New Plan for Space Exports

The Defense Department has recommended removing communications satellites that do not contain classified components from the US Munitions List as well as certain types of remote-sensing satellites, announced Gregory Schulte, Pentagon space policy chief, Wednesday. These moves will open up the door to international trade and potentially provide a much-needed boost to the US space industrial base, Schulte told reporters. The congressionally mandated Section 1248 report on space export control policy that the Pentagon and State Department released on Wednesday contains these recommendations, which would designate these satellite types as dual-use items and place them on the Commerce Control List. If Congress approves them, Schulte said they would "allow us to focus our control and enforcement on those technologies that are truly the most sensitive to our national security." The report clearly states that the United States should maintain strict controls on transfers of space-related items to countries such as China, Iran, and North Korea. "These countries aggressively seek and exploit technology from the United States and other technologically advanced nations," states the report. (Pentagon release) (Section 1248 report; caution, large-sized file.)

Countermove

Sierra Nevada announced that it filed a motion with the US Court of Federal Claims asking for judicial review of the results of the Air Force's commander-directed investigation into the Light Air Support program. "We believe it is important to the goals of transparency, a fair and open competition, and the integrity of the process that the court now review the results," said Taco Gilbert, Sierra Nevada's vice president of intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance business development. The company filed the motion on April 16. In December, the Air Force chose Sierra Nevada to provide 20 LAS airplanes to the Afghan air force. The Air Force subsequently withdrew the contract after realizing that its source-selection documentation was lacking in the face of the still-pending federal lawsuit filed by Hawker Beechcraft after the disqualification of the company's AT-6 aircraft at a late stage in the LAS competition. The Air Force announced on April 13 that part 1 of the CDI was completed. "Now that material information exists on this pivotal issue, so it is in the best interest of all parties that it be reviewed as a part of Hawker Beechcraft's continuing lawsuit," stated Gilbert. (See also Take Two.)

Check Your Coyness at the Door

House Armed Services Committee members aired their grievances on the President’s Fiscal 2013 budget request to the committee leadership during a public session. Proposed cuts to the Air National Guard topped the lawmakers’ concerns at Tuesday’s hearing on member priorities....

Extended-Endurance Reapers Unveiled

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems on Wednesday announced the near-term availability of two new extended-endurance configurations of its Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft. The first option optimizes the aircraft design for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, adding two fuel pods...

Tankers Avoid Storm Damage

Sixteen KC-135 tankers evacuated McConnell AFB, Kan., mere hours before tornadoes and hail struck the base, seeking shelter at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., on April 14. The 22nd Air Refueling Wing pulled its 10 tankers remaining on base into McConnell’s...

Check Your Math, Comrade

Russian government claims that the United States' ballistic missile defense presence in Europe is a threat to Mother Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent may be based, at least in part, on faulty Russian math, according to testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday by Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, Missile Defense Agency director. O'Reilly told the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense panel that MDA has supported the State Department with technical analysis as US diplomats have engaged their Russian counterparts. "The nature of our work has typically been when the Russian government claims that we are building capability to upset the strategic balance, we've been able to analyze that and provide them data to show that we are not," explained O'Reilly. MDA's analysis has included finding "where the errors are in their estimates, such as missiles flying faster than anyone's ever built, and so forth," he noted. (See also Rose-colored Glasses) (O'Reilly's written testimony)

Squared Away

The Air Force’s honor guard won the hard-fought Joint Service Honor Guard Drill Competition at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. “I think this was one of the best performances I’ve seen from our guys in the last two...

Britain’s First F-35 Takes Flight

BK-1, Britain’s first production F-35 strike fighter, left the ground for the first time, climbing away from Lockheed Martin’s facility at Fort Worth, Tex., announced the company. “Not only is this a watershed moment for the Joint Strike Fighter program,...

It’s Not a Cable TV Channel

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced a new project called C-SCAN that seeks to develop a small-sized component that would help missiles and other military hardware accurately navigate in environments where the Global Positioning System signal is denied. The...