The Insider

By Sara Sirota
April 5, 2021 at 4:07 PM

The Air Force Research Laboratory has demonstrated the first release of an ALTIUS-600 small drone from an XQ-58A Valkyrie's internal weapons bay, according to a notice AFRL issued today.

The March 26th flight test was the Kratos-built Valkyrie's sixth overall and occurred at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ. The aircraft flew higher and faster than in previous flights, demonstration program manager Alyson Turri said in the notice.

The ALTIUS-600 is made by AREA-I, which defense contractor Anduril Industries recently acquired.

By Courtney Albon
April 5, 2021 at 3:02 PM

The Space Force is in the "throes" of standing up a new National Space Intelligence Center and plans to reach initial operational capability in January 2022.

Maj. Gen. Leah Lauderback, the service's director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, said during an April 2 Mitchell Institute event the Space Force recently stood up a working group to define what the NSIC will look like in the future.

The current plan is for two squadrons to shift from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center to NSIC to form the initial core of the new organization. Lauderback said the center will also need to increase its workforce in order to perform analysis of a growing number of adversary space systems.

“As those numbers of weapon systems that our adversaries have grown, we probably need to grow in number of analysts," she said. "And I also see that from an exploitation standpoint, or from an advanced threat analysis standpoint, we have room to grow too."

She noted that the NSIC working group -- which includes representatives from the Space Force, NASIC, Defense Intelligence Agency and other organizations -- are discussing what the initial workforce and mission of NSIC will be.

Lauderback also discussed the Space Force's designation as a member of the intelligence community in January. Soon after the service's IC membership became official, the director of national intelligence sent Lauderback a memo listing various directives the service would need to align with.

"Over the last couple of months, we have been going through this list -- and it's extensive because there are a lot of intelligence community directives out there, things that you just need to be in compliance with," she said. "There's tradecraft that we need to be able to follow as intelligence professionals."

The Space Force has since achieved compliance with those directives, she said.

By Marjorie Censer
April 5, 2021 at 2:30 PM

MITRE today said it has named Keoki Jackson senior vice president and general manager of its national security sector.

"He is responsible for the strategic growth and execution of MITRE's national security programs, including support to the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Intelligence Community, including leading the National Security Engineering Center," MITRE said.

Jackson previously spent more than two decades with Lockheed Martin as chief technology officer and vice president of engineering and program operations, among other roles.

By Marjorie Censer
April 5, 2021 at 2:28 PM

Lockheed Martin said today it has named Bridget Lauderdale, who leads its aeronautics unit's integrated fighter group, to serve as general manager of the F-35 Lightning II program, effective next week.

She succeeds Greg Ulmer, who has been named chief of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. Doug Wilhelm, who has been acting deputy general manager of the F-35 program, will make that role permanent.

Bill Brotherton, who has been serving as acting F-35 general manager, has been named to a new role as vice president for aeronautics enterprise performance, the contractor said.

"He will oversee Program Management processes and resources to ensure strong program performance across the enterprise," Lockheed added. "This includes oversight of cost, schedule, and performance reporting for Aeronautics."

Lauderdale, in her new role, "will be responsible for partnering with domestic and international customers to ensure the F-35 program delivers the most affordable 5th Generation aircraft in production, advances capability through a stable modernization program and increases availability while reducing overall operational and sustainment costs."

Lockheed said it will announce Lauderdale's successor later. In the meantime, OJ Sanchez, vice president of the F-22 program, will serve in an acting capacity.

By John Liang
April 5, 2021 at 2:13 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest features a deep dive into how the Defense Department buys computer chips.

We start off with a deep dive into the Pentagon's challenges in buying up-to-date microelectronics:

'Long, complicated and painful': Washington wrestles with strategy to boost computer chip production

When Mark Lewis walked into the Pentagon in late 2019, he thought his most important job as a leading research official would be overseeing the development of new, high-speed missiles.

Austal is building a steel line as it hopes to win Light Amphibious Warship and Future Frigate follow-on contracts:

Austal building steel line as it readies to compete for key contracts

Austal is building a steel production line at its Mobile, AL shipyard as the company positions itself to compete for the Marine Corps' Light Amphibious Warship and Navy's follow-on contract for the FFG(X) Future Frigate program.

The Navy's MQ-25 program has been facing the prospect of delays for over a year:

Navy officials won't commit to a timeline for MQ-25 control center installations

The schedule for installing the MQ-25 control system on Navy aircraft carriers is "under review" due to recent changes in the ground control station, a Navy spokeswoman tells Inside Defense.

A recent Global Information Dominance Exercise brought together all 11 combatant commands:

NORTHCOM exercise demonstrates ready-to-field JADC2 capabilities

A recent U.S. Northern Command Joint All-Domain Command-and-Control exercise demonstrated several capabilities available today to improve domain awareness, information dominance and decision superiority -- and the NORTHCOM commander told reporters this week he wants to move quickly to acquire and field those technologies.

An upgrade to the Sentinel A4 radar variant will help better detect unmanned aerial vehicles and other small, low-flying threats:

Sentinel A4 passes critical design review

The Army completed a critical design review of Lockheed Martin's Sentinel A4 radar system in February, five months ahead of schedule, the company announced April 1.

By Tony Bertuca
April 5, 2021 at 1:50 PM

More than a dozen House lawmakers say U.S. combatant commanders should accept an "appropriate amount of risk" and cease making supplemental forces requests that are "driving readiness costs to unsustainable levels" and burning through servicemembers at "breakneck paces."

In a letter sent today to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, the lawmakers, led by Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Rob Wittman (R-VA), say the current process by which combatant commanders seek additional forces needs increased scrutiny.

"Combatant commands have few incentives to be frugal in their force requests, leading to an overtaxing and overworking of the services in an attempt to fulfill combatant commands' demands when the [defense secretary] approves an expansive number of" requests for forces, the lawmakers write. "The 'tyranny of the now' is wearing out man and machine at too high a rate to ensure success both now and later."

The Pentagon's desire to shift to "great powers competition" in the National Defense Strategy risks being "undermined by the combatant commands' failure, unwillingness, or inability to make do with their approved" force levels, according to the lawmakers.

The Pentagon is currently running a Global Force Posture review intended to inform future decisions about force levels. A separate Defense Department budgetary review evaluating resources spent on U.S. Central Command also seeks options for increasing investments to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region.

Austin and Hicks have called China the Pentagon's "pacing challenge" and President Biden has said he "can't picture" U.S. troops in Afghanistan next year.

The lawmakers, meanwhile, said, "it is imperative that the combatant commands accept and share the appropriate amount of risk required to balance their needs against the [service] chiefs' requirement to recruit, train and modernize the services in the long term."

The concern over force levels also comes as the White House is preparing to release what is expected to be a flat defense budget.

In their letter, the lawmakers have requested detailed information on DOD's process for allocating additional forces to combatant commanders.

By Marjorie Censer
April 5, 2021 at 8:55 AM

Tyto Athene, owned by private-equity firm Arlington Capital Partners, said this month it has purchased AT&T Government Solutions, which includes AT&T's Defense Department IT professional services business.

"AT&T and Tyto have also agreed to enter into teaming agreements for opportunities in the DOD IT professional services market," the company said. "Specific terms of the transaction were not disclosed."

While Tyto will continue to be led by Chris Meilhammer, the company said, it is adding the entire workforce from the AT&T business, including several of its leaders.

Carl Tegen will oversee Army and Defense Information Systems Agency work, while Bill Lantzy will manage the company's Navy and Marine Corps business. David Blake will serve as chief technology officer, Hector Pelayo as vice president for air and space forces and Jeff Wolfe as vice president of the integration management office.

Tyto said, in connection with the deal, it is also adding three members to its board of directors: Ed Casey, the former chief executive of IDEMIA's North America Identity & Security Business Unit; Ken Deutsch, a former top executive at General Dynamics Information Technology and CSRA; and Joanne Isham, former deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and co-founder of In-Q-Tel.

By Marjorie Censer
April 5, 2021 at 8:53 AM

General Atomics said earlier this month it has acquired Commonwealth Computer Research, which specializes in software engineering and data analytics.

CCR, which is based in Charlottesville, VA and was founded in 1989, works with government and commercial customers.

General Atomics said the deal will help it more quickly provide actionable intelligence.

By Tony Bertuca
April 5, 2021 at 5:00 AM

Senior Pentagon officials are scheduled to speak during several virtual events this week.


FedInsider hosts a webinar with the Pentagon's deputy comptroller for enterprise data and business performance.

The Space Force Association hosts the 2021 Space Innovation Summit.


The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a virtual discussion on planning for the next National Security Strategy.

The Heritage Foundation holds a virtual discussion on nuclear deterrence.

The Atlantic Council hosts a virtual discussion on preventing nuclear proliferation and reassuring U.S. allies.


The Air Force Association hosts the Sustaining and Modernizing Ballistic Missile Operations Forum.

The National Defense Industrial Association and the Aerospace Industries Association hold a joint webinar on industrial security.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a virtual discussion on the development of counter-space weapons.

The Intelligence and National Security Alliance holds its spring symposium.

By Tony Bertuca
April 2, 2021 at 5:40 PM

President Biden intends to nominate Ronald Moultrie to become under secretary of defense for intelligence and security, according to a White House announcement.

Moultrie, who served on Biden's Pentagon transition team, is currently president and CEO of Oceanus Security Strategies. He previously served as the National Security Agency's director of operations.

Moultrie, an Air Force veteran, also served in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and was a member of the CIA's senior intelligence service.

"Moultrie was a key principal on the Secretary of the Navy's Cybersecurity Readiness Review and subsequently led the creation of the department's digital roadmap focused on cybersecurity, data, and emerging technologies such as AI, 5G, and Quantum computing," according to the White House.

By Tony Bertuca
April 2, 2021 at 5:32 PM

President Biden intends to nominate Michael Brown, the director of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit, to be under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, according to a White House announcement.

Brown has led DIU since September 2018. He is the former CEO of cybersecurity firm Symantec, where he worked between 2014 and 2016.

In November 2016, Brown became a Presidential Innovation Fellow and co-authored an influential report examining China's technology transfer strategy. The report was cited in lawmakers' efforts to strengthen the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

If confirmed, Brown would be responsible for overseeing the Pentagon's largest acquisition programs, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Among other things, Brown would also be expected to oversee efforts to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base as contractors continue to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Sara Sirota
April 2, 2021 at 4:13 PM

The Air Force is preparing Agility Prime electric vertical takeoff-and-landing vehicles for use in austere environments and recently proved one can fly inside an HC-130J transport aircraft ahead of an upcoming military exercise.

A LIFT Aircraft-built eVTOL flew inside an HC-130J for the first time from Springfield, OH, to Austin, TX, in late March, according to a notice the Air Force released earlier this week. Service and company personnel had to reconfigure the vehicle so it would fit inside the transport aircraft and loaded it in within 40 minutes.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joseph Wruck with the 571th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron said he believes that time can be reduced to 15 minutes, according to the release. LIFT is also working to ensure the eVTOL can depart the HC-130J and be ready to fly in under two hours, according to Jace McGown, the company’s chief pilot.

These efforts help prove the vehicle’s utility for the Air Force’s agile combat employment (ACE) concept, which seeks capabilities with small logistical footprints for rapid operations in austere environments. The service is particularly interested in using eVTOLs for personnel recovery missions, the notice states.

AFWERX, an Air Force unit engaging innovative technology companies that oversees Agility Prime, will soon have the opportunity to evaluate these new vehicles in a military exercise for the first time. The program is set to bring eVTOLs to the next iteration of the 355th Wing’s Bushwhacker exercise this summer. These events specifically test ACE concepts.

In addition to personnel recovery, the 355th Wing is interested in exploring the eVTOL’s utility for resupply and other more in-depth future use cases, which will enhance “forward adaptive basing concepts by pushing capabilities closer to the fight,” according to the release.

“By doing this, we are furthering the rescue and attack capabilities as we look toward the future, because these are the next generation of flying platforms,” Air Force Maj. Brendan Gallagher, chief of weapons and tactics with the 563rd Rescue Group, said.

By Tony Bertuca
April 2, 2021 at 3:54 PM

President Biden intends to nominate Michael McCord to be Pentagon comptroller, a job he previously held during the Obama administration, Inside Defense has confirmed.

McCord's impending nomination was previously reported by Defense News.

McCord, who served as Defense Department comptroller from June 2014 to January 2017, served on Biden's Pentagon transition team. He also served on the 2018 National Defense Strategy Commission.

McCord would only be the fourth DOD nominee announced by the Biden administration.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks have both been confirmed, but Colin Kahl, nominated to be under secretary of defense for policy, is battling for confirmation.

By Sara Friedman
April 2, 2021 at 3:05 PM

The Defense Information Systems Agency is looking to determine if an upcoming broadband contract should contain Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification requirements and whether industry has capacity to achieve compliance with the Pentagon cyber program.

The procurement is for DISA's Inmarsat Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) and Global Xpress (GX) contract.

"The United States Space Force Commercial Satellite Communications Office (CSCO) has nominated this procurement for the Department of Defense CMMC Pilot Program," DISA said in amendment to a request for information released Wednesday. "CMMC Level 3 certification will be required of the apparent awardee, prior to award, for this procurement."

The Pentagon acquisition chief's office is working with the services and agencies to determine potential CMMC pilot contracts for fiscal year 2021. The first solicitations with CMMC requirements are expected in April or May.

DISA wants details on compliance in the RFI and is not asking industry if they can meet the CMMC requirements now. The Defense Contract Management Agency is still working on audits of certified third-party assessment organizations who will be able to complete assessments of contractors for CMMC compliance.

DISA is asking for details on the "ability" of firms to "achieve CMMC Level 3 certification" based on requirements in a DOD acquisition rule implementing CMMC that went into effect on Nov. 30.

"Certification, a pre-award activity, is achieved by passing a CMMC (Level 3 for BGAN) assessment conducted by an authorized CMMC Third Party Assessment Organization (C3PAO)," the notice states. DISA also outlines requirements for contractors to self-assess compliance with NIST 800-171, reporting details on that assessment to DOD, and "a contractor's preparation for compliance with the requirements of [Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement] clause 252.204-7021, Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Requirement."

The RFI continues: "DFARS clause 252.204-7021 includes the link to the official Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition & Sustainment (OUSD(A&S)) CMMC website, The 'CMMC Model and Assessment Guides' tab includes the CMMC Level 3 Assessment Guide that details the scope and requirements for CMMC Level 3 (which will apply to this procurement)."

DISA also outlines requirements for the C3PAO assessment: "To be eligible for award, offeror is responsible for contracting with an authorized C3PAO to support a CMMC assessment for the required CMMC Level certification."

The RFI directs interested bidders to the CMMC Accreditation Body marketplace to find "authorized C3PAOs and CMMC assessors" and notes that "C3PAOs authorized to conduct CMMC assessments will be designated as such on the AB site by June 2021."

The CMMC-AB has conditionally approved 98 C3PAOs who will be able to conduct assessments, but C3PAOs must be certified by DCMA for CMMC level three before they can start working with contractors on their audits.

The RFI encourages vendors who are interested in the contract "to complete a self-assessment based on CMMC Assessment Guides." While there is no self-certification for CMMC according to the RFI, DISA says, "DIB companies are encouraged to complete a self-assessment based on CMMC Assessment Guides prior to scheduling a CMMC assessment."

DISA's request for CMMC compliance details is an amendment to an RFI initially released in January. Interested parties need to respond to DISA by April 8.

The original RFI provides more details on the upcoming contract:

"The United States Space Force Commercial Satellite Communications Office (CSCO) acquires commercial satellite communications (COMSATCOM) services on behalf of mission partners in the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and other entities. CSCO is seeking information from resellers on current offerings and structures for Inmarsat broadband (including any services classified as legacy) and GX services.

"Current Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) with Inmarsat resellers for BGAN, fleet broadband (FBB), and swift broadband (SBB) services are structured in 25 Megabits (MB) and 75 MB of standard IP data allowance per month for annual subscriptions. These services are also combined with monthly and annual GX subscriptions.

"The Government is seeking information on capable resellers of BGAN and Land-based GX services, and their offering structures."

DOD is planning to issue up to 15 contracts with CMMC requirements in the first year of its pilot program which ends on Sept. 30.

By Sara Sirota
April 2, 2021 at 2:20 PM

An Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady last month performed the first in-flight test of DevSecOps capabilities from the Platform One enterprise services team.

Air Combat Command's U-2 Federal Laboratory oversaw the March 23 demonstration at Beale Air Force Base, CA, following 2020 achievements deploying an artificial intelligence pilot and the Kubernetes open-source platform on the Cold War-era spy plane.

The most recent flight test proves "the immediate return on investment seen by adopting DevSecOps methodologies for all software innovation," Air Force Chief Software Officer Nicolas Chaillan said in a press release announcing the event earlier this week. "It also shows that combining Platform One capability with other forward-thinking organizations is unequivocally instrumental in swiftly delivering utility to warfighters at the tactical edge."

ACC specifically deployed Platform One's "Big Bang" capability onto the U-2, the DevSecOps enterprise services team posted on social media Thursday. According to the Platform One website, "Big Bang" is an infrastructure-as-code or configuration-as-code package that helps Defense Department programs build a custom software factory for specific mission needs.

The flight test last month also proved the U-2 Federal Laboratory's success in bringing together development, acquisition and operational insight to deliver capabilities quickly, Maj. Raymond Tierney, the organization's director, said in the release.

He explained the lab was able to integrate the DevSecOps package just 12 days after the initial request, noting this work is an example of how his team is responding to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown's call to accelerate change.