The Insider

By Tony Bertuca
June 28, 2021 at 5:00 AM

(Editor's note: This blog has been updated to reflect scheduling changes.)

Key defense spending legislation is slated to be debated this week, while senior U.S. military leaders will testify on Capitol Hill about the fiscal year 2022 defense budget.

Monday

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on the U.S. maritime industrial base and competition with China.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts the European Union-Washington Defense Forum.

The Brookings Institution hosts a discussion on the future of the Coast Guard.

Tuesday

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on the Army budget.

AeroVironment executives will review quarterly earnings.

The House Armed Services cyber, innovative technologies and information systems subcommittee holds a hearing on Pentagon cybersecurity and IT.

CSIS hosts a discussion on Russia's evolving military capabilities in space.

Wednesday

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee marks up the defense spending bill.

The House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee holds a hearing on the rotary wing aviation budget.

By John Liang
June 25, 2021 at 2:12 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the delay to former Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall's nomination to become Air Force secretary and more.

Former Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall's nomination to become Air Force secretary is on hold in the Senate:

Senators holding Kendall nomination over defense contractor ties and F-35 training center decision

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Mike Lee (R-UT) are holding the nomination of former Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall to become Air Force secretary, according to sources close to the matter.

Army leaders are pessimistic that lawmakers will be able to pass next year's defense spending bill before the end of the current fiscal year:

Army plans to start FY-22 under continuing resolution

The Army expects that Congress will not pass an appropriations bill before the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, and that there will instead be a continuing resolution, the director of the Army budget said June 24.

More than half of the Air Force's $204 million fiscal year 2022 budget request for the Advanced Battle Management System, about $142 million, is focused on developing and fielding capability releases:

Air Force finalizing first ABMS capability release AQ strategy, shaping plans for next release

As the Air Force continues to focus its Advanced Battle Management System investment on capability development over experimentation, the service is beginning to craft a plan for the second capability release, which program officials say will aim to improve the command-and-control process for U.S. Northern Command's homeland defense mission.

Missile Defense Agency Vice Adm. Jon Hill expects an "emergency appropriation" -- a free-standing spending bill separate from the Pentagon's fiscal year 2022 budget request -- to address Israel's request last month for new assistance to pay for spent munitions:

MDA director: $1 billion Israeli aid request won't squeeze U.S. missile defense funding

Funding for U.S. missile defense programs are not expected to be raided to finance Israel's $1 billion request to replenish munitions -- including Iron Dome interceptors -- expended during hostilities with Palestinian armed groups in May, according to a senior U.S. military official.

A new artificial intelligence initiative, announced earlier this week, aims to accelerate progress on the Joint All Domain Command and Control effort by supporting the Defense Department's 11 combatant commands in integrating and scaling AI capabilities used in real-world operations:

DOD set to begin new AI adoption initiative

The Defense Department within the next 30 days will start pushing its first data "reinforcements" to its combatant commands through artificial intelligence expert teams under a new plan to speed up the adoption of AI technologies.

Army Futures Command chief Gen. Mike Murray spoke at this week's Defense One Tech Summit:

Murray: Data architectures to constantly evolve

The military might have to constantly modify its data architectures as technology advances, rather than developing a standard that remains the same for an extended period, the leader of Army Futures Command said June 23.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
June 25, 2021 at 10:39 AM

Retired Gen. Robert Brown, former commander of U.S. Army Pacific, will take over as the next president of the Association of the United States Army, the organization announced June 22.

Brown, who joined the organization in January, will become president on Oct. 1, shortly before the organization's annual conference begins Oct. 11. He replaces retired Gen. Carter Ham, according to a press release from the organization.

Before being named president, Brown planned the organization's annual conference for 2021, which will be held in-person in Washington after being held virtually last year, according to the press release.

"I'm humbled and very proud to be selected to lead the exceptional team at AUSA, an organization with a deep history and a strong record of support for the United States Army," Brown said in the press release.

Brown retired from the Army in 2019. Before commanding the service's Pacific component, he led the Combined Arms Center, I Corps and the Maneuver Center of Excellence.

Ham, who led U.S. Africa Command, has served as the organization's president since 2016, according to the press release.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
June 24, 2021 at 5:56 PM

Bell's V-280 Valor, its offering for the Army's Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, has completed a three-year flight-test program, and the company is preparing for the expected release of a request for proposals this summer, Bell announced June 24.

Bell and a Boeing-Sikorsky team are currently in the second phase of a competitive demonstration and risk-reduction effort to develop FLRAA, the replacement for the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

The V-280 Valor has flown 214 hours during the demonstration and risk-reduction effort, according to the announcement. Bell announced last December that it had reached 200 hours of flight time.

"The FLRAA challenge presented by the U.S. Army was unattainable using helicopter configurations," Keith Flail, executive vice president of advanced vertical lift systems at Bell, said in the company's announcement. "Our team is committed to providing the Army the highest performance and flight-proven option to move into the FLRAA program of record."

As the second phase of the development and risk-reduction effort continues, Bell will provide the Army with "initial preliminary designs for major subsystems and the conceptual weapon system," according to the announcement.

The Army is expected to choose one of the competitors next year for FLRAA, and it has said it hopes to field the aircraft by 2030.

By Audrey Decker
June 24, 2021 at 1:58 PM

Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) questioned Navy officials today whether the service is "playing with the budget" by deciding not to fund a second DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the fiscal year 2022 budget.

During a subcommittee hearing today, Shelby said it's a "contradiction" that the FY-22 budget only includes one destroyer rather than the contracted two because the Navy's No. 1 unfunded requirement is $1.7 billion for a second destroyer.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said the Navy is not playing with the budget, but rather prioritizing training and readiness.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) asked Gilday and acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker if the second DDG-51 was excluded from the budget because they were given an inadequate topline they had to meet.

"As we went through and we balanced things out to provide the best budget we could, we did not have room for that destroyer in the budget," Harker said.

If the Navy were to pay for the second destroyer, the money would have to be taken from manpower, spare parts and ammunition, Gilday said.

Historically, that is a bad place to take money from, the admiral added.

While it was difficult to break an existing, multiyear contract and send "mixed signals" to industry, the Navy had to prioritize the investments and the fleet they have right now, according to Gilday.

By John Liang
June 24, 2021 at 1:47 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Air Force's MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter program, a nascent Missile Defense Agency Glide Phase Interceptor effort and more.

Near-term procurement of the Air Force's MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter will now be deferred until fiscal year 2023:

With procurement timeline deferred, Grey Wolf certification expected to continue throughout FY-22

Certifications for the MH-139A Grey Wolf are now expected to win Federal Aviation Administration approval over the coming few months and throughout fiscal year 2022, an Air Force spokeswoman said this week.

Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill spoke at an event this week hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies:

MDA aims for September to award contracts, launch competitive GPI development

The Missile Defense Agency plans by the end of the summer to select two companies to draw up competing approaches for developing a Glide Phase Interceptor -- a new Aegis-compatible missile -- as part of a Pentagon plan to accelerate fielding within the decade of a capability to defeat adversary hypersonic glide vehicles during the regional phase of flight.

The Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act included a provision for the Government Accountability Office to assess selected IT programs annually through 2023:

DOD faces challenge addressing cybersecurity practices, GAO says

A new report released this week from the Government Accountability Office found the Defense Department faces challenges addressing cybersecurity practices and may be underreporting risks across its major business information technology programs, increasing chances of cost growth and schedule delays.

Document: GAO report on DOD cybersecurity practices

The Navy's decision not to fulfill a block-buy contract for four amphibious ships despite a "handshake agreement" with shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries has caught the attention of lawmakers:

Navy's shipbuilding plan calls for fewer amphibious ships than Marine Corps seeks

The Navy's 30-year shipbuilding plan, released last week, calls for fewer large amphibious ships than the Marine Corps says it needs.

Document: Navy's 30-year shipbuilding plan

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) views the military's unfunded priorities lists as a "forcing mechanism" to inject more money into the defense budget, regardless of what the administration has officially requested:

Lawmakers spar over DOD's unfunded priorities and defense spending

House lawmakers today, questioning Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, debated the adequacy of President Biden's proposed $753 billion defense budget, with Democrats and Republicans differing on the importance of $25 billion in unfunded priorities lists the military services have submitted to Congress.

By Marjorie Censer
June 24, 2021 at 12:38 PM

The chief executive of Northrop Grumman this week said she sees government efforts to increase semiconductor manufacturing in the United States as a key step forward.

Speaking at a virtual Council on Foreign Relations event, Kathy Warden praised the CHIPS for America Act.

"Having the ability to control a supply chain in semiconductor and chip production, in my view, could become a national imperative, and we don't want to wait until a conflict puts us into a position where it is a national imperative," she said. "That doesn't mean it all needs to be on-shored, but it does mean we do need to have clear access deep into the supply chain for semiconductors."

She said the CHIPS Act is "a really important step forward."

Warden told viewers she sees the supply chain shortage related to semiconductors as temporary, though it will likely last a couple of years.

That issue, she added, is largely a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused demand to decline and then surge.

"The second and more important issue for us to unpack is the R&D and the fact that both advanced production of chips and packaging is largely outside the U.S. for anything less than 14 nanometers," Warden said.

"That is a key to our further advancement in computing and our ability to use these smaller-size chip form factors in advanced computing applications," she continued. "So I would love to see us as a nation go back to not only having some on-shore capacity in production . . . but most importantly that we also are focused on the forefront of capability with development and packaging of those smaller form factors."

By Aidan Quigley
June 24, 2021 at 10:59 AM

House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Turner (R-OH) is calling on Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to cancel a Navy memo that states the service should defund the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile development efforts.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker, in a June 4 fiscal guidance for the fiscal year 2023 budget process, called for the service to stop funding the SLCM-N effort. Republicans criticized Harker's suggestion during a House Armed Services Committee meeting last week, arguing that stopping the SLCM-N program would set back the country's nuclear deterrence efforts.

In a June 22 letter to Austin, Turner wrote that Harker's decision is counter to statements supportive of the SLCM-N by U.S. Strategic Command head Adm. Charles Richard and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday.

"Both you and the [chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] have reaffirmed that the Department's top priority is nuclear modernization," Turner wrote. "While Russia and China continue to build the capacity and capability of their nuclear arms, it has never been more important for us to maintain and modernize our nuclear deterrent."

Turner wrote the memo should be rescinded as the Navy is currently wrapping up a SLCM-N analysis of alternatives and plans to start a nuclear posture review soon. Also, Navy Secretary nominee Carlos del Toro is soon to go through the Senate confirmation process.

Harker said during the hearing last week that the memo was preliminary and reflects the fact the nuclear posture review and National Defense Strategy update have not been completed.

"I didn't want anyone to assume that that would be in, until we had further guidance from the nuclear posture review," Harker said. "Once that guidance comes, we will adjust accordingly."

Some Democratic lawmakers do not believe that a nuclear SLCM is necessary, as Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced a bill in March to stop research and development, production and deployment of such a missile.

Van Hollen said in a statement at the time the effort to revive the SLCM is "reckless, costly and unnecessary."

The Navy asked for $5.2 million in its FY-22 budget request to start design and development work on the program.

By Marjorie Censer
June 24, 2021 at 10:19 AM

PAE said today retired Army Maj. Gen. Charles Anderson has resigned as president of its global mission services business unit, according to a new Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

According to the filing, Anderson resigned last week. This week, PAE's board named Clinton Bickett interim president of the business unit, effective July 6.

Bicket will continue to serve as chief financial officer of the unit as well, according to the company.

Anderson previously was an executive at Vectrus, according to PAE. He retired from the Army in 2011.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
June 23, 2021 at 3:56 PM

The Army National Guard will have to cancel or postpone training this summer if Congress does not pass a supplemental appropriation to cover the $450 million the service spent defending the Capitol, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said Tuesday.

"If they are not able to cover that, right now the Army Guard is basically in a situation where they are concerned about their ability to pay for training for the rest of this year," Wormuth told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee.

Training could be delayed in states across the country this summer as training funding runs out before the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30, she said. No training has been postponed yet due to a lack of funding.

Training shortfalls could affect readiness in aviation and ground vehicle units, according to Wormuth. Much training has already been delayed in the past year as National Guard units were widely deployed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and other emergencies.

A funding shortfall could also limit operations and maintenance at the end of the fiscal year, Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said at a press conference today.

"It's critical for us to get [the supplemental funding] this year," Hokanson said. The funding could not be delayed and folded into the fiscal year 2022 defense appropriations bill, hearings for which are ongoing, because the money is needed in FY-21.

The Guard is looking at "curtailing or drastically reducing" training this summer without the supplemental appropriation, according to Hokanson.

The whole National Guard, including both Army and Air Force units, spent $521 million on the Capitol deployment, he said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pledged at a House Armed Services Committee hearing today to support the supplemental funding for the National Guard.

"You have my commitment that we will advocate when and wherever possible," Austin said.

By John Liang
June 23, 2021 at 2:20 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the debate over the services' unfunded priorities lists, an upcoming space launch and more.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) views the military's unfunded priorities lists as a "forcing mechanism" to inject more money into the defense budget, regardless of what the administration has officially requested:

Lawmakers spar over DOD's unfunded priorities and defense spending

House lawmakers today, questioning Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, debated the adequacy of President Biden's proposed $753 billion defense budget, with Democrats and Republicans differing on the importance of $25 billion in unfunded priorities lists the military services have submitted to Congress.

News on the Army's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program:

McConville: JLTV an enduring system, not a modernization priority

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is an enduring capability within the Army's ground vehicle fleet, rather than a modernization priority or a legacy system, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee June 22.

Some cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

DOD's Salazar: Changes to Pentagon cyber certification will help small businesses, clarify policy

The internal review of the Defense Department's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is aimed at helping small businesses meet the department's objectives for cyber readiness, while also making potential policy changes to clarify implementation, according to Pentagon industrial policy leader Jesse Salazar.

New legislation introduced by lawmakers this week would require Ligado "to cover the cost for correcting any interference their operations create for the public or private sector" and outlines all areas the company would be responsible for, including engineering, software, research, site acquisition and labor costs:

Bipartisan bill would require Ligado to cover costs of any GPS user

A bipartisan congressional group yesterday introduced legislation that would hold Ligado Networks responsible for covering the costs of both public and private Global Positioning System users affected by the company's use of the L-Band.

On June 25, SpaceX's Transporter 2 is set to carry five Space Development Agency experiments as part of a Falcon 9 mission carrying many commercial satellites:

SDA readies experimental satellites for launch Friday on SpaceX rocket

The U.S. military has readied for launch this week four small satellites and a payload designed to validate technologies pivotal to a new National Defense Space Architecture underpinned by a future proliferated low-earth orbit constellation, new capabilities that will experiment with space-based laser communications as well as battle management and target custody.

The Navy is undergoing a 20-year, $21 billion Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Project, which Congress has called on the service to accelerate:

Gilday: Navy working to improve shipyard drydock improvement estimates

The Navy is taking steps to improve its estimates for shipyard drydock improvements after the bid for work at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine came in well over estimates, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said Tuesday.

Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill today said MDA will propose a range of options for the missile defense of Guam that adopt existing sensors, command and control, and interceptors and tie them together in a unique way:

MDA finalizing Guam defense system architecture options, way forward possibly a 'hybrid' of existing capabilities

The Missile Defense Agency is putting the final touches on potential architectures for a new Guam missile defense system, a report that is designed to give Pentagon leaders "maximum" options in deciding how to assemble a 360-degree defense of the western U.S. territory by 2026 against advanced Chinese cruise, ballistic and maneuvering hypersonic weapons -- a capability the agency's director says is likely to be a "hybrid" of currently fielded systems.

By Marjorie Censer
June 23, 2021 at 12:14 PM

Lockheed Martin said this week it has named Kevin Smith vice president of the F-22 program, succeeding OJ Sanchez, who has been named general manager of the integrated fighter group.

In his new role, "Smith will be responsible for the development, manufacture and sustainment of the F-22 Program in partnership with the U.S. Air Force," Lockheed said.

Smith, who joined Lockheed in 2002, previously held positions in the company's F-35 and F-22 programs. Before joining the contractor, he was an Air Force fighter pilot.

By Tony Bertuca
June 23, 2021 at 10:14 AM

President Biden intends to nominate Celeste Wallander for assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, according to the White House.

A key aspect of Wallender's job, if confirmed, would be overseeing U.S. foreign military sales.

Wallender is currently president and chief executive of the U.S.-Russia Foundation. Between 2013 and 2017, she served as special assistant to the president and senior director for Russia/Central Asia on the National Security Council.

If confirmed, Wallender would assume the post from Mara Karlin, who has been serving temporarily in the role and has been nominated to be assistant secretary for strategy, plans and capabilities.

By Briana Reilly
June 22, 2021 at 5:21 PM

It will be another six years until the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex is able to achieve Level 4 capabilities, the Air Force's top planner told a Senate subcommittee today.

A training facility for land, air, sea, space and cyberspace, the Alaska-based range is now not expected to reach those near-peer capabilities until fiscal year 2032. The range, called JPARC, is key to supporting the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

During a Senate Armed Services airland subcommittee hearing, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said that projection flew in the face of a March 2020 Air Force report that included the goal to complete the fifth-generation modernization of JPARC by fiscal year 2026.

Slamming the delay as not "even remotely acceptable," Sullivan told Air Force leaders he just learned of the new timeline today.

"It's not one year, it's not two years, it's not three years. You bumped it half a decade," he said. "Do we have half a decade to get our fifth-gen fighting fleet ready to compete with China and Russia? I don't think so."

Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs Lt. Gen. David Nahom maintained that JPARC, along with the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), remain among the service's "top two" priorities.

"Right now, we're aggressively looking at plans to make sure that the JPARC is our exclusive training ground," he said. "That and the NTTR truly are, especially for our Pacific forces."

Nahom didn't say publicly what caused the delay, and he told Sullivan officials would share "the exact breakdown of what was delayed to bump it out" with the senator's staff.

The joint testimony Nahom and other Air Force leaders provided noted the Air Force is currently "evaluating options to accelerate those upgrades," but didn't offer further details.

The joint presentation also showed the NTTR is projected to reach Level 4 capabilities in fiscal year 2030.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
June 22, 2021 at 1:49 PM

The Army is asking Congress for permission to enter into a multiyear contract to purchase the AH-64E Apache helicopter, a move the service claims could reduce procurement costs by 10%.

A four-year contract that begins in fiscal year 2022, with an option to extend for a fifth year, would "facilitate industrial stability" and save $213 million compared to annual contracts, according to a legislative proposal the Defense Department submitted to Congress June 17.

The total cost for the helicopters through FY-25 would be $2.1 billion with the annual contracts, compared to $1.9 billion with the multiyear contract. Without the multiyear contract, budget pressures could force the Army to buy fewer Apaches, according to the legislative proposal.

Language in the legislative proposal would require "any obligation of the United States to make a payment under the contract for a fiscal year after fiscal year 2022 is subject to the availability of appropriations for that purpose in such a later fiscal year."

In a separate package sent earlier this month, the service requested congressional permission to award a similar multiyear contract to purchase UH/HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters.