The Insider

By John Liang
September 16, 2022 at 1:45 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on efforts to renew the Small Business Innovation Research program, Navy Littoral Combat Ships, Marine Corps unmanned systems and more.

We start off with a deep dive into the government's effort to renew the Small Business Innovation Research program and its effects on the defense industry:

SBIR faces down-to-the-wire program reauthorization

With two weeks remaining until the Small Business Innovation Research effort is set to expire, congressional negotiations surrounding a potential standalone reauthorization plan -- characterized by a keen interest in front-end changes to the decades-old program -- are getting down to the wire.

Navy and Marine Corps news:

Navy: LCS mission package funding not 'hull-specific'

Despite the Navy's proposed early retirement of nine Littoral Combat Ships, the program's mission packages, aimed to provide modularity and flexibility for the ship class, are not dependent on the number of LCS in the fleet.

Berger: Marine Corps pressing forward with unmanned systems

The Marine Corps is rapidly pressing forward with the development of unmanned systems for use in the air, on the ground and both above and below the water's surface, according to the service's commandant.

Pointing to how the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the vital role of commercial platforms, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said during an Intelligence & National Security Summit event this week that DOD is exploring ways to shield companies from threats as the line between private and government systems blurs:

DOD considering indemnification for commercial space vendors, officials say

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- As the United States increasingly leverages commercial space capabilities to support national security objectives, the Defense Department is considering steps to indemnify private space vendors due to risks to their systems, according to top officials.

Defense Department acquisition chief Bill LaPlante spoke at a Defense Scoop conference this week:

LaPlante: DOD has budgeted for 'tens' of production-level hypersonic weapons

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante said today the Defense Department's future-years budget plan has a "wedge" to purchase production-level hypersonic weapons.

Air Force Deputy Chief Information Officer Winston Beauchamp outlined a timeline this week for integrating the Advanced Battle Management System:

Air Force poised to release ABMS model to industry next week

Air Force officials are planning to release a model next week to help guide industry involvement in the service's push to connect its sensors and shooters through the Advanced Battle Management System program.

By Tony Bertuca
September 16, 2022 at 10:44 AM

The Defense Department announced another military aid package for Ukraine, this time valued at $600 million to include additional ammunition for long-range artillery, counter-drone systems, mine-clearing equipment and more.

The package, being sent via presidential “drawdown” authority, marks the 21st time the Biden administration has transferred equipment to Ukraine from U.S. stocks since August 2021.

Capabilities in the package include:

- Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS)

- 36,000 105 mm artillery rounds

- 1,000 precision-guided 155 mm artillery rounds

- Four counter-artillery radars

- Four trucks and eight trailers to transport heavy equipment

- Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems

- Mine clearing equipment

- Claymore anti-personnel munitions

- Demolition munitions and equipment

- Small arms and ammunition

- Night vision devices, cold weather gear, and other field equipment

In total, the United States has committed approximately $15.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, according to DOD.

By John Liang
September 16, 2022 at 10:35 AM

Inside Defense earlier this week learned that the Air Force has been quietly carrying out a fleetwide hardware fix for the F-22 Raptor after the aircraft logged several incidents due to a significant problem with the fighter’s dual F119 engines.

The issue has racked up nearly $23 million in damages for the service stemming from seven Class A engine mishaps -- the Defense Department's most serious accident classification -- that spanned nearly a decade and prompted a retrofit effort beginning in 2019 that is slated to finish next year.

That story is now available to all. Read it here.

By John Liang
September 15, 2022 at 2:11 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Australia buying Triton unmanned aerial vehicles, low-earth orbit satellite launch delays and more.

Australia's first MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle was unveiled yesterday:

U.S., Australia considering shared maintenance for Triton, details yet to be decided

Australia's purchase of the Triton unmanned aerial vehicle has opened the door for the U.S. Navy to possibly have a maintenance repair facility in the Western Pacific.

The Space Development Agency originally planned to launch the first of its Tranche 0 low-earth orbit satellites by late September, but that date has been pushed back to December:

First SDA Tranche 0 launch pushed to December

The Space Development Agency's planned launch later this month for its first low-earth orbit satellites has been postponed to December, according to SDA Director Derek Tournear, causing a minor setback for the agency's goal to deliver a proliferated architecture of low-earth orbit satellites that will serve as the backbone of the Defense Department's Joint All-Domain Command and Control effort.

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), a member of the House Armed Services seapower subcommittee and a former surface warfare officer, argued this week that the Defense Department's objectives must drive requirements:

Luria: OSD's topline process is roadblock to bigger Navy fleet

Amidst unclear targets for the Navy's fleet size, a House lawmaker cites the process of distributing the Defense Department's budget among the three services as a major hindrance for the Navy if it wants to build a bigger fleet.

The Missile Defense Agency recently announced Japan's Aegis System-Equipped Vessel (ASEV) successfully demonstrated a new variant of the software tailored to Japan's version of Aegis as part of Tokyo's effort to protect the island nation from North Korean ballistic missile attack:

MDA demonstrates SPY-7 linkage with new sea-based variant of Japan's former Aegis Ashore

The United States and Japan advanced a project to field a new ballistic missile defense capability by demonstrating improved software on a special variant of the Aegis system -- one slated for land deployment but now on a ship -- that integrated for the first time the SPY-7 radar, marking completion of a "majority of the development" effort.

In case you missed it, Inside Defense this week interviewed Bob Hale, a former Defense Department comptroller who serves as chairman of the Planning, Programming, Budget and Execution Reform Commission:

After slow start, work now underway at key DOD budget reform commission

A new commission charged with reforming the Pentagon's 1960s-era budget planning and programming process got off to a slow start this summer, but the group's chairman says members have been meeting for months and have made "significant progress," though a final report will be delayed.

By Tony Bertuca
September 15, 2022 at 10:11 AM

The Army has awarded a $311 million contract to Raytheon Missiles and Defense and Lockheed Martin for the delivery of more than 1,800 Javelin anti-tank systems to replenish those that have been sent from U.S. stocks to support Ukraine in its fight against an ongoing Russian invasion.

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante said in a statement that the award is a “great example of our continued commitment to strengthening our domestic industrial base while supporting our allies and partners.”

LaPlante said industry should expect to see “a strong, persistent demand signal” as the United States continues to replenish its weapons stocks.

The procurement is part of the Ukraine supplemental appropriation granted by Congress.

“This award demonstrates the Army’s ability to use the new authorities given to us by Congress to acquire critical capabilities for our Soldiers, allies, and partners rapidly and responsibly,” said Army acquisition chief Doug Bush.

The award was made to Raytheon and Lockheed’s Javelin Joint Venture, which the Pentagon says has produced more than 50,000 Javelin missiles and more than 12,000 reusable command launch units.

“Javelin is expected to remain in the U.S. weapon arsenal until 2050 and is subject to continual upgrades to support evolving operational needs,” the Pentagon said.

By John Liang
September 14, 2022 at 2:59 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on U.S.-Japanese missile defense cooperation efforts, reforming the Pentagon's budget process and more.

We start off with news on U.S. and Japanese missile defense cooperation:

MDA demonstrates SPY-7 linkage with new sea-based variant of Japan's former Aegis Ashore

The United States and Japan advanced a project to field a new ballistic missile defense capability by demonstrating improved software on a special variant of the Aegis system -- one slated for land deployment but now on a ship -- that integrated for the first time the SPY-7 radar, marking completion of a "majority of the development" effort.

Inside Defense this week interviewed Bob Hale, a former Defense Department comptroller who serves as chairman of the Planning, Programming, Budget and Execution Reform Commission:

After slow start, work now underway at key DOD budget reform commission

A new commission charged with reforming the Pentagon's 1960s-era budget planning and programming process got off to a slow start this summer, but the group's chairman says members have been meeting for months and have made "significant progress," though a final report will be delayed.

The former head of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit has been cleared of ethics charges by the Defense Department inspector general's office:

DOD IG clears ex-DIU head of 'improper personnel practices,' closes probe

The Defense Department inspector general has cleared the former head of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit and closed an ethics probe in the days after his departure from the small-budget outfit that aims to leverage commercial technologies for military use cases.

Air Force Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week on his nomination to be the next head of the Space Force:

Saltzman: U.S. will need offensive capabilities in space to deter adversaries

The United States will need offensive capabilities in space to deter potential adversaries from attacking orbital systems, Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman told the Senate Armed Services Committee today, as senators consider whether to confirm Saltzman as the Space Force's next chief of space operations and pin on him his fourth star.

Document: CSO nomination hearing

The new phase for DISA's Thunderdome program, which began in late August, is slated to last through the end of the calendar year and see the program through its recently extended pilot timeframe:

Thunderdome begins operational assessment, on track for 2023 fielding decision

The Defense Information Systems Agency's zero-trust security program has kicked off its operational assessment period as officials prepare for a 2023 fielding decision to scale up the capability.

By Nick Wilson
September 14, 2022 at 2:43 PM

An autonomous expeditionary fast transport ship successfully completed Navy acceptance trials, the final hurdle before delivery, according to a statement from shipbuilder Austal.

Apalachicola (EPF-13) passed a rigorous evaluation of its major systems and equipment to demonstrate mission readiness in accordance with Navy requirements, according to the Wednesday announcement.

Delivery of EPF-13 is expected by year’s end. It will become the 13th EPF to enter the fleet and will be the service’s largest operational autonomous ship.

“EPF-13 is the first Spearhead-class ship with capabilities for V-22 Osprey flight operations and enhanced medical support. It is also the Navy’s largest ship with the capability to be an unmanned surface vessel,” said Austal vice president of new construction programs Dave Growden, in the statement.

EPF-13 can function as a manned vessel, but is designed to operate without a crew for up to 30 days. The vessel has gone to sea five times over the past few months for testing of both traditional and autonomous systems.

Modifications to enable autonomous operation include “installation of a perception and situation awareness suite, an autonomy controller, an autonomous machinery control system, and automation enhancements to the machinery plant improving hull, mechanical and electrical reliability,” the announcement states.

In April, Inside Defense reported that Austal was upgrading the propulsion and mechanical systems of EPF-13 to allow autonomous operation.

The company has also worked to upgrade future EPF ships to possess Flight II capabilities: enhanced medical capability and an altered flight deck to support the MV-22 Osprey.

Austal holds contracts for three additional EPFs and has begun construction of the first two.

By John Liang
September 13, 2022 at 1:58 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Defense Information Systems Agency's zero-trust security program, the defense industry's concerns about inflation and more.

The new phase for DISA's Thunderdome program, which began in late August, is slated to last through the end of the calendar year and see the program through its recently extended pilot timeframe:

Thunderdome begins operational assessment, on track for 2023 fielding decision

The Defense Information Systems Agency's zero-trust security program has kicked off its operational assessment period as officials prepare for a 2023 fielding decision to scale up the capability.

A new National Defense Industrial Association white paper's key assertion is that the total inflation loss for DOD between FY-21 and FY-23 is over $110 billion:

Defense business groups push for new CR spending to account for inflation

Key defense business associations are urging Congress to pass a stopgap continuing resolution that increases funding for the Pentagon, thereby alleviating inflation-related stress for defense contractors and their suppliers.

The latest on Joint Strike Fighter performance-based logistics:

Lockheed, F-35 JPO hope to have PBL in place by January 2024

Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office are targeting January 2024 as an effective date for a Joint Strike Fighter performance-based logistics agreement, a deal that the airframe prime contractor has spent recent years working toward.

A new report published this week calls on officials to embrace tech competition and move "from reactive and defensive to strong and agenda-setting" -- a shift the document states is especially crucial going into the last half of the decade to out-maneuver China:

Report cites need for 'coherent' AI strategy to bolster U.S. tech competitiveness

Pushing for the implementation of a national strategy, artificial intelligence governance plan and other policy changes to drive emerging capability development, a new report from the Special Competitive Studies Project urges immediate action to ensure the U.S. sets itself up to dominate the critical technology space.

Document: SCSP's 'national competitiveness' report

An engine problem with the Air Force's F-22 Raptor fighter has racked up nearly $23 million in damages for the service:

Undisclosed F-22 engine trouble prompted ongoing fleetwide hardware fix

The Air Force has been quietly carrying out a fleetwide hardware fix for the F-22 Raptor after the aircraft logged several incidents due to a significant problem with the fighter's dual F119 engines, Inside Defense has learned.

By Nick Wilson
September 12, 2022 at 1:40 PM

The Navy will take part in an upcoming industry event focused on information warfare research technologies that may be the basis for future Requests for Prototype Projects (RPPs).

According to a presolicitation announcement published by the Navy Friday, the Information Warfare Research Project 2 industry day will take place on Oct. 19 at the Charleston Gaillard Center in South Carolina.

Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, as well as Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic and NIWC Pacific will attend.

One potential prototype topic slated for discussion is a Tactical Edge Multi-link Antenna Solution -- a prototype to provide “the minimal amount of antenna apertures to connect to various communications links to optimize Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) requirements at the tactical edge,” the announcement states.

Another possible opportunity is a language processing prototype that would provide natural language processing capabilities to Marine Corps analysts examining large volumes of daily report traffic data.

The Navy will also present two what are termed “Pre-Solicitation Collaborations” at the event.

The first, Project Tarkin, is a software system intended to provide electronic warfare capabilities across multiple platforms.

The second, Dynamic Satellite Communications Management and Control, would help allocate communication resources and graphically present operational information.

By John Liang
September 12, 2022 at 1:32 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's work to fix an engine problem with the F-22 Raptor fighter, the Pentagon's inflation relief efforts and more.

An engine problem with the Air Force's F-22 Raptor fighter has racked up nearly $23 million in damages for the service stemming from seven Class A mishaps -- the Defense Department's most serious accident classification -- that spanned nearly a decade and prompted a retrofit effort beginning in 2019 that is slated to finish next year:

Undisclosed F-22 engine trouble prompted ongoing fleetwide hardware fix

The Air Force has been quietly carrying out a fleetwide hardware fix for the F-22 Raptor after the aircraft logged several incidents due to a significant problem with the fighter's dual F119 engines, Inside Defense has learned.

John Tenaglia, principal director of defense pricing and contracting, late last week issued a memo on inflation:

DOD sees potential inflation relief for contractors under 'extraordinary circumstances'

The Defense Department is open to considering inflation relief for defense contractors working under firm, fixed-price contracts in "extraordinary circumstances," according to a new guidance memo released by the Pentagon pricing chief.

Document: DOD memo on inflation

An upcoming meeting of national armaments directors will allow officials to "compare notes" on several key areas, including how to best ramp up production of weapons deemed most necessary to help Ukraine defend itself against an ongoing Russian military invasion:

LaPlante to chair senior weapons chief meeting in Brussels

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante will be in Brussels on Sept. 28 to chair a multinational meeting of dozens of national armaments directors seeking to support sustained military aid to Ukraine, as well as increased weapon system compatibility.

A long-standing plan to buy 1,763 conventional-takeoff-and-landing F-35 Joint Strike Fighter variants could be adjusted downward:

DOD may trim total size of planned F-35 fleet to finance new modernization initiative

The Defense Department, which for 20 years has treated the acquisition objective for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as sacrosanct, is now contemplating curtailing future purchases to offset new fleet modernization initiatives, possibly signaling a new era where program cost growth will be borne by the project instead of budget topline increases.

A new report on Ligado Networks' 5G wireless network is out:

Ligado network could interfere with DOD and commercial systems, NAS report says

A review by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine of the 5G wireless network soon to be deployed by satellite company Ligado Networks found that the portion of the radio frequency spectrum the company is set to operate in could interfere with some commercial and Defense Department systems, according to a report released by NAS.

By John Liang
September 12, 2022 at 12:10 PM

The National Defense Industrial Association has hired Jennifer Stewart to be executive vice president for strategy and policy, according to a statement released today.

Prior to NDIA, Stewart served as both the majority and minority staff director of the House Armed Services Committee. Before that, she was a senior adviser to then-Gen. Joseph Dunford during his first term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Stewart's tenure at NDIA will begin Sept. 26, according to the announcement.

By Michael Marrow
September 12, 2022 at 11:00 AM

(Editor's Note: This story has been updated with a statement from Pratt & Whitney.)

General Electric and the Air Force have completed testing for the company's second Adaptive Engine Transition Program prototype, marking the end of GE's current AETP efforts as the Air Force weighs whether to move forward with the program, the company announced in a press release today.

Called the XA100, the engine is GE’s offer for an upgrade to the Air Force’s F-35A. The engine includes features such as the ability to transition between a fuel-efficient flight mode to a high-thrust combat setting, known as an adaptive engine, and improved thermal management.

"This is the culmination of more than a decade of methodical risk reduction and testing GE has completed with the Air Force across three different adaptive cycle engine programs," GE Edison Works' Vice President and General Manager for Advanced Products David Tweedie said in the release.

"The engine performance data we gathered at AEDC continued to show the XA100's transformational capability, while also demonstrating a return on substantial Air Force and taxpayer investment. We now stand ready to transition to an Engineering and Manufacturing Development program and bring this engine to the field with the F-35 before the end of this decade."

GE received an AETP contract in June 2016 alongside rival engine maker Pratt & Whitney, the manufacturer for the Air Force’s current F135 engine.

The two companies have since been developing AETP prototypes designed to fit into the Air Force’s F-35A, though the F-35 Joint Program Office has also explored the feasibility of a “tri-variant” engine solution that would be viable across the entire F-35 fleet as it considers a business case assessment for propulsion modernization, Inside Defense previously reported.

A new suite of capabilities brought on by the F-35’s Block 4 upgrades will require greater power and cooling than current engines can provide. In response, GE is backing a follow-on engine for the F-35, touting the XA100 as a contender.

Pratt has also developed two AETP prototypes called the XA101, but the company supports an alternative approach that will gradually upgrade the F-35’s existing F135 engine through two Enhanced Engine Packages.

"XA101 testing remains on track and aligned with the U.S. Air Force’s AETP development timeline,” a Pratt spokesman said in a statement to Inside Defense.

"P&W’s block upgrade to the F135, known as the Enhanced Engine Package (EEP), delivers the fastest, most cost efficient, lowest risk path to fully enabled Block 4 capability for all F-35 operators, while saving taxpayers $40 billion in lifecycle costs and building upon a combat-tested architecture with more than one million flight hours of dependable operation," he added.

Air Force officials have yet to determine whether the service will pursue a follow-on engine, though service Secretary Frank Kendall recently indicated officials plan to decide in time for the filing of the fiscal year 2024 budget request.

John Sneden, the Air Force’s propulsion chief, told reporters at the service's Life Cycle Industry days in August that AETP’s future hinges on whether the service pursues a new engine for the F-35.

If the Air Force chooses to upgrade the existing engine, AETP will not transition into the EMD phase, Sneden said.

Regardless of the program’s fate, Sneden said in an interview with Inside Defense that AETP will serve as the “baseline” for the service’s Next Generation Adaptive Propulsion program, which is designing an engine planned to fit in with any future Next Generation Air Dominance platform.

By Tony Bertuca
September 12, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at several conferences this week and to appear on Capitol Hill.

Tuesday

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing to consider the nomination of Lt. Gen. Bradley Saltzman to be general and Chief of Space Operations.

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion with former Defense Innovation Unit Director Michael Brown.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on ways the Defense Department could benefit from advances in genomic manipulation.

GovExec holds a digital "Securing the Air Force" event.

Wednesday

The Atlantic Council holds an online "Space Traffic Management: Time for Action" event featuring senior Space Force officials.

Thursday

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing to consider the nomination of Gen. Anthony Cotton to be chief of U.S. Strategic Command.

Defense Scoop hosts its Defense Talks conference.

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on the one-year anniversary of the AUKUS alliance.

AFCEA holds an Intelligence and National Security Summit that runs through Friday.

Friday

The Center for a New American Security hosts a discussion on Russia in the Arctic.

By John Liang
September 9, 2022 at 2:14 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Navy unmanned aerial systems, Pentagon efforts to reform the foreign military sales process, 5G networks and more.

Inside Defense this week interviewed Navy Rear Adm. Stephen Tedford, Navy program executive officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons:

Navy eyes Stingray for future carrier-based unmanned aviation

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, MD -- The Navy is working to expand its use of unmanned aviation, aiming to change the look of its aircraft carriers where more than four out of every 10 aircraft would be unmanned.

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Bill LaPlante, who spoke this week at a Defense News conference, confirmed reports that there is a special "tiger team" reporting to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on ways to reform the foreign military sales system:

Senior DOD officials mobilize to reform FMS process with eyes on Taiwan

Senior defense officials say they are working on ways to accelerate foreign military sales, including the Pentagon acquisition chief, who says now is a "golden opportunity" to reform the notoriously bureaucratic system, especially if the administration can focus its efforts around equipping Taiwan.

A new report on Ligado Networks' 5G wireless network is out:

Ligado network could interfere with DOD and commercial systems, NAS report says

A review by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine of the 5G wireless network soon to be deployed by satellite company Ligado Networks found that the portion of the radio frequency spectrum the company is set to operate in could interfere with some commercial and Defense Department systems, according to a report released by NAS today.

During a recent test, Lockheed Martin and AT&T used the latter company's private cellular network to transfer data from a Black Hawk Integrated Vehicle Health Management System to Lockheed's 5G.MIL network:

Lockheed Martin and AT&T partner on 5G Black Hawk test

Lockheed Martin and AT&T used both companies' 5G networks to rapidly transport Black Hawk flight data from an aircraft in Connecticut to a testing site in Colorado during an Aug. 4 test, Lockheed Martin announced Friday.

A new Pentagon zero-trust strategy aims to create tiers defined by a required capability set:

DOD officials tease 'new and different' zero-trust strategy set to arrive this month

Top Defense Department officials say their forthcoming zero-trust strategy will represent a "new and different" approach that comes as the Pentagon works to implement a "targeted" enterprise-wide security framework within the next five years.

A new Defense Department directive "establishes policy and assigns responsibilities for DOD space-related activities in accordance with the National Space Policy, the U.S. Space Priorities Framework, the National Defense Strategy, the Defense Space Strategy, and U.S. law":

Pentagon publishes new space policy directive

The Defense Department this week published a new set of space policy guidelines that codifies norms and behaviors for the United States as the Biden administration seeks to maintain an edge in space while fostering international cooperation.

Document: DOD's space policy directive

By Michael Marrow
September 9, 2022 at 1:55 PM

The Space Force will hold an unclassified industry day on Sept. 29 for vendors interested in competing for the procurement contract for two new satellites for the military's Mobile User Objective System, according to an announcement posted by the service.

MUOS is the Pentagon’s narrowband satellite communications system operated by the Space Force that provides secure communications for mobile users in the ultra-high-frequency band. The service is seeking vendors to build two new satellites, called MUOS SV6 and SV7, to replenish the existing constellation of four satellites in geosynchronous orbit and extend the system’s service life.

Acquisition of the new satellites will be conducted in two phases, according to the announcement, and up to two vendors may be selected in the process.

The first phase will consist of an early satellite design and risk-reduction phase, the announcement says. The second will be a competition between phase 1 awardees for “final satellite design, production and delivery.”

The Space Force plans to issue a draft request for proposals early in the first quarter of fiscal year 2023, according to the report, which will be followed by a final RFP in 2Q FY-23.