The Insider

January 30, 2018 at 4:04 PM | Courtney Albon

The F-35 joint program office announced today it has approved a plan to install automatic ground collision avoidance software on the Joint Strike Fighter five years ahead of its original schedule.

Inside Defense first reported in December the program office was awaiting a decision from the configuration steering board to finalize the plan.

In a Jan. 30 press release, F-35 Program Executive Officer Vice Adm. Mat Winter said the program plans to field the new technology by 2019.

The program had expected to incorporate Auto GCAS during its Block 4 Follow-on Modernization phase. However, as part of its new Continuous Capability Development and Delivery effort, the program is looking to incorporate new capabilities, like Auto GCAS, as well as fixes to already fielded software.

January 30, 2018 at 4:01 PM | Lee Hudson

The Pentagon's chief weapons tester was unable to incorporate the final iteration of the Joint Strike Fighter's Block 3F software under the system development and demonstration phase because of the deadline for filing the 2017 report, according to the F-35 joint program office.

F-35 program executive officer Vice Adm. Mat Winter said in a statement issued today the software block improves warfighting capability performance with enhanced sensors and targeting, data links, threat countermeasures and weapons.

"The development of F-35 warfighting capability does not end with the delivery of 3F software," Winter said. "It is the foundation upon which continuous enhancements and improvements will be made to increase capabilities that make the F-35 more lethal and survivable."

Winter cites a shift from "Big Bang development and delivery" to a rapid "Continuous Development and Delivery (C2D2) framework" introduced last year.

The JPO does not acknowledge any of the director of operational test and evaluation's nine recommendations for 2017 in the F-35 report released Jan. 24. The recommendations include defining a more realistic schedule for C2D2; reviewing maintenance and reliability data; and completing cybersecurity testing, among other items.

January 30, 2018 at 2:19 PM | John Liang

The Pentagon's upcoming FY-19 budget request, the latest SIGAR report and more highlight this Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest.

DOD plans to submit its FY-19 budget request "within the next several weeks":

Pentagon 'gambling' with submitting FY-19 budget request before FY-18 funding resolution

The Pentagon is eying increased investments in several leap-ahead technologies in fiscal year 2019, but the military's second-highest-ranking officer said the Defense Department would be "gambling" by submitting next year's budget request before Congress reaches an agreement on FY-18 spending levels.

For the first time, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has been restricted in releasing certain data since it began reporting on such figures in January 2016:

U.S. military restricts public reporting of Taliban control over Afghan districts, population

The Defense Department continues to limit publicly available information related to the war in Afghanistan, as U.S. forces are now restricting the release of data detailing the Taliban's control over territory and local populations, according to a new report.

Document: SIGAR's 2017 quarterly report


The Pentagon's latest operational test and evaluation report looks at the Navy's Aegis system and the Army's Bradley Fighting Vehicle:

Navy funded Aegis self-defense test ship after repeated intervention by DEPSECDEF

The Navy last year began planning for an unmanned Aegis self-defense test ship only after repeated arm-twisting by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, according to a Defense Department report.

Bradley upgrade presents reliability issue

The Army's current upgrade of the Bradley fighting vehicle has yet to meet its reliability requirement, according to program officials.

Check out Inside Defense's full DOT&E report coverage →

A new revision to the Army's Abrams tank technical manuals will change the wear values for the service's most lethal tank rounds:

Army updating Abrams gun criteria following accuracy issues

The Army is revising the Abrams technical manuals after accuracy problems with the tank's main gun were found to be caused by worn gun tubes combined with more lethal ammunition, according to program officials.

An Army small, unmanned systems assessment has been undertaken in order to "obtain a holistic view" of requirements:

Army reviewing all small, unmanned aircraft system requirements

The Army is in the midst of a review of all requirements for small, unmanned aircraft systems, with the results expected to drive all future small UAS requirements, the service told Inside the Army.

Marine Corps commanding officers will be more empowered by leadership to use 3-D printing as they see fit:

Marine Corps concept for 3-D printing will 'flatten' supply chain, empower COs

The Marine Corps intends to publish a concept of employment using 3-D printers that will "flatten the supply chain" and empower commanding officers to more freely use the technology, according to a service official.

January 30, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Tony Bertuca

The Senate Armed Services Committee has voted to advance the nomination of Jay Gibson to become the Defense Department's chief management officer.

If confirmed by the full Senate, Gibson, who currently serves as DOD's deputy chief management officer, will become the third most senior leader at DOD, per a provision in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which created the CMO role.

The full Senate overwhelmingly voted in November to confirm Gibson, the former president and chief executive of XCOR Aerospace, as DCMO.

Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan told reporters in December that Gibson's work as CMO would focus on "doing a more full integration of the 'fourth estate' into the Department of Defense" and "shifting from service-led functions into more enterprise-led functions" in areas including human resources and finance.

Gibson is already leading DOD's effort to accelerate the department's migration to cloud services.

January 30, 2018 at 11:51 AM | Lee Hudson

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will host in March a classified meeting, known as the "Sea of Dreams," to share technology challenges in U.S. Pacific Fleet with industry, academic and government organizations.

DARPA's Cross Domain Maritime Surveillance and Targeting program is partnering with PACFLT to talk about concept of operations and warfighting context; demonstrate and explore technologies in a live, virtual and constructive environment; and offer one-on-one discussion opportunities, according to a special notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website. Sea of Dreams will be held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI.

According to a preliminary agenda, PACFLT will on March 12 present "relevant analysis, CONOPs, and operational and technology challenges to meeting participants." On the morning of March 13, PACFLT will present operational vignettes to meeting participants; in the afternoon, attendees will have the opportunity to meet with PACFLT staff.

Following the discussions, DARPA will demonstrate an experimentation environment.

The deadline to register for Sea of Dreams is Feb. 9.

January 30, 2018 at 9:49 AM | Marjorie Censer

Harris said today sales in its most recent quarter hit $1.5 billion, up 6 percent from the same three-month period a year earlier.

However, the contractor's quarterly profit reached $139 million, down from $177 million the prior year.

Harris said it saw significant growth in its communication systems segment. The business reported an 18 percent increase in quarterly sales, driven by a 56 percent boost in Defense Department tactical sales.

The company attributed the increase to "readiness demand across all the services and a 9 percent increase in international tactical revenue from strong growth in the Middle East."

Harris' space systems unit saw quarterly sales decline 1 percent. The contractor said classified programs provided higher sales, but they were offset by lower sales on environmental programs.

The company announced today that, following the new tax legislation, it will contribute $300 million more to its employee pension fund. Additionally, Harris plans to invest an incremental $20 million in research and development "to accelerate innovation and affordability initiatives." The company pointed to small satellites, software-defined electronic warfare systems, open systems avionics, robotics and air traffic management as areas of interest.

Also, Harris said it plans to grant each of its 17,000 non-executive employees 10 shares of Harris common stock. The grants are worth about $1,470 each and will vest over two years.

January 30, 2018 at 9:27 AM | Marjorie Censer

Boeing HorizonX Ventures has invested in Cuberg, a next-generation battery technology startup, the company said this week.

The investment marks the first by Boeing's innovation cell in an energy storage company.

"Cuberg developed an advanced battery cell that is designed to be a drop-in solution to existing large-scale battery manufacturing processes," Boeing said in its announcement. "It combines a lithium metal anode, proprietary electrolyte and high-voltage cathode to achieve high-energy density and thermal durability."

The Berkeley, CA-based Cuberg was established in 2015 and has had several rounds of financing. Boeing said Boeing HorizonX Ventures led this second seed investment round, which also included a follow-on investment by HPC Energy Services.

January 29, 2018 at 3:38 PM | Justin Katz

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer has tapped Rear Adm. Paul Druggan to serve as program director of Aegis ballistic missile defense, according to a Defense Department statement issued today.

He will replace Rear Adm. Johnny Wolfe, who last week was nominated for a third star and selected to serve as director of strategic systems programs at Washington Navy Yard.

Druggan is commander of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Washington.

January 29, 2018 at 2:59 PM | Tony Bertuca

Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), chairwoman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, announced today she would seek to succeed Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) as chair of the full committee.

Frelinghuysen announced today he would not seek re-election, despite being eligible to serve as chairman for another four years, raising speculation that the GOP could have a tough time retaining a majority in the House after November's mid-term elections.

"Since Chairman Frelinghuysen announced his retirement, people have been encouraging me to seek the appropriations committee gavel," Granger announced on Twitter. "This is a very challenging time for our country, and chairman Frelinghuysen will leave tough shoes to fill. I will work hard to earn the support of my colleagues, and I look forward to a spirited race."

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) also announced on Twitter he would seek the gavel.

"If allowed by my colleagues to serve as the next chairman of the appropriations committee, I look forward to addressing these challenges," he wrote.

Meanwhile, the House is scheduled to vote this week on a largely symbolic defense appropriations bill that Democrats have vowed to block in the Senate.

January 29, 2018 at 2:19 PM | John Liang

Lockheed Martin's latest earnings, the Joint-Air-to-Ground Missile, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and more highlight this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest.

Lockheed Martin held its quarterly earnings call this morning:

Lockheed seeks to use tax reform benefits on pension, training, R&D

With the enactment of tax reform legislation, Lockheed Martin is weighing several ways to spend the anticipated benefits, according to the company's chief executive.

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Our continuing coverage of the Pentagon's latest operational test and evaluation report:

JAGM testing turns up cyber vulnerability, AH-64E integration glitches, missed shots

Early testing of the Pentagon's $7 billion replacement program for the Army and Marine Corps' laser- and radar-guided air-launch missiles -- the Joint-Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) -- has turned up cyber vulnerabilities and difficulty in select situations launching it from the Army's most advanced attack helicopter, the AH-64E Apache.

Pentagon has not purchased second F-35B test article, awaiting Lockheed study

The F-35 program office has not purchased another F-35B ground article nearly a year after halting durability testing because the originial test jet was no longer production representative.

Check out Inside Defense's full DOT&E report coverage →

Army Secretary Mark Esper recently spoke with Inside the Army:

Esper: Modernization push will avoid pursuit of 'unobtanium'

The Army's top civilian wants to modernize the force, but aims to avoid the extended acquisition time lines that have characterized previous efforts.

The Navy is looking to industry for countermeasures to threats posed by unmanned undersea vehicles:

Pentagon commissions 'state of the art' UUV countermeasures study

The Defense Department chartered the Stand-Off Weapons Defeat Joint Integrated Product Team to study "state-of-the-art" unmanned undersea vehicle countermeasures, according to a Federal Business Opportunities notice.

Document: Navy UUV countermeasures sources-sought notice

January 29, 2018 at 1:01 PM | Tony Bertuca

The Defense Department's Nuclear Posture Review will be released Friday at the Pentagon, according to Col. Rob Manning, a DOD spokesman.

A draft of the NPR report was leaked to HuffPost, which published a story about it earlier this month.

The Pentagon issued a statement following the leak saying the report had not been finalized and was still in the drafting phase.

Inside Defense has written several stories on the draft report:

NPR draft: NC3 governance review plan could affect Air Force oversight

Draft NPR pitches DOD's looming nuclear modernization bill as 'affordable priority'

Draft NPR calls Navy plan for 12 Columbia-class submarines 'minimum' fleet size

January 29, 2018 at 12:30 PM | Marjorie Censer

Aerojet Rocketdyne said today it has named Greg Jones senior vice president for strategy and business development, starting next week.

He most recently was vice president of corporate business development and international programs for Orbital ATK.

At Aerojet Rocketdyne, Jones will "champion the company's long range strategic planning and growth initiatives, enhance customer alignment, and guide efforts to expand the business into new and adjacent markets," the company said.

Jones has also previously worked at Boeing and McDonnell Douglas.

January 29, 2018 at 12:28 PM | Marjorie Censer

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions said last week its unmanned systems division is opening new offices and production facilities in Oklahoma City "to accommodate expected increased demand."

"Kratos will continue target drone production from its existing Sacramento[,CA,] facility, with a significant production ramp-up having already begun at that facility, and expected to increase even more over the next 24 months," the company said. "Oklahoma will be the site for new tactical drone production and excess demand requirements related to target drone production."

The company is initially occupying an 8,800-square-foot facility in Oklahoma City, Kratos said. Within six months, it expects to expand into a 75,000-square-foot facility.

Kratos said it anticipates employing more than 350 in Oklahoma "within the next few years."

January 29, 2018 at 10:15 AM | Justin Katz

The Marine Corps is in the midst of implementing its Force 2025 structure changes this year, according to a message from the top Marine.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller today published his "Message to the Force 2018: Execute" to give Marines an "update on where we are."

The Marine Corps is "implementing Force 2025 structure changes," modernizing the force, recapitalizing legacy systems, and "meeting mission requirements around the globe," Neller wrote.

The message also said the Marine Corps is implementing the Marine Operating Concept by adjusting training to contest a peer adversary and working to improve readiness by "adopting new processes to be more innovative, fit, educated and resilient."

Accompanying the document was a tweet by Neller imploring Marines to read and discuss the themes of his message.

January 29, 2018 at 8:42 AM | Lee Hudson

The Navy on Friday awarded Ingalls Shipbuilding a roughly $30 million contract to repair and restore the guided missile destroyer Fitzgerald (DDG-62), which was damaged in a collision last year.

Earlier this month, the Fitz arrived in Pascagoula, MS. The Navy anticipates the repairs will take about two years.

"Work on the ship is expected to occur on a land level facility throughout 2018 and one to two quarters of 2019," according to a Jan. 19 service statement.

The Fitzgerald will then undergo testing and trials to "ensure all systems and spaces are restored to full functionality and operational capability," according to the statement.

On June 17, the ship was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal. Seven sailors died, and the ship was damaged on the starboard side above and below the waterline.

"Due to the extent and complexity of the restoration, both repair and new construction procedures will be used to accomplish the restoration and modernization efforts," the Jan. 19 statement reads. "Various Hull Mechanical and Electrical (HM&E), C4I and Combat System equipment, including the electronic warfare suite, radar, switchboard, gas turbine generator, and air condition plant, require repair and/or replacement."

The ship will also receive upgrades originally planned for installation during a fiscal year 2019 availability.