The Insider

By Mallory Shelbourne
October 9, 2019 at 1:22 PM

The Navy's fiscal year 2020 shipbuilding plan would cost the service approximately $31 billion each year, according to an analysis released this week by the Congressional Budget Office.

"According to CBO's estimate, the full cost of the 2020 shipbuilding plan (including construction, refueling of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and other items) would average $31.0 billion per year over the 2020-2049 period," the report reads.

"That amount is nearly twice as much as the average annual funding the Navy has received over the past three decades," it continues.

The report notes the Navy has been allotted an average of $16 billion each year "over the past 30 years for all activities funded by its shipbuilding account."

The Navy earlier this year sent the FY-20 plan to Congress with the annual budget request. The long-term strategy found it would cost the service $40 billion in then-year funds to maintain the 355-ship fleet the Navy projects achieving in FY-34.

The CBO assessment also concluded that the construction of new ships in the plan would cost $28.8 billion each year on average, compared to the Navy’s $22 billion estimation.

By Justin Katz
October 9, 2019 at 12:54 PM

The Navy yesterday awarded HPI Federal, a subsidiary of HP, a $358 million contract to provide hardware for the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

The hardware contract is one of two deals the Navy will award as part of the Next Generation Enterprise Network recompetition.

The second contract, for services management, is scheduled to be awarded in the second quarter of fiscal year 2020.

The end user hardware contract has a three-year base period and six one-year options, according to a Navy statement. If all options are exercised, the cumulative value of the contract would reach $1.4 billion.

Mac Curtis, president and chief executive of Perspecta, said in a statement his company looks "forward to working with HP and the Navy and Marine Corps to ensure the smooth and successful transition of this portion of the program." Perspecta is the incumbent on the existing NMCI contract but did not bid on this portion of the recompetition.

HPI Federal did not immediately return requests for comment.

By John Liang
October 8, 2019 at 2:32 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has a look at a recent report to Congress on "Fourth Estate" efficiencies, the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA program, the Army's tactical network capability and more.

The Pentagon's chief management officer writes in a recent report to Congress that "a 25 percent reduction is dramatic to any function in a single year," especially considering DOD is "a complex enterprise" with "wartime requirements":

Pentagon proposes 5% cut to Fourth Estate; Congress sought 25%

The Defense Department's chief management officer says about 5% can be cut from the Pentagon's so-called "Fourth Estate" civilian management agencies next year, falling far short of the reductions Congress hoped to see.

Document: DOD CMO's report to Congress on Fourth Estate efficiencies

The Standard Missile-3 Block IIA program has received the go-ahead to begin production:

Pentagon approves initial production for U.S.-Japan SM-3 Block IIA program

The Pentagon's acquisition executive has cleared the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA program, in co-development since 2006 with Japan, for transition to production -- signaling confidence in the interceptor after early flight-test challenges and setting the stage for the rollout of a major operational enhancement to the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

More than 425 Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard units last month completed fielding of the service's latest software and hardware baseline:

Army completes two-year software baseline reduction effort

The Army recently completed a two-year effort that modernized the service's tactical network capability and reduced the number of software and hardware programs in hundreds of service units.

Navy acquisition chief Hondo Geurts spoke at a defense technology conference in National Harbor, MD this morning:

Geurts says Navy's major programs will not suffer severe impacts from CR

A senior Navy official today said the current continuing resolution will not cause any "egregious" problems with the service's major defense acquisition programs.

The Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle program was scheduled to award a detail design and construction contract for a prototype by the end of fiscal year 2019, but that has been delayed:

MUSV schedule delayed several months, prototype award now planned in 2020

An experimental unmanned surface vessel program initiated by Pentagon research agencies and bound for the Navy has fallen behind schedule by several months with a contract to build a prototype now expected early next year.

By Marjorie Censer
October 8, 2019 at 9:52 AM

Dedrone said today it has acquired DroneDefender from Battelle and launched a new consultancy called Dedrone Defense.

The purchase of DroneDefender, a counter-drone system developed by Battelle researchers, includes all assets and intellectual property, according to Dedrone.

Dedrone said its DroneTracker software analyzes the activity of small unmanned aircraft systems.

"DroneTracker recognizes and classifies radio frequency (RF), WiFi, and non-WiFi sUAS, transmits data to command and control centers, and can be programmed to automatically trigger alerts and countermeasures when a sUAS threat is confirmed," the company said. "DroneDefender uses radio control frequency disruption and is a lightweight, point-and-shoot system with a demonstrated range of 400 meters."

DroneDefender and its operations will be led from Dedrone's Washington, DC-area office.

"All current customers of DroneDefender will have access to acquire Dedrone's drone detection software and hardware solution to complete their counter-sUAS programs," Dedrone said, noting that DroneDefender is in use today by the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal organizations.

By John Liang
October 7, 2019 at 1:47 PM

In this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest, we have the latest on the Defense Department's plans for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program as well as an update on Raytheon's Standard Missile-3 Block IIA program.

DOD last week released a request for information appealing to non-profit organizations:

Pentagon explores establishing 'accreditation body' to run contractor cybersecurity program

The Pentagon's acquisition office is moving toward the establishment of an independent "accreditation body" to run a new contractor cybersecurity auditing program viewed as key to preventing the theft of sensitive national security information.

Meanwhile, Raytheon says the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA is positioned to significantly outperform the original design requirements:

Raytheon confident SM-3 Block IIA can intercept ICBM warheads

Raytheon is "very confident" the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA -- a new ballistic missile interceptor developed with Japan to defeat medium- and intermediate-range threats -- can also knock down intercontinental ballistic missiles, delivering Washington and Tokyo more than they originally bargained for.

A task force is planning an event later this year to showcase drone testing software:

Next demo of TACE autonomous drone testing software expected in December

Engineers at Edwards Air Force Base, CA, are partnering with the Skyborg manned-unmanned teaming program for another demonstration of an evolving software tool that’s intended to enable realistic and safe flight testing of autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles.

Alexis Ross of the Army met with reporters last week to explain how the service's new advanced manufacturing policy will help it compete with China:

Army releases new advanced manufacturing policy

The Army has released a new policy on advanced manufacturing that aims to bring the service up to par with foreign powers who have fully embraced new ways of building weapon systems, as well as the commercial sector, inspired by the National Defense Strategy.

The Pentagon is readying several key reform initiatives, including a rewrite of acquisition regulations:

Lord says key acquisition reforms near completion

This fall will be an inflection point for Defense Department acquisition chief Ellen Lord, who is working to finalize a series of acquisition reform initiatives intended to simplify and accelerate the military’s procurement process.

By Marjorie Censer
October 7, 2019 at 1:19 PM

Nearly a year after Parsons combined its federal and infrastructure businesses, the contractor's chief operating officer says the move has benefited both units.

"We have the ability to share technology across the entire company, and there are no stovepipes anymore," Carey Smith told Inside Defense from Parsons' Centreville, VA, office.

As an example, Smith said the federal unit's expertise in artificial intelligence and data analytics has proven useful to the infrastructure unit's technology for "smart cities."

Conversely, some of the connectedness in Parsons' smart cities work within the infrastructure business has applications for federal agencies such as the FBI, she said.

Meanwhile, Smith said Parsons is now completing the integration of Polaris Alpha, which it purchased last year.

Because Polaris Alpha was itself created through multiple acquisitions, Smith said Parsons needed to grapple with different human resources plans, benefit packages and IT systems, even within the single company.

Smith said Parsons remains interested in acquisitions but will stay focused on its core markets of cyber, space, missile defense and intelligence.

She also said she’s sees opportunities for Parsons to expand its work with the Navy and Air Force, noting it already has a large presence with the Army and the Missile Defense Agency.

The company partnered with PAE to pursue a spot on the Army's LOGCAP V program and were awarded U.S. Southern Command. While legal battles are underway over LOGCAP, Smith said any new work from the program will be "upside" given that the company wasn't an incumbent on the prior version.

"We're waiting to see the outcomes," she said of the legal battles, but "anything's new work for us."

Smith also noted she sees significant growth opportunity in the Pacific region.

By Tony Bertuca
October 7, 2019 at 1:07 PM

The Pentagon has been subpoenaed in the House's impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

A letter from three House committee chairmen to Defense Secretary Mark Esper says they are "investigating the extent to which President Trump jeopardized national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere with our 2020 election and by withholding military assistance provided by Congress to help Ukraine counter Russian aggression, as well as any efforts to cover up these matters."

The subpoena demands the Pentagon provide documents necessary for the committees to investigate a decision to withhold U.S. military aid from Ukraine, according to the letter signed by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, and Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

"The enclosed subpoena demands documents that are necessary for the Committees to examine [the] sequence of these events and the reasons behind the White House’s decision to withhold critical military assistance to Ukraine that was appropriated by Congress to counter Russian aggression," the chairmen wrote.

The chairmen also subpoenaed the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Last week, the Defense Department's Office of General Counsel directed all Pentagon offices to provide any "pertinent" information related to the distribution of U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

The subpoena comes amid a swirl of media reports that multiple whistleblowers are now alleging Trump sought to leverage the aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Biden is a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

Trump says he did nothing wrong and has labeled the impeachment inquiry a "witch hunt."

On Tuesday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter Tuesday to top House Democrats saying the administration would not cooperate in the lawmakers' impeachment investigation, asserting that the entire inquiry is an attempt to "overturn the democratic process." 

"President Trump and his Administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances," Cipollone wrote.

By Tony Bertuca
October 7, 2019 at 5:00 AM

Senior Pentagon officials are scheduled to appear around the Washington area this week. Congress remains on recess.


The Defense TechConnect Conference begins in National Harbor, MD. The event runs through Thursday.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts an event on the future of missile defense.


General Dynamics Information Technology hosts the Women + Technology: EmpowHER event.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts an event on climate change and maritime sustainability, sovereignty and security.

By Marjorie Censer
October 4, 2019 at 2:29 PM

Today’s INSIDER Daily Digest has the latest on Pentagon acquisition reform efforts, the Army’s new manufacturing policy and Turkey’s suspension from the F-35 program, among other news.

The Pentagon is readying several key reform initiatives, including a rewrite of acquisition regulations:

Lord says key acquisition reforms near completion

This fall will be an inflection point for Defense Department acquisition chief Ellen Lord, who is working to finalize a series of acquisition reform initiatives intended to simplify and accelerate the military’s procurement process.

Alexis Ross of the Army met with reporters yesterday to explain how the service’s new advanced manufacturing policy will help it compete with China:

Army releases new advanced manufacturing policy

The Army today released a new policy on advanced manufacturing that aims to bring the service up to par with foreign powers who have fully embraced new ways of building weapon systems, as well as the commercial sector, inspired by the National Defense Strategy.

Identifying U.S. suppliers to replace Turkish companies that were set to help build the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is proving to be a pricey task:

Turkish F-35 suppliers will cost triple Ankara’s JSF investment

The tab to identify U.S. suppliers to replace Turkish companies providing parts for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program could be as much as three times the amount Ankara contributed to the development of the new weapon system, more than washing out any financial benefit associated with Turkey's early role in the program.

The Marine Corps commandant said this week the service is preparing for lower budgets:

Berger: Marine Corps moving ahead under premise of 'flat or declining' defense budgets

The Marine Corps is charting its new path forward for a period of great power competition with the understanding that defense budgets will remain stagnant or decrease, according to the service’s top officer.

Dave Drabkin of the Section 809 panel predicts the abuse of other transaction agreements will result in Congress barring their use.

Section 809 panel chair warns against ‘abuse’ of other transaction agreements

The head of the Section 809 panel says Congress will peel back the Defense Department’s ability to use other transaction agreements if it doesn’t reign in the “abuse” of such agreements.

Lastly, the Air Force Research Lab’s executive lead for Air Force 2030 implementation told reporters this week that the Transformational Capability Office has been operating virtually to gain momentum:

AFRL setting up program office to manage vanguard programs

The Air Force Research Lab wants to establish a new management structure that oversees the vanguard effort intended to transition mature technologies into programs of record.

By Tony Bertuca
October 3, 2019 at 3:06 PM

The State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale to Ukraine for 150 Javelin anti-tank missiles for $39 million, according to an announcement from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

The proposed sale of the missiles made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin is separate from a $250 million military aid package to Ukraine at the center of a House impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

“The Javelin system will help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in order to meet its national defense requirements," DSCA said. "Ukraine will have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces."

By Justin Katz
October 3, 2019 at 2:34 PM

The Pentagon’s top officer overseeing military sealift capabilities said this week he is working with the Defense Department’s No. 2 civilian to find funding starting in FY-21 to accelerate the procurement of used sealift vessels.

TRANSCOM Commander Army Gen. Steve Lyons told reporters at an Oct. 2 Defense Writers Group breakfast there’s “work right now at the department to fund the seven” ships authorized in the fiscal year 2018 and FY-19 National Defense Authorization Acts.

“The Navy’s program right now would need to be plussed up to do what I’m asking them to do, but the deputy secretary and others are supportive of finding the money to do that,” he said.

“We wouldn’t do them all in one year, but starting next year -- to be able to start that process,” he added.

Buying used sealift vessels is one part of the military’s three-pronged strategy to recapitalizing the surge sealift fleet, comprised of various auxiliary ships operated and maintained by the Maritime Administration and Military Sealift Command.

Lyons earlier this year told lawmakers sealift is his top readiness concern.

“Due to the increased age of the sealift fleet, degraded fleet readiness, and wartime requirements, sealift is U.S. [Transportation Command’s] No. 1 readiness concern,” he said in written testimony.

During that same testimony, Lyons agreed with a comment by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, that accelerating the purchase of used sealift vessels is the “most practical way ahead.”

Separately, Lyons said this week he expects to receive a report at the end of the month about the results of the recent turbo activation of more than two dozen sealift ships.

By Tony Bertuca
October 3, 2019 at 1:02 PM

The Defense Department's Office of General Counsel has directed all Pentagon offices to provide any "pertinent" information related to the distribution of U.S. military aid to Ukraine, a matter at the heart of a House impeachment inquiry.

Chief DOD Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters today the directive from the general counsel's office was issued out of "an abundance of caution" that the records be preserved for "future use" given that the issue has garnered significant interest from Congress and the DOD inspector general.

The directive comes as the House has begun impeachment proceedings against President Trump over allegations he withheld military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Biden is a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

The White House last week released a reconstructed transcript of a conversation Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky over the summer in which Trump requested an investigation into Biden and his son.

Trump has said he did nothing wrong and his call with Zelensky was "perfect."

Hoffman said Deense Secretary Mark Esper was not on the call, though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has confirmed he was.

Trump today also suggested China should investigate Biden.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the delay in military aid to Ukraine "raises questions about whether DOD officials were involved in any scheme to target a political opponent."

The delay of $125 million in aid, which was eventually released, "would appear to have hindered the department's statutory obligation to provide security assistance to Ukraine at a critical moment," Durbin and other Senate Democrats wrote in a Sept. 25 letter to acting DOD Inspector General Glenn Fine.

A DOD IG spokeswoman says the request for an investigation is still being reviewed.

By John Liang
October 3, 2019 at 12:58 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an experimental satellite program, the Pentagon's new cyber rules, the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor and more.

Bill Gattle, president of space and intelligence systems at L3Harris, told Inside Defense this week the Air Force Research Lab has identified the Navigation Technology Satellite as a potential vanguard program -- which means it could be given special acquisition and prototyping authorities to transition from an experiment to an operational capability:

L3Harris eyes PDR for NTS-3 program in November

L3Harris Technologies expects to complete a preliminary design review for an experimental Navigation Technology Satellite that will serve as a pathfinder for new GPS capabilities and potentially an augmentation platform for the constellation.

The Professional Services Council and National Defense Industrial Association were among the industry groups that recently provided feedback to the Defense Department on a draft version of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification:

Defense industry groups question Pentagon's new cyber rules

Three of the largest defense industry associations are raising questions about the Pentagon's new cybersecurity certification, including concerns about the "aggressive" implementation time line and the lack of clarity on how the protections will be applied across different programs and suppliers.

Document: Defense industry groups' feedback on DOD's CMMC rules

The Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor could be moving from development to production soon:

Raytheon exec: Initial production decision for SM-3 Block IIA 'imminent'

A Pentagon decision to transition the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor from development to production is "imminent," according to a Raytheon executive, a milestone that could allow the ballistic missile defense project to tap more than $450 million in production orders that have been on ice pending resolution of technical questions by Defense Department brass about the new interceptor.

The head of U.S. Transportation Command spoke with reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast yesterday:

TRANSCOM crafting follow-on capability study with a broader scope

U.S. Transportation Command has begun work on a follow-up to last year's mobility capability requirements study that will have a broader scope than the 2019 analysis and will consider what forces are needed to support the National Defense Strategy.

Bell is one of five vendors to unveil prototypes for the Future Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft, the others being AVX Aircraft-L3 Technologies, Boeing, Karem Aircraft and Sikorsky:

Bell unveils FARA prototype

Bell unveiled its proposal for the Future Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft, the 360 Invictus, this week at its headquarters in Arlington, VA.

By Courtney Albon
October 3, 2019 at 10:31 AM

The Air Force this week officially established a new program office to manage its Next-Generation Air Dominance work, based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH.

Col. Dale White, formerly the program executive officer for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and special operations forces, will lead the new office. Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper has said early work will involve crafting an acquisition strategy that applies a digital century series framework to the development of next-generation aircraft technology.

"I am turning to this program and to Dale in particular to find a way to bring the best technical expertise that we have to bear, to understand industry’s business case -- because if it's not good for industry it's not going to happen -- to see if there's a way we can continue innovating, doing things smaller, faster, more agile where you don't have to necessarily be a company that can build 1,000 things to work with us," Roper said this week during a ceremony establishing the program office.

By Justin Katz
October 3, 2019 at 10:29 AM

The Navy this week awarded Boeing a $17 million contract for the nascent steps of developing a new system the service hopes will help prevent F/A-18 pilots from having physiological episodes.

"This order procures non-recurring engineering support to design, develop, validate and verify the Cabin Pressure and On-Board Oxygen Generation System Monitoring System (CPOMS) kit," according to a Sept. 30 Defense Department statement.

"In addition, this order provides validation installs and the production and delivery of 112 CPOMS kits for the Navy," the statement continued.

CPOMS is "a new digital cabin pressure altimeter with the capability to gather and record data for the cabin altitude, cabin pressure schedule, [Onboard Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS)] partial oxygen pressure, and OBOGS concentrator outlet pressure," according to a Jan. 24 report signed by Navy acquisition executive Hondo Geurts.

That report was sent to Congress in response to a Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act requirement for the Navy secretary to update lawmakers on the status of F/A-18 modifications designed to combat physiological episodes.

The service plans to outfit more than 1,000 Hornets and Super Hornets with CPOMS and other subsystems to combat PEs, which Geurts has acknowledged will not be fixed by a "simple mechanical solution."

"Human physiology under changing pressure is not well understood; further studies are being pursued to better inform physiological monitoring algorithms," he wrote in the report.