The Insider

By Ethan Sterenfeld
June 21, 2022 at 11:16 AM

The Army has reduced the number of vehicles that each company will have to produce in the prototype phase of the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle competition, to a maximum of 11, in a last-minute update to the draft request for proposals for the program's next phases.

An update to the draft RFP for the detailed design and prototyping phases of the competition will require a base of seven prototype deliveries, with options for up to four more, according to a July 17 Army notice.

Previously, the service had said all three companies in the detailed design and prototype phases would build 12 prototypes. The final version RFP is expected to come out by the end of the month.

Five companies are participating in the current concept design phase of the OMFV program, which aims to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle in armored brigades. Three companies will be chosen for the detailed design and prototyping phases after a full and open competition, which will begin once the final RFP is released.

Development costs will surge as the prototyping phase begins, according to Army budget documents. OMFV spending will hit $560 million under the service’s fiscal year 2023 budget request, and it could increase to $1.2 billion for FY-24.

A down-select to a single manufacturer is scheduled for FY-27, and serial production would begin in the following years.

By Tony Bertuca
June 20, 2022 at 5:00 AM

There will be major news from Capitol Hill this week as two House committees debate their annual defense appropriations and authorization bills.

Monday

Juneteenth holiday observed.

Tuesday

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on Air Force refueling.

Wednesday

The House Appropriations Committee marks up its version of the fiscal year 2023 defense spending bill.

The House Armed Services Committee marks up its version of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill.

The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown.

The Atlantic Council hosts the U.S.-EU Defense and Future Forum.

The Center for a New American Security hosts a discussion with Defense Innovation Unit Director Michael Brown.

Friday

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on boost-phase missile defense.

By Evan Ochsner
June 17, 2022 at 2:08 PM

Army Contracting Command is seeking information about firms that can provide tactical night-vision goggles for Ukraine, according to a sources-sought notice issued Thursday.

Communications-Electronics Command Security Assistance Management issued the notice with the goal to “satisfy requirements for tactical non-commercial AN/PVS-14 NVGs and accessories for Ukraine.” The AN/PVS-14 is a monocular night-vision device.

The $1 billion weapons package for Ukraine announced by the United States on Wednesday includes funding for “thousands of night-vision devices,” the Pentagon said.

The Army is seeking sources that can deliver up to 10,000 night-vision systems and accessories at a rate of up to 500 per month, according to the notice. Required accessories include straps, brackets and helmet mounts.

The deadline to submit a response is June 27.

By John Liang
June 17, 2022 at 1:39 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news from the Senate Armed Services Committee's fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill and more.

We start off with more coverage of the Senate Armed Services Committee's FY-23 defense policy bill:

Senate lawmakers want to review how DOD monitors industry M&A process

The Senate Armed Services Committee has passed a fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill that requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of the Defense Department's processes for monitoring mergers and acquisitions in the industry, according to a summary of the legislation released this week.

Senate authorizers aim to save half of Navy's ships set to be decommissioned

The Senate Armed Services Committee wants to save 12 out of the 24 warships the Navy wants to decommission in the service's fiscal year 2023 budget request.

Senate committee's mark-up approves A-10 divestment, accelerates aircraft procurement

The Senate Armed Service Committee's mark-up of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill would approve divestments of the A-10 aircraft, accelerate procurement of the F-35A and HH-60W and limit divestment of the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, according to an executive summary and a background briefing provided by committee staff.

Senate bill would authorize higher Abrams, Paladin spending

The Senate Armed Services Committee has voted to fund a pair of combat vehicle programs above the Army's fiscal year 2023 budget request by half-a-billion dollars, setting up a possible point of disagreement with its House counterpart.

Senate authorizers want to see more money for CYBERCOM, increased oversight of JCWA

Senate authorizers are recommending directing another $56 million to U.S. Cyber Command for the development of its integrated cyberspace landscape in the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill, but lawmakers also want to stand up a new office to bolster oversight of the architecture.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity also have coverage of congressional defense legislation:

House defense bill includes creation of CISA collaboration environment

The House Armed Services Committee is set to mark up an annual defense policy bill that includes creation of the "Cyber Threat Information Collaboration Environment Program," a reworked version of a Cyberspace Solarium Commission proposal viewed as an important component for government-industry interaction.

Northrop Grumman has tested a satellite communications system:

Northrop Grumman successfully tests laser communication system for Tranche 1 satellites

Northrop Grumman held a successful ground demonstration of a laser communication system for Tranche 1 satellites, according to a company press release.

Michael Horowitz, the Defense Department's emerging capabilities policy director, spoke this week at an online Defense One Tech Summit:

DOD identifies starting points for autonomy in weapon systems policy re-look

As the Defense Department reviews its bedrock autonomous weapon systems directive, the Pentagon's first emerging capabilities policy director says officials have identified two starting points within their broader effort to ensure the language is "as clear as possible" regarding U.S. policy in this realm.

By John Liang
June 16, 2022 at 2:12 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on both the House and Senate defense authorization bills and more.

We start off with the Senate Armed Services Committee's annual policy bill, which was passed today:

Senate committee pumps up Biden's defense budget by $45B

The Senate Armed Services Committee has agreed to a fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill that would authorize $45 billion more than what President Biden has requested, with senior lawmakers citing historic inflation and the ongoing war in Ukraine as key drivers for the increase.

Document: Senate authorizers' summary of the FY-23 defense policy bill

(Stay tuned to Inside Defense for more programmatic news from this bill.)

. . . Followed by our continuing coverage of the House version of the chairman's mark that we obtained this week:

House committee matches Biden's defense request amid lawmaker plans for big plus-up

The House Armed Services Committee intends to match President Biden's request for fiscal year 2023 defense spending in its early version of the annual defense authorization bill, but the chairman says the panel is sure to increase the topline, according to a new document obtained by Inside Defense.

Draft House bill would restore Army's 1,000-mile cannon program

A draft bill from the House Armed Services Committee would resurrect the Army's plan to build a cannon that can fire 1,000 miles, which the service put on ice this year following years of congressional concerns.

House chairman's mark approves USAF aircraft divestments, sets limits on others

The House Armed Services Committee draft "chairman's mark" of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill obtained by Inside Defense would approve the Air Force's request to reduce the minimum tactical fighter aircraft inventory but limit other retirements.

House authorizers seek to boost DIU's budget, fund AQ pilot for commercial tech

House authorizers want to nearly double the Defense Innovation Unit's fiscal year 2023 budget and fund an experimental avenue for bringing commercial technology into the military, in the weeks after some lawmakers publicly questioned top Pentagon officials' commitment to the organization.

House lawmakers want to set floor for EA-18G aircraft following Navy divestment

The House Armed Services Committee wants to prohibit the divestment of 25 EA-18G electronic warfare aircraft, according to a new document obtained by Inside Defense.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report this week on Air Force and Navy aircraft:

GAO: Air Force, Navy aircraft readiness decreasing

The mission capable rates of Air Force and Navy aircraft have declined in recent years due to a failure to complete congressionally mandated sustainment reviews, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

The Marine Corps is looking at a temporary alternative to the Light Amphibious Warship:

Smith: Marine Corps likely to contract three stern landing vessels

The Marine Corps will likely contract three civilian stern landing vessels as a bridging solution until the Light Amphibious Warship comes online, according to Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. Eric Smith.

Leidos is looking to re-start its work on the Defense Enclave Services program:

Following protest denial, Leidos poised for 'robust' resumption of DES work

The Government Accountability Office has denied a protest from General Dynamics Information Technology targeting an $11.5 billion contract awarded to Leidos to unify the Pentagon's Fourth Estate IT environments, ending what amounted to a holding pattern for the Defense Enclave Services effort.

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

Army moving forward on generator for tactical microgrid

The Army plans to release a requirements document this summer for a new 3-kilowatt generator, which could power future microgrids as part of a suite of tactical power systems, according to an official responsible for the program.

By Tony Bertuca
June 15, 2022 at 5:03 PM

President Biden has nominated Radha Plumb, currently the chief of staff to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, to be deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, according to the White House.

Prior to her appointment as Hicks’ chief of Staff, Plumb was the director of research and insights for trust and safety at Google. She also previously worked as the global head of policy analysis at Facebook and as a senior economist at RAND Corp.

The White House said Plumb has also held senior staff positions at the Defense and Energy departments as well as the National Security Council.

By Evan Ochsner
June 15, 2022 at 4:40 PM

The House Armed Services Committee is requesting information from the Army about how it plans to modernize the AH-64 Apache to ensure it remains relevant for at least another 30 years, according to an early version of the annual defense policy bill.

In a draft of Rep. Adam Smith’s (D-WA) “chairman’s mark,” obtained by Inside Defense, the committee lauded the Army for executing an “effective and affordable” Apache modernization strategy since the first Apaches were delivered in 1984 but said it is “concerned about the lack of a future modernization strategy for Apache.”

According to the mark, the helicopter “will continue to serve as the Army’s principal attack helicopter until the year 2050 and beyond.” But the Army plans to purchase its last batch of Apaches in 2025 and lacks a “comprehensive, budgeted plan to modernize the aircraft over the next 30 years.”

The Army would by Dec. 20 provide a briefing to the House Armed Services Committee about “a plan to ensure AH-64 Apache relevancy for the remainder of its service life," the draft legislation states.

The Army is developing the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, which it anticipates will take over some of the scout helicopter functions the Apache has taken on as other programs have failed to fill that role. The Apache will retain its attack function, Army officials have said.

By Evan Ochsner
June 15, 2022 at 3:40 PM

The Army will use the coming fiscal year to implement the goals it laid out in its Digital Modernization Strategy, service Chief Information Officer Raj Iyer said Wednesday.

FY-23 “is the inflection point for us in terms of our how we are executing our resources,” Iyer said during an event hosted by GovConWire.

“It is absolutely critical that next year in '23 we can actually, truly pivot towards the objectives and the priorities established in the Army Digital Transformation Strategy,” he said.

That strategy was published late last year, meaning the Army this year has not significantly implemented its provisions, Iyer said. The first year the Army can implement the strategy is FY-23, he added.

The strategy played a key role in shaping the Army’s FY-23 request for $16.6 billion for IT, digital and cyber, Iyer said. That request is roughly the same as the year before, he added, and signifies a substantial investment by the Army.

“We absolutely have the resources we need to be able to do what we need to do,” according to Iyer.

The coming weeks should also provide more clarity on the Army’s implementation, as it will release public versions of its data plan and its digital human capital strategy, Iyer said.

The digital human capital strategy is the first such plan for the Army, he said, and it includes information about how to identify talent inside and outside of the Army for the digital transformation.

By Tony Bertuca
June 15, 2022 at 2:52 PM

The United States today announced a new, $1 billion military aid package to Ukraine, including Harpoon anti-ship launchers and ammunition for long-range rocket systems, according to the Pentagon.

The aid is split between $350 million in “presidential drawdown authority” that transfers U.S. weapons to Ukraine and $650 million in supplemental Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funds provided by Congress to contract directly with defense companies to procure weapons and services for Ukraine.

The weapons being transferred from U.S. stocks under presidential drawdown authority include: 18 155 mm howitzers; 36,000 rounds of 155 mm ammunition; 18 tactical vehicles to tow 155 mm howitzers; additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems; four tactical vehicles to recover equipment; and spare parts and other equipment, according to the Pentagon.

The USAI funding, which the Pentagon said “represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional capabilities to Ukraine's armed forces,” covers two Harpoon coastal defense systems, “thousands of secure radios,” night vision devices, and funding for training, maintenance, sustainment, transportation, and administrative costs.

The Boeing-made Harpoon systems will not include missiles, which will be provided by other U.S. allies like Denmark. The systems will be mounted on trucks and allow Ukraine to protect its coastline from Russian war ships.

Senior defense officials said it may take “several months” for all the gear to be delivered to Ukraine and be “operationally effective” with trained Ukrainians.

The officials said the USAI funds, specifically the Harpoon systems, are the result of industry’s response to an April request for information.

"The United States has now committed approximately $6.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, including approximately $5.6 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked invasion on Feb. 24,” the Pentagon said. “Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $8.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.”

Some U.S. lawmakers, however, want the Biden administration to be more aggressive with the military aid being sent.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) said today at the Center for a New American Security that he believes the United States should send Ukraine Grey Eagle unmanned aerial systems and “stop the foot-dragging.”

Smith, speaking earlier to reporters, also said he believes the United States should send more long-range artillery to Ukraine and not be concerned about donating weapons capable of striking deep into Russian territory.

"When it comes to drones and when it comes to long-range artillery, we've been too cautious,” he said. “And I don't agree with the president's take that we can't give the Ukrainians anything capable of striking Russia. Ukraine borders Russia. If you give them a mortar shell that can go a mile, theoretically it can strike Russia. The issue is, if the Russians are able to see better and shoot further, then you're at a disadvantage. So, I think we should give them more of that."

At CNAS, Smith said he also believes the United States needs to begin contemplating how it can support a Ukrainian insurgency in the eastern portion of the country that Russia currently occupies.

“What Putin wants to do now is lock in his gains,” Smith said of the Russian president. “This is a vanity project for Putin. . . . There is no end to that.”

By Evan Ochsner
June 15, 2022 at 2:51 PM

The Army would receive funding to procure 10 more Black Hawk helicopters than it asked for under a proposal from the House Appropriations Committee released Tuesday.

The Army would receive $991 million to procure Black Hawk helicopters, up from the Army‘s request of $718.6 million, according to a summary of the fiscal year 2023 defense spending bill released by the House Appropriations Committee.

The money would enable the Army to purchase 35 UH-60M and HH-60M Black Hawks, according to the summary. The Army’s initial request, $273 million less than the House recommendation, asked to procure 10 UH-60M variants and 15 HH-60M variants, according to Pentagon budget documents.

The Army’s request for Black Hawk procurement funds is less than was enacted last year, due primarily to cuts in one-time procurement funding for some aircraft programs, an Army budget official previously said.

Congress last year increased Black Hawk procurement funding by $211.5 million above the Army’s request so the service could procure additional HH-60M helicopters for the Army National Guard.

By John Liang
June 15, 2022 at 2:06 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the draft defense policy and spending bills.

We start off with coverage of the defense policy bill, the draft chairman's mark of which was obtained today by Inside Defense:

House committee matches Biden's defense request amid lawmaker plans for big plus-up

The House Armed Services Committee intends to match President Biden's request for fiscal year 2023 defense spending in its early version of the annual defense authorization bill, but the chairman says the panel is sure to increase the topline, according to a new document obtained by Inside Defense.

Smith predicts defense budget will be increased

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) said today he is sure the defense budget will be increased beyond what President Biden has requested by the time Congress finishes passing legislation, including the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill his panel is preparing to approve for the 61st consecutive year.

​Draft law would mandate new DOD strategy to counter hypersonic threats with directed energy

​A draft bill would require the Defense Department to codify a formal strategy for adding a layer to the Missile Defense System, outlining a path to potentially fielding directed-energy technologies to give U.S. forces a non-kinetic option for countering advanced threats, including ultra-fast maneuvering weapons.

Wittman: Lawmakers aiming for $35B to $45B increase over defense topline

House lawmakers are looking to increase the Pentagon's fiscal year 2023 defense budget request by $35 to $45 billion, according to a prominent House member.

. . . Followed by the defense appropriations bill:

House defense appropriators seek to boost space launches, trim program funds

House lawmakers' proposed defense spending bill would increase launches for the National Security Space Launch program and lower funds for other projects requested by the Space Force in its fiscal year 2023 budget request.

Lawmakers want to block decommissioning of five LCS in House approps bill

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee has proposed a spending bill that would save five out of the nine Littoral Combat Ships pegged to be decommissioned in the Navy's fiscal year 2023 budget request.

A microelectronics bill, which now sits in conference committee as a group of bipartisan lawmakers work to reach consensus, has been inching its way through Congress over the last year:

DOD officials call for passage of CHIPS funding to bolster semiconductor industry

Pentagon officials are hoping to see lawmakers advance legislation aiming to direct money toward microelectronics production, a measure the Defense Department's No. 2 official called "the most important thing that can be done right now" to address semiconductor supply issues.

The latest on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program:

F-35 program wrapping up full qualification of new suppliers following Turkey's ouster

The maker of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's engines is on track to green light the last of the remaining sources needed to fully replace the propulsion parts that Turkey had supplied prior to that country's removal from the program.

The operational test of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, a militarized version of Microsoft’s HoloLens headset, will finish on June 25 after starting on May 9, according to an Army spokeswoman:

Army to complete IVAS operational test by the end of the month

The Army will complete operational testing of its new augmented reality headset by the end of the month, an Army spokeswoman said, culminating a months-long delay in completing the test and moving the system closer to fielding.

By Michael Marrow
June 14, 2022 at 6:37 PM

The F-35 Joint Program Office has awarded Pratt & Whitney an undefinitized contract action worth up to $4.3 billion for production of lot 15 and 16 F-35 engines and long-lead parts, according to an award announcement posted by the Defense Department Tuesday.

The F135 engine manufactured by Pratt supports the A, B and C variants of the F-35. The UCA sets a $4.3 billion ceiling to produce a total of 178 propulsion systems: 108 for the Air Force, 41 for the Marine Corps and 29 for the Navy.

After agreeing in principle to the terms of a formal contract in April 2022, the UCA will start production as Pratt & Whitney and the JPO finalize an engine contract for lots 15-17, according to a company spokesman.

The agreement Pratt & Whitney and the JPO reached covers base production and option quantities for a maximum of 518 engines and equivalents, with a contract value of approximately $8 billion if all options are exercised, the spokesman added.

Separately, the JPO and F-35 airframe manufacturer Lockheed Martin have been working to reach agreement on their own contract surrounding lots 15-17 aircraft, though both sides have struggled to agree on a deal.

A Lockheed executive said in January that finding a consensus on the cost baseline was complicated by inflationary and pandemic effects, an impasse that then-F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen Eric Fick previously hoped would be resolved this spring amid what he characterized as a “tough negotiation.”

Engine deliveries will begin later this year and continue to the end of 2025, according to Pratt & Whitney.

By Tony Bertuca
June 14, 2022 at 2:48 PM

The Defense Innovation Unit, known for being the Pentagon's Silicon Valley outreach team, could be headed for a crossroads as it is poised to lose its longest-serving leader at a time when some in Congress -- critical of top military officials' commitment to the highly visible but small-budget organization -- are rallying to boost investment in the outfit.

In a new, in-depth story, Inside Defense explores the challenges and opportunities that Pentagon and Capitol Hill insiders say could be ahead for DIU.

Read the free story.

By John Liang
June 14, 2022 at 1:54 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the House Appropriations Committee's fiscal year 2023 defense spending bill, using Navy destroyers' radars to track objects in space and more.

We start off with the defense spending bill House appropriators will be working on this week:

House defense appropriators move to cut procurement, raise R&D spending

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee is proposing a spending bill that would cut Pentagon procurement by $1 billion below the level enacted in fiscal year 2022, but would boost research and development funding by $12.5 billion above the FY-22 enacted level, according to a legislative summary released by Democratic lawmakers.

Lawmakers want to block decommissioning of five LCS in House approps bill

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee has proposed a spending bill that would save five out of the nine Littoral Combat Ships pegged to be decommissioned in the Navy's fiscal year 2023 budget request.

Document: House appropriators' draft FY-23 defense spending bill

A new Pentagon initiative involves a software upgrade to the Aegis weapon system which controls the SPY-1 radar on ballistic missile defense-capable Arleigh Burke-class destroyers -- a sensor that has long had the ability to detect satellites and will do so now in coordination with the larger U.S. military space surveillance and command and control enterprises:

MDA readies missile defense destroyers for new 'big deal' mission: tracking space objects

The Defense Department is readying Navy destroyers equipped for ballistic missile defense operations for a second full-time, simultaneous mission: assisting the Space Force with situational awareness of the heavens in a move that aims to leverage nearly 30 Aegis ships with SPY-1 radars to help fill gaps in the Space Surveillance Network.

The family of Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization systems aims to provide safe maneuver within the littoral regions -- helping the Explosive Ordnance Disposal community and the service as a whole:

Marine Corps exercising LEON's network capability during RIMPAC

CAMP PENDLETON, CA -- The Marine Corps is leveraging a networked Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization system in the world's largest international maritime exercise this summer.

With Defense Innovation Unit Director Michael Brown slated to step down in the coming months, DIU may be facing an uncertain future as it seeks to rebound from a fiscal year 2022 budget that included a more than 20% reduction while military spending neared $800 billion:

Vaunted Defense Innovation Unit nearing inflection point

The Defense Innovation Unit, known for being the Pentagon's Silicon Valley outreach team, could be headed for a crossroads as it is poised to lose its longest-serving leader at a time when some in Congress -- critical of top military officials' commitment to the highly visible but small-budget organization -- are rallying to boost investment in the outfit.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
June 14, 2022 at 11:58 AM

Lockheed Martin will recapitalize and upgrade 15 British tracked rocket launchers, so they can fire new missiles that the U.S. Army is developing, under a $33 million contract that the Pentagon announced June 9.

British Multiple Launch Rocket Systems will be upgraded from the M270B1 variant to the M270A2 variant, according to Guy Yelverton, Lockheed's project manager for strategic and operational rockets and missiles in the U.S. Army.

The A2 variant brings a new, more powerful fire control system, which supports compatibility with the Precision Strike Missile and Extended-Range Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System.

Both missiles are expected to extend the range of the systems they replace when they are fielded, and PrSM doubles the number of missiles per launch pod compared to the incumbent Army Tactical Missile System.

The A1 variant that the U.S. Army currently uses, which shares its fire control system with the B1, cannot fire the new missiles.

Lockheed should complete the upgrades by May 2026, according to the Pentagon announcement. Fiscal year 2022 United Kingdom foreign military sales funding will pay for the contract.

Up to 44 M270s from the United Kingdom will be recapitalized and brought to the A2 standard, the British army announced last year. The army expects to field PrSM in 2024 and ER-GMLRS the following year.

An initial increment of PrSM will be fielded to the U.S. Army by the end of FY-23 under current plans, although full certification and the development of improved variants should last most of this decade.

Upgrades to the U.S. Army’s M270s will overlap with an expansion of the service’s rocket launcher fleet, as the service bulks up its long-range fires capabilities amid preparation for great power conflict. Battalions of the M270 or the wheeled High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, which fires the same missiles, will grow from 16 to 27 launchers.