The Insider

By John Liang
August 24, 2020 at 2:02 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Marine Corps' Amphibious Combat Vehicle program, the Pentagon's future budget, the Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System and more.

A Marine Corps spokeswoman tells Inside Defense 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.

Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Martin said last week the promise of the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System is to deliver a strategic capability future forces must have:

IBCS program, on thin ice with Army leadership two years ago, wins backing of top brass

The Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System -- a project that has consumed $2.7 billion and more than a decade just to commence limited user testing -- won strong public backing from Army leaders this week, a turnaround from two years ago when the program was allegedly at risk of being dramatically curtailed or even terminated over schedule delays and cost.

In related news, Inside Defense was in the room with senior military officials as they watched a live-fire test of the Iron Dome air defense system, in which three Patriot missile variants were fired at cruise and ballistic missile targets launched from different locations:

Iron Dome deliveries on track as Army lays out plans for initial testing

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, NM -- While the Army prepares for delivery later this year of the first battery of the Israeli-made Iron Dome air defense system, the service is still considering whether it will be able to integrate the system with its Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System.

BAE Systems, Cole Engineering Services and Microsoft all received contracts ranging in value from $13 million to $19 million for the integrated prototyping phase of the Marine Corps' three-phase competition for a new wargaming facility:

Marine Corps taps three companies for second phase development of new wargaming center

Three companies began work this month on prototyping capabilities for a new wargaming facility scheduled to come online in fiscal year 2023 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA, according to an officer overseeing the effort.

By Tony Bertuca
August 24, 2020 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak during several virtual events this week. Defense Secretary Mark Esper is traveling to the Indo-Pacific region to visit U.S. military installations in Hawaii, Palau and Guam.

Monday

The Heritage Foundation hosts a discussion on Army precision fires capability.

Tuesday

Navy Rear Adm. Tom Anderson, program executive officer for ships, speaks at a Navy League webinar on the state of shipbuilding.

Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper speaks during a virtual event about the Advanced Battle Management System.

AeroVironment executives are slated to present at a Raymond James conference.

Thursday

Army acquisition chief Bruce Jette speaks at a Potomac Officers Club Army Forum event.

Friday

Senior Army and National Guard officials speak at a virtual conference hosted by the National Guard Association of the United States.

Washington Technology hosts a virtual event on the top 100 contractors.

By Ashley Tressel
August 21, 2020 at 3:43 PM

Army Space and Missile Defense Command will serve as the component command to U.S. Space Command, the Army announced today.

SMDC will retain its responsibilities as the service component command to U.S. Strategic Command in this role, the service said in a press release.

"Naming USASMDC as the service component command to both USSPACECOM and USSTRATCOM will strengthen integration and synchronization of these vital operations and has been endorsed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," the release states.

"The Army is the largest user of space-enabled systems in the Department of Defense," Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said. "Naming USASMDC as a component command to both combatant commands strengthens command and control, unity of effort, and synchronization of Army space and missile defense operations."

SMDC organizes, trains, equips and deploys Army space and global missile defense forces to conduct worldwide space and missile defense operations.

From its split headquarters at Redstone Arsenal, AL, and Colorado Springs, CO, SMDC oversees vital Army space and missile defense elements. The command has about 2,800 soldiers (active-duty, National Guard and Reserve) and Army civilian personnel working at 23 locations around the world.

By John Liang
August 21, 2020 at 2:18 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a recent series of Integrated Battle Management System intercept tests and more.

The Army recently held a series of intercept tests of the Integrated Battle Management System:

Army says IBCS executes another round of intercepts during second live-fire test

The Army said it has intercepted cruise and ballistic missile targets during an assessment of the Integrated Battle Management System, raising service leaders' expectations that problems which plagued a similar test in 2016 are resolved.

Air Force Lt. Gen. David Thompson, who was nominated earlier this month to serve as deputy Space Force commander, spoke Thursday at the National Defense Industrial Association's Space Warfighting Industry Forum:

Pentagon close to determining which Army, Navy capabilities will transfer to Space Force

The vice commander of Space Force headquarters said today he expects in the next few weeks to reach an agreement with the Office of the Secretary of Defense about which Army and Navy space programs should transition to the new service, beginning in fiscal year 2021.

A Government Accountability Office report released this week looks at delays at naval shipyards:

GAO finds unplanned work and workforce issues are driving Navy ship maintenance problems

A government watchdog has found unplanned work and workforce problems are the two key factors causing the Navy to fall behind on aircraft carrier and submarine maintenance availabilities.

Document: GAO report on Navy shipyards

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord spoke with the media this week on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on defense contracting:

Lord defends request for contractor COVID-19 relief: 'I don't write blank checks'

Defense Department acquisition chief Ellen Lord today defended the Pentagon's request that Congress provide about $11 billion in emergency supplemental funding to mitigate the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on defense contractors and weapons programs.

A new Pentagon report details the Defense Department's implementation of the Defense Science Board's recommendations on software:

New software report shows Pentagon is directing services to allocate money for 'DevSecOps' efforts

The Defense Department's chief information officer is requiring the military services to program funds in their upcoming budget submissions to support new "DevSecOps" software development efforts, according to a new software report recently delivered to Congress.

Document: DOD report to Congress on implementation of DSB software recommendations

By Marjorie Censer
August 21, 2020 at 1:04 PM

The Pentagon issued a new memo this week that shrinks the period of time during which defense contractors can seek reimbursement through a provision in coronavirus recovery legislation.

The document, signed by Kim Herrington, the acting principal director of defense pricing and contracting, says it revises an April memo on reimbursement related to Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which was enacted in late March.

This provision was meant to allow the federal government to reimburse contractors who are unable to work because of the pandemic but are kept in a "ready state."

According to the new memo, "the time period for which paid leave must be taken is changed from January 31, 2020, through September 30, 2020, to March 27, 2020, through September 30, 2020."

Additionally, the memo reiterates that "reimbursements under Section 3610 are subject to the availability of funds."

In an interview with Inside Defense, Wes Hallman of the National Defense Industrial Association said some defense contractors are "disappointed" in that shortened time period, though he said it would be difficult to quantify the impact.

Hallman said the association is now focused on extending Section 3610, which is set to expire at the end of next month.

By John Liang
August 20, 2020 at 2:36 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Space Force, naval shipyards, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on defense contracting and more.

Air Force Lt. Gen. David Thompson, who was nominated earlier this month to serve as deputy Space Force commander, spoke this morning at the National Defense Industrial Association's Space Warfighting Industry Forum:

Pentagon close to determining which Army, Navy capabilities will transfer to Space Force

The vice commander of Space Force headquarters said today he expects in the next few weeks to reach an agreement with the Office of the Secretary of Defense about which Army and Navy space programs should transition to the new service, beginning in fiscal year 2021.

A new Government Accountability Office report released today looks at delays at naval shipyards:

GAO finds unplanned work and workforce issues are driving Navy ship maintenance problems

A government watchdog has found unplanned work and workforce problems are the two key factors causing the Navy to fall behind on aircraft carrier and submarine maintenance availabilities.

Document: GAO report on Navy shipyards

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord spoke with the media this morning on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on defense contracting:

Lord defends request for contractor COVID-19 relief: 'I don't write blank checks'

Defense Department acquisition chief Ellen Lord today defended the Pentagon's request that Congress provide about $11 billion in emergency supplemental funding to mitigate the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on defense contractors and weapons programs.

A new Pentagon report details the Defense Department's implementation of the Defense Science Board's recommendations on software:

New software report shows Pentagon is directing services to allocate money for 'DevSecOps' efforts

The Defense Department's chief information officer is requiring the military services to program funds in their upcoming budget submissions to support new "DevSecOps" software development efforts, according to a new software report recently delivered to Congress.

Defense Department officials are hailing an announcement today as progress in establishing a trusted, domestic supply of small unmanned aerial systems:

Pentagon rolls out new, small drones for government use, offering alternative to Chinese-made aircraft

The Pentagon announced today the availability of new, U.S.-manufactured, small unmanned aircraft systems for a variety of government uses after the Defense Department and other federal agencies phased out their use of popular Chinese-made drones and components due to security concerns.

Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jon Hil spoke at an online Heritage Foundation event this week:

MDA director: Boost-phase intercept, if technically possible, to be saved for retaliatory strike

If the U.S. military can ever master technology capable of a boost-phase intercept -- the ability to shoot down enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles immediately after launch -- it will likely be employed in a retaliatory strike because thwarting an initial salvo would come very close to an offensive operation, according to a senior Defense Department official.

By Marjorie Censer
August 20, 2020 at 1:02 PM

A new report by data firm Govini finds that the number of Chinese companies in the Pentagon's supply base has increased dramatically since 2010.

According to the report, Chinese suppliers totaled 655 in 2019, up 420% from 2010. The number of U.S. companies totaled 2,219, up 97%, according to Govini.

The report said Chinese suppliers' share of critical industries grew to 9% in 2019, up from 6% in 2010.

"The prevalence of China-based companies across the Department's supplier base will make it difficult to identify with certainty all of the cases where they are a single-source provider of a key technology or material," the company wrote.

In an interview with Inside Defense this week, Tara Murphy Dougherty, Govini's chief executive, said she was surprised by the study's findings.

"I don't think anybody knew this is what the numbers would look like," she said.

Dougherty noted that the Pentagon is increasingly focusing on reshoring parts of its supply base and looking to address vulnerabilities. She argued that its efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis should be linked.

"If the department is spending billions of dollars assisting companies that are in the industrial base and are critical suppliers to DOD, they can't think of the reshoring effort as a parallel engagement," she said. "My recommendation based on what the data shows would be that the department should be achieving their reshoring goals through the application of the COVID dollars."

By Courtney Albon
August 20, 2020 at 10:30 AM

The Air Force today activated the new 15th Air Force, consolidating its conventional forces under a single numbered air force.

The move, which Air Combat Command Commander Gen. Mike Holmes announced last week, will bring together ACC's command-and-control, fighter and rescue wings and units from the 12th and 9th Air Forces. Maj. Gen. Chad Franks will lead the new 15th AF.

Holmes said during an Aug. 14 Mitchell Institute event the consolidation will allow commanders to refocus on their primary tasks and push decision-making responsibility down the chain of command. In a press release published today, Holmes said the creation of the new 15th AF is "another step toward implementing the Air Force's new force-generation construct."

"This reorganization will streamline and improve the way we present our conventional forces as part of the new USAF construct," Holmes said.

Along with consolidating ACC's conventional forces, the new numbered air force offers a deployable Joint Task Force-capable headquarters, the release states, which provides command and control of ACC forces.

Following today's activation ceremony, the 12th AF will focus on its role for U.S. Southern Command and the existing 9th AF will be inactivated. Air Force Central Command will be re-designated as 9th AF/AFCENT.

By Justin Katz
August 20, 2020 at 9:21 AM

The Office of Naval Research yesterday awarded Honolulu-based Navatek a $9.6 million research and development contract focused on "advances in asymmetric naval forces and logistics," according to a Pentagon statement.

“Research will focus on increased robustness of autonomous systems [and] study of the power systems related to small systems and platforms,” according to the statement.

Research will also include an “investigation into hydro-mechanical interactions with resilient composite structures, examination of the system components ancillary to large resilient composite structures and identifying and evaluating opportunities in the Navy’s current operating fleet and operational methods.”

Work will be done in Honolulu and finished by August 2023.

By John Liang
August 19, 2020 at 1:51 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a recent waiver of a Pentagon ban on U.S. defense contractors using Chinese electronics equipment, SpaceX's legal dispute over a launch contract it didn't win and more.

A recent waiver of a Defense Department ban on U.S. defense contractors using Chinese electronics equipment could be extended:

Pentagon's Huawei ban waiver for 'low risk' contracts could be extended past Sept. 30

The Pentagon says that a waiver allowing some "low risk" Defense Department contractors to continue using Chinese telecommunications and security equipment could be extended past Sept. 30, as the items covered under the exemption represent nearly three-quarters of all DOD transactions.

Related: Pentagon gets temporary waiver from Huawei ban for 'low risk, high volume items' contracts

Just because SpaceX recently won a big space launch contract doesn't mean the company's going to stop its dispute of a previous launch contract it didn't win:

SpaceX doubles down on launch services lawsuit, even after major LSP win

SpaceX has confirmed in a new court filing that it intends to maintain its lawsuit against the Air Force's 2018 Launch Services Agreement award, despite winning a contract earlier this month to launch 40% of Phase 2 national security spacelift missions.

An Air Force Research Laboratory spokesman this week gave Inside Defense additional details about a recent failed test of Kratos' XQ-58A Valkyrie remotely piloted aircraft:

AFRL's Valkyrie had second mishap during late July flight test

The Air Force Research Laboratory had to abort a July 29 flight test of Kratos' XQ-58A Valkyrie after an "anomaly" with the rocket-assisted take-off system -- the drone's second mishap in 10 months.

Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill spoke this week during an online event hosted by the Heritage Foundation:

With NGI proposals in hand, MDA begins source selection; eyes opportunity to accelerate schedule

The Missile Defense Agency last week took receipt of industry proposals for a Next Generation Interceptor and has begun source selection, a process expected to yield two winners and potentially a faster development and deployment schedule for the new guided missiles slated to protect the nation against North Korean -- and potentially Iranian -- intercontinental ballistic missile threats in the 2030s.

The Combat Rescue Helicopter program is moving to complete formal developmental testing in December, start initial operational test and evaluation next spring and begin initial deliveries of the first production lot in May 2021:

Combat Rescue Helicopter program fixing deficiencies, eyeing upgrades RFP this fall

The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter program is working through technical deficiencies found during developmental testing, implementing more industry-standard software practices and planning to solicit proposals for a capability upgrades contract this coming fall.

By Marjorie Censer
August 19, 2020 at 9:56 AM

MAG Aerospace said this week it has acquired Dallas-based Remotely Piloted Solutions, which specializes in command, control, computers, communications, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance -- or C5ISR.

RPS, MAG Aerospace said, has performed "hundreds of thousands of hours of C5ISR missions across a variety of platforms both manned and unmanned."

"In addition to their operational aircrew services, RPS's mission-focused team also provides aircrew training, weapons and maintenance, research, development, test, and evaluation, and intelligence support services," the company added.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

By Marjorie Censer
August 19, 2020 at 9:52 AM

Jacobs said this week it has added retired Army Gen. Vince Brooks to its board of directors.

Brooks retired from the service in 2019. He most recently served as commander of Korean and U.S. Forces in Korea.

Brooks is a principal with WestExec Advisors and serves on several other boards.

By Marjorie Censer
August 19, 2020 at 9:49 AM

Science Applications International Corp. said this week it has named Nyla Beth Gawel senior vice president of strategy.

"In this new role, she will be responsible for developing the company's strategy to drive significant organic growth and market leadership, working with leaders across the organization to ensure strategic business plans are successfully executed," the contractor said.

Gawel most recently was director of public-sector strategy at Verizon Business Group. She has also been an executive at Booz Allen Hamilton.

By Marjorie Censer
August 19, 2020 at 9:47 AM

KBR said today it has agreed to acquire Centauri from private-equity firm Arlington Capital Partners for about $800 million in cash in a bid to expand its space and intelligence work.

Centauri, which is headquartered in Chantilly, VA, has more than 1,750 employees, about three-quarters of whom have special-access clearances.

The acquisition is just the latest for KBR, which has dramatically increased its U.S. government work in recent years by picking up Wyle, Honeywell Technology Solutions and SGT.

"The Centauri acquisition will be transformative for KBR," the contractor said. "With Centauri, KBR significantly expands its military space and intelligence businesses and builds on its already strong cybersecurity and missile defense solutions."

KBR said the deal will give it a "more balanced and more differentiated portfolio that is resilient across business cycles."

Centauri is estimated to produce in 2021 sales of more than $700 million and to have more than $1 billion in contract backlog and options. KBR said the company will become part of its government solutions segment.

The transaction is expected to close later this year.

By John Liang
August 18, 2020 at 1:47 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's Combat Rescue Helicopter program, an inspector general report on U.S. Special Operations Command and more.

The Combat Rescue Helicopter program is moving to complete formal developmental testing in December, start initial operational test and evaluation next spring and begin initial deliveries of the first production lot in May 2021:

Combat Rescue Helicopter program fixing deficiencies, eyeing upgrades RFP this fall

The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter program is working through technical deficiencies found during developmental testing, implementing more industry-standard software practices and planning to solicit proposals for a capability upgrades contract this coming fall.

The Defense Department's inspector general issued a report late last week on U.S. Special Operations Command:

SOCOM pledges to 'verify' programs meet mission needs following critical IG audit

U.S. Special Operations Command purchased and fielded $815 million worth of military gear "without verifying that the equipment meets user needs," according to a Defense Department inspector general report on an audit spanning two years.

Document: DOD IG audit of SOCOM testing and evaluation

DOD will temporarily continue contracting with companies that use telecommunications and surveillance equipment made by Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies:

Pentagon gets temporary waiver from Huawei ban for 'low risk, high volume items' contracts

The Pentagon has waived a requirement until the end of the fiscal year for "low risk, high volume items" contracts to comply with a government-wide ban on contractors using equipment made by Chinese vendors like Huawei and ZTE.

A lawsuit by Perspecta, which was recently unsealed and is partially redacted, shows Perspecta largely relitigating many of the same issues featured in its Government Accountability Office bid protest of Leidos' winning a Next Generation Enterprise Network contract:

Perspecta, DOJ discussing possible stay of work on Leidos' NGEN contract

Perspecta is in talks with the Justice Department to stop Leidos from continuing work on its Next Generation Enterprise Network contract while a lawsuit is pending in federal court, according to recently unsealed court documents.

Document: Perspecta's lawsuit against Leidos NGEN contract

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on development of the Air Force's B-21 bomber program:

B-21 program mitigating COVID-19 impact, using testbed to reduce integration risk

The Air Force's B-21 bomber development saw some supply chain disruption this summer when a major subcontractor, Spirit AeroSystems, announced production delays due to COVID-19, but program manager Randall Walden said today the team has adapted to the challenge and is "on the right path, to date."