Nukes, $17 Billion, and a Possible Veto: Where the Draft NDAA is Headed Now

A select group of Senate and House lawmakers in the coming months will convene to hammer out a policy bill that dictates how the Pentagon conducts business in fiscal 2020, but defense experts differ on just how difficult the road ahead may be. There’s plenty for Republicans and Democrats to like in each chamber’s draft of the National Defense Authorization Act: a pay raise for troops, funding for some key readiness and modernization initiatives, measures to address water contamination in military communities, and more. But coming out of a House process that passed the lower chamber’s bill in a contentious, party-line vote, Congress faces weeks of possibly heated discussions about how much money to spend on defense and what exactly that funding should pay for. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

US Navy Shoots Down Iranian Drone as Pentagon Prepares Deployments to Saudi Arabia

Tensions continued to increase in the Persian Gulf as a Navy amphibious ship shot down an Iranian drone, and as the US reportedly prepares to deploy hundreds more personnel to Saudi Arabia. At about 10 a.m. local time on July 18, the USS Boxer was passing through international waters in the Strait of Hormuz when an Iranian drone approached and closed “within a threatening range,” according to a Pentagon statement. “The ship took defensive action against the [unmanned aerial system] to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew.” The shootdown is the latest in a series of flare-ups between the US, Iran, and American regional allies, including the downing of a Navy RQ-4 on June 20. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

SASC Sends Esper, Milley Nominations to Senate Floor

The Senate Armed Services Committee on July 18 approved the nominations of Army Secretary Mark Esper to be the new defense secretary and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, setting the nominees up for a floor vote. A vote on Esper is expected no later than July 24. The committee is also expediting its consideration of David Norquist, the pick to be the permanent deputy secretary of defense, with a July 24 hearing. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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Apollo 11 and the Air Force

July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s successful landing on the moon. Although the feat is considered a NASA accomplishment, the Air Force and USAF personnel played a crucial and indispensable role in the achievement. Early in the “space race,” NASA urgently needed a way to compete with the Soviet Union, and turned to the Air Force for its ride to orbit. While the first two astronauts in the Mercury program made their suborbital flights aboard Army Redstone rockets, Marine Corps Maj. John Glenn’s flight—the first in which an American orbited the Earth—was made atop the Air Force’s Atlas rocket, which was then being developed as an intercontinental ballistic missile. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Russia Offers Su-35 to Turkey in Lieu of F-35

Russia immediately offered its Su-35 to Turkey in the aftermath of the US announcement that Ankara is out of the F-35 program. The Kremlin-backed TASS news service reported July 18 that the government conglomerate Rostec is “ready to discuss the deliveries” of the Su-35, which began service with the Russian Air Force in 2015. Following the first deliveries of the S-400 air-defense system to Turkey on July 12, the White House and Pentagon announced Turkey has been removed from the F-35 program. Turkish personnel working with the jet are leaving the US, and all F-35 parts production inside Turkey will end. Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, told reporters July 17 that shifting Turkey’s piece of the supply chain costs $500 million to $600 million, though both the F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin are working to minimize the impact of the move. The process of “unwinding” Turkey from the F-35 program was announced long before the S-400 delivery, though the Turkish Defense Ministry claimed in a July 17 statement the US “does not rely on any legitimate justification.” —Brian Everstine

AFSPC Command Chief to be Dual-Hatted as US Space Command Enlisted Leader

CMSgt. Roger Towberman, the command chief master sergeant of Air Force Space Command, will be dual-hatted as US Space Command’s enlisted leader. Gen. Jay Raymond, who is also the commander of AFSPC and USSPACECOM, announced the move on Twitter on July 18, adding: “I look forward to serving with you.” In the position, Towberman will lead not only airmen under AFSPC, but also enlisted members from all services who are part of the component command focused on space. In his new role, he will have a hand in crafting the new standards and traditions that are part of the revival of USSPACECOM. —Brian Everstine

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Gaedecke to Become Electromagnetic Spectrum Czar After Spearheading Report

Brig. Gen. David Gaedecke will be the Air Force’s new electromagnetic spectrum superiority director starting in August, a service spokesman confirmed July 17. Gaedecke oversaw a yearlong enterprise review of the Air Force’s electronic warfare apparatus in 2018 that ultimately recommended such a position be created. Other main recommendations of the Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team review aimed to consolidate the Air Force’s many disparate spectrum dominance efforts into a single organization, and reinvigorate the “warrior ethos” in the Air Force for electronic warfare, which has atrophied since the service divested its dedicated stand-in electronic-warfare platforms more than 20 years ago. Gaedecke currently serves as cyberspace operations and warfighter communication director within the Air Force’s headquarters-level intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance office. —John A. Tirpak

VA-DOD Program Educates Transitioning Female Service Members on Health Resources

The Veterans Affairs and Defense departments are formalizing a program to educate female service members about the Veterans Health Administration support services available to them before they transition into civilian life or Reserve or Guard status. The Women’s Health Transition Training program, which began as an Air Force-only pilot program in July 2018, became an official VA program available to all the services starting this June. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.


The article "Air Force Begins Final Search for Next ICBM Builder" that ran online July 17 and in the July 18 Daily Report mischaracterized the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program as the first new intercontinental ballistic missile program since the 1960s. The Peacekeeper missile was in service from 1986 to 2005. GBSD will fully replace the Minuteman III missile, which entered service in the 1960s. We have corrected the original story.



OPINION: The Invisible Anniversary of the B-2 Bomber

“This week we’ll mark the 50th anniversary of the first men landing on the moon, a magnificent achievement that we still marvel at half a century later,” writes retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute. “July 17 marked another anniversary in the annals of aerospace history that is less well known, but of significant consequence for the security of our nation—the 30th anniversary of the first flight of the B-2 stealth bomber aircraft on July 17, 1989. Forbes

US Missile Warning Sats Fair Game If No New START

After nearly 50 years, the mutual US-Russian ban on interfering with early warning and reconnaissance satellites—fondly known as National Technical Means—will disappear if the Trump Administration abandons (as is likely) the bilateral New START treaty. Besides capping nuclear force levels, the New START treaty—like every other bilateral nuclear arms control treaty dating back to the early 1970s—includes a prohibition on interference with “national technical means of verification” known as NTMs. Breaking Defense

Air Force Satellite Communications Get More Resilient Signal

A new wideband communications satellite will give the Air Force more resiliency and a stronger signal from space according to a July 10 news release from the service’s 4th Space Operations Squadron. C4ISRNET

OPINION: Space Force’s Jupiter-Sized Culture Problem

“America’s space force is coming of age in a time defined by rapid technological innovation and experimentation,” writes Peter Garretson, an independent space and defense strategy consultant and the former director of Air University’s Space Horizons Research Task Force. “Moving forward will require risk-taking in systems and tactics development. That’s going to require a ‘can do’ culture. Are we up to it” War On The Rocks

Air Force Pilot Flies HH-60W for First Time

The 413th Flight Test Squadron successfully conducted the first Air Force-piloted flight of the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter July 11. The test took place at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach. USAF release

Vice. Adm. Mike Gilday Formally Nominated to be Next CNO

President Donald Trump officially nominated Vice Adm. Mike Gilday to be the 32nd Chief of Naval Operations on July 17, according to a Senate notification reviewed by USNI News. Gilday, a career surface warfare officer and a 1985 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, will replace outgoing CNO Adm. John Richardson, who is bound by law to step down from the position by Sept. 17. USNI News

Exclusive: US Gulf Maritime Proposal Not Military Coalition Against Iran – Pentagon Official

The United States is not aiming to set up a military coalition against Iran with its new security initiative in the Gulf, but simply “shining a flashlight” in the region to deter attacks on commercial ships, a top Pentagon official said. Reuters

Second Lightning Fighter Jet Squadron Arrives in UK

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster has welcomed the arrival of a second training squadron of state-of-the-art F-35 Lightning jets to RAF Marham, including the UK’s 18th jet. UK Ministry of Defence release

John Paul Stevens will be Buried Among Several Other Supreme Court Justices in Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington, just over the Potomac River from Washington, may be best known as the resting place of more than 400,000 service members, veterans, and their families, but it also has been a frequent choice of justices in recent years. Associated Press via USA TODAY

Air Force Junior ROTC, CAP Cadets Launch More Than 200 Rockets Over River Region

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Saturn V rocket that carried the Lunar Module “Eagle” launching from the Kennedy Space Center, the Air Force’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, the City of Montgomery, Civil Air Patrol and the US Space and Rocket Center, which is located in Huntsville, Alabama, joined forces as they sent more than 200 model rockets above River Front Stadium in Montgomery, Ala. USAF release

One More Thing

Air Force Warns Against Area 51 Assault Plans as Alien Memes Swamp the Internet

More than 1 million people have signed up to storm the US Air Force’s clandestine base in Nevada, commonly known as Area 51, this September in hopes of seeing "them aliens," but the service is cautioning individuals against participating.