The Insider

By Thomas Duffy
August 27, 2020 at 2:33 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest features U.S. allies opposing congressional “Buy American” proposals, along with news on space logistics, the Defense Digital Service and the New START Treaty.

A group of foreign military attachés does not like the House’s “Buy American” proposals:

U.S. military allies seek to block new ‘Buy American’ initiatives

A group of foreign military attachés representing some of the United States’ closest allies is asking Senate lawmakers to oppose House defense legislation that would strengthen “Buy American” requirements for some of the Pentagon’s largest weapons programs, according to a letter obtained by Inside Defense.

Space Force leaders are calling for a discussion on space logistics:

Space leaders expect future need for in-space logistics mission

As the Space Force looks to maintain and improve its current mission slate, service leaders say now is the time for discussions with industry about future growth, particularly in space logistics.

A senior Pentagon official discussed software reusability:

Defense Digital Service director advocates for 'reusability' of software

The director of the Defense Digital Service wants Pentagon organizations to reuse software rather than build bespoke solutions for the same capabilities.

Some congressional Dems want the New START Treaty extended:

Dems call on Trump to extend New START Treaty following report on costs of nuke expansion

Leading congressional Democrats are highlighting a new Congressional Budget Office report on the potential costs of foregoing the nuclear weapons limits of the New START Treaty, calling on the Trump administration to extend the pact with Russia before it expires early next year.

By Justin Doubleday
August 26, 2020 at 4:48 PM

Leading congressional Democrats are highlighting a new Congressional Budget Office report on the potential costs of foregoing the nuclear weapons limits of the New START Treaty, calling on the Trump administration to extend the pact with Russia before it expires early next year.

In a joint statement released today, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said a Congressional Budget Office report released yesterday makes clear the United States can't afford a "dangerous arms race." The New START Treaty is set to expire in February 2021.

"Extending the New START Treaty for a full five years is clearly the right financial and national security choice. America cannot afford a costly and dangerous nuclear arms race, particularly in the middle of our current economic, political, and health crises," the lawmakers said. "We again call on the Trump Administration to extend the New START Treaty today."

The CBO report examined the potential costs if the United States expanded its strategic nuclear forces from the maximum of 1,550 warheads allowed under New START to levels specified in three recent agreements: the Moscow, START II, and START I treaties, respectively.

The report found expanding forces to the Moscow Treaty limits of 1,700 to 2,200 warheads would not increase the Defense Department's costs relative to its current plans. CBO estimates DOD's production costs for those plans will total $240 billion over the next few decades.

However, expanding forces to the START II limits of 3,000 to 3,500 warheads would cost DOD up to $172 billion to increase the number of delivery vehicles over the next several decades, according to the report. It would also increase DOD's annual operating costs by $3 billion to $8 billion.

Meanwhile, if DOD expanded forces to the START I limits if 6,000 warheads, the onetime costs would rise by $88 billion to $149 billion and annual costs by $4 billion to $10 billion under a "lower-cost approach," according to CBO. Under a "more flexible approach," increasing to the START I limits could increase one-time costs for DOD by as much as $439 billion and its annual costs by as much as $28 billion, the report states.

"Total production costs would be nearly triple what DOD is currently planning to spend on production over the next few decades," it adds.

The CBO report also does not take into account additional costs for the Energy Department to produce more nuclear warheads, as well as additional costs for DOD to establish new operating bases and training facilities, as well as expanding production capabilities if necessary.

By Courtney Albon
August 26, 2020 at 4:26 PM

A new document released this week by Air Force Special Operations Command details its top areas of interest over the next 20 years, which includes capabilities to improve command-and-control interoperability, full spectrum threat warning and countermeasures and beyond-line-of-sight functionality.

The document, marked "for official use only," lists 33 technology areas in which the command expects to need new or improved capability between fiscal years 2021 and 2040, and was shaped by a gap analysis conducted as part of AFSOC's strategic planning process.

In a request for information released this week, the command requests that providers propose solutions that may be considered to address future requirements.

Other areas of interest listed in the document include precision navigation, situational awareness, mission networking, scalable weapons effects and low visibility communications.

By Ashley Tressel
August 26, 2020 at 2:37 PM

The Army is starting a small business innovation research pilot program to help increase the rate of fire of self-propelled howitzer systems.

The Special Program Awards for Required Technology Needs (SPARTN) is a new program to address "the three long-standing barriers small businesses have faced in working with the Army: transparency, access, and capital," according to a press release the service issued yesterday.

The first initiative, called "Fire Faster," seeks to create systems or subsystems that increase the rate of fire.

"This rate of fire aspect is more than just putting rounds in the back of the howitzers," Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, director of the Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team, said in the release. "It's also about asking, 'Where do we spend all of our time*' We spend a lot of our time handling unpacking, unloading and downloading ammunition. If we can do that more efficiently, we will become a more combat effective unit."

The program's goal is to have companies on contract 30 days after the submission period ends, which is Oct. 6.

"The program nearly doubles the amount of capital available under SBIR Phase I, up to $200,000 for a four-month period of performance with considerable increases for Phase II and beyond," the release says. "And those funds do not require the firm to sacrifice any equity or future options as with most private financing. SPARTN improves transparency by providing a clear pathway for successful technologies to transition into official Army programs."

The service says the problems SPARTN seeks to solve already have the support of Army leaders "who can make purchasing and budgeting decisions."

"I am excited to be working together, across our community, on SPARTN SBIR to modernize our weapon systems," Col. Tim Fuller, project manager for self-propelled howitzer systems, said.

The application period for "Fire Faster" is Sept. 18 to Oct. 6.

By John Liang
August 26, 2020 at 2:15 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the defense space enterprise, a delayed missile defense intercept test and more.

Over the past year, the heads of the Space and Missile Systems Center, Space Rapid Capabilities Office, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and the National Reconnaissance Office have met informally on a regular basis to ensure that their organizations are collaborating to enable better systems integration across the space architecture:

New Program Integration Council seeks better cooperation across defense space enterprise

A new Defense Department space leader forum aims to help facilitate cooperation and deconfliction across the national security space enterprise's architecture without adding bureaucracy to the space acquisition process.

The Missile Defense Agency's Flight Test Standard Missile (FTM)-44 was on schedule for earlier this year before the coronavirus outbreak forced the agency to pare back routine operations to curtail the virus' spread:

Pandemic sets back FTM-44, planned 2020 marquee missile defense flight test

The Missile Defense Agency is delaying until the end of this year a marquee test, slated for fiscal year 2020, pitting a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA against an intercontinental ballistic missile target to validate a new homeland defense architecture that would add a new "underlayer" to work in tandem with the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system.

Defense contractor Alion has shifted its focus away from Navy systems engineering and technical assistance:

Alion CEO remakes company to zero in on technology

With a major acquisition and a key divestiture under its belt, Alion has reshaped to focus on high-tech areas and significantly change its customer base.

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

Pentagon poised to sign no-cost contract with its CMMC accreditation body

The Defense Department is working on a no-cost contract with the independent authority that oversees the accreditation process for its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program.

DOD clarifies information from contractors to comply with Huawei, ZTE ban

The Pentagon has issued a second interim rule on how contractors who want to do business with the federal government need to provide details on Huawei and ZTE equipment and services in their systems.

By Justin Katz
August 26, 2020 at 9:56 AM

The Navy yesterday announced it awarded Denver-based FlightSafety Services Corp. a $220 million training services contract for the TH-73A helicopter.

"The five-year base contract is for [$220 million] for TH-73A [Aircrew Training Services], which includes availability on 18 Flight Simulation Training Devices," according to a Navy statement.

"The total contract value is [$363 million]. FSTDs are scheduled be available in calendar year 2021 and will continue through calendar year 2026. The government received two proposals for the contract," the statement continued.

The TH-73A, which will be built by Leonardo, is the Navy's new training helicopter.

The program is comprised of three components: the helicopters, training devices and associated services as well as "the maintenance and logistics infrastructure necessary to ensure defined aircraft availability rates," according to the service's latest budget justification documents.

Leonardo earlier this year won a three-way competition with Bell and Airbus to deliver the helicopter; the company was awarded a $176 million contract for 32 aircraft.

By Sara Sirota
August 25, 2020 at 3:26 PM

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Gremlins program has completed a second round of flight tests of Dynetics' X-61A drone but delayed the first air recovery attempt to later this year.

The July demonstration at Dugway Proving Ground, UT included captive flight tests of the X-61A on a C-130 and a controlled launch where the drone flew more than two hours, DARPA announced in a press release today.

Scott Wierzbanowski, the Gremlins program manager, said the X-61A's performance was consistent with the first flight test in November 2019, where the program completed one captive-carry mission and an airborne launch and free flight lasting just over 90 minutes.

During the inaugural demonstration, a parachute anomaly occurred during a recovery sequence, resulting in the loss of one vehicle, leaving four to remain available for testing. The anomaly was specific to the testing effort and not part of the operational plan, a DARPA press release said at the time.

The Gremlins program seeks low-cost, attritable drones that can be air-launched and retrieved mid-air via a recovery system, after which ground crews would prepare them for another use within 24 hours.

According to today's notice, DARPA decided to delay the first air recovery attempt so the program could instead focus on key risk-reduction activities, though it's unclear what those activities were.

The team will resume flight tests in October with the goal of recovering one -- and then two -- X-61As in the same flight. DARPA anticipates completing the test series by the end of 2020 with a demonstration that recovers four drones mid-air within 30 minutes.

"This final demonstration will showcase the capability of safe, effective, and efficient air recoveries, revolutionizing the application and utility of attritable" unmanned aerial vehicles, the press release states.

Although the Gremlins program is using a C-130 as its demonstration platform, the recovery system is intended to be easily modified and compatible with various transport aircraft and weapon systems. The drones can carry up to 150 pounds of sensors.

The ongoing test series represents the third phase of the Gremlins program. DARPA is currently in negotiations for the fourth phase of the effort, which will demonstrate the technology in an operationally relevant environment, according to the agency's notice.

By John Liang
August 25, 2020 at 3:10 PM

The U.S. Strategic Command Strategic Advisory Group plans to hold a two-day closed meeting in October, according to a notice in today's Federal Register.

The purpose of the Oct. 6-7 meeting will be "to provide advice on scientific, technical, intelligence, and policy-related issues to the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, during the development of the nation's strategic war plans."

Topics for discussion at the meeting include: "Policy Issues, Space Operations, Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Assessment, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Intelligence Operations, Cyber Operations, Global Strike, Command and Control, Science and Technology, and Missile Defense," the notice reads.

By Courtney Albon
August 25, 2020 at 2:53 PM

The F-35 joint program office is ramping up its analysis of a possible performance-based logistics sustainment contract with Lockheed Martin, according to a notice posted this week.

In a new justification and approval document, the Navy-led tiger team details its reasons for extending a contract with Systecon North America for consulting services as it finalizes the JPO's assessment and response to Lockheed's proposal for a five-year PBL deal the company says could save the program about $1 billion.

The extended contract, which was awarded in July, runs through the end of October and funds additional modeling and simulation "focused on material provisioning, support planning and sustainment to optimize readiness, technical performances and affordability," the notice states.

"As the program approaches milestone C, this requirement will provide current F-35 cost and performance modeling to establish a PBL sustainment baseline," the J&A notes. "Independent cost and performance modeling is currently not in alignment with the F-35 JPO models and the requirement is for an independent source to provide actual F-35 JPO models in comparison to outside industry recommendations."

As part of Lockheed's initial proposal, which it revealed to reporters last September, the company would invest an initial $1.5 billion in seed funding to pay for initial spare parts and capacity. Over five years, the company projects the agreement would save the government about $2.5 billion, minus its $1.5 billion investment, which would be returned to Lockheed.

The company has said, based on its projects, the deal could help the program achieve its goal of reducing the F-35's cost per flying hour to $25,000 by 2025 if the Pentagon implements the plan in 2021.

In November, the Pentagon established a Joint Independent Assessment Team, led by Navy acquisition executive Hondo Guerts, to consider the deal. Guerts told Inside Defense in January his team was considering a range of possibilities -- from a full PBL to something "in between" a PBL and a more traditional annual sustainment contract.

By Marjorie Censer
August 25, 2020 at 2:29 PM

AeroVironment's chief executive said today the company is only seeing "small effects" from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a Raymond James virtual conference, Wahid Nawabi said 70% to 80% of the company's employees are "either exclusively or almost exclusively" remote. He said the contractor's programs continue to move forward.

Nawabi told attendees the pandemic has produced "some minor delays" both in the company’s customers' actions as well as among its suppliers.

"We also believe that the year might be a little back-end loaded," he said.

By Ashley Tressel
August 25, 2020 at 2:27 PM

The Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team's essential tasks for the Army's Project Convergence demonstration next month are to neutralize an air defense system and destroy a long-range artillery system, according to the CFT’s director.

Project Convergence, to be held at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, will test sensor-to-shooter technology using artificial intelligence to explore the Army's role in the joint all-domain command and control effort led by the Air Force.

LRPF CFT Director Brig. Gen. John Rafferty yesterday said, during a virtual Heritage Foundation event, there is "micro and macro learning demand" across the CFTs participating in the event.

"Behind [those essential fires support tasks] . . . we've got to receive the targeting information from a [Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node] surrogate," he said. "The TITAN system isn't ready yet, but there's a process and a system that we're using as a surrogate for that, so that's being generated. Then, transmitting across the tactical network to AFATDS, which will send the fire command down to ERCA for that. There [are] a lot of learning demands in that in terms of time standards and accuracy standards, and [it] will inform some crew drill inside the ERCA."

TITAN will be able to both actively task and receive data back down directly in theater, Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing CFT Director Willie Nelson said earlier this month.

As part of Project Convergence, the APNT CFT will be interfacing live, space-based sensor data to the aviation community and partnering with the LRPF CFT to conduct a live sensor-to-shooter demonstration with its new weapon systems, including the Extended Range Cannon Artillery.

By John Liang
August 25, 2020 at 1:40 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on defense contractor Alion, the Army's plan to develop a Long Range Hypersonic Weapon prototype by 2023, the Patriot interceptor and more.

Defense contractor Alion has shifted its focus away from Navy systems engineering and technical assistance:

Alion CEO remakes company to zero in on technology

With a major acquisition and a key divestiture under its belt, Alion has reshaped to focus on high-tech areas and significantly change its customer base.

Army Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, head of the service's Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team, gave a speech this week during a virtual Heritage Foundation event:

Army official: 'There isn't a moment to lose' on hypersonic weapon development

The official in charge of the Army's Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team Monday said the service's plan to develop a Long Range Hypersonic Weapon prototype by 2023 is the quickest way to maintain combined arms overmatch, as it aims to engage in the fight with Russia and China.

Lockheed Martin, maker of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Enhancement Segment interceptor, is looking into why its missile misfired during a recent test:

Patriot MSE appears to have misfired in key air and missile defense test

The Army's most advanced Patriot interceptor appears to have misfired during a key test of the service's new air and missile defense system, requiring a back-up guided missile, an older Patriot variant, to chase and destroy a tactical ballistic missile target last week.

A Marine Corps spokeswoman told Inside Defense this week that the service's Amphibious Combat Vehicle full-rate production decision has been pushed back to November:

COVID-19 delays ACV production decision to November

The Marine Corps has delayed by two months the full-rate production decision for its new Amphibious Combat Vehicle because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said during a virtual conference with reporters last week that he has identified a historic pattern of downward pressure placed on U.S. defense budgets following economic recoveries and the renewed political concern about deficit spending that usually comes next:

Defense analyst wargames future budget crunch

A Washington defense budget analyst is looking at the Pentagon's future spending plans and warning they could very well collide with political forces now building because of the COVID-19 pandemic and historic federal deficits.

By Marjorie Censer
August 25, 2020 at 6:45 AM

Altamira Technologies said today it has named contracting veteran Craig Reed president and chief growth officer.

"With this move, the company is also forming an Executive Management Committee, through which Craig, Chief Operating Officer Blaine Worthington, and Chief Executive Officer Ted Davies will work closely together to drive accelerated growth and continued operational excellence across the company," Altamira said.

Reed has been an executive at Northrop Grumman, DynCorp International and Engility. Most recently, he was chief growth officer at Serco.

By Ashley Tressel
August 24, 2020 at 7:02 PM

The Army today announced the award of 10 other transaction agreements totaling $29.8 million for various parts of the Air Launched Effects effort to develop systems that will be launched from future vertical lift platforms.

Three projects for the ALE air vehicle go to Alliant Techsystems Operations in Northridge, CA; Raytheon in Tucson, AZ; and Area-I Inc. in Marietta, GA.

Three projects for ALE mission systems go to L3 Technologies Inc. in Salt Lake City; Rockwell Collins, Inc. in Cedar Rapids, IA; and Aurora Flight Services Corp. in Manassas, VA.

And four projects for ALE payloads go to Leonardo Electronics U.S. Inc. in Huntsville, AL; Technology Service Corp. in Huntsville, AL; Raytheon in Goleta, GA; and Alliant Techsystems Operations in Northridge, CA.

ALE will be miniature drones launched from current and future platforms, like the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, and are expected to arrive in the service in 2025.

"We have lots of flexibility inside the OTA that allows us to do many things once these technologies are proven and ready to be integrated," Joseph Giunta, executive director of Army Contracting Command-Redstone, said in a press release. "We've put a lot of tools in place to allow the [Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team] and [Program Executive Office for Aviation] to take advantage of the flexibility, reduction in risk and time through this contracting strategy. We're excited to have that in place and to support our mission partners on an accelerated schedule."

The Army is working on science and technology planning and development "to deliver coordinated and distributed sensing and effects across electro-optical, infrared and radio frequency spectrums," according to an initial request for information released Aug. 12.

By Justin Katz
August 24, 2020 at 2:52 PM

The Navy is seeking information from industry about proprietary "low probability of intercept/detect" waveforms and other capabilities in response to a funding restriction signed into law in the most recent defense policy bill.

"The objective of this [request for information] is to determine the demand signal (market demand) for potential proprietary LPI/LPD waveforms that may be considered for future government contracts," according to a Naval Information Warfare Systems Command RFI published today.

The RFI is part of the Pentagon's response to Section 168 of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The legislative language prohibits the Defense Department from spending money on communications programs of record unless the waveform is "available through the Department of Defense Waveform Information Repository" or passes an analysis through the Joint Tactical Networking Center's tactical communications marketplace.

The TCM, a joint initiative stood up in 2019 and managed by the Army's Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, provides service acquisition authorities a source for radios, waveform technologies and other communications equipment, according to an Army statement.

The policy bill also allows the defense secretary to waive the legislative requirements if he certifies to lawmakers "that the system's intended use is not for contested environments or will meet the requirement when operated as a component of an integrated network."