STRATCOM: Space Force Will Happen Someday, But Now Isn’t the Time
The head of US Strategic Command on Tuesday said the military will, eventually, create a new service to handle space operations, but that is not going to happen soon. Gen. John Hyten told lawmakers a new “Space Force” will happen “someday,” but for now the military needs to focus on getting better in space operations and truly consider it a warfighting domain. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Wilson Slams Boeing Over KC-46 Program
Boeing has been “overly optimistic in all of their schedule reports” on the KC-46 tanker, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told a House Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday. Air Force Undersecretary Matthew Donovan visited the Boeing facility in Everett, Wash., earlier this month, saying at the time that Boeing needed to “double down on providing the necessary resources and engineering talent to push the last 10 yards and get this program over the goal line.” In her testimony Tuesday during a session on the Fiscal 2019 budget request and acquisition reform, Wilson said she expects the company to be late with deliveries of the plane. “We have asked them to put their A-Team on this to get the problems fixed and get the aircraft to the Air Force,” she said. She also told the hearing that in this case, one of the frustrations with Boeing “is that they’re much more focused on their commercial activity than they are on getting this right for the Air Force and getting these airplanes to the Air Force.” Boeing, in a statement emailed to Air Force Magazine late Tuesday, said, “There is no greater priority at The Boeing Company right now than the delivery of the KC-46. Boeing has continued to demonstrate its commitment to deliver the tankers as soon as possible and believes in our partnership with the US Air Force.” —Steve Hirsch
Hyten: No Way to Defend From Hypersonics, Only Deterrence
The US cannot defend itself against hypersonic weapons that are rapidly in development in both Russia and China, and instead can only deter, the head of US Strategic Command warned lawmakers Tuesday. STRATCOM boss Air Force Gen. John Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee that both countries are placing a heavy emphasis on hypersonic weapons, a threat the US missile defense system does not have an answer for. “Our defense is our deterrent capability,” he said. “We don’t have any defense that could deny the deployment of those weapons against us.” Hyten’s comments came shortly after the release of both the Defense Department’s budget request, and the Pentagon’s new Nuclear Posture Review, both of which focus heavily on modernizing the deterrent, including more development of the Air Force’s next generation B-21 bomber, the long-range standoff weapon, and possibly the development of a new, low-yield submarine launched cruise missile. All of these steps are specifically “in response to a threat” from countries such as Russia and China, or rogue states like North Korea and Iran.—Brian Everstine
USAF Upgraded Hueys to Address Operational Risk as Replacement Program Slows
The Air Force has modified the fuel and armament systems of its UH-1N Huey aircraft that protect its missile fields as its replacement program has slowed. US Strategic Command boss Gen. John Hyten told lawmakers on Tuesday the upgrades have helped address operational risk, as source selection is dragging because of a pre-award protest filed by Sikorsky. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
US, South Korea Set Date for Large-Scale Exercises
The US and South Korean militaries will resume large-scale, high-profile exercises on April 1, following a delay due to the Winter Olympics. The exercises will commence as President Trump prepares for an announced meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Republic of Korea Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo agreed to resume the combined exercises Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, the Pentagon said in a Tuesday statement. This year’s exercises will be on “a smaller scale” than “previous years,” according to the statement. The United Nations Command has notified North Korea of the schedule “as well as the defensive nature of the annual exercises,” and the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission will observe the exercises, according to the Pentagon. This year’s month-long Foal Eagle exercise will include about 23,700 US forces and 300,000 South Korean troops, Reuters reported. While this year’s exercise will be shorter than last year’s, which lasted almost two months, it will include more US forces than last year’s total of 17,000. —Brian Everstine
Secretary Wilson Highlights Role of Women in Air Force at House Hearing
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson Tuesday pointed to the prominence of women in the Air Force and to what she said was women’s natural role as protectors, which she noted also is the role of the military. Appearing along with other service Secretaries before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Trump administration’s Fiscal 2019 budget request and acquisition reform, she said the Air Force has a higher percentage of women than any of the other services and that every Air Force position is open to women. In addition, she said, “We’re, I think, trying to change a little bit the way we talk and think about who the protectors are in this country,” she said, adding that she thinks sometimes “the way in which we talk about the services may appeal more to boys than to girls.” She suggested that were she to ask everyone in the hearing room to think about the most protective person in their lives, half would be thinking about their mothers. “We are the protectors, that’s what the military does, we serve to protect the rest of you, and that’s a very natural place for a woman to be,” she told the panel. —Steve Hirsch
—The Air Force is considering adopting the Army’s “MultiCam” uniforms, which were made for use in Afghanistan. An official announcement could come as early as June: Stars and Stripes.
—If the service does decide to switch from the Airman’s Battle Uniform to the Army Combat Uniform it could cost as much as $450 million: Military.com.
—Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson will speak to the 241 graduates of the Air Force Institute of Technology at the National Museum of the US Air Force on Thursday: Dayton Daily News.