The Insider

By Justin Katz
June 29, 2020 at 9:39 AM

President Trump earlier this month tapped Gregory Slavonic to be the acting Navy under secretary, according to a June 26 service statement.

Slavonic was previously the assistant Navy secretary for manpower and reserve affairs since June 2018.

Prior to being a senior civilian, Slavonic served as a rear admiral in the Navy reserve and as chief of staff for Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) while the senator was a congressman.

By Tony Bertuca
June 29, 2020 at 5:00 AM

The House Armed Services Committee is slated to consider its version of the fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill this week, while the full Senate may vote on its version of the bill. Meanwhile, senior Pentagon officials plan to participate in several online events.

Monday

The Air Force Association hosts a discussion with the commander of U.S. Air Forces, Europe.

Tuesday

Amazon Web Services hosts its AWS Public Sector Summit Online.

The Association of the United States Army holds a webinar with the chief of Training and Doctrine Command.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on Russia’s military posture in the Arctic.

Wednesday

The House Armed Services Committee marks up its fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill.

The Brookings Institution hosts a discussion with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on defense innovation with the president of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

The Air Force Associations hosts a discussion with the head of Air Force Materiel Command.

Thursday

The Brookings Institution hosts a discussion with National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel.

By Jaspreet Gill
June 26, 2020 at 2:33 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee wants to decrease funding for the Army's Cyber Situational Understanding program to avoid duplicating efforts by the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office and U.S. Cyber Command.

Cyber Situational Understanding will provide the service with a common cyber operational picture, built on the software and hardware of the Command Post Computing Environment by Research Innovation, which was recently awarded a $21.8 million other transaction agreement to build a prototype for the program.

The Army had requested $28.5 million in research, development, test and evaluation funds in its fiscal year 2021 budget request for defensive cyber tool development. In the report, Senate lawmakers move to cut the Cyber Situational Understanding program’s funding by $12 million.

In a report accompanying its mark of the FY-21 defense authorization bill, the committee directs the Army to assess Project IKE, a cyber operations program formerly known as "PlanX" that has now been transitioned over to the Strategic Capabilities Office and U.S. Cyber Command from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Specifically, the committee wants the service to assess Project IKE's "ability to meet, with further development, the Cyber Situational Understanding tool requirements; the cost-efficiency of using the PlanX/Project IKE capability as the baseline for the Cyber Situational Awareness Tool; the training and interoperability benefits that result from acquisition and employment of situational understanding tools with a common baseline across the cyber mission forces and tactical cyber units; and whether or not the Cyber Situational Understanding program should be reoriented to utilize and build off of the PlanX/Project IKE capability," according to the report.

Funding should instead be used for tailoring the Joint Cyber Command and Control baseline to the Army's specific brigade combat team application and is urging the Navy and Air Force to undertake similar efforts, the report says.

The committee wants a briefing by Jan. 30, 2021, with an assessment of the capability and a path moving forward.

By John Liang
June 26, 2020 at 2:23 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on counter-small unmanned aircraft systems plus more coverage of the House and Senate Armed Services committees' fiscal year 2021 defense policy bills.

Army Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, director of the Joint C-sUAS office, spoke to reporters this week about countering small unmanned aircraft systems:

Army selects interim counter-small unmanned aircraft systems

The Army announced yesterday the selection of eight interim counter-small unmanned aircraft systems for future investments as the service takes the lead on joint counter-drone technology efforts.

The Army's Integrated Visual Augmentation System could get a funding cut, if House authorizers have anything to say about it:

House lawmakers reduce IVAS funding due to test delays, fewer units

The House Armed Services Committee is reducing funding for the Army's Integrated Visual Augmentation System due to operational testing delays and fewer units being purchased, according to committee aides.

There's also plenty of more news in the Senate Armed Services Committee's FY-21 defense policy bill, including testing of new technologies, tactical wheeled vehicles, ship procurement and more:

Senate defense bill includes domestic comparative test program to boost commercial tech in DOD programs

The Senate Armed Services Committee is pushing the Pentagon to set up a comparative testing program for U.S. technologies.

Senate panel looking at tactical wheeled vehicle supplier base

Senate authorizers are concerned about the Army's move to reduce funding across its tactical wheeled vehicle fleet in favor of developing next-generation systems, as they feel it could negatively impact the industrial base as well as readiness.

Senate authorizers take aim at Pentagon over ship procurement years

Senate lawmakers are seeking to prevent the Pentagon from choosing which year it lists a ship as purchased, after the Navy in its most recent budget submission featured two vessels for which Congress already issued funding and authorization.

Senate authorizers propose more funding for USAF anti-ship, anti-air weapons

The Senate Armed Services Committee wants to realign the Air Force's fiscal year 2021 tactical missile procurement budget to buy more anti-ship weapons and boost the service's classified research funding to continue maturing advanced air-to-air capabilities.

By Marjorie Censer
June 26, 2020 at 1:10 PM

The chief executive of Red 6 says the company -- which last week announced an investment from Lockheed Martin Ventures -- will benefit from Lockheed's expertise while still being able to work with other companies.

In an interview with Inside Defense this week, Daniel Robinson said the two companies "worked really collaboratively to carve out a deal that was strategically sensible and fair to both parties."

"There is a natural fit here," he said. "The nuance in getting the deal done is this technology has applicability to more platforms, more vendors."

Red 6 specializes in synthetic training and said the investment will help it accelerate the development and commercialization of its Airborne Tactical Augmented Reality System.

Robinson told Inside Defense he sees this technology helping the military balance its competing needs for training, particularly as the COVID-19 outbreak could squeeze budgets.

As Red 6 prepares to raise series A financing, Robinson said the Lockheed investment provides "a degree of credibility."

It "sends a signal out there [that] there's a credible new game in town and that this technology should be taken seriously," he said.

By Marjorie Censer
June 26, 2020 at 12:58 PM

Lockheed Martin said today it has received more than $1.1 billion in accelerated progress payments from the Pentagon, all of which it has flowed to suppliers.

The company said it has been "giving priority to small and vulnerable suppliers, as we continue our efforts to mitigate COVID-19 risks and promote a healthy defense industrial base."

The contractor also said it has hired more than 8,300 new employees since the COVID-19 crisis began and is seeking to fill more than 3,200 roles.

"The corporation remains on track with plans to hire 12,000 employees during 2020," Lockheed said.

By Justin Katz
June 26, 2020 at 12:51 PM

A congressional committee is seeking answers from the Navy after President Trump insinuated political considerations factored into a major shipbuilding contract source selection.

Trump spoke to shipyard workers yesterday at Fincantieri Marinette Marine's Wisconsin-based facilities.

"I hear the maneuverability is one of the big factors that you were chosen for the contract," said Trump, referring to the company's deal to build the Navy's future frigate, FFG(X). "The other is your location in Wisconsin if you want to know the truth."

The Navy announced the competition's winner in April and awarded FMM a $795 million contract to design and build the ship.

"We have requested information related to the Navy's official position about whether any of the shipyard locations influenced the source selection. We are still awaiting a response," a House Armed Services Committee Democratic spokeswoman told Inside Defense today.

A Navy spokesman declined to comment.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), whose district encompasses the shipyard, issued a statement following Trump's speech praising both the president and the company. A spokesman for the congressman did not immediately return a request for comment.

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) is the chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee that oversees Navy shipbuilding.

"Chairman Courtney takes suggestions that a major shipbuilding contract was awarded in anything but a fair and impartial way very seriously," Patrick Cassidy, his spokesman, told Inside Defense today. "Our subcommittee is looking into this matter and expect the Navy to provide our subcommittee and the American people with answers without delay."

By Tony Bertuca
June 25, 2020 at 5:13 PM

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said today he supports the burgeoning fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill being offered by the panel's Democratic majority, increasing the legislation's chances of bipartisan passage.

Thornberry put out a statement following the release of Committee Chairman Adam Smith's (D-WA) "chairman’s mark."

"The chairman's mark is not the bill I would have written, but on the whole, it is one I agree with and can support," Thornberry said. "It is the product of the House Armed Services Committee's bipartisan process and reflects priorities raised by of all of the committee’s members."

While members of the liberal wing of the Democratic party have said they want to include more progressive measures in the final bill, including a significant defense spending cut, Smith has stated he does not want the bill to be derailed by partisan riders, especially if he determines he will be unable to persuade Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and the White House to agree to them.

Both Smith and Thornberry released a joint statement earlier this year pledging to pass an FY-21 defense authorization bill, despite challenges posed by COVID-19.

This year would mark the 60th consecutive defense authorization bill to pass Congress, provided a final bill can be agreed upon by the House and Senate in the coming months.

While Thornberry said he is pleased with some of Smith's acquisition reform provisions, the Republican may still offer some additional amendments during the committee's full mark-up scheduled for July 1, including funding limitations to encourage DOD to enforce reforms already enacted by Congress.

Thornberry said he may also offer amendments to make additional investments in Smith's Indo-Pacific Reassurance Initiative.

By Ashley Tressel
June 25, 2020 at 3:52 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee is seeking a classified report on the Army's integrated air and missile defense capabilities in light of recent attacks on deployed forces and advanced capabilities held by Russia and China.

"Great-power competitors have invested heavily in long-range missiles, both in quantity and in advanced technologies such as hypersonics, and rockets and mortars remain weapons of choice against U.S. and partner security forces in non-conventional operations," authorizers say in the report accompanying their mark of the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill.

Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI) filed the bill earlier this week.

"The committee notes that the Army is responsible for 'conduct[ing] air and missile defense to support joint campaigns,' per Department of Defense directive 5100.01, and operates the majority of the ground-based air and missile defense capabilities in the Joint Force," the mark states. "Additionally, the Army was designated Executive Agent for Counter Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS) in November 2019, and stood up the Joint C-sUAS Office in January 2020."

The report would be due to the congressional defense committees by Feb. 15.

By Jaspreet Gill
June 25, 2020 at 3:03 PM

The Army Aviation office's program executive officer and deputy program executive officer are set to switch roles on July 1.

During a virtual town hall today, Pat Mason, program executive officer for Aviation, said newly promoted Brig. Gen. Rob Barrie will take over his position.

An Army spokesman told Inside Defense that Mason, who has served as the service's top aviation acquisition officer, will revert to Barrie's deputy PEO position.

As PEO, Barrie will handle several different project offices, including programs under the future vertical lift modernization priority like the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft and the Improved Turbine Engine.

By Courtney Albon
June 25, 2020 at 2:44 PM

House authorizers expressed support for the Air Force's Launch Services Procurement strategy in their mark of the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill while proposing limits on the service's near-term buy plan and calling for additional funding for launch certification, infrastructure investments and technology development to support future competition.

The House Armed Services Committee chairman's mark, which Inside Defense obtained, includes a provision that would restrict the Air Force from ordering any Phase 2 LSP launch missions after September 2024 and would require the service to terminate existing launch services contracts with companies who aren't chosen for Phase 2 within six months of the contract award. It would also prohibit the service from delaying Phase 2 awards due to construction.

The Air Force is poised to award two LSP Phase 2 contracts this summer, which will fund a slate of National Security Space Launch missions through 2026. Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman, SpaceX and United Launch Alliance are competing.

The bill would also require the Air Force to start investing in LSP Phase 3 efforts and recommends the service invest up to $150 million into three companies' launch certification, infrastructure development and technology maturation efforts. It also calls on the service to certify reusable launch hardware.

The House panel's language around NSSL differs slightly from the Senate Armed Services Committee's bill, which would authorize $250 million for Phase 3 launch certification and innovation efforts.

By Jaspreet Gill
June 25, 2020 at 2:36 PM

Leonardo DRS today announced it was awarded a $206 million contract by the Army to deliver vehicle installation kits, called I-Kits, for the service’s next-generation Mounted Family of Computer Systems II.

The company "will provide cables, brackets and other associated hardware to support installation of MFoCS II ware onto ground vehicle platforms" under the three-year contract, a June 25 press release says.

"The MFoCS II systems are a family of mission-critical platform processors, tablets and rugged displays which enable the use of Joint Battle Command-Platform and the Army’s next generation Mounted Mission Command capability," according to the release.

Leonardo DRS in 2018 was awarded an $841 million contract by the Defense Information Systems Agency to produce updated mission command computing systems for the MFoCS II, including dismounted tablets, touch-screen display units and other equipment.

The first generation of the MFoCS is currently fielded on combat and tactical vehicles.

By John Liang
June 25, 2020 at 2:10 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from the House Armed Services Committee "chairman's mark" of the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill, as well as coverage of the Senate Armed Services Committee's version of the legislation.

We start off with the House "chairman's mark" of the FY-21 defense authorization bill, which Inside Defense obtained:

House defense leader proposes $1B for Pentagon 'pandemic preparedness' fund

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) is proposing $1 billion for a new "pandemic preparedness" fund for the Pentagon to conduct medical research and bolster small businesses critical to national security.

House committee's $3.5B Pacific deterrence plan comes into view

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) is proposing a $3.5 billion plan to deter the Chinese military and reassure U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific region, according to documents obtained by Inside Defense.

Now on to our coverage of the Senate version:

Senate defense legislation primes pump on U.S. industrial policies to counter China

The Senate is advancing legislation to force Pentagon and White House leadership to consider sweeping industrial policy actions in the coming years to boost the resiliency of U.S. supply chains, as lawmakers remain concerned about an overreliance on China.

Senate panel pumps the breaks on MDA's 'layered' homeland defense, demands details

The Senate Armed Services Committee is proposing legislation that would withhold support for adopting ballistic missile defense systems originally designed for regional missions to protect the U.S. homeland in a new "layered" architecture.

Senate authorizers propose extra $65M to push HAWC to the battlefield

The Senate Armed Services Committee's mark of the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill recommends authorizing an extra $65 million to fund the Air Force's scramjet-powered hypersonic missile program at a higher development level that could bring the system closer to operational use.

New bill repeals legislation requiring contractors cover costs of lost bid protests

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved a fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill that would repeal a previous provision requiring large defense contractors to reimburse the Pentagon for the cost of processing losing bid protests.

Senate panel moves to limit funding for IVAS until Army delivers report

The Senate Armed Services Committee in its mark of the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill says it would limit the use of funds for the Integrated Visual Augmentation System until the Army secretary submits a report subsequent to the completion of operational testing.

Senate panel aims to zero out R&D funding for new amphibious ships

Senate authorizers are seeking to cut the Navy's requested research and development funding for two new amphibious ships.

Senate authorizers cut major Navy USV programs over 'excess' buys without testing

Senate authorizers in their mark of the next defense policy bill recommend cutting funding for the Navy's Medium and Large Unmanned Surface Vessel research and development efforts.

Senate panel proposes 'interim' GBI with RKV-equivalent warhead fielded by 2026

The Senate Armed Services Committee is proposing legislation mandating the Defense Department develop an "interim" Ground-based Interceptor capability to upgrade the current homeland ballistic missile defense fleet and field 20 of the new guided missiles in currently empty Alaska silos by the mid-2020s, a project that -- if enacted -- could siphon funds from the Missile Defense Agency's priorities.

Some defense business news:

Redwire, backed by private equity, acquires Made In Space

New space technology company Redwire said this week it has acquired Made In Space, which provides on-orbit space manufacturing technologies.

And last but certainly not least, the head of Air Combat Command spoke at an online event this week:

ACC Commander: New training concept could allow USAF to repurpose some F-22s for combat, red air

As the Air Force works to prove out a new concept of operations for fighter pilot training, the service is considering repurposing a portion of its F-22 training fleet for operational and adversary air roles, according to the head of Air Combat Command.

By Tony Bertuca
June 25, 2020 at 1:46 PM

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has approved a request for assistance from the Department of Homeland Security that would authorize the deployment of 4,000 U.S. military personnel at the southern border beginning in October, with more of the force coming from the National Guard.

"The duties to be performed by military personnel include the same categories of support as those currently being carried out along the border, including detection and monitoring, logistics, and transportation support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection," according to a statement from Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell.

"Military personnel will not directly participate in civilian law enforcement activities," he said.

The U.S. military mission on the southern border has been criticized and opposed by Democrats, but the Pentagon says troops will assist DHS there for as long as President Trump orders it.

Trump declared an emergency at the border last year and has diverted billions of dollars from the Pentagon to build a wall between Mexico and the United States. The funding shifts, meanwhile, have drawn opposition from Democrats and Republicans alike.

By Marjorie Censer
June 25, 2020 at 1:33 PM

The newly named head of SparkCognition Government Systems, established to provide artificial intelligence for the public sector, says he's focused on building needed infrastructure for the new business.

In an interview with Inside Defense this week, Logan Jones, who previously was vice president of Boeing's innovation cell HorizonX, said that what drew him to SparkCognition was that it's one of the few artificial intelligence companies "actually focused on helping national security and defense."

SparkCognition in May announced the new subsidiary and rolled out a high-profile board of advisers that includes former Pentagon officials Michèle Flournoy and Bob Work.

The company said its government systems business will be able to tailor its products for the public sector to cost-effectively improve critical functions.

Jones said developing SparkCognition Government Systems as a separate business is necessary.

"I think to be that trusted partner over the long run with DOD you have to become a company that focuses on DOD. You can't treat it as a side business," he said. "There is a government acquisition process, there's levels of trust that you have to get behind -- you can't do that by just doing it halfway."

Jones said he's considering multiple approaches for the business, from selling directly to the military to also working with prime contractors.

SGS still needs to set up needed infrastructure, from contract vehicles to hiring, according to Jones. Some SparkCognition employees will join SGS, he said, but the exact number isn't yet set.