Deployed KC-10 refuels A-10s

Goldfein Defends USAF Decision to Retire Legacy Aircraft

Air Force leaders are urging members of Congress to sit down with them in a classified setting so they can better understand the service’s thinking behind its fiscal 2021 budget request, which once again attempts to retire a host of legacy platforms to free up funding for new technology. “Not surprisingly, of the services, the air and space forces have the largest classified portfolio of investment. This makes the story harder to tell,” Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told House legislators on March 3. “... Most of what we’re retiring is unclassified and visible, while many of our game-changing investments are classified and therefore invisible. ... When you see what we’re trading for, our budget submission will make perfect sense.”
F-16 Fighting Falcon receives fuel from KC-46 Pegasus

Congress May Intervene to Speed KC-46 Fixes

Lawmakers are beginning to weigh how the fiscal 2021 defense policy bill could help solve the KC-46 tanker program’s woes and speed its introduction into regular operations. Congress could dictate the terms of how Boeing should fix the tanker’s faulty remote vision system and how long that should take, as well as lay out possible repercussions like cutting the annual buy, withholding funding, or calling for a new tanker competition, according to Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), the top Republican on the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee. He said the company should dispatch its full cadre of scientists to come up with a hardware solution to the RVS issue, which shows a refueling boom operator a picture that can be too blurry to connect the boom to a receiving aircraft. Boeing should then test that fix using a “digital twin,” or software that lets testers vet parts on computers without installing them in real life, he said.
Air Warfare Symposium 2020

Space Force Official Hints at New Defensive Capabilities

Space Force Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson told lawmakers March 4 the service has started testing new tools built to defend American assets on orbit, possibly hinting at classified counterspace capabilities. “We began prototyping, and demonstrating, and preparing for what I’ll call abilities to protect and defend our assets, and we did that extensively in the budget in [fiscal 2020],” Thompson said at a House Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing. “In [2021], we are now taking steps to extend that across the fleet, as well as look at other capabilities to be able to continue to defend those assets that we have and defend adversary use of space.” That could mean anything from updates that shield satellites from signal jamming to something more offensive to target the source of a potential threat.
CDC coronavirus

Coronavirus Starts to Impact DOD

The novel coronavirus epidemic is starting to affect the Department of Defense on everything from recruitment to fighter production. Here’s a look at its impact so far and how the Air Force is proactively working to counter the spread of the virus within its ranks.
Deployed low-light KC-135 refueling mission

F-35 Full-Rate Production May Slip Again

Full-rate production may slip a little further as initial operational test and evaluation and the integration of the F-35 into a virtual wargaming environment play out, program executive officer Lt. Gen. Eric Fick said March 4. Granting Lockheed Martin's pitch to get a Performance-Based Logistics contract depends on its sharing of data, he added.
Milley at SASC

U.S. Aircraft Strike Taliban Fighters Shortly After Peace Deal

US aircraft targeted Taliban fighters who had attacked an Afghan military checkpoint on March 4, just days after a peace deal to end the war in Afghanistan was signed. The strike in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand province—the first against the Taliban in 11 days—came one day after the group conducted 43 attacks on Afghan National Defense and Security Forces checkpoints in Helmand alone, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement.

Radar Sweep

State Department Clears Potential $2.4B KC-46 Sale to Israel

Inside Defense

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the approved deal in a statement March 3. The potential sale involves the eight Boeing-made aircraft, as well as contractor support and parts including 18 Miniature Airborne GPS Receivers manufactured by Raytheon, according to DSCA.

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Nearly All the F-35 Jet Engines Ordered Last Year Arrived Late


Nearly all the engines ordered for the next-generation F-35 jet were delivered late last year as the Pratt & Whitney unit of United Technologies Corp. struggled to solve nagging difficulties with parts and suppliers, according to the Pentagon.

Offutt Crew Examining E-4B 'Doomsday Plane' That Made Emergency Landing in Lincoln

Omaha World-Herald

The Air Force jet, using call sign GORDO14, took off from Offutt Air Force Base shortly before 11 a.m. local time and was flying over southwest Iowa. Then it broke off toward the west over Nebraska City and flew to Lincoln, Neb., where it landed about 11:50 a.m. It was met by fire crews from the Nebraska Air National Guard, which operates from the airfield.

Pentagon Launches Hypersonic Industrial Base Study

Defense News

The Defense Department has launched a deep dive study into the industrial base for hypersonic weapons, in order to understand the weak spots in America’s drive towards the high-speed offensive and defensive technology.

The Pentagon Wants a Mix of Hypersonic Weapons. Here’s Why

Boost-glide hypersonic weapons have a longer range. Air-breathing cruise missiles are smaller and configurable for a wider range of platforms, such as bombers or fifth-generation fighters. The Defense Department is looking for a complementary mix of both as it pursues new hypersonic technologies for its arsenal, according to top officials.

General Officer Announcements

DOD release

President Donald Trump announced the assignment of several key general officer positions, including a new deputy commander of Pacific Air Forces, director of staff, and head of Alaskan Command.

Proposed Law Would Eliminate Benefits Deduction for Military Retirees with Combat-Related Injuries or Illnesses

Military Times

The Major Richard Star Act, HR 5995, seeks to eliminate a legal provision that prevents some retired veterans from simultaneously collecting two types of federal monetary benefits, referred to as “concurrent receipt.” More than 200,000 medically retired veterans with disabilities currently “have their military [retirement] pay offset or reduced dollar-for-dollar” by the amount of their disability compensation, according to the Congressional Research Service. This bill would affect one-fifth of these retirees.

Defense Department Linguist Charged with Espionage

Justice Department release

Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, formerly of Rochester, Minn., was charged March 4 in Washington with transmitting highly sensitive classified national defense information to a foreign national with apparent connections to Hezbollah.

Faster Acquisition

Air Force Magazine

The Air Force is leveraging emerging technologies and new legislation to accelerate acquisition decisions and streamline sustainment. Read more here.