The Insider

By Briana Reilly
July 21, 2021 at 3:30 PM

The Air Force Research Laboratory is considering employing a Systems Design Agent to facilitate development of its recently launched air-breathing hypersonics program, called "Mayhem," according to a recent notice.

The request for information, released earlier this month, seeks industry sources to pursue research and development for a multimission flight vehicle, which would be capable of carrying larger payloads over further distances than allowed under current hypersonic capabilities. The system would also have a modular weapons bay that could deliver multiple payload options, per the notice.

AFRL states its goal is to design the system to allow rapid technology insertion and lowered technical barriers for entry, as well as opportunities for a variety of industry partners to contribute. A potential way to achieve those objectives, according to the notice, is through an SDA, which oversees designs, prototypes and tests to ultimately produce a technical data package.

That SDA would be responsible for delivering a vehicle system, which would include an airframe, propulsion system, booster, avionics and vehicle subsystems, per the RFI. The SDA would be barred from later competing for any follow-on prototype system, though sub-contractors to the SDA would not be.

Unveiled in August 2020, the air-breathing hypersonics program was the second such effort the service launched in a span of a few months. The other is the Future Hypersonics Program, for which the service has selected Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies to develop a solid-rocket, scramjet-powered cruise missile. That missile could then be launched from fighter or bomber aircraft.

AFRL previously released an RFI for the program in August. That notice showed officials were considering a contracting structure with two indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity agreements, with one group focused on creating the propulsion system and another on designing the air vehicle. It also sought feedback on the use of other transaction agreements and more.

By Aidan Quigley
July 21, 2021 at 2:35 PM

A top Navy official said Wednesday two Littoral Combat Ships the service has proposed decommissioning could instead be sold to a foreign military or kept in some sort of reserve capability.

Vice Adm. James Kilby, the deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting capabilities and requirements, said during testimony before the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee that the Detroit (LCS-7) and Little Rock (LCS-9) might have a future.

"LCS . . . is a new platform, so there might be a future for those ships, either in foreign military sales or keeping them in some kind of reserve capability," Kilby said.

In its fiscal year 2022 budget, the Navy proposed decommissioning four Littoral Combat Ships, all of which have been in service less than 10 years. Along with the Detroit and Little Rock, the Navy proposed decommissioning the Fort Worth (LCS-3) and Coronado (LCS-4).

Kilby said while the Fort Worth and Coronado are being divested since "they were the initial version of the class," divesting Detroit and Little Rock is an affordability decision.

"Seven and 9, those are affordability decisions to drive the program where we need to have the most capable Navy we can produce for you," he said. "Seven and 9 are cost avoidance for a combining gear repair, a lethality upgrade and a survivability upgrade that have not been made on those ships."

House appropriators are making an effort to block the decommissionings of the Fort Worth, Detroit and Little Rock.

Kilby said while the Detroit and Little Rock may have utility, the cruisers the Navy proposed retiring are nearing the end of their service lives.

"It would be very difficult to come up with a construct where we would be able to bring them out and make them relevant in the time we need to [counter an] adversary," he said. "So, I think it's a different answer depending on the platform."

The Navy is planning on deactivating a total of seven cruisers, five that had been set to retire and the two additional cruisers, Rear Adm. John Gumbleton, the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, told reporters during the budget rollout.

By Tony Bertuca
July 21, 2021 at 2:21 PM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said today he is concerned the Pentagon, after the withdrawal of one nominee and the planned departure of a key acting official, will be without a senior acquisition chief, but stressed he is working with the White House to identify a qualified candidate.

"Absolutely we'll provide another name for the White House to consider," he said during a Pentagon press conference. "That's an ongoing process."

Last week, Michael Brown, director of the Defense Innovation Unit, withdrew his name as President Biden's nominee for the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, citing an ongoing inspector general investigation that could prove lengthy.

The Pentagon also confirmed last week that Stacy Cummings, currently the acting USD A&S, is planning to soon leave her post.

It is unclear who might now be in the running for the job.

"Of course, I'm concerned about the A&S," Austin said today. "I consider that job very, very important."

Meanwhile, Heidi Shyu's nomination to be under secretary of defense for research and engineering is being held in the Senate, along with a host of other Biden nominees, including Frank Kendall, who has been tapped for Air Force secretary.

Austin said the Senate has confirmed six defense nominees thus far, while 10 are awaiting confirmation votes and five have been reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"Certainly, we'd like to see more," he said. "We continue to work with the White House to make sure that we have . . . qualified applicants to fill these seats," he said.

By John Liang
July 21, 2021 at 1:40 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's acquisition system, a House hearing on defense spending and more.

Inside Defense recently interviewed Mark Lewis, formerly the acting deputy under secretary of defense for research and engineering, who now runs the new Emerging Technologies Institute at the National Defense Industrial Association:

Former modernization official says DOD 'optimized for fairness,' not speed

The Defense Department needs to overhaul its acquisition system if it wants to outpace China in cutting-edge weapons development, according to a former Pentagon modernization official.

The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing this week on non-governmental views of the fiscal year 2022 defense budget:

Defense spending debate persists among lawmakers

The House Armed Services Committee heard from a panel of budget analysts today on President Biden's defense spending proposal, with Republicans again arguing for a boost in military spending to compete with China.

Document: House hearing on non-governmental views of the FY-22 defense budget

The Missile Defense Agency recently piggybacked on a long-planned Army developmental test to assess the Joint Track Management Capability, a new technology that is central to MDA's plan for a Guam Defense System:

MDA demonstrates new 'bridge' technology central to potential new Guam defense system

In what a senior military official called a "huge step toward joint interoperability," the Missile Defense Agency last week successfully demonstrated a new technology that could be key to a future 360-degree Guam missile defense capability, "bridging" Army and Navy air and missile defense systems along with Air Force fighter aircraft sensors to collaborate in defeating a cruise-missile target.

House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee Chairman Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Ranking Member Rob Wittman (R-VA) both recently spoke at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space prequel:

House seapower lawmakers blast Navy shipbuilding plan, say more specificity needed

Key seapower lawmakers want a more detailed long-term shipbuilding plan as they believe the Navy's most recent plan, the first released under the Biden administration, is too vague.

Inside Defense recently interviewed Bernard Theisen, robotics division chief at the Army's Ground Vehicle Systems Center:

Army develops truck-refueling robot

The process for refueling the Army's cargo-hauling heavy trucks has virtually never changed.

By John Liang
July 20, 2021 at 1:34 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's Combat Rescue Helicopter program and more.

A multimillion-dollar Air Force contract for the Combat Rescue Helicopter program is on hold:

Judge pauses HH-60W CRH upgrade contract award, siding with SNC protest

A federal judge has barred the Air Force from moving forward with awarding Sikorsky a $980 million sole-source contract for rolling upgrades to the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter, arguing the service failed to justify the length and timing of the planned deal.

Document: Court's decisions on HH-60W CRH upgrade contract award

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have the latest defense-related cyber news:

Senate authorizers begin work on defense policy bill cyber provisions

The fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill began its legislative journey Monday with a closed mark-up in the Senate Armed Services cybersecurity subcommittee, where a couple of Cyberspace Solarium Commission recommendations are expected to be adopted while others dealing with complex critical infrastructure issues could be addressed in floor amendments or separate bills.

U.S., allies attribute Microsoft Exchange hack to China in coordinated effort to expose, punish cyber transgressions

U.S. officials on Monday attributed the Microsoft Exchange hack to Chinese entities as part of a coordinated effort by the Justice and State departments, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, intelligence agencies and international allies to detail how Chinese state-backed actors were able to infiltrate U.S. networks over the past few years and begin imposing consequences.

The Marine Corps has selected General Dynamics and Textron for a pre-award and will begin negotiations for Other Transaction Agreement awards for Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle prototypes:

Marine Corps selects Textron Systems and General Dynamics for ARV prototypes

The Marine Corps announced Friday that it has selected Textron Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems to build Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle prototypes.

Looks like another career defense official will have to become the acting under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment:

Acting DOD acquisition chief plans exit following Brown's withdrawal

Stacy Cummings, the Pentagon's acting acquisition chief, plans to leave her job soon, an imminent departure that follows Michael Brown's withdrawal as the nominee President Biden had picked to fill the post.

By Courtney Albon
July 20, 2021 at 10:29 AM

The Air Force released a request for information Monday for the bridge tanker, seeking companies who can deliver 140 to 160 commercial derivative aircraft to supplement its aerial refueling fleet by 2030.

The RFI follows a sources-sought notice the service issued last month as it finalizes requirements for the effort and aims to release a request for proposals later this year. The service expects to field about 12 of the non-developmental KC-Y tankers per year.

The notice, which calls for white papers to be submitted by Aug. 2, indicates that the capability will build on KC-46 requirements, incorporating “subsequent and emerging requirements defined by the Air Force.” It seeks input from companies about what aircraft they might propose, the readiness levels of any new technologies they may offer, fuel offload capability and capacity for carrying cargo.

By Courtney Albon
July 19, 2021 at 4:11 PM

The Space Force will meet with industry next month to discuss "innovative acquisition strategies" for future National Security Space Launch missions and to inform the planning process for the next phase of Launch Service Procurements.

In a notice released last week, the service says the Aug. 17 industry day will cover a range of NSSL topics, including its Phase 3 LSP strategy and strategies for incentivizing companies to develop medium and heavy launch capabilities.

The service will also meet with potential Phase 3 LSP providers, which could include any company with an existing or planned rocket that could carry an NSSL-class payload.

"The launch enterprise values our industry partnerships and looks forward to continued engagement resulting in the development of an innovative acquisition strategy to maintain assured access to space in a competitive and contested environment," the notice states.

The Space Force in November 2020 issued a request for information seeking industry input to help shape its strategy for future launch services procurements. The RFI sought details on how industry is thinking about the next wave of launch capabilities and how the service can leverage that vision in its own planning.

The service in August 2020 selected United Launch Alliance and SpaceX to split a five-year NSSL manifest for LSP Phase 2 and expects to begin making awards for Phase 3 in fiscal year 2025.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
July 19, 2021 at 3:26 PM

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control won a $160 million contract to supply the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and Taiwan, the Pentagon announced July 14.

Lockheed will build 23 HIMARS launchers under the contract, according to a July 19 press release from the company.

The HIMARS, a rocket launcher built on top of a 5-ton truck, can fire the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, the Army Tactical Missile System and the upcoming Precision Strike Missile. Lockheed won a $214 million contract in April to modernize M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System vehicles, tracked vehicles that fire the same rockets as HIMARS.

The Army currently has 363 HIMARS launchers but plans to increase the Army Acquisition Objective to 547, according to the service’s fiscal year 2022 budget request. Long-range fires programs, including the Precision Strike Missile, are the first of the Army’s modernization priorities.

By John Liang
July 19, 2021 at 1:45 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the continued upheaval in the Pentagon acquisition chief's office, the Marine Corps' Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle program and more.

Another career defense official will have to become the acting under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment:

Acting DOD acquisition chief plans exit following Brown's withdrawal

Stacy Cummings, the Pentagon's acting acquisition chief, plans to leave her job soon, an imminent departure that follows Michael Brown's withdrawal as the nominee President Biden had picked to fill the post.

In case you missed our scoop from last week:

Brown withdraws nomination for Pentagon acquisition chief

Michael Brown has withdrawn his nomination for Pentagon acquisition chief amid a Defense Department inspector general investigation, according to a letter he has sent Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The Marine Corps selected General Dynamics and Textron for a pre-award and will begin negotiations for Other Transaction Agreement awards for Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle prototypes:

Marine Corps selects Textron Systems and General Dynamics for ARV prototypes

The Marine Corps announced Friday that it has selected Textron Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems to build Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle prototypes.

The Government Accountability Office recently released a report on the Army's wheeled industrial base:

GAO: More consistent communication could expand Army's wheeled industrial base

Better communication with industry and more consistent messaging of requirements could allow the Army to expand the tactical wheeled vehicle industrial base, the Government Accountability Office said in a July 15 report, echoing the Army's analysis of the issue.

Document: GAO report on Army tactical wheeled vehicle programs

The House Appropriations Committee is calling on the Missile Defense Agency to continue working on a Hawaii radar project S-band sensor:

House lawmakers throw Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii another lifeline

House lawmakers are recommending $75 million for the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii program in fiscal year 2022, a key stepping stone in the legislative process to potentially restoring funding for the ballistic missile defense project that the Pentagon two years in a row has attempted to eliminate.

Northrop Grumman, the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System prime contractor, has announced the end of developmental testing:

Army IBCS wraps up developmental test plan with cruise missile target intercept

The Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System today successfully completed its sixth and final developmental test -- countering a pair of cruise missile targets today at White Sands Missile Range, NM -- setting the stage for the $7.9 billion program to proceed with initial operational testing this fall.

By Tony Bertuca
July 19, 2021 at 5:00 AM

The Senate Armed Services Committee marks up its version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill this week.

Monday

The Senate Armed Services Committee will begin its subcommittee mark-up process in closed session. The full committee will convene in closed session Wednesday and, if needed, Thursday, to finalize its work on the FY-22 defense authorization bill.

Tuesday

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday speaks at a virtual Navy League Sea-Air-Space Symposium "prequel." The event runs through Wednesday.

The director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's strategic technology office speaks during a virtual Air Force Association event.

The House Armed Services personnel subcommittee holds a hearing with Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks and other senior Pentagon officials about sexual assault in the military.

Wednesday

The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee holds a hearing on proposed Navy and Air Force weapon system divestments.

The GovExec Intelligence at the Edge Seminar begins.

The House Armed Services intelligence and special operations subcommittee holds a hearing on the FY-22 budget for U.S. Special Operations Command.

By John Liang
July 16, 2021 at 4:59 PM

Raytheon Technologies announced today that Jeff Shockey will join the company as senior vice president of Global Government Relations.

Shockey will succeed Timothy McBride, who plans to leave Raytheon later this year, according to a company statement.

"Shockey will report to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gregory Hayes and serve as a member of the executive leadership team, working at the international, federal and state levels to oversee the company's business interests with policymakers and other government organizations," Raytheon said.

Shockey joins Raytheon Technologies from Boeing, where he served as vice president of federal affairs and international policy for government operations.

Prior to Boeing, Shockey was staff director for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He previously served as staff director of the House Appropriations Committee and in other senior congressional staff roles.

By Courtney Albon
July 16, 2021 at 4:11 PM

The Biden administration announced today it will nominate Andrew Hunter to serve as the Air Force's next acquisition executive.

Hunter is director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' defense-industrial group. He previously served as a Defense Department senior executive and was director of the Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell in 2013.

Air Force Times first reported Hunter's nomination.

By John Liang
July 16, 2021 at 2:19 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on tactical wheeled vehicles, a Hawaii missile defense radar and more.

We start off with tactical wheeled vehicle news:

GAO: More consistent communication could expand Army's wheeled industrial base

Better communication with industry and more consistent messaging of requirements could allow the Army to expand the tactical wheeled vehicle industrial base, the Government Accountability Office said in a July 15 report, echoing the Army's analysis of the issue.

Document: GAO report on Army tactical wheeled vehicle programs


Single-source contract best for JLTV follow-on, Army says

After considering alternative acquisition strategies, the Army determined a single-source acquisition was best for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle follow-on contract, a service official told Inside Defense.

The House Appropriations Committee is calling for the Missile Defense Agency -- which has spent $385 million on the Hawaii radar project since FY-19 -- to continue the S-band sensor in the panel's mark of the FY-22 defense spending bill:

House lawmakers throw Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii another lifeline

House lawmakers are recommending $75 million for the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii program in fiscal year 2022, a key stepping stone in the legislative process to potentially restoring funding for the ballistic missile defense project that the Pentagon two years in a row has attempted to eliminate.

Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System prime contractor Northrop Grumman has announced the end of developmental testing:

Army IBCS wraps up developmental test plan with cruise missile target intercept

The Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System today successfully completed its sixth and final developmental test -- countering a pair of cruise missile targets today at White Sands Missile Range, NM -- setting the stage for the $7.9 billion program to proceed with initial operational testing this fall.

While the Pentagon's top weapons tester found that the ACV outperformed the legacy Assault Amphibious Vehicle across all mission profiles during the program's initial operational test and evaluation, the program did not meet the 69-hour mean time between operational mission failures threshold:

Amphibious Combat Vehicle program working on fixes to testing issues

The Marine Corps is working on fixes to address issues that arose during the Amphibious Combat Vehicle program's testing, including implementing improvements to reduce tire change turnaround time.

By Briana Reilly
July 16, 2021 at 10:00 AM

Google Cloud and the Air Force's Rapid Sustainment Office are partnering to launch an aircraft maintenance initiative that officials say seeks to bolster maintenance readiness and staff productivity while slashing expenses.

Named “Project Lighthouse,” the agreement, unveiled today, would leverage Google Cloud technology to build an ecosystem to integrate technology from manufacturing robotics and predictive maintenance software to augmented reality headsets, according to a press release. Further details about the initiative’s application weren’t immediately available.

“Our partnership with Google Cloud is a significant milestone for RSO on our journey to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies, when everything is connected, and deliver on our mandate to solve the Air Force’s toughest sustainment challenges,” RSO Deputy Program Executive Officer Nathan Parker said in the release. “What we’re building with Google Cloud will accelerate the way we adopt, integrate, and scale technologies for the Air Force."

It’s unclear how much the effort will cost and what the timeline for it is going forward. Before launching the project, the release noted the ecosystem would be “prototyped, validated, and tested for scalability within the Air Force’s technology environment."

Started in 2018, the RSO was pitched as a way to improve and solve long-held sustainment processes and problems, boost agile manufacturing and more.

By John Liang
July 15, 2021 at 2:04 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the leadership of the Pentagon acquisition office, the Army's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program and more.

Who will lead the Pentagon's acquisition office is currently up in the air:

Brown withdraws nomination for Pentagon acquisition chief

Michael Brown has withdrawn his nomination for Pentagon acquisition chief amid a Defense Department inspector general investigation, according to a letter he has sent Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Here's the latest on contracting for the Army's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program:

Single-source contract best for JLTV follow-on, Army says

After considering alternative acquisition strategies, the Army determined a single-source acquisition was best for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle follow-on contract, a service official told Inside Defense.

More coverage of the House Appropriations Committee's fiscal year 2022 defense spending legislation:

House appropriators cut funding for layered homeland defense, questioning requirement

House appropriators have stripped proposed funding for a layered homeland defense from their mark of the fiscal year 2022 military spending bill, a move that -- if enacted -- would relegate to the backburner plans for utilizing the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems to backstop the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System.

House proposes increasing M109 modernization funding

The House Appropriations Committee is proposing a $79 million boost to spending on the Army's Paladin Integrated Management program, which upgrades the service's self-propelled howitzers.

Inside Defense recently interviewed House Armed Services cyber, innovative technologies and information systems subcommittee Chairman Jim Langevin (D-RI) about the next steps in getting the Pentagon an enterprise cloud capability:

Key lawmakers want transparency and congressional oversight in JEDI follow-up

The Defense Department is "behind the curve" in getting an enterprise cloud capability and cannot have further delays following the cancelation of the controversial Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program, according to the top lawmaker on the House Armed Services cyber and technology subcommittee.