The Insider

By Tony Bertuca
October 5, 2022 at 2:50 PM

The Defense Department today released a list of "Chinese military companies" it believes are operating directly or indirectly in the United States.

The list, which has been produced and released in accordance with the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, was first released in June 2021. The updated list contains additional companies DOD has deemed “Chinese military companies.”

“The department is determined to highlight and counter the PRC Military-Civil Fusion strategy, which supports the modernization goals of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by ensuring its access to advanced technologies and expertise are acquired and developed by PRC companies, universities and research programs that appear to be civilian entities,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

DOD notes it plans to continue to update the list with “additional entities as appropriate.”

By John Liang
October 5, 2022 at 2:08 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on inflation relief for defense contractors, Navy unmanned programs and more.

An amendment offered by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) would give the Defense Department the authority to provide contractors with an "economic price adjustment" to help against inflation:

New Senate amendment would allow DOD to modify contracts for inflation relief

The defense industry has thrown its support behind a new amendment to the Senate's version of the annual defense authorization bill that would allow the Pentagon to modify existing contracts to grant inflation relief to contractors.

The Navy is at the "precipice" in its decision-making for its unmanned programs, according to Capt. Jason Weed, the commodore of Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron One:

Navy failing to make 'critical pivot' in unmanned investment

A Navy official says the service is facing challenges advancing unmanned systems due to risk aversion and congressional lawmakers who have parochial interests in capital assets.

Lockheed Martin executives say the Sentinel A4, which was previously selected to provide radar capabilities in defense of Guam, will improve the lethality of the National Capital Region Integrated Air Defense System:

Lockheed announces expanded Army radar acquisitions

The Army has selected Lockheed Martin's Sentinel A4 radar to replace legacy radars that contribute to the integrated air defense of the Washington area, the company announced.

Still circulating on Capitol Hill, a yet-to-be delivered letter from lawmakers addressed to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin underscores the need to deliver next-generation engine technology "as quickly as possible" to the military services' fighter fleets:

Lawmakers back funding for adaptive engine tech development in FY-24

More than two-dozen lawmakers have signed a bipartisan letter urging the Defense Department to continue funding its adaptive propulsion efforts heading into the next budget cycle.

News from the Pentagon's latest Selected Acquisition Report on missile defense programs:

MDA tallies $226 billion tab for current project portfolio; cuts SM-3 Block IIA, boosts THAAD

The Defense Department has formally recalibrated the price tag for the Missile Defense System, dialing the total acquisition cost up to $226 billion, a $23 billion hike compared to the last formal accounting provided to Congress two years ago that doesn't necessarily reflect cost growth.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have the latest Defense Department cyber news:

CISA, partners issue alert on threat actors targeting defense industrial base organization's network

An alert from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and other federal agencies provides details on advanced persistent threat activity targeting a defense industrial base entity with a tool designed to extract sensitive information.

By Evan Ochsner
October 5, 2022 at 1:52 PM

The Army in recent days awarded BAE Systems with sustainment contracts for some of the company's longtime vehicles, including the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the company announced.

BAE announced on Wednesday that the Army had awarded it a $383 million contract to perform technical and sustainment services for the Bradley and the Bradley-based M993 Multiple Launch Rocket System carrier.

BAE teams will provide ongoing engineering and logistics services for the Bradley, including the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle and M7 Bradley Fire Support Team variants, as well as the MLRS heavy-launch platform.

“Equipping our men and women on the front lines with proven combat capabilities positions them to be unmatched in battle,” Scott Davis, vice president of BAE Systems’ ground vehicles product line, said in the announcement. “We are proud to continue our partnership with the U.S. Army to ensure the Bradley and M993 MLRS are prepared to support mission readiness.”

BAE said it will complete the work at facilities in San Jose, CA, Sterling Heights, MI, and Phoenix, AZ among others.

On Tuesday, BAE announced it was awarded a $34 million contract -- with options of up to $110 million over a five-year period -- to provide sustainment services in support of the Army’s heavy combat vehicle recovery system. The contract funds work on the Army’s entire family of M88 recovery vehicles, which are capable of lifting over 70 tons, according to BAE.

By Audrey Decker
October 5, 2022 at 9:45 AM

The Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit has awarded Nauticus Robotics a second contract for the development of an amphibious unmanned system.

The system will use the company’s autonomous command-and-control software platform -- ToolKITT, according to today’s press release.

While the company said it’s a multimillion-dollar contract, the specific number is undisclosed per the agreement with DIU.

“ToolKITT is a unified software platform utilizing advances in machine learning to identify, classify and perform complex underwater activities, which can be applied to remove, detect, identify, inspect and neutralize hazards underwater,” the press release states.

In February, DIU awarded Nauticus a contract to prototype ToolKITT aboard the Navy’s VideoRay Defender, a remotely operated vehicle that neutralizes mines and collects data underwater.

“We are thrilled with the additional work the DIU and the Marine Corps have awarded us to continue providing leading maritime robotics and autonomy solutions to assist the warfighter,” said Ed Tovar, director of business development for defense systems at Nauticus. “We are humbled and honored to be doing our part to advance the usage of robotics and autonomous systems to remove servicemembers from harm’s way.”

DIU also released a solicitation in August for small expeditionary boats to conduct littoral and distributed maritime operations.

While the solicitation doesn’t list a specific service intended for the platform, it stated that solution use cases could include “integration with standard U.S. Marine Corps communications platforms/sensor suites.”

By Michael Marrow
October 4, 2022 at 4:36 PM

(Editor's Note: This post has been updated with additional information from the Space Development Agency.)

The Space Development Agency today awarded Ball Aerospace a $176 million contract for 10 space vehicles for the National Defense Space Architecture Experimental Testbed, according to an SDA press release.

All satellites are planned to launch within two years of today’s award, an SDA official told Inside Defense. Work on the contract, including satellite operations, is slated to conclude at the end of 2027.

“NExT is an exciting program that has a lot of tie-in with our mission partners and will help to advance future tranches of the National Defense Space Architecture,” SDA Director Derek Tournear said in the release. “We’re confident that selection of the Ball Aerospace team provides the best overall solution to deliver NExT, including payload integration and launch.”

Ball will provide the space vehicles and integration services of government-provided payloads and will operate the satellites from a company facility in Colorado. Ahead of SDA’s tranche launches for communications and missile warning satellites, NDSA NExT will “demonstrate low-latency data transport and beyond line-of-sight command and control,” the release says.

The NExT program is separate from the SDA tranche satellites but will evaluate their critical capabilities. Once SDA’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer satellites are in orbit, which are planned to connect warfighters around the globe, the NExT satellites will test the architecture’s interoperability with new space vehicles and various payloads, according to the release.

By Nick Wilson
October 4, 2022 at 3:05 PM

The Navy's first-in-class aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford, left Naval Station Norfolk, VA today for its first official deployment.

Ford (CVN-78) was initially scheduled to depart on Monday, but was delayed for one day by strong winds and adverse weather conditions.

The Ford Carrier Strike Group will join a coalition of partner nations in the North Atlantic to conduct a variety of exercises in what the Navy has designated as a “service-retained” deployment.

The exact operating area and length of the deployment are unknown, but it is expected to be relatively brief. Ford is scheduled to begin its first Global Force Management Deployment sometime in the coming year.

The strike group includes multiple destroyers, the guided missile cruiser Normandy (CG-60), replenishment oiler Joshua Humphreys (T-AO 188) and the majority of Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8), according to an announcement last week from U.S. 2nd Fleet.

Exercises will focus on air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, distributed maritime operations, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations, the announcement said. Last week, Ford’s commanding officer said the carrier will also conduct a foreign port call during the deployment.

Persistent issues with Ford’s weapons elevators and electromagnetic aircraft launch system and arresting gear have long delayed deployment. The carrier was commissioned in 2017, but did not reach initial operational capability until December 2021.

The vessel is the first of at least four Ford-class carriers the Navy plans to procure. Delivery of the John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) is anticipated in 2024 and the Enterprise (CVN-80) is expected in 2028.

By Tony Bertuca
October 4, 2022 at 2:42 PM

The United States has authorized a $625 million military aid package for Ukraine that will allow for the immediate transfer of four more High Mobility Advanced Rocket Systems and other weapons, according to the Defense Department.

The aid is being provided via presidential “drawdown” authority, the 22nd such transfer since August 2021.

Along with the four HIMARS, the package includes:

  • 16 155 mm Howitzers
  • 75,000 155 mm artillery rounds
  • 500 precision-guided 155 mm artillery rounds
  • 1,000 155 mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) systems
  • 16 105 mm Howitzers
  • 30,000 120 mm mortar rounds
  • 200 MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles
  • 200,000 rounds of small arms ammunition
  • Obstacle emplacement equipment
  • Claymore anti-personnel munitions

DOD said the U.S. has committed more than $17.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021, with more than $16.8 billion since the beginning of Russia’s ongoing invasion last February.

“To meet Ukraine’s evolving battlefield requirements, the United States will continue to work with its allies and partners to provide Ukraine with key capabilities,” DOD said.

By John Liang
October 4, 2022 at 1:35 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the cost of the Navy's next-generation destroyer program, a prototype Marine Corps air-defense system and more.

With a hefty price tag, the first DDG(X) will cost about twice as much as a DDG-51 Flight III destroyer, according to analysts:

Navy says high DDG(X) cost is 'reasonable' considering capability and capacity

While the Navy's next-generation destroyer is on track to be far more expensive than an Arleigh Burke-class vessel, the service argues its capability and capacity will warrant the increase in cost and that the Constellation-class frigate program will fill in the gaps as the service transitions to a larger surface combatant.

In early September, the Marine Corps' Ground Based Air Defense Medium Range Intercept Capability successfully passed its final tests of fiscal year 2022 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico:

Marine Corps anticipates certification of prototype air-defense system following successful tests

The Marine Corps expects a decision in December to certify its prototype air-defense system for deployment, following three successful live-fire tests in fiscal year 2022.

The latest on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Telecom group backs changes to NIST CUI series to help with CMMC compliance

CTIA, a telecom group advocating for wireless providers, is urging the National Institute of Standards and Technology to align updates to the controlled unclassified information series to the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program, demonstrating support for an initiative that's typically the focus of defense and tech sector stakeholders.

Lockheed Martin will conduct "first light" of the Directed Energy Interceptor for Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense in the fourth quarter of this year:

Lockheed prepares for first light of new laser later this year

Lockheed Martin will begin laboratory testing later this year of a new directed energy air defense system to be mounted on Strykers in anticipation of an upcoming Army competition.

Recent conversations among international industrial base specialists, many of whom represented NATO member nations, were focused on strengthening and expanding the global response to other possible contingencies outside of Ukraine:

DOD weapons chief sees potential for greater industrial cooperation with foreign allies

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante, fresh from a meeting in Brussels last week with national armaments directors from dozens of foreign nations, said today the United States, seeking to bolster long-term support for Ukraine, wants to partner more closely with allies to develop, produce and procure critical weapon systems.

By Briana Reilly
October 4, 2022 at 11:28 AM

U.S. Central Command announced today that it has hired Schuyler Moore as its first chief technology officer.

Moore most recently served as the chief strategy officer within U.S. Naval Forces Central Command's recently established Task Force 59, which focuses on the deployment of unmanned systems and the leveraging of artificial intelligence in maritime operations.

She previously was the Defense Innovation Board’s director of science and technology, in addition to working as a senior congressional defense and foreign policy adviser.

“I am honored by the opportunity and look forward to helping drive the rapid integration of disruptive technology, generating new concepts of technology use, and growing the Culture of Innovation across USCENTCOM,” Schuyler said in the release. “Given the evolving threat landscape and advances in critical fields like robotics and AI, there is a great urgency to innovate rapidly. USCENTCOM is poised to accelerate capability through experimentation and innovation in this critical moment.”

By John Liang
October 3, 2022 at 1:53 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an Army directed-energy air defense system, international defense industrial base collaboration, the Marine Corps' Amphibious Combat Vehicle program and more.

Lockheed will conduct "first light" of the Directed Energy Interceptor for Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense in the fourth quarter of this year:

Lockheed prepares for first light of new laser later this year

Lockheed Martin will begin laboratory testing later this year of a new directed-energy air defense system to be mounted on Strykers in anticipation of an upcoming Army competition.

Recent conversations among the international industrial base specialists, many of whom represented NATO member nations, was focused not only on aiding Ukraine, but strengthening and expanding the global response to other possible contingencies:

DOD weapons chief sees potential for greater industrial cooperation with foreign allies

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante, fresh from a meeting in Brussels this week with national armaments directors from dozens of foreign nations, said today the United States, seeking to bolster long-term support for Ukraine, wants to partner more closely with allies to develop, produce and procure critical weapon systems.

The Marine Corps last week sent Congress a selected acquisition report indicating that Amphibious Combat Vehicle fielding could be impacted if contractor BAE Systems is unable to increase production numbers from five to nine vehicles per month by fiscal year 2025:

Marine Corps monitoring ACV schedule risks, says production is on track

The Marine Corps says it is keeping a close eye on the production of its Amphibious Combat Vehicle, acknowledging the potential for schedule risks as it increases production numbers.

Inside Defense recently interviewed Larry Ryder, Austal's vice president of business development and external affairs:

Austal building two dry docks for West Coast availabilities

As the Navy attempts to work through its backlog of surface ship repairs, Austal USA is building two dry docks to increase its volume for maintenance availabilities.

Work has long been underway behind the scenes to prepare for the Space Development Agency's next step, with officials such as outgoing Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond recently suggesting much of what remains is paperwork and bureaucratic shuffling:

Space Force continues to evolve with transition of SDA

The Space Development Agency formally joined the Space Force last week due to a congressional mandate, a move that will add a new acquisition arm to the service, expand its satellite portfolio and potentially transform its procurement strategy.

Acting Defense Innovation Unit Director Mike Madsen called the work to hire a candidate to replace Mike Brown, the most recent and longest serving official to helm DIU, "a very deliberate process":

DIU director search to span another four to six months, acting head says

The closely watched search for the next head of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit is expected to take another four to six months, the outfit's acting leader says -- a timeline, slammed by one key lawmaker, that would leave the small-budget unit without a director well into fiscal year 2023.

The Navy is looking to Boeing’s MQ-25 unmanned aircraft to play a major role in the future carrier air wing, providing aerial refueling for the fleet and alleviating some of the pressure on F/A-18 Super Hornets:

Navy's MQ-25 unmanned tanker drone has 'emerged' from program delays

After supplier issues and schedule delays, the Navy says the MQ-25 Stingray program has moved beyond its setbacks -- but remains on a tight schedule to achieve operational capability by 2025.

By John Liang
October 3, 2022 at 10:18 AM

Viasat announced today that it has agreed to sell its Link 16 tactical data links business to L3Harris Technologies for $1.96 billion.

"The sale is expected to result in cash proceeds to Viasat of approximately $1.8 billion net after estimated taxes, fees, and other expenses," the company said in a statement.

The sale of the business includes the Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) platforms and associated next-generation Link 16 terminals and handheld radios, as well as the Link 16 to space business, according to Viasat.

The Link 16 TDL business had revenue of approximately $400 million for the year ending on June 30, 2022, the company said.

By John Liang
October 3, 2022 at 10:14 AM

ManTech International announced today that Kevin Phillips will retire as CEO and president and Chief Operating Officer Matt Tait will succeed him.

Phillips will transition to the role of chairman of ManTech's board of directors, according to a company statement.

Tait has been COO since joining ManTech in 2018. Before that, he worked for Accenture for 20 years.

Private-equity firm the Carlyle Group bought ManTech in a deal worth $4.2 billion in May.

In connection with the completion of ManTech's transaction with Carlyle, ManTech has set up a new board of directors. In addition to Phillips as chairman as well as Tait, the members of the board include:

* Dayne Baird: managing director at Carlyle, who leads the firm's efforts in the government services sector;

* Brian Bernasek: managing director and co-head of U.S. buyout and growth at Carlyle;

* Mary Bush: president of Bush International, LLC, former managing director of the Federal Housing Finance Board, and former founder of the International Finance Department at Fannie Mae;

* Jonathan Darby: former director of operations of the NSA/Central Security Service (CSS);

* Ian Fujiyama: managing director and head of Global Aerospace and Government Services at Carlyle;

* Beth Kimber: Two-Six Technologies vice president for Intelligence Community Strategy and former deputy director of CIA for operations;

* Tom Rabaut: Carlyle operating executive, deputy chairman of AUSA, former CEO of United Defense, and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point;

* William Varner: former president of ManTech.s Mission, Cyber & Intelligence Solutions Group.

By Tony Bertuca
October 3, 2022 at 1:55 AM

Senior defense officials are slated to speak at Washington think tanks this week.

Monday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on Russia’s operations in Ukraine with the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

Thursday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts the launch of the Army climate implementation plan.

By Michael Marrow
September 30, 2022 at 5:59 PM

The Space Surveillance Telescope that will be operated jointly by the Australian Defense Department and Space Force reached initial operational capability today, according to a press release from Space Operations Command.

SST will perform space domain awareness services by detecting and tracking objects in geosynchronous orbit, helping to avoid collisions and monitor other objects like asteroids.

Built by a Defense Research Projects Agency team at White Sands Missile Range, NM, the telescope was relocated to Australia in 2017 as part of a deal to expand coverage in the southern hemisphere and develop Australia’s space domain awareness capabilities.

The telescope is expected to reach full operational capability late next year, according to the release.

SST will add critical space domain awareness services at a time when officials are raising alarm over the steady increase in space launches, warning that a further lack of guardrails and international agreements will create an unmanageable number of objects in orbit.

By Tony Bertuca
September 30, 2022 at 1:45 PM

The House voted 230-201 today to pass a stopgap continuing resolution that would keep the federal government funded through Dec. 16, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The Senate passed the CR yesterday, which will give Congress time to campaign for mid-term elections and return to Washington to negotiate a final fiscal year 2023 appropriations package.

The stopgap bill, among other things, contains $7.5 billion in military aid for Ukraine and $4.5 billion in economic aid.