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Water continues to cover parts of Offutt AFB, Neb., as the base recovers from a "500-year" flood that deluged one-third of the key strategic installation in March 2019. Staff photo by Rachel S. Cohen.

​Offutt Welcomes Promise of $19.1 Billion Disaster-Aid Package

OFFUTT AFB, Neb.—Nearly three months since a “500-year flood” washed over one-third of the crucial military base outside Omaha, Neb., 55th Wing officials are eager to put disaster-aid funding to use. Congress on June 3 approved a $19.1 billion supplemental funding package for disaster relief and recovery, which includes $1.7 billion for repairs at Air Force bases ravaged by a 2018 hurricane as well as flooding in March. The House’s 354-to-58 vote on Monday followed the Senate’s May 23 85-8 vote to approve the measure after months of partisan squabbling. President Donald Trump has said he would sign the bill. “It’s good news. Hopefully it doesn’t get hung up,” Col. Dave Norton, 55th Mission Support Group commander, said in a June 4 interview from the base, which is still partially submerged in water. “Hopefully [Trump] signs it and we’re off to the races.” The bill includes $1 billion in military construction funding and $670 million for operations and maintenance to cover expenses related to damages at Tyndall AFB, Fla., and Offutt. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Raymond: Re-Establishment of US Space Command Will Help US Maintain Advantage in Space

The United States is still the best there is in space, but its advantage is eroding as American adversaries actively work to counter US space-based capabilities while bolstering their own capabilities, USAF Gen. Jay Raymond, the nominee to re-establish and lead US Space Command, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 4. Raymond said that if confirmed his focus would be on deterring an attack on the US and its allies, defending US/allied interests, delivering “a space-enabled combat edge to the Joint Force,” and developing a warfighting mindset within the space community. He also noted that cooperation with allied nations will be more important than ever. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

HASC Readiness Subcommittee Targeting F-35 Sustainment Costs, Parts Shortages

The continued sustainment problems plaguing both the F-35 program and broader military readiness are a major focus of the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee, which is calling for limiting acquisition funding until the F-35’s issues are addressed. The mark, released June 4, would limit the funding for F-35 acquisition to 75 percent of the authorized amount until a report is submitted detailing the steps being made to improve the availability and accountability of F-35 parts. The Pentagon is requesting $11.2 billion for F-35 procurement in 2020, up from the authorized $7.6 billion in 2019. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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HASC Subcommittee Aims to Block Deployment of New Low-Yield Nuke

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee is moving to limit development of new nuclear weapons, including fully blocking the proposed low-yield warhead. The Pentagon in its Nuclear Posture Review, released in early 2018, called for development of a new low-yield, submarine-launched nuclear missile. The W76-2 already has begun production and the National Nuclear Security Agency expects to deliver it to the Navy by this fall. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Goldfein Assigns New Training Director, Deputy IG

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein on June 3 reassigned three high-level officers, including a new director of training and a new deputy inspector general. Maj. Gen. James Jacobson, currently the commander of the Air Force District of Washington, has been assigned to be the director of training and readiness for the deputy chief of staff of operations at Headquarters Air Force. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Hurlbert, the director of senior official inquiries for the Air Force Inspector General, has been assigned to be the deputy IG, according to a Pentagon release. Additionally, Col. Stewart Hammons, the commander of the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon AFB, N.M., has been assigned to be the director of expeditionary support at the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center.

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RADAR SWEEP


Lawmakers Want B-52 Re-Engining Details Worked Out Before Granting Funding
The U.S. Air Force wants to get new engines for its heavy B-52 Stratofortress bombers as quickly as possible to keep the long-range aircraft flying for another 30 years. But lawmakers are insisting that service officials nail down contract specifics before they provide funding. Military.com

Ramstein to Receive $700,000 for Base Improvements
Ramstein Air Base is set to receive a $700,000 prize to be used for base and quality of life improvements after winning Defense Department recognition for its performance. Stars and Stripes

Pentagon Turns to Coal Ash to Escape Chinese Dominance of Rare Earth Elements
The Senate Committee on Armed Services included a provision in its recent markup of the 2020 defense budget authorizing an increase in funding for the Pentagon to develop capabilities to produce rare earth elements from coal ash, the remnants of burned coal, as China threatens to restrict supplies. Washington Examiner

HASC to DOD: We’ll Do the Money, You Do a Tech Strategy
In a markup of the 2020 defense budget, the HASC tells the Pentagon to keep developing new tech but inform the Hill about how and where it might be used. Breaking Defense

A House Panel Wants to See These 5 Data Points on Electronic Warfare
A House defense panel is concerned about the Pentagon’s efforts to rebuild its electronic warfare capabilities. C4ISRNET

USSTRATCOM Commander Announces 2018 Omaha Trophy Winners
Gen. John Hyten, commander of US Strategic Command, announced the winners of the 2018 Omaha Trophies June 3. “This year’s winners distinguished themselves through tireless effort, hard work, and meticulous attention to detail. Of USSTRATCOM’s 162,000 warfighters critical to the security of our nation; this year you are first among equals,” Hyten said. STRATCOM release

Japan Ends Search for Crashed F35 Fighter Jet
Japan called off its search for an F-35A on Tuesday, almost two months after the stealth jet crashed into the sea sparking a scramble to recover the pilot and secrets onboard. Agence France Presse via Yahoo! News

Pratt & Whitney Awarded $3.2B for 233 F-35 Engines for U.S., Allies
Pratt & Whitney has been awarded a $3.2 billion contract to supply 233 propulsion systems for F-35 fighter jets to the United States and allies. UPI

State Department OKs Possible Sale of F-16 Fighters to Bulgaria
The US State Department has approved the possible sale of eight F-16 aircraft and related equipment to Bulgaria at an estimated cost of $1.67 billion, a Pentagon agency said on June 3. Reuters

One More Thing …

One of 12 Surviving Tuskegee Airmen Recounts His 43 WWII Combat Missions
God was Harry Stewart’s co-pilot. He swears by that. He survived 43 combat missions during World War II and is one of only a dozen remaining Tuskegee Airmen from the famed “Red Tails” fighter group still alive. Boston Herald