Airlift Mission Continues in Puerto Rico
US Air Force airlifters continued response flights for Hurricane Maria relief in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands on Wednesday, flying equipment and helicopters to assist with the growing need following the storm. US Transportation Command on Wednesday flew 16 lift flights, carrying telecommunications and medical equipment in addition to helicopters to Puerto Rico, the Pentagon announced. US Northern Command also deployed five forces packages, with logistics, distribution, and medical support. The Defense Logistics Agency so far has processed 487 trailers of bottled water, generators, blankets, and other support items, according to the Pentagon. The Tennessee Air National Guard’s 118th Civil Engineer Squadron deployed Wednesday with generators, and C-5Ms from Dover AFB, Del., flew AT&T communication equipment to Puerto Rico. Air Forces Northern mobility planners recently surpassed 1,500 total flights in response to storms since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in August, according to the Air Force. —Brian Everstine
For more storm coverage, see also: Military’s Storm Response Could Delay Deployments.
National Space Council to Hold First Meeting
The National Space Council is scheduled to hold its first meeting Thursday after President Donald Trump signed an executive order re-establishing the body in July. The meeting will mark an assembly of “all aspects and sectors of the national space enterprise for the first time in a quarter century,” according to a White House press release. The council is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, who is expected to provide opening and closing remarks at the meeting, which will be live streamed on the White House website. Other presenters will include the presidents of Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Sierra Nevada, as well as a former NASA administrator, a former commander of US Strategic Command, and a former space shuttle commander. —Wilson Brissett
In a New Space Age, US Needs More Communication, Less Classification
In order to navigate a new era of broader activity and greater belligerence in space, the US needs to talk more about space in unclassified settings and establish clear thresholds for adversary behavior, a new Center for Strategic and International Studies report finds. At a launch event in Washington, D.C., the report’s authors said better communication from the US about space capabilities and intentions is necessary to sharpen the nation’s space deterrent. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
Afghan Air Force Begins Black Hawk Training
US advisers and specially selected Afghan crews has begun training on the UH-60 Black Hawk, which recently arrived in country and is slated to become a workhorse for the Afghan Air Force. The first class of selected aviators began training at Kandahar Airfield on Oct. 2, Resolute Support announced Wednesday. The Afghan Air Force is slated to receive 119 Black Hawks, including both base versions and those with fixed forward-fire capabilities, according to the Air Force. The aircraft comes from a $814 million US Contingency Operations Afghan Security Forces fund, and will replace the Russian-made Mi-17s currently flown by the AAF. In addition to the Black Hawks, the AAF are slated to receive more armed MD-530 helicopters, A-29 attack aircraft, and AC-208s. —
Lockheed Martin, Rockwell Collins Get Contracts for ICBM Launch Control Systems
The Pentagon awarded Lockheed Martin and Rockwell Collins $80.7 million and $76.2 million contracts, respectively, to develop airborne launch control systems for Air Force intercontinental ballistic missiles through 2075. The contracts, announced Tuesday evening, are to conduct technology maturation and risk reduction with the goal of a preliminary design and functional prototype. The system, called the Airborne Launch Control System Replacement (ALCS-R), will be fielded beginning 2024. It will provide a “sustainable and low-cost capability” to launch ICBMs through aircraft commands, whereas currently the Airborne Launch Control System uses 1960s-era radio equipment at each ICBM launch facility, according to the Air Force. The goal of the system is “survivable airborne command and control” for ICBMs, Col. Scott Jones, ICBM Systems director at the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, said in the release. —Brian Everstine
House Democrats Call for New Strategy on North Korea
Sixty-eight Democratic members of Congress on Tuesday sent a letter to President Trump calling for a steady policy toward North Korea, criticizing the administration for not having a strategy. “The President is clearly not on the same page as his own Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State,” the letter reads. “This makes his military threats not credible; it leads our allies to view us as untrustworthy, right when they need us most; and by ratcheting up tensions, he is closing down diplomatic options when they are most critical.” The letter, initiated by the chairs of the Democratic Caucus’ National Security Task Force including Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), follows a similar letter from Senate democrats last month. The House version calls for a strategy that would include increasing economic pressure on North Korea, enhancing crisis-management channels with the country, and nominating qualified individuals to vacant positions in both the Departments of State and Defense. —Brian Everstine
AFRL Lab Dreams of Autonomous Assistants
The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Human Autonomy Lab at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is focused on advances in human-machine interactions. Research psychologist Mark Draper and his team there spend a lot of time working with wearable technology that can sense an airman’s physical state, but they have more ambitious goals associated with their research. They want to create autonomous assistants that can accompany airmen and help them with a variety of regular tasks. “We have sensors becoming very miniaturized and able to sense the human physiology without even being attached to the human,” Draper said in a press release. He wants to use the information those sensors gather to inform an autonomous assistant that could learn to help airmen make better decisions for the mission. Draper envisions “intelligent assistants that sit on your shoulder that sift through data that look for correlations and relationships.” His goal is “to reduce the overall workload associated with the airmen,” while making sure that “airmen still retain key decision making authority.” How far off could this technology be? Draper thinks it might be routine within the Air Force of 2087.
—DARPA is forming a consortium of industry and government partners to establish “rules of the road” technical and safety standards for on-orbit activities, including satellite maintenance: DARPA release.
—Lockheed Martin’s T-X entrant, the T-50A, completed its 100th flight at the company’s Greenville, S.C., facility this week: Lockheed release.
An entry in the Oct. 4 Daily Report incorrectly stated the title of Jim Mattis. He is Secretary of Defense. We have corrected the original entry.