Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman is sworn in as the first Senior Enlisted Advisor to the U.S. Space Force.

Space Force Accepting Applications Starting May 1

Want to be one of the first military members to volunteer to join the Space Force? Your 30-day window of opportunity starts May 1. “I know 30 days isn’t a long time, which is why we’re trying to get out in front of it,” Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, the Space Force’s top enlisted officer, said April 16. "It’s a life-changing decision, a life-impacting decision for you and your family, so we want you to get it right.” Applications are open to anyone in the Defense Department, not just Air Force personnel who already control satellites and manage rocket launches. Those who sign up are locked in for two years beginning in September, though Towberman said they could make exceptions.
AGM-129

Raytheon Prevails on LRSO, Lockheed Out

More than a year ahead of schedule, the Air Force has picked Raytheon Technologies' version of the stealthy, nuclear Long-Range Standoff Missile to continue in development, ending Lockheed Martin's involvement in the program. While not a contract award, the move allows USAF to shift some funds into the risk-reduction phase and possibly accelerate some work, including flight tests. Raytheon said they had recently concluded a preliminary design review on its version of LRSO, which will replace the nuclear AGM-86B Air-Launched Cruise Missile beginning in about 2030.
Ellen Lord briefing

Virus Threatens Months-Long Delays for DOD’s Top Weapon Programs

The Pentagon’s top acquisition official anticipates the military will see a three-month setback across its major defense acquisition programs as the coronavirus pandemic throws contractors and program officials off their usual rhythm. “We do anticipate about a three-month slowdown at slower rates in terms of execution than we saw before, and we are just now looking at key milestones that might be impacted,” DOD acquisition chief Ellen Lord said. Hundreds of the Defense Department's prime contractors and vendors are closed due to the pandemic, according to DOD. Lord said the Pentagon's wish list for the next round of congressional stimulus legislation is heading to the Office of Management and Budget for review.
Fueling the tanker

USAF Looks at Long-Term Impacts of Extended Stop Movement Order

The Defense Department's newly extended travel ban provides additional leeway to bring troops home from deployments, as Air Force officials try to figure out how to meet the service's highest priority needs if the ban is extended yet again. The policy change loosens guidelines for waivers aimed at operational deployments and redeployments, recruiting and basic training activities, temporary duty to travel or permanent change of station moves, and medical treatment, Matt Donovan, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told reporters April 18. The policy will be reviewed every 15 days, with the end date possibly shifting based on current conditions regarding the coronavirus outbreak, he said.
COVID-19 Testing

Saliva-Based COVID-19 Testing Coming to USAF

The Air Force on April 17 signed a $13 million research and development blanket purchase agreement with healthcare startup Curative Inc., to employ and scale a Food and Drug Administration-authorized, saliva-based COVID-19 test that can yield results in about one day, USAF announced April 20. Testing is slated to kick off within two weeks. The $13 million agreement will cover the cost of building more than 40,000 test kits, training medical troops to perform the tests, standing up a new lab in addition to Curative’s pre-established one, and establishing testing locations at eight Defense Department installations, the release stated. Testing may eventually expand to the civilian population.
48th Fighter Wing supports Bomber Task Force Europe

Lakenheath Eagles Take Home Raytheon Trophy, Again

The 493rd Fighter Squadron is the 2020 recipient of the Raytheon Trophy for the service’s top air superiority squadron, the fourth win in a row for the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, England. The squadron received the award based in its performance in 2019, which included a short-notice rapid deployment for combat operations in the Middle East and multiple high-profile training exercises. “They should just call it the Liberty Trophy from here on out,” 48th Fighter Wing Commander Col. William Marshall said in announcing the win. “Great work by the team last year—good to see it recognized.”
041820 Pain Points Poll

Guard Members, Spouses: Sound Off on How You’re Coping with COVID-19

The COVID-19 Military Support Initiative—a joint program of the military nonprofits Blue Star Families and Association of Defense Communities—recently launched a poll to determine the biggest challenges the new coronavirus pandemic is posing to U.S. troops, veterans, their families, and their communities. But the head of Blue Star Families said CMSI needs National Guard members and their families to sound off on their experiences, since they’re underrepresented in the survey so far.

Radar Sweep

Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19

Air Force Magazine

Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

OPINION: How an FCC Ruling Could Harm Military and Civilian Communications

The Hill

"Ligado Networks, a commercial communications company, seeks to harness spectrum in a way that may interfere with these crucial systems—systems upon which America’s military and its economy both rely,” writes retired Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "As a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I can confidently say that the FCC needs to pause this process, which began in 2011, and seek a path that unequivocally ensures the wide-ranging interests of the nation are not compromised for a limited business opportunity.”

DARPA Awards Nine New Contracts to Foster Drone Swarm Technology

C4ISRNET

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has issued nine new contracts to companies developing drone swarm technologies, the agency announced April 13. Through the agency’s Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics program, or OFFSET, it hopes to foster technology developments that will enable 250 small unmanned air or ground robots to work together in support of the war fighter.

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.

Palantir to Provide Data and Software Services to U.S. Space Force

Space News

Data analytics company Palantir won a contract to provide software and data services to U.S. Space Force units that track objects in orbit and monitor space traffic. The contract is for a project called Kobayashi Maru, an effort started last year by the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center to replace decades-old space command-and-control software with modern apps.

One More Thing

VA to Distribute Thousands of Facebook Portals to Vets and Caregivers in Isolation

Nextgov

Facebook recently donated 7,488 Portal video-calling devices to the Veterans Affairs Department, which the agency will soon distribute to qualifying veterans and caregivers—free of charge—who might be lonely due to recent COVID-19-driven social distancing measures. “We believe this technology will help veterans who might otherwise be unreachable,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said in the agency’s announcement of the new partnership.