The Insider

By Marjorie Censer
September 9, 2020 at 2:03 PM

The National Governors Association said today it will work with the Defense Department to "better realize more economic value from defense assets" under a new, two-year cooperative agreement.

"The NGA Center for Best Practices will work with the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) to help states develop and execute strategic, evidence-based action plans for promoting a resilient national defense industry, economic vitality and increased resiliency within the defense industrial base," NGA said.

The two organizations will put together seven reports and topical and regional workshops in 2020 and 2021, according to the announcement.

"During their collaboration, NGA and OEA will explore topics such as quality of life for military families, defense workforce development, defense industry resilience, installation resilience, defense spending by state and other issues critical to states' role in national defense," NGA said. "NGA will highlight promising state initiatives and lessons learned for enhancing the state role in national defense."

The goal, the association added, is to help states "move toward measurable policy, programmatic and practice outcomes."

NGA and the Pentagon will host a virtual workshop Sept. 16-18 focused on federal and state collaboration to improve the experiences of veterans, military spouses and students with military connections.

By Justin Katz
September 9, 2020 at 12:18 PM

U.S. Pacific Fleet is planning a capability demonstration in early 2021 called a "fleet battle problem" centered on unmanned and autonomous capabilities, according to a senior officer.

Rear Adm. Robert Gaucher, director of maritime headquarters at PACLFT, said yesterday during a virtual industry event the exercise will involve aerial, surface and subsurface vehicles as well as command and control elements.

The event is still in the planning phases, but PACFLT will work with the Office of Naval Research to include various payloads and sensors as well as autonomy demonstrations, Gaucher said at a conference hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

By Tony Bertuca
September 9, 2020 at 11:06 AM

The Pentagon expects to complete its final plan for joint military operations in December and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten said today advancements in artificial intelligence will be "key" to transforming warfare.

Hyten, who spoke during a virtual Defense Department symposium, said China is "moving incredibly quickly" to develop AI for military use, though the United States remains ahead for now.

"It doesn't matter how far ahead you are," he said. "If somebody is running faster than you, they are eventually going to pass you."

That's why, he said, the Pentagon is finalizing its new Joint All-Domain Command and Control war plan that will eliminate previously drawn battlefield "lines."

"We're going to be able to bring fires from all domains including space and cyber, kinetic and non-kinetic," he said. "We'll be able to bring fires from all domains seamlessly and the speed with which you do that will overwhelm an adversary and hopefully create the environment where we no longer have to worry about fighting that war. That is deterrence."

But all that integration, Hyten said, will require major boosts in artificial intelligence and machine learning if gains are to be sustained.

"I can't figure out how to do that without artificial intelligence," he said. "It has to be enabled by artificial intelligence."

Though the Pentagon has been increasing its investments in AI development and operations, Hyten said the bulk of the spending will occur in the private sector. It's up to DOD, he said, to successfully partner with private companies, some of which might not traditionally consider themselves defense contractors and may be hesitant to work with the military because of bureaucratic red tape.

"As much as we're investing, it's orders of magnitude larger in the industrial sector," he said. "Our numbers pale in comparison. We have to be able to partner with [industry]. We don't like to do that in the Department of Defense. We like to think we're still the big dog in the room. In this case we're not. We have to get out of our own way in many cases and apply the [research and development] of others to our problems."

By Marjorie Censer
September 9, 2020 at 9:12 AM

Alion Science and Technology said this week it has named Chris Bishop chief growth officer.

"In this role, Chris will be responsible for the strategic initiatives and business development functions across the company," the company said.

Bishop was most recently chief growth and strategy officer at Pyramid Systems. He has served as senior vice president of growth for ManTech International's mission solutions and services group and has been an executive at URS Corp. and NCI Information Systems.

By Justin Katz
September 9, 2020 at 9:05 AM

The Navy has started initial operational test and evaluation for the MQ-8C Fire Scout surface warfare increment and is planning final testing for next year.

Capt. Eric Soderberg, Fire Scout program manager, told Inside Defense in a statement last week that final operational test and evaluation is scheduled to start in April 2021.

The MQ-8C has three increments: an endurance baseline, surface warfare and mine countermeasures. The endurance baseline achieved initial operational capability in June 2019.

The SUW increment integrates a “maritime search radar as well as inverse synthetic aperture radar and synthetic aperture radar imagery capability,” according to the fiscal year 2019 report from the Pentagon’s top weapons tester.

The MCM increment includes the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis system. Its initial operational test and evaluation period has not been scheduled.

The final operational test and evaluation periods for the endurance baseline and MCM increments have also not yet been scheduled, according to Soderberg.

By Jaspreet Gill
September 8, 2020 at 4:26 PM

The Army this week will display technologies from more than 250 small businesses through a virtual summit for the third iteration of the Army Expeditionary Technology Search competition, the service announced today.

The event, called the xTech3 Summit, will be broadcast from Sept. 9 to 11 and will include small businesses that have been incubated through the program since 2018 and a technology showcase from finalists of the xTechSearch3 Accelerator program.

Army acquisition executive Bruce Jette launched the xTechSearch competition in 2018 and the service has operated the xTech Accelerator for competition finalists since 2019.

"The Accelerator not only actively develops the finalists into robust, sustainable small businesses, but also demystifies and guides them in transitioning their technologies for the Army," according to the release.

Ten finalists from the competition will virtually pitch and demo technologies, competing for a $250,000 grand prize.

"The summit will feature a keynote welcome from Army leaders, deep dives on the programs supporting tech startups, and final pitches from xTechSearch3 finalists," the release states. "A variety of technology topics will be discussed by leading experts in the field, including future flight technologies, human performance enablers and biotech breakthroughs. Each session will be followed by engineered virtual networking opportunities, allowing all participants to interact and build relationships."

Jette also launched a COVID-19 ventilator competition through the xTechSearch program in April for a low-cost, easily produced emergency ventilator. The first two $100,000 prizes were awarded to Spiro Devices and AirMid Critical Care Products later that month.

Additionally, the service in March announced 10 semifinalists for the fourth iteration of the competition, xTechSearch 4.0, and kicked off xTechSearch 5.0.

By Justin Doubleday
September 8, 2020 at 4:04 PM

The Defense Innovation Board will meet next week to discuss recommendations on autonomous systems testing, as well as the Defense Department's progress in training software acquisition professionals, according to a Federal Register notice.

The Sept. 15 meeting had initially been planned for June, but was postponed. The event will be livestreamed through the board's website.

At the meeting, the board will deliberate and vote on a recommendation from the science and technology subcommittee "concerning testing, evaluation, verification, and validation -- TEVV -- of autonomous systems, as well as a congressionally mandated assessment pursuant to the FY-20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Section 862," the notice states.

Section 862 tasked the board with providing "an independent assessment of the Department's progress in implementing acquisition training and management programs for all software acquisition professionals, software developers, and other appropriate individuals (as determined by the Secretary of Defense), to earn a certification in software development and software acquisition," according to the notice.

Additionally, the board will deliberate on recommendations from the workforce, behavior and culture subcommittee on "commercial sector hiring and workforce trends, largely driven by COVID-19, that the Department could consider to be more competitive for technical and digital talent," the notice states.

The new space advisory subcommittee will also "provide an update on the subcommittee's administrative status and mandate."

By Justin Katz
September 8, 2020 at 3:36 PM

The Marine Corps hopes to field its Long Range Unmanned Surface Vessel between fiscal years 2025 and 2027, according to a general overseeing the boat's development.

Brig. Gen. Eric Austin, director of the capabilities development directorate for Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said during a virtual AUVSI conference today the service is looking to buy three LRUSVs in FY-21 for evaluations and demonstrations.

Those vessels would be used to establish early operational capability in FY-22, he added.

LRUSV is being developed as an 11-meter autonomous boat and is derived from a Strategic Capabilities Office effort called "Sea Mob," SCO's budget documents say little about Sea Mob except that it is a group of USVs capable of "cooperative swarming behaviors."

Following a request for information being published last year, Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, MCCDC chief, characterized LRUSV as particularly important for the Indo-Pacific region.

"Long Range Unmanned Surface Vessels for us [are] vitally important because they're lethal. They're not just connectors, they're sniffers. They're out there telling me what's going on. They're passing that information back to me," Smith said during an October 2019 industry event.

"And they're spreading out the enemy because at some point you got to target everything that moves because the one thing that does get through is carrying the lethal package that [the enemy] least needs to be brought to the battlefield at the time and place of our choosing," he continued.

By Ashley Tressel
September 8, 2020 at 2:50 PM

The Army is seeking information on potential subsystems for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, according to a recent notice.

The Project Manager for Maneuver Combat Systems and Army Contracting Command-Detroit Arsenal are using the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences other transaction agreement for vendors interested in opportunities for "survivability, wireless Ethernet backbone and electrical propulsion/high electrical storage."

The PM is also using the National Spectrum Consortium OTA for vendors interested in artificial intelligence capability.

Vendors can find more information on the NCMS and NSC websites.

By John Liang
September 8, 2020 at 2:16 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Navy unmanned vehicles, the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System and more.

The Navy's Rapid Autonomy Integration Lab aims to integrate, test and certify unique software and mission capabilities prior to deploying them onboard unmanned vehicles in the fleet:

Navy starting rapid integration effort for unmanned capabilities; FY-22 budget to debut program

The Navy has begun a prototyping effort to demonstrate a new autonomous integration capability that, if successful, will debuted in the fiscal year 2022 budget request, according to an officer overseeing the project.

Huntington Ingalls Industries, Lockheed Martin, Bollinger Shipyards Lockport, Fincantieri Marinette Marine, Gibbs &Cox and Austal USA all recently received contracts to start work on the Large Unmanned Surface Vessel program:

Navy contract awards reveal six top contenders to build LUSV

The Navy late last week awarded six companies with contracts to begin studies for the Large Unmanned Surface Vessel, providing an early look into which companies will vie to build the new class of ship.

The Advanced Battle Management System network was recently used to detect and thwart attempts to disrupt U.S. space activities and shoot down a surrogate cruise missile with a hypervelocity weapon:

USAF demos ABMS network at massive second on-ramp, releases commandONE RFI

The Air Force has tested its new communications network and industry-provided technology at the second Advanced Battle Management System on-ramp and is now eyeing software packages for the program's commandONE line of effort.

Document: Air Force's ABMS commandONE RFI

Lockheed Martin is drawing on a wide range of legacy defense programs as part of its once-in-a-generation chance to elbow the company into the center of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system:

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.

Instead of being spread out over three military installations -- Ft. Belvoir, VA; Ft. Meade, MD; and Ft. Gordon, GA -- the Army Cyber Command is now consolidated at Ft. Gordon:

Army Cyber Command consolidates key elements at new Ft. Gordon headquarters

Army Cyber Command yesterday completed its move to its new headquarters at Ft. Gordon, GA, forming a "focal point" for its global cyber operations, according to senior service officials.

By Marjorie Censer
September 8, 2020 at 1:26 PM

The chief executive of Leidos said today intelligence agencies are moving as "aggressively as they can" to find ways for contractors to work as a key provision that has kept sidelined employees on standby is set to expire.

During a virtual conference hosted by Citi, Roger Krone said Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act has covered the salaries of employees unable to work because of pandemic-related restrictions.

This has primarily affected Leidos employees assigned to intelligence agencies, he said, because social distancing has meant some employees cannot work at classified facilities. But Section 3610 is slated to expire Sept. 30.

"The conversation we've had with our intel customer is, if you can't cover our people under 3610, the risk is not that we would lay them off," Krone said. "The risk is we have open requisitions for those skills in our industries outside of intel."

"We will redeploy those people in the areas that are growing," he added.

Krone said the company has "made that point across the intelligence community."

"They are going as aggressively as they can to find ways to operate where they can bring more and more staff in, so we won't be beholden to this 3610 clause," he added.

In the fourth quarter, Krone said, he expects the intelligence group to "almost completely be back to pre-COVID" levels.

Krone stressed that he wouldn't seek to redeploy the company's workforce unless 3610 expires. If it does, he added, "there will be a limited period of time for which I can carry the workforce," by using paid time off and special leave.

But, "there will be a point of time where the economic burden of that doesn't make sense for me to carry and yes, we would redeploy those people into open requisitions."

By Marjorie Censer
September 8, 2020 at 9:21 AM

The head of Cubic's newly consolidated defense business says he expects the combined unit to be able to offer more integrated solutions and to be more efficient.

In an interview with Inside Defense, Mike Knowles said the military services “are starting to move faster and more efficiently and they’re also integrating capabilities.” Cubic, he added, wanted to ensure it is efficiently matching the needs of its customers.

Last month, the company said it was combining its mission solutions business with its global defense unit to create a new segment called Cubic Mission and Performance Solutions. Knowles, who had led the global defense unit since 2018, was tapped to head the new unit.

“This combination in practice is a formality,” he said, noting the two units were “already working quite tightly.”

Knowles said the two units are hoping to “find some synergies in our product roadmaps and where we can find combinations that might bring more capability.”

“The really interesting part is removing any hurdles and driving greater collaboration on ideas,” Knowles added.

He also said there remains “some work to do” on finding operational efficiencies.

Knowles said he’s been pleased with how the company has adapted to working during the ongoing pandemic. Knowles told Inside Defense Cubic is starting to see awards get back on schedule. While live training events were initially affected, he said the company is “starting to see that come back to look more like normal.”

By Marjorie Censer
September 8, 2020 at 5:00 AM

Top defense officials are set to speak at several conferences this week, while industry executives are slated to make appearances at several investment events.

Tuesday

Defense One hosts an event on the state of the Army with Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville.

The Billington Cybersecurity Summit begins. Among those set to speak are DOD's Katie Arrington.

Leidos and Maxar Technologies executives are slated to present at a Citi conference.

AUVSI begins a three-day defense conference with speakers including Hondo Geurts, the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition.

The Reagan Institute hosts a fireside chat with Army Secretary Kevin McCarthy.

Wednesday

The AUVSI conference continues with remarks from Kim Herrington, the acting principal director for defense pricing and contracting, among others.

The Billington Cybersecurity Summit continues, with remarks from Dana Deasy, the Pentagon's chief information officer, among others.

The two-day 2020 Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Symposium begins.

Defense News kicks off a two-day conference. Speakers Wednesday include Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, and Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s acquisition czar.

AeroVironment executives are scheduled to discuss quarterly earnings.

Thursday

The AUVSI conference wraps up with remarks from Army acquisition chief Bruce Jette and others.

The Department of Defense AI conference concludes.

The Defense News conference continues, with speakers including Heidi Grant, the head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, and Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist.

AFCEA DC hosts an event on Joint All-Domain Command and Control.

The Center for a New American Security hosts a virtual event with Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Gen. John Murray, commander of Army Futures Command.

Aerojet Rocketdyne executives are slated to present at the G.research conference.

KBR executives are set to speak at a Vertical Research Partners conference.

DOD acquisition chief Ellen Lord is slated to speak at a Heritage Foundation event on the security risks of Chinese drones.

The National Defense Industrial Association hosts a Women in Defense symposium.

By Marjorie Censer
September 4, 2020 at 2:53 PM

The Pentagon said today it has completed its “comprehensive re-evaluation” of its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract and opted to stick with original winner Microsoft.

“While contract performance will not begin immediately due to the Preliminary Injunction Order issued by the Court of Federal Claims on February 13, 2020, DOD is eager to begin delivering this capability to our men and women in uniform,” the Defense Department said in a statement.

The Pentagon awarded the potential 10-year, $10 billion cloud services contract to Microsoft in October. Shortly afterward, Amazon filed a challenge in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

In February, the judge ordered DOD and Microsoft to stop work on the contract after finding that Amazon would likely be able to show that DOD erred in its evaluation of the competing contractors' cloud storage solutions.

By Courtney Albon
September 4, 2020 at 2:33 PM

The White House today released a new space policy directive aimed at boosting space systems’ cybersecurity.

The directive, SPD-5, is the government’s first comprehensive policy geared toward space systems. Speaking today with reporters on background, senior administration officials said the directive is not meant to be prescriptive -- and they don’t intend to ask agencies to mandate its recommendations -- but instead it provides principle-based best practices for space operators and agencies that develop space systems.

“SPD-5 recognizes that cybersecurity principles and practices that apply to terrestrial systems also apply to space systems,” one official said. “It encourages integrating cybersecurity into all phases of space system development [and] stresses that effective cybersecurity practices stem from cultures of prevention, active defense, risk management and the sharing of best practices.”

The directive includes five cybersecurity principles for space systems: ensure space systems and associated infrastructure are developed using risk-based engineering; develop or integrate cyber plans for space systems that include capabilities to protect against unauthorized access and reduce vulnerabilities, among other measures; adopt cyber requirements that leverage best practices and norms of behavior; collaborate to develop best practice mitigations; and make appropriate risk trades to implement security requirements for specific systems.

The directive builds on the White House’s 2018 national cyber strategy, another official said, noting that it serves to acknowledge the critical role that space systems play in preserving national security and the economy.

“It further recognizes the importance of a comprehensive policy to address the cyber threats posed by potential adversaries and malicious actors,” the second official said.

The policy directive encourages agencies to work with the commercial space industry and other non-government operators “to further define best practices, establish cybersecurity-informed norms, and promote improved cybersecurity behaviors throughout the nation’s industrial base for space systems.”