The Insider

By Justin Katz
March 6, 2019 at 9:23 AM

The aircraft carrier Gerald Ford (CVN-78) accepted delivery of the second Advanced Weapons Elevator, roughly one month after accepting the first, the Navy announced today.

“AWE Upper Stage #3 was turned over to the ship February 14, following testing and certification by engineers at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding, where the ship is currently working through its post-shakedown availability,” according to the statement.

The service said it accelerated the elevator's acceptance by 10 days by merging test programs from Newport News Shipbuilding and Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia.

“The team has identified other areas where redundancy can be removed to make the acceptance time lines more efficient,” according to the statement. In all, the ship is expected to accept 11 elevators.

“Currently, all shipboard installation and testing activities of the AWEs are due to be completed prior to the end of Ford's [post-shakedown availability], scheduled for July,” according to a January Navy statement following the first elevator's delivery.

"However, some remaining certification documentation will be performed for five of the 11 elevators after PSA completion,” the statement continued.

Pentagon weapon testers found that as of September 2018, “the development, installation, and delivery of the Advanced Weapons Elevators remains behind schedule,” Inside Defense reported.

The new elevators differ from those on the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers because they utilize "electromagnetic, linear synchronous motors" rather than cables.

By Marjorie Censer
March 5, 2019 at 3:59 PM

Ken Asbury, CACI's chief executive, has been on the job six years and is preparing multiple potential successors.

Though he hasn't announced a planned retirement date, Asbury told Inside Defense last week it's critical for a company to be thinking about the next set of top executives.

Nearly two years ago, CACI hired DeEtte Gray, a former BAE Systems executive, to serve as president of U.S. operations. John Mengucci, who had led U.S. operations along with acting as chief operating officer, remained COO and took on new duties, including overseeing business development, mergers and acquisitions and recruiting.

Asbury said the move allowed a "fresh look" at managing U.S. operations and freed Mengucci up to take on new initiatives.

"I have two, maybe four [executives] that are in various stages of development, which is to me incredibly healthy," Asbury said. "A CEO should never be in the position to pick a successor . . . but my job is to be sure there is the kind of talent in the business at all levels."

He said not all of the people he's developing are CACI employees.

"Not all of them are in the company," Asbury told Inside Defense. "I have prepared some people on the outside."

Meanwhile, during the same interview, Asbury said top LGS Innovations executives, including CEO Kevin Kelly, will remain following CACI's acquisition of the company.

He said CACI is working on its fiscal year 2020 plan, which is set for completion next month.

"Then we'll start looking at, are there organizational options" for LGS, he said. "We're obviously thinking about some, but they're not complete yet. We really want to get the LGS leadership into the business."

By Ashley Tressel
March 5, 2019 at 2:15 PM

The Army's Maneuver Capabilities Development Integration Directorate is looking to fund the development of robotic technologies to make dismounted infantry platoons more effective and artificial intelligence tools that will allow soldiers to act faster.

Selected vendors will get the chance to demonstrate integrated technologies to Army senior leaders in September 2020 at Ft. Benning, GA, according to a notice posted this week.

The Army is seeking robotic ground, air, water and virtual systems that infantry platoons can use for manned-unmanned teaming, as well as AI tools that can amass data from various sensors in the field to create an "intuitive" picture to aid and accelerate soldier decision-making.

Initial submissions will first be evaluated in an internal tabletop exercise this July so the Army can "assess the benefit versus cost of the candidate technologies."

The Maneuver Battle Lab will then hold a "simulation exercise" this October of technologies selected to move forward from the July event. Additional demos may be held between October 2019 and September 2020.

The notice states the Army will fund contractors chosen through the Defense Mobility Enterprise "to mature technologies for integration" in the 2020 demo.

By John Liang
March 5, 2019 at 1:46 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on military construction funds being used to pay for the president's border wall, Army enterprise information technology and more.

The head of the Senate Armed Services Committee spoke to the media this morning:

Inhofe softens on Shanahan; supports plan to 'backfill' MILCON funds tapped for wall

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.

Some related congressional news posted early this morning:

DOD can bypass Congress for $2.5B border wall transfer, but lawmakers could hit back

The Defense Department is signaling it may break with decades of precedent and reprogram $2.5 billion to build President Trump's wall on the southern border without the approval of Congress, a move lawmakers say could imperil billions in annual budgetary flexibility granted to the Pentagon.

Army CIO Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford spoke at an AUSA breakfast today:

Army to adopt enterprise IT 'as-a-service' model, create cloud program office

The Army's chief information officer/G-6 is planning a new effort to update the Army's enterprise network more quickly, called "Enterprise IT As A Service," and will soon stand up a cloud program office.

Check out some cyber news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

NIST revised guidelines for securing sensitive data awaits OMB final review

The highly anticipated release of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's revised guidelines for "controlled unclassified information," which serve as the basis for defense contractor cybersecurity requirements, is awaiting completion of an interagency review being led by the White House Office of Management and Budget, a NIST official told Inside Cybersecurity on Monday.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to develop teenie-tiny robots:

DOD launches work on insect-scale robots for clandestine ops, potential strategic missions

The Pentagon has issued more than a dozen contracts to develop insect-scale robotic technologies needed for a new-class of ultra-small platforms the size of ants that might one day clandestinely move within 10 centimeters of a target.

Document: DARPA's BAA for the SHRIMP program

By John Liang
March 4, 2019 at 2:17 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's T-X trainer aircraft as well as the Navy's Columbia-class submarine program.

The Air Force is looking into using the T-X aircraft as more than just a trainer:

Air Force exploring aggressor, light-attack applications for T-X airframe

ORLANDO, FL -- The Air Force is beginning to look at an expanded role for the T-X airframe, according to the head of Air Combat Command, including as an aggressor or as a light-attack aircraft.

More coverage of a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing:

STRATCOM chief 'concerned' about Columbia-class program's ability to absorb further delays

The head of U.S. Strategic Command, an Air Force general with responsibility for the entire nuclear triad, publicly raised concern this week about the ability of the Columbia-class submarine program to absorb further delays in the wake of faulty welding discovered last year, departing from Navy leadership assurances about the schedule for the $126 billion project.

In case you missed it last week, the Army will use a specific kind of acquisition authority to buy prototypes of a SIGINT device the service plans to test on a JLTV:

Army using Section 804 to acquire EW, SIGINT prototype device in FY-20

The Army will use middle-tier acquisition, or Section 804, authority to acquire prototypes in fiscal year 2020 for the base kit of a new ground-based signals intelligence and electronic warfare device to initially be tested on a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

Also ICYMI, the Defense Department officially unveiled its legislative proposal for the new Space Force:

Pentagon plans to wrestle with consolidation of space assets under new Space Force

Senior defense officials today revealed new details about the Trump administration's proposal for a new Space Force that will operate within the Air Force, acknowledging that plans for consolidating all "national-level" space assets currently managed by other military services could prove challenging in the future.

Document: Space Force legislative proposal, 'strategic overview'

Subsequent to publication, our story about the KC-46 was updated with additional information:

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

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.

By Justin Katz
March 4, 2019 at 9:02 AM

The Navy late last week published a draft request for proposals to build 10 of 20 next-generation guided-missile frigates, dubbed FFG(X).

The March 1 Federal Business Opportunities notice follows a Feb. 22 notice stating the service also intends to hold an industry day following the draft RFP's publication to review the vessel's requirements.

Although the competition will be "full and open," the Navy previously issued design maturation contracts to five major shipbuilders. Austal USA, Fincantieri Marinette Marine, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Huntington Ingalls Industries and Lockheed Martin have all received such contracts.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said late last year the service has not ruled out splitting FFG(X) production between multiple shipyards.

"What we want to avoid is a spike," Spencer said at a December Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. "When [those ships] all go through regular maintenance cycles and every one comes due within two or three or four years, it gets very crowded."

Navy acquisition executive Hondo Geurts told Congress last year he anticipates the lead ship's cost will be $1.2 billion. This year at the Surface Navy Association symposium FFG(X) program manager Regan Campbell said the cost of follow-on ships was pushed down from $950 million "closer to" $800 million as a result of industry's cost-saving suggestions. Campbell declined to comment on how those suggestions may have changed the lead ship's cost.

A final RFP is anticipated in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year, and a contract award is expected next year. The current acquisition profile for FFG(X) has the Navy procuring one ship in fiscal year 2020 and FY-21, and then two ships per year throughout the future years defense program.

By Tony Bertuca
March 4, 2019 at 5:15 AM

Some of the U.S. military's top combatant commanders are scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill this week, while major defense companies report quarterly earnings.

Monday

Senior Army officials discuss the service's modernization plans at the Center for a New American Security.

Tuesday

The Association of the United States Army hosts a breakfast with the Army's chief information officer.

The Navy's program executive officer for submarines is scheduled to speak at a Navy League breakfast.

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing with the chiefs of U.S. European Command and U.S. Transportation Command.

AeroVironment executives are slated to discuss the company's quarterly earnings.

Wednesday

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing with outside experts on U.S. nuclear deterrence policy.

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions is set to present at a J.P. Morgan conference.

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee holds a closed hearing with the chief of U.S. Central Command.

Thursday

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on operations in the Middle East and Africa with the chiefs of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command.

The House Armed Services readiness and seapower and projection forces subcommittees hold a joint hearing with the chief of U.S. Transportation Command.

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee holds a closed hearing with the chief of U.S. European Command.

Lockheed Martin and Maxar Technologies executives are expected to present at the J.P. Morgan conference.

By John Liang
March 4, 2019 at 5:10 AM

Here are some must-reads from this week's issue of Inside the Navy:

1. The head of U.S. Strategic Command, an Air Force general with responsibility for the entire nuclear triad, publicly raised concern about the ability of the Columbia-class submarine program to absorb further delays in the wake of faulty welding discovered last year, departing from Navy leadership assurances about the schedule for the $126 billion project.

Full story: STRATCOM 'concerned' about Columbia-class program's ability to absorb further delays

2. The Marine Corps plans to move into the engineering and manufacturing development stage for its Organic Precision Fires-Mounted capability in fiscal year 2020, with a goal of fielding the system in FY-22.

Full story: Marine Corps to move to EMD stage for Organic Precision Fires in FY-20

3. Senior defense officials late last week revealed new details about the Trump administration's proposal for a new Space Force that will operate within the Air Force, acknowledging that plans for consolidating all "national-level" space assets currently managed by other military services could prove challenging in the future.

Full story: DOD plans to wrestle consolidating space assets under new Space Force

4. The Navy's acquisition executive has delegated authority to the service's research chiefs to award contracts up to $1 million for technology and prototype development, and to purchase a variety of materials for "experimental or test purposes," according to two memos obtained by Inside Defense.

Full story: Geurts gives Navy research chiefs flexibility in awarding contracts

By John Liang
March 4, 2019 at 5:00 AM

Check out these must-reads from this week's edition of Inside the Army:

1. An Army official says Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle maker BAE Systems is mitigating "a handful of items" identified as issues with the vehicle's performance in the director of operational test and evaluation's latest annual report.

Full story: Army official: BAE fixing issues with AMPV power train in first vehicles

2. Senior defense officials late last week revealed new details about the Trump administration's proposal for a new Space Force that will operate within the Air Force, acknowledging that plans for consolidating all "national-level" space assets currently managed by other military services could prove challenging in the future.

Full story: DOD plans to wrestle consolidating space assets under new Space Force

3. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin last week announced they had been picked by the Army to participate in the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor competition, the first public word on the planned "sense-off" event at White Sands Missile Range, NM, this spring from either the government or industry in months.

Full story: Raytheon, Lockheed say Army picked them for LTAMDS 'sense off'

4. The Army's new five-year spending plan contains a shift of about $22 billion in "cuts or terminations" and $8 billion in "cost avoidance" from nonpriority programs, according to the service's under secretary.

Full story: McCarthy shares makeup of Army's $30B modernization shift

By Justin Doubleday
March 1, 2019 at 3:38 PM

Federal agencies have agreed to a new framework they say will drive the government toward faster and more efficient personnel vetting processes, including continuous evaluation of cleared workers and security clearance reciprocity.

The new framework is “designed to guide the fundamental transformation of the federal government’s personnel vetting process,” according to a statement released today by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of Personnel Management. The two entities manage federal policy on personnel vetting, as the director of national intelligence is the government's “security executive agent,” while the director of OPM serves as the “suitability and credentialing executive agent.”

The policy agreement comes as the Defense Department begins to take over responsibility for the federal background investigations mission from OPM. DOD has already begun conducting background investigations, and officials says the department will complete the takeover by Oct. 1.

The new framework agreed to by federal agencies is borne out of a “Trusted Workforce 2.0” initiative started last year.

The ODNI and OPM statement notes the initiative's initial thrust helped drive down the background investigations backlog from a peak of 725,000 cases in early 2018 to roughly 551,000 cases today. Implementation of the new framework represents the second stage of Trusted Workforce 2.0.

“For the first time, a single, top-level core doctrine will govern federal personnel vetting,” the statement reads. “Lower-level guidelines and standards will all derive from this core doctrine and contain more specific details on implementation.”

Under the new model, initial vetting “establishes the initial baseline of trust in an individual,” while “continuous vetting” will replace periodic re-investigations every five or 10 years, according to the statement. Continuous vetting, which includes continuous evaluation, is a central feature of the Pentagon's plan to take over background investigations.

The government is also focused on scenarios where individuals moving to higher-level positions need an upgraded level of vetting, as well as situations where “reestablishing trust” is necessary after an employee spends time away from government and is not subject to continuous vetting.

Additionally, officials are putting an emphasis on “transfer of trust,” referring to the long-standing goal of allowing cleared individuals to seamlessly move from one organization to another.

“Through transfer of trust, the government will address long-standing challenges with mobility and improve the speed of moving an individual between agencies,” the statement reads.

The government will reduce the types of background investigation from five to three, which will “help to reduce confusion, better align investigative activities based on risk, eliminate repetitive investigative checks, and concentrate investigative resources,” according to the statement.

The framework also allows for a more flexible set of investigative tools. “For example, a minor overdue debt could leverage an electronic interview, while a more significant issue might mandate a comprehensive in-person interview,” ODNI and OPM offer as an example.

Furthermore, agencies want to lift some of the burden on background investigators by leveraging “trusted information providers,” such as human resources practitioners and military recruiters, to meet investigative requirements, according to the statement.

“With the overarching framework developed, the next steps involve working through interagency processes to get the specifics right and begin issuing and implementing the policies across the federal government to bring about change,” the statement continues. “In the coming months, ODNI and OPM anticipate several Executive Branch policies to be issued that will provide high-level direction, establish an aggressive path forward, and outline immediate steps to bridge to the future state.”

Inside Defense reported in November on an imminent executive order to formally shift the background investigations mission to DOD, with the Defense Security Service consolidating several entities and rebranding as the “Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency.”

By Marjorie Censer
March 1, 2019 at 3:36 PM

Maxar Technologies said this week it has opted to retain its geostationary communications satellite business, which last year it said was potentially for sale.

Dan Jablonsky, Maxar's chief executive, told analysts Thursday the company will “continue to operate the geo comsat production line on a much smaller scale.”

“As we went through the process of evaluating strategic alternatives, we found that the value of the business was worth more to us than the indications of interest we received from potential buyers,” he said. “The more we looked at it, it became clear that keeping the business and optimizing the cost structure was the best choice.”

Under the company's plan, Jablonsky said, the business will seek to accelerate growth in new markets, including the U.S. government.

“We plan to further reduce debt by continuing to optimize our industrial footprint for this business, maintaining the right footprint and infrastructure to execute on both backlog and new orders while repositioning to compete fiercely for the next wave of state-of-the-art satellites and constellations,” he added.

Last year, Maxar said it was in active talks with potential buyers after seeing “a step down in total number and dollar value of geostationary communication satellite awards compared to historical averages prior to 2015.”

Maxar said this week sales in its most recent quarter reached $496 million, down 9 percent from the same three-month period a year earlier. The company's quarterly loss totaled $950 million, down from a $55 million profit a year earlier.

For 2018, Maxar reported sales of $2.1 billion, up 31 percent. However, the company reported a loss for the year of $1.3 billion.

Maxar primarily attributed the loss to an $883 million charge related to its decline in market value; the loss of its WorldView-4 satellite, which failed early this year; and a continued weak geostationary communications satellite market.

Maxar said it has implemented an organizational restructuring that will save $60 million to $70 million a year.

By Mallory Shelbourne
March 1, 2019 at 3:06 PM

Naval Sea Systems Command is rescheduling an industry day meant to review the service's shipyard infrastructure optimization program.

In an update to a Federal Business Opportunities posting, NAVSEA said it would reschedule the industry day "to a later date."

The Navy previously scheduled the event for March 11 at Washington Navy Yard.

Inside Defense previously reported the service's plans to spend $21 billion over 20 years on a shipyard optimization plan for the four main public yards.

NAVSEA said it would issue more information when the Navy reveals another date.

By Marjorie Censer
March 1, 2019 at 2:42 PM

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions said this week sales in its most recent quarter reached $164.4 million, down slightly from the $166.3 million in sales it reported during the same three-month period a year earlier.

The company's quarterly profit was $4.7 million, up from a $22.2 million loss the prior year.

For the year, Kratos said its sales hit $618 million, up 2 percent from 2017. The company reported a loss for the year of $3.5 million, far less than the $42.7 million it lost in 2017.

Kratos said both its quarterly and full year sales fell below forecast "primarily due to the timing of four programs."

"These programs were either awarded later than expected, or have not ramped as quickly as originally forecast," it said. "We also experienced a delay in our [Defense Innovation Unit] program, with the related contract award now expected in Q2 2019."

By John Liang
March 1, 2019 at 2:35 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the proposed Space Force, the Air Force' KC-46 airborne refueling tanker program and much more.

The Army will use a specific kind of acquisition authority to buy prototypes of a SIGINT device the service plans to test on a JLTV:

Army using Section 804 to acquire EW, SIGINT prototype device in FY-20

The Army will use middle-tier acquisition, or Section 804, authority to acquire prototypes in fiscal year 2020 for the base kit of a new ground-based signals intelligence and electronic warfare device to initially be tested on a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

The Defense Department today officially unveiled its legislative proposal for the new Space Force:

Pentagon plans to wrestle with consolidation of space assets under new Space Force

Senior defense officials today revealed new details about the Trump administration's proposal for a new Space Force that will operate within the Air Force, acknowledging that plans for consolidating all "national-level" space assets currently managed by other military services could prove challenging in the future.

Document: Space Force legislative proposal, 'strategic overview'

It'll be a while before Boeing can resume KC-46 tanker deliveries to the Air Force:

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

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.

The Center for a New American Security had an event this week on the administration's AI strategy:

U.S. artificial intelligence strategy seeks to circumvent China's data advantage

White House officials implementing a new executive order on artificial intelligence say their aim is to remove regulatory barriers for private industry to make advances in AI, with a particular focus on making up for China's advantage in data access.

The Navy variant of the Joint Strike Fighter is inching closer to being fully capable:

Navy announces IOC for F-35C Joint Strike Fighter

The Navy today affirmed that its F-35C Joint Strike Fighter has achieved initial operational capability, putting the carrier variant on track with the program's time line.

The Navy's Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile could be in service for up to 100 years:

Navy readies another Trident missile life-extension, stretching program across a century

The Navy is moving ahead with plans to explore a second life-extension of the Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile, a project that would keep the strategic weapon system -- which began full-scale development in 1983 -- in service for the life of the new Columbia-class submarine fleet through 2083, potentially stretching the life of the Trident across a century.

DOT&E found issues with the Army's Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle:

Army official: BAE fixing issues with AMPV power train in first vehicles

An Army official says Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle maker BAE Systems is mitigating "a handful of items" identified as issues with the vehicle's performance in the director of operational test and evaluation's latest annual report.

By Marjorie Censer
March 1, 2019 at 9:30 AM

ManTech International said today it has agreed to buy Kforce Government Solutions for $115 million in cash.

Mantech said Kforce "provides technology solutions, transformation management, data management and analytics in support of federal health and defense missions."

The acquisition adds more than 500 employees to ManTech; in 2018, KGS generated about $98 million in sales.

In particular, ManTech said the purchase would substantially expand its footprint at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The deal is expected to close this month.