The Insider

By John Liang
January 5, 2021 at 1:46 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Space Enterprise Consortium, the Navy's Information Warfare Research Project and more.

The Space and Missile Systems Center is delaying its formal selection of the National Security Technology Accelerator as the manager for the Space Enterprise Consortium following a Nov. 24 ruling against the company by a district court judge:

SMC eyes SpEC solicitation delays amid review of incoming consortium manager NSTXL

The Space and Missile Systems Center anticipates delays to new Space Enterprise Consortium solicitations as the Space Force continues its review of the incoming consortium manager, the National Security Technology Accelerator, in light of a recent Texas court decision involving the company.

Booz Allen Hamilton, IBM and Spin Systems have received information warfare contracts:

Navy awards three Information Warfare Research Project prototype production contracts

The Navy has awarded contracts to three companies for Information Warfare Research Project prototype production.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency still has to validate the Gremlins drone's recovery system -- designed to retrieve the vehicle mid-flight from a manned aircraft -- and then begin a new round of tests proving its operational utility:

DARPA speaking with multiple DOD organizations to transition Gremlins in 2023

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is in discussions with several military organizations to eventually take over its Gremlins drone program, but recent setbacks have delayed any transition to 2023 at the earliest.

The Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2021 includes an increase of $106 million for an upgrade of the new Aegis ballistic missile interceptor that was not included as part of the Missile Defense Agency's original budget request:

MDA secures partial win for No. 1 unfunded priority: more SM-3 Block IIA interceptors

The Missile Defense Agency has secured a more than $200 million boost for the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor in fiscal year 2021, partially satisfying its No. 1 unfunded requirement that will be roughly divided between the Aegis guided missile's development and procurement accounts.

GM Defense remains interested in the Army's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle follow-on contract:

GM Defense remains interested in JLTV re-compete, eyes other growth areas

GM Defense hopes to grow further after it won its first major Army contract in June, Jeff Ryder, the company's vice president for growth and strategy, said during a recent interview with Inside Defense.

By Marjorie Censer
January 5, 2021 at 12:51 PM

Constellis said this week it has named Darryle Conway chief growth officer, succeeding Rick Tye, who has been tapped to head the company's crisis response business.

Conway previously was an executive at Nathan Associates, PAE, Raytheon and Science Applications International Corp.

In his new role, Tye "will begin focusing on Constellis' Crisis Response business, including COVID-19 Response, Fire and Emergency Services, Emergency and Disaster Response, and other priority programs," the company said.

By Courtney Albon
January 4, 2021 at 6:08 PM

The Space and Missile Systems Center today awarded Lockheed Martin a $4.9 billion undefinitized contract modification for the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program.

The Air Force in 2018 selected Lockheed to develop three Next-Gen OPIR satellites that will reside in geosynchronous orbit (GEO). The original contract was for $2.9 billion, which included funds for requirements analysis, “critical flight hardware procurement” and other early manufacturing and risk-reduction work.

The new modification will support manufacturing, assembly, integration, test and delivery of the first three satellites as well as mission-unique ground and sensor-processing software. It also funds launch and early on-orbit checkout for all three GEO satellites.

The contract announcement notes the Space Force is releasing $99 million at the time of the award.

Next-Gen OPIR is the follow-on program to the Space-Based Infrared System, a key piece of the Defense Department’s missile warning architecture. Along with Lockheed’s GEO-based satellite development, Northrop Grumman is on contract to build two polar satellites, together comprising Block 0 of the service’s OPIR modernization plan. The Space Force expects to begin launching the first slate of GEO satellites in fiscal year 2025.

A new Pentagon report obtained by Inside Defense offers details on the service’s space-based missile defense and missile-warning architecture strategy. The report highlights the Space Force’s plans to use prototyping efforts led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Space Development Agency to inform future Next-Gen OPIR requirements -- including whether Block 1 satellites should reside in lower orbits.

By Marjorie Censer
January 4, 2021 at 1:54 PM

Vectrus said today it has acquired Springfield, VA-based HHB Systems, which specializes in facilities management, logistics, engineering, and asset management for intelligence agencies.

The company's portfolio of work also includes enterprise operations, information technology and cybersecurity, Vectrus said.

HHB has more than 50 employees, almost all of whom have a top secret or higher clearance.

Vectrus said the HHB deal, along with the acquisition of Zenetex announced last week, will help it transform into a higher-value and differentiated platform.

By John Liang
January 4, 2021 at 12:50 PM

This first INSIDER Daily Digest of the year features a look ahead on what to watch for in 2021 plus news on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program, the Air Force's Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System and more.

We start off with a look ahead at what to watch for as the Pentagon transitions from the Trump to the Biden administration:

Looking to 2021: What to watch in the new year

In the coming year, the Biden administration is likely to face multiple defense-related challenges and complications, particularly as it grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the economy.

We also have a plethora of news published during the holiday break, including the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program, the Air Force's Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, the Navy's Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle and more:

GM Defense remains interested in JLTV re-compete, eyes other growth areas

GM Defense hopes to grow further after it won its first major Army contract in June, Jeff Ryder, the company's vice president for growth and strategy, said during a recent interview with Inside Defense.

JSTARS program to test new engine part, install updated pylons in 2021

The Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System program will soon begin testing a new key engine component and install updated pylons on the E-8C aircraft as part of a broader effort to mitigate the 1960s-era jet's many sustainment challenges.

Navy releases RFP for Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle

The Navy has released a request for proposals for design, development and fabrication of the Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle.

Team Ignite focusing on AI, robotics, autonomy this year

The commander of Army Futures Command is directing Team Ignite to prioritize artificial intelligence, autonomy and robotics this year, according to a service official.

Following court ruling, Leidos says it's looking to NGEN transition

With the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by incumbent Perspecta, Leidos is now ready to move forward with the $7.7 billion contract it won in February to provide services for the Navy's Next Generation Enterprise Network program.

New spectrum contract comes as Pentagon prepares to boost 5G efforts

The National Spectrum Consortium's new five-year, $2.5 billion deal comes as the Defense Department prepares to ramp up its fifth-generation wireless prototyping activities in 2021, putting the group at the center of a Pentagon program with implications for both military and civilian technologies.

Space Force planning RFP for upcoming tactically responsive launch missions

The Space Force announced last week it expects to issue a draft request for proposals in early January for two responsive launch missions.

By Courtney Albon
January 4, 2021 at 9:18 AM

The Space Development Agency has awarded SpaceX $150 million to launch up to 28 satellites in support of the agency's tracking and transport layers.

The first satellite is slated to launch in September 2022 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, and the rest of the constellation is expected to be on orbit by March 2023.

The satellites include eight missile warning, or tracking, space vehicles and 20 data-relay satellites. SpaceX received a separate contract in October to develop four of the tracking layer satellites, however the work has been delayed due to an ongoing protest.

By Marjorie Censer
January 4, 2021 at 8:52 AM

Huntington Ingalls Industries said today it has acquired the autonomy business of Spatial Integrated Systems to further expand its unmanned systems capabilities.

Through the deal, which closed Dec. 31, HII added about 50 employees, mostly in Virginia Beach, VA, to its technical solutions' unmanned systems business group. Sam Lewis, the president and chief operating officer of SIS, will lead the company's unmanned surface vessel work. HII did not disclose the terms of the transaction.

"SIS's unmanned systems solutions -- including multi-vehicle collaborative autonomy, sensor fusion and perception -- have been fielded for more than 6,000 hours on 23 vessel types," HII said. "They have supported multiple development projects and demonstrations advancing autonomy in unmanned systems in the maritime, ground and air domains."

According to Huntington Ingalls, the Pentagon is already using SIS technology for missions from harbor patrol to mine clearance to supply transport.

The deal is just the latest by HII in the unmanned systems market. The company also in recent months acquired Hydroid and made an investment in Sea Machines Robotics.

By Courtney Albon
January 4, 2021 at 8:45 AM

The Defense Department last week awarded Lockheed Martin a nearly $904 million contract modification to buy long-lead parts for 133 Lot 16 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

The Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and partner nation aircraft included in the Dec. 30 contract are slated for delivery beginning in 2024.

The company delivered 123 F-35s in 2020, spokesman Brett Ashworth confirmed last week, falling short of its 141-aircraft target due to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on its suppliers and production line. Lockheed announced its expected delivery shortfall in May and set 123 jets as a new goal.

“The F-35 program enjoyed significant success in 2020 with 123 aircraft delivered, multiple combat deployments and improved mission capable rates,” Ashworth said in a statement. “The program also provided unprecedented support to more than 400 F-35 suppliers in 45 states and Puerto Rico who received accelerated payments due to COVID-19 impacts on their businesses.”

By Marjorie Censer
January 2, 2021 at 3:02 PM

Lockheed Martin said today Michele Evans, who led the company's aeronautics business, died yesterday.

In a statement, Jim Taiclet, Lockheed's chief executive, said Evans "led some of the most important programs that ensure the security of our nation and its allies and help make our world a safer place."

"Her example was an inspiration to those of us fortunate enough to have worked with her closely, and her leadership in the aerospace and defense industry will have a lasting impact for years to come," he added.

Evans held many positions at Lockheed, including serving as general manager of the company's integrated warfare systems and sensors line of business within the rotary and mission systems unit and as vice president for business development and strategy for the mission systems and training organization.

She was tapped to lead aeronautics in 2018, but took a leave of absence in November 2020 "to address health issues unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic."

By Tony Bertuca
January 1, 2021 at 2:30 PM

The Senate has voted 81-13 to override President Trump's veto of the defense authorization bill, thereby joining the House to pass the legislation over his objections, and dealing a sound rebuke to the lame-duck commander-in-chief.

The 4,500-page bill, among numerous other things, authorizes $740.5 billion in defense spending.

The vote marks the first and only time Congress has overridden a Trump veto. The president has vetoed eight other bills, all of which were sustained by Congress because they could not gain the two-thirds majorities needed for an override.

Trump drew wide bipartisan criticism on Dec. 23 when he vetoed the bill, saying he was doing so because it includes a provision to rename U.S. military bases that honor Confederate leaders and does not repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act used to limit liability of social media companies. Trump also cited provisions in the bill that he said would restrict his ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Germany and South Korea.

The House voted 322-87 on Dec. 28 to override the president.

Today’s Senate vote now clears the way for the bill to be signed into law for the 60th consecutive year.

Trump, meanwhile, will officially be out of office when President-elect Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20.

By Tony Bertuca
December 30, 2020 at 10:19 AM

President-elect Biden intends to nominate former Pentagon official Kathleen Hicks to serve as deputy defense secretary, according to an announcement from Biden's team.

Hicks is currently the head of Biden's Pentagon transition team. She previously served in the Obama administration as principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy and deputy under secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and forces, where she led the development of the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review.

She also works as an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Analysts and insiders observing the transition process have said Hicks, who is seen as an expert in Pentagon organization, was a leading candidate for the No. 2 DOD job, especially since Biden picked retired Gen. Lloyd Austin for defense secretary.

Along with Hicks, Biden intends to nominate Colin Kahl, another former Obama administration official, to be under secretary of defense for policy.

Kahl also works as an analyst at CSIS and on Biden’s Pentagon transition team. He previously served in the Obama administration as Biden’s national security adviser and as deputy assistant to President Obama. Kahl also previously was deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East from 2009 to 2011.

Meanwhile, sources said Kelly Magsamen, a former DOD and State Department official, has been tapped to serve as Austin’s chief of staff.

Hicks and Kahl “have the broad experience and crisis-tested judgment necessary to help tackle the litany of challenges we face today, and all those we may confront tomorrow,” Biden said in a statement. “They will be trusted partners to me, the vice president-elect, and Secretary-designate Austin -- as well as our dedicated civilian and military team -- as we work to restore responsible American leadership on the world stage.”

Biden’s selection of Austin, who requires a special waiver from Congress to serve as defense secretary because he has been retired from military service for less than seven years, has raised questions on Capitol Hill about the potential erosion of civilian leadership at DOD.

Austin has pledged to run DOD as a civilian, not a general.

Today, Austin said in a statement Hicks and Kahl share his “strong belief that we need empowered civilian voices serving alongside military leaders at the Department of Defense to ensure we are always accountable to the American people.”

By Marjorie Censer
December 29, 2020 at 9:20 AM

Vectrus said this week it has agreed to acquire Herndon, VA-based Zenetex, which specializes in mission readiness, performance and enhanced protection for defense and national security, in a $112 million deal.

"The acquisition adds critical new capabilities which will accelerate Vectrus' converged infrastructure strategy and expands the company's client base with new DOD, intelligence and foreign military clients," Vectrus said.

The company said the addition will add integrated security capabilities that will help Vectrus protect physical assets, intellectual property and computer systems as well as higher end integrated logistics.

Additionally, the deal is set to help Vectrus expand its base of Navy customers as well as bolster its foreign military sales customers. Purchases by the Navy, intelligence agencies and foreign militaries together make up more than 80% of Zenetex's sales.

Zenetex's FMS work "supports more than 40 countries, including Qatar, Malaysia, Spain, Morocco, Kuwait, Denmark, Australia, Canada, and provides significant channels for future growth," Vectrus said.

In 2020, Zenetex is expected to generate more than $200 million in sales. The deal is expected to close this week.

By Tony Bertuca
December 28, 2020 at 6:49 PM

The House today voted to override President Trump's veto of the defense authorization bill, sending the matter to the Senate, where another override vote is expected Tuesday.

The bill has strong bipartisan support in the Senate and override is expected to be successful.

Trump last week vetoed the 4,500-page bill, which, among numerous other things, authorizes $740.5 billion in defense spending.

In a statement to Congress, Trump said he vetoed the bill because it includes a provision to rename U.S. military bases that honor Confederate leaders and does not repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act used to limit liability of social media companies. Trump also cited provisions in the bill that he said would restrict his ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Germany and South Korea.

Trump's veto immediately drew bipartisan opposition, especially since the bill has been signed into law for 59 consecutive years and passed the House and Senate by wide margins.

Meanwhile, Trump signed a massive end-of-year spending deal yesterday that will fund the federal government for fiscal year 2021 and provide $900 billion in COVID-19 relief. The president's support for the bill was in doubt, however, as he spent several days complaining about the deal before signing it into law.

By Marjorie Censer
December 28, 2020 at 5:00 AM

You read it, we noticed. It was a busy year with a global pandemic and an election. Our top stories ran the gamut, from a major contract cancellation to the latest on DOD pandemic recovery and the presidential transition.

Here, we list our most-read stories of the year.

5. Biden names DOD transition team

President-elect Joe Biden has named nearly two-dozen people to his Defense Department agency review team to ensure "a smooth transfer of power" and help the new administration "hit the ground running on Day One."

4. Pentagon seeks $11B in emergency procurement spending for COVID-19 recovery

The Pentagon is telling Congress it needs $11 billion in emergency supplemental funding to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across its acquisition portfolio and the U.S. defense industrial base, according to a new document obtained by Inside Defense outlining expected delays to specific programs.

3. Lockheed says its NGI proposal offers one-stop shopping, extensive multiple-kill vehicle experience

Lockheed Martin is touting its ability to offer the Defense Department a one-stop shopping opportunity for the Next Generation Interceptor -- a single defense contractor to develop a booster tailored to carry a new class of kill vehicles for the nation’s marquee homeland ballistic missile defense system.

2. Election 2020: A Biden win could mean policy changes at DOD

If former Vice President Joe Biden defeats President Trump, the Defense Department could see significant changes, despite a likely continued focus on COVID-19 and great power competition with China.

1. Air Force to terminate Raytheon's 3DELRR contract

The Air Force plans to cancel a contract with Raytheon to develop the Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar due to "numerous technical and supplier challenges."

By John Liang
December 24, 2020 at 12:22 PM

This final INSIDER Daily Digest of 2020 has news on missile defense, Pentagon software programs and more.

The fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill, which President Trump yesterday vetoed and Congress is expected next week to override, includes a provision that requires a report within 90 days of enactment on homeland cruise missile defense:

Congress directs DOD to codify plans for homeland cruise missile defense, North Warning System modernization

Congress wants a report early next year on the ability of the U.S. military to defend the nation against a cruise missile attack -- with particular emphasis on vulnerability of approaches across the north polar region -- as well as an update on plans with Canada to modernize the early warning radar system currently in use across the Arctic.

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord recently conducted a milestone C review of the Northrop Grumman-led Integrated Air and Missile Defense program, but has not yet issued an acquisition decision memorandum:

Lord weighing decision on Army request to begin IAMD production

The Pentagon's acquisition executive is readying a verdict on the Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense program -- a $7.9 billion effort vital to U.S. ground-force plans to detect, track and defeat modern air threats -- following last week's milestone review where the service requested permission to pivot from development to initial production.

The Government Accountability Office issued a new report this week on Defense Department cybersecurity:

Audit of Pentagon software programs finds uneven approach to agile development, cybersecurity

A recent audit of Pentagon software programs found Defense Department organizations took a mixed bag of approaches to agile development and cybersecurity testing, often leading to schedule challenges, but the Pentagon says a new software "acquisition pathway" should yield better results in the future.

Document: GAO report on IT, cybersecurity

Raytheon's protest of a satellite contract award has been dismissed:

GAO dismisses latest Raytheon protest as SDA reevaluates tracking layer bids

The Government Accountability Office this week dismissed Raytheon's most recent protest of a Space Development Agency contract for wide-field-of-view satellites.

Document: GAO CG decision on Raytheon's SDA protest

Progress on the Air Force's Combat Rescue Helicopter program has been delayed:

Air Force Combat Rescue Helicopter program eyes DT, RAA delays

The Air Force's new search-and-rescue helicopter program is running about two months behind schedule to achieve key milestones as a result of reduced testing site availability and production-related issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic, service spokesman Brian Brackens told Inside Defense.

Happy Holidays!

Inside Defense would like to wish our readers a safe and healthy Holiday Season and a prosperous New Year. The next INSIDER Daily Digest will be issued Jan. 4, 2021.