Daily Report

May 4, 2021

Make-or-Break Time for the F-35

Despite solid combat performance, the F-35’s high maintenance costs and ongoing parts supply problems continue to be a drag on the fifth-generation fighter aircraft, giving critics ammunition as Congress readies to receive the Biden administration’s first budget. Lockheed Martin is delivering F-35s at a rate of roughly 11 a month—about five of which go to the Air Force—and largely on schedule. Operators seem satisfied with its combat performance. But parts problems, engine support issues that will take years to correct, and an evolving performance-based logistics concept suggest a program overhaul may be coming, once the Biden administration installs its new defense acquisition team.
Maj Gen DeAnna Burt Speaks at Ceremony

Space Force, SPACECOM Working on New Communication Strategy to Fight Overclassification

U.S. Space Command and the Space Force are working on new ways to openly discuss their capabilities in orbit, to get around the lingering overclassification problem leaders have criticized while also ensuring the military can maintain deterrence against adversaries who are improving their own capabilities in orbit. Top leaders of the Space Force, SPACECOM, and elsewhere in the Pentagon have repeatedly said the overclassification of space systems has been problematic, especially in the area of deterrence. Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt, the commander of SPACECOM’s Combined Force Space Component Command and deputy commander of Space Operations Command in the Space Force, said May 3 that the organizations are determining a new strategy for what can be announced publicly. “If I can’t talk about what I have to hold your capabilities at risk, then I really can’t deter,” Burt said during a Mitchell Institute Space Power Forum.
Travis AFB is delivering life-saving COVID aid to India

C-5Ms, C-17 Continue to Airlift COVID-19 Aid to India

Air Force airlift of aid to India continued in recent days, with three C-5Ms and one C-17 delivering COVID-19 testing kits, protective masks, and oxygen to the country. The third aircraft was set to arrive May 3, with another set to arrive the next day, Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby said during a May 3 briefing. “Once all four missions are complete, four aircraft will have delivered tons of very needed critical supplies,” he said. U.S. Transportation Command said on Twitter that the deliveries included more than one million N95 masks, more than 440 oxygen cylinders, and more than 1 million rapid diagnostic test kits.
SeymourJohnsonKC-46

Seymour Johnson Receives USAF’s 45th KC-46

The 916th Air Refueling Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, on April 30 received the Air Force’s 45th KC-46 Pegasus. Boeing had missed multiple deadlines to deliver the tanker in the weeks beforehand. The KC-46, tail number 18-6055, brings the wing’s total fleet of KC-46s to six, the wing announced. The delivery means the Air Force has accepted three of the aircraft so far this year. It was the first delivery since early February.

Raytheon Awarded $228 Million OCX 3F Contract

Raytheon Intelligence and Space on April 30 received a $228 million contract for the Global Positioning System Next-Generation Operational Control System Follow-On from Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center. Known as OCX 3F, the program builds on ground control station improvements made in Blocks 1 and 2, now planned for delivery in 2022. This includes better cybersecurity, improved anti-jamming capability, and enhanced signal strength and accuracy, as well as the ability to connect to more satellites and shrink operations crew sizes.

Radar Sweep

Biden’s Air Force Pick Would Inherit Weapon Programs in ‘Dire’ Shape

Washington Examiner

President Joe Biden’s nominee for Air Force Secretary, Pentagon veteran Frank Kendall, has a tough job ahead of him. If confirmed, the former top military buying official would immediately inherit a slew of over-budget and behind-schedule weapon programs that would require him to secure funding to salvage them despite decades of questionable management of taxpayer funds.

OPINION: Welcome To The Air Force, Mr. Kendall: Here Are 5 Top Action Items

Forbes

“The Department of the Air Force could not have received a better pick for its new top civilian leader. Frank Kendall is a defense professional of the highest order. He has decades of experience in national security affairs in private industry, government, and the military. Some in the Air Force are concerned with his reputation as critical of several Air Force programs when he served as under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. If confirmed as the new Secretary of the Air Force, I believe he will see a different perspective and will quickly conclude that the Air Force is in dire straits having been assigned more mission than the resources it has available to accomplish them,” writes retired Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

PODCAST: The Merge

Mitchell Institute’s The Merge podcast

The third installment of “The Merge” introduces Matthew Donovan, the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies’ new lead for its Spacepower Advantage Research Center, and explores his take on the challenges and opportunities facing the Space Force and U.S. Space Command. The Mitchell team also explores new trends that are emerging in the air-to-ground munition realm—a very dynamic field given the return of peer competition.

SPONSORED: Data Security and Real-time Data Sharing Co-exist to Support ABMS

Air Force Magazine

Driving the success of every mission is one key factor: knowledge. More complete, timely information leads to better, faster decision making, and sharing vital data is crucial to the success of joint and multi-domain operations. But as cyber is now one of the most used threat vectors, balancing the need for access to data with the realities of the threat environment requires vigilance and agility. In the first article of this three-part series, we looked at the obstacles to enterprise-wide, multi-domain data access, and how Elastic enables near real-time answers from data wherever it is stored. Now, in part two, Elastic looks at the critical issues of security, and how the ability to analyze data enterprise-wide can also support smarter responses to cyber threats.

Fighter Wings Try a Fresh Approach to Combat Maintenance

Air Force Times

Two Air Force fighter jet wings are the first to try a new approach to maintenance that aims to improve quality of life for the crews that keep the service’s premiere planes running, while also pushing the envelope of what those jets can accomplish in combat.

Will DARPA Build a Nuclear Space Force?

The Motley Fool

Space is big. Like big enough to boggle the mind. … This vastness of space poses problems for our astronauts, both logistical (time to resupply anyone sent to Mars) and existential (time astronauts will spend being bombarded by radiation while en route to and from Mars). To help NASA solve these problems, DARPA wants to build faster spaceships—nuclear-powered spaceships.

Pentagon Chief Calls for ‘New Vision’ for American Defense

The Associated Press

In his first major speech as Pentagon chief, Lloyd J. Austin III on April 30 called for developing a “new vision” for American defense in the face of emerging cyber and space threats and the prospect of fighting bigger wars. Reflecting President Joe Biden’s promise to put diplomacy first in dealing with foreign policy problems, Austin said the military should provide leverage that diplomats can use to prevent conflict. His comments suggested a contrast with what critics call the militarization of U.S. foreign policy in recent decades.

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Air Force Lands Huey on Tokyo Golf Course’s Helipad for First Time in 40 Years

Stars and Stripes

Golf balls whizzed harmlessly below a UH-1N Iroquois on May 1 as the helicopter circled over a golf course used by the U.S. military in western Tokyo. The Huey, from the 459th Airlift Squadron out of nearby Yokota Air Base, Japan, touched down on a giant white “H” beside a driving range. The emergency landing zone test marked the first time an aircraft had landed there in four decades, according to the Air Force.