The Insider

By Tony Bertuca
September 30, 2019 at 5:00 AM

Senior Pentagon officials are scheduled to appear at events around the Washington area this week. Congress is in recess.

Monday

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood speaks at a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference on "navigating geostrategic flux" in Asia.

The Atlantic Council hosts a panel discussion on transatlantic space cooperation.

The chief of U.S. Southern Command speaks at an Association of the United States Army forum.

Tuesday

The Brookings Institution hosts a panel discussion on strategic competition between the United States and China.

Thursday

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger speaks at the Heritage Foundation.

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord is scheduled to speak at a government contracting conference hosted by George Mason University and Defense Acquisition University.

By John Liang
September 27, 2019 at 1:26 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an upcoming Navy-Marine Corps force-structure assessment, the Missile Defense Agency's Next Generation Interceptor program, the lowest price, technically acceptable contracting approach and more.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger recently co-signed a memo committing the services to work on a "comprehensive naval force architecture":

Navy, Marine Corps conducting integrated force-structure assessment

The Navy and Marine Corps will complete by December an integrated force-structure assessment, according to a new memo.

Document: Navy memo on integrated force-structure assessment

The second draft request for proposals for the Missile Defense Agency's Next Generation Interceptor program will be released only to potential prime contractors:

MDA to circulate second draft RFP for NGI next week to potential primes only

The Missile Defense Agency plans to release an updated version of a draft solicitation for a Next Generation Interceptor on Oct. 1, a revision of the preliminary request circulated to industry weeks ago as part of a rapid effort by the Pentagon to reboot the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program after terminating the Redesigned Kill Vehicle last month.

The Pentagon's final rule on the lowest price, technically acceptable contracting strategy is now out:

Pentagon issues final rule on LPTA restrictions

The Defense Department today issued a final rule meant to limit the use of the lowest price, technically acceptable contracting approach, according to a Federal Register notice.

Document: Final DOD rule on the LPTA process

In a new memo to Mike Griffin, the Pentagon's top technology officer, and other key Defense Department officials, the DOD inspector general's office announced its intent to conduct investigations into a program Griffin has ranked as the highest development priority for the U.S. military:

Hypersonic weapons light up DOD inspector general's radar, audits coming

The Defense Department's inspector general is planning this month to begin auditing hypersonic weapons research and development projects, a move that comes after Pentagon leaders announced plans to nearly double spending over the next five years on the new class of ultrafast weapons -- both offensive and defensive -- to more than $11 billion.

Document: DOD IG memo on hypersonic weapons research

The Air Force is working to increase its knowledge of the launch market in support of its National Security Space Launch acquisition strategy:

Air Force commissions independent launch market study to inform future AQ strategy

The Air Force has contracted with an independent organization to study the global launch market in order to inform the next phase of its Launch Services Procurement strategy.

Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes outlined the service's current thinking around the Next-Generation Air Dominance program at the Air Force Association's recent annual conference:

ACC chief: 'Century Series' approach has been in NGAD plan for years

The head of Air Force Air Combat Command told reporters recently that the Air Force's plan to apply a "Century Series" concept to the Next-Generation Air Dominance program is not a change of course, but instead aligns well with studies the service has been conducting over the last few years.

By Marjorie Censer
September 27, 2019 at 12:12 PM

Mercury Systems said this week it has named former Office of the Secretary of Defense official William Conley chief technology officer, effective Monday.

"In this role, Dr. Conley will direct and accelerate Mercury's technology vision and leadership in innovative technology that provides state-of-the-art solutions to the aerospace and defense industry," the company said.

Conley previously was a member of the federal senior executive service and director for electronic warfare in OSD.

"In that role, he led the $7 billion annual investment to develop and acquire electronic warfare weapon systems, while also serving as an executive secretary for the Electronic Warfare Executive Committee," Mercury said.

Conley also has worked as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and as a Navy engineer.

In an interview with Inside Defense this week, Conley said his new position will allow him to "get a little bit more hands-on with the technology."

He noted Mercury hasn't had a corporate-level CTO in several years, giving him the opportunity to establish the role and the value of the office.

"There's definitely going to be an evolution in terms of how we get this right," he said.

Conley also noted Mercury makes substantial investments in research and development already and said the CTO should not have full control over the company's internal R&D budget.

However, he said there will be areas where he can push for investments that will cut across business units.

Conley said the IRAD budget is "absolutely critical for Mercury’s future success."

By Ashley Tressel
September 27, 2019 at 12:06 PM

The Army next month will demonstrate autonomous research for next-generation combat vehicle development that the service has been collecting for nearly a decade.

The Army Research Laboratory is leading an effort, called the "Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance," a 10-year program for ground robotics technology research that has aimed to develop autonomy for manned-unmanned teaming, according to an Army press release issued this month.

Stuart Young, the laboratory's RCTA collaborative alliance manager, said in the release that over the program’s course they "created new knowledge and understanding in ground robotics autonomy that benefits government, academia and industry, and we forged the ARL Autonomy Enterprise to operationalize artificial intelligence for maneuver."

Young said researchers are immediately concerned with making the robots move faster, as well as making them more resilient both physically and in terms of software and intelligence.

The RCTA was awarded in 2010 and is expected to conclude early next fiscal year, according to the release.

The group over the last 10 years has identified four key technology areas that will be critical to future autonomous systems development: "perception, intelligence, human-robot interaction and dexterous manipulation and unique mobility," the release says.

The demonstration will be held at an Oct. 17 "integration showcase" at Carnegie Mellon University's National Research Engineering Center in Pittsburgh.

By John Liang
September 27, 2019 at 10:33 AM

The Pentagon has a contingency plan in case a stopgap spending bill isn't approved before Oct. 1.

The House last week and the Senate this week each passed a continuing resolution that would temporarily fund the government through Nov. 21. The president has not yet signed it.

On Aug. 26, Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist circulated a memo to Defense Department leadership outlining how the Pentagon will function in the event of a government shutdown on Oct. 1, the beginning of fiscal year 2020.

"[P]rudent management requires that the department be prepared for the possibility of a lapse in appropriations,” he writes.

An attachment to Norquist's memo "provides instructions for continuation of essential operations in the absence of appropriated funds," the deputy defense secretary writes. "The Department will, of course, continue to prosecute the war in Afghanistan and ongoing operations against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, including preparation of forces for deployment into those conflicts. The Department must, as well, continue many other operations necessary for the safety of human life or the protection of property (a copy of military operations necessary for national security will be supplied separately). These activities will be 'excepted' from the effects of a lapse in appropriations: all other activities would need to be shut down in an orderly and deliberate fashion, including -- with few exceptions -- the cessation of temporary duty travel."

While all military personnel on active duty will continue to work, they will not be paid, nor will civilians carrying out or supporting "excepted activities," the memo states.

By Sara Sirota
September 27, 2019 at 9:59 AM

The Air Force will pay Boeing up to $280 million to integrate the Small Diameter Bomb I onto "selected weapon platforms" and provide engineering support for the fielded system.

The service awarded the SDB I provider an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract following a sole-source acquisition, according to an announcement posted on the Defense Department website Wednesday.

Boeing is expected to complete the work in St. Louis, MO, by September 2024. At the time of the award, the Air Force obligated about $814,000 using fiscal year 2019 aircraft procurement funding.

By Justin Katz
September 27, 2019 at 9:54 AM

The Navy announced today Aaron Weis will become the service's chief information officer and special assistant to the secretary for cyber and information management.

Weis was formerly a senior adviser to the Pentagon’s chief information officer.

Navy Under Secretary Thomas Modly said last month the Navy was hiring a CIO, but did not disclose a name.

By Ashley Tressel
September 26, 2019 at 5:58 PM

The Senate today unanimously confirmed Ryan McCarthy as the next Army secretary.

McCarthy fills the seat vacated by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was confirmed this summer to lead the Pentagon.

McCarthy had been serving as acting Army secretary, his second time filling the acting role, and prior to that served as Army under secretary since Aug. 1, 2017. He was also unanimously confirmed for that position.

Before he was under secretary, he worked as an executive for Lockheed Martin on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and the company's global security policy.

McCarthy's confirmation means the Army will need a new under secretary, as McCarthy had kept the role after Esper's departure while also serving as acting secretary. The White House has not yet nominated anyone for that position.

By Tony Bertuca
September 26, 2019 at 2:38 PM

The Defense Department will deploy to Saudi Arabia an additional Patriot battery, four Sentinel radar systems and 200 personnel to deter Iran, according to a statement from the Pentagon.

"This deployment will augment the kingdom's air and missile defense of critical military and civilian infrastructure," chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. "This deployment augments an already significant presence of U.S. forces in the region."

Additionally, Hoffman said Defense Secretary Mark Esper has approved a "Prepare to Deploy Order" for two additional Patriot batteries and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system.

"While no decision has been made to deploy these additional forces, they will maintain a heightened state of readiness," Hoffman said.

The deployment of U.S. forces comes in response to an alleged Iranian drone and cruise missile attack on Saudi oil fields Sept. 14.

"It is important to note these steps are a demonstration of our commitment to regional partners, and the security and stability in the Middle East," Hoffman said.

By John Liang
September 26, 2019 at 2:15 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on hypersonics, the Air Force's space launch market, the Next-Generation Air Dominance program, missile defense and more.

In a new memo to Mike Griffin, the Pentagon's top technology officer, and other key Defense Department officials, the DOD IG's office announced an intent to conduct investigations into a program that Griffin has ranked as the highest development priority for the U.S. military:

Hypersonic weapons light up DOD inspector general's radar, audits coming

The Defense Department's inspector general is planning this month to begin auditing hypersonic weapons research and development projects, a move that comes after Pentagon leaders announced plans to nearly double spending over the next five years on the new class of ultrafast weapons -- both offensive and defensive -- to more than $11 billion.

Document: DOD IG memo on hypersonic weapons research

The Air Force is working to increase its knowledge of the launch market in support of its National Security Space Launch acquisition strategy:

Air Force commissioned independent launch market study to inform future AQ strategy

The Air Force has contracted with an independent organization to study the global launch market in order to inform the next phase of its Launch Services Procurement strategy.

Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes outlined the service's current thinking around the Next-Generation Air Dominance program at the Air Force Association's recent annual conference:

ACC chief: 'Century Series' approach has been in NGAD plan for years

The head of Air Force Air Combat Command told reporters recently that the Air Force's plan to apply a "Century Series" concept to the Next-Generation Air Dominance program is not a change of course, but instead aligns well with studies the service has been conducting over the last few years.

Lockheed Martin has won a $281 million contract to develop and deliver 18 Sentinel A4 radar systems:

Lockheed wins Sentinel A4 competition, ousting Raytheon for $3B project

The Army has selected Lockheed Martin for an estimated $3 billion project to replace every Sentinel A3 radar variant in the inventory with upgraded A4s to improve the service's defenses against low-flying unmanned aircraft, cruise missiles and helicopters, beating out Raytheon and a third bidder.

Charles Verdon, the National Nuclear Security Administration's deputy administrator for defense programs, testified at a House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing this week:

NNSA: Air Force, Navy nuke schedule delays to cost nearly $1 billion

Schedule delays to the B61-12 life extension and W88 Alteration 370 programs revealed earlier this month are expected to cost between $720 million and $850 million -- which the National Nuclear Security Administration intends to pay for using internal funding.

A new Pentagon document lays out key DevSecOps concepts, tools, activities and services available to program offices across the Defense Department:

DOD releases 'DevSecOps Reference Design' to guide agile software development

The Defense Department has released a new template for "DevSecOps" software acquisition, as DOD aims to improve upon its legacy software development practices.

Document: DOD's enterprise DevSecOps reference design

The Army's heads-up display goggles are now being fielded:

Army fields Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular

The Army fielded its long-awaited heads-up display goggles today to soldiers in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division at Ft. Riley, KS.

By Tony Bertuca
September 26, 2019 at 2:11 PM

The Senate today voted 75-22 to confirm Air Force Gen. John Hyten to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Hyten, who currently serves as the chief of U.S. Strategic Command, has been accused of sexual misconduct by Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser. The Air Force investigated the claims and found they could not be substantiated.

Hyten, whose nomination was announced in April, has denied the charges for months.

His nomination was advanced out the Senate Armed Services Committee in July by a 20-7 vote.

By Tony Bertuca
September 26, 2019 at 1:25 PM

The Senate today voted 82-15 to pass a stopgap continuing resolution that would keep the federal government funded through Nov. 21. The measure, which passed the House last week, now goes to the White House for President Trump's signature.

If the CR is not signed by the time federal funding expires at midnight Sept. 30, the government will shut down.

The CR freezes the Pentagon's budget at previous-year levels and blocks spending on new programs and increases in weapon system production.

The Pentagon has said a short-term CR is expected to disrupt its work on the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon, the new-start Advanced Helicopter Training System and the B-52 Global Positioning System Interface Unit Replacement.

Though Congress reached a broad bipartisan budget agreement months ago, the CR is needed because the Senate appropriations process is stalled because of partisan disagreements over funding for Trump's southern border wall.

By Sara Sirota
September 26, 2019 at 1:03 PM

The Air Force today announced a new initiative to sponsor ideas that advance functional challenges and transformational capabilities identified in the service's 2030 Science and Technology Strategy.

"Air Force Explore" will award four to seven contracts -- each worth between $1 million and $2 million -- for proposals that address one of three functional challenges: in-flight re-arming and refueling, personnel recovery kit delivery and vehicle tracking in commercial imagery.

Ideas should also advance one of five strategic capabilities: global persistent awareness; resilient information sharing; rapid and effective decision making; complexity, unpredictability and mass; and speed and reach of disruption and lethality.

These capabilities are "grounded in the National Defense Strategy's key operational problems" and are "foundational to battlespace superiority," according to the S&T Strategy, which the Air Force released in April.

The new opportunity reflects a joint effort between the service's acquisition executive, the Air Force Warfighter Integration Capability and the Air Force Research Lab, per an AFRL statement.

The service is encouraging partnerships, which may include teams of government, industry and academic organizations. "Agreements will be custom tailored to each partner, including the choice of award vehicles," the notice states.

It explains that the service is trying to change its business practices and the way it engages with the national market for technology.

Timothy Sakulich, AFRL's executive lead for Air Force 2030 implementation, states, "the Air Force has created a single path to a level playing field for large industry, small business, startups, academia and government labs to promote solution-oriented thinking and free competition for resources."

Submissions are due Nov. 11, and winners will be announced by next March.

By Tony Bertuca
September 26, 2019 at 12:17 PM

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment Robert McMahon will resign from his Pentagon post on Nov. 22, according to a Defense Department spokeswoman.

“Mr. McMahon appreciates the opportunity to have served the department both as a civilian and in uniform,” DOD spokeswoman Heather Babb said.

McMahon is leaving office as the Pentagon is trying to lower the sustainment cost of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to $25,000 per flying hour by fiscal year 2025. The current cost is $44,000 per flying hour.

Other defense officials have said the goal is not achievable in that time frame.

McMahon, a retired Air Force major general, has served as the ASD for sustainment since Oct. 12, 2018, a job that was created after DOD reorganized its acquisition management structure. Prior to that, McMahon served as the assistant secretary of defense for logistics and materiel readiness from Nov. 30, 2017 to Oct. 11, 2018.

Before joining the Pentagon, McMahon was president of Fickling Management Services and worked as an executive at Boeing.

By Jaspreet Gill
September 26, 2019 at 12:10 PM

The Army network cross-functional team is hosting a meeting in November about the service’s Integrated Tactical Network "Capability Set 23" experimentation and design goals.

According to a Federal Business Opportunities notice, the event is "meant for a technical audience to include systems engineers, architecture experts and integrators" and will be held in Austin, TX, at the JW Marriott Downtown Hotel.

The meeting will build on Capability Set 21, the first increment of network modernization, and will address unified transport and common operating environment for Capability Set 23.

The two-day event will begin on Nov. 20 with breakout sessions across the network lines of effort, including a common operating environment, command post modernization and network transport. The following day will include a "discussion of network management goals, integration of commercial cellular and satellite transport, Stryker and armor formation networking, waveform development and integration, mounted mission command modernization, [and] command post integration," according to the notice.

Registration closes Nov. 5.