The Insider

By Justin Doubleday
August 27, 2019 at 4:27 PM

The State Department notified Congress today of five potential foreign military sales, including a $3.3 billion deal with Japan for Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptors.

The possible sale to Japan includes 73 SM-3 Block IIA missiles, as well as associated Mk-29 cannisters and other support equipment, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Japan has co-developed the SM-3 Block IIA with the United States, involving an industry team of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Raytheon.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon’s top technology official directed an independent assessment of the SM-3 Block IIA before considering whether to transition the program to production.

Meanwhile, the State Department also approved of Lithuania purchasing 500 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles at an estimated cost of $170.8 million and Denmark buying Airborne Low Frequency Sonar Systems and Sonobuoys for an estimated $200 million, according to DSCA.

Additionally, Hungary has been cleared for a potential $500 million purchase of AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles, while South Korea has been approved to buy $72 million worth of MK-54 Lightweight Torpedoes, DSCA announced today.

By Sara Sirota
August 27, 2019 at 2:38 PM

The Small Business Innovation Research program will begin accepting proposals next month to fill a new commercial solutions opening for AFWERX special topics.

A notice posted on Federal Business Opportunities says vendors can submit bids between Sept. 24 and Oct. 23. It announces changes to the program, including a reduction in the RAPID matching ratio from 4:1 to 2:1 for companies receiving their first SBIR phase II award.

The program allows contractors to propose their own ideas, but the notice lists 10 technology focus areas of interest: artificial intelligence, autonomy, communications, cyber, directed energy, hypersonics, microelectronics, quantum sciences, space and biotechnology.

Companies are eligible for three types of contracts. Phase I awards are usually worth $50,000, with a three-month performance period for research and development to prove the feasibility and commercialization potential of the proposed effort.

Phase II awards are made according to vendors' phase I results and worth $25,000 to $1.5 million for six to 24 months of work on a prototype. SBIR also gives companies an option to apply directly to phase II.

For phase III contracts, proposers must secure funding from the private sector or a non-SBIR government source to transition prototypes into products for sale in military or private sector markets.

By Marjorie Censer
August 27, 2019 at 2:34 PM

Robotic Research, which focuses on autonomy for both the military and the commercial market, earlier this month showed off its Pegasus, the company's transformable unmanned autonomous vehicle.

The technology was initially developed for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, according to Albert Lacaze, Robotic Research's president.

The company was founded in 2002 by Lacaze and Karl Murphy, who worked together at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Robotic Research started by working with the Pentagon, but has more recently expanded into commercial work, Lacaze told Inside Defense.

Now, he said, the commercial side of Robotic Research is almost as large as the defense side.

Among the company's current DOD projects are the Army's Expedient Leader Follower program, Robotic Combat Vehicle effort and Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport program.

Lacaze said the Pegasus effort is "relevant to existing programs, but it also creates a new swim lane."

Still, he said, DOD doesn't have a specific program office for transformable robots. That's creating something of a challenge, Lacaze acknowledged, but said soldiers, once they see the technology, can find many uses for it.

By John Liang
August 27, 2019 at 1:17 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's Distributed Common Ground System, the Pentagon's JEDI cloud competition, the Navy's Knifefish unmanned undersea vehicle and more.

The Air Force's Distributed Common Ground System won't be getting a new contract:

AFMC abandons effort to award new $500M contract for DCGS agile requirements

The Air Force will not award a new contract for agile software efforts to improve the performance of its primary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability -- the Distributed Common Ground System.

A recent appeal by Oracle America challenges a federal court's ruling in July denying the company's protest of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud services solicitation:

Oracle appeals Court of Federal Claims ruling in JEDI cloud case

Oracle America is appealing a U.S. Court of Federal Claims decision that rejected the company’s protest of the Defense Department's pending enterprise cloud contract.

Here's more cloud computing news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Former CISO Touhill supports DOD backing of FedRAMP for cloud services

The Pentagon's Defense Information Systems Agency has issued blanket approval for contractors to handle certain data on cloud computing services approved by the government-wide FedRAMP security system, a move that has attracted the support of a former federal chief information security officer as a way for the Defense Department to leverage civilian agency cybersecurity services.

The Navy has awarded General Dynamics Mission Systems a $44.6 million low-rate initial production contract for the Knifefish unmanned undersea vehicle:

Knifefish achieves milestone C, contract to GD for five systems awarded

The Navy today announced a medium-sized, unmanned undersea vehicle program developed to hunt mines has cleared the milestone C acquisition hurdle, paving the way for a low-rate initial production contract to be made to prime contractor General Dynamics Mission Systems.

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord spoke on a variety of topics during a Pentagon briefing this week:

Pentagon reveals new acquisition initiatives to block China

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord today revealed a series of new reforms and initiatives aimed at blocking China's influence on the U.S. defense industrial base, including the establishment of a new congressionally directed intellectual property regime.

MDA to brief industry this week on draft NGI solicitation as Lord criticizes RKV acquisition

The Missile Defense Agency is launching the Next Generation Interceptor program with a "Kick Off Industry Day" this Thursday, moving quickly to begin a follow-on to the Redesigned Kill Vehicle project terminated last week as a senior Pentagon official today issued a rebuke of the acquisition strategy behind the failed $1.2 billion RKV program.

Document: DOD transcript of Lord's briefing at the Pentagon

By Jaspreet Gill
August 26, 2019 at 3:35 PM

The Army is seeking white papers regarding the "Combat Net Radio," an assured voice Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System specifically for fires and air defense command and control in areas with limited data capability.

A recent request for information says the Army will consider "single-purpose/single-band or single-purpose/multiband (software-defined) radio technologies."

"The RFI was based on requirements outlined in the integrated tactical network [capabilities development document] Combat Network Radio portion with focus on enabling cryptographic modernization of the aging existing legacy radios," Army spokesman Paul Mehney told Inside Defense in an email.

The service wants mature capabilities from non-developmental items to modular open systems.

The notice adds the effort may require hardware and software, and the Combat Net Radio solution must use existing radio components "as much as possible for the platforms being upgraded," including SINCGARS and the Ultra High-Frequency Satellite Communications capability.

White papers are due by Sept. 13.

By John Liang
August 26, 2019 at 2:14 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on missile defense, the LOGCAP V program, Navy financial management systems and more.

On Aug. 29, the Missile Defense Agency plans to brief industry on a draft solicitation for a clean-sheet redesign of a new booster and warhead for the Ground Based Midcourse Defense segment of the Ballistic Missile Defense System:

MDA to brief industry this week on draft NGI solicitation as Lord criticizes RKV acquisition

The Missile Defense Agency is launching the Next Generation Interceptor program with a "Kick Off Industry Day" this Thursday, moving quickly to begin a follow-on to the Redesigned Kill Vehicle project terminated last week as a senior Pentagon official today issued a rebuke of the acquisition strategy behind the failed $1.2 billion RKV program.

The U.S. government recently said a federal claims court "lacks jurisdiction" to entertain a complaint by a PAE-Parsons team regarding the LOGCAP V program:

Government seeks dismissal of PAE LOGCAP V case

The U.S. government late last week filed for dismissal of a LOGCAP V case filed by a PAE-Parsons team.

Navy Comptroller Thomas Harker and acquisition executive Hondo Geurts late last week spoke to reporters at the Pentagon:

Navy completes cloud migration of financial management systems

The Navy today announced it completed a technological refresh of its financial management systems, which encompassed consolidating nine ledgers down to one cloud-based system, known as Enterprise Resource Planning.

Chris O'Donnell, deputy assistant secretary of defense for platform and weapon portfolio management within the office of the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, spoke at last week's Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference in Washington:

Pentagon exploring whether to outsource counter-drone mission at U.S. bases

The Pentagon's acquisition and sustainment office is exploring whether the Defense Department should shift to a model where it pays contractors to defend some U.S. military installations from unmanned aerial systems, rather than using government personnel and systems.

Last but not least, some cyber news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Wireless industry warns of costs, other concerns from NIST cyber standards for defense contractors

The wireless communications industry says the National Institute of Standards and Technology has likely underestimated the vast costs for contractors in implementing proposed changes for standards in protecting Defense Department data from foreign adversaries such as China and Russia.

By Mallory Shelbourne
August 26, 2019 at 11:47 AM

The Navy on Friday announced a $1.08 billion contract modification to General Dynamics NASSCO for two of the service's Expeditionary Sea Base vessels.

According to the announcement, the modification is for the detail design and construction of ESB 6 and 7, in addition to "definitization of ESB 6 long lead time material, pre-production and engineering support."

"This contract includes options, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $1,626,008,493, and be complete by January 2025," the announcement reads.

The company in a press release said the modification includes the possibility for ESB 8.

"Work on the two new ships of the ESB program is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2020 and continue to the second quarter of 2023," the release reads.

Inside Defense previously reported that the Navy plans to purchase its last ESB, which will be ESB 8, in fiscal year 2023.

The Navy in the FY-19 future years defense program projecting buying the last ESB in FY-20, but delayed the buy in its most recent budget request due to "higher-priority ship procurements."

By Mallory Shelbourne
August 26, 2019 at 10:59 AM

The Navy on Friday announced a $2.4 billion contract modification to Lockheed Martin for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

According to the announcement, the modification is for "initial spares" for the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, as well as sales to foreign countries and non-Pentagon partners.

"Spares to be procured include global spares packages, base spares packages, deployment spares packages, afloat spares packages and associated consumables," the announcement reads.

"All orders are expected to be placed no later than December 2020. No funds will be obligated at time of award, funds will be obligated on individual delivery orders as they are issued," it continues.

In a statement about the modification, Lockheed Martin spokesman Michael Friedman said: "This funding is an important step to increasing spare parts availability for the growing global fleet and ultimately enhancing F-35 readiness and reducing operating costs."

In early July, the Navy announced a $348 million contract modification to Lockheed for Lot 12 of the F-35 program's low-rate initial production phase.

The contract modification for Lot 12 came after the Pentagon in June announced it had reached a $34 billion "handshake agreement" with Lockheed for Lot 12 of the F-35 program, with options for Lots 13 and 14.

 

By Tony Bertuca
August 26, 2019 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to appear at different venues this week. Congress is not in session.

Monday

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training Fred Drummond speaks at the iFest E-Learning Science and Technology Symposium in Alexandria, VA.

Tuesday

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance innovation conference in Newport, RI.

Wednesday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on the trilateral defense relationship between the United States, Japan and South Korea.

By Courtney Albon
August 23, 2019 at 7:29 PM

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s experimental unmanned aircraft conversion program experienced a mishap during a mission today at Michael Army Airfield in Utah.

No one was injured in the mishap, which occurred during an experimentation mission, but the unmanned aircraft was damaged, according to a press release issued this evening.

The Robotic Pilot Unmanned Conversion Program, dubbed ROBOpilot, aims to convert manned aircraft into unmanned systems without making permanent modifications to the aircraft. AFRL, in partnership with contractor DZYNE, successfully flew the first converted platform -- a Cessna 206 -- in a two-hour flight on Aug. 9.

AFRL's press release did not detail the cause or circumstances surrounding the mishap, but noted that an accident investigation is underway. AFRL Commander Maj. Gen. William Cooley said in a statement the incident will serve as a learning experience for the lab as it works to mature the technology.

"This is exactly why we have experimentation programs," Cooley said. "We are here to provide cutting-edge technology to the warfighter, meaning at a certain point in the process we need to take calculated risks to move forward. We learn important lessons from every experiment, and I’m certain the ROBOpilot team will study this data and chart an appropriate course going forward."

By John Liang
August 23, 2019 at 2:06 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest features a Pentagon reprogramming request partially approved by lawmakers, a chat with the head of the Army Cyber School and more.

House and Senate lawmakers recently had their say about a billion-dollar Pentagon reprogramming request:

Lawmakers defer chunk of DOD's $1B budget transfer request

The Defense Department in mid-July requested authority from Congress to shift nearly $1 billion to address "unforeseen military requirements," but lawmakers approved a transfer of only $670 million, according to a new Pentagon budgetary reprogramming document.

Inside Defense spoke this week with Col. Paul Craft, chief of cyber and commandant of the Army Cyber School at Ft. Gordon, GA:

Army Cyber Command wants to expand direct commissioning program and add more officers

Army Cyber Command is considering expanding its direct commissioning program to other military specialties, according to a service official.

Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, spoke at an event hosted by the Air Force Association today:

Holmes: 24th, 25th Air Forces merger delayed until fall, organizational restructure underway

The integration of the 24th and 25th Air Forces has been pushed back to this fall, according to the head of Air Combat Command, who revealed details about restructuring plans under the combined organization.

The Air Force this week successfully launched its second Lockheed Martin-built GPS III satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL:

GPS IIIF on track for CDR this fall as USAF launches second GPS III satellite

Lockheed Martin said this week it is on track to complete a critical design review for the GPS IIIF navigation payload this fall and for the integrated space vehicle in the first quarter of 2020.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), co-chair of the congressionally mandated Cyberspace Solarium Commission, held a teleconference this week to discuss a July 26 report by the Defense Department's inspector general that found nearly $33 million in fiscal year 2018 was spent through Government Purchase Cards on commercial-off-the-shelf technology with "commonly known cybersecurity risks":

House lawmaker flags weaknesses in DOD micro-purchases, global 5G build-out

With a recent Pentagon oversight report on cyber risks and "micro-purchases" as a starting point, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) on Wednesday offered an assessment of macro cybersecurity issues and a call for U.S. assistance in the global build-out of fifth-generation network infrastructure.

By Ashley Tressel
August 23, 2019 at 10:53 AM

The Army has released a request for information on intelligence support to automate and speed up the targeting process.

Service analysts need access to multiple data sources that must be aggregated in real time or close to real time, according to the Aug. 15 RFI.

"The target development process is inefficient due to a variety of tactical architectural limitations," the RFI says. "Currently, information is dispersed in various types of databases and systems across different services and agencies based on platform and sensor types. The needed data is protected by various security protocols and enclaves requiring human intervention. The process is slow and cumbersome, making the information obsolete or not relevant in a [fast-paced] threat scenario."

The notice says the current time to move from detecting a threat to delivering a target takes much longer than the "optimal time frame" and current targeting processes, including "specialized systems and stove-piped data," limit collaboration with operations and intelligence personnel.

The Army is seeking applications to "support [multiple-intelligence] data fusion across data sources and security levels;" to "provide semi-automated or automated workflows supporting real-time target detection and identification, target package creation, fires decision cycles, battle damage assessments;" and to "enable product transition to shooters operating on mission command systems," according to the RFI.

By Justin Katz
August 22, 2019 at 2:37 PM

The Navy is conducting a market survey to find small businesses capable of integrating a towed array sensor system that is key to its anti-submarine surveillance vessels, the service announced this week.

The Surveillance Towed-Array Sensor System "provides the mobile, tactical arm of the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System, providing long-range detection and cueing for tactical weapons platforms or other vessels of interest," according to fiscal year 2020 Navy budget justification documents.

The market survey seeks out small businesses capable of "engineering, integration, configuration management, and operational sustainment support" for SURTASS systems installed on the Navy's auxiliary general ocean surveillance ships, the follow-on T-AGOS (X) program and Japanese auxiliary ocean surveillance vessels.

Responses to the survey are due Sept. 19.

By Courtney Albon
August 22, 2019 at 2:17 PM

The Air Force this week issued a follow-on contract to Boeing that, if fully exercised, could be worth nearly $1 billion and would complete the effort to re-wing the A-10 Warthog fleet.

The Defense Department announced the contract award Wednesday, obligating an initial $239.5 million to Boeing, which has teamed with Korea Aerospace Industries for the work. The contract would fund up to 112 new wing assemblies and 15 wing kits, but the service has not yet determined whether it will complete the upgrades for the rest of the A-10 fleet.

The announcement comes after the service said Boeing had completed its first wave of A-10 wing upgrades -- replacing the wings on 173 of the Air Force's 281 A-10s. In an Aug. 12 press release, the service said the first phase of the effort, which began in 2011, had come to an end. The new wings are expected to last for up to 10,000 flight hours and keep the aircraft flying through 2030.

By John Liang
August 22, 2019 at 2:03 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a recent Pentagon inspector general report on cybersecurity of commercial-off-the-shelf information technology items with known cybersecurity risks and more.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), co-chair of the congressionally mandated Cyberspace Solarium Commission, held a teleconference this week to discuss a July 26 report by the Defense Department's inspector general that found nearly $33 million in fiscal year 2018 was spent through Government Purchase Cards on commercial-off-the-shelf technology with "commonly known cybersecurity risks":

House lawmaker flags weaknesses in DOD micro-purchases, global 5G build-out

With a recent Pentagon oversight report on cyber risks and "micro-purchases" as a starting point, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) on Wednesday offered an assessment of macro cybersecurity issues and a call for U.S. assistance in the global build-out of fifth-generation network infrastructure.

Document: DOD IG report on COTS purchases

The Air Force today successfully launched its second Lockheed Martin-built GPS III satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL:

GPS IIIF on track for CDR this fall as USAF launches second GPS III satellite

Lockheed Martin said this week it is on track to complete a critical design review for the GPS IIIF navigation payload this fall and for the integrated space vehicle in the first quarter of 2020.

Reviews of the Long-Range Standoff Weapon will occur late in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2019:

LRSO nuclear missile on track for system-level PDRs before end of this year

The Air Force's replacement to the Air Launched Cruise Missile is projected to complete two system-level preliminary design reviews this fall.

Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes spoke this week at a Defense Writers Group breakfast:

ACC Chief: Some Hill staffers skeptical of NGAD funding slope

The head of Air Combat Command told reporters this week he has been meeting regularly with congressional staffers during recess to discuss the Air Force's plans for the Next-Generation Air Dominance program and lawmakers' proposed $500 million cut to its fiscal year 2020 funding request.

Army Lt. Col. David Griffin, product manager for Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the program executive office for aviation, spoke this week at an Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems conference:

Army to replace Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System

The Army is on its way to replacing the Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System in brigade combat teams.