Transcript: Media Roundtable with Mr. Douglas Bush, ASA for AL&T, July 27, 2022

By U.S. Army Public AffairsJuly 28, 2022

Ellen Lovett: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Ellen Lovett. I'm a public affairs officer for the Army's office of the Chief of Public Affairs. I will moderate today's discussion. Is everybody on the line hearing me right now? Great. Thank you.

So today you'll be speaking with Douglas R. Bush, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Today's discussion is on the record and will be recorded. After Mr. Bush's opening remarks, I will call on reporters individually. Please state your full name and outlet when called upon. Due to the volume of participants you may ask one question until each of you has had an opportunity and we will continue to field questions until we are out of time. We have a hard stop at 10 a.m. Mr. Bush, thank you so much for having us.

Douglas R Bush: Okay. So, thanks, everybody for being here. I'll keep my opening remarks very brief so we have more time for your questions. However, I would like to make a few points to just kind of frame the discussion. First is that from my vantage point, Army modernization efforts right now are in great shape. This year we've had success after success after success. Not everything's perfect, but right now things are really in a good place I believe. The Army is showing it can and will succeed with its modernization plans, and we continue to build momentum for the future. Here are some examples: mobile protected firepower is entering low-rate reproduction, just four years after it was initiated. Next-Generation Squad Weapon completed rapid prototyping and is entering rapid fielding after just three years. I'm going to use some acronyms. I think you guys know these, unlike most people. IBCS and AMPV are already in low-rate production and now well into their operational tests. The M2A4 Bradley just completed its first unit equipped. Common Tactical Truck released its prototyping proposal. Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle released its request for proposal to move into Phase 3 and 4 of the program where we'll get real prototypes. The Titan program awarded two contracts for rapid prototyping. The Army is in the final stages of selecting the winning bid for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft. The Army's moving ahead with a new Arctic weather clothing effort in support of a major exercise in Alaska this winter. And last but not least, the Army continues to provide all the acquisition and contracting support for the federal government for Covid vaccines, therapeutics and other essential supplies. We're still the lead for that. That's transitioning later in the year, but the Army is still doing all of that for the country.

I rattle off a few programs. I think I have 400 more but that's just a sample. But in short, Army programs continue to make rapid progress to get new capabilities to Soldiers, which is our goal. So acquisition speed is my number one priority. And I think we're seeing that in action. There are of course some programs where we are experiencing challenges, not everything is going perfectly. And when you have more than 500 programs that is somewhat inevitable. But even in those cases, I'm seeing the whole Army team come together and adapt our plans to ensure the Army gets what it needs.

A second point I'd like to make is the continued importance I see in prototyping real things as opposed to just computer models or PowerPoint. Physical prototypes have allowed us to get more input earlier from soldiers, which is proving critical to many of our recent success stories, in my view. So we're working to continue that approach into almost all of our new programs.

Related to this is the ongoing challenge of going from prototypes to production, a point some of you may have heard me make before. While that will always be a challenge, I am seeing encouraging signs we're learning how to get that right. Recent examples I believe include IVAS, MPF, Direct Energy programs, Next-Generation Squad Weapon and FLRAA. While all of those have some way to go yet in terms of getting to large-scale production, I think our prototyping work is greatly improving our chances of success in doing that.

A final point I'd like to make is about teamwork I see across the Army. As the Secretary has said, modernization is a team sport and she's 100% right. It takes the whole Army acting together to make modernization work, and that's what I'm seeing from the inside. Different parts of the Army, including my own, bring different expertise to the process. Everybody has to do their part and right now, that's what I'm seeing across the Army -- the teamwork the Secretary wants -- and I think that's a major reason why we're on a good success trend right now across the Army.

So that's just a brief overview. Happy to move to questions.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you so much, sir. So I'm going to start with Laura Seligman on the line. Please. Do you have a question? Laura, can you hear me?

Laura Seligman: Hi, sorry, this is Laura, just figuring out Teams. I'm here. Thanks, thanks so much for doing this. I want to follow up on what you said about the challenges you're seeing going from prototypes to production. What steps are you taking to get to where you want to be in terms of this challenge?

Douglas Bush: Sure, there's a couple things. First of all, I'd point out not all prototypes are equal. So, what I would call high-fidelity prototypes, that is ones that are much closer to a production version than something that might be like a demonstrator is critical to doing that. So Mobile Protected Firepower, for example, those are very high-fidelity prototypes, not exactly what we're going to produce, but pretty close. I've seen in the past programs where you had a prototype but it was very much, for example, a hand-built one-off -- taking something like that and mass-producing it is doable, just takes a lot of work. So I think high-fidelity prototypes is one thing. The second thing is our push across the board on digital engineering to take the next step into making that real. Industry is already moving that way. We are doing it as well. It's not foolproof. It’s still computer modeling to a certain degree, but higher-fidelity digital engineering, a critical part of OMFV and FLRAA, in particular by the way. We're hoping that is also a key element of our success going forward.

And then the last thing is just thoughtful planning for going to production. This is work we always do in what used to be called the engineering, manufacturing, development phase, the traditional pathway, and that is doing the engineering work to actually be able to produce something at scale -- such as designing the tools that we will build things in a factory early and making sure those timelines for getting those tooling lines up. Those are all the kinds of factors that go into getting to production versus making just a handful of things. Does that help?

Laura Seligman: Yes, thank you. That helps a lot. If I could just follow up on a different…

Ellen Lovett: Laura? We're only having one question per person and then we'll circle back. Ethan.

Ethan Sterenfeld: Hey, Ethan Sterenfeld, Inside defense. Thanks for doing this today. I wanted to ask about one of the things that seemed to help the modernization portfolio so far is all the attention from the Secretary's office and from the Chief of Staff. Now that there are other issues including a large recruiting shortfall, will they be able to give less time and attention to the modernization portfolio?

Douglas Bush: They are always responsible for the whole Army. So all secretaries over time and chiefs have to worry about everything. So no, I don't expect any problem there. They are, believe me, more than still, you know, focused on modernization in addition to other things. So I'm not concerned about that at all.

Ellen Lovett: Andrew. Andrew Eversden. Do you have a question?

Andrew Eversden: Hey, thank you. Sorry. I was having trouble unmuting. Mr. Bush, thank you for doing this. During the Mobile Protected Firepower roundtable last month you noted that it was the biggest platform the Army had gotten over the line from prototype to production, which is, as you noted, a challenge itself. What are some of those specific lessons from that effort that you can apply to some of these other long-term programs that don't reach production till the late 2020s, 2030s?

Douglas Bush: Sure, as I mentioned earlier, one of them is getting high-fidelity prototypes that are closer to a production representative vehicle then like a demonstrator. That's one thing. Now that does involve if you retain a competitive environment, like we did for MPF, you spend more building physical prototypes than you do doing just computer modeling. So there, you know, there's a cost there but we believe the cost is worth it, and I think most of the programs I've initiated since I got here have been focused on building at least some number of physical prototypes. So that's probably the main thing. MPF, in particular, was on a very rapid schedule. And in that case we required very mature technologies to go into the platform. So not a lot of development occurred. That's a way to go fast while also getting high-fidelity prototypes. So in cases where we have longer or we need to do actual development work, we might take a slightly different approach in terms of doing some development and then prototyping later. I'm trying to tailor it to the circumstances.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you. Sean Carberry.

Sean Carberry: Sean Carberry, National Defense. One of the obstacles has always been, to rapid acquisition rapid development, has been a risk-averse culture. Can you talk about how you're managing risk, how you're evaluating risk and what risks you're willing to take in trying to push these things through faster?

Douglas Bush: Sure, so risk management is always part of the acquisition system. I think really it just requires focused attention from the right people and industry partners that are fully, you know, cooperative, which we have. For example, if you can prototype and then you want to go to production like we did with MPF, but there's others, going through a full milestone C, for example, ensures rigor is there to all the things that have to happen to feel the piece of equipment… beyond what I do. Plans for military construction to line up; plans for training to line up; making sure spare parts flows are there. All of the other things, and the people, by the way, in the units to receive equipment -- all of that I think we manage that risk in a lot of cases with just doing good government work. In case of MPF, it was a full milestone C. We went from rapid prototyping to a full milestone C. I think we know the work stack like we know everything that has to be done to get a program over the line and fielded. It's just a question of making sure that's done even if we're doing the program quickly or even if we're doing it through a different pathway like rapid fielding like we are with Next-Generation Squad Weapon. So I think we know what to do. It's just a question of attention to detail and making sure it gets done.

And then if there are cases where those other things, you know, might require adjusting schedules you just have honest conversations in the Army about that, and you adjust the program. So, I think, like I said, teamwork is essential. I don't do everything in the Army on modernization. I have to have a lot of help, so I think really just good comms internally. I've seen it work pretty well so far.

Ellen Lovett: Ashley Roque.

Ashley Roque: Hi, good morning. Just to go back to some of your opening comments about some of the challenges you know moving forward on all these modernization programs. The Army has now sort of sidelined the strategic long-range cannon…are there any other, in part because of budget….are there any other examples of challenges with specific programs you're having right now that come to mind? And could you sort of give us an update on IVAS as well of sort of where you stand in the decision making progress….sorry, decision making um, sort of chain at this point and will fielding still potentially occur in a month or two?

Douglas Bush: Well, I'll kind of answer the questions as a combined one. So, no, as you know, strategic long-range cannon was terminated by the Secretary. Everything else remains on track, based on all the information I have. Now, there's always perturbations in programs. Things that are up, down. We're tracking a risk here, we're working on a problem there, but broadly speaking everything remains on track. So I've asked in particular, we're still analyzing results, we’re still working on a new way forward that accounts for what we learned in testing which is what we expected to do. So that's still early stage. That will go through lots of folks to take a look at and then we'll be able to share it with Congress and then move out from there. So too early to provide any details on IVAS, sorry.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you, sir. John Harper.

John Harper: Yeah. John Harper with the Scoop News Group. Thanks for doing this roundtable, Mr. Secretary. What challenges is the Army having with its software modernization efforts? I know that's been a priority for you and just with regard to the Software Factory specifically, are you looking to expand that initiative at all or are you just kind of stand pat with that?

Douglas Bush: Well, I mean zooming it up first a level. So the Army of course, has a lot of software programs. So I think if I were to point to just it's this is a good challenge. It’s taking programs that were kind of set up with the old system, which is kind of a waterfall sequential approach and we're contracted for that way, and moving them into like a software acquisition pathway rapid DEVSEC OPS approach. So we're doing that in multiple programs and we're starting, as we start new software programs more of them are going to end up in the software acquisition pathway as opposed to the traditional one. So that's one way is just, we're doing them differently but I think…so the challenge is really are the ones that are kind of the ones that were built a different way. And now we're trying to adjust them to the new model. But I think so far, we're finding success in most cases…. often it just requires rephasing, restructuring the program. The Software Factory is technically, it's a training activity, actually, for training people and it's a pilot program. So it is a part of a future effort to just get the Army better at software, broadly speaking. But right now it's, you know, we're letting it run on its current path…. I think would be the right answer and see what we get. Like I said, it's a pilot. We will learn and then we'll take it from there.

John Harper: And how long will the pilot run before you make a decision about….

Douglas Bush: It was originally planned to be a five-year pilot.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you so much. Kimberly Underwood from Signal Magazine.

Kimberly Underwood: Hi, good morning, sir. Thank you for your time today. I wanted to ask about intellectual property rights. I know a couple of years ago up at Aberdeen, [inaudible] was kind of doing some pilot efforts looking at giving the Army the option to get intellectual property rights like in the future. Is that something you are looking at in any of your programs or any of your contract language to kind of protect the Army or you know lower costs?

Douglas Bush: Well, so first of all, broadly speaking my theme, my guidance to the team has been, you know, we need to get the IP we need, but not more than that. IP's valuable to industry. It is often when you're working in particular with commercial companies something that of course they're not going to just hand over to you. So we need to be thoughtful on a case-by-case basis on getting the IP we need, but not too much, not asking for too much. However, sometimes you don't know upfront exactly what you'll need later. Most of our contracts have that contingency built into it and federal acquisition regulations give the government actually quite a lot of power in extreme circumstances to get that later if we need it, for example, to do repairs on the battlefield - there's contingencies for that. So I don't think…. what I've tried to do there is rather than provide, you know, an edict from above I think the guidance has been and the policy has been to really encourage down lower levels tailoring our approaches in each case. Because we talk about wanting to work with commercial industry more. C3T does probably some of the, a large amount of our commercial buying with what's in those capabilities sets. We have to be savvy about how the commercial industry works with regard to IP versus a government approach. So I'm very much focused on making sure our policies trend with what industry is doing so we don't accidentally lock ourselves out of access to certain companies.

Ellen Lovett: Was Corinne Demargian able to join?

All right, Sandra Erwin from Space News.

Sandra Erwin: Hi, thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. I wanted to ask you about the transfer of programs, space programs in the Army to the Space Force. It was a significant transfer of assets in the 22 budget, WGS satellites and battle stations. I believe there were others. I wanted to get your assessment of how is that going? Are the Army units being supported the way you want them to be supported by Space Force support? And do you still have programs in the Army that are going to stay in the Army for space?

Douglas Bush: Well, I, you know, as far as I know, nobody's brought me a problem. So as far as I know, yes the transfers have happened. It's been a limited number of acquisition programs that have moved over and a few personnel to go with them. And as far as I know, that's all going fine. Also at least talking to units in the field, the amount I do that, no one's brought me a problem with regard to support from the Joint Force for space, in terms of space support. Going forward, the Army still has needs that have to be addressed from space-based platforms. I think our approach will be in line with the Department's policy, making sure that, for example, payloads that go on those platforms that space force is launching include, when necessary, Army payloads to make sure our needs are met. That I think is starting… And of course, the Army didn't have, we didn’t have our own satellite constellations. So we're a bit different than the other services as part of this transition. I think we probably have the easiest of the three. So I think that's what we're focused on going forward is making sure we're tied into space force so that what is going into orbit has what we need on them and I think that's already underway in several areas.

Sandra Erwin: So, do you give them your requirements? Do you give them a list of requirements?

Douglas Bush: That's part of that process. Yes.

Ellen Lovett: Matt Beinert, Defense Daily.

Matt Beinert: I wanted to ask about, another question on Mobile Protected Firepower but I believe at this point the, you know, the debriefs have concluded and the, you know, period to protest has also concluded. So at this point, can you share any information potentially on, you know, one competitor having exited that program before source selection had concluded? And if that was the case, you know, were there any reservations from the Army side about, you know, potentially making that decision not having both competitors at the end of the program? Thank you.

Douglas Bush: So decisions like that are made by the source selection authority. And that's what happened here. I believe….. and they made that decision independently as they're required to…. and based on everything I've seen, they made the right call at the right time. It was based on facts. And so, yeah, we're moving forward and I think it was done the right way, but we gained a lot from the competition we had in that program in terms of having both competitors build 12 full high-fidelity prototypes that went through a lot of testing. So I think we gain the benefits of competition, overall, which was our goal.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you. Marcus Weisberger from Defense One.

Marcus Weisberger: Hi thanks for doing this. Last week at the Farnborough Airshow and just more broadly over the last couple years we've heard from defense company CEOs that worker shortages are their biggest problem right now. Just, you know, like I said last week, at Farnborough they were saying that the shortage is just from the workforce being where it is compared to Covid is actually turning out to be a long-term problem. Is there anything the Army is doing or using DPA…I know we’ve seen the Navy use it, to address some of these issues and just tied to that what is the Army's policy on weapons and stuff that have been delivered late -- are companies being penalized for this or is something else happening? Thanks.

Douglas Bush: Well on the last part there I mean contracts always have different mechanisms built into them to incentivize, you know, on time delivery. I'm not seeing a rash of things coming late. So I think by and large I think defense industry is adapting very well and is still continuing to produce for us on time - and they did that through Covid…even when the height of Covid, before vaccines. We kept our factories running, and to their credit, and to the credit of their workforce in particular. So I'm not seeing, I can just tell you, I'm not seeing on a program by program basis any downstream effect on, you know, Army deliveries or program schedules from the kind of issues you mentioned. Now that is a significant issue that I know defense companies are working through like many American companies. It's an underlying economic issue, but I don't have examples of things where I can really connect that to some particular problem that's occurred on a program.

The Army does work through our, I mean, the contractors do this, but it's part of, you know, a cooperative effort in some cases on particular skill sets. So I know there's great work done, for example, on building welding skills at several of our major manufacturers - the private industry does that but you know in a couple cases that's done at Army owned facilities like in Lima. So I think those efforts and apprenticeship efforts…. I think we're observing them and supporting them indirectly, but we really count on private industry to manage their workforce and to get ahead of the problem when they see it.

Ellen Lovett: Excellent, thank you. Jared Serbu on the line? Jared?

Jared Serbu: Sorry, I have multiple mute buttons here and I didn’t hit them all. Thanks for doing this. I want to go all the way back to your opening comments where [inaudible] came up again and it seems like a lot of the things that are entering [inaudible] are making a lot of use of OTAs, MTAs…. For new systems going forward, is the traditional MDEP process more or less obsolete?

Douglas Bush: No. So I think what you're seeing is some of our higher profile programs, because of the timelines required, are taking a rapid prototyping approach. However, like on MPF, for example, you know, in a lot of cases, we're going to transition those back to the major capability traditional pathway at the right moment. In that case, it was at milestone C. We have had other programs start and just run as traditional programs in the major capability pathway. And I think if you look at the whole of DoD, middle tiers actually still make up a very small minority actually of the overall spending -- if you look at it from a dollar standpoint. Major capability programs and services, contracts, dwarf our spending on middle tier, so that is becoming a tool we are using more because it provides us with flexibilities, you know, early on especially in the program. But it's not a panacea and it's not the only approach we're taking, but I think using it wisely has been a key part of our recent success. So that's an ongoing conversation with Congress, for example, to make sure they're aware of where we're using it, in my view responsibly and well. And we look for their guidance on where they think we're not.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you. Davis Winkie.

Davis Winkie: Hi, good morning, thank you. I just wanted to check in and see what the Next Generation Squad Weapon timeline is looking like and whether there's going to be any updates to that.

Douglas Bush: Well, the program is as far as I know on track and no significant changes to schedule based on when we did our contract award subsequent protests - the protest was withdrawn so we are now back on schedule.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you. Ellee Watson. Ellee Watson CBS?

Ellee Watson: Thanks for doing this. No question. Thank you.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you and Mike Stone, Reuters. Mike?

Mike Stone: Are you looking for Mike Stone? Sorry, you broke up.

Ellen Lovett: Yes. Mike Stone. Thank you.

Mike Stone: Thank you. Thanks for doing this. Have you spent a lot of time in Javelin recently? Demand is up. What's the current production rate? And what do you want it to be for U.S. and allied demand?

Douglas Bush: So, yes, I have spent a lot of time on that program. I think things are in a good place actually. So I don't want to quote you an exact number on the production rate. I believe, I believe it's in the existing congressional budget justification materials, but we can get back to you with an exact number. We are looking at increasing that production rate because of demand to both replenish our needs and also for Support Allies. And I think we are well positioned to do that based on conversations with Joint Javelin Venture, which is Lockheed and Raytheon.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you, sir. Oscar Zane from NHK Japan. Do you have a question for us?

Oscar Zeyen: Hi, no question. Thank you.

Ellen Lovett: Okay, great, thank you. So I'm going to take it back from the top, Laura.

Brian Everstine: I have a question.

Ellen Lovett: Oh, I'm sorry. I skipped you.

Brian Everstine: I didn't see my name on there. Brian Everstine, Aviation Week. (Yeah) The Army has a pretty aggressive schedule in the hypersonic realm and we've heard from the other services in the test community there is a pretty significant limitation on ranges, test capacity. Have you seen that impact your schedule at all? Are you seeing any hurdles to fielding?

Douglas Bush: It doesn't have an effect on our current hypersonic effort? The Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon….. So that was built based on current test capabilities we have. I think there's a longer-term question that I think you've heard raised by others about just do we need additional hypersonics test capability across the department. I think that's a good question. The answer is probably yes, but I think we're working through how exactly we would do that. But our Hypersonic program efforts right now, we've got access to the test ranges we need to meet our current schedule. There's a longer-term issue there that I think we're working through.

Ellen Lovett: Great. Is there anybody else on the line that I've missed? Hearing nothing. I'm going to start back from the top…..

Tony Capaccio: Tony Capaccio with Bloomberg. I have a question.

Ellen Lovett: Tony, thank you. Go ahead.

Tony Capaccio: Yeah, Mr. Bush. Can you discuss a little bit of the HIMARS inventory roughly? We’ve sent 16 over to Ukraine. Roughly how much about, what percentage of that is the Army inventory and the same with the guided rocket munitions. Is there any potential inventory issue or is the Army well positioned even with what we've sent to Ukraine so far?

Douglas Bush: So I can't comment on specific inventories or levels, that's classified, but you know across the board we of course, look at increasing if necessary production rates all the time. So I think there's good work going on to make sure that if we need to increase production rates we can and that includes those two programs.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you.

Tony Capaccio: Well, can you give any broad sense….

Ellen Lovett: Tony, we will circle back to you. I have to…..

Douglas Bush: It’s okay.

Ellen Lovett: Sorry.

Douglas Bush: Go ahead. Tony,

Tony Capaccio: Okay. Can you just give a broad sense of whether this is a small part of the Army inventory?

Douglas Bush: Well, I'm not in charge of Army inventory numbers.

Tony Capaccio: Roughly…..

Douglas Bush: Yeah, I think actually the number we've built is probably a matter of public record, but I don't have the number at hand but, you know….So I can't right now, let me get back to you with what is publicly available and hopefully, those are numbers we can provide.

Tony Capaccio: Thank you.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you and now back to Laura Seligman. I know you had a second question.

Laura Seligman: Yeah, thanks so much. I wanted to ask about the possibility of sending more Eagle drones to Ukraine. Can you give an update on where the discussions on that are? And then also, I wanted to ask about the recent failure of the Dark Eagle Hypersonic missile. Can you tell us if you're going to do another, take another crack at that anytime soon and maybe elaborate on the challenges, please?

Douglas Bush: So, on all questions regarding what might go to Ukraine, I have to refer you to OSD. That is above my level and the Army, of course, just executes what we're told to do. So I would encourage you to talk to OSD about what might or might not go to Ukraine in the future.

On hypersonics. The test happened. The test was not 100% a perfect success, but it was largely successful in my view. So actually, we learned a lot. That program continues on track and on schedule and we are not slowing down.

Ellen Lovettt: Thank you, sir. Ethan, do you have another question for us?

Ethan Sterenfeld: Yeah, I’d like to ask about the 155 mm Howitzer that were sent to Ukraine. Is there a hot production line to replenish those Howitzers and is the Army going to have to, if not what steps are being taken, how long would it take to refill?

Douglas Bush: So M777 you are referring to? So, there is no longer a production line building them for the U.S. Army. That was planned. We produce what we needed. We fielded it. There are production activities that make spare parts though, for example, so we can still produce barrels, we can still produce repair parts necessary to just maintain the system…. so that is still there. So the Army on a case-by-case basis when we send something to provide something to an ally is looking at whether we buy exactly the same thing again or if we buy something new - something that's like…. we're not required, for example, to buy exactly what we sent. We have some flexibility to buy new if a newer thing is in production,

Ethan Sterenfeld: Is that in the case of the M777? I'm unclear if you are talking generalities or specifics with that system.

Douglas Bush: I can't talk specifically about what we're going to do to replace those. We have a plan to replace the capability, but I can't give you the details. Sorry.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you. And Andrew Eversden. Do you have a follow-up question?

Andrew Eversden: Yes. Real quick. What is the Army's current thinking on Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium? I know that the program was kind of deferred moving forward. What's the Army's plan for that?

Douglas Bush: Sure. So yes, we've chosen to focus on the RCVL platform, the smaller platform, and we've also within that separated out the software element as a separate software acquisition pathway program because we want that control software to be common across many robotic platforms. So I'd say the Army -- this is really a requirements issue -- the Army's broadly still of course, interested in robots of many different sizes, but we're focusing on RCVL because we think that's a necessary first step before going to larger platforms.

Ellen Lovett: Okay, great and Sean Carberry.

Sean Carberry: Yeah, can you talk about where PNT is? What's the sense of timeline? Challenges? What it’s going to take to….

Douglas Bush: Any particular aspect of it?

Sean Carberry: I mean, just generally in terms of when it's likely to be fielded and what might have been any of the challenges or obstacles?

Douglas Bush: So, you're talking about efforts kind of in the bucket of AP&T efforts by the CFT? So yeah, we are fielding elements of that already, so I could get you details as a follow-up. So it's still, you know, that whole effort started a long time ago and was actually quite thoughtful to get ahead of the problem -- because like everyone else, we're seeing challenges with just, you know, in a future environment how do you work to ensure that if GPS is not always available how do you continue to operate? And I think the Army's actually well positioned there and actually in production for some of our solutions on that. But a lot of the details are classified. It's an electronic warfare world but let me see what I can get you as far as numbers in terms of what we've actually fielded.

Ellen Lovett: Ashley Roque, Janes. Ashley, do you have question? A follow-up?

Ashley Roque: Yes. Hi, sorry you guys are breaking up a little bit from my end.

I wanted to ask about DARPAs OpFires hypersonic weapon. I know the Army sort of like pulled away to focus on their own effort. Is there any interest in rejoining that? Just sort of what is the level of overwatch or participation in that program at this point in time?

Douglas Bush: As of now, I'm aware of it. I actually went to DARPA a few weeks ago, got a briefing on that and several other things. So, the Army is well aware of it. We don't currently have a requirement for that system in the Army. So I'd say we're watching it with interest but, you know, the Army for now doesn't have any requirement for that particular system or system in that range.

Ellen Lovett: Great, thank you. John Harper.

John Harper: Thank you. With regard to the RCV-Light, when do you anticipate that that type of system might go into production and be fielded? What are the, you know, technical challenges that the Army is still dealing with to bring that to fruition?

Douglas Bush: So we have planned dates. I don't have them at hand but we can get you that as a follow-up. I think there's a couple aspects of that. First of all, this is why we're taking the approach that we are -- a lot of experimentation to understand where the technology is and where it fits, how the Army does a task. So, acquisition of that system and development of the technology is one challenge, okay? Another one will be, how do you integrate it into units? So, this is where others in the Army -- Futures Command and others need to do and are doing experimentation work so you understand what a future scout platoon looks like, for example, that might include robots and people -- is that mix different than what we have now? So I think we have a lot to learn on that. From an acquisition standpoint we're focused on like I mentioned in particular, the software which will be critical for all ground robotic programs going forward. Getting that right early is going to be essential.

The platform itself. There's a lot of actually great robotics work underway. There's also robots other than the RCV-L. So the SMET program is another robot that's currently intended for just moving supplies around, but it's a robotic platform that in theory could be repurposed for other needs as technology improves, like on sensors for example, and what you could do with that. So I think we have lots of robotic programs underway and a lot of great S&T work going on, but it's not something we're going to field next year. But I think the timeline is there. Let me, let me get back to you on what we can say about the timeline for RCV-L.

John Harper: Just roughly. Do you think it might be like five years or just roughly…I know you don't have the exact date on hand.

Douglas Bush: I don't want to speculate (okay) without knowing that number, but let me -- we will get you that.

Ellen Lovett: Kim Underwood.

Kim Underwood: Thanks. Sir, I wanted to ask about your role as science advisor to the Secretary of the Army. What are you seeing there? What trends maybe? What R&D needs are you identifying that maybe the Army should delve into in the next five or ten years?

Douglas Bush: So I think we already had a really good plan when I arrived in terms of the focus areas that the Army was working on. So my predecessor in Futures Command, the first commander, Gen. Murray together, I mean worked on I think a set of focus areas that I think are all the right things -- robotics, quantum computing…..I mean, so it's the right mix of things I think. Some stuff in the biomedical area. So and then my brand-new the deputy assistant secretary brought in to work on that, Mr. Willie Nelson, is continuing that push. So I think I was fortunate there to fall in on a good plan that was already focused on the right things. And so I haven't asked anyone to dramatically change direction. I think we have it roughly correct.

So science advisor to the Secretary is not just me of course. I draw on a team of expertise because I'm not a scientist by background, but I certainly employ a bunch of them. So that's a, I mentioned teamwork, that's a teamwork effort too because if you look across the Army we have a lot of S&T expertise that I draw on and in working with Futures Command for example to advise the Secretary there.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you. Sandra Erwin. Do you have a follow-up?

Sandra Erwin: Yeah, thank you, Mr. Secretary. Picking up on what you said about joint requirements and the process. One of the studies that they're looking at right now is tactical ISR from space. Would you say that the Army has some unique requirements in that area that potentially you would not be able to do in a joint program, that potentially you would need your own capabilities for imagery and data in the battlefield?

Douglas Bush: So based on what I know, yes, we do have some, as you'd kind of expect, unique requirements for just exactly the kind of intel the Army needs sensing from space, for example, compared to the other services. So that's the kind of thing I was talking about with where we're seeking to I believe develop sensors and payloads that would go on satellites to make sure the Army's specific needs are covered. So yes.

Sandra Erwin: So potentially there would be a need for Army unique satellites?

Douglas Bush: Well, payloads. I can't speak to platforms. But certainly the Army approach is, you know, we need information gathered by satellites. So we want to make sure we're in a position to both get that so that's payloads and also have the ground part which is processing and disseminating which in some ways is more difficult. So I think that's our approach at this time.

Ellen Lovett: Matt Beinert, Defense Daily. Do you have another question for us? Matt?

Matt Beinert: Oh, hi. Yes. It's still coming through a little bit choppy on our end but I wanted to ask about the FLRAA down select decision. Are you able to confirm that is now I believed to be made in October? And if so, what was the maybe reasoning for pushing that out a bit from I believe the latest date was September? And then, you know, how from your perspective are you thinking about the kind of ramifications on the industrial base, you know, factoring in kind of this major decision with FLRAA and then, you know, soon, you know, a little bit further down the timeline of FARA, kind of the combined impact with those decisions on the industry? Thank you.

Douglas Bush: Sure, so that's an event-based decision. So the source selection activity is doing all the right things to make sure that is a process that is fair and accurate. So the exact timeline, I don't have a date, actually, an exact date, but we're still, the goal would still be end of fourth quarter 22 and perhaps early first quarter 23, fiscal 23. But I don't have an exact date yet so that is kind of the rough timeline we're looking at.

We always take industrial base broadly into account as we look at our overall, you know, portfolios -- in this case aviation, but the source selection authority is focused on making sure the Army's requirements are met for this platform. So, I think that is the key thing. We have to get that decision right and I'm confident we have source selection activity in place that’s going to get that right.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you. Marcus Weisberger on the line.

Marcus Weisberger: Hey, it's Marcus. I think you called on me. Just so you guys know since Mike Stone’s first question about Javelin, we haven't gotten a full complete answer without a cutting out. There's about at least five of us who I'm talking to right now -- we have not been able to hear so you can send out audio at the end just so we know we have, you know, accurate quotes that would be great.

The only question I have is to Laura's thing about the Hypersonic, question of the Hypersonic test that was the failure a few months back. Just when do you plan on testing again? Thank you.

Douglas Bush: Testing schedule is classified. But there will be additional tests. I hope that helps a little.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you, sir. Jared Serbu, Federal News Network.

Jared Serbu: Yeah, just go back to, you talk about transitioning programs and I don't know if you have numbers at your fingertips, but can you give us a little bit more on how much of that you expect to do? And also are those going to be largely what we would think of as pure IT systems or also the software aspects of more traditional platforms?

Douglas Bush: Sorry, I kind of missed the first part of the question which set up the second. Could you repeat, please?

Jared Serbu: Can you give some sense of the size or scale, number of programs that you’re, existing programs, that you're going to try to transition into software acquisition pathway? And then the second part, which I think you said you got was, how much of that is pure IT and how much of it is the software aspects of more traditional weapons systems.

Douglas Bush: So, well software acquisition pathway is something we're using for a lot of new programs we are starting. So it's not quite our, it's close to a default at this point for new software efforts because we think that's the most modern way to do software development. We think that's what industry’s approach is and we're getting a lot of encouragement from the Hill and others to pursue that approach for new things. The old things, it's not really necessary to shift formally from one pathway to another, in most cases. That's a lot of administrative activity. I think we end up doing de facto - meaning if we run into challenges with something we go into a spiral approach where we're doing iterative capability drops versus the big bang approach or we're taking what was planned like a big bang fielding and then going to split it out into separate capability drops as those things mature. I think we're able to do that without shifting pathways formally. So I think what I would call it as program schedule adjustments on software programs to move them closer to the way we like to do things, which would be under pathway would be, under software pathway it’s, you know, at least annual iterations.

Ellen Lovett: Thank you, sir. Davis Winkie, Army Times. Davis, can you hear me? Do you have a second question?

Davis Winkie: Okay, [inaudible].

Ellen Lovett: Davis, you're cutting out pretty badly. Can you start over?

Davis Winkie: No question, thanks.

Ellen Lovett: Okay, thank you. Great. I'm going to then move on. Ellee, did you change your mind? Do you have a question now?

Alright. Mike Stone, Reuters.

Mike Stone: Thank you. There's a bunch of us who have put our hands up in the queue [inaudible].

Ellen Lovett: I can see that.

Mike Stone: [inaudible] … The question has to do with Stinger. You made a trade [inaudible]  instead of going with Star Street or whatever the [inaudible] version of it, the redeveloped U.S. indigenous line. Can you take us inside the thinking behind that effort?

Douglas Bush: Well, I think you're referring to the Future Interceptor, so the, you know, missile that will replace Stinger in the future. Right now our approach there is a competition. When we put out the question to industry we got a lot of really good responses with high technology readiness levels. So my assumption right now is we were proceeding with a full up competition for that since we saw a lot of promising technology across the board.

Now at the same time, like right now, for example, we are, to replenish our stocks we are, you know, Stinger production for the United States back up. We are also looking at refurbishing some older Stinger missiles to make sure if we can add those to our existing inventories that'll help with stock levels. So I think we're right now doing both at the same time, which is - we will be producing Stinger missiles for some number of years while also starting a new development program for the missile that follows it.

Ellen Lovett: Brian, Aviation Week.

Brian: Can you talk about the Army's plan for high altitude ISR? You have a prototype that's been obviously very busy on the world with Artemis. What are some of the Lessons Learned you've had from there? And what are your plans going ahead in this realm?

Douglas Bush: So in terms of the requirement and need for that I’d refer you to the Army G2. General Potter would be the person you should talk to in terms of why she wanted that approach and why she thinks that's, you know, that's something we should focus on. From an acquisition standpoint I think it shows flexibility we have. Intel Aircraft are always often kind of small batch, special, special things. They often have different sets of packages depending on that mission. We need to be…. We need to have our acquisition approach in line with that reality. So I think we did that. I saw it done when I was in Congress. I saw it done during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, very effectively by the Army. So, I think we know how to do it, and I think that's an example of us doing early experimentation to understand a program to follow to move, kind of in that direction. But I'd refer you to General Potter to talk about the requirement if that’s okay.

Ellen Lovett: Great. Thank you. Tony Capaccio.

Tony Capaccio: Yes Mr. Bush. One quick IVAS question. Roughly, when will the final test report go onto the Hill? The test office told me a couple months ago, it'll be like September. And then what would be the way forward once the test report is done, assuming it's largely positive?

Douglas Bush: Well, I think your intel on the timing is roughly correct. That's my understanding - late summer, early fall for the formal reports. Of course, we don't have to wait for the formal reports to decide what to do. So I think those discussions are actively going on now based on emerging results and feedback we already received. So we're hoping to have our way forward

figured out in advance of the formal release of those things but informed by those reports and the information they provided.

Tony Capaccio: Can you give any sense of emerging results? Have any showstopper issues emerged with the use of the IVAS or has it met expectations roughly?

Douglas Bush: So I can broadly characterized the test as a good one in terms of we continue to you know, to find when you put it in hands of soldiers and you do an operational test you continue to find challenges. I'd put them into two broad categories. You know, there are still some technology issues with regard to the exact technology in the platform that need further improvement. I think we have a good system, it needs further improvement. There's also, because this is a wearable technology, there are kind of human factors engineering aspects of how it is on a soldier that we again learned what - good and bad - in terms of what they liked and what they didn't like and what was rather than just using the term liked or didn't like what was most helpful to them in accomplishing their missions. So I think there's further work to do to improve the system, but we saw a lot of positive things out of the test. So I think we're in a position where I'm encouraged but that final decision on exactly how we're going to move forward will be made by the Secretary, and I'm working on a recommendation with a lot of teammates in the Army on getting her our recommendation on how to do that.

Tony: Thank you.

Ellen Lovett: Okay, and we have just about five minutes left. Do we have one more question in the room? Ethan.

Ethan Sterenfeld: On the M777. Can you say, is the Army considering like truck-mounted howitzers? Will be a towed Howitzer to replace them? Or will it be, could it be something else?

Douglas Bush: So I need to check on what I can actually tell you because I think there are decisions that have been made on that, but what we replaced it with is really a requirements issue. So that's, that's really for….it's not an acquisition question. I will go procure what I'm told to procure. It's a broader, part of a broader discussion about the future of artillery that I think is underway. So I would refer you to others in the Army and let me see what we have that we can provide with regards to decisions made on what to replace what we've sent to Ukraine. Let me see what I can do.

Ellen Lovett: I think we might be able to get one more in.

Douglas Bush: That's fine.

Male Speaker: Thank you. Earlier, you were talking about, you know, potentially in the future repurposing the SMET. Are there any mission sets that you're pondering for that specifically?

Douglas Bush: Well, I think the work that's going on there is we're, like I said, experimenting with what you can put on that thing. So sensors come to mind. So something that does reconnaissance for example, in addition to just transport would seem to be a natural next step. The far end of what you can put on a ground platform or robotic platform is of course weapons. So that's a further down the line step I believe, but it's something that I think we are experimenting with, but there would be, of course, a lot of work to be done there on making sure you had human in the loop control of weapons platforms on a robotic thing. So I think sensor payloads, sensor or comms payloads are probably like a really good next thing to do on that platform, and I think there's some experimentation under way. We can link you up with a program office and they can give you the details on what they're doing.

Male speaker: Thank you.

Ellen Lovett: Sir, that's all the time we have for questions. Do you have any closing comments?

Douglas Bush: I don't. Thank you all for turning out. Sorry about the technical difficulties for the folks online. Let's see what we can do to help them out. Make sure they got the right answer so they don't just fill in what I said like Mad Libs…..what they think I would say.

Ellen Lovett: Yes, sir. Yeah, we have multiple audio recordings going on with our team and we will make sure that we get those sent out to the folks who joined us via Teams. Thank you all for joining us. I know that some of you may have some additional questions. Please feel free to follow up with Jamal Beck from ASA(ALT) via phone or email and this concludes today's events. Thank you so much. Thank you.