Daily Report

June 11, 2021

F-35 Production Will Take Longer than Expected to Recover from COVID

Delays from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect F-35 production, and contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. will take longer than expected to make up jets that were not delivered on time in 2020, said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager for the fighter, on June 10. Lauderdale declined to comment on whether the price of the jets could be held at just under $80 million each for the Air Force's version of the fighter, saying a new production deal is under negotiation and should be closed by the end of September.

Allvin: Old Iron Whittling Down Air Force Readiness

Being forced to keep old aircraft is eroding the Air Force's attempts to build up its readiness, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin told the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee. He also said a host of efforts to fill USAF's pilot deficit are under way, including, among others, a fast-track training program for qualified civilian pilots to become USAF pilots and shifting to civilian instructors for simulator training.

Milley: A-10 Cut is an ‘Acceptable Risk’

The Air Force’s plan to cut 42 A-10s but retain the bulk of its fleet is an acceptable amount of risk and necessary as the military looks ahead to more survivable capabilities, said Gen. Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Air Force’s fiscal 2022 budget request calls for cutting the current A-10 fleet from 281 aircraft to 239—the latest attempt to divest the venerable Warthog, which the Department says is aging and not relevant to a future, high-end fight. Milley, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that while he’s “personally a very big fan” of the aircraft, the risk is acceptable as the budget represents only a “modest decrease in the number of A-10s.”
kendall confirmation hearing

SASC Advances Kendall’s Nomination to be Secretary of the Air Force

The Senate Armed Services Committee on June 10 advanced the nomination of Frank Kendall to be the next Secretary of the Air Force, setting him up for a floor vote soon. Kendall, who served as the No. 3 in the Pentagon during the Obama administration as the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics, was picked for the job in April. During his May 25 nomination hearing, Kendall said he wanted to return to the Pentagon because of his concerns about China’s rapid modernization.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III briefs the press

Pentagon Won’t Commit to Air Support for Afghans After Withdrawal

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on June 10 would not say whether the U.S. military will still conduct airstrikes in Afghanistan to defend population centers after the retrograde completes this summer, but the Pentagon is pursuing ways to base surveillance and strike aircraft closer to the country. Austin, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, told lawmakers the mission that U.S. troops had in Afghanistan, to prevent attacks on the American homeland, has “been accomplished” and that now the Pentagon’s job is to move people and equipment out of the country. “We continue to provide support to the Afghan security forces as we retrograde,” he said. “Once we have completed our retrograde, that will be very difficult to do because our capabilities will have diminished in country.”

Radar Sweep

Sustaining and Modernizing Ballistic Missile Operations Forum

AFA release

Tune in for the Air Force Association’s free professional development forum on sustaining and modernizing ballistic missile operations featuring guest speakers Gen. Timothy M. Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command; Maj. Gen. Anthony W. Genatempo, commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, and many more. The live virtual forum will be held from 10:00 a.m.-1:45 p.m. on June 14.

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Two Plead Guilty to Fraud in Air Force Housing Contract, US Says

Reuters

Two former employees of Balfour Beatty Communities, one of the U.S. military’s largest private landlords, have pleaded guilty to fraud for helping the company secure millions in bonuses while covering up poor housing conditions at several Air Force bases, the Department of Justice announced.

There Will Be 450 F-35s in Europe by 2030, NATO Commander Says

Military.com

U.S. and other NATO allies could have 450 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters stationed in Europe by 2030, the general in charge of U.S. European Command said June 9. Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, who is also NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, said during an Atlantic Council discussion that the coalition is continuing to build its fifth-generation fighter capability.

Air Force Launches New Digital Transformation Office

FEDSCOOP

Air Force Materiel Command, the force’s major command in charge of buying and sustaining airplanes and weapons, has opened a new office to work on digital transformation across the Air and Space Force acquisition enterprises.

Pentagon Budget 2022: US Space Force Expanding M-Code GPS Capability

Janes

The US Space Force is eyeing fiscal 2022 as the window for service officials to make large strides in the development and integration of Military Code (M-Code)-enabled global positioning system capabilities into fixed-wing and maritime surface warfare combatants. Space Force acquisition officials requested $434.1 million for Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) development, testing, and fielding as part of the service's FY 2022 budget request. The request represented a $94 million increase over the service's FY 2021 spending proposal of $340.7 million for MGUE research and development, according to the FY 2022 budget justification documents.

VA Benefits Backlog Likely Won’t be Fixed Until Late 2022

Military Times

The number of backlogged veterans disability claims has been cut by about 10 percent in recent weeks but likely won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until late 2022, Veterans Affairs officials acknowledged June 10. And they warned that number could grow again if Congress passes pending legislation granting new disability benefits to tens of thousands of veterans exposed to burn pits while serving overseas in the recent wars. As of this week, about 191,000 disability claims were considered backlogged, meaning they have been pending for four months or more.

Sen. King Urges ‘Reimagining Conflict’ on Eve of Cyber Nominees Hearing

Breaking Defense

The newly created national cyber director should immediately create a “declarative policy” clearly telling adversaries what they risk should they launch cyberattacks against the U.S., Sen. Angus King, who co-chaired the commission which recommended creation of the post, said today. “We have to reimagine conflict,” King said. “I can’t tell you how serious I think this problem is. If there are not consequences for people doing this, then they’ll keep doing it. It’s almost impossible to overstate this risk.”

DARPA’s Newest System Kills Drones with Stringy Streamers

C4ISRnet

After successful tests, the Pentagon’s emerging technology research arm finished work on an anti-drone system that can shoot strings of streamers into the propellers of threatening drones, causing them to fall from the sky. The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency is looking to transfer the technology to a program of record through various service acquisitions programs, the office announced June 7.

One More Thing

AFWERX Agility Prime Partners with Kitty Hawk in First Medevac Exercise with Electric Aircraft

USAF release

In the program’s first exercise, a diverse group of industry and government operators, engineers, and test professionals assessed the ability to do medical evacuation, personnel recovery, and logistics with Kitty Hawk’s Heaviside electric vertical takeoff and landing, or eVTOL, aircraft. The Kitty Hawk team also demonstrated Heaviside’s remote flying capabilities. “The world is going to need new modes of transportation and Heaviside is one path to getting us there,” said Sebastian Thrun, Kitty Hawk CEO. “We are excited to be working with Agility Prime and look forward to our continued collaboration as we bring eVTOLs to more people.”