SASC NDAA

SASC Bill Weighs In on Air Force’s 2021 Priorities

Fighter jets won support among senators in new defense policy legislation that also raised questions about some of the Air Force’s top priorities. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a $740.5 billion version of the fiscal 2021 defense policy bill 25-2 on June 10. Its recommendations now head to the full chamber for consideration and a vote as early as next week. Lawmakers want to allocate $9.1 billion to the Defense Department for 95 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, including 60 F-35As at $5.5 billion for the Air Force, according to a June 11 bill summary. Notably, the legislation sets a minimum number of aircraft the Air Force must own for each type of mission, and stops the service from retiring the A-10, KC-10, KC-135, and manned special-operations intelligence aircraft.
National Guard space operations: The final frontier

Senators Endorse Space Force Reserve But Question Guard

Senators endorsed the creation of a reserve component for the Space Force in new legislation but want more evidence that a Space National Guard is necessary as well. The Senate Armed Services Committee this week approved its version of the fiscal 2021 defense policy bill 25-2. “We wanted to make sure that they knew why they wanted to do a Guard, and where they want to do a Guard, and what the Guard was going to do, and that report was not received at the time that we started this markup, so we weren't able to address those things adequately,” a Senate staffer told reporters June 11. “I'm sure they will be addressed, but whether there's a Guard or not, we'd like to first see that report and the recommendations, so we can present that to members so that they can make the decision.” Military officials are preparing to present Defense Secretary Mark Esper with a framework for a Space Force with Reservists and Guardsmen soon.
Milley NDU Graduation

Milley: Military Must Do More to Combat Racism

The U.S. military can, and must, do more to address lingering racial inequalities, especially now as the country at large grapples with protests over racial injustice, said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, in a videotaped address. The death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis policeman, “amplified the pain, frustration, and the fear that so many of our fellow Americans live with day in and day out.”
389th Fighter Squadron Redeployment

Mountain Home F-15Es, Airmen Return from Extended Deployment

Airmen and F-15Es from the 389th Fighter Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, recently returned home from a deployment to the Middle East that was extended by two months because of the coronavirus pandemic. The squadron was set to return home from an undisclosed location in April, but their travel was delayed by movement restrictions enacted to keep troops healthy. The six-month deployment stretched to eight months, according to a Mountain Home release.
62nd Airlift Squadron

Air Force Students Hitch Rides on C-130Js to Avoid Coronavirus

The 62nd Airlift Squadron is using its C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to safely fly hundreds of Air Education and Training Command students between training locations to lower their risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus while continuing their studies, according to a recent 19th Airlift Wing release. The emergency mission is also helping the squadron’s pilots stay in the air during the pandemic, and gives instructor pilots a chance to become familiar with the C-130J’s Block 8.1 upgrade before students start using it in training.

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.

Mitchell Nuclear Deterrence Forum: Gordon Chang and Rick Fisher

Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

During this June 11 virtual event, Gordon Chang and Rick Fisher joined AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies to discuss Chinese political, economic, and military objectives in the context of its nuclear policy and, in particular, the nature and extent of China’s nuclear weapons modernization. They also explored China's No First Use policy, the country’s role in proliferation, its view on nuclear deterrence, and Chinese nuclear coercion. Additionally, they shared what they believe the U.S. policy should be in response.

Army Selects Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate and Sets Human Trials for Summer

McClatchy

Army scientists have a vaccine candidate that they believe has the potential to fight COVID-19—and that may be able to protect individuals from future coronaviruses, “from season to season, for decades to come.” The scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research chose SpFN, for Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle, after testing dozens of variants of vaccine candidates in more than 1,000 mice.

Roper Pushes Moving Project Maven To Air Force

Breaking Defense

Air Force acquisition czar Will Roper says he is considering taking over the Defense Department’s artificial intelligence experiment, Project Maven, to make it operational while the service pushes its own AI capabilities into the field.

DARPA Awards Blackjack Contracts to Blue Canyon, SA Photonics

SpaceNews

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced on June 10 it awarded Blue Canyon Technologies a $14.1 million contract for satellite buses for the Blackjack program. DARPA on June 9 also announced a $16.3 million contract award to SA Photonics for Blackjack payloads. The Blackjack program is an experiment to show the military utility of low Earth orbit constellations and mesh networks of low-cost satellites.

OPINION: U.S. State Department Must Align UAV Export Policy with American Interests

Defense News

“As the nation now positions to compete against high-end peer threats, American success depends upon leveraging unmanned aerial systems across the spectrum of combat,” Heather Penney, senior resident fellow at AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, writes. “This means that our allies and partners must also have access to these same systems.”

Air Force to Host Quantum ‘Collider’ Event

National Defense Magazine

As it seeks to harness the technology for military use, the service is hosting a "Quantum Collider" virtual pitch day on June 15. Topics to be explored will include quantum timing, sensing, information processing/computing and communication/networking.

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In Letter, Pentagon Leaders Outline Military Role in Recent Unrest

The Washington Post

National Guard troops remained in a supporting role during recent civil unrest in Washington and steps to prepare active-duty forces to deploy into the nation’s capital proved to be a precautionary measure, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley said in a letter to Congress on June 10. The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, comes amid a showdown between Defense Department leadership and Democrats on the committee, who are pushing Esper and Milley to testify about the military’s role in responding to recent unrest triggered by the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody last month in Minnesota, and other instances of police brutality against African Americans.

Bill Would Cover Doulas for Expectant Service Women, Dependents

Military.com

A bill introduced in Congress last month would require TRICARE to cover the services of doulas—trained professionals who provide physical and emotional support for pregnant women throughout labor, delivery and the postpartum process. The proposed legislation, sponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), aims to help service members and dependent spouses who are stationed away from family and friends or delivering alone because their partners are deployed.