The Insider

By Sara Sirota
September 18, 2020 at 1:56 PM

The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter program has begun on-the-ground, live-fire tests with the Sikorsky-built aircraft’s three primary guns, the Air Force revealed earlier this week.

The CRH is intended to replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk fleet as the Air Force’s primary search-and-rescue platform. The program is currently moving to complete formal developmental testing in December and start initial operational test and evaluation next spring with initial deliveries from the first production lot slated for next May.

The three-week live-fire test phase began Aug. 17 and took place at Eglin Air Force Base, FL, according to an Air Force news release. Airmen from the 413th Flight Test Squadron used the first HH-60W Sikorsky built -- called Whiskey 1 -- to evaluate the helicopter’s weapons.

“The helicopter’s guns can rotate independently providing an almost 360-degree firing arc,” the Air Force notice states. “This created a unique challenge for the squadron’s engineers to develop test and safety plans not typically encountered with fixed wing aircraft.”

More evaluations are expected to follow. An Air Force safety board will now assess data collected during the recent ground tests to authorize the CRH for live-fire flight testing, which is scheduled to occur later in 2020.

By John Liang
September 17, 2020 at 4:50 PM

Science Applications International Corp. announced today the company will reorganize its business units.

Effective Oct. 31, the start of SAIC's fourth quarter, the company will operate with two major lines of business: defense and civilian led by Bob Genter, and national security and space led by Michael LaRouche, according to an SAIC statement.

"This structure will enable SAIC to accelerate strategic growth priorities in areas such as digital engineering, digital transformation, and space," the statement reads.

The reorganization stems from the planned retirement of Jim Scanlon, who leads the defense systems group.

"With Jim's retirement, we reevaluated our organizational structure, as we always look to best align with our business strategy and growth priorities," Nazzic Keene, SAIC's chief executive, said in the statement.

Scanlon will remain with the company until Jan. 29 "to support a smooth transition to the new organization structure," the company said.

By John Liang
September 17, 2020 at 1:35 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's KC-46 tanker aircraft, plus the recent findings of an Air Force Scientific Advisory Board study group, the Navy's Aegis combat system and more.

Mike Hafer, senior manager of KC-46 business development at Boeing, spoke to reporters this week about the first block of Pegasus Combat Capability, or PC2, upgrades to the Air Force's airborne refueling aircraft:

Boeing anticipates KC-46 Block 1 mod contract in 2021 as program works toward new RVS

Boeing expects to be on contract for the first block of KC-46 modernization work by the first quarter of 2021 -- the first phase of a 10-year, $5.7 billion post-production contract the Air Force awarded the company last year.

An Air Force Scientific Advisory Board study group earlier this week presented findings on best practices for selection and management of future vanguard programs:

Air Force to invest $100 million in transformational vanguard programs in FY-24

The Air Force is eyeing an investment of about $100 million in its vanguard programs -- which strive to accelerate transformational capabilities to the battlefield -- in fiscal year 2024 to meet the demands of the service's 2030 Science and Technology Strategy.

Inside Defense recently interviewed Navy Capt. Andrew Biehn, program manager for the Aegis Integrated Combat System:

Navy's 'Forge' prototype will try to rapidly update Aegis combat system software throughout fleet

The Navy is moving forward with an experiment to rapidly develop, test and distribute software upgrades to the fleet's Aegis combat system by establishing a "software factory" prototype for surface combatants.

A new controlled unclassified information guidebook will build off DOD Instruction 5240.48 issued by the office of the under secretary of defense for intelligence and security in March:

Pentagon acquisition office to develop guidebook for industry on controlled unclassified information

The Defense Department is working on a guide to help industry and the acquisition community understand how to handle controlled unclassified information, addressing a foundational component of the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program.

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Accreditation Body leaders Ty Schieber and Mark Berman are leaving the board of directors, marking a significant change in leadership as the accreditation body enters a new stage of training and assessments:

NDIA questions expected timeline of Pentagon cyber certification program, intent of potential sponsorships for assessors, consultants

Recent developments at the independent authority overseeing accreditation of assessors for the Pentagon's cyber certification program are raising concerns at one of the nation's largest defense associations, which represents a wide variety of contractors who make up the defense industrial base.

By John Liang
September 16, 2020 at 3:32 PM

Lockheed Martin Ventures has invested in Hidden Level, a Syracuse, NY-based company that designs and develops sensors for low-altitude airspace monitoring.

Hidden Level released a statement saying the investment "will support both companies as they look to solve challenges in air surveillance and security through advanced distributed sensor networks."

Jeff Cole, Hidden Level's CEO, said that "providing scalable solutions to low altitude airspace security remains an issue in defense and commercial spaces. Our mission is to deliver innovative solutions to help our customers keep the public safe and advance airspace safety within defense and civil arenas alike. Working with Lockheed Martin, who understands the value of our technology, is important."

Lockheed Martin Ventures General Manager and Vice President Chris Moran said his company's investment in Hidden Level "underscores our focus on mitigating airspace safety challenges. We are excited to add Hidden Level to our investment portfolio and look forward to working with their team and gaining access to their distributed sensor network that may offer a solution to address these escalating challenges."

Hidden Level is the latest in a series of investments Lockheed Martin Ventures has made in recent months. In August, the company announced it had made an investment in Fiddler, an artificial intelligence company based in Palo Alto, CA, and signed a strategic cooperation agreement. In July, Lockheed Martin Ventures bought into a series A round for CalypsoAI, and in June it put money in Red 6, a Santa Monica, CA-based firm specializing in synthetic training.

By Aidan Quigley
September 16, 2020 at 3:27 PM

Naval shipyards must retain the increased focus on fire safety that has followed the July fire aboard the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), according to the head of Naval Sea Systems Command.

Vice Adm. William Galinis said Wednesday that every shipyard had reviewed its fire safety procedures in recent months.

"It's something you can never let up on," Galinis said Wednesday at the American Society of Naval Engineers' Fleet Maintenance & Modernization Symposium.

"You kind of take the traditional model, where you have an event and you do the investigation and there is a series of corrective actions, you take the action, and over time, focus on those areas tends to die off a little bit," he said. "We've got to keep that attention level on this area."

The July 12 fire caused serious damage to the Bonhomme Richard, which was undergoing maintenance at Naval Base San Diego. Galinis said he would not comment on the investigation into the fire, which is ongoing.

The Navy is considering its repair options for the ship, the admiral said.

Shipyards should continue to look at the condition of temporary services and ensure that quick disconnect fittings are in the right location as they transit through an access opening, according to Galinis.

Shipyard leadership should focus on procedural compliance, assessing real-time risk and eliminating any unsafe work practices, he said.

By John Liang
September 16, 2020 at 2:31 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Navy's new fleet plan, the Defense Innovation Board's latest meeting, coverage of the Air Force Association's virtual conference and more.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper spoke today during an event hosted by RAND Corp. in Santa Monica, CA:

Esper says new Navy fleet plan will include 355 manned and unmanned ships

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said today he is preparing plans for a "balanced" future Navy fleet of 355 ships that will include manned and unmanned vessels and require an increase in shipbuilding funding.

During a Sept. 15 virtual meeting, Defense Innovation Board members discussed their preliminary work to develop recommendations for artificial intelligence Test, Evaluation, Validation and Verification processes:

Pentagon tech advisers to deliver recommendations on how the military can test, validate AI systems

The Defense Innovation Board will recommend ways the Defense Department can test and validate artificially intelligent systems are meeting safety and performance goals, considered a key hurdle to the military's goal of rapidly fielding AI capabilities.

The top uniformed officers of the Air Force and Space Force spoke this week at the Air Force Association's virtual conference:

Air Force chief says proposed aircraft inventory levels could restrict needed force structure changes

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown told reporters today congressional proposals to set minimum aircraft inventory requirements put constraints on the service's ability to make necessary force structure changes to meet the requirements of the National Defense Strategy.

Long-term CR could delay work on GPS III and National Space Defense Center

As the Space Force prepares for the likelihood of a continuing resolution, the service chief Gen. John Raymond said this week he's concerned about programmatic impacts, operations and maintenance shortfalls and the transfer of space accounts from the Air Force to the Space Force.

Russ Vought, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, recently sent a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) highlighting the administration's concerns over the panel's fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill:

White House highlights opposition to Senate defense bill that would re-name bases

The White House has sent the Senate Armed Services Committee a list of provisions in the fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill it does not like, but chose to lead with one President Trump has said would make him veto the entire must-pass bill -- the re-naming of U.S. military bases that currently honor Confederate leaders.

Document: OMB letter to Senate on the FY-21 defense policy bill

The Navy has, so far, reduced days of maintenance delay by 80% in fiscal year 2020 compared to FY-19:

Navy says despite COVID-19 slowdown, maintenance delays reduced in 2020

Despite slowdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Navy has reduced maintenance delays this year, service officials said Tuesday.

The Air Force has flown its newest fighter aircraft:

Air Force confirms it has flown NGAD demonstrator

Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper announced today the service has flown a full-scale Next-Generation Air Dominance flight demonstrator and has "broken a lot of records in the doing."

By Jaspreet Gill
September 16, 2020 at 1:48 PM

The Army's Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cross-Functional Team announced today the approval of the service's first ever PNT requirement, the Mounted Assured PNT System Capability Development Document.

MAPS, an anti-jamming capability for soldiers in global positioning system-contested environments, "simplifies the Army's mounted PNT capability by distributing PNT data to multiple systems, eliminating the need for multiple [GPS] devices on a single platform, while allowing multiple users to access an assured GPS signal, and other sources of PNT, from one central point," according to a Sept. 16 press release.

The CDD requirement approval will lead the way for an Army Program of Record to develop and field an advanced PNT capability to soldiers.

“Throughout the requirement approval process, our priority was to ensure that our soldiers get the capabilities and systems they need to operate successfully on the battlefield,” Willie Nelson, director of the APNT CFT, said in a statement. “Our ability to streamline and expedite the requirement process is a success story for the Army’s modernization strategy, getting advanced, modernized technologies to our soldiers rapidly."

The Army in 2019 started fielding the first generation of MAPS, which includes anti-jam antennas, to soldiers with the 2nd Cavalry Division in Europe and equipped more than 60 Stryker vehicles with the capability.

Soldiers are continuing to provide feedback on the equipment and the service is “currently testing vendor prototypes and will select the next generation device for final development and production,” the press release states.

A vendor for phase three of the second generation of MAPS, which will focus on product maturation, is expected to be selected by the end of this month.

Col. Nickolas Kioutas, project manager for PNT, told reporters Sept. 11 during a telephone roundtable the service envisions the C4ISR/Electronic Warfare Modular Open Suite of Standards, or CMOSS, to be the third generation of MAPs.

A CMOSS chassis, which Kioutas said acts as a “receptacle” to put capabilities into which allow the service to swap out ones that aren’t working, is currently in a prototyping phase. The system will act as a plug-and-play model, where the service can replace pieces instead of an entire system.

Kioutas said a CMOSS chassis was integrated onto a Stryker platform with a PNT card and an anti-jamming antenna during a recent test at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The results of the test are still being assessed.

“MAPS is expected to continue fielding through 2028 and will take place in USAREUR and U.S. Army Pacific,” the press release states.

By Justin Katz
September 16, 2020 at 10:12 AM

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded contracts to three companies to begin work on a new program to overcome certain limitations on unmanned surface vessels.

Applied Physical Sciences Corp., Gibbs & Cox Maritime Solutions and InMar Technologies received contracts to work on the Sea Train program, according to a statement DARPA published on social media.

A public notice stated the contract awarded to Applied Physical Sciences Corp. was worth up to $31 million.

A DARPA spokesman told Inside Defense today that Gibbs & Cox was awarded an other transaction agreement valued at roughly $30 million; Inmar Technologies was awarded an OTA valued at roughly $28 million.

DARPA's new program is seeking to overcome limitations USVs have while traveling in rough waters by sending vessels in certain formations.

"A key limitation of USVs is their restricted operational ranges due to increased wave-making resistance inherent with smaller platforms," the agency wrote in a program announcement earlier this year.

"At-sea refueling, use of heavy-lift ships, strategic airlift, and increasing overall vessel size are all solutions to this limitation but are fraught with operational vulnerabilities against peer adversaries," the announcement continued.

By Justin Doubleday
September 15, 2020 at 4:37 PM

Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive of Google, has stepped down as the first chairman of the Defense Innovation Board, with former Sierra Nevada executive Mark Sirangelo taking over as head of the influential panel.

Sirangelo announced the news during the board’s virtual meeting today. He said Schmidt and several others were coming to the end of their four-year terms on the board.

Schmidt "has led as the first chairman of this board, helped form it, helped organize it, helped really set the tone for what we’re doing and how we’re moving forward," Sirangelo said.

Schmidt served as chairman of the board since it was established in 2016 by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

"When we started this four years ago, I had no idea the DIB would be as impactful or as successful has it has come to be," Schmidt said today. "I figured that we would make recommendations and that nobody would particularly listen."

Schmidt noted how the board's recommendations have led to the creation of the Pentagon's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the shift to an emphasis on agile software development within the Defense Department, and the adoption of AI ethical principles for the military, among other developments.

And while the Pentagon's relationship with the commercial technology sector has been rocky at times, Schmidt and the board have served as one of the Pentagon's main lifelines into Silicon Valley.

"We adopted more of a contact sport view and what we did is we developed relationships within the DOD with key decision makers, and we said we serve you," Schmidt said.

Schmidt also leads the congressionally established National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.

Meanwhile, Sirangelo has served on the DIB since 2018. Most recently, he served as head of Sierra Nevada's Space Systems division. He was the former chairman and chief executive of SpaceDev prior to its merging with Sierra Nevada. Sirangelo is currently "entrepreneur scholar-in-residence" at the University of Colorado.

Sirangelo also leads the innovation board's new Space Advisory Committee, which he said was established in May at the direction of Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist.

Michael Kratsios, the acting under secretary of defense for research and engineering, also addressed today's DIB meeting. Kratios, who also serves as chief technology officer at the White House, specifically praised the board's work to develop AI ethics recommendations

"When I'm starting to think a little bit with [Sirangelo] about the types of projects the DIB can work on in the coming years, that one is front and center in my mind," Kratsios said. "What can the board offer the Defense Department that the Defense Department itself can’t do on its own? That was a huge, successful example, and it's making waves globally."

Sirangelo said he would be meeting with Kratsios to discuss the board's agenda for the coming year.

In addition to Schmidt, several other members are coming to the end of their four-year terms this year, according to Sirangelo. They include Eric Lander, president and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; Jen Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America; Adam Grant, professor at the Wharton School of Business; Marne Levine, vice president of global partnerships and business development at Facebook; LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman; and Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute.

Meanwhile, Stanford University's Drew Endy, president of BioBricks Foundation, recently joined the board.

By Jaspreet Gill
September 15, 2020 at 2:58 PM

The Army has awarded LiquidPiston a Small Business Innovation Research Phase I grant to develop the company's X-Engine as a hybrid-electric propulsion platform for unmanned aerial vehicles, LiquidPiston announced today in a press release.

The Phase I grant is worth $100,000 with a chance to be extended to $1.1 million. The company showcased its X-Engine in a successful UAV demonstration using jet fuel earlier in the summer.

The parallel electric hybrid configured engine provides UAVs with the ability to cruise in quiet mode using electric-only power and the ability to restart the engine mid-flight, according to the press release.

"The X-Engine, when matured and deployed, will help to provide the increasing power requirements for direct and hybrid electric propulsion for the U.S. Army Future Tactical UAS (FTUAS) and other [Defense Department] UAS programs as well as auxiliary power units (APUs), supplemental power units (SPUs) and power and thermal management systems (PTMS) for manned rotorcraft and fixed wing aircraft," the press release states.

The Army is midway through completing FTUAS assessments with five brigade combat teams.

LiquidPiston was also named one of 12 winners of the third iteration of the Army's Expeditionary Technology Search competition, for which the Army held a virtual summit Sept. 8.

The company showcased an aviation APU concept for rotorcraft, which can perform both on-ground and in-flight functions "to offload the main engines in providing supplementary power for hydraulics, heating and cooling, and addresses the increasing power demands of the onboard electronics, weapons and other equipment," according to the press release.

By John Liang
September 15, 2020 at 1:50 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's KC-46 airborne refueling tanker plus a look at China's strategic forces modernization plans.

Air Mobility Command chief Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost recently made her first visit to Boeing's KC-46 production facility, where she observed progress the prime contractor has made to replace the aircraft's existing Remote Vision System with a new system, RVS 2.0:

AMC chief awaiting final testing data on interim KC-46 RVS upgrade

The new head of Air Mobility Command said today that while she has seen progress in Boeing's proposed interim KC-46 Remote Vision System upgrade package, she needs more testing data and assurance that the near-term value the capability could bring to the warfighter outweighs the time it would take to upgrade existing tankers.

U.S. Strategic Command chief Adm. Chas Richard told reporters this week that China's strategic forces modernization plan appears at odds with its stated "no-first-use" policy -- and that this drives an imperative for the United States to modernize its offensive strategic forces as soon as possible:

STRATCOM preparing for China to join Russia as U.S. nuclear peer adversary

China's military modernization -- particularly development of its strategic forces -- is driving the U.S. military to begin preparing for the advent of Beijing as a nuclear competitor on par with Russia, a development that will require a different deterrence strategy from the playbook the Defense Department has long maintained to counter Moscow, according to a senior U.S. military official.

A Treasury Department COVID-19 rescue fund, which has gone almost entirely unspent because most contractors disliked the terms, is also the subject of behind-the-scenes debate on Capitol Hill:

DOD scrutinized over role in bailout fund that has drawn little interest from big companies

The Pentagon is being pressed by a congressional watchdog to explain its role in recommending to the Treasury Department companies to receive loans from a $17 billion COVID-19 rescue fund.

The Air Force Research Laboratory and contractor SRC for several years have been developing the Agile Condor high-performance embedded computing architecture to quickly and in real time process large amounts of sensor data with relatively little power:

DOD plans more demos of Agile Condor edge computer for autonomous drone ops

The Pentagon is planning more tests of the Agile Condor pod that enables an MQ-9 Reaper to autonomously surveil targets with artificial intelligence -- such as algorithms developed by Project Maven -- for extended periods, even if connection to the ground station is lost.

Inside Defense recently interviewed Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies executives about the case they've made to the Missile Defense Agency for their Next-Generation Interceptor proposal:

Northrop, Raytheon pitch NGI proposal that stresses incumbency backed by innovation

Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies are pitching a Next-Generation Interceptor design backed by what they say are engineering teams with unparallel experience knocking down targets in space and knowledge of today's Ground-based Midcourse Defense system -- promising a unified, "seamless" corporate team to deliver a new booster and kill vehicle as if from a single company.

By Tony Bertuca
September 15, 2020 at 1:05 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee today advanced several key Pentagon nominations to the full Senate for final votes.

The nominees include: John Whitley to be director of the Defense Department's cost assessment and program evaluation office; Bradley Hansell to be deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence and security; Lucas Polakowski to be assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs; Shon Manasco to be Air Force under secretary; and Michele Pearce to be Army general counsel.

The committee also voted to advance 893 military nominations.

It's unclear, however, when the nominees will receive final votes in the Senate as Congress is eying a stopgap continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded past Sept. 30 so lawmakers can return to their home states and districts to campaign for the November election.

By Ashley Tressel
September 15, 2020 at 1:02 PM

Army Contracting Command-Orlando is hosting an online industry day next week for a new requirement "to provide threat and target development, support and hardware of multiple programs for test and training events," according to an industry notice.

The Sept. 22 industry day will support the upcoming Target & Threat Hardware for Readiness, Evaluation, and Testing (TTHREATS) requirement.

The Program Manager for Cyber Test Training's Threat Systems Management Office is looking to award an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a five-year base and two two-year option periods with task orders "issued against the ID/IQ as needs arise," the Army's notice says.

The anticipated award date for the ID/IQ is the third quarter of fiscal year 2022.

"Requirements for the TTHREATS contract are for the design, development, [and] integration of [3D] full and subscale targets and threats," the notice states. "This effort could result in the production of prototype targets and threats or procurement of existing targets or threats. ‘Targets and threat products and services’ is applicable to both blue force weapons systems and threats to those systems. The contractor shall also have the ability to operate any target or threat system needed to support the use in a test environment. Targets and threats exist in a multidomain environment. These environments compose live (air-land-sea) and virtual domains. Supplies and services may be procured for operations within the continental United States or overseas."

Invitations for the industry day will go out on Friday.

By John Liang
September 15, 2020 at 9:32 AM

Govini announced this week it has hired Sam Jones as chief product officer.

Jones "will expand Govini's products in areas related to defense supply chains, resourcing and reform, and technology and innovation," according to a company statement.

Jones previously held senior product and engineering roles at Palantir Technologies and Shield AI. Before he joined the private sector, he worked as a civilian engineer in the Air Force.

By Justin Katz
September 15, 2020 at 9:05 AM

The Navy today announced it would begin drafting an environmental impact statement for its proposed demolition and construction of facilities at Pearl Harbor, an extended but necessary process associated with improving the four public shipyards.

The service aims to build a new submarine dry dock and waterfront production facility at Pearl Harbor as part of its Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan, an upgrade the Navy says is necessary for the installation to remain useful to the future submarine fleet.

"Following the phasing out of the Los Angeles Class submarine in 2022, [the current dry dock] would no longer be capable of servicing any active submarines due to size limitations," the Navy wrote in a Sept. 15 notice announcing its intent to prepare an EIS.

The National Environmental Policy Act requires the Pentagon to consider a wide range of effects its construction and operations could have on the environment as well as solicit feedback from local and state governments and the general public.

"The Navy is initiating a 32-day public scoping process beginning on September 11, 2020 and extending through October 13, 2020. The purpose of the public scoping process is to identify community interests and to receive comments on the scope of the EIS and the project’s potential to affect historic properties," according to the public notice.

A virtual public meeting will also be held Sept. 29.

As part of the drafting process, the Navy is offering several scenarios in which it constructs a covered or uncovered dry dock, a crane and a waterfront production facility; the alternatives differ in where each facility is placed around the shipyard.

There is also a "no action" alternative in which the current facilities are left standing and the service is unable to maintain its future fleet.