The Insider

By Courtney Albon
October 21, 2019 at 11:13 AM

The Air Force is giving six companies a chance to compete to provide contracted combat air support through a deal worth up to $6.4 billion over the next five years.

The service selected Air USA, Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, Coastal Defense, Draken International, Blue Air Training, Tactical Air Support and Top Aces Corp. as part of the pool for the multiple-award contract, announced Oct. 18.

The chosen companies will provide adversary air services meant to replicate close-air support operations in order to make training more realistic. Services will include providing manned and unmanned aircraft, system support, maintenance, support equipment and contract management.

The need for adversary air capacity has grown in recent years and is a high priority for Air Combat Command, which has a particular need for jets that can provide realistic threat simulation for fifth-generation aircraft.

By Tony Bertuca
October 21, 2019 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to appear around the Washington area this week, while several defense companies are slated to hold quarterly earnings calls.


Lockheed Martin and United Technologies executives are set to discuss quarterly earnings.

The National Defense Industrial Association hosts the annual Expeditionary Warfare Conference in Annapolis, MD. The conference runs through Thursday.

The House Armed Services readiness subcommittee holds a hearing on Navy ship and submarine maintenance.


The chief of U.S. Central Command speaks at the Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference in Washington.

Boeing and General Dynamics executives are slated to discuss quarterly earnings.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer speaks at the Brookings Institution.


The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing to discuss the nomination of Vice Adm. Charles Richard to become the next chief of U.S. Strategic Command.

Senior defense officials speak at the CyberTalks 2019 conference.

The Air Force Association hosts a breakfast with the director and program executive officer for the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.

Northrop Grumman and Raytheon executives will discuss quarterly earnings.


Senior Pentagon officials are scheduled to appear at the Military Reporters and Editors Conference.

By John Liang
October 18, 2019 at 2:06 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, an Air Force counter-drone technology, Army multidomain operations and more.

We start off with some big Joint Strike Fighter news:

F-35 full-rate production decision delayed up to 13 months

The Pentagon confirmed today the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter full-rate production decision, which was expected in December, could be delayed by 13 months due to delays in integrating the Joint Simulation Environment.

ATA Technologies, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Kord Technologies as well as the Air Force Research Laboratory's Tactical High-Power Operational Responder -- a high-power microwave integrated by BAE Systems -- are being tested for a counter-drone capability:

USAF directed-energy counter-drone demo begins, as program of record discussions progress

The Air Force's directed-energy experimentation campaign has started another round of counter-drone testing with five different systems that management officials are exploring for an anticipated program of record.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Todd chatted with Inside Defense at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting:

Army developing 'flying network' for multidomain operations

The Army is developing a "digital backbone" for its aircraft while modernizing the current fleet, according to the program executive officer for aviation.

(Follow our comprehensive coverage of the AUSA conference here.)

Paul Jacob, cybersecurity architect and "lead DOD zero trust architect" within the office of the DOD chief information officer, spoke at a conference this week hosted by the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology:

DOD developing 'zero-trust' cloud security guidance for eventual transition to JEDI

The Defense Department is developing guidance for securely connecting national security systems and other devices to the pending Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure commercial cloud environment using a "zero trust" security framework, according to a defense official.

Defense Department Special Assistant for Cybersecurity Katie Arrington spoke this week at the Consortium for Information and Software Quality meeting. Here's coverage from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Funding DOD through CRs could scuttle cyber certification program, Arrington warns

The Pentagon's landmark cybersecurity certification program could be scuttled if Congress ends up funding the military through a series of continuing resolutions until after the election, according to Defense Department Special Assistant for Cybersecurity Katie Arrington.

DOD's Arrington says cyber certification 'is happening' despite calls for go-slow approach

Defense Department Special Assistant for Cybersecurity Katie Arrington said the Pentagon's maturity model for certifying contractors based on their ability to secure data and systems is moving forward, with a revised version of the plan to be released at the beginning of November for use in contracts next year, despite calls from industry and others to slow down the implementation process.

By Sara Sirota
October 18, 2019 at 1:57 PM

A developmental robotic pilot system that was damaged in a mishap two months ago will return to flight next March, according to an Air Force Research Laboratory official.

"A root-cause analysis of the mishap was conducted and a solution is in development," Marc Owens, ROBOpilot program manager, said in an email to Inside Defense today.

The accident occurred Aug. 22 during landing at Michael Army Airfield on Dugway Proving Ground, UT, per an AFRL statement released the following day. The lab immediately began an investigation and the fate of future testing plans at the time was unclear.

Using a simple installation process, ROBOpilot can be inserted into a general aviation aircraft like a Cessna or Piper to convert it into an unmanned aerial vehicle. The system was developed by AFRL and DZYNE Technologies via a Small Business Innovation Research program contract.

"ROBOpilot offers the benefits of unmanned operations without the complexity and upfront cost associated with the development of new unmanned vehicles," Alok Das, senior scientist with AFRL's Center for Rapid Innovation, previously said.

Before the mishap, ROBOpilot completed a successful two-hour first flight on Dugway Proving Ground on Aug. 9.

By Justin Doubleday
October 18, 2019 at 1:18 PM

The House Armed Services Committee has chartered a special task force to compare the Defense Department's priorities, capabilities and concepts against potential adversaries and long-range threats.

The "Future of Defense Task Force" is co-chaired by Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Jim Banks (R-IN), according to the committee's announcement today. Reps. Susan Davis (D-CA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), Paul Mitchell (R-MI) and Michael Waltz (R-FL) will also serve on the task force.

The group has been chartered by committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) and Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX) "to examine the Department of Defense's strategic priorities, capabilities and operational concepts to ensure the national security innovation base is poised to meet long-range emerging threats and the rise of global competitors," according to the panel's announcement.

The initial duration of the task force is three months, after which the group's charter can be renewed for an additional three months.

By Jaspreet Gill
October 18, 2019 at 11:58 AM

The Army is asking industry to provide input that could inform the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program of record, a multiservice effort to replace the Black Hawk helicopter by 2030.

A recent Federal Business Opportunities notice states the service is seeking information on mission equipment systems and weapon system cost information that will inform FLRAA risk reduction activities.

The service is asking for information on mission equipment systems ready for production and suitable for integration on the FLRAA. Industry should provide a detailed system description of the capability solution, cost data and production capabilities among other requirements.

The Future Vertical Lift cross-functional team’s director, Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, told reporters Wednesday at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting the service will be hosting an industry day in March or April next year to discuss FLRAA integrated mission equipment.

The Army is also asking industry to identify "cost estimating techniques for the development, production and operations and support phase costs between the next generation rotorcraft program and current/historical defense rotorcraft programs," according to the notice.

Responses should include specific cost estimation methods which identify changes to critical technologies and methods.

Industry should submit responses no later than Nov. 15.

By John Liang
October 18, 2019 at 10:05 AM

The Defense Business Board will hold a mostly closed meeting next month to discuss the establishment of U.S. Space Command and the Space Force, among other topics, according to a Federal Register notice published this morning.

Derek Tournear, the acting director of the Space Development Agency, said this week during the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference that the agency is still focused on initial next-generation space architecture planning and has some time before it needs additional funding to start building out constellations. The current plan is to launch a "training tranche" of satellites in the FY-22 time frame, which would be used to help space organizations develop a concept of operations and tactics, techniques and procedures for operating with the constellation. The first slate of operational satellites is set to launch in FY-24.

In addition to SPACECOM, attendees at the Nov. 6 DBB meeting will also get classified briefings on the National Guard Bureau and the Navy, as well as "discussions on proposed reform efforts, key challenges, and current scorecard within the Fourth Estate; classified discussions with the secretary of defense, deputy secretary of defense, and the chief management officer in regards to ongoing reform efforts," the notice states.

The Defense Department's CMO wrote in a recent report to Congress that about 5% can be cut from the Pentagon's so-called "Fourth Estate" civilian management agencies next year, falling far short of the reductions Congress hoped to see.

By Ashley Tressel
October 17, 2019 at 3:46 PM

The Army's Space and Missile Defense Command will be updating its Space Training Strategy over the next three to four months, according to the general in charge of the command.

Lt. Gen. James Dickinson told reporters at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting Wednesday the strategy is based on SMDC's role in the service's multidomain task force in the Indo-Pacific region.

The multidomain task force pilot program was created under Army Pacific Command in 2017 and has participated in nine major joint training events across the region, according to the service.

Dickinson said the strategy aims to look at: "How do we educate the soldiers within the formations to understand the space environment that they're working or training in combat in. So, do they know whether or not signals that they're receiving are correct [or] incorrect, or should they use them or not, and then what space capabilities can they leverage to do the mission that they’re given on the ground?"

"It's a thorough process," he added. "We need to make sure that not just the people that do space understand and agree with it, but the bigger force understands and agrees with our strategy."

Dickinson also emphasized SMDC's close relationship with the assured positioning, navigation and timing cross-functional team, which this week announced the development of an overarching "space strategy."

By Jaspreet Gill
October 17, 2019 at 1:53 PM

The Army is bringing back full air assault capabilities to the 101st Airborne Division, according to senior aviation officials.

Maj. Gen. David Francis, commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Ft. Rucker, AL, told reporters Oct. 16 at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting the service is currently equipping 12 Chinooks to the division and is planning on an additional 38 aircraft in the future.

He added the service was required to reduce the number of combat aviation brigades from 13 to 11 in the active component during sequestration in 2013. Last year, the service was grappling with the possibility of boosting CH-47 Chinook force structure with two companies in the 101st Airborne Division to support the unit’s requirements.

"One of the combat aviation brigades that was inactivated was the 159th CAB, one of two that resided at Ft. Campbell," Francis said. "The capacity that we lost was primarily on the lift side. So we're going to build additional lift capability into the 101st to enable that capability to reside back in that organization."

He added the service is planning to equip a total of 48 aircraft to the 101st Airborne Division by 2028.

By John Liang
October 17, 2019 at 1:44 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from this week's Common Defense conference, the Army's final decision on the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor competition and more.

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord spoke at the ComDef conference this morning:

DOD acquisition chief says U.S. discussing path ahead on Turkish arms sales

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord said today the United States is working on how it might keep selling weapons to Turkey, despite growing tensions over Ankara's ongoing military operation against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

The Army finally announced the winner of the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor competition:

Raytheon wins LTAMDS competition, extends hold on Patriot franchise

The Army has selected Raytheon to build the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, handing defeat to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman who had hoped to oust the incumbent Patriot radar builder.

In a recent request for white papers, the Defense Information Systems Agency lays out its requirements for Identity, Credential, and Access Management (ICAM) services:

DOD seeks white papers on identity technologies foundational to 'zero-trust' initiative

The Defense Information Systems Agency is seeking proposals from companies interested in prototyping identity management technologies that officials say are foundational to the Defense Department's new "zero-trust" approach to network security.

Document: DISA request for white papers on identity management technologies

John Henderson, the Air Force's assistant secretary for installations, environment and energy, testified before a House subcommittee this week:

Air Force to review cyber threats to installations at November summit

The Air Force is working to better characterize cyber vulnerabilities at its installations and plans to discuss the findings of several ongoing assessments during a summit next month.

Document: House hearing on 'Resiliency of Military Installations to Emerging Threats'

More cyber news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

DOD's Arrington says cyber certification 'is happening' despite calls for go-slow approach

Defense Department Special Assistant for Cybersecurity Katie Arrington said the Pentagon's maturity model for certifying contractors based on their ability to secure data and systems is moving forward, with a revised version of the plan to be released at the beginning of November for use in contracts next year, despite calls from industry and others to slow down the implementation process.

By Sara Sirota
October 17, 2019 at 1:24 PM

The Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $108 million contract for the Mk21A reentry vehicle -- a platform that's intended to deliver the W87-1 warhead from the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent system.

The contract provides for technology-maturation and risk-reduction work, which the service expects to be completed by October 2022, according to a contract notice posted yesterday on the Defense Department website.

At the time of the award, the Air Force obligated $8 million in fiscal year 2019 research and development funds. Lockheed will perform the contract work in King of Prussia, PA.

GBSD is the service's replacement to the legacy Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system and is expected to begin deployment in the late 2020s.

The W87-1 -- which the National Nuclear Security Agency is developing -- is intended to provide enhanced safety and security compared to the W78 warhead that’s integrated with Minuteman III.

By Marjorie Censer
October 17, 2019 at 12:05 PM

Though Science Applications International Corp. has changed its platform strategy, the company's pursuit of recent vehicle programs, from the Amphibious Combat Vehicle to Mobile Protected Firepower, disrupted the market, according to SAIC's chief executive.

Speaking to Inside Defense on the floor of the Association of the U.S. Army conference this week, Nazzic Keene said the company had "what I would consider a sound strategy on disrupting the market."

"I actually believe we did that," she added, noting the company demonstrated speed in bringing its technologies together.

"With that being said, one of the things we learned is that there were aspects . . . that we were very good at . . . and there were aspects that were stretching us a bit," Keene continued. "The decision that we made, that Jim [Scanlon, who heads SAIC's defense systems business] and I made jointly, was let's step back, focus on those areas where SAIC stands out."

Keene noted that SAIC is "not out of the platform business; we don't intend to get out of it."

"But we intend to leverage what we’re very good at and partner on those areas where it's probably better served for somebody else, to do the heavy duty manufacturing, as an example," she said. "I feel very good about our position, about our strategy, and I think it gives the government what they were looking for without a totally radical way" of acquiring platforms.

SAIC announced earlier this year it is working with Polaris on the Army Infantry Squad Vehicle program.

By Marjorie Censer
October 17, 2019 at 11:27 AM

Textron's Bell unveiled its Invictus 360 offering for the Army's Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program at the Association of the U.S. Army conference this week, and the response was "very positive," according to Textron's chief executive.

Scott Donnelly said today during a call with analysts that the "interest level is pretty high."

He noted the company's offering is based on technology used in its 525 helicopter, but said it shouldn't be perceived as older technology.

"The performance numbers meet or exceed the customer's requirements," Donnelly added. "We think we can do it very cost effectively."

Donnelly said Bell, which was among those selected to build prototypes, is awaiting a March down-select.

Meanwhile, Textron Systems today reported quarterly sales of $311 million, down 12% from the same three-month period a year earlier as a result of "lower armored vehicle volume at Textron Marine & Land Systems." The unit's quarterly profit rose about 7% from the prior year.

Bell recorded quarterly sales of $783 million, up 2% from a year earlier because of increased commercial revenue. Military volume was down, the company said.

Bell's quarterly profit was $110 million, down about 3% from a year earlier.

By Tony Bertuca
October 16, 2019 at 5:35 PM

The Senate voted 85-7 to confirm Barbara Barrett as the next Air Force secretary.

President Trump announced his intent to nominate Barrett, the former chairwoman of Aerospace Corp., in May, though the Senate did not receive her formal nomination until September.

Barrett backs the president’s proposal for a separate Space Force, though her predecessor Heather Wilson opposed it.

By Marjorie Censer
October 16, 2019 at 4:50 PM

In a new advisory opinion, the Government Accountability Office said it has no basis to object to the Army's actions in the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, better known as LOGCAP V.

GAO in July denied DynCorp International's protest related to LOGCAP V, but had not ruled on the protests filed by other competitors when DynCorp filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. GAO then dismissed the remaining protests.

Competitor also AECOM filed in court, seeking an advisory opinion from GAO.

In the opinion, released today, GAO said the "record shows [the] agency's evaluation and source selections were reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation and applicable statutes and regulations."

AECOM, GAO noted, argued the Army misevaluated proposals and made "unreasonable" source selection decisions.

"Based on our review, we would have no basis to object to the agency’s actions," GAO wrote.