Former MDA Head Calls for Missile Defense Revolution
A former head of the Missile Defense Agency and retired three-star Air Force general said the “next generation” of missile defense “should not be a small evolution. It needs to be a revolution.” Speaking Friday at an AFA Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill, retired Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, who now serves as executive vice president and directed energy lead at Booz Allen Hamilton, outlined a multi-pronged approach, which he said should serve as the foundation of this revolution. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
Boeing Gets Patent to Put Gun on B-1s
Boeing on May 8 received a patent to add a new weapon to the B-1B Lancer—a device to attach a gun to the belly of the aircraft. According to the patent description, the system would attach inside the weapons bay of the aircraft and deploy a turret, which could fire in multiple directions. The gun could be used for improved close air support, and for flying in a loop around a ground target in a way similar to an AC-130 gunship. While the B-1 was originally produced by Rockwell International, that company was purchased by Boeing, which now does much of the long-term maintenance of the aircraft. The patent was first reported by Flight Global. —Brian Everstine
Heitkamp: Nuclear Modernization is Integral, Requires Bipartisan Support
The investment into rebuilding and modernizing the military’s nuclear triad must have bipartisan, long-term support in order to be successful and cannot become a political issue, a key lawmaker said Thursday. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) said at an AFA Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill that the push to improve and modernize the nuclear deterrent, outlined in the Nuclear Posture Review released earlier this year, “is central to our national defense.” It is, however, very expensive. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that maintaining and modernizing the nuclear enterprise will cost $1.2 trillion between now and 2046. Getting support to pay this price tag will be tough, but it is necessary, she said. “In order to make these investments long term, we have to win the hearts and minds,” Heitkamp said. “Beyond industry, beyond the staff at the Pentagon and the staff on the Armed Services Committee. It has to be a message broader than that.” Heitkamp has a unique interest in nuclear modernization, since her state is home to both B-52s and Minuteman IIIs at Minot Air Force Base. In addition to modernizing these bombers and replacing the missiles with the Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, Congress also needs to fund other necessary USAF modernization programs such as replacing the aging UH-1N Hueys that protect the missile fields, Heitkamp said. —Brian Everstine
ULA Picks Aerojet’s RL10 Engine for Vulcan Centaur
United Launch Alliance announced on Friday it has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10 engine to power its next-generation Vulcan Centaur rocket. Under the agreement, Aerojet Rocketdyne will also develop a next generation variant of the engine, called the RL10C-X, with a focus on additive manufacturing to improve reliability, affordability, and performance, according to a ULA release. ULA, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, has already used more than 450 RL10 engines on various rockets. The announcement comes as the Air Force is ordered by Congress to move away from reliance on the Russian-made RD-180 engine, which currently powers the ULA Atlas V rocket. The next-generation Vulcan Centaur is based on the Delta IV and Atlas V vehicles, with the first launch expected in the 2020 timeframe.
—A Washington Post reporter outlines her trip to North Korea on a USAF jet, accompanying Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit with North Korean President Kim Jong Un last week: Washington Post.
—President Trump nominated Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, currently the commander of Third Air Force, to be the next deputy chief of staff of strategic deterrent and nuclear integration. Also, Col. Michele Edmondson, the senior executive officer to the vice chief of staff of the Air Force, has been nominated for the rank of brigadier general: DOD release.
—Exercise Stolen Cerberus V began earlier this month in Greece, including 115 USAF airmen, three C-130Js, and one C-21 from the 86th Airlift Wing: USAFE release.
—The New Zealand Defense Force last week began flying air transport missions in Iraq, with the delivery of two tons of supplies to coalition forces: New Zealand Defense Force on Medium.
—The Air Force Research Laboratory recently successfully demonstrated a new robotic system designed for use on an aerospace factory floor. The robot could cut depot maintenance times by up to 50 percent: AFRL release.
—The Defense Logistics Agency this month awarded a $42 million energy savings performance contract to Energy Systems Group at Hill AFB, Utah. The contract will modernize 255 buildings with the aim to increase energy efficiency: USAF release.