Esper Milley Testimony Feb. 26

Budget Hearing Forecasts Battle Over Aircraft Retirements, Border Spending

Lawmakers on Feb. 26 signaled a harsh fight ahead over the Pentagon's plans to retire aging aircraft and shift spending from weapons systems to border wall protection. The Defense Department’s total $705.4 billion fiscal 2021 request looks to retire dozens of USAF aircraft. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley in their first testimony on the fiscal 2021 budget request attempted to persuade the House Armed Services Committee these decisions are needed to be ready for future conflict. “There’s a fundamental issue at stake here, and it’s coming up in a lot of areas, whether it’s tankers, maritime, ships, whatever it is. It’s a question of divest to invest,” Milley said.
Air Force leadership conducts privatized housing tour at Barksdale

Esper, Service Secretaries Sign Tenant Bill of Rights

Top Pentagon leaders signed the Military Housing Privatization Initiative Tenant Bill of Rights on Feb. 25, codifying steps to empower service members and families residing in homes owned by private landlords. The document, mandated by the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, comes after a slew of problems in military housing, including mold, fire code noncompliance, vermin, and other issues. The bill of rights goes into effect May 1.
45th SW supports Starlink launch

Space Force Preps for 49 Launches at Cape Canaveral

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.—The Space Force’s 45th Space Wing here is gearing up for a hectic 2020 schedule that could entail launching at least one rocket a week almost all year. Until recently, the wing’s “Drive to 48” slogan focused on becoming able to host 48 launches in a single calendar year, only stopping for four weeks to do system upgrades. Patrick and the launch pads at its neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station handled 19 launches in 2019. Wing commander Brig. Gen. Doug Scheiss said his Airmen could handle as many as 51 events this year if more are added later. The wing’s new motto, “Set the pace for space,” reflects that responsiveness is more important than sheer numbers.
MQ-9 Reaper in flight over the NTTR

Abrupt End to MQ-9 Production Surprises General Atomics

A General Atomics official said the company is surprised by the Air Force’s plan to stop buying new MQ-9 Reapers in fiscal 2020, after expecting to gradually wind down the production line. Chris Pehrson, General Atomics' vice president of strategic development, told Air Force Magazine he anticipated the service would phase out purchases of its iconic hunter-killer drone over the next three to five years as the Air Force approaches the planned end of the 363-aircraft program. Instead, USAF revealed in its fiscal 2021 budget request that it wants to buy its last 24 Reapers this year, cutting the total buy to 337 MQ-9s. Those final Block 5 aircraft will be delivered in 2023 and 2024.
dod advisory boards

The Wide-Reaching Impact of DOD’s New Ethical Principles of AI

Think of the Defense Department’s new list of Ethical Principles for Artificial Intelligence as a starting framework to help guide the thinking of people who will ultimately make the hard decisions: what’s right or wrong, then how to teach a machine to tell the difference. In a special public lecture Feb. 25 at the University of Colorado, Mark Sirangelo, a member of the Defense Innovation Board, offered his own views on the new principles, presenting the lecture in a private capacity as part of his faculty role as entrepreneur scholar in residence.
AEHF-5 Successfully launched

Cape Canaveral Wants Companies to Help Pay for Range Updates

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.—Space Force officials here want federal lawmakers to tweak spending rules so the military can use money from private companies to pay for infrastructure changes to the launch range at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. “We're going to have to come up with ways that the launch providers can also help us out,” 45th Space Wing commander Brig. Gen. Doug Scheiss told Air Force Magazine in a Feb. 24 interview here. “They get a pretty good deal from being able to lease our facilities and the things that we do with them, but it's very difficult [when] they go, 'Hey, I'd like to be able to help out with that.'”

Radar Sweep

Air Force to Pump New Tech Startups with $10M Awards

Breaking Defense

The Air Force will roll out the final stage in its commercial startup investment strategy during the March 13-20 South By Southwest music festival, granting one or more contracts worth at least $10 million to startups with game-changing technologies, service acquisition chief Will Roper says.

Air Force Announces Vanguard Program Executive Offices

USAF release

Vanguard programs will rapidly advance emerging weapon systems and warfighting concepts through prototyping and experimentation. The PEOs for these first three programs are: Golden Horde—PEO Weapons; NTS-3—PEO Space and PEO Agile Combat Support; and Skyborg—PEO Advanced Aircraft.

Arms Control Decisions by Trump Administration Could Be ‘Imminent.’ Will China Be Involved?

Defense News

With a major arms control agreement between the U.S. and Russia set to expire next February, members of the nonproliferation community have been watching for signs that negotiations may begin in earnest. For those observers, some welcome news: Movement on the Trump administration’s arms control plan is “imminent,” according to a senior defense official familiar with internal administration discussions. However, what that looks like appears to be up in the air: a short-term extension of the New START agreement with Russia; something that involves nuclear-armed China; a combination of those two; or all parties walking away entirely.

Thousands of Wright-Patt Jobs Will Open in Coming Years

Dayton Daily News

Even as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, adds missions and units, a sizeable slice of its working population is approaching retirement age. Considering all base units, 41 percent of the base’s civilian workforce will be eligible to retire within five years, said Jessica Salyers, director of special programs and projects at the Air Force Research Laboratory, part of a team overseeing 6,400 skilled science and engineering employees working with a $5 billion annual budget.