SDA Kicks Off Future Space Systems Research

The Space Development Agency is launching its first formal talks with industry about a new vision for military space, in the midst of unexpected leadership turnover and with its initial tranche of funding in the works. The agency will lay out its path forward for companies at a July 23 industry day at Aerospace Corp. in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Proposals for a network of satellites, payloads, and software are due two weeks later, on Aug. 5. The plan hinges on SDA’s ability to put a layer of small, mass-produced satellites in low Earth orbit that can pass along communications signals and other data around the clock before adding in other capabilities. A July 1 notice calls for the Pentagon to piggyback on private-sector investments and lease their services—high-level disagreements over which led the agency’s first director to resign last month. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Earthquakes Damage Edwards AFB Plant 42, Navy’s China Lake Base

Airmen at Edwards AFB, Calif., assessed damage at their base before going to help nearby NAWS China Lake after two major earthquakes struck north of Los Angeles on July 4 and 5. The quakes did not cause extensive harm to Edwards, though it did damage the tower at Plant 42, a NASA-Air Force operations, maintenance, and test facility. Edwards fire personnel helped in the initial response at the Navy base, which said over the weekend it is “not mission capable until further notice.” Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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Second Tanker Planning Software Project Enters Testing

New tanker allocation software that aims to make Air Mobility Command’s job easier is entering real-world testing this week, according to officials with the Air Force’s operational energy office. The project, called “Magellan,” follows an earlier initiative named “Jigsaw” that revamped the aerial refueling planning process at the Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid AB, Qatar. For less than $2 million, Magellan aims to automatically crunch data on how many airplanes the Air Force needs for training, deployments, and maintenance, plus where around the globe they are at the moment, and figure out accordingly where they should go next. Once platform and personnel data are matched up, then coders can move to automating how tankers are scheduled. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

AFRL, McConnell Studying KC-46’s Remote Vision System

The Air Force Research Laboratory this month will begin testing the KC-46’s Remote Visual System to help refine and improve a system that has caused extensive issues to the tanker’s delivery schedule and operations. The RVS—a series of cameras and sensors that a boom operator uses to refuel other aircraft—is the source of two major, “category one” deficiencies in the KC-46. AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing is working with about 20 boom operators from McConnell AFB, Kan., in a study to determine what specific improvements are needed. “It’s critical that we’re here working with them since they were the first base to receive the KC-46,” Steve Hadley, a 711th HPW official, said in a McConnell release. AFRL hopes to have results from the research within three weeks of testing. Will Roper, the service’s assistant secretary for acquisition, said in June that the Air Force and Boeing are working to create an upgraded RVS “within months.” However, it will take years for the system to become operational and to be installed onto aircraft, Roper said. —Brian Everstine

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US, Italian F-35s Fly Together for the Second Time

USAF F-35s deployed to Europe trained with Italian Air Force F-35s on July 2, the second time in the deployment that the two countries’ stealth fighters have flown together. Photographs from US Air Forces in Europe show American F-35s from Hill AFB, Utah, flying with Italian Joint Strike Fighters and Eurofighter Typhoons. The Hill jets, part of the 421st Fighter Squadron, arrived overseas in late May and are now flying out of Spangdahlem AB, Germany. Early in the deployment, the jets flew with Italy for the first time as part of the multinational Astral Knight exercise. USAFE Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Steven Basham said in an interview last month that flying alongside the Italians helps US pilots learn to collaborate in the high-end aircraft. —Brian Everstine



Despite Training Range Flaws, Red Flag-Alaska Challenged Pilots, Air Force Says

Despite ongoing issues with antiquated electronic warfare systems at the 67,000-square-mile Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, Red Flag-Alaska 19-2 was able to challenge the pilots who took part, according to the Air Force. Air Force Times

Turkey Stockpiles Crucial Weapons Parts, Anticipating US Sanctions

Turkey, girding for the worst despite encouraging messages from President Donald Trump, has stockpiled crucial spare parts for American-made weapons in case Congress sanctions it over a contentious Russian missile purchase. It’s unclear when the stockpiling decision was first taken, but Turkish officials say the preparations were made in anticipation of possible US embargoes. Bloomberg

Trump’s Fighter Jet Sale to Taiwan Advances Despite China’s Protests

The Trump administration’s plan to sell more than 60 new F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan is now moving forward after longer-than-anticipated negotiations, paving the way for a deal that is sure to prompt fresh protests from China only days after Washington and Beijing agreed to restart trade talks. Foreign Policy

Australia Tracks Chinese Warship Headed Toward US-Australia War Games

Australian defense officials said on July 8 they were tracking a Chinese surveillance ship that is expected to position itself just outside of its territorial waters to monitor military exercises between Australia and the United States. Reuters

Russia’s ‘Invulnerable’ Satan 2 Nuclear Missile Will Be Ready to Fire by the End of 2020, Space Agency Official Says

Russia’s latest nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile—which Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed can defeat all existing American defenses—will complete its testing phase by the end of 2020, the country’s space agency has announced. Newsweek

CNO Nominee Moran Will Retire from Navy Amidst Questions from SECNAV on Judgment

The admiral confirmed to lead the U.S. Navy starting next month will instead step aside from assuming the chief of naval operations job and retire, service officials confirmed to USNI News on Sunday night. USNI News

Pentagon Delays Big Changes to Post-9/11 GI Bill Transfer Rules

The Pentagon is delaying implementation of a new restriction that limits which service members can transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their spouses or children, according to a letter from the Pentagon to a member of Congress.

REPORT: Cybersecurity of NATO’s Space-Based Strategic Assets

Space-based architecture is fundamental to the provision of data and services in the context of NATO’s air, land, cyber, and maritime missions and operations. The critical dependency on space has resulted in new cyber risks that disproportionately affect mission assurance. Chatham House

LEGACY Youth Program Builds Interest in STEM Careers

An Air Force program designed to attract, inspire and develop the next generation of our nation’s scientific and technical workforce is underway at Hill Air Force Base. USAF release

One More Thing

Mysterious X-37B Military Space Plane Caught on Camera

Skywatcher and satellite tracker Ralf Vandebergh of the Netherlands recently caught a rare glimpse of the US Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane. Vandebergh said he’d been hunting for the robotic spacecraft for months and finally managed to track it down in May. But it took a bit longer to get photos of the vehicle.