Minuteman III Destroyed Mid-Flight During Test Launch
The Air Force destroyed an unarmed Minuteman III following a test launch early Tuesday at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., when it developed an “anomaly” during flight, the head of US Strategic Command said Wednesday. An Air Force crew launched the missile for a routine test Tuesday, and at first it “was perfect,” US Strategic Command boss Gen. John Hyten said Wednesday at the STRATCOM Deterrence Symposium in Omaha, Neb. “It came out of the hole just fine, but somewhere in flight we saw an anomaly,” Hyten said. That anomaly created an “unsafe flight condition” so the crew decided to destroy the rocket before it reached its destination, Hyten said. Failures such as this are rare, with the last one occurring in July 2011, and “this is the reason that we test,” he said. Now “we have to go figure out what happened” and learn more about the Minuteman III fleet to make it safer and more effective in the future. “We test because we’ve got to make sure things work … and make sure missiles are safe, secure, and reliable,” Hyten said. —Brian Everstine
Senate Sends Defense Authorization Bill to White House
The Senate easily passed Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act on Wednesday by a vote of 87-10. The House approved the same measure on Thursday by a 359-54, and it now heads to President Trump for his expected approval. The bill includes total defense funding of $716.3 billion, a $300 million increase over the administration’s request. —Steve Hirsch
Hyten Blasts Huey Replacement Process, Pledges a New Helo Eventually
The Air Force’s missile fields will get a new helicopter, no matter what, the head of US Strategic Command pledged Wednesday as the acquisition program continues to slow. “We’re going to get a new helicopter, if I’m going to die trying or kill somebody to do it,” STRATCOM boss Gen. John Hyten said Wednesday at the STRATCOM Deterrence Symposium in Omaha, Neb. The current process to replace the UH-1N Huey fleet is “taking way too long” as it has been slowed by protests by Sikorsky Corp. and delayed requests for proposals. In the meantime, Air Force Global Strike Command has upgraded its current fleet with new capabilities, such as better avionics, armament systems, and the ability to refuel at alert facilities, to make the helicopters more effective at its mission of protecting the missile fields. “That Huey is now armed, that Huey can now refuel at missile fields … it’s doing things a few years ago it couldn’t,” Hyten said. —Brian Everstine
GAO: Pentagon Should Centralize Data on Commercial Satellite Use
The Defense Department should pull together information from its programs using commercial satellites to help in future decisions on host satellite use, the Government Accounting Office said in a report Monday. The report, titled “DOD’s Use of Commercial Satellites to Host Defense Payloads Would Benefit from Centralizing Data,” notes potential cost and other benefits of using commercial satellites for government sensors or communications packages, but says Defense’s knowledge on such arrangements is incomplete, partly because programs are not required to share information. The Pentagon should require provision of cost and technical data, and lessons learned, to a central office, and consider whether the Air Force Hosted Payload Office is the most appropriate central office for this information, the report says. —Steve Hirsch
Lyons Confirmed as First Army Officer to Lead TRANSCOM
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed US Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Lyons to be the next commander of US Transportation Command, the first time a non-Air Force officer will lead the command. Lyons will take over for retiring USAF Gen. Darren McDew, the 12th commander of TRANSCOM and the latest in a line of solely blue suit bosses who have been at the helm of the command since it was established in 1987. Lyons is the director of logistics for the Joint Staff and previously was the deputy commander of TRANSCOM. —Brian Everstine
Barrett Takes Command of 18th Air Force
Maj. Gen. Sam Barrett took over command of the 18th Air Force during a Tuesday ceremony at Scott AFB, Ill., replacing Lt. Gen. GI Tuck. Barrett previously served as director of operations, strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, at Scott. According to an Air Force release, Barrett has been commander of the 350th Air Refueling Squadron at McConnell AFB, Kan.; vice commander and then commander of the 15th Airlift Wing, JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; and commander, Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, U.S. Transportation Command, Norfolk, Va. Tuck will move to the Pentagon to be director for logistics for the Joint Staff.—Steve Hirsch
—China is on the verge of dominating near space, the area too high for airplanes and too low for orbiting spacecraft, according to an article by former Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work: Task and Purpose.
—The Pentagon has fulfilled legal and environmental requirements to set up housing at Goodfellow AFB, Texas, for unaccompanied children detained after illegally crossing the US-Mexican border and is now waiting for a formal request from the Health and Human Services Department: Associated Press.
—Red Flag Alaska 18-3 is set to kick off Aug. 9, and run until Aug. 24. This iteration will include about 100 aircraft from the US, United Kingdom, and Australia: PACAF release.
—The Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate’s Construction Branch has supported 17 foreign military partners, including helping build 82 facilities valued at $211 million. The office is overseeing $4.4 billion in construction projects, an increase of more than $1 billion from last year: AFMC release.
—A group of Georgian soldiers is suspected in a recent theft of $3,600 in merchandise from an Army and Air Force Exchange Service store at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, officials said this week: Stars and Stripes.