The Insider

By Ashley Tressel
March 8, 2019 at 10:53 AM

The Army and Marine Corps are seeking an autonomous unmanned aircraft system for aerial resupply to regiments and brigade combat teams during future multidomain operations.

The Army's Sustainment Capabilities Development Integration Directorate will host an informational industry event March 26 to 28 at Ft. Lee, VA, for the Joint Tactical Autonomous Aerial Resupply System, according to a recent notice.

The notice states a potential system should include a common handheld ground monitoring and control station and should be able to transport 300 to 800 pounds. It should also be designed to integrate into current and future Army and Marine tactical command-and-control systems.

The services would want the first unit equipped with the "delivery drones" by fiscal year 2024.

By John Liang
March 8, 2019 at 9:58 AM

Here are the top four stories from this week's issue of Inside the Air Force:

1. As the Air Force works with the F-35 joint program office and prime contractor Lockheed Martin to re-architect the jet's Autonomic Logistics Information System, the service has been asked to consider other intervention opportunities that could lower the program's life-cycle sustainment costs.

Full story: Pentagon, JPO ask Air Force to consider additional F-35 software intervention efforts

2. The Air Force's fuel consumption decreased by 6.2 percent between fiscal years 2017 and 2018, but costs rose by $230 million during the same time frame, according to a service spokesman.

Full story: USAF reduced fuel consumption in FY-18, but costs grew by $230M

3. A February report from the Pentagon's top weapons tester highlighted several concerns about GPS III and IIIF testing simulators, claiming the program lacks sufficient resources to provide realistic threat testing. The Air Force said this week it disagrees with those conclusions.

Full story: Air Force disagrees with DOT&E assessment of GPS III, IIIF testing risks

4. ORLANDO, FL -- The Air Force confirmed Friday it has refused acceptance of two KC-46 tankers after foreign object debris was discovered on Boeing's production line.

Full story: KC-46 acceptance hold remains, Boeing to inspect tankers already delivered

By Tony Bertuca
March 7, 2019 at 4:53 PM

Ben FitzGerald, the Pentagon's former executive director of strategy, data, and design in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, is returning to the Center for a New American Security, according to an announcement from the Washington think tank.

FitzGerald left the Defense Department in January to become a partner in Lupa, a private investment firm.

While at the Pentagon, FitzGerald worked to disestablish the Office of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and split it into the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Development.

Prior to working at the Pentagon, FitzGerald was a professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Before that, he ran a technology and national security program at CNAS.

"We're thrilled to welcome Ben back to the team," CNAS Defense Program Director Elbridge Colby said in a press release. "He is a pioneering leader in the intersection of defense, technology, and acquisition, and will bring a vital and creative perspective to our work."

FitzGerald is rejoining CNAS as an adjunct fellow.

By Courtney Albon
March 7, 2019 at 4:38 PM

U.S. Transportation Command has requested the Air Force slow down its retirement plan for the KC-135 tanker to account for KC-46 delivery delays, the general in charge of the command told lawmakers this week.

In a March 5 hearing, Gen. Stephen Lyons told the Senate Armed Services Committee that adjusting the legacy tanker's planned divestiture is a “key issue” to maintaining operational capacity during the transition to the KC-46.

“The intent is to retain 28 weapon systems beyond their currently scheduled retirement,” Lyons said, noting that the Pentagon's fiscal year 2020 budget release will provide more details on those plans.

Speaking to the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee March 7, Lyons said he is discussing with the Air Force the possibility of KC-135 modernization or service-life extension efforts. The average age of a KC-135 is 57 years, and Lyons noted that the tanker will likely remain in the fleet another 20 years.

The Air Force told lawmakers last year it was also considering a change to planned KC-10 retirements, also as a result of the KC-46 delivery delay. The service had originally expected the first 18 Boeing-made tankers would be delivered in August 2017. The service approved the first two KC-46s for delivery in January.

The service announced last week it has placed a hold on accepting new tanker deliveries after foreign object debris was found discovered on Boeing's production line.

By Ashley Tressel
March 7, 2019 at 2:39 PM

The Army intends to use a cooperative research and development agreement to obtain 50 mm ammunition for testing in support of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle.

The director of the Army's new Maneuver Requirements Division under Futures Command told Inside Defense last week the service wants to develop “smart” ammunition that would make current rounds more lethal through precision or fusing, a pre-decisional goal as of now.

A Federal Business Opportunities notice posted last week lists three different types of ammunition the Army is looking for: a 50 mm High Explosive Air Burst-Tracer, “a tactical cartridge used to defeat personnel threats in the open, defilade and under the cover of urban structures;” a 50 mm Target Practice-Tracer to replicate the HEAB-T's ballistic flight; and a 50 mm Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot-Tracer, “a tactical cartridge used to defeat current and projected future peer armored materiel threats."

The MRD is working with the project manager for maneuver ammunition systems on the effort.

The notice states proposed ammunition must be compatible with the XM913 cannon.

By John Liang
March 7, 2019 at 2:34 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's GPS program, NAVSEA being reorganized and more.

The Air Force is disagreeing with the Pentagon's latest operational test and evaluation report regarding the GPS III system:

Air Force disagrees with DOT&E assessment of GPS III, IIIF testing risks

A February report from the Pentagon's top weapons tester highlighted several concerns about GPS III and IIIF testing simulators, claiming the program lacks sufficient resources to provide realistic threat testing. The Air Force said this week it disagrees with those conclusions.

The Navy has a new program office:

Navy standing up PEO Columbia

The Navy this month will stand up Program Executive Office Columbia as a way to ensure the service's stated No. 1 acquisition priority has a senior officer dedicated to monitoring its progress.

In related news, Naval Sea Systems Command has been reorganized:

Standing up new PEO only one of multiple personnel swaps planned at NAVSEA

While standing up Program Executive Office Columbia, the Navy is also shifting roughly a dozen uniformed and civilian personnel among acquisition leadership posts overseeing the surface and subsurface fleets.

The Air Force used less fuel last year but wound up spending more for it:

USAF reduced fuel consumption in FY-18, but costs grew by $230M

The Air Force's fuel consumption decreased by 6.2 percent between fiscal years 2017 and 2018, but costs rose by $230 million during the same time frame, according to a service spokesman.

The Air Force won't say no if Congress provides funding for more F-15 fighter aircraft:

Air Force officials make case for F-15X buy while confirming they didn't ask for it

Air Force officials recently confirmed that the service's original fiscal year 2020 budget submission did not request funding to buy new F-15X aircraft, while also claiming that buying the fourth-generation aircraft may be the most cost-effective way to boost the service's fighter inventory in the near term.

A new Government Accountability Office report looks at the Pentagon's Cyber Mission Force:

GAO finds Pentagon sacrificed readiness in rush to build up Cyber Mission Force

U.S. Cyber Mission Force teams have "generally low" readiness levels, as senior Defense Department leaders prioritized completing the build-up of the force to meet a self-imposed deadline rather than sufficiently training the teams, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Is the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad still needed? Some House authorizers don't think so:

House Armed Services Committee tees up debate on nuclear modernization spending

Democrats and Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee this week offered a glimpse into the latest debate brewing over U.S. nuclear weapons, with Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) saying he does not believe the intercontinental ballistic missile leg of the triad is necessary to deter Russia and China.

Raytheon is now back in a competition to build a tactical hypersonic missile:

DOD pulls Raytheon back into competition against Lockheed for tactical hypersonic weapon

The Defense Department has re-opened a competitive project in its expanding efforts to develop an arsenal of hypersonic weapons, pulling Raytheon back into a program launched in 2015 to go head-to-head against Lockheed Martin in an effort to develop a tactical-range, hypersonic boost-glide weapon that could be air-launched -- and possibly also fired from a ship.

Here's some news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Software industry presses lawmakers to address supply-chain risks in upcoming defense bill

The software industry is urging the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees to address supply-chain risks in drafting the upcoming defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2020, indicating concerns that ongoing efforts to cleanse the system of foreign influences and other vulnerabilities could run counter to the global nature of the tech sector.

By Marjorie Censer
March 7, 2019 at 1:34 PM

Lockheed Martin's chief financial officer said today he remains optimistic about reaching resolution on a controversial Pentagon proposal on progress payments issued last year, but noted "we're going to be talking about this for a while."

The Defense Department last year published a rule seeking to reduce customary progress payments for large businesses. DOD said the rule was implementing Section 831 of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which called for a preference for performance-based payments.

However, the defense industry argued the change would disrupt contractors' cash flow plans and force them to reduce investments in research and development, and the proposal was eventually rescinded.

Speaking at a J.P. Morgan conference today, Kenneth Possenriede said the Aerospace Industries Association as well as Lockheed Martin and its competitors have met with the Pentagon on the issue.

"I think we're going to be talking about this for a while, but we're hopeful we'll be able to get to a happy medium that's fair for the government and fair for industry," he said.

By Justin Doubleday
March 7, 2019 at 11:14 AM

The Pentagon has initiated the transfer of the National Background Investigation Service program and other security clearance functions to the Defense Security Service, according to the Defense Information Systems Agency.

David Norquist, performing the duties of the deputy defense secretary, directed the shift in a Jan. 28 memo, DISA announced today. The memo directs the transfer of the NBIS program executive office, the Defense Department Consolidated Adjudication Facility (CAF) and 12 Joint Service Provider personnel supporting the CAF.

The realignment follows direction in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to transfer DOD-specific background investigation functions to DSS. Meanwhile, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order directing the entire federal background investigation mission to shift from the Office of Personnel Management to DOD.

DSS is central to the realignment and is expected to absorb several federal entities as the personnel vetting mission shifts and is modernized at the same time. The realignment is underway as the federal government continues its effort to trim the background investigations backlog and reduce the time it takes to process security clearance applications.

According to DISA, the DOD CAF will shift to DSS no later than Oct. 1, which is also the deadline for DOD to take on all military-specific background investigations. The CAF determines the eligibility of non-intelligence agency DOD personnel to access sensitive materiel and currently resides under the Washington Headquarters Service.

Meanwhile, the NBIS program executive office -- about 40 personnel -- will shift from DISA to DSS no later than Oct. 1, 2020, according to the DISA announcement. The NBIS will serve as the IT backbone for the background investigations mission by integrating several systems, including DOD's continuous evaluation program.

DISA was directed to build a new IT system for the background investigations mission in 2016 after the devastating hack into the legacy OPM system. In addition to better cybersecurity, one of the key goals of the NBIS program is to integrate and analyze data so the government can more quickly and continuously assess the trust of security clearance applicants and holders.

By John Liang
March 7, 2019 at 9:59 AM

Some must-reads from this week's issue of Inside the Pentagon:

1. The Defense Department has re-opened a competitive project in its expanding efforts to develop an arsenal of hypersonic weapons, pulling Raytheon back into a program launched in 2015 to go head-to-head against Lockheed Martin in an effort to develop a tactical-range, hypersonic boost-glide weapon that could be air-launched -- and possibly also fired from a ship.

Full story: DOD pulls Raytheon back into competition against Lockheed for tactical hypersonic weapon

2. Democrats and Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee today offered a glimpse into the latest debate brewing over U.S. nuclear weapons, with Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) saying he does not believe the intercontinental ballistic missile leg of the triad is necessary to deter Russia and China.

Full story: House authorizers begin debate on nuclear modernization spending

3. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) tried today to be more supportive of acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan than he has been in the past, but said he wishes former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis would return to the Pentagon.

Full story: Inhofe supports plan to 'backfill' MILCON funds tapped for wall

4. The Pentagon estimates it will cost about $2 billion over the next five years to stand up a Space Force, including $72 million in fiscal year 2020 for a new headquarters, according to a strategic overview document that will accompany the Defense Department's forthcoming legislative proposal.

Full story: Pentagon estimates new Space Force will cost $2 billion over five years

By Ashley Tressel
March 6, 2019 at 4:16 PM

The Army has approved an acquisition strategy for the Infantry Squad Vehicle, a new lightweight, air-transportable platform the service wants to develop.

The Army plans to acquire 651 vehicles over the next five fiscal years: 17 in FY-20, 118 in FY-21, 177 in FY-22, 177 in FY-23 and 162 in FY-24, according to a notice posted last week.

The service informed industry in September it had a potential acquisition objective of 2,065 vehicles.

The ISV is intended for use by a nine-soldier infantry squad moving within "the close battle area."

The product lead for Ground Mobility Vehicles will release a draft request for prototype proposals March 29, hold an industry day April 11 and release a final RPP April 18, according to the current plan.

The Army on Aug. 29 will award prototype contracts to up to three vendors for delivery of two vehicles each on Nov.1. The service will then award one vendor a production award March 31, 2020.

By Ashley Tressel
March 6, 2019 at 3:05 PM

The Army is conducting market research for a medium-caliber weapon system for the Stryker combat vehicle and will hold an industry day this month for the pre-decisional program.

The program management office for Stryker brigade combat teams will host an informational event March 13 at Detroit Arsenal in Warren, MI, joined by the Maneuver Center of Excellence and the Ground Vehicle Systems Center, to "brief the draft Stryker MCWS program plan," according to a recent notice.

Army officials at the event will provide details on "high-level requirements" for the potential weapon system's lethality, mobility, protection, transportability, sustainability, energy and cybersecurity.

By Marjorie Censer
March 6, 2019 at 3:01 PM

General Dynamics said today its board of directors has elected retired Navy Adm. Cecil Haney to serve as a director, effective immediately.

Haney "previously served as commander of the United States Strategic Command, where he was responsible for the global command and control of U.S. strategic forces including nuclear forces, missile defense, space, cyberspace and electronic warfare," the company said.

He also was commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet. Haney retired from the Navy in 2017.

By John Liang
March 6, 2019 at 2:02 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on unspent DOD funds, services contractors turning to supplying actual, physical products to the Pentagon, the Joint Strike Fighter program and more.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a longtime critic of defense spending, has made cutting the defense budget a central focus of his 2020 presidential campaign:

DOD draws fire from Sanders for returning $80B in funding between FY-13 and FY-18

The Government Accountability Office recently found that the Pentagon has returned more than $80 billion in canceled funds to the U.S. Treasury since fiscal year 2013, drawing criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who says the unspent cash raises questions about defense budgets that continue to climb year after year.

Services contractors are more and more looking into building actual, physical products for the Defense Department:

Services contractors look to product expansion for growth

Several services contractors say they're increasingly turning to products as a way to boost growth and differentiate themselves in a crowded market.

The Air Force is working with Lockheed and the JPO on an ALIS re-architecture project dubbed Mad Hatter:

Pentagon, JPO ask Air Force to consider additional F-35 software intervention efforts

As the Air Force works with the F-35 joint program office and prime contractor Lockheed Martin to re-architect the jet's Autonomic Logistics Information System, the service has been asked to consider other intervention opportunities that could lower the program's life-cycle sustainment costs.

Navy acquisition executive Hondo Geurts notified Congress earlier this year the service will contract out the "engineered overhauls" for the attack submarines Hartford (SSN-768) and Montpelier (SSN-765) in fiscal year 2020 and FY-21, respectively:

Navy will redirect two SSN maintenance availabilities from public shipyards to private sector

Citing the years-long delays plaguing the attack submarine Boise (SSN-764), the Navy has opted to divert scheduled maintenance for two other subs from public shipyards to the private sector, according to documents viewed by Inside the Navy.

The Air Force recently issued a memo that implements new Defense Department energy management policies established in a November 2016 Air Force policy directive:

New Air Force instruction presents operational energy guidelines for acquisition process

An Air Force instruction published last month mandates the use of energy-specific key performance parameters and supportability analyses for new acquisition programs.

Document: Air Force instruction on operational energy guidelines

The chief of U.S. Transportation Command testified this week before the Senate Armed Services Committee:

TRANSCOM chief highlights tanker shortfall despite conflicting MCRS findings

The head of U.S. Transportation Command told lawmakers today the Defense Department predicts it will need to grow its mobility capacity, particularly its tanker fleet, in the near term, despite the findings of a recent Mobility Capabilities and Requirements Study that validated the current fleet size.

News from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Lawyers say acquisition rule will drive cybersecurity beyond vendor community

Leading industry lawyers on data privacy and security requirements say an upcoming federal acquisition rule will affect industries beyond contractors by extending strict controls currently used by the Defense Department to all federal agencies.

Some defense news from our colleagues at Inside U.S. Trade:

Commerce initiates Section 232 probe into titanium sponge imports

The Commerce Department on Monday initiated a Section 232 investigation into titanium sponge imports, the fifth national security-based trade probe initiated by the Trump administration.

By Justin Doubleday
March 6, 2019 at 12:11 PM

A Reagan Institute task force comprised of lawmakers, former defense officials and industry executives is set to examine the "national security innovation base" and what the United States needs to achieve technologically to prevail in great power competition.

The "Task Force on 21st Century National Security Technology and Workforce," announced by the Reagan Institute last month, will look beyond the traditional defense industry to the future technologies and workforces critical to U.S. national security, according to institute Director Roger Zakheim.

The Trump administration's National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy both highlight the importance of the "national security innovation base," but neither document offers a detailed definition, Zakheim noted in a call with reporters today.

"It's not entirely clear what belongs within that national security innovation base," Zakheim said. "It seems to be kind of a layer above the defense industrial base or outside the traditional defense industrial base, but [at the] same time, it's highly relevant and related to it."

The commission will be co-chaired by former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), now a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and former Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Zakheim said he hopes the panel will delve into technology areas like hypersonic vehicles, artificial intelligence and 5G. He said the panel will explore why they are important to the future of U.S. national security and what the United States needs to do to stay ahead of competitor nations like China.

"The question we have here is, within the technological environment, where are we vis-a-vis our competitors, and maybe we need to prioritize a little bit across these technologies," he said. "There are some that come up in the press all the time. Is that a reflection of priorities, or are others out there that are equally or perhaps even more important, that are under-reported or not discussed?"

Rachel Hoff, policy director at the Reagan Institute, said the commission would also "zoom out" and compare the United States' approach to technological innovation with that of China and other competitors.

"Our different approaches, our different systems, our different ways of thinking about technological advancements and deployments themselves are worthy of consideration," Hoff said. "And we need to make sure we're understanding that as we try to lean into our own advantages and exploit the weaknesses of our competitors."

The commission will begin meeting within the next month and aims to produce a final report with recommendations by the time the 2019 Reagan National Defense Forum is held in early December.

In addition to Talent and Work, the commission includes Textron Chief Executive Officer Lisa Atherton, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), former Senate Armed Services Committee Staff Director Christian Brose, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Rep. Stephanie Murphey (D-FL), Qualcomm General Counsel Donald Rosenberg, former deputy national security adviser Nadia Schadlow, former Defense Innovation Unit chief Raj Shah and former State Department official Matthew Waxman.

By Marjorie Censer
March 6, 2019 at 11:25 AM

AeroVironment said it has not yet received government approval to sell its Switchblade tactical missile system to foreign nations, but remains “optimistic that we will be able to achieve that sometime in the near future.”

Speaking to analysts this week, Wahid Nawabi, the company's chief executive, said AeroVironment sees a significant opportunity internationally for the system.

"We have been a believer of that in the past; we continue to be a believer in that today," he said. "We are also very aggressively working that with both our international potential interested customers as well as with the U.S. Department of State and other agencies that influence this process."

However, he said the company has not yet received final approval.

"But that does not mean that it's not achievable. We still feel very strongly that it's a matter of when versus if," Nawabi said. "The process is pretty long and, knowing that this is a very differentiated, innovative capability obviously our U.S. government, rightfully so, is being very careful in assessing it and granting the export license."

Meanwhile, AeroVironment reported this week sales in its most recent quarter reached $75.3 million, up 38 percent from the same three-month period the prior year. The company's quarterly profit hit $8.4 million, up from a $776,000 loss a year earlier.