The Insider

By Sara Sirota
December 21, 2020 at 12:11 PM

The Air Force is willing to consider buying used commercial derivative aircraft for its replacement to the E-4B National Airborne Operations Center, according to a Dec. 18 industry notice.

While the Survivable Airborne Operations Center program was previously only interested in new aircraft, the notice states, "Updated capability needs and operational requirements have potentially altered the viable technical solutions."

The Air Force is continuing to pursue an open and full acquisition strategy for the entire system and anticipates acquiring two to four modified aircraft, ground equipment and the weapon design.

The aging NAOC fleet consists of four aircraft derived from Boeing's 747-200 jet and serves as an emergency command-and-control system for the president. The new SAOC is expected to have modern communications, networks and advanced C2 subsystems.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
December 21, 2020 at 11:16 AM

The Army Science Board will meet on Jan. 5 to present findings of a study of future combat vehicles.

The meeting will be open to the public, although seating will be limited due to social distancing protocols, according to the Dec. 21 announcement of the meeting. There will also be a livestream option to watch the meeting.

Members of the board will present and vote upon the study, "An Independent Assessment of the 2040 Battlefield and its Implications for 5th Generation Combat Vehicle Technologies," during the first half of the meeting, according to the announcement.

By Tony Bertuca
December 18, 2020 at 6:17 PM

The House has voted 320-60 to pass another stopgap continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded through the weekend.

The Senate is also expected to pass the new CR, which is set to expire Sunday at midnight.

The CR will give lawmakers additional time to negotiate a final omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2021, along with a COVID-19 stimulus package expected to be around $900 billion.

By Marjorie Censer
December 18, 2020 at 4:50 PM

Huntington Ingalls Industries said today it has named Chris Kastner, the company's chief financial officer, chief operating officer and promoted Thomas Stiehle, CFO of Ingalls Shipbuilding, to replace Kastner.

Both changes are effective Feb. 12, 2021.

"In Kastner's new role, he will oversee the company's three operating divisions and will work closely with the division presidents to drive execution on HII’s historic backlog," HII said. "In Stiehle's new role, he will be responsible for directing HII's corporate strategy and processes in support of business growth and profitability goals."

Stiehle will also oversee corporate business management functions.

By John Liang
December 18, 2020 at 2:01 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Navy's 30-year shipbuilding plan, an upcoming mobile 150 mm howitzer shoot off and more.

We start off with congressional responses to the Navy's proposed 30-year shipbuilding plan:

Congressional leaders support bigger Navy, but split on Trump administration plan

Both Democrats and Republicans support a larger Navy, but congressional leaders have mixed reactions to the Trump administration's recently released shipbuilding plan.

Three companies announced this week that their respective proposals for a vehicle-mounted cannon to improve Army tactical mobility and system survivability compared to existing towed howitzer systems will participate in a live-fire shoot off at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, in 2021:

Elbit, BAE, GMP say they received Army invite for mobile 155 mm shoot off; AM General mum

The Army contest to find an off-the-shelf wheeled 155 mm howitzer will have at least three contenders: BAE Systems, Elbit America, Global Military Products, with AM General, another potential player, unwilling to comment on its status in the competition.

The head of United Launch Alliance spoke with reporters this week:

ULA CEO: Future launch strategies will likely require greater government investment

United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno told reporters this week he expects future Space Force Launch Services Procurement strategies will call for more national security-unique requirements, potentially shifting the investment burden more toward the government and away from industry.

The Missile Defense Agency has posted an "advanced research opportunity" solicitation for the Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications system inviting "innovative technical approach concept 'white' papers that address operationally focused C2BMC capabilities and/or agile mechanisms to monitor, acquire, track, and engage adversary weapons during any phase of an attack":

MDA invites industry proposals to improve planned C2BMC spiral upgrades

The Missile Defense Agency is asking industry for ideas on how to improve the Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) system, eyeing new enhancements for potential incorporation in planned upgrades of the global system of workstations, servers, network equipment and software that collectively ties together the $202 billion Ballistic Missile Defense System.

In case you missed it, the new National Maritime Strategy has been released:

New Maritime Strategy focuses on countering China

The tri-service National Maritime Strategy, released by the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Thursday, calls for the U.S. to focus on growing threats by China and Russia.

Document: National Maritime Strategy

Bell Helicopter's proposed Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft prototype hit a certain milestone this month:

Bell V-280 reaches 200 hours of flight time

Bell's offering for the Army's Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft hit 200 flight hours this month since its first flight three years ago, a company official told Inside Defense yesterday.

By Tony Bertuca
December 18, 2020 at 10:07 AM

(This story has been updated to include new information.)

The Pentagon has paused all briefings with President-elect Biden's transition team and officials from both camps are publicly at odds over why the meetings have been halted.

The news, first reported by Axios, follows a massive cyber breach that may have significant implications for national security, and also comes as President Trump continues to baselessly assert he would have won a second term if not for massive voter fraud.

Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said the Defense Department and the Biden team are in a "mutually agreed upon holiday pause, which begins tomorrow" and ends Jan. 1.

But Biden spokesman Yohannes Abraham contradicted Miller's statement and said he hopes the decision to stop the briefings "will be reversed."

"No, there was no mutually agreed upon holiday break," Abraham said. "In fact, we think it's important that briefings and other engagements continue during this period, as we have no time to spare and that's especially true in the aftermath of the ascertainment delay."

Transition activities did not begin until weeks after the election because Trump was challenging vote counts in several states. On Nov. 23, Trump allowed the Government Services Administration to make an official "ascertainment" that Biden won the election, which gave the green light for transition activities to begin.

Abraham also said while many DOD officials have been cooperative, the transition team has "met isolated resistance in some corners, including from political appointees within the Department of Defense."

"We were concerned to learn this week of an abrupt halt in the already limited cooperation, and we hope and expect that decision will be reversed," he said. "No department is more pivotal to our national security than the Department of Defense, and a failure to work together could have consequences well beyond January 20."

Miller, in his statement, asserted that DOD has been cooperative with Biden's team.

"As of today, we have supported 139 interview sessions [with] more than 200 DOD personnel, 161 requests for information, and disclosed thousands of pages of non-public and classified documents, exceeding prior transitions," Miller said. "At no time has the department cancelled or declined any interview."

Miller said his "key focus" over the next two weeks will be to support the Biden team's request for information on Operation Warp Speed.

"Again, I remain committed to a full and transparent transition -- this is what our nation expects, and the DOD will deliver AS IT ALWAYS HAS," he said.

Axios, meanwhile, reported that DOD sources are characterizing the decision to pause the briefings as "shocking."

Today marks the second time DOD has had to defend itself against reports that Pentagon officials are impeding the presidential transition.

A Washington Post story earlier this month said Biden's team was being blocked from touring intelligence agencies, but DOD later arranged the tours and briefings, chalking earlier problems up to procedural delays.

Miller, in his statement, said DOD since Nov. 23 has responded to 161 requests for information from the Biden team, provided 4,400 pages of controlled non-public information and 900 pages of classified information.

"We continue to schedule interviews with senior leaders and career officials," he said. "Today, we are working to reschedule approximately 20 interviews with 40 officials until after January 1."

By John Liang
December 17, 2020 at 1:54 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the National Maritime Strategy, the Army's Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program and more.

The National Maritime Strategy has been released:

New Maritime Strategy focuses on countering China

The tri-service National Maritime Strategy, released by the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Thursday, calls for the U.S. to focus on growing threats by China and Russia.

Document: National Maritime Strategy

Bell Helicopter's proposed Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft prototype hit a certain milestone this month:

Bell V-280 reaches 200 hours of flight time

Bell's offering for the Army's Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft hit 200 flight hours this month since its first flight three years ago, according to a company official.

Keep an eye out next year for the Operational Data Integration Network to be integrated at certain military bases:

F-35 JPO negotiating plan for ODIN hardware installs

After a successful demonstration this fall, the F-35 Joint Program Office is negotiating an installation plan to integrate the new Operational Data Integration Network at operational sites, beginning in late 2021.

Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond spoke to reporters earlier this week:

One year later, Space Force to focus on integration in 2021

After spending most of 2020 defining its structure, leadership and warfighting doctrine, the head of the Space Force said this week the new service's second year will focus more on integration -- with the joint community, industry, international partners and within the broader space acquisition enterprise.

Navy acquisition chief Hondo Geurts spoke at an Atlantic Council event this week:

Geurts: Unmanned systems will 'scale faster than we think'

Unmanned systems will take time to develop, but then move faster than many anticipate, Navy acquisition executive Hondo Geurts said Wednesday.

An Israeli David's Sling interceptor has successfully shot down a cruise missile target:

Bolstered by $1B U.S. investment, Israel's David's Sling knocks down cruise missile target in 'milestone' event

Israel and prime contractor Rafael yesterday completed a successful test of the country’s billion-dollar, U.S. government-subsidized short-range missile defense system against a cruise missile.

Contracting experts don't expect the Biden administration to roll back a regulation that prohibits the government from contracting with companies that use telecommunications and surveillance equipment made by Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies:

As contractors prepare for Biden administration, experts say supply chain will remain a focus

As the incoming Biden administration announces its nominees for top roles, Pentagon observers say contractors should watch for some changed priorities -- but that supply chain policy will likely continue to be a focus.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
December 17, 2020 at 1:07 PM

The Army will hold a classified briefing Jan. 26 at the Pentagon about a recently completed study concerning future long-range strategic fires.

"The Research Analysis Center recently conducted a study including threat-based vignettes to determine the Army's requirements for strategic fires capabilities," the Army stated in the Dec. 17 announcement of the briefing. "The HQDA G-8 will share portions of this study with industry to inform future requirements for long-range strategic fires."

Companies whose programs deal with long-range strategic fires will be allowed to send one representative with secret-level clearance or higher to the briefing.

By Sara Sirota
December 17, 2020 at 12:36 PM

(Editor's Note: Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek sent the following statement to Inside Defense on Dec. 20: "The Air Force Research Laboratory's Tactical High-power Operational Responder (THOR) is not currently deployed outside the United States. THOR is scheduled for an operational field assessment in FY21/FY22, but for operational security reasons, deployment locations or timing of deployed operational utility evaluations for our directed energy systems will not be release."

Air Force spokesman Derek Kaufman confirmed in a separate email to Inside Defense that Air Force Chief Scientist Richard Joseph's comments stating THOR has been tested extensively and works well are accurate.

Asked if the Air Force has experimented with another directed energy weapon in Africa, Stefanek said, "We have deployed both laser and high powered microwave systems for operational utility evaluation in deployed environments. We are not identifying specific systems or theaters.")

The Air Force Research Laboratory has demonstrated the Tactical High-Power Operational Responder directed-energy weapon's ability to defend bases from airborne threats during a recent test deployment to Africa, according to the service's chief scientist.

“It is based on a microwave system and the purpose is to be able to disrupt and destroy the performance of drones or swarms of drones and . . . it’s been tested extensively. It works remarkably well,” Richard Joseph said during a Mitchell Institute event today.

THOR is one of several directed energy weapons the Air Force has experimented with for base defense amid heightened concern about the risks posed by small drones, and it’s not the first to undergo testing in Africa.

Inside Defense reported earlier this year AFRL and the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center successfully thwarted small drones with an unidentified prototype in a classified location within U.S. Africa Command’s area of responsibility.

That weapon may have been Raytheon’s Phaser high-powered microwave or High-Energy Laser Weapon System, which the service ordered for overseas experimentation late last year. Joseph didn’t mention their performance or testing statuses.

He noted while the technologies the Air Force can incorporate in THOR are increasing every day, it’s possible the service could select a more capable weapon that emerges to deploy operationally.

“It never stops, and I think what you will see as we go forward is more and more capability on these systems,” Joseph said. “Is this the answer? I don’t know, but it’s better than . . . anything else that we have right now, and I have watched it in action and it’s really quite impressive.”

By Ethan Sterenfeld
December 17, 2020 at 12:10 PM

The follow-on contract for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle will be worth up to $12.3 billion for 30,000 vehicles and 10,000 trailers, the Army announced at an industry day Dec. 17.

That would be the total cost if the Army exercises all five one-year options after the initial five-year contract term.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed some of the program milestones, the Army still expects to issue the award in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022, it said in slides from the industry day.

The final request for proposals will be released in January 2022, according to a schedule laid out in the slides. The Army will release two interim RFPs before then, and will host two more industry days.

The Army laid out for industry the selection criteria it plans to use for the project. The contractor's manufacturing capabilities and prowess will be the most important factor in the selection process, according to the slides.

"Bottom Line: [Joint Program Office] JLTV wants an excellent manufacturer with an exceptional production process," the industry day slides state.

Eligible submissions cannot have an average unit manufacturing cost greater than $250,000 in base-year 2011 dollars, according to a new section of the draft RFP the Army posted on Dec. 11. This cost includes "installed Baseline Integration Kits."

That translates to an average target cost of about $298,000 in FY-23, the first year of the contract, according to the industry day slides.

The gross vehicle weight rating for the follow-on JLTVs will be 24,000 pounds, according to an update to an existing section of the draft RFP.

"The vehicle data plates in the JLTV FoV Technical Data Package and Software Package may specify a lower value to provide for future growth, but the vehicles are designed to a GVWR of 24,000 lbs.," the draft RFP stated.

By Marjorie Censer
December 17, 2020 at 11:05 AM

GM Defense said today it has begun renovations on an existing GM building in Concord, NC, to support production of the Infantry Squad Vehicle.

The company in June won an Army contract to build, field and sustain the new Infantry Squad Vehicle. The deal marked the first major contract for GM Defense since General Motors reestablished the subsidiary in 2017.

"Construction at the 75,000-square-foot facility is expected to continue into early spring, and the production line will begin delivering vehicles in April," the company said. "As GM Defense ramps to full-rate production, the facility will help to manufacture 649 ISVs and will support the production of up to 2,065 vehicles with additional authorization over eight years."

By Marjorie Censer
December 17, 2020 at 9:51 AM

BWX Technologies said today retired Adm. John Richardson, the former chief of naval operations, has been named to its board of directors.

Richardson was CNO from 2015 to 2019 and director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program from 2012 to 2015. He spent 37 years in the Navy.

Richardson also is on the board of Boeing and Exelon.

By John Liang
December 16, 2020 at 1:48 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the first flight of artificial intelligence aboard a U-2 spy plane, missile defense, the Army's new Installations Strategy and more.

A U-2 reconnaissance plane has flown with artificial intelligence installed on board for the first time:

In military first, Air Force deploys artificial intelligence on U-2 Dragon Lady

The Air Force made a significant breakthrough in advancing human-machine teaming Tuesday when an artificial intelligence algorithm operated a U-2 Dragon Lady's sensor and navigation systems during a flight demonstration -- the first time AI has controlled any part of an aircraft in U.S. military history.

More missile defense news from the defense authorization conference report:

Lawmakers decline to fully authorize MDA's new homeland defense architecture, mandate detailed report

Lawmakers have declined to authorize funding for the Missile Defense Agency's proposal to add new layers to the homeland ballistic missile defense architecture -- a centerpiece of the agency's new modernization plan -- instead directing the Pentagon to provide detailed justifications for its vision to bolster the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems.

The Army's newly released Installations Strategy states it anticipates adversaries will use sophisticated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance networks to target military bases:

New Army strategy details plans to modernize installations

The Army on Monday released a new strategy to modernize installations into "smart" platforms that support multidomain operations through advanced capabilities like artificial intelligence and 5G as the service warns of adversaries directly attacking bases in the United States.

Document: Army installations strategy

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s 18-foot-long scramjet engine produced more than 13,000 pounds of thrust during a recent series of tests:

USAF scramjet engine tests break records as first ARRW flight nears

The Air Force has finished a round of record-breaking hypersonic weapons experiments with an air-breathing engine and is planning an initial flight demonstration of the boost-glide Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon later this month.

The SolarWinds supply chain cyberattack has prompted the National Security Agency to issue internal guidance on how to defend against the ongoing assault:

NSA issues new internal guidance to protect defense networks in wake of SolarWinds compromise

The National Security Agency has issued new, non-public guidance to defense agencies and contractors in the wake of the ongoing SolarWinds supply chain cyberattack, while the Pentagon is reviewing whether the compromise affected its networks.

White House aides aren't sure exactly when the president will veto the defense policy bill, as he has threatened to do:

Clock ticking for Trump to veto defense bill

President Trump has asserted several times he plans to veto the $740.5 billion defense authorization bill, which, according to the law, he must do by Dec. 23, positioning himself for a confrontation with Congress during the final weeks of his presidency.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
December 16, 2020 at 12:12 PM

BAE Systems will deliver its first prototype this week for the Mobile Protected Firepower platform, the Army's new light tank, a company spokeswoman said Dec. 16.

"We will deliver a test platform within the week," Amanda Niswonger wrote in an email. "In coordination with the Army we have aligned our delivery schedule to support [the soldier vehicle assessment] and get this vehicle into soldiers' hands for evaluation."

General Dynamics Land Systems, BAE's competitor for the Mobile Protected Firepower program, is ahead in delivering prototypes. General Dynamics will deliver the last of its 12 prototypes for the Army's new light tank by the end of December, the company announced Dec. 15.

The General Dynamics deliveries have remained on track since a company spokesman said in October that they would be complete by the end of the year.

"Our MPF offering is a highly lethal, mobile and survivable direct-fire combat vehicle that can dominate ground threats on the multidomain battlefield," said Don Kotchman, vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Land Systems, in the announcement. "We are pleased to be able to deliver this capability to the U.S. Army, despite the global pandemic."

The Army announced last week that a soldier vehicle assessment, to test the Mobile Protected Firepower prototypes, will begin on Jan. 4 at Ft. Bragg, NC. BAE and General Dynamics will each provide 12 vehicles for testing.

By Marjorie Censer
December 16, 2020 at 11:03 AM

BAE Systems said today it has promoted Jeremy Tondreault to president of its platform & services sector, effective Jan. 4.

He will succeed Guy Montminy, who is slated to retire next year.

Tondreault has spent 25 years with BAE, including as vice president of operations for the electronic systems sector and most recently as vice president and general manager of the combat mission systems business.

"Throughout his time with the company he has held roles in program management, operations, engineering and line management, managing the development, production and delivery of highly complex products," BAE added.