The Insider

May 9, 2018 at 2:23 PM | John Liang

The Pentagon's latest "Green Book," the RQ-4 Global Hawk, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program and more highlight this Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest.

The Pentagon's latest "Green Book" introduces a new budget subfunction called "OCO to base":

DOD plans to shift $190 billion from OCO to base budget between FY-20 and FY-23

The Defense Department has established a new line in its spending forecast to account for shifting $190 billion from war costs back into the base budget between fiscal years 2020 and 2023, according to the office of the Pentagon's comptroller.

Document: DOD's FY-19 'green book'


Unmanned systems coverage:

Lawmakers propose briefings on progress of enlisted RPA pilots, suggest enlisted could fly all aircraft

The House Armed Services Committee today passed an amendment to its version of the fiscal year 2019 defense policy bill requiring the Air Force secretary to brief lawmakers by spring 2019 on plans for allowing enlisted airmen to fly all remotely piloted aircraft, as well as on the possibility of creating a path for enlisted airmen to pilot any aircraft.

Lawmakers propose more money for BACN aircraft, push for RQ-4 communications upgrades

The House Armed Services Committee is nudging the Air Force to invest more in its EQ-4B Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft, a modified version of Northrop Grumman's RQ-4 Global Hawk, in the chairman's mark of the fiscal year 2019 defense policy bill.

A new DOD IG report on the Army's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program is out:

DOD IG concerned with JLTV preparedness

The Pentagon's inspector general is concerned about whether the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle will be ready for full-rate production as the Army gears up for a final production decision in December, according to a newly released audit of the program.

Document: DOD IG report on the JLTV program


The Air Force will not likely release a report on an upcoming safety review's findings and noted the effort will not be led by a member of the air staff:

Air Force to conduct operational safety review following increase in aviation mishaps

The Air Force announced Tuesday it will conduct a one-day operational safety review across all of its flying and maintenance wings in response to a recent increase in Class A mishaps within the service.

May 9, 2018 at 10:27 AM | Courtney McBride

Several Army general officers were nominated for promotion on May 7.

Lt. Gen. Austin Miller, commander of Joint Special Operations Command and Joint Special Operations Command Forward, has been nominated for promotion to the rank of general. Miller has held his current position since March 2016.

While the Defense Department has not identified a billet for Miller, a potential destination is the top post at U.S. Special Operations Command. The current SOCOM commander, Gen. Tony Thomas, has held his post since March 2016. His predecessor, Gen. Joseph Votel, led SOCOM from August 2014 to March 2016 before departing to lead U.S. Central Command.

The Defense Department also announced yesterday that Air Force Lt. Gen. Scott Howell will assume command of JSOC.

Maj. Gen. Darsie Rogers has been tapped for a third star. Rogers heads Special Operations Command Central; he has held this position since October 2015.

Additionally, Maj. Gen. Bradley Becker, chief of the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq, has been nominated for promotion to lieutenant general. Becker previously served as commanding general of the Military District of Washington.

May 9, 2018 at 9:54 AM | Justin Katz

United Technologies Corp. subsidiary UTC Aerospace Systems announced today the components it's providing to the Marine Corps' heavy-lift helicopter will reduce the amount of regular maintenance the aircraft requires.

UTC Aerospace is supplying the power transmission system for the tail rotor, including drive shafts, couplings and bearing assemblies for the Marine Corps' CH-53K King Stallion.

"Unlike flexible disc couplings, which typically need to be replaced at regular intervals over the life of the aircraft, UTC Aerospace Systems couplings are qualified to last the life of the helicopter, further reducing required maintenance," according to a company statement.

The company also said the drive shaft system is constructed of titanium and high-strength aluminum to reduce corrosion and decrease weight.

Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky is the prime contractor for the CH-53K, which is the replacement for the CH-53E Super Stallion. The King Stallion is the Marine Corps' highly anticipated heavy-lift helicopter expected to carry three times the load of its predecessor. The program of record will purchase 200 helicopters.

Marine Corps officials have repeatedly insisted they can meet an initial operational capability deadline of December 2019 despite two Pentagon offices casting doubt.

The helicopter's first deployment is expected in the 2023-2024 time frame.

May 8, 2018 at 3:47 PM | Tony Bertuca

Two senior Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee have released statements saying President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal is a mistake.

Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), on the eve of a marathon debate on the fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill, said he has no doubt the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is flawed and that Iran has been deceptive about its nuclear program.

Still, "my preference would have been to give our European allies a few more months to strengthen the deal," he said.

Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), who chairs the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee and also sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said it is wrong for the United States to withdraw from the deal without proof that Iran has violated it.

"The Iran Deal is a deeply flawed agreement," he said. "As I have previously said, this deal has an insufficient inspection regime, insufficiently addresses long range ICBM missile development, and is limited to 10 years, giving the appearance of permission to develop nuclear weapons in the future. However, without proof that Iran is in violation of the agreement, it is a mistake to fully withdraw from this deal. Now, we need to work with our allies to fix this flawed agreement to ensure the world is not facing a nuclear Iran."

John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser, told reporters one of the reasons the deal is so flawed is because it includes inspection limits that make it impossible to say for certain whether the Iranians are adhering to it.

"We're simply incapable of saying whether they’re in compliance or not," he said.

But Defense Secretary Jim Mattis provided a different appraisal of the deal when he spoke to the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 26.

"I've read it now three times . . . and I will say that it is written almost with an assumption that Iran would try to cheat," he said. "So the verification, what is in there, is actually pretty robust as far as our intrusive ability."

Mattis, however, added: "Whether or not that is sufficient, that is a valid question."

Despite reactions from Thornberry and Turner, Trump's decision was praised by many Republicans.

"President Trump has done the right thing by pulling out of the flawed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and reinstating sanctions on Iran," said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), a senior member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"It was a bad deal from the beginning that only paused Iran's nuclear development and did nothing to address their malign behavior in the region or their ballistic missile capabilities," he added.

Democrats, as expected, castigated Trump's exit from the deal, which has been held up as one of former President Obama's signature foreign policy achievements.

"This decision will make us less safe by allowing Iran to quickly acquire a nuclear weapon, separating us from our allies, and fueling instability in the region," said Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee. "The JCPOA has so far been successful in preventing Iran from advancing toward the acquisition of nuclear weapons. It did not cover issues such as ballistic missiles or Iranian support for terrorism, but President Trump has offered no alternative that would do a better job at securing America's vital security interest in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran while avoiding the possibility of an unnecessary and potentially catastrophic clash. Without question, this decision runs the risk of far greater conflict and in the short term, at a minimum, far greater destabilization of the Middle East."

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee said Trump is ignoring the advice of his top generals and military leaders by withdrawing from the deal.

"It is irresponsible for President Trump to abandon this international agreement and needlessly isolate the United States in the absence of an Iranian violation and without presenting a credible alternative to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons," he said.

Going forward, Thornberry said the United States must have two critical priorities.

"One is to further enhance our own military capabilities," he said. "The other is to strengthen our alliances. A strong, international effort is required to curtail Iran’s aggressive behavior in a number of areas."

May 8, 2018 at 2:22 PM | John Liang

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Aegis Ashore program, the nascent Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability and more.

Aegis Ashore could get an anti-air warfare capability:

MDA exploring options to add anti-air warfare capability to Aegis Ashore

The Missile Defense Agency is moving ahead with assessments that could give the land-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system the means to intercept cruise missiles and aircraft, a new capability Congress mandated be included as part of the next round of improvements to Aegis Ashore systems in Europe.

A new Air Force organization will help the service prioritize what it should fund to combat "moderate-risk" threats if it receives less money than requested:

Strategic planning chief confident AFWIC has tools to succeed

The Air Force's deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements said this week his directorate has the authorities it needs to make the new Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability succeed.

Army Secretary Mark Esper recently spoke at the Atlantic Council:

Esper: Army should be more 'hospitable' to innovators

The Army needs to combine greater outreach to industry -- traditional and otherwise -- with less prescriptive requirements to foster innovation and improve acquisition, according to the service secretary.

The House Armed Services Committee chairman's mark of the FY-19 defense policy bill includes provisions that aim to tighten congressional oversight of the Conventional Prompt Strike program:

Congress eyes conventional hypersonic triad, seeks details of marquee DOD hypersonic project

Draft legislation would require Pentagon brass to validate a requirement for a potential conventional hypersonic strike triad -- setting the stage for a ground-, sea-, and air-launched ultra-fast boost-glide weapon -- along with cost estimates for accelerating initial operational capability of each notional leg of this fledgling new class of weapon.

News from the recent annual summit of the Army Aviation Association of America:

Army weighs new aviation force structure for 101st, Europe

NASHVILLE, TN -- The Army is weighing the possibility of boosting CH-47 Chinook force structure to support the requirements of the 101st Airborne Division.

DAMO-AV: FY-18 budget boost pushed modernization 'to the left'

NASHVILLE, TN -- The Defense Department's funding boost in fiscal year 2018 has provided "tremendous help" to Army aviation, enabling the service to accelerate its modernization plans, according to an official.

May 8, 2018 at 1:23 PM | Lee Hudson

An F/A-18E Super Hornet experienced a "cabin pressure malfunction" while flying over Turkey during a sortie in support of Operation Inherent Resolve yesterday, the service confirmed to Inside Defense.

The incident was first reported by The War Zone.

The jet was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 136 and embarked aboard the Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). One aviator had hypoxia-like symptoms, and a second Super Hornet with VFA-136 escorted the stricken pilot and both landed safely at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

The pilot underwent continuous monitoring by base medical personnel and has returned to the Truman for further medical evaluation and treatment, according to the Navy. The service did not say whether the aircraft itself had returned to the carrier or was still in Turkey. The incident is under investigation.

The House Armed Services Committee will mark up its version of the fiscal year 2019 defense policy bill tomorrow. The chairman's mark includes four physiological-episode related provisions.

May 7, 2018 at 5:37 PM | Courtney Albon

The F-35 joint program office announced Monday it has resumed acceptance of the Lockheed-made jet but would not confirm who would be footing the bill -- despite past claims from Pentagon officials that the government would not be paying for the repair costs.

JPO spokesman Joe DellaVedova said in a May 7 statement that aircraft acceptance resumed May 1. He said the program has implemented "a comprehensive corrective action plan" but did not provide details about the cost of the fix or who would be paying for it. Lockheed Martin spokesman Michael Friedman said the company would not discuss cost, but reiterated that the program has a plan in place to "effectively and efficiently" address the issue.

The program first revealed the problem last year after it discovered corrosion on some of the airframe's fasteners. At the time, the JPO said the problem impacted approximately 200 aircraft.

Pentagon officials have insisted the delivery pause, which did not halt production and comes as the program is in the midst of a prolonged negotiation for low-rate initial production Lot 11, was due largely to a discrepancy about who would pay for the fix. Vice Adm Paul Grosklags, head of Naval Air Systems Command, told lawmakers at an April 11 hearing that because the mistake was Lockheed's fault, the company should pay to correct it.

"They should pay for that out of their bottom line, not our topline," he said.

DellaVedova noted that the program is working to modify the effected jets with a minimal impact to operations. He said most aircraft will receive the update within two years and the remaining jets will be completed "as their availabilities/modification timing allows."

May 7, 2018 at 3:41 PM | John Liang

The White House is telling House appropriators that the fiscal year 2019 military construction, veterans affairs and related agencies spending bill "underfunds key investments in critical areas supported in the FY 2019 budget request."

One of those "critical areas" is military construction, according to a letter Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney sent today to Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ).

In the letter, Mulvaney writes:

The Administration appreciates that the bill provides $11.3 billion for military construction, close to the full amount requested. However, the bill cuts approximately $950 million from the Administration's requested military construction projects and instead incrementally funds some requested projects while diverting $650 million to other unrequested projects. Many of these unrequested projects are not ready for construction due to the lack of planning and design and are not included in the Department of Defense's Future Years Defense Program. By incrementally funding, rather than fully funding, military construction projects, the bill delays critical resources to complete high-priority projects initiated in 2019 and puts the burden on future budgets to make up the difference. Government Accountability Office reports concur with OMB's position as a best practice.

Read the full letter.

May 7, 2018 at 3:37 PM | Courtney Albon

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry's (R-TX) mark of the fiscal year 2019 defense policy bill includes a provision that would limit the Air Force's KC-46 tanker procurement effort until the Federal Aviation Administration signs off on the program's final certification.

The language states that the service would be restricted from buying three of the new combat tankers until the program has received both its supplemental and military certifications from the FAA and the Air Force has accepted the first aircraft delivery.

Prime contractor Boeing announced in April it had completed all the flight tests associated with the supplemental certification. In a May 7 email, spokesman Charles Ramey said the company is working through final data analysis and paperwork with the FAA, and it's unclear when the agency will sign off on the certification.

The company received its military, or amended type, certification in December 2017.

May 7, 2018 at 3:15 PM | John Liang

Orbital ATK last week reported first-quarter sales of $1.3 billion, up nearly 21 percent compared to the same quarter the previous year.

Orbital CEO David Thompson said in a May 3 statement that "operationally, the company carried out numerous successful space and defense missions in the first quarter of 2018, while also delivering record quantities of tactical missiles, precision weapons, aerospace structures and related systems to government and commercial customers."

Orbital's Defense Systems Group reported quarterly sales had risen by $108 million compared to the first quarter of 2017 "largely due to higher activity in Defense Electronics Systems, Armament Systems and Small Caliber Systems Divisions," according to the statement. Space Systems Group quarterly sales went up by $15 million, or 5 percent compared to the same quarter the previous year "largely due to higher activity on Satellite Systems Division contracts."

The company didn't hold an earnings conference call due to its pending purchase by Northrop Grumman

May 7, 2018 at 2:37 PM | John Liang

Continued coverage of the Army's latest modernization strategy, the Air Force's light-attack aircraft experiment, DOD's new chief management officer and much more highlight this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest.

Further coverage of the Army's modernization strategy:

Army provides detailed time line on long-range precision fires

The Army's pursuit of long-range precision fires capability relies on "an incremental approach" across multiple capabilities for employment at different echelons, according to a new document.

Related: Bradley replacement a top goal for Army in next decade


Document: Army's modernization strategy (FOUO)


The Air Force's deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs spoke at an Air Force Association event this morning:

Second phase of light-attack experiment to explore maintenance, munitions

The second phase of the Air Force's light-attack experiment, which begins today, is vetting the logistics, sustainment and weapons integration aspects of a potential new attack fleet, according to the service's deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs.

Defense Department Chief Management Officer Jay Gibson chatted with Inside Defense last week:

DOD's new chief management officer wants to redirect spending to 'tip of the spear'

Defense Department Chief Management Officer Jay Gibson, who is in charge of the Pentagon's latest effort in a long history of initiatives to find business efficiencies that can be redirected to new spending on military readiness and weapon systems, says this time is different.

News on the House Armed Services Committee chairman's mark of the fiscal year 2019 defense policy bill:

Chairman's mark recommends $623M for JSTARS recap, echoing USAF's FY-18 spending plan

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) will include $623 million in his mark of the fiscal year 2019 defense policy bill to keep the Air Force's E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System recapitalization on track, though the service wants to ditch the modernization program in favor of a broader look at advanced battle management systems.

Can Pyongyang's ICBMs be stopped by missile-armed UAV? Congress wants to know

Lawmakers want an independent assessment of a proposal to arm Predator unmanned aircraft with guided missiles to shoot down North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles, leveraging proven technologies in the American arsenal to rapidly field a system that uses kinetic interceptors to kill Pyongyang’s ballistic missiles during the boost phase of flight.

Thornberry adds Stryker upgrade funding to authorization bill

The House Armed Services Committee chairman's mark of the fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill includes $360 million for Stryker upgrades, according to a summary provided by the committee.

Thornberry proposes spending boost for GBSD, LRSO in FY-19 to address unfunded requirements

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee wants to grant the Air Force's wish to boost funding for its nuclear missile modernization programs, which the service included in its fiscal year 2019 unfunded requirements list submitted to Congress earlier this year.

Inside Defense recently toured Boeing's military aircraft facilities in Washington State:

Boeing touts progress toward first KC-46 delivery during media tour

EVERETT, WA -- Boeing officials last week said the company is working "shoulder to shoulder" with the Air Force to deliver the first next-generation KC-46 tankers by the end of the year, telling reporters here the program's schedule problems are largely a thing of the past.

A recent Pentagon inspector general's report highlighted issues with small boat launch and recovery from the Expeditionary Fast Transport:

Navy looks to improve small boat launch and recovery from EPF

The Navy is looking to improve small boat launch and recovery from the Expeditionary Fast Transport after the issue was highlighted in a Defense Department inspector general audit of the program.

Document: DOD IG report on the Expeditionary Fast Transport program

Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman will be getting SBIRS follow-on contracts:

Air Force to sole-source early SBIRS follow-on work to Lockheed, Northrop

The Air Force announced Friday it plans to award sole-source contracts to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to produce the initial satellites in its new Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrastructure architecture.

May 7, 2018 at 2:21 PM | Lee Hudson

Roughly one week after the Pentagon characterized an uptick in aviation mishaps as "not a crisis," House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced an amendment to the fiscal year 2019 defense policy bill that would call for a study on military aviation safety and establish a national commission.

The commission would have eight members -- four appointed by the president; one appointed by the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman; one appointed by the House Armed Services Committee chairman; and one selected by the House Armed Services Committee ranking member. Smith introduced the amendment ahead of the committee's mark-up Wednesday.

The new commission would conduct a comprehensive study of aviation mishaps that occurred from FY-13 through FY-18. The study would analyze causes that contributed to these mishaps, make recommendations on modifications, safety, training maintenance, personnel, or other policies related to military aviation safety, according to the amendment.

Funding for the commission would come from Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps operations and maintenance accounts.

May 7, 2018 at 2:12 PM | Justin Katz

House lawmakers are proposing to slash the funding request for a major Marine Corps unmanned aircraft research and development effort by $15 million, according to the chairman's mark of the fiscal year 2019 defense policy bill.

House authorizers recommend granting only $10.3 million of the $25.3 million requested for the Marine Air Ground Task Force Unmanned Expeditionary program, also called MUX.

"The committee believes the Marine Corps underestimates the required communications, data link, launch, mission execution, and recovery infrastructure, or the human capital resources required to train, operate, maintain, and sustain such a system," the chairman's mark states. "The Marine Corps also underestimates the necessary human capital resources required to meet current deployment-to-dwell policy and guidance issued by the secretary of defense."

Further, lawmakers propose having the chairman of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council brief them on similar capabilities throughout the joint force and explain why those capabilities would not satisfy Marine Corps requirements.

The chairman's mark also requires Navy Secretary Richard Spencer to brief lawmakers on the Marine Corps' acquisition and funding strategy for MUX.

The group 5 unmanned air vehicle has a wide range of capabilities to fill and mission sets to meet.

"The future MUX [unmanned aerial vehicle] system will provide a weaponized, payload flexible, shipboard capable/expeditionary system that is runway independent for all weather, long range/persistence, operations from the sea in a contested environment," according to Navy budget documents.

"This next generation UAV capability will have far greater range, endurance, altitude, and payload capability than the current conventional [vertical-take off-and-landing] technology can provide from air capable ships."

The service hopes to pare down its requirements through a request for information released in March and a planned industry day in June, Inside the Navy reported.

Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, deputy commandant for combat development and integration, told ITN last month the Marine Corps is using similar engagement strategies as it did with the armored reconnaissance vehicle.

"We are involving them [industry] much more up front in developing what that requirement will be," Walsh said.

Navy budget documents indicate the service's request for MUX research will not slow down in the future years defense program with $26 million in FY-20, $26 million in FY-21, $24 million in FY-22 and $61 million in FY-23.

May 7, 2018 at 11:39 AM | John Liang

The House Armed Services Committee's marathon debate over the fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill begins Wednesday.

As a primer, check out what language the Defense Department would like to be included in the bill here as well as the chairman's mark here and the subcommittee mark-ups here.

May 7, 2018 at 9:52 AM | Courtney McBride

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

1. The Army has laid out its vision of the future force and a path to achieving it, but maintains that fiscal uncertainty or diminished budgets could derail the effort.

Full story: Army delivers comprehensive modernization strategy to Congress

2. The Army's primary goal for the future of combat vehicles in the near to mid term is to replace the Bradley with a new infantry fighting vehicle, according to a report obtained by Inside the Army.

Full story: Bradley replacement a top goal for Army in next decade

3. A pair of Defense Department offices has informed Congress that the Army's strategy to transform and modernize its tactical network has merit, but cautions it is too early to predict success and urges the service to further develop its implementation approach.

Full story: CAPE, DOT&E deem Army's network strategy 'suitable,' raise concerns

4. The Army's pursuit of long-range precision fires capability relies on "an incremental approach" across multiple capabilities for employment at different echelons, according to a new document.

Full story: Army provides detailed time line on long-range precision fires