an overall funding level that does not adequately address growing global threats, and it is less than requested, halting the progress we have made in improving military readiness.”  

 Granger also said she opposed the bill because it is not part of an overall deal to lift mandated budget caps on defense and non-defense spending. 

“I want to work with my colleagues as the bill moves through the process to address these concerns and develop a fiscally responsible budget framework that prioritizes national security and prevents sequestration,” she said. “Otherwise, we could face more than $70 billion in cuts below the current levels, crippling our military capabilities.”