B-21 Will Reach Critical Design Review by End of Year, RCO Chief Says
The secret B-21 stealth bomber will have its critical design review—a major milestone—by the end of calendar 2018, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office director Randall Walden told attendees at an AFA Mitchell Institute event in Arlington, Va. on Monday. Walden said a B-21 air intake issue has been resolved, and gave many new details about the size, budget, and activities of his organization. He said the first B-21 has yet to be fabricated, but testing of its components is progressing, and wind tunnel tests of the shape have taken place. Walden also said the RCO has been asked for help in setting up a dedicated Space version of the RCO at the Space and Missile Systems Center, and he has recommended the hiring of a number of RCO alumna, who have come aboard there. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
Mattis Heads to China for First Time as SECDEF
Great-Power Rivalry Adds Urgency to Directed-Energy Efforts, Official Says
A Pentagon official Monday pointed to US cooperation with allies on directed-energy weapons, and said the resurgence of great-power rivalry with Russia and China makes work on these weapons more important. Lawrence Grimes, director of the Defense Department’s Joint Directed Energy Transition Office, cited cooperation with US allies in the field, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia. The cooperation has included multilateral work, such as a recent NATO study having to do with high-energy lasers and the cooperative battlespace, as well as work with individual countries. Australia, Grimes said, is somewhat ahead of the US in work with some wavelengths. “There’s something there that we can combine to work with,” he said. The Defense Department’s first undersecretary for research and engineering, Mike Griffin, said earlier this year there is new emphasis on weaponizing directed energy within the Trump administration. The last several commanders of Air Force Special Operations Command also have called for putting lasers on gunships. Grimes, speaking during the first day of the Directed Energy Summit, said with the new emphasis in US policy on great-power competition, there is “a lot more of an urgency to what we’re doing.” —Steve Hirsch
Administration Wants to House Migrants at Goodfellow, Fort Bliss
Wave of F-22 Pilots Hitting 1,000 Hours of Flight Time
An F-22 pilot, who goes by the call sign “Maj. Ogre,” with the 94th Fighter Squadron at Al Dhafra AB, UAE, recently hit 1,000 hours flight time. He is one of an increasing number of F-22 pilots reaching that milestone, the first such wave in more than 10 years, according to the Air Force. Those who have piloted the F-22 make up a small community; until recently, “there had been more people that have gone into outer space than there are pilots that have flown the F-22,” said “Capt. Maddog,” another F-22 pilot with the 94th. The Air Force said that at least three more F-22 pilots from the squadron are expected to cross the 1,000-hour mark this year. Ogre joined two other pilots from the 94th with 1,000 hours of flight time within a month of each other. —Steve Hirsch
Aerojet Rocketdyne, SMC Expand Engine Development Agreement
Aerojet Rocketdyne and the Air Force signed an agreement Friday to expand the company’s advanced engine development agreement with the Space and Missile Systems Center, the company said Monday. The two sides will expand the agreement not only to develop the upper-stage RL10C-X, but also continue development of the AR1 booster engine development program through production of the first engine. USAF awarded Aerojet Rocketdyne a public-private partnership contract in 2016 to develop a prototype engine to replace the Russian-made RD-180, which powers United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket. The AR1 uses liquid-oxygen (LOX)/kerosene (RP-1) to generate more than 500,000 pounds of thrust, and can power the core stage of medium- to heavy-lift launch vehicles, according to the company. Aerojet Rocketdyne president Eileen Drake said the company is now manufacturing its first complete AR1 engine, which will be ready for hot-fire testing next year. —Steve Hirsch
—Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $1.12 billion contract for 16 new F-16 aircraft for the Royal Bahraini Air Force. The foreign military sale is the first sale of Block 70 F-16s: Lockheed Martin release.
—C-130Js assigned to Yokota AB, Japan, participated in Red Flag-Alaska for the first time since the base transitioned from the older H-models: PACAF release.
—The Air Force is working with the Office of Personnel Management and Congress to improve civilian hiring authorities, so it can bring former service members back to work much sooner: Federal News Radio.