The Insider

By Briana Reilly
April 14, 2022 at 1:48 PM

A top Air Force software official said today the service will face challenges in setting limitations for military-owned and operated technology factories that support ongoing integration and delivery.

When it comes to those software factories, Maj. Christopher Olsen, the military deputy for the Air Force’s chief software officer, said the Air Force will need to put in place “institutional mechanisms” to figure out what work is appropriate to funnel to those operations and which capabilities are best to out-source “to the traditional contracting process to be done [through] the defense industrial base.”

Specifically, Olsen told an audience at Fedscoop’s Public Sector Innovation Summit in Arlington, VA, today that his office has found software factories are best suited for “solving problems with software that are within a certain kind of criteria, certain scale, certain size.”

Pointing to Kessel Run, the coding unit that delivers continuous software to primary customer Air Combat Command, Olsen said that factory’s work in “a niche area” surrounding specific missions and capabilities is “a great area for a software factory to be in.”

Kessel Run and ACC in fall 2021 struck the first user agreement involving an Air Force major command under the Defense Department’s new software acquisition policy. ACC has been the recipient of a variety of software applications including the Kessel Run All-Domain Operations Suite (KRADOS), a modernized package that’ll replace the legacy, decades-old Theater Battle Management Core System.

The software factory’s primary focus has been on modernizing and transitioning the battle management core system out of the Air Operations Center Weapon System.

“What we’re never going to have is a software factory producing all of the software and all the software engineering for, like, the F-35,” Olsen said. “That’s work well suited for the defense industrial base.”

By Audrey Decker
April 14, 2022 at 12:29 PM

The United States and India are considering using Indian shipyards to repair U.S. ships, according to the Fourth Annual U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.

Both countries will “encourage” reciprocal participation in each other’s defense supply chains, according to a statement released Monday.

“To further enhance defense industrial cooperation in the naval sector, both sides agreed to explore possibilities of utilizing the Indian shipyards for repair and maintenance of ships of the U.S. Maritime Sealift Command to support mid-voyage repair of U.S. naval ships,” according to the statement.

“Acknowledging that our navies have been a driving force in advancing the United States and India’s shared interests in the Indian Ocean Region and the wider Indo-Pacific, the Ministers discussed opportunities to further advance and deepen maritime cooperation,” the Pentagon said today in response to a question taken during yesterday’s press briefing.

The Navy is undergoing a major shipyard improvement effort -- the 20-year Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program -- in hopes of revamping the nation’s four public shipyards.

However, SIOP has received backlash from Congress due to plan delays and cost overruns.

By Audrey Decker
April 13, 2022 at 3:34 PM

The Navy and Marine Corps demonstrated their “lightning carrier” concept on an amphibious assault ship earlier this month.

The services operated 20 F-35B Lightning II jets from the America-class amphibious assault carrier Tripoli from March 30 through April 8, according to a Marine Corps press release.

The exercise featured 16 jets from Marine Aircraft Group 13 and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and four from Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1, the press release states.

The lightning carrier concept proves that amphibious assault ships can be a “lethal addition,” helping the Navy and Marine Corps fly more F-35Bs, the service said on Monday.

“This concept will not change the standard make-up of an Amphibious Ready Group and Marine Expeditionary Unit,” the Marine Corps said. “However, the exercise demonstrated the potential to utilize amphibious assault ships to provide the naval and joint force with lethal access, collection, and strike capabilities from fifth-generation short takeoff/ vertical landing aircraft in future operations.”

The Marine Corps unfunded priorities list included $671 million for six additional F-35s.

By Tony Bertuca
April 13, 2022 at 3:22 PM

President Biden has authorized a new $800 million package of U.S. weapons transfers to Ukraine, including helicopters, howitzer cannons, armored vehicles, armed drones, and counterair and counter artillery radars to bolster the Ukrainian military as the ongoing Russian invasion becomes more focused on the eastern region of the country.

The new package specifically includes:

- 11 Mi-17 helicopters

- 18 155 mm towed howitzers and 40,000 artillery rounds

- 10 AN/TPQ-36 counter artillery radars

- Two AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air surveillance radars

- 300 Switchblade unmanned aerial systems

- 500 Javelin missiles and “thousands of other anti-armor systems”

- 200 M113 armored personnel carriers

- 100 armors humvees

- Unmanned coastal defense vessels

- Counter-chemical warfare equipment

- Medical equipment

- 30,000 sets of body armor and helmets

- More than 2,000 optics and laser rangefinders

- C-4 explosives and demolition equipment

- M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel mines

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the new equipment is being provided to help Ukraine defend the Donbas region of the country now that Russia has repositioned its forces away from Kyiv and further east.

“This is all stuff we’ve talked about with the Ukrainians,” he said. “The Ukrainians have made it clear that in this fight that’s coming, artillery is a critical need. We will be in an iterative conversation with them going forward.”

Additionally, Kirby said Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks met today with executives from some of the world’s top defense contractors, including Boeing, L-3 Harris, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and HII, to ensure that U.S. stocks can be replenished after equipment is transferred to Ukraine.

Kirby said the United States has now committed $3.2 billion in assistance to Ukraine during the Biden administration, including $2.6 billion since the Russian invasion began.

By Thomas Duffy
April 13, 2022 at 2:01 PM

This midweek INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a new Pratt and Whitney engine maintenance program, an upcoming Air Force contract, a new intelligence report on space operations, and the Army’s Stinger replacement effort

Pratt and Whitney has a new program to gauge the life of aviation engines:

As Pratt rolls out UBL to F-22 bases, execs see potential for expansion to other fleets

While Pratt & Whitney works to incorporate a new approach to engine maintenance across the F-22 fighter fleet, the company is eyeing opportunities to expand the effort to the F-35 and commercial customers, executives told Inside Defense this week.

The Air Force announced it will soon award a contract for a new nuclear warhead:

Air Force to issue GBSD re-entry vehicle contract to Lockheed Martin

The Air Force plans to award Lockheed Martin a sole-source procurement to continue work on the re-entry vehicle for the Ground Based Strategic Defense system's nuclear warhead, according to a notice released Tuesday.

A new intelligence assessment shows China and Russia have made great strides in their respective space programs:

DIA: U.S. adversaries' space capabilities are expanding

China, Russia and other adversaries are rapidly expanding their space capabilities, top Defense Intelligence Agency officials said in a Pentagon press briefing today, raising concerns about increasing competition in space.

The Army has plans to replace it’s decades-old, venerable Stinger air defense system:

Army pushes $60 million in Stinger replacement funding to unfunded priorities list

The Army has included $60 million to develop a Stinger missile replacement in its fiscal year 2023 unfunded priorities list, which the service says it needs just to stay on schedule with its plan to replace the Cold War-era system.

By John Liang
April 12, 2022 at 2:06 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of inflation's impact on the defense budget, the Army's new armored penetration divisions and more.

The Pentagon's No. 2 civilian spoke to reporters this morning about inflation's impact on the defense budget:

Hicks: DOD eying inflation for long-term contract impacts

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, who recently met with dozens of defense business executives, said today the Pentagon is discussing the ongoing impact of historic inflation with both large and small defense contractors, but noted there has not yet been a substantial uptick in requests for equitable adjustments to contract prices.

The Army has designated the 1st Armored and 1st Cavalry as penetration divisions, with three armored brigades, in the last year as it equips for large-scale combat operations:

Army will realign ABCTs to create National Guard penetration division

Armored brigades will be administratively realigned to turn the 34th Infantry Division into the National Guard's armored penetration division, but those brigades will not move from their current bases, according to Brig. Gen. Charles Kemper, the division's commander.

The Air Force's Navigation Technology Satellite-3 is set to launch at the end of 2023 and test dozens of capabilities for positioning, navigation and timing:

AFRL experimental technology could be used on GPS III follow-on satellites

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -- Capabilities stemming from the Air Force Research Laboratory's experimental satellite could be used on future GPS III follow-on satellites if the effort proves successful, according to the program executive officer.

A recent Government Accountability Office report finds that "while the Navy's shipbuilding plan outlines spending more than $4 billion on uncrewed systems over the next five years, its plan does not account for the full costs to develop and operate these systems":

GAO: Navy needs full cost estimate for unmanned maritime systems

The Navy has not developed a full cost estimate for its unmanned maritime systems and "does not know" how its unmanned efforts fit into future ship planning, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

Document: GAO report on Navy uncrewed maritime systems

We close with a deep dive into the money the Army plans to spend on network modernization:

Army budget request good for network mod plans, but more money will be necessary in the future

The Army's fiscal year 2023 budget request provides enough money to support its network goals, but the service will need to increase research, development, test and evaluation funds for network modernization programs in the coming years if it intends to stay on track, an Army spokeswoman said.

By Audrey Decker
April 12, 2022 at 12:33 PM

A new report from the Government Accountability Office recommends the Navy's Supervisors of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair are included earlier in the shipbuilding process before contracts are awarded.

In a Senate report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress included a provision for GAO to review the SUPSHIPs’ oversight efforts.

GAO's report, released today, outlined challenges the Navy has faced in meeting its shipbuilding goals, noting years of construction delays in certain programs, billions of dollars in cost growth and frequent performance shortfalls.

SUPSHIP is the Navy’s on-site technical authority for the construction of Navy vessels at major private shipyards. However, the Navy isn’t taking “full advantage” of the Supervisors’ expertise, GAO said.

The watchdog agency recommends the Navy, “take steps to ensure regular use of its quality program standard in shipbuilding contracts; provide the SUPSHIPs with direct representation in evaluation and decision-making processes prior to contract awards; and require the SUPSHIPs to report on the quality and readiness of each ship prior to the Chief of Naval Operations’ approval decisions for ship acceptance.”

The Navy agreed with all of GAO’s recommendations.

By Audrey Decker
April 11, 2022 at 2:19 PM

Bollinger Shipyards has been awarded a contract to build the Navy's Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Surface Vehicle, the Defense Department announced on Friday.

This announcement signals a major loss for Textron Systems, a company that has worked closely with the Navy over the years to develop its MCM USV program.

The contract award totals $13.7 million, with options to bring the value of the contract up to $122.9 million. If all options are exercised, work will continue through 2027, according to the announcement.

The competition was for a “build-to-print contract” for the initial production of the three MCM USVs, with the ability to procure up to six in the base year and options for up to 24 additional vehicles, according to the contract notice.

The MCM USV will replace the Navy’s aging Avenger-class minesweeping ships and the MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters.

By John Liang
April 11, 2022 at 1:45 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Army network modernization, naval unmanned systems and more.

We start off with a deep dive into the money the Army plans to spend on network modernization:

Army budget request good for network mod plans, but more money will be necessary in the future

The Army's fiscal year 2023 budget request provides enough money to support its network goals, but the service will need to increase research, development, test and evaluation funds for network modernization programs in the coming years if it intends to stay on track, an Army spokeswoman said.

A recent Government Accountability Office report finds that "while the Navy's shipbuilding plan outlines spending more than $4 billion on uncrewed systems over the next five years, its plan does not account for the full costs to develop and operate these systems":

GAO: Navy needs full cost estimate for unmanned maritime systems

The Navy has not developed a full cost estimate for its unmanned maritime systems and "does not know" how its unmanned efforts fit into future ship planning, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

Document: GAO report on Navy uncrewed maritime systems

More naval unmanned system news:

General Dynamics to complete Knifefish updates in 2023

General Dynamics Mission Systems is on schedule to complete production of the first Block I Knifefish unmanned undersea vehicles this year and finish updating the retrofitted systems in 2023.

News on the Army's AN/TPQ-53 radar system:

Army lifts contract ceiling for TPQ-53 counterfire radar by $1.6 billion

The Army last week raised the contract ceiling on the AN/TPQ-53 radar by $1.6 billion, extending by five years work that began in 2018 on the most advanced sensor in the service's inventory to counter incoming mortar, artillery and rockets to facilitate upgrades and foreign sales.

In case you missed it from last week's Quad-A conference:

UH-60V has 'MOSA-lite,' thanks to Army-owned IP

NASHVILLE, TN -- Increased government ownership of the technical data and software for the newest UH-60 Black Hawk variant has allowed the Army to change the way it upgrades helicopters, in what could be a preview of future systems.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
April 11, 2022 at 12:54 PM

Oshkosh Defense has signed an agreement with the Armaments Center to further develop the turret it produces for the Stryker infantry fighting vehicle, which would adapt the turret for the company's Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle design, according to an announcement today.

The cooperative research and development agreement allows Oshkosh to collaborate with the Armaments Center, a research and development organization within the Army's Combat Capabilities Development Command, on company-funded work.

“Under the CRADA, Oshkosh Defense and DEVCOM will cooperate in the development, integration, and testing of innovative armament technologies to provide a transformative, next-generation lethality capability,” an Oshkosh press release stated. “Additionally, the CRADA will enable both organizations to mature their technologies for eventual transition to direct-fire, medium-caliber platforms such as the U.S. Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle.”

Development will start with the turret that Oshkosh builds for the Army’s Medium Caliber Weapon System, the program to integrate a 30 mm cannon on the Stryker infantry carrier, according to the press release. Oshkosh won the MCWS competition in June, with a design based on Rafael’s Samson family of turrets.

“We are already starting with a robust weapon system platform with our Stryker MCWS turret,” Pat Williams, vice president and general manager of Army and Marine Corps programs at Oshkosh, said in the press release.

Oshkosh is one of five companies participating in the current concept design phase of the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle competition, the program to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Rheinmetall, another company in the concept design phase of the competition, announced in August that it would enter its own CRADA with the Armaments Center to integrate the XM913, a 50 mm cannon, into its OMFV design.

Oshkosh, which produces most of the Army’s tactical wheeled vehicles but has not built a combat vehicle before, has partnered with Hanwha Defense, Rafael, QinetiQ and others for its OMFV design.

By Tony Bertuca
April 11, 2022 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense leaders are scheduled to speak at several events this week. Congress is on spring recess for the next two weeks.

Monday

The Atlantic Council hosts a discussion on potential “massive acts of disruption” related to national security.

AFCEA hosts its Technet Indo-Pacific conference in Honolulu, HI. The event runs through Wednesday.

Wednesday

The Association of the United States Army hosts a discussion about “Army installation partnerships for mission assurance.”

Thursday

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on the defense of Guam.

Fedscoop hosts its Public Innovation Summit.

By John Liang
April 8, 2022 at 2:23 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army and Air Force's unfunded priorities and a lot more.

We start off with coverage of a bunch of unfunded priorities lists, including the Army, Air Force and more:

Army sends Congress $5.1B unfunded priorities list

The Army has sent Congress an unfunded priorities list totaling $5.1 billion for fiscal year 2023, with more than $2.4 billion identified for accelerating planned weapons investments, including combat vehicles, Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense systems and radar equipment, according to documents obtained by Inside Defense.

Air Force seeks additional F-35s, more money for hypersonic testing in $4.6B UPL

The Air Force is seeking seven extra F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and an increased investment in hypersonic testing in the $4.6 billion unfunded priorities list the service sent to Congress, according to documents obtained by Inside Defense.

Space Force sends $639 million UPL to Congress

The Space Force has sent Congress a $639 million unfunded priorities list, with more than half the request going toward classified efforts, according to slides obtained by Inside Defense.

SOCOM names $656M in unfunded priorities

U.S. Special Operations Command has sent Congress a list of unfunded priorities totaling $656 million, according to a document obtained by Inside Defense.

EUCOM opts against sending Congress an unfunded priorities list

U.S. European Command has decided against sending Congress an unfunded priorities list, but wants lawmakers to be aware that the crisis in Ukraine remains "dynamic and evolving" and could necessitate urgent funding in the future, according to a letter to Congress obtained by Inside Defense.

Followed by more coverage of this week's Quad-A conference:

UH-60V has 'MOSA-lite,' thanks to Army-owned IP

NASHVILLE, TN -- Increased government ownership of the technical data and software for the newest UH-60 Black Hawk variant has allowed the Army to change the way it upgrades helicopters, in what could be a preview of future systems.

New focus for Army autonomy: 'minimally manned'

NASHVILLE, TN -- A new framework for thinking about future autonomous systems was apparent this week at the Army Aviation Association of America's annual conference: major platforms should be "minimally" or "optimally" manned, not necessarily unmanned.

(Follow all the news from Quad A.)

. . . Along with the latest from this week's Sea-Air-Space symposium:

General Dynamics to complete Knifefish updates in 2023

General Dynamics Mission Systems is on schedule to complete production of the first Block I Knifefish unmanned undersea vehicles this year and finish updating the retrofitted systems in 2023.

Austal's autonomous EPF to be delivered later this year

Austal will deliver an autonomous expeditionary fast transport ship to the Navy later this year --the service's largest, operational autonomous ship to date.

(Follow all the news from Sea-Air-Space.)

The latest from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Pentagon plans to publish CMMC 'interim rule' by May 2023

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Director Stacy Bostjanick says the Pentagon is planning to release the "interim rule" to implement the CMMC program by May 2023, with initial requirements showing up in Defense Department contracts 60 days after the rule publication.

Last but by no means least, some missile defense news:

DOD looking anew at how best to provide Hawaii missile defense radar cover

Under continuing pressure from Congress to improve the ballistic missile detection capability for Hawaii, the Defense Department has commenced a new analysis that aims to influence investments beginning in fiscal year 2024 for how the archipelago state will be protected from the advancing threat of North Korean long-range rockets.

By Tony Bertuca
April 8, 2022 at 2:11 PM

The Senate has voted to confirm Bill LaPlante as Pentagon acquisition chief.

LaPlante, who served as Air Force acquisition executive during the Obama administration, previously worked as president and CEO of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, MA.

LaPlante’s confirmation as under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment fills the senior-most vacancy at the Pentagon. President Biden announced his intent to nominate LaPlante in November, but the Senate did not officially receive the nomination until Feb 28.

Biden’s first choice, however, was Defense Innovation Unit Michael Brown, who withdrew from consideration last July amid an investigation by the Defense Department inspector general’s office over alleged misuse of contracting authority. Brown has denied any wrongdoing.

Brown’s derailed nomination, however, meant that several officials would have to serve as acting DOD acquisition chiefs, the most recent being Andrew Hunter, who has been confirmed to be the Air Force acquisition executive.

During his nomination hearing last month, LaPlante told Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) that his most immediate priority, if confirmed, would be to accelerate all equipment and capabilities being sent to Ukraine and NATO allies, as well as replenishing U.S. stockpiles of those systems.

By Audrey Decker
April 8, 2022 at 12:26 PM

The president of one of the Navy's largest shipbuilders, General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works, has resigned.

Dirk Lesko abruptly resigned in a letter sent to company employees yesterday.

A company notice states that Robert Smith, General Dynamics executive vice president for marine systems, has assumed direct responsibility for Bath Iron Works pending the appointment of a permanent replacement.

The short letter lists no specific reason for Lesko’s resignation.

Bath Iron Works, located in Bath, ME, is one of two shipyards that build the Navy’s destroyer fleet.

By Shelley K. Mesch
April 8, 2022 at 9:35 AM

To support its B-21 Raider program, the Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman $108 million in advance procurement funds to acquire long-lead items, the service announced this week.

Five test bombers are being manufactured in Northrop’s Palmdale, CA, production facility. The first aircraft entered loads calibration for verification and validation testing of its structural design, the news release stated, and will undergo further integration and ground testing prior to flight.

“The B-21 test aircraft are the most production-representative aircraft, both structurally and in its mission systems, at this point in a program, that I’ve observed in my career,” said Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office Director Randall Walden. “The right decisions are being made on this program to pave the way for a high-fidelity flight test campaign and an effective transition to production.”

In its fiscal year 2023 budget proposal, the Air Force is seeking $1.7 billion for procurement of the B-21s as they enter low-rate initial production. The service plans to buy a minimum of 100 bombers, Maj. Gen. James Peccia, deputy assistant secretary for budget, said last month.