New Strategy for Space Launch Vehicles

The Air Force, National Reconnaissance Office, and NASA released a joint strategy establishing the guidelines for certifying new types of commercial rockets for government and national security space launches, including Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-class missions. The goal is to encourage new entrants into the market. "This strategy is the best balance of ensuring reliable access to space while encouraging competition and innovation in the launch industry," said Air Force Undersecretary Erin Conaton. "We are committed to providing a level playing field to all competitors in the interest of ensuring the best capability for our warfighters and the best value to the American public." Under the strategy, issued Oct. 14, each agency still will maintain the flexibility to determine its own mission-unique requirements. The Air Force is expected to publish a new guide laying out the process of reaching certified status. The new strategy follows an October 2010 letter to intent to collaborate on launch requirements and a memorandum of understanding in March on EELV-class launch vehicle acquisition. (SAF/PA report by Maj. Tracy Bunko)

Fraser Assumes Command of TRANSCOM

Gen. William Fraser took charge of US Transportation Command in a ceremony at Scott AFB, Ill., over which Defense Secretary Leon Panetta presided. Fraser became TRANSCOM’s 10th commander, replacing Gen. Duncan McNabb, who led TRANSCOM since September 2008. “Under General...

On the Road to the New Tanker

Approximately eight months into engineering and manufacturing development, progress has gone well on the KC-46A tanker program, said Air Force officials last week. Boeing and the service have established the baselines for the tanker’s cost, schedule, and technical performance, said...

NGREA Funding Makes a Difference

Equipment procured for Air Force Reserve Command units under the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account is making a difference in Afghanistan today and has saved lives, said Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner, Air Force Reserve chief. Fitting the Smart Multi-Function...

Dempsey Questions Affordability of Three F-35 Variants

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, said he is “supportive without caveat” of developing the F-35 strike fighter, but is concerned whether the nation “can afford all three” variants given the tightening defense budget. “Three variants create...

Go Back to the Requirement

A bipartisan group of House members urged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to reconsider the Pentagon's decision to reduce acquisition of the C-27J transport from 78 airframes to 38. "The C-27J is a highly capable, versatile, and cost-effective aircraft with lower acquisition and operating costs than rotary-wing aircraft and larger cargo airlifters," wrote the 12 lawmakers in their Oct. 11 letter advocating more than 38 C-27Js "in light of the current budget environment." The group is led by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.). They added, "We believe the C-27J is the most practical and affordable solution to our tactical airlift requirements." The validated National Guard requirement for these aircraft to support homeland defense in addition to national security roles "has not changed," they noted. Therefore, "the C-27J should be considered as an affordable, cost-effective option in future defense plans," they stated. Already, the first C-27J operational unit, the Ohio Air National Guard's 179th Airlift Wing, has deployed some of its aircraft to Afghanistan.

What’s Next for Manas?

The United States may be allowed to continue utilizing the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, even after the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan is complete in 2014, reported Bloomberg. “If the American government officially requests prolongation of our bilateral agreement,...

Continuing ISAF Involvement in Afghanistan

The UN Security Council unanimously voted last week to extend authorization of the 130,000-member International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan by 12 months until Oct. 13, 2012. Resolution 2011, passed on Oct. 12, also authorized ISAF to take all necessary...

Little Rock Restoration Nearly Complete

The clean-up of 15 acres of former skeet range on the grounds of Little Rock AFB, Ark., is scheduled to be completed this month. Workers have removed more than 36 million pounds of contaminated soil—enough to fill 450 semi trucks—during...