The Insider

By Audrey Decker
December 15, 2022 at 12:33 PM

The Navy is working on a classified report to brief service leadership next year on the future of its vertical lift program and has asked for industry input.

As the service’s current fleet of MH-60R/S helicopters and MQ-8B/C unmanned air vehicles will reach the end of their service lives in the 2030s, the Navy is seeking a future vertical lift capability with maritime strike to replace these platforms.

The analysis portion of the future vertical lift maritime strike analysis of alternatives has been completed, according to Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Travis Callaghan.

Currently, the AOA study team is focused on writing the “classified final report” which will be delivered to the Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation early next year, Callaghan told Inside Defense in a statement.

“Once the report is complete, the results will be briefed to Navy leadership and OSD CAPE for decisions on how to proceed,” he said.

Last year, the service released a request for information, asking industry for its solutions to help inform this AOA. The Navy told Inside Defense that the program received over 30 responses to the RFI, “ranging from aircraft manufacturers to sub-systems suppliers.”

By John Liang
December 14, 2022 at 1:56 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's battle management systems, Army tactical vehicle safety, missile defense cybersecurity and more.

Brig. Gen. Luke Cropsey, the Air Force's integrating program executive officer for command, control, communications and battle management, spoke to the media recently about his organization:

More assessment needed to create roadmap for ABMS, Air Force's new integrating PEO says

The Air Force's integrating program executive officer for command, control, communications and battle management said he will need a few more months to assess before he can share the priorities for the recently formed office.

The compromise defense policy bill awaiting Senate approval and subsequent presidential enactment has provisions on tactical vehicle safety:

Congress seeks reports on safer tactical vehicles

Congressional leaders are asking the armed services to up their efforts to improve tactical vehicle safety, multiple provisions in the conference version of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill show.

That same legislation also has provisions on missile defense cybersecurity:

New legislation set to impose major new cybersecurity regime on MDA's $226B portfolio

Congress is poised to lay a major new requirement on the U.S. military's long-range missile defense enterprise, mandating a comprehensive set of actions to establish persistent cybersecurity operations and testing for ballistic missile defense systems and networks.

. . . As well as other missile defense language:

Senate push to expand NGI fleet finds place in final bill; DOD to draft potential $7B plan

The Defense Department would be required to draft a plan to triple the size of the Next Generation Interceptor inventory -- from 20 to 64 guided missiles -- a move that could drive the procurement price tag for the homeland defense interceptor fleet from $2.3 billion to more than $7 billion.

The Navy is looking "to identify potential sources capable of manufacturing Over-the-Horizon Weapon System (OTH-WS) Encanistered Missiles (EM)":

Navy signals interest in multiyear procurement for Naval Strike Missiles

The Navy put out a call to industry looking for companies that can produce the Naval Strike Missile -- a component of the service's long-range anti-ship capability known as the Over-the-Horizon Weapon System (OTH-WS).

By Briana Reilly
December 14, 2022 at 11:45 AM

Germany announced today that it is moving forward with a planned buy of 35 F-35A fighter jets, making the country the program's ninth foreign military sales participant.

The official signing of the letter of offer and acceptance to procure the platforms comes after the framework won approval from the German parliament’s budget committee, the nation’s defense ministry said in a news release.

A summer Defense Security Cooperation Agency release announcing the State Department’s approval of the sale estimated the cost to be $8.4 billion.

The deal, which F-35 airframe maker Lockheed Martin said in a release today includes engines, mission equipment, spare parts, technical and logistics support and training, clears the way for the replacement of Germany’s legacy Tornado fighter-bomber fleet.

Lockheed’s release states that by the 2030s, more than 550 F-35s are expected to operate from at least 10 European countries, including two full squadrons at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom.

Under the deal, the first eight F-35s are expected to be delivered to Germany in 2026, recent media reports show.

By John Liang
December 13, 2022 at 2:02 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on various missile defense provisions in the compromise fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill and more.

We start off with a story on the cybersecurity of missile defense:

New legislation set to impose major new cybersecurity regime on MDA's $226B portfolio

Congress is poised to lay a major new requirement on the U.S. military's long-range missile defense enterprise, mandating a comprehensive set of actions to establish persistent cybersecurity operations and testing for ballistic missile defense systems and networks.

. . . Plus coverage of additional cyber provisions in the compromise fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill:

Defense policy bill aims to advance efforts on security for quantum computing, AI

The final version of the annual defense policy bill now headed to the Senate floor includes provisions to accelerate work on securing federal systems against the future threat posed by quantum computing and to help advance the government's work on promoting secure artificial intelligence development.

The defense policy bill will also authorize an additional $200 million in advance procurement funding for Naval Strike Missiles:

Navy signals interest in multiyear procurement for Naval Strike Missiles

The Navy put out a call to industry looking for companies that can produce the Naval Strike Missile -- a component of the service's long-range anti-ship capability known as the Over-the-Horizon Weapon System (OTH-WS).

More missile defense news from the compromise defense policy bill:

Senate push to expand NGI fleet finds place in final bill; DOD to draft potential $7B plan

The Defense Department would be required to draft a plan to triple the size of the Next Generation Interceptor inventory -- from 20 to 64 guided missiles -- a move that could drive the procurement price tag for the homeland defense interceptor fleet from $2.3 billion to more than $7 billion.

The Air Force has developed a new project to prototype an alternative fuel source solution:

AFRL tests synthetic, carbon-recycling jet fuel

The Air Force Research Laboratory and its private partners tested a synthetic jet fuel made from carbon in the air that can be used in existing jet engines, a propellant one of the project leads said could address logistics challenges while providing a carbon-neutral combustible alternative.

By Tony Bertuca
December 13, 2022 at 1:47 PM

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) today released legislation that would extend the stopgap continuing resolution from Dec. 16 to Dec. 23.

DeLauro said in a statement that lawmakers are working their way toward a final fiscal year 2023 appropriations package and need the additional time to close the deal.

“While we are close to a final agreement to create American jobs, help working families with the cost of living, and protect our national security, we need additional time,” DeLauro said. “This Continuing Resolution simply extends funding through December 23 to allow federal programs to keep operating as we continue working to complete the appropriations process and enact a final funding package.”

By John Liang
December 12, 2022 at 1:48 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's zero-trust office, the effects of the continuing resolution on Army programs and more.

The recently stood-up zero-trust portfolio management office is prepared to help DOD components secure fiscal year 2023 dollars as they turn their attention to incorporating tenets of the Pentagon’s new zero-trust strategy and roadmap into their cyber defense posture:

Zero-trust office pledges to advocate for 'bridge' funding for agencies

The Defense Department office that led the creation of a framework to establish a military baseline of safeguards against current cybersecurity risks is poised to work with agencies to secure for them interim funding to begin implementing a zero-trust architecture, a key official said this week.

The ongoing continuing resolution, set to expire at the end of this week unless Congress passes a fiscal year 2023 defense spending bill, could spell trouble for various Army weapon system programs:

Continuing resolutions would create delays for Army hypersonics, new troop carrier and more

An extended continuing resolution would leave a wide range of Army priorities ranging from hypersonics to radios vulnerable to delays, the service said.

A new Government Accountability Office report makes "16 recommendations to the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force to develop plans to implement predictive maintenance and assess its performance":

GAO: Services should adopt predictive maintenance plans for weapon systems

Government auditors are recommending the military services organize and execute strategies to adopt predictive maintenance practices for their weapon systems to reduce costs and facilitate smoother operations.

Document: GAO report on predictive maintenance for weapon systems

More coverage from the House's recent passage of the compromise FY-23 defense authorization bill:

Defense authorization bill directs Army to take stock of air and missile defense capabilities

Congress' new compromise defense authorization bill spells out a process by which the Army is to take an inventory of its Patriot air and missile defense systems.

Defense policy bill aims to advance efforts on security for quantum computing, AI

The final version of the annual defense policy bill now headed to the Senate floor includes provisions to accelerate work on securing federal systems against the future threat posed by quantum computing and to help advance the government's work on promoting secure artificial intelligence development.

By Shelley K. Mesch
December 12, 2022 at 12:12 PM

The first operational prototype of the Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon hypersonic missile completed a successful test from a B-52H Stratofortress, the Air Force announced Monday.

Launched Friday off the coast of Southern California, the ARRW missile reached hypersonic speeds, completed its flight path and detonated in the specified area, according to a news release from Air Force Materiel Command’s 96th Test Wing.

“The ARRW team successfully designed and tested an air-launched hypersonic missile in five years,” said Brig. Gen. Jason Bartolomei, Armament Directorate program executive officer. “I am immensely proud of the tenacity and dedication this team has shown to provide a vital capability to our warfighter.”

The all-up round test comes after two successful booster tests earlier this year, creating a pattern of success for the program. ARRW failed three booster tests in 2021.

The Air Force cut its request for ARRW procurement funds for fiscal year 2023 to focus more funding on research, development, test and evaluation.

By Tony Bertuca
December 12, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are slated to speak at several events this week, the Senate is expected vote on a final version of the annual defense authorization bill and the stopgap continuing resolution currently funding the federal government is set to expire.

Tuesday

Senior U.S. leaders speak at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit's Peace and Security Governance Forum in Washington.

Defense One hosts a modernization event.

Wednesday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on emerging issues in U.S. space policy.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on reforming the management of the Navy.

Defense News hosts a webcast on "smart bases for defense."

Thursday

The Washington Space Business Roundtable luncheon is held.

Friday

The stopgap continuing resolution expires at midnight. Failure to pass a short-term extension or a final appropriations agreement would trigger a government shutdown.

By Nick Wilson
December 9, 2022 at 3:18 PM

Textron Systems delivered its prototype Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle to the Marine Corps' Nevada Automotive Test Center on Dec. 1, according to a Thursday announcement from the company.

Dubbed “Cottonmouth,” the lightweight multimodal vehicle was designed to serve as a “Naval Sensor Node” supporting expeditionary operations in accordance with the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 specifications.

In May 2021, Textron submitted an initial vehicle prototype that it had designed, constructed and tested in advance of the competition for the program. Two months later, the Marine Corps selected both Textron and General Dynamics Land Systems to build ARV prototypes.

The Marine Corps initially viewed the ARV as a replacement for its Light Armored Vehicle, but service Commandant Gen. David Berger’s force design priorities invalidated this need and reshaped the ARV into a more versatile mobile reconnaissance platform to serve as the “quarterback” of manned and unmanned teams.

According to Textron’s announcement, the new Cottonmouth prototype is purpose-built for this mission set. It includes an integrated command and control suite, organic unmanned systems capabilities and multispectrum sensors to enable communication and data-sharing.

In accordance with Marine Corps specifications, the prototype has a “smaller footprint” to allow four of the vehicles to fit on a ship-to-shore connector. It is mobile on land, at sea and in littoral waters and surf zones.

Textron says the new vehicle has completed over 3,000 miles of testing and has undergone contractor verification testing of its mobility, swim capability, vetronics integration and C4UAS mission capabilities.

The vehicle’s delivery marks the beginning of its formal government evaluation phase, which is expected to last through 2023, according to the company.

By John Liang
December 9, 2022 at 2:07 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Pentagon's multibillion-dollar Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability program, U.S. initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region and more.

We start off with the next steps in the wake of the Pentagon's awarding contracts for the multibillion-dollar Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability program:

With cloud awardees named, DOD prepares to implement competitive task order process

With four vendors now selected to provide solutions under the multibillion-dollar Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability program, the Pentagon is focusing on releasing sub-orders to drive competition under what one official described as the "first-of-its-kind" contract.

Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said this week the U.S. government is planning several key announcements and initiatives in 2023 that will build on DOD’s work with Australia, the Philippines and other allies:

Top DOD official focused on China sees 2023 as 'most transformative year' for U.S. force posture

A senior Pentagon policy official charged with helping oversee the Defense Department's response to China's military buildup said today that 2023 will be "the most transformative year" in a generation for U.S. force posture in the Asia-Pacific region.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with his counterparts, Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles and U.K. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace this week on the tripartite agreement to build nuclear subs for Australia, and part of that meeting dealt with other capabilities the countries could work on:

War in Ukraine sparks new thinking on capability development for AUKUS pact

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has spurred leaders in the defense pact between Australia, United Kingdom and United States to consider how they could rapidly field capability in the interim while the tripartite agreement -- known as AUKUS -- likely won't deliver submarines for several years.

Recruiting woes have impacted the Army's personnel numbers:

Army approached Congress to make deeper cuts to active-duty numbers, aide says

In the eight months between the rollout of the Army's fiscal year 2023 budget request and this week's release of the compromise defense policy bill, the service determined its recruiting woes mandated a further 21,000-person cut in active-duty troop levels, a congressional aide told Inside Defense.

Continuing our coverage of the compromise defense policy bill, the Marine Corps' top uniformed official is bullish on amphibious warship funding:

Commandant sees defense policy bill as 'very positive' for amphibious force

Amphibious warships will be an important U.S. asset in a potential conflict with China, according to the Marine Corps commandant, who will play an expanded role shaping the amphib force thanks to provisions contained in the compromise fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill agreed to by House and Senate lawmakers.

We also have the cyber funding end of it:

Defense bill produces incremental progress on cybersecurity programs at DHS and DOD

The fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill heading toward final passage in Congress contains an extensive inventory of cybersecurity provisions for the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon and other parts of the federal government, addressing issues ranging from the security of federal networks to cyber diplomacy, maritime cybersecurity and clarifying DHS roles and responsibilities in cyberspace.

. . . along with Space Force funding:

Defense policy bill would add Space Force launches and could reshuffle key orgs

An agreement between House and Senate authorizers would raise Space Force procurement, place restrictions on the Space Warfighting Analysis Center and pass on the creation of a space National Guard, according to the text of the annual defense policy bill released Tuesday evening.

. . . plus a look at Air Force aircraft funding:

House and Senate authorizers agree on A-10 divestments, procurement plus-ups

House and Senate authorizers have agreed to greenlight divestments of the A-10 Warthog and raise Air Force procurement, according to text of the annual defense policy bill released Tuesday evening.

By Briana Reilly
December 9, 2022 at 1:35 PM

The Defense Department has made "significant updates" to its innovation pathways website that officials say will make it a "one-stop-shop" for those in academia, industry and the military to learn about existing opportunities in this space.

The launch of www.ctoinnovation.mil was announced today in a DOD press release.

"The Innovation Pathways website allows those inside and outside the Department to quickly connect with the innovation organizations best suited to their needs," said Jen Bird, the head of the Innovation Steering Group tasked with building the website. "The site includes a guided tour tool so that users can identify relevant opportunities across the defense innovation ecosystem."

The site will be updated by the office of the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, per the release.

By Tony Bertuca
December 9, 2022 at 12:54 PM

The Defense Department today announced a $275 million military aid package for Ukraine that includes weapon systems that will be transferred directly from U.S. stocks.

The package, the 27th such action of the Biden administration since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, includes:

  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems;
  • 80,000 155 mm artillery rounds;
  • counter-unmanned aerial systems equipment;
  • counter-air defense capability;
  • humvee ambulances and medical equipment;
  • approximately 150 generators;
  • field equipment.

The United States has committed $20 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, with $19.3 billion committed since the beginning of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24.

Eyeing the continued transfers of weapons to Ukraine, the replenishment of U.S. stocks and the buildup of a potential arsenal that could aid Taiwan in the event of a conflict with China, Congress is poised to give the Pentagon new multiyear authorities to procure critical munitions and missile systems.

Additionally, the Office of the Secretary of Defense recently identified $1.26 billion in unfunded munitions priorities.

Meanwhile, the White House requested an additional $38 billion in emergency supplemental spending for Ukraine. Lawmakers have approved three separate funding packages for Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February. If Congress supports the current request, it will bring total Ukraine assistance to more than $100 billion in less than a year.

By Briana Reilly
December 9, 2022 at 12:34 PM

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is threatening to block the confirmation process for future Defense Department nominees after lifting a separate hold he had placed to compel Pentagon officials to brief him about their implementation plan surrounding service members' reproductive health care access.

The original hold, which Tuberville announced Monday in a letter he sent to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, came as the senator sought to reschedule a previously canceled DOD briefing on the issue. That briefing ended up occurring Wednesday, and Tuberville lifted his hold following its conclusion, a spokesman said.

But Tuberville wrote in a follow-up letter to Austin today that the briefing revealed additional details about DOD’s “proposed changes to the department’s abortion policies,” which prompted him to threaten to “place a hold on all future DOD civilian and general/flag officer nominations.”

Those changes, which the letter alleges would “expand the number of abortions subsidized by the DOD” and “provide unrestricted access to abortion,” are expected to be implemented by year’s end, Tuberville wrote.

The latest letter comes in the wake of Austin’s mid-October announcement that he was directing DOD officials to set privacy protections surrounding reproductive health care information; release guidelines stipulating DOD health care providers not disclose reproductive health information to commanders except in special circumstances; and ensure commanders “display objectivity and discretion when addressing reproductive health care matters,” as laid out in a news release at the time.

Tuberville’s hold, if it comes, would apply from the time the policy is announced through the next Congress, potentially impacting all of next year’s nominees, the spokesman told Inside Defense today.

By John Liang
December 8, 2022 at 2:32 PM

A solid chunk of this Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest reflects coverage of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill that House lawmakers passed today and is now headed for the Senate.

News from the bill on nuclear weapons provisions:

Defense policy bill would order more oversight of nuclear modernization programs

The Air Force will have to track the acquisitions of materials, technologies and components associated with the service's two top nuclear modernization programs, should the defense policy bill released Tuesday pass.

. . . plus multiyear contracts for weapon systems sent to Ukraine:

New defense bill grants multiyear authority for key DOD munitions aiding Ukraine, eyeing Taiwan

The House and Senate version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill would provide the Pentagon with new multiyear contracts for munitions deemed critical in the support of Ukraine and, possibly, to aid Taiwan in the event of a conflict with China.

. . . along with Army helicopter programs:

Conference defense policy bill includes increased authorized funding levels for Army's legacy aircraft programs

The compromise version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill provides for an additional $197 million for Chinook helicopter procurement, and an additional $57 million for Black Hawk helicopter procurement compared to the Army’s original budget request.

. . . and Navy shipbuilding programs:

Lawmakers agree to buy 11 ships and save 12 in final defense policy bill

Congress has authorized $32.6 billion for Navy shipbuilding in its annual defense policy bill, increasing the proposed shipbuilding budget by $4.7 billion, and makes a major adjustment to the service's ship decommissioning plans.

Turning to Joint All-Domain Command and Control, Inside Defense interviewed Air Force Maj. Gen. David Abba, the director of DOD's Special Access Program Central Office this week:

DOD leverages contractor access effort to enable industry integration of JADC2 solutions

The Pentagon is working to leverage an existing program that grants certain defense vendors broader access to sensitive military information as a way to boost companies’ internal efforts to integrate capabilities needed to achieve Joint All-Domain Command and Control.

The Pentagon yesterday evening announced a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract:

Pentagon announces JWCC cloud contract awards

The Defense Department announced today that four vendors -- Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft and Oracle -- will be on contract for the military's up-to-$9-billion multicloud environment.

U.S. Central Command officials briefed the media yesterday on the organization's new counter-unmanned aerial system training tool:

CENTCOM focuses on counter-UAS innovation, experimentation

U.S. Central Command's technology chief hopes a new counter-unmanned aerial system training tool born out of an inaugural innovation competition will serve as a roadmap for elevating novel solutions in the integrated air defense landscape.

Last but by no means least, some cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Defense industry survey finds lack of compliance with current Pentagon cyber standard

Defense contractors are having trouble complying with current cyber standards put in place in 2017, according to a recent industry survey, which puts a spotlight on the defense industrial base preparedness for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program.

By Tony Bertuca
December 8, 2022 at 1:57 PM

The House voted 350-80 to pass the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill, which heads to the Senate for a final vote.

The topline of the bill, which is in line with legislation previously passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee, authorizes $848 billion for national defense, while another $10 billion is supported through other legislation. The bill authorizes $817.7 billion for the Defense Department and $30.3 billion for defense-related activities by the Energy Department.

The bill also requires the Pentagon to rescind the mandate that members of the armed forces be vaccinated against COVID-19. Thirteen Republican Senators had said they would not vote for the bill unless the vaccine mandates were removed.

The massive 4,408-page bill also serves as a vehicle for several other key pieces of legislation including bills to increase U.S. defense assistance to Taiwan, authorize policy and toplines for the State Department and intelligence community, a minibus appropriations for homeland security and government affairs, and more.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.

Read Inside Defense for further coverage.