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The Air Force cannot afford to increase the size of its bomber enterprise, so as the new B-21 bomber comes online, it must divest some of the legacy bombers. Here, a B-52 Stratofortress, B-1 Lancer, and B-2 Spirit fly over Guam after launching from Andersen AFB, Guam, for an integrated bomber operation Aug.17, 2016. Air Force photo by SrA. Joshua Smoot.


USAF to Retire B-1, B-2 in Early 2030s as B-21 Comes On-Line

The B-1 and B-2 bombers will retire more than a decade earlier than previously planned under the Air Force’s new Bomber Vector, a roadmap which also calls for re-engining and upgrading the B-52 so it can continue to serve into the 2050s. A draft of the bomber plan obtained by Air Force Magazine says the change is driven by the need to keep manning of the bomber enterprise to almost current levels, as the service doesn’t anticipate a big influx of new people. The B-1 and B-2 will have to give way to new B-21 stealth bombers because Air Force Global Strike Command wouldn’t have enough people to fly and maintain all four types. The B-52s, however, would be kept in service because they are comparatively easier and less costly to maintain than the newer bombers. They also can carry new stealth cruise missiles, and, in an uncontested battlespace, can employ a wide variety of munitions in large quantities. The Air Force expects the new bombers to take the place of the old ones at existing bomber bases, but the service sees the need for a massive infusion of military construction at those facilities to make them ready for the B-21. The new bomber will need secret new repair facilities and likely climate-controlled spaces for its exotic stealth materials. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

DOD to Release Fiscal 2019 Budget Before 2018 Spending Approved

The Defense Department on Monday will roll out its Fiscal 2019 budget before its Fiscal 2018 budget is officially in place. The move comes on the heels of enactment of another temporary spending measure following a brief government shutdown Friday morning. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.

Air Force Releases Draft RFP for New A-10 Wings

The Air Force on Thursday released a draft request for proposals for rewinging the rest of the A-10 fleet, with the plan to speed up the acquisition process “to the maximum extent possible.” Potential contractors have until Feb. 23 to submit comments on the requirements, according to the posting. The final RFP is expected to be released in April with a contract award announced in March 2019, according to documents posted online. The Air Force said last month that the rewinging program will continue and that plans were in place to establish a new production line at a cost of $103 million in 2018. The Air Force has a total of 281 Warthogs in its fleet and it has already rewinged 171 under a contract with Boeing that dates back to 2007. However, that contract ended “for cost and other reasons,” Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Holmes said in January, and the service now plans to award a new contract to finish the fleet.  —Brian Everstine   

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What’s Next for SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy?   

SpaceX captured the world’s attention last week as its massive Falcon Heavy rocket boosted a Tesla Roadster into space. But the mission was more than just a genius marketing strategy, the Falcon Heavy could potentially change the way National Security Space payloads are launched in the future. Read the full story by Amy McCullough and Gideon Grudo.

DIUx Making Big Impact in Middle East Air Wars

There are multiple streams of information from a variety of sources coming into the Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid AB, Qatar, and the old ways of processing the information—white boards and PowerPoint slides—were neither efficient nor effective. That's where the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, came in. The  technology hub has developed and quickly deployed about six programs to the CAOC, most of which reached initial operational capability within the last year and are saving airmen a lot of time. Read the full story by Jennifer Hlad who recently visited Al Udeid.

DOD Says Air Force Academy Didn't Comply with Sexual Assault Policy

In an annual report evaluating sexual harassment and violence at military service academies, DOD reported the Air Force Academy was only in "partial compliance" with its victim assistance efforts in the last year. To address its shortfall, the Air Force is bringing on eight sexual assault prevention and response officers to “ensure proper oversight and management of the [sexual assault prevention and response] office,” USAFA wrote Air Force Magazine by email. Combined, the Air Force Academy, the US Military Academy, and the Naval Academy received 112 reports of sexual assault during the 2016-17 academic year, up from 86 the previous year. Of the three service academies, the US Military Academy had the largest increase in reports, nearly doubling from 26 to 50. The USAFA had 33 reports, while the USNA had 29. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.


Boeing Gets New Massive Ordnance Penetrator Contract

The Air Force on Thursday awarded Boeing a $20.9 million contract for an unknown number of the heaviest bomb in the Air Force’s arsenal. The contract for GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrators is the result of a sole-source acquisition, with procurement expected to be complete by July 31, 2020, according to a Defense Department announcement. The Massive Ordnance Penetrator is a GPS-guided 30,000-lb bomb that is only carried by the B-2, designed to penetrate hardened, deep targets. It carries a 5,300-lb high explosive, which is smaller than the warhead on the Air Force’s most powerful bomb, the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast, often referred to as the “Mother of All Bombs.” Boeing first received a contract in 2009 for aircraft integration of the MOP. The Air Force has recently upgraded the bomb to improve its penetration capabilities, according to the Pentagon’s Department of Test and Evolution 2018 report to Congress released last month. —Brian Everstine

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RADAR SWEEP


—Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein visited Andersen AFB, Guam, Feb.7-8 for the first time as the service’s top uniformed officer, meeting with airmen deployed as part of the Air Force’s continuous bomber presence. Goldfein emphasized that the airmen’s job in the Pacific is to “be ready” and their “readiness is the greatest deterrent:” USAF release.

—Aircraft and airmen are in the middle of exercise Red Flag 18-1, which kicked off Jan. 26 and runs until Feb. 16 at Nellis AFB, Nev. Aircraft participating include F-22s, F-16s, B-1s, KC-135s,  Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons, among others: USAF photos.

— The Air Force on Feb. 6 announced a new effort to protect personally identifiable information, blocking emails that contain such information and similar numeric constructs unless the email is encrypted: AETC release.

—President Trump on Friday nominated Adm. Harry Harris, current commander of US Pacific Command, to be the next ambassador to Australia. Harris has commanded PACOM since 2015: White House release.

—President Trump has nominated Col. John J. Allen, Air Force Materiel Command director of staff, for appointment to the rank of brigadier general: DOD release.

—Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has announced several general officer assignments: DOD release.