Posted this morning:
The Pentagon's acquisition executive, who has repeatedly voiced concerns about future U.S. military technological superiority, has directed four new assessments of capability areas the Defense Department must not cede to competitors -- directing separate task forces to assess air dominance, next-generation unmanned undersea systems, cyber defense and cyber deterrence.
On Oct. 9, Frank Kendall, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, directed the Defense Science Board, an influential advisory panel, to form the four separate task forces in four separate memos.
Collectively, the four directives kick off an effort to investigate whether DOD needs to refocus key parts of its long-term weapons system development and acquisition plan.
In an Oct. 9, 2014, memo, Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall calls on a Defense Science Board cyber defense task force to "investigate ways to inform future investment priorities, that is, methods to assess and provide DOD leadership with improved management insight into the level of cyber protection that currently exists and is planned within DOD networks."
In an Oct. 9, 2014, memo, Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall directs a Defense Science Board air dominance task force to "consider the most effective science, technology, capability and systems for maintaining air dominance beyond the next decade."
In an Oct. 9, 2014, memo, Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall calls on a Defense Science Board task force on next-generation unmanned undersea systems to address the "serious challenges" the United States faces from "rapidly advancing threat capabilities and employment of anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategies."
In an Oct. 9, 2014, memo, Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall calls on a Defense Science Board cyber deterrence task force to identify "critical capabilities (cyber and non-cyber) needed to support deterrence, warfighting, and escalation control against a highly cyber-capable adversary."
Defense business news:
Defense contractors including CACI International and L-3 Communications said this week that government spending reductions are taking a toll on their profits.
CACI reported Wednesday its quarterly sales fell nearly 6 percent to $814.7 million, primarily because of the military drawdown in Afghanistan and federal government budget reductions.
Profits took a similar hit, falling close to 6 percent from the same three-month period a year ago to hit $31.1 million.
An Inside the Pentagon front-pager on sense-and-avoid displays for unmanned systems:
As part of the ongoing effort to fly unmanned aircraft systems in U.S. skies, the Air Force and Army recently completed a joint test to help determine the most effective way to display and provide information to UAS operators, according to service officials leading the effort.
Results from the test in August indicate that UAS operators prefer the display to provide a range of options for how to maneuver the UAS through airspace, but they perform the fastest when the automated system provides just one maneuver option, Paul Schaeffer, the Air Force's program manager for common airborne sense and avoid, said in an Oct. 29 interview. This data will help inform the Army and the Air Force's efforts to develop common display standards for ground-based and airborne sense-and-avoid systems.
Similar to how a pilot in a manned aircraft can see and avoid other aircraft in the area, sense-and-avoid systems help UAS avoid other aircraft.
A curtain-raiser on a classified meeting taking place next week:
The Defense Department, concerned about "a road-mobile ballistic missile threat" from an unnamed country, is convening a classified meeting with industry next week to explore "time-critical targeting capabilities," an information-gathering exercise that could be a potential precursor event for a new missile defense project.
On Nov. 5, the office of the Pentagon's acquisition executive will host a "time-critical targeting" industry day, the Defense Department announced in an Oct. 29 Federal Business Opportunities notice.
"This Request for Information seeks data on systems to defeat a mobile ballistic missile threat, delaying, degrading and destroying the system, its logistics and command and control elements throughout the threat kill chain from fielding through launch including defeat of missiles in flight," the notice states.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel slams lawmakers for not working together across the aisle:
As the Nov. 4 mid-term elections approach, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has called out Congress for its continued partisan gridlock, despite an ever-growing list of global threats facing the United States.
"We need all of our institutions functioning, including the Congress, to deal with these issues," Hagel said Tuesday at the Aspen Institute in Washington.
He singled out Congress' unwillingness to grant the Defense Department the proper authorities to cut costs by closing unneeded bases and retiring aged and expensive weapon systems. The Pentagon has also railed against Congress' inability to overturn the automatic sequestration cuts set to slice $35 billion from the DOD budget in fiscal year 2016.
Continuing our coverage of a new CSBA study:
Following Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's call in September for a "game-changing offset strategy" to restore the U.S. military's technological edge, a Washington-based think tank has called for a new defense strategy centered around a "global surveillance and strike network."
The plan would supplement existing air and naval forces with new "long-range, low-observable" unmanned aircraft and maritime assets instead of purchasing more robust, regular combined-arms forces.
In an Oct. 27 report, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments contends that the defense strategic guidance presented in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review is emblematic of a business-as-usual approach to power projection because it seeks to create a force "nearly identical in comparison to the one fielded today." Instead, the Pentagon shifted its deterrence strategy away from "threat of direct attack through combined-arms campaigns" to one of "deterrence by denial and punishment." This would require more investment in unmanned aircraft and naval systems, particularly surface and subsurface vessels for "anti-submarine warfare, payload delivery, information operations and time-critical strike" as well as long-range surveillance and strike aircraft that complement manned bomber fleets.
And in case you missed these earlier this week:
The Defense Department is not yet prepared to disclose what percentage of the overall research and development budget it will use to finance the upcoming technological "offset" strategy aimed to guide long-term R&D spending, but a top acquisition official did provide a list of likely investment areas.
A think tank with close ties to the Pentagon has published a vision of U.S. future warfare dominated by sophisticated air and naval weaponry, to be financed by cutbacks in ground forces and associated equipment.
-- John Liang