The Insider

By Tony Bertuca
December 14, 2020 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to participate in several events this week. Meanwhile, Congress is working to pass a final spending deal before Friday's government shutdown deadline.

Monday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts an event on U.S. alliances.

CSIS also hosts a discussion with retired senior military officers on "civic education as a national security imperative."

Tuesday

The Council on Foreign Relations hosts a discussion with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger.

The Heritage Foundation hosts a discussion on the “Iran nuclear challenge.”

Wednesday

The Air Force Association hosts a discussion on nuclear deterrence.

The Heritage Foundation hosts a discussion on Army modernization with the chief of Army Combat Capabilities Development Command.

By Marjorie Censer
December 11, 2020 at 4:26 PM

Contracting executives and industry associations have sent letters to Capitol Hill calling on Congress to extend a legislative provision that reimburses contractors for employees who are unable to work during the pandemic but are kept in a "ready state."

The chief executives of 15 companies, including several of the largest services contractors, sent a letter to congressional leaders today urging them to allow Section 3610 authority through the end of fiscal year 2021.

“Because Congress provided this authority in the CARES Act in March, we have been able to maintain thousands of critical employees who would be difficult to replace within the industrial base,” the executives wrote. “Extending these authorities, which are used by many federal agencies to maintain the capabilities and workforce necessary to meet mission needs and protect our national security and other vital programs, does not require any additional appropriation of funds.”

“[W]e urge you to include in any FY21 regular or supplemental appropriations bill, or any other available bill, a further government-wide extension of Section 3610 through September 30, 2021, the end of the fiscal year,” the executives added.

The letter was signed by the CEOs of Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI International, General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls Industries, ManTech International and Science Applications International Corp., among others.

Meanwhile, eight industry groups sent a letter last month to congressional leaders, advocating for the extension.

“This authority continues to be used by many federal agencies to maintain the capabilities and workforce necessary to meet mission needs and protect our national security and other vital programs,” they wrote.

Among the groups signing were the National Defense Industrial Association, the Professional Services Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

By John Liang
December 11, 2020 at 2:12 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Navy's long-awaited 30-year shipbuilding report to Congress and more.

The Navy has finally submitted its 30-year shipbuilding plan to Congress:

Navy shipbuilding plan calls for 400-ship battle force fleet by 2045

The Navy's latest 30-year shipbuilding plan calls for an over 400-ship battle force fleet by 2045, driven largely by increases in amphibious warfare ships, small surface combatants, submarines and logistic ships.

Document: Navy's 30-year shipbuilding plan

Related info drawn from the FY-22 "fiscal planning framework" that accompanied the shipbuilding report:

Trump trims Army to finance Navy fleet in lame-duck FY-22 budget gambit

The Army would be forced to dial back modest end strength increases planned for the near-term in order to help finance a lame-duck proposal by the Trump administration to dramatically increase the size of the Navy fleet, a move that would shave 1,700 troops from a planned increase of 6,700 -- a 25% decrement between fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

Several drones had problems during a recent test:

Gremlins mid-air retrieval testing extended to 2021 after failed demo

Three X-61A Gremlins drones failed to enter the proper position for mid-flight recovery during the program's latest test, again delaying the long-awaited first demonstration of the signature airborne retrieval system to 2021, according to a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency press release Thursday.

BAE Systems has nabbed a multimillion-dollar Amphibious Combat Vehicle contract:

Marine Corps awards BAE Amphibious Combat Vehicle full-rate production contract

The Marine Corps has awarded BAE Systems a $184 million contract for 36 full-rate production Amphibious Combat Vehicles following the program's initial operational capability declaration last month.

The Air Force's top uniformed official has issued a bunch of action orders to his service:

CSAF Brown's 'Accelerate Change or Lose' action orders could drive changes to FY-22 POM

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown today released a list of action orders guiding the implementation of his "accelerate change or lose" mandate, including the creation of new force presentation plans that could drive changes to fiscal year 2021 and 2022 program execution and planning.

The defense policy bill approved by both chambers of Congress this week has a provision that would give the Defense Department's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center more authority:

Pentagon's Joint AI Center set to get acquisition authority under compromise defense bill

The Pentagon's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center would get its own acquisition authority as part of the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill.

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord was supposed to attend a hearing of the Congressional Oversight Commission this week but could not:

Congressional commission keeps pressure on DOD over trucking company loan

The bipartisan Congressional Oversight Commission charged with reviewing pandemic stimulus spending is pressing Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord to provide more public information about the Defense Department's support for a controversial $700 million loan to a financially troubled trucking company.

The House-Senate conference version of the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill would authorize $120 million for the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor, a $100 million boost above DOD's FY-21 request:

Lawmakers add funds for HBTSS, delay testing until 2023, mandate MDA responsibility

Lawmakers have delayed a statutory deadline for on-orbit testing of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor from the end of 2022 to the end of 2023, authorized additional spending and definitively assigned the Missile Defense Agency responsibility for developing the new payload project.

Last but certainly not least, some news on the Defense Department's efforts to protect the electromagnetic spectrum:

DOD evolving acquisition, operational processes for EMS warfare

Concern about threats in the electromagnetic spectrum is driving the Pentagon to refine its internal acquisition processes to enable faster development of new weapons and set up operational units to leverage these new capabilities against adversaries in the field, according to several military officials speaking at a Mitchell Institute event Wednesday.

By Tony Bertuca
December 11, 2020 at 2:11 PM

The Senate has voted to pass a short continuing resolution that would keep the federal government open until Dec. 18.

President Trump must now sign the CR, which passed the House yesterday, before midnight or else the federal government will shut down.

Lawmakers remain at odds over a final fiscal year 2012 appropriations omnibus, which would include a $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus package.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
December 11, 2020 at 2:09 PM

An operational assessment for the Army's new light tank will begin on Jan. 4 at Ft. Bragg, NC, the Army announced.

“Soldiers will use the MPF prototypes to conduct a wide variety of operational scenarios,” Dan Heaton, an Army spokesman, wrote in a statement to Inside Defense. “The feedback and observations are critical as they will directly inform the development of tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) of this new capability for the [infantry brigade combat team].”

The 82nd Airborne Division will conduct the test, which lasts through June 2021, according to a Dec. 11 Army press release. A selection of one of the two competing vehicles and the beginning of low-rate production are scheduled for the end of fiscal year 2022.

“The MPF brings a new level of lethality to our infantry forces,” said Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the next generation combat vehicle cross-functional team, in the Army press release. “Once they are able to begin interacting with these prototypes, I know that our Soldiers are going to come up with the best ways to utilize MPF in our light formations.”

Operational demonstrations were previously scheduled to begin last month. Army officials did not respond to questions about the cause of the delay.

Prototypes from BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems are competing for the program. BAE’s design is based on a modification of the M8 Armored Gun System, while GDLS has combined an M1 Abrams turret with the British Ajax scout vehicle.

“The MPF solution is an integration of existing mature technologies and components that avoids development which would lengthen the program schedule,” according to the Army press release.

“The priority has always been to field this new critical capability soonest, but the MPF will also be capable of accommodating additional weight and spare electrical power to support future growth.”

BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems were chosen in Dec. 2018 to build 12 prototypes each of the light tank. The Army planned at that time to purchase more than 500 vehicles when the tank reaches full-rate production.

By Tony Bertuca
December 11, 2020 at 1:39 PM

The Senate voted 84-13 today with a veto-proof majority to pass the fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill President Trump has vowed to block.

The House passed the bill Monday with a vote of 335-78, also with a veto-proof majority.

The White House Office of Management and Budget, meanwhile, has sent Congress a formal statement of administration policy notifying lawmakers Trump intends to veto the bill because it does not repeal Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which shields social media companies from lawsuits.

The White House has also said Trump will veto the bill because it creates a commission to remove the names of Confederate leaders from U.S. military bases.

If Trump vetoes the bill, lawmakers in each chamber will need two-thirds majority votes to override the president. At present, the bill has the margin it needs to pass.

Senior leaders have said Congress is prepared to cut short its holiday plans and return to Washington to override Trump if he attempts to take advantage of lawmakers’ absences and vetoes the bill on Christmas Eve.

By Courtney Albon
December 11, 2020 at 1:36 PM

The Space and Missile Systems Center has selected National Security Technology Accelerator to manage its "reloaded" Space Enterprise Consortium under a new 10-year agreement with a $12 billion ceiling.

SMC said in a Dec. 9 press release it expects to award the agreement Dec. 31.

Since it was created in 2017 as a space technology incubator, SpEC membership has grown to more than 400 traditional and non-traditional companies. Using other transaction agreements, SMC has awarded more than 80 prototype deals worth a total of $856 million to support space technology needs across the national security enterprise.

As consortium manager, NSTXL will work to encourage companies to partner with the Defense Department to address those needs.

“This has been a very successful program thus far, and we look forward to taking it to the next level to unlock more value for the U.S. military by engaging more non-traditional defense companies and bringing great innovation into the nascent Space Force,” NSTXL CEO Tim Greeff said in a press release today.

SpEC’s original award ceiling of $100 million, managed by Advanced Technology International, grew to $1.4 billion in its first two years due to unanticipated demand across the department. The new $12 billion follow-on agreement represents a significant expansion for the effort.

According to SMC, the consortium has reduced contract award timelines by 36% compared to “traditional methods.”

“There’s no question that SpEC has been an overwhelming success for the government programs that have utilized it to accelerate their prototyping and for the consortium members to gain a better understanding on the USSF’s architectural direction,” Col. Tim Sebja, program executive officer for SMC’s Space Development Corps, said in the Dec. 9 press release.

By Jaspreet Gill
December 11, 2020 at 11:44 AM

The Army has released a request for information for assured positioning, navigation and timing technologies for its annual PNT Assessment Exercise taking place next year.

The assessment, hosted by the Army's Assured PNT Cross-Functional Team, helps the service further requirement development and address capability gaps. The Army in November wrapped up its second PNTAX, where more than 300 soldiers, airmen, industry and government partners assessed live prototype demonstrations, aerial platforms, NAVWAR sensor systems and other capabilities.

The service is looking for “PNT technologies in the ground, air, space or cyber domains and situational awareness, defensive and offensive capabilities in the navigation warfare mission area,” a Dec. 10 Army notice states.

The capabilities should be ready to be tested and demonstrated during the PNTAX 2021 event, which service officials have said will be integrated with next year’s sensor-to-shooter demonstration called Project Convergence at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ.

“The Army plans to leverage industry recommendations on the delivery of assured PNT, non-space and space-based PNT and NAVWAR hardware and software to implement best practices, improve productivity, gain programmatic and operational efficiencies and realize cost savings,” the notice states.

All capabilities should be at least a Technology Readiness Level of 6 of greater and white papers should include what platforms the capabilities can integrate, size, weight and power characteristics and more.

Industry should submit white papers no later than Jan. 10, 2021.

By Marjorie Censer
December 11, 2020 at 11:06 AM

Lockheed Martin said today its accelerated payments to suppliers should total more than $1 billion by the end of 2020.

The Pentagon at the start of the pandemic increased progress payment rates to large businesses to 90%, up from 80%.

"Lockheed Martin has flowed all of the accelerated payments it has received from the Department of Defense to its supply chain with a focus on small businesses and those at-risk," Jim Taiclet, the company's chief executive, said in a statement. "As 2020 draws to a close, it is our intent to end the year having accelerated in excess of $1 billion in invoices due to our supply chain in 2021."

Taiclet said the payments have gone to almost 10,000 suppliers, including more than 5,900 small businesses.

By Sara Sirota
December 10, 2020 at 4:55 PM

The Air Force released a solicitation Wednesday inviting defense industry companies to apply for a $953 million contract to support more aggressive U.S. air base air defense (ABAD) in Europe and Africa as the service adapts its power projection concepts to operate under a greater threat of attack.

The winner of the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity vehicle will develop an expansive command-and-control capability featuring a network of distributed sensors and communications systems throughout multiple air bases in the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility.

The Air Force’s request for proposals states the contractor will first create a preliminary C2 capability at an air defense systems integration laboratory the service is building at Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany. It will then add more sensors, data feeds and weapons to scale the C2 capability and operate and maintain it from EUCOM and AFRICOM bases.

The Air Force will award the contract to just one vendor to perform several task orders to develop the new ABAD system between May 2021 and May 2031. The service is accepting offers through Jan. 22.

By Marjorie Censer
December 10, 2020 at 4:45 PM

Leidos said today it has agreed to acquire 1901 Group, which specializes in managed IT services and cloud solutions, for $215 million.

1901 Group, which is based in Reston, VA, was founded in 2009.

"The acquisition of 1901 Group will advance Leidos' position in the digital modernization market and expand its ability to address the accelerating cloud and IT services markets," Leidos said. "This will allow Leidos to respond to growing customer demand for more fixed-priced, utility-based business arrangements."

The deal is expected to close early next year.

By John Liang
December 10, 2020 at 1:22 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Space Force, the Army's Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program and more.

We start off with some Space Force news:

Biden administration could nominate new Space Force acquisition official by May

The official performing the duties of assistant Air Force secretary for space acquisition and integration said today he expects the Biden administration may nominate someone by this spring to take over the role in a formal capacity.

DNI: Space Force could join U.S. intelligence community

The director of national intelligence announced today his agency is considering whether the Space Force should become a member of the U.S. intelligence community and said he will make a decision in the next month or two.

The Army held an industry day this week for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program:

Army further clarifies OMFV requirements

Army officials painted a clearer picture of the service's expectations and requirements for Phase 2 of the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program, noting during an industry day today that survivability and mobility are the top two characteristics for the vehicle.

Document: OMFV industry day briefing slides

The House-Senate conference version of the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill directs the defense secretary to "iteratively develop and integrate advanced digital data management and analytics capabilities, consistent with private-sector best practices" in order to "integrate all aspects of the defense acquisition system":

Lawmakers direct Pentagon to use digital tools to manage acquisitions, cut duplicate programs

Lawmakers are directing a digital overhaul of the Defense Department's acquisition system and instructing defense officials to use "data-driven portfolio management" to consolidate duplicate or similar weapon systems.

Anduril is protesting an Advanced Battle Management System contract award:

Anduril protests exclusive terms of ABMS tactical edge task order

Anduril Industries filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office Nov. 16 challenging the Air Force's narrow selection of companies eligible to bid on a task order supporting the Advanced Battle Management System program, according to a source familiar with the procurement.

By Jaspreet Gill
December 10, 2020 at 11:52 AM

The Army has awarded L3Harris Technologies a $57 million contract for the company's two-channel handheld radios for the service's integrated tactical network, the company announced yesterday.

L3Harris will deliver in early 2021 its Falcon IV AN/PRC-163 two-channel handheld radios along with related equipment as part of its third low-rate initial production order with the Army, according to a press release. The service plans to purchase around 100,000 two-channel leader radios under the IDIQ.

The radios can be integrated into Army soldier systems, including the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular, the service's new night-vision goggle.

The AN/PRC-163 radio "can simultaneously communicate over multiple channels and crossband between them, offering up and down echelon connectivity," the press release states. "It is capable of satellite communications, mobile ad-hoc networking (MANET) waveforms and the Army's [Single Channel Ground and Airborne System] waveform. It also offers a path to future software-only updates for SATCOM, SATURN and other anti-jam and resilient waveforms."

By Aidan Quigley
December 10, 2020 at 11:08 AM

The Navy has appointed Chris Cleary as the service's principal cyber adviser, a position tasked with implementing the Defense Department's cyber strategy.

Cleary, a Naval Academy graduate and retired Naval Reserve officer, has been the Navy's chief information security officer for the past year. The service announced his appointment yesterday.

The position, mandated by the fiscal year 2020 defense authorization bill, advises Navy and Marine Corps leadership on cyber issues.

In the role, Cleary will oversee the acquisition of cyber capabilities, cybersecurity operations and recruiting and training of cyberspace operations forces.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
December 10, 2020 at 10:56 AM

The Army will hold a virtual industry day for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle re-compete on Dec. 17, according to a recent notice.

The event will be hosted on Microsoft Teams, and attendees will have an opportunity to submit questions.

Upgraded engines for the JLTV have emerged as a priority for the follow-on contract, which is expected to last for five years with five one-year options.

The follow-on JLTV will also have new a transmission controller, battery architecture and power distribution unit, according to a presentation from a previous industry day in February.

Oshkosh Defense recently won an additional $888 million contract to build more of the existing version of the JLTV before the fiscal year 2022 re-compete.