The Insider

Mallory Shelbourne | September 5, 2018 at 12:51 PM

While there is currently no official commitment from partner nations other than Saudi Arabia to purchase the Navy's Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC), the vessel's size makes it an "attractive" pick, the director of the service's international programs office said today.

"There's nothing officially on the table yet with the [Littoral Combat Ship] other than Saudi [Arabia]," Rear Adm. Francis D. Morley told Inside the Navy at a conference in Washington.

Morley, who oversees security cooperation with partner countries for the Navy and Marine Corps, said the ship’s size makes it "potentially attractive to many partners."

In July, the Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $450 million contract for the groundwork and design of four frigates Saudi Arabia is purchasing for its Navy.

"The MMSC provides the Royal Saudi Naval Forces a lethal and highly maneuverable multimission surface combatant, which features the flexibility of the Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship steel mono-hull with expanded capabilities that include an integrated Mk41 Vertical Launch System, an increased range of 5,000 nautical miles and speeds in excess of 30 knots, making it capable of littoral and open ocean operation, and able to confront modern maritime and economic security threats," Lockheed Martin Small Combatants and Ship Systems Vice President Joe DePietro said in a company statement at the time.

The ships are a version of the Navy's LCS Freedom class.

Morley said today smaller Navy vessels and the Coast Guard's national security cutters are the "most attractive" ships to other nations.

Courtney Albon | September 5, 2018 at 12:42 PM

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said today she is in "complete alignment" with President Trump's plan for a Space Force, despite her past criticism of plans to significantly reorganize the Defense Department's space mission.

"If we're going to do this, we should do it right," Wilson said in her first public remarks addressing the Space Force proposal. "The president of the United States has put out an idea that's very forward looking, and we have an obligation to put together a proposal to Congress that supports his intent and does it in the right way."

Wilson was appearing at a Defense News conference in Arlington, VA.

The Pentagon last month released a report laying out near-term steps the department is taking to support Trump's vision to create a Space Force. The new military service is expected to consolidate the space mission and would likely pull from programs and resources currently housed within the Air Force, Army and Navy.

Wilson vocally opposed a less extensive proposal from Congress that would have created a Space Corps, modeled after the Marine Corps, arguing any attempt to separate the space mission would harm efforts to better integrate space operations.

Justin Katz | September 5, 2018 at 10:10 AM

The Navy's top admiral is pushing the service to pay close attention to the already-tight schedule for the Columbia-class submarine program.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson today said Columbia is on track, but that he's "concerned" about the program.

"In a program of this complexity, it's just a fact of life that there are going to be things that will surprise us going forward," Richardson said, speaking at a conference in Pentagon City, VA.

A program of Columbia's importance and size "requires, perhaps, some increased oversight so that we're not making mistakes and eating into a program that has very thin margins already," he added.

The Columbia-class submarine is the Navy's largest and most important acquisition program.

Courtney Albon | September 5, 2018 at 9:50 AM

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a key certification required to begin deliveries of the new KC-46 tanker, Boeing announced this week.

Supplemental type certification, which validates the tanker's design, was one of two remaining certifications needed for the company to begin delivering the KC-46 to the Air Force. The program expects deliveries to begin in October.

Boeing's KC-46 Program Manager Mike Gibbons said in a Sept. 4 press release the milestone is "one of the last major hurdles in advance of first delivery."

The last required certification will confirm airworthiness and will come from the Air Force. A service spokesman told Inside Defense in August the Air Force expects to award the military type certification this month.

Marjorie Censer | September 5, 2018 at 8:58 AM

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems said this week it has hired retired Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland to serve as vice president of weapons program strategic development.

MacFarland was deputy commanding general and chief of staff for Army Training and Doctrine Command.

General Atomics said MacFarland will initially work from the company's Washington office, but early next year will relocate to the business' headquarters in San Diego.

Marjorie Censer | September 5, 2018 at 8:56 AM

Cubic said this week it has named Michael Knowles president of Cubic Global Defense, effective Oct. 1.

He will succeed Dave Buss, who will become a senior advisor focused on corporate strategy and growth within the company's defense work.

Knowles previously was general manager of the defense business' air ranges unit. Jonas Furukrona has been named general manager of this business unit, also effective Oct. 1.

Knowles has also been an executive at Rockwell Collins and Lockheed Martin.

Furukrona previously served as director of the air ranges business in Europe, Canada and Australia. He joined Cubic from Rockwell Collins.

Justin Doubleday | September 4, 2018 at 5:38 PM

The Pentagon is again signaling the release of the long-awaited Missile Defense Review is imminent.

John Rood, under secretary of defense for policy, said the review would be out in "the next few weeks" during a Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance event on Capitol Hill today.

"I'm very desirous of pushing it out as soon as we can," Rood said. "Hopefully, we'll get through the final hurdles in the department to do that very soon."

Pentagon officials originally said the MDR would follow on the heels of the Nuclear Posture Review released on Feb. 2, since the two policy documents are supposed to be tightly linked. U.S. Strategic Command chief Gen. John Hyten has argued the two reviews should be combined.

After the review was not released in February, however, Rood told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March that the Defense Department was weighing "competing approaches" to the missile defense problem. He said then it would take "a couple months" to finish the review.

"Right now, we still have some internal discussions in the department to work through -- different opinions, as you'd expect, on certain questions," he said during the March 22 hearing.

Since then, however, the MDR has yet to be completed, with little explanation from the Pentagon.

The new document will update and replace the policy set by the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review. As evinced by the name change, the MDR focuses on a wider range of threats, to include cruise missiles and hypersonic weapons, according to Rood.

Since it is driven by the new National Defense Strategy, however, the MDR will also have an increased focus on China and Russia. During the Obama administration, officials said U.S. missile defenses were aimed at the "limited threat" from Iran and North Korea, not the larger strategic arsenals of China and Russia. 

During today's MDAA event, Michael Griffin, the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, said he does not care if China and Russia are threatened by potential U.S. plans to deploy space-based missile defenses, considering those countries are trying to weaponize hypersonic flight and space. Meanwhile, North Korea and Iran also remain threats, he said.

"Somewhere well down on my priority list is caring about what other people think," he said during the MDAA event, which was focused on space-based missile defense. "We just cannot afford to do that, and by creating a geopolitical policy environment where those kinds of considerations are surfaced, by even allowing ourselves to even be drawn into that discussion, we do ourselves and our allies and partners a disfavor."

However, Rood said his job in the policy office at DOD is to consider Russian and Chinese views, even if they are potential adversaries.

"Mike, God love him, his role is the development of new capabilities to defend the United States," Rood said. "When he says he doesn't have time to concern himself with the views of other nations, of course that's policy's role. We do spend a lot of time concerning ourselves with those questions."

Ashley Tressel | September 4, 2018 at 4:29 PM

The Army has adopted new names for its current and future upgraded versions of the Abrams tank following lawmakers' direction in the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

Maj. Gen. Brian Cummings, program executive officer for ground combat systems, in an Aug. 15 memo, directs M1A2 system enhancement program versions 3 and 4 to be renamed M1A2C and M1A2D, respectively.

Cummings agreed with lawmakers that the name "should be easily recognizable and convey the most recent upgrade," according to his memo, obtained by Inside Defense.

The FY-19 NDAA provision came from the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee, which desired clearer terms for the Abrams upgrade program. The subcommittee in its mark of the bill argued using the longer terms failed “to clearly and concisely convey the significant capability upgrades resident” in those efforts.

General Dynamics Land Systems won a $310.6 million contract modification last year to deliver seven prototype M1A2D tanks, as it completes deliveries of the M1A2C version.

The Army last month issued a market survey seeking information on industry's ability to support the next iteration of the vehicle, the M1A2D.

The Abrams product manager stated the Army was also "considering integrating additional capabilities" into the current M1A2C effort, according to the survey posted Aug. 3 on Federal Business Opportunities.

John Liang | September 4, 2018 at 2:22 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest looks at the FY-19 defense spending bill as well as the Missile Defense Agency's efforts to revive a program meant to intercept a boosting ballistic missile with a laser.

House and Senate lawmakers have precious few legislative days to pass the multibillion-dollar fiscal year 2019 defense spending bill:

Defense spending bill on the line as Congress aims to beat fiscal year buzzer

Congress returns to Washington this week with 11 legislative days left before the end of the fiscal year, leaving lawmakers little time to compromise on several spending bills, including one to fund the Pentagon, or pass a stopgap continuing resolution to stave off a government shutdown.

In case you missed it, the White House had several objections to the Senate's version of the defense spending bill:

Trump administration notes objections to Senate defense spending bill

The White House "strongly objects" to a measure in the Senate's fiscal year 2019 defense appropriations bill that would add $475 million to procure a second Littoral Combat Ship, as well as host of other provisions, according to a statement of administration policy submitted to Congress in August.

And in other recent budget news, the Congressional Budget Office took a look at future defense budgets:

CBO: Statutory budget caps limit Pentagon base budget to $550B, $563B in FY-20, FY-21

The Pentagon's fiscal years 2020 and 2021 base budget allocations will total $550 billion and $563 billion respectively -- dramatically below Trump administration plans -- if discretionary spending caps required by the 2011 Budget Control Act for those two years are not adjusted, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office.

Document: CBO's statutory budget cap report

The Missile Defense Agency is continuing its efforts to revive a program meant to intercept a boosting ballistic missile with a laser:

MDA advances new airborne laser project with second round of contract awards

The Missile Defense Agency has awarded a new round of contracts to a trio of defense firms drafting new airborne laser proposals, advancing the Pentagon objective to field an unmanned aerial vehicle armed with a speed-of-light weapon to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles by the early 2020s.

For a walk down memory lane, check out this related story from 2009 on why the Pentagon decided to ax the original Airborne Laser:

Gates Proposes $1.4 Billion in Missile Defense Cuts

Defense Secretary Robert Gates in April 2009 called for a $1.4 billion cut to the Missile Defense Agency's proposed budget for fiscal year 2010, as well as the cancellation of the Multiple Kill Vehicle program and the second Airborne Laser aircraft.

John Liang | September 4, 2018 at 11:23 AM

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

1. The Pentagon last week awarded an $805 million contract to Boeing for the production of four MQ-25 Stingray engineering and manufacturing development models, according to Navy officials.

Full story: Boeing wins $805 million Pentagon contract for MQ-25 Stingray

2. ABOARD THE USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72) -- The Navy is conducting the first operational tests at sea of the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.

Full story: First F-35C operational tests at sea underway on CVN-72

3. A pilot program the Navy is using to improve aircraft depot maintenance -- which it has been testing on F/A-18s and MV-22s -- may be pushed out to the rest of the fleet, according to the Navy secretary.

Full story: Navy weighs expanding pilot program for aviation maintenance

4. As the Navy gears up to dismantle the service's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, it may look to use a future disposal agreement for a Surface Ship Support Barge (SSSB) as a blueprint for the larger vessel.

Full story: Barge disposal could act as blueprint for dismantling first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier

John Liang | September 4, 2018 at 11:18 AM

Some must-reads from this week's edition of Inside the Army:

1. Army Secretary Mark Esper is planning to visit BAE Systems' York, PA, manufacturing plant as the service continues to hold off on a full-rate production decision for the Paladin Integrated Management system, he told reporters last week.

Full story: Esper to visit BAE plant to resolve issues with new howitzer

2. Army officials are working to lock in requirements for a planned big-ticket acquisition program to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle -- a program launch set for this fall that would give the service a marquee "next-generation" project to tout in the same way the Air Force has a new bomber and the Navy a new ballistic missile submarine.

Full story: Army previews desired capabilities for Next Generation Combat Vehicle

3. The Army's early efforts to examine soldier behavior while using robotic and autonomous systems on the battlefield have shown the service it may need to tailor its development and procurement approach when it comes to robots.

Full story: Army looking to develop expendable robots for future fight

4. Near the end of this week, the Army expects to receive white paper concepts from industry for a new battlefield heads-up display, a program the service estimates may cost more than a half-billion dollars.

Full story: Army fast tracking new battlefield heads-up display

Tony Bertuca | September 4, 2018 at 11:14 AM

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is scheduled to speak at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in December, according to event organizers.

"Given today's shifting national security landscape and the challenges it creates at home and abroad, we're eager for the secretary to discuss how our defense forces can prepare to confront those challenges in the coming years," Frederick Ryan Jr., chairman of the board of trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, said in a press release.

The forum is slated for Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, and will feature other senior national security officials.

Mattis is scheduled to provide closing remarks Dec. 1.

Watch Inside Defense for full coverage of the event.

Tony Bertuca | September 4, 2018 at 10:47 AM

Pentagon reform efforts in the areas of information technology and logistics have led to savings of roughly $300 million in fiscal year 2018, while consolidation efforts at the Defense Health Administration are slated to save $2 billion annually by 2023, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan.

"In addition to directly supporting our lethality, these reforms generate savings that can be spent on modernization," he wrote in a message to the Pentagon workforce.

"This year, IT reform saved over $200 million, roughly equivalent to the cost of operating two F-16 squadrons for one year; logistics reform saved over $100 million, the price of purchasing over 100 [Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range systems]; and DHA consolidation is slated to save over $2 billion . . . each year by 2023, equal to the cost of buying 20 Joint Strike Fighters," Shanahan wrote.

Pentagon Chief Management Office Jay Gibson recently detailed some of the Defense Department's IT saving initiatives in an interview with Inside Defense.

"Granted that they may not in themselves be big money, what you get is you start to establish quick wins," he told Inside Defense. "The value to the overall effort is really significant."
Meanwhile, Shanahan said reforming DOD's business practices would continue to be a focus for the department, as it is key to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' strategy to redirect funding toward warfighting.

"Reform, alongside everything we do in this department, is geared towards one goal: maximizing lethality," Shanahan wrote. "The best way to prevent a war is to prepare to win one. Success demands we adopt a culture of performance instead of measuring ourselves in terms of effort and improvement alone. At the end of the day, what matters is not whether we are better than we were last year, but whether we are better than our adversaries -- stronger, faster, and more lethal."

Tony Bertuca | September 4, 2018 at 5:00 AM

The week ahead will be a busy one for the Washington defense community. Senior Pentagon officials are scheduled to speak at several area conferences, while Congress returns to work on final appropriations bills. 


The Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance hosts an event with senior Pentagon officials about space-based missile defense.

The Intelligence and National Security Summit begins at National Harbor, MD.


IDEAA Inc. hosts ComDef 2018 featuring several senior Pentagon officials.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency hosts the D60 Symposium.

Defense News hosts a conference in Arlington, VA, featuring senior Pentagon officials.

KBR is scheduled to present at the Vertical Research Partners conference in Connecticut.

AeroVironment executives will discuss the company's quarterly earnings.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies about “national security and politics in turbulent times.”

The Association of the United States Army hosts an aviation “hot topic” in Arlington, VA.


The Billington Cybersecurity Summit begins in Washington.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson speaks at the Center for a New American Security.


Leidos executives will speak at the Citi conference in New York.

Marjorie Censer | August 31, 2018 at 1:33 PM

In today's INSIDER daily digest, we have the latest big contract award for a Navy program as well as new details about the Defense Department's effort to ready for a Space Force.

First off, Boeing prevailed in a three-way competition for a deal to build the MQ-25 Stingray:

Boeing wins $805 million Pentagon contract for MQ-25 Stingray

The Pentagon today awarded a $805 million contract to Boeing for the production of four MQ-25 Stingray engineering and manufacturing development models, according to Navy officials.

Vice President Mike Pence said earlier this month the Defense Department would create a single civilian position to oversee the new Space Force. We've confirmed the effort to create that role has begun:

Pentagon starting to plan for new space chief

The Defense Department confirmed this week it is taking steps to create a new assistant secretary of defense for space to manage the transition to a Space Force.

Meanwhile, the Air Force is looking to transfer money to pay for two programs. Pentagon comptroller David Norquist sent a letter to Capitol Hill in May to realign the funds:

Air Force eyes reprogrammed funds to launch new starts for B-52 and RQ-4 BACNs

The Air Force is seeking permission from Congress to shift $167 million between accounts to launch a pair of new-start programs in response to urgent operational needs for the B-52 bomber and for Global Hawk unmanned aircraft equipped with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, the airborne communications relay suite.

And the Army is weighing whether it makes sense to use expendable robots, given the way soldiers employ them in the field:

Army looking to develop expendable robots for future fight

The Army's early efforts to examine soldier behavior while using robotic and autonomous systems on the battlefield have shown the service it may need to tailor its development and procurement approach when it comes to robots.

The service is also readying for industry's input on a new battlefield heads-up display. The service is planning to select some vendors to demonstrate their designs:

Army fast tracking new battlefield heads-up display

Near the end of next week, the Army expects to receive white paper concepts from industry for a new battlefield heads-up display, a program the service estimates may cost more than a half billion dollars.