Turkey Defies Pentagon Threats, Begins Receiving S-400
Turkey on July 12 began receiving components of the Russian-made S-400 missile system, a move the Pentagon has promised means Ankara will no longer receive the F-35. A Russian cargo aircraft delivered the first components of the system to a military base outside the Turkish capital. The long-expected delivery comes despite months of threats from the Pentagon, and will begin the process of “unwinding” Turkey from the F-35 program. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
House NDAA Passes Chamber Along Party Lines
The House of Representatives passed its version of the 2020 defense policy bill in a 220-197 party-line vote July 12, signaling that, at least this year, the bipartisan goodwill that typically accompanies the chamber’s annual National Defense Authorization Act is gone. No Republicans voted for the bill in the Democrat-controlled House, which now heads to the GOP-dominated Senate, where a conference committee will try to piece together a version that both chambers support. “220 votes is [the] lowest NDAA vote possibly ever,” American Enterprise Institute defense researcher Rick Berger said on Twitter. “Definitely since 1973, which is as far back as I’ve counted. Nothing below 250 votes except [fiscal 1988], which garnered 239. Not a good precedent for oversight of the armed forces.” Disagreements over how much to offer the military overall, the way forward on new nuclear weapons, and more spurred the unusual rift. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.
Judge Denies Oracle’s Complaint in DOD Cloud Case
The Pentagon’s path to award a $10 billion contract to Amazon or Microsoft to provide a department-wide military data cloud is nearly cleared, after a federal judge on July 12 denied a bid protest from Oracle. Senior Judge Eric Bruggink of the US Court of Federal Claims found that because Oracle could not meet certain criteria laid out in the Defense Department’s Joint Enterprise Department Infrastructure solicitation when it submitted its proposal, the company can’t claim the Pentagon is discriminating against it for other reasons. Last month, DOD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy told reporters the Pentagon expects to award a contract in late August, regardless of the protest’s outcome. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.
Lawmaker Optimistic DOD Agencies Can Deconflict Missile Defense Research
House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said he expects the Missile Defense Agency and the new Space Development Agency will learn to manage complementary—and possibly duplicative—research programs as they pursue missile-tracking sensors in space. “How exactly the development of the space sensor layer will be divvied up between MDA and the Space Development Agency will likely be finalized during the National Defense Authorization Act conference process, but I have confidence that the two agencies ultimately will work together and get this done,” Brooks said at a July 12 AFA Mitchell Institute breakfast on Capitol Hill. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.
US, “Five Eyes” Nations Finish Large-Scale Cyber Exercise
Military personnel from the US and the other “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing partner nations came together for a large-scale exercise focused on preparing for cyberattacks and keeping adversaries out of critical infrastructure. Cyber Flag 19-1, which was held June 21-28 at a Joint Staff facility in Suffolk, Va., included 650 personnel from across the Defense Department, along with representatives from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Raytheon to Upgrade B-52 Radars
Raytheon will provide a new active electronically scanned array radar system for the entire USAF B-52 fleet, the latest in a series of modernization efforts for the Stratofortress. The company announced July 11 it will develop the radar, based on AESA technology form the APG-79/APG-82 radar family used on aircraft such as the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet. The new radar systems will “ensure the aircraft remains mission-ready through 2050 and beyond,” with the first production batch expected in 2024, according to a company release. The new radar will help crews map and detect targets from a farther range, along with increase how many targets the B-52 can engage simultaneously, according to Raytheon. The B-52 has recently received upgrades such as the Combat Network Communication Technology kit, and Boeing in April received a $14.3 billion contract to sustain and modernize the B-52 and B-1. The service also is planning to replace the fleet’s engines, with companies such as GE Aviation and Rolls Royce offering off-the-shelf engines. —Brian Everstine
Military Family Advocates Urge Spouses to Look at Tech Sector
As the Defense Department adjusts to the digital age, another military community is trying to plug into the technology sector: spouses. Tech jobs offer flexible opportunities for a largely female group that sits at 24 percent unemployment and relocates 10 times more often than non-military families, panelists said at a July 11 event on Capitol Hill sponsored by Blue Star Families and the BSA Foundation. About 690,000 US military spouses worldwide face challenges when searching for jobs, obtaining professional certifications for careers like teaching and nursing, and convincing employers to hire members of the very transient cohort, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers found in 2018. Whether coding, consulting, or simply relying on technology to work remotely, digital natives and older spouses may have more options to learn new skills than they think. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.
The world has not seen a nuclear strike in combat since 1945. But a nuclear attack from an enemy—and potential US counter strike—is a scenario that’s drawing renewed attention from the Defense Department as the military prepares for the grim prospect of full-scale combat operations involving nuclear weapons. Military Times
Gen. Mark Milley said he fully supports the establishment of a Space Force and rejects the criticism that the new branch is just an “added layer of bureaucracy.” Space News
The four-engine airborne warning and control system plane touched down around 7:30 p.m. July 11 at Lincoln Airport. Lincoln Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Dave Engler says the six people on board escaped safely and the fire was put out within 15 minutes. Associated Press via WTOP
China and Russia’s intention to pursue hypersonic weapons lit a fire under the US military, forcing it to re-invigorate its own programs. But just how far the two rivals have come in their own programs and whether or not they can penetrate the United States’ missile defenses is a matter of debate. National Defense Magazine
Kim Jong-un has been formally named head of state of North Korea and commander-in-chief of the military in a new constitution observers said was possibly aimed at preparing for a peace treaty with the United States. Reuters
“Bottom line: no need to panic,” writes Mark Cancian, a former Force Structure and Investment Division chief in the Office of Management and Budget who now works as a senior adviser in the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ International Security Program. “The politics have not changed much, so the forces that allowed previous deals are still at work.” Breaking Defense
One More Thing
Man on the Moon
On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration is setting its sights on returning to the moon, and going far beyond. The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a crucial outpost for the US mission to relay astronauts to the moon in 2024, has had a slow start, but the initial module is now under contract. NASA is also working to send astronauts to the moon’s south pole region by 2024, an area thought to have potential for resources beneficial to deep-space exploration. Reuters