Space Corps Survives Amendment Challenge at NDAA Markup
The provision establishing a separate Space Corps within the Air Force survived a challenge at the House Armed Services Committee FY18 NDAA markup Wednesday and will be included in the full legislation. Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) offered an amendment “to remove the provisions that establish a Space Corps and call instead for a study on the establishment of a Space Corps.” After vigorous debate, the amendment failed on a voice vote with chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) saying “this is the time for us to act.” Ranking member Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) called the victory “a historic moment for this committee.” Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
Air Force and Rogers Clash Again, This Time Over EELV
The Air Force on Tuesday said it “strongly objects” to language in the House Armed Services Committee’s chairman’s markup of the FY18 NDAA that would restrict the way the service invests money in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. On Wednesday, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the HASC strategic forces subcommittee, pushed back on the service’s criticisms and clarified that the legislation is intended to limit the EELV program’s investments to a more narrow focus on rocket engine development. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
HASC’s FY18 NDAA Looks to Repair Readiness, Rebuild Military
The House Armed Services Committee marked up its version of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act Wednesday. HASC chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said the FY18 NDAA presented by HASC “takes significant steps toward repairing and rebuilding our military.” Some of the amendments considered Wednesday addressed the Air Force’s growing pilot shortage; hypoxia-like issues in Navy, USAF, and Marine Corps fighters; climate change; and BRAC. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
Former Textron Executive to be Nominated as DOD’s Top Weapons Buyer
President Trump announced his intent to nominate Ellen Lord, the former president and CEO of Textron Systems, to be the next under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. However, it’s not clear exactly what role Lord will play at the Pentagon because of the congressionally mandated shakeup of the Pentagon’s acquisition leadership. Beginning in February 2018 the AT&L job will be replaced with two new position, and if confirmed Lord would assume the role of undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, where she would oversee current acquisition programs and ensure they stay on track. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
GAO: DOD Prototyping Saves Money, Needs Strategic Unity
A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the Department of Defense has used prototyping effectively to lower costs and reduce risk, but the Department needs a plan to consolidate these successes going forward. GAO reviewed 22 major defense acquisition programs—including the KC-46A, the GPS III OCX ground control system, and the F-22—and found that prototyping “helped introduce realism” into the acquisition process and resulted in real savings. The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program saved $35,000 per vehicle thanks to prototyping, the report found, and the Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) saved more than $100 million over the life of the program. But some other DOD prototyping efforts have faced barriers, according to GAO, due to “limited funding, a risk averse culture, and competing priorities.” In order to maximize the benefits of prototyping, GAO recommends that DOD develop “a department-wide strategy that communicates strategic goals and priorities and delineates roles and responsibilities to guide the prototyping initiatives.”—Wilson Brissett
Mitchell Report Calls for RPA Executive Agency
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute, officially released his latest publication on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Consolidating the Revolution: Optimizing the Potential of Remotely Piloted Aircraft. In the report, Deptula outlines the history of the RPA’s evolution, explains challenges inherent in its coming years, and provides some advice to DOD about how to tackle these. Among his mainstay notions is the creation of an executive agent for the enterprise, someone to coordinate efforts and enforce commonalities among the services when it comes to training, operations, and other domains. The Air Force first proposed the idea in 2006, but received pushback from DOD. Deptula presented the new report at the Capitol, introduced by Republican Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas, who supported the need for investment in and priority on RPAs. —Gideon Grudo
Mattis to Deliver Keynote at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will deliver a keynote speech at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference held Sept. 18-20 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. Mattis will deliver his keynote address on Wednesday, Sept. 20, before a large audience of attendees comprised of leaders from the Air Force and the Department of Defense, as well as service members, representatives from industry and the media, and interested members of the public. Discussions will center on issues facing the Total Force and national security. The event offers a variety of networking and professional development opportunities and promotes relationships between industry and the Air Force. In celebration of the Air Force’s 70th Birthday, the 2017 Air, Space & Cyber Conference is themed Breaking Barriers: Heritage to Horizons. Defense and industry leaders will participate in over 35 sessions to discuss critical topics facing the Air Force. Additional keynote speakers include Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, and CMSAF Kaleth Wright. Learn more about the 2017 Air, Space & Cyber Conference and register at www.afa.org/airspacecyber/home.
Malmstrom Brings in Hundreds of Goats for Weed Control
A herd of 900 goats will spend the summer gobbling up invasive weeds that have taken over large sections of the base, including some used for ground training. Over the course of six weeks, the goats are expected to work through as much as 1,000 acres. A smaller herd was at Malmstrom for a few days last summer to demonstrate to base leadership the project’s potential, answer questions, and address any concerns about having goats graze around nuclear operations. The project was approved not long after. Read the full story by Jenn Rowell and see a picture of the goats.
—The Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday approved by voice vote the nomination of Patrick Shanahan to be the next deputy defense secretary after he provided revised answers to the committee’s advanced questions. During his nomination hearing SASC chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) expressed his “disappointment” in the short answers originally provided and threatened to block the nomination from moving forward. The nomination now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
—MSgt. Israel Del Toro will be awarded the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 25th ESPYS on July 12 in Los Angeles: ESPN