The Insider

By John Liang
December 7, 2022 at 2:41 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of a new, multibillion-dollar Pentagon unfunded priorities list, Navy and Marine Corps warship capacity and more.

Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord spoke with Inside Defense this week about a new unfunded priorities list:

DOD details $1.26B in unfunded munitions priorities and other shortfalls nested in $25B end-of-year list

As Congress haggles over an end-of-year spending deal, the Defense Department has sent lawmakers a $25 billion list of unfunded priorities, including $1.26 billion to bolster the industrial base for critical munitions that could play a role in a future Taiwan-China conflict scenario, according to an interview with a senior Pentagon official and a document obtained by Inside Defense.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday spoke about shipyard capacity at the Reagan National Defense Forum this past weekend:

Is shipyard capacity maxed out? Gilday says probably, others say no

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- After fighting ground wars for the past 20 years, the Pentagon has pivoted its focus to the Pacific but is playing catch-up to increase the number of U.S. shipyards needed to expand capacity for programs the Navy hopes to grow, such as the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and Virginia-class submarine.

. . . while senior Marine Corps officials spoke this week about the availability of future amphibious ships:

Berger remains 'optimistic' on amphib numbers despite an uncertain future

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- Amidst reports that more amphibious ships are on the Navy's future chopping block, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said he remains confident that the services will be copacetic as the importance of amphibs is known across the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.

Marine Corps drafting new concepts for amphibious operations

The Marine Corps and Navy are working together on new concepts for 21st century amphibious operations, with a special focus on overcoming emerging adversarial capabilities, according to the commanding general of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.

Two companies have been contracted to work on prototype software for robotic vehicles:

Army and DIU award prototyping contract to Kodiak, Applied Intuition for robotic combat vehicle software

The Army and the Defense Innovation Unit have awarded a two-year, $49 million contract to Kodiak Robotics and Applied Intuition to prototype software for the service's Robotic Combat Vehicle program, the departments announced on Tuesday.

Travis Langster, principal director of space and missile defense policy at the Pentagon, spoke at a virtual panel hosted by the Atlantic Council this week:

Space 'critical' for achieving key NDS principles, official says

The National Defense Strategy released by the Biden administration in October depends on space to meet its primary goals, according to a top official.

By Tony Bertuca
December 6, 2022 at 9:05 PM

House and Senate lawmakers have released a compromise version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill that supports $858 billion in total national defense spending, a $45 billion increase above what President Biden has requested.

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.

A fact sheet from the Senate Armed Services Committee said the bill authorizes $12.6 billion for inflation impacts on purchases, $3.8 billion for inflation impacts on military construction projects, and $2.5 billion for inflation impacts on fuel.

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.

Additionally, the bill authorizes $25 million for continued research and development of a nuclear-capable submarine launched cruise missile system, despite the efforts of the White House and some congressional Democrats to cancel the program.

The bill also serves as a vehicle for several other key pieces of legislation including bills to enhance 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.

For Ukraine, the bill extends the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and authorizes $800 million for FY-23, an increase of $500 million above the president’s budget request, though senior DOD officials continue to request billions of dollars for Ukraine in emergency supplemental funding packages.

The bill also “expresses the sense of Congress that the United States must continue to assist Ukraine in its fight against the unjust and unprovoked attack by Russia, and that oversight and transparency for such assistance is essential to ensure effective and sustained support,” according to the fact sheet.

The legislation also contains a provision that, “subject to specified appropriations,” would provide “temporary authority” (until Dec. 31, 2023) to modify fixed-price contracts to give economic price adjustments to contractors operating under fixed-price contracts squeezed by inflation.

The House is expected to vote on the bill this week, followed by the Senate next week.

Watch Inside Defense for further reporting on additional details from the bill.

By Dan Schere
December 6, 2022 at 4:26 PM

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Tuesday announced the State Department had approved a potential $1.5 billion sale of CH-47F Chinook helicopters and equipment to South Korea, with the goal of strengthening the country's security.

The proposed sale “supports the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region,” DSCA said in a statement Tuesday.

The CH-47F helicopters would allow South Korea to conduct missions such as medical evacuation, search and rescue, parachute drops and disaster relief in support of bilateral operational plans, according to DSCA.

In addition to the 18 Chinook helicopters, DSCA said South Korea’s government has requested:

  • 42 T55-GA-714A engines
  • 22 Common Missile Warning Systems
  • 44 secure radios
  • Radar warning systems, airborne communication systems and secure radios
  • U.S. government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services

The Tuesday announcement is another potential boost for Boeing’s Chinook, coming after Germany’s decision this summer to purchase the helicopters for its military, which is already in use by other NATO partners.

The Army reduced procurement funding for the Chinook, along with the Gray Eagle and UH-60 Black Hawk in its fiscal year 2023 budget request. The service, in recent years, has prioritized funding for Future Vertical Lift programs over legacy helicopter fleets.

By Briana Reilly
December 6, 2022 at 1:54 PM

One senator announced this week that he is placing a hold on all Defense Department nominees until he gets more information on the military's implementation plan for ensuring service members' access to reproductive health care.

The hold, which impacts nine nominees, comes from Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and would remain in place “until such time as my staff is briefed to my satisfaction on this matter,” according to a letter he sent Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Monday that was provided to Inside Defense.

Austin in mid-October announced 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.

The moves come after the U.S. Supreme Court over the summer struck down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a constitutional right.

Tuberville in his letter to Austin this week stated that at the time of Austin’s Oct. 20 announcement, his office had offered a staff-level briefing on DOD’s reproductive health care implementation framework. But Tuberville wrote the subsequently scheduled briefing was canceled Nov. 17 and, as of Monday, hadn’t yet occurred.

A Tuberville spokesman told Inside Defense that DOD's Office of Legislative Affairs has reached out today to reschedule the briefing, and that staff are working to set it up “as soon as this week.”

“Senator Tuberville plans to lift his hold once the briefing has taken place and his questions have been adequately answered,” the spokesman added.

Among the outstanding nominees are Nickolas Guertin, currently the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, who has been tapped to be the Navy's new assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition; and Russell Rumbaugh, who was nominated to serve as Navy comptroller in March. If they and the Biden administration’s seven other DOD picks aren’t advanced by the end of the current Congress, their nominations will have to be resubmitted.

By John Liang
December 6, 2022 at 1:15 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the ongoing continuing resolution, a billion-dollar Black Hawk helicopter replacement contract and more.

The Pentagon's chief spokesman this week answered a question about the impacts of the ongoing continuing resolution on a host of weapon system programs:

DOD outlines harmful impacts of stopgap funding, including procurement and R&D accounts

The Defense Department is warning Congress that a host of national security programs will be damaged if lawmakers fail to pass a fiscal year 2023 spending bill and opt for a long-term, stopgap continuing resolution.

The Army has awarded Bell a billion-dollar contract for the service's next-generation helicopter:

Bell wins competition to make Black Hawk replacement

Bell has won a contract to produce the Army's new assault helicopter, the service announced Monday, bringing an end to a closely watched competition for one of the service's top modernization priorities.

More coverage from this past weekend's Reagan National Defense Forum in California:

Ukraine conflict sharpens industrial policy debate among top U.S. defense players

SIMI VALLEY -- Senior Pentagon officials and U.S. lawmakers spoke with top industry executives at a high-profile defense conference over the weekend about the need to rethink -- and aggressively fund -- the production of key weapon systems with supply chain vulnerabilities that have been highlighted by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

'Moderating our own appetite': Pentagon's RDER initiative won't gorge on funding

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- The Pentagon's rapid defense experimentation reserve is likely to see consistent funding requests moving forward, the Defense Department's chief technology officer said Saturday, a set-up that will encourage officials throughout the military to "tighten your belts a little" as the fledgling undertaking moves toward beginning and sustaining its demonstration efforts in the coming months.

Investing in carriers and decommissioning cruisers: Del Toro on FY-24 budget priorities

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- In addition to prioritizing its major acquisition programs, the Navy will make material investments for future Ford-class aircraft carriers in its fiscal year 2024 budget request and ask Congress to let the service decommission more cruisers.

Last but by no means least, the latest CMMC news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Number of registered consultants at Cyber AB declines as rulemaking process continues

The accreditation body behind the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is touting its progress over the past year in growing the CMMC ecosystem, while noting the number of consultants registered with the non-profit has declined due to ongoing work at the Defense Department to finalize regulations and kick off the formal program.

By Briana Reilly
December 5, 2022 at 3:53 PM

The Pentagon is poised to evaluate vendors' emerging technology pitches as officials seek to bolster their logistics and operational energy capabilities during a forthcoming round of discovery and demonstration events, a newly posted solicitation states.

Called “Thunderstorm,” those experiments, which seek to give technology developers a venue for showcasing new and evolving solutions in operationally relevant scenarios, are scheduled to take place May 8-12 at Camp Roberts, CA, the Dec. 2 request for information says.

Through the upcoming events, known as Thunderstorm 23-3, the Defense Department wants to see a focus on improving DOD logistics, per the RFI, including by leveraging human-autonomous teaming within unmanned systems operations to deliver things in “challenging environments.”

But beyond that, the listing targets enhancing operational energy capacity while also reducing capabilities’ energy demands. That includes solutions that can produce, store and deliver energy; host rechargeable technologies; contain “self-sustaining maintenance and repair capabilities” that promote the extension of independent operations; and more.

The solicitation seeks technologies that are at a Technology Readiness Level of 4 or greater. Candidates from industry, academia and research and development organizations that are interested are directed to turn in their submissions by Jan. 13.

The latest Thunderstorm demonstration comes after a spring 2022 event that focused on data discovery innovation and visualization.

By John Liang
December 5, 2022 at 1:30 PM

The bulk of this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage from this past weekend's Reagan National Defense Forum in California.

Inside Defense interviewed the Pentagon's comptroller during the forum:

Inflation to remain a contentious defense issue in FY-24 as dueling numbers emerge

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- Lawmakers and Pentagon officials are acknowledging that record inflation and its impact on the Defense Department is likely to continue driving spending debates, while the Biden administration eyes completion of its fiscal year 2024 budget request.

DOD comptroller says munitions production investments will be key theme in FY-24 budget

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- The Pentagon comptroller said one of the bigger "themes" in the next defense budget request, spurred by the U.S. response to Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, will be a focus on investments for expanding critical munitions production, especially for weapons that could be used in a potential China-Taiwan conflict scenario.

The Navy's top civilian says the service will look to put more money in its newest class of aircraft carriers:

Investing in carriers and decommissioning cruisers: Del Toro on FY-24 budget priorities

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- In addition to prioritizing its major acquisition programs, the Navy will make material investments for future Ford-class aircraft carriers in its fiscal year 2024 budget request and ask Congress to let the service decommission more cruisers.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin talked about the new Office of Strategic Capital that was stood up last week:

Aiming to scale private capital, DOD will leverage SBA partnership for its new office

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- The Defense Department will partner with the Small Business Administration to advance its newly established office to invest in critical technology areas by using an SBA program to administer loans to investors.

The CEO of one of the Pentagon's largest contractors talked about progress payment increases:

Lockheed CEO says 100% of progress payment increases should flow down to subcontractors

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- Lockheed President and CEO James Taiclet said today that large prime contractors, like his company, should commit to flowing 100% of all progress payment increases down to smaller subcontractors to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base.

Read all of our Reagan Forum coverage.

The Air Force's next-generation stealth bomber was publicly revealed late last week:

Air Force reveals secretive B-21 Raider

PALMDALE, CA -- In a dramatic ceremony to showcase what officials called the "future backbone" of the Air Force's bomber fleet, Northrop Grumman revealed the B-21 Raider to the public for the first time Friday.

The Pentagon has ordered more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems to replace the ones sent to Ukraine:

Army awards $431M contract to Lockheed Martin for HIMARS

The Army awarded a $430.9 million contract on Thursday to Lockheed Martin to produce the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, with the goal of replenishing Defense Department stocks and supporting allies and partners, the service announced.

By Tony Bertuca
December 5, 2022 at 11:13 AM

The House and Senate compromise version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill will not be released today, though lawmakers say it is likely to emerge Tuesday.

“Leadership negotiations are still ongoing,” said Cole Stevens, spokesman for the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Staffers said the bill is likely to be released Tuesday morning for a vote later this week.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) had pledged the bill would be filed Monday, but staffers say lawmakers continue to debate several provisions, including one that could remove the Defense Department’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

By John Liang
December 5, 2022 at 11:05 AM

Boeing announced it has named former Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson as head of the company's international division.

Nelson, the second non-U.S. citizen to lead the organization, will report to Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun and join the company's executive council, according to a statement. The Australian citizen has been president of Boeing Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific since February 2020. He will move to London to take up his new role, effective Jan. 12, 2023.

Nelson will succeed Sir Michael Arthur when he retires from Boeing in early 2023. Arthur ran the division over the past four years.

Nelson will oversee 20 regional offices around the world. "His responsibilities will include developing the company's growth and productivity initiatives outside the United States, forming new business and industrial partnerships, overseeing international affairs, enhancing Boeing's local presence and providing global functional support," according to the statement announcing his appointment.

In addition to serving as Australia's defence minister, Nelson also was the country's ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union and NATO for three years.

Maria Fernandez will succeed Nelson as president of Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific effective Dec. 20, 2022, according to the company.

Fernandez has held senior executive positions in Australia's departments of Home Affairs, Defence, Immigration and Border Protection and Education. Prior to joining Boeing, she ran a consultancy that provided strategic advisory and independent assurance services to Australian government agencies, the company said.

By Michael Marrow
December 5, 2022 at 11:03 AM

Boeing delivered the first two of 11 O3b mPOWER broadband satellites to SES over the weekend, the company announced in a press release.

The satellites are scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, FL next week aboard a Falcon 9 rocket and will climb to medium earth orbit to provide low-latency communications with what Boeing says are greater than 5,000 steerable spot beams.

“Delivering performance above all, O3b mPOWER will offer connectivity services to government organizations and enterprises based in the most remote regions,” SES Chief Technology Officer Ruy Pinto said in the release. “In times of natural disasters, when networks are disrupted, O3b mPOWER’s low-latency services can quickly restore critical communications networks.”

Unlike fixed-beam satellites or proliferated constellations designed to cover wider regions, the mPOWER spot beams can be repositioned in real time in response to user terminal data, Boeing said in the release.

The satellites are based on Boeing’s 702X space bus platform and are hardened against radiation. Boeing is continuing production, integration and testing of the nine remaining satellites, the release says.

SES plans to launch six more satellites in 2023 and send up the remaining three in 2024, SpaceNews reported last month. According to a company spokesman, Boeing is “in advanced spacecraft integration stages for both the third and fourth O3b mPOWER satellites” and plans to deliver them in the first quarter of 2023.

By John Liang
December 5, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Various defense industry associations are scheduled to hold meetings this week.

Tuesday

Pentagon research and engineering chief Heidi Shyu and other officials speak virtually at the 2022 Defense Manufacturing Conference.

The U.S. Naval Institute holds a Defense Forum Washington event at the International Spy Museum.

The Atlantic Council holds an online discussion on "Securing space: Preparing for future space contingencies."

The National Defense Industrial Association holds a nuclear submarine and aircraft carrier suppliers conference.

Wednesday

The Center for a New American Security holds a virtual event on "Investing in Strategic Readiness."

The Reserve Forces Policy Board holds a closed meeting to discuss the reserve components.

General Dynamics Electric Boat holds a keel laying ceremony for the first Virginia-class submarine with the Virginia Payload Module design.

The Navy League hosts a webinar on the future of maritime defense.

The Air and Space Forces Association holds a virtual "fireside chat" on "refining agile combat employment."

Thursday

The Association of the United States Army holds a "Coffee Series" session with Army Deputy Chief of Staff (G4) Lt. Gen. Charles Hamilton.

FedScoop holds its 2022 Security Transformation Summit.

The Navy League holds a Special Topic Breakfast with Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan.

DefenseOne hosts its "Outlook 2023" event.

The Aspen Security Forum hosts its "DC Edition" event.

By Tony Bertuca
December 3, 2022 at 11:49 AM

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) vowed today that a final compromise version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill will be filed on Monday.

"The lord as my witness, we will file the bill Monday," he said during a panel discussion at the Reagan National Defense Forum.

Smith also pledged that the massive, must-pass policy bill will pass this year.

“[W]e will vote and will pass it this week -- one way or the other,” he said.

The bill was expected Friday.

Congressional staffers said the aspects of the bill under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Armed Services committees have been ironed out. But other legislation that has been added to the bill, including a plan to spend $10 billion equipping Taiwan to deter China.

Meanwhile, the defense bill would authorize a total of $847 billion that is aligned with an overall national defense topline of $858 billion, with the difference being accounted for by defense-related spending in other legislation that is not under the bill’s jurisdiction. President Biden, meanwhile, has requested $813 billion.

By John Liang
December 2, 2022 at 1:53 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Navy warning of the effects of the current continuing resolution, the Pentagon establishing an Office of Strategic Capital, the ongoing search for rare earth metals and more.

The Navy's top civilian is warning lawmakers about the problems that could ensue due to delays brought on by the current continuing resolution:

Del Toro warns of Navy 'trade-offs' if CR continues

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro has sent a letter to Congress warning that ongoing budget gridlock could cause the Navy to delay maintenance on ships and aircraft and force the service to make "trade-offs" to continue to operate.

Document: SECNAV's letter on CR

The Pentagon has set up a new Office of Strategic Capital:

DOD stands up new office to invest in scaling critical tech

A newly established Defense Department office aims to invest in critical technologies that can bridge the so-called acquisition "valley of death" and be fielded at-scale.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched a pair of rare-earth programs at a time in which supply chain challenges have risen to prominence for both the Pentagon and the United States more broadly:

Critical elements draw spotlight at DARPA as supply chain challenges gain prominence

Critical elements found in military systems ranging from precision-guided weapons to lasers are at the center of two recently kicked-off programs from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The Army this week awarded a pair of multimillion-dollar munitions contracts aimed at re-stocking missile systems sent to Ukraine:

Army awards $431M contract to Lockheed Martin for HIMARS

The Army awarded a $430.9 million contract on Thursday to Lockheed Martin for the production of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, with the goal of replenishing Defense Department stocks and supporting allies and partners, the service announced.

Army awards contract for more than $1B in missile system batteries, training, support for Ukraine

The Army awarded a contract to Raytheon Missiles & Defense for up to $1.2 billion to provide missile defense system batteries, training and support for Ukraine's military and security, the service announced Wednesday.

By Tony Bertuca
December 2, 2022 at 11:52 AM

Lawmakers no longer expect to file a compromise version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill today, according to lawmakers and staffers.

The annual policy bill would, among a host of other things, authorize a total of $847 billion that is aligned with an overall national defense topline of $858 billion, with the difference being accounted for by defense-related spending in other legislation that is not under the bill’s jurisdiction. President Biden, meanwhile, has requested $813 billion.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said on the House floor this morning that the bill is "not ready for filing because there's still some outstanding issues."

Staffers said the bill could be filed as early as Monday.

By Tony Bertuca
December 1, 2022 at 4:19 PM

The State Department has notified Congress that it has approved a $380 million sale to Finland of Stinger missiles that have proved especially critical in Ukraine's defense against an ongoing Russian invasion.

Finland, which requested membership in NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, wants to purchase 350 FIM-92K Stinger Man-Portable missiles and five Production Verification Flight Test FIM-92K Stinger Man-Portable missiles, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

“It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist Finland in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability,” DSCA said. “The proposed sale will improve Finland’s defense and deterrence capabilities. Finland intends to use these defense articles and services to increase its national stock. This critical platform will bolster the land and air defense capabilities in Europe’s northern flank, supporting the U.S. European Command’s top priorities.”

The principal contractors will be Raytheon Missiles and Defense, Tucson, AZ and Lockheed Martin Corporation, Syracuse, NY.

“There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale,” DSCA said.

Meanwhile, Pentagon officials and lawmakers are pushing the U.S. industrial base to build more missiles and munitions to aid allies and replenish U.S. stockpiles.