Space Force Work Plan Heading to Capitol Hill

An initial work plan that acts as a blueprint for establishing a Space Force over five years was signed by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and will now head to Capitol Hill, an official in charge of crafting the plan said May 8. The plan is “long on questions and short on answers,” Maj. Gen. Clint Crosier, director of the Space Force planning task force, said at a luncheon hosted by the AFA Gabriel Chapter in Virginia, on Wednesday. The same day, the Congressional Budget Office projected the sixth military service will require nearly 30,000 workers and add up to $1.3 billion a year in current DOD spending. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

B-52s Land in Middle East as CENTCOM Boss Warns Iran

The first B-52s comprising the Bomber Task Force landed in the Middle East on Wednesday, part of a “direct response” to a number of “troubling indicators” from Iran prompting the US to change its military posture, the head of US Central Command said Wednesday. CENTCOM boss USMC Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said the movement of the bombers and the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is a message to Iran that any attack would be met with “unrelenting force.” Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Over Half of USAF Housing Deficiencies Addressed

More than half of the 4,700 issues Air Force commanders found during a walkthrough of nearly 10,000 military homes in February have been fixed so far, the service’s top installations official recently told lawmakers. John Henderson, assistant secretary for installations, environment, and energy, told lawmakers at a May 1 House Armed Services readiness subcommittee hearing that 3,100 deficiencies were resolved, with a plan underway to handle the rest. The Air Force has not provided a timeline for addressing all problems on the list. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

AFSOC Boss Tapped to Lead AETC

President Donald Trump on Tuesday nominated Lt. Gen. Brad Webb to take over as commander of Air Education and Training Command. Webb is currently the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command. If confirmed, he will take over for Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast. The Pentagon has not announced Kwast’s next position. Lt. Gen. James Slife, currently vice commander of US Special Operations Command, will replace Webb. Webb has been commander of AFSOC since 2016 and previously commanded NATO Special Operations and Special Operations Command-Europe. The Pentagon also announced that USAF Maj. Gen. David Nahom has been nominated for his third star and to be deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs. He is currently the director of programs for the deputy chief of staff of plans and programs. If confirmed, he will replace Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris Jr. The Air Force has not announced Harris’s next position. —Brian Everstine

Lockheed Opens Negotiations on F-35 Lots 12-14, Aiming Below $80 Million Each

Lockheed Martin has made its initial offer in negotiations for Lots 12-14 of F-35s, and expects to hit the agreed goal of $80 million a copy or less for the jet and engine by 2020, reducing unit costs about 3.3 percent over each of the next three lots. The price depends on F-35 partners making a so-called “block buy” of three years’ worth of production at once, but doesn’t assume any jets will be added to the Pentagon’s fiscal 2020 budget request. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

USAF to Award Light Attack Contract This Fall

The Air Force will award a contract for light attack aircraft this fall after a formal solicitation expected this month, according to a presolicitation notice the service posted on May 8. The Notice of Proposed Contract Action states that Sierra Nevada and its A-29 Super Tucano possess “the capability necessary to meet the requirement within the Air Force’s time frame without causing an unacceptable delay in meeting the needs of the warfighter.” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in March the service expects to buy six light attack aircraft, three from the Sierra-Nevada/Embraer team and three AT-6Bs from Textron Aviation. Another notification for Textron is expected. According to the posting, the Light Attack Aircraft “will provide an affordable, non-developmental aircraft intended to operate globally in the types of irregular warfare environments that have characterized combat operations over the past 25 years.” It will also support Air Force Special Operations Command’s mission of close air support to partner nations, according to the notification. Goldfein told Air Force Magazine the AT-6s will be based at Nellis AFB, Nev., and the A-29s would be based at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The six aircraft will be bought outright “so we can modify them anyway we want,” he said. The funding would come from the $60 million remaining in fiscal 2018 RDT&E accounts and another $100 million from fiscal 2019 procurement. —Brian Everstine

Saab Facility in Indiana to Support T-X, Other Programs

Saab of Sweden will build a new facility in West Lafayette, Ind., for production of “major structural sections” of the Air Force’s new T-X advanced trainer, as well as other items. The company also will partner with Purdue University on research into sensors, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems. The announcement was made at Purdue University Airport by Saab President and CEO Hakan Buskhe, Indiana governor Eric Holcomb, and Purdue president and former governor Mitch Daniels. The move will create some 300 jobs in the area; the specific site will be in the Purdue-affiliated Discovery Park district. Construction is to begin in 2020, and Buskhe said by the end of that calendar year, production of T-X sections will be “up and running.” Boeing won the T-X contract, with Saab as its principal partner, last fall. Neither company has discussed what the workshare on the jet will be, or what elements Saab will be making, although it played a big role in the design of the jet. Boeing has identified its St. Louis, Mo., facility as the location where it will perform final assembly of the T-X. Saab’s US headquarters is in Syracuse, N.Y. It has other facilities in Wilmington, N.C.; Ashburn, Va., and Orlando, Fla., making the Indiana site its fifth US operating location. The company was not immediately able to say whether it will be making parts for its other aviation products, such as its regional airliners, at the Indiana site. —John A. Tirpak

Shanahan: DOD Funding 256 Miles of Border Wall

The US military has contracted enough funding to build 256 miles of wall along the southern border with Mexico as more troops have deployed to bolster the Department of Homeland Security presence. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee on Wednesday that over the next six months, he anticipates the wall to be built at a pace of a half a mile per day. The Pentagon has requested more than $7 billion in its fiscal 2020 budget proposal to fund border projects, and has already awarded almost $1 billion to two companies for construction. There are now 4,364 troops deployed to the border—a mix of Active Duty and National Guard forces. They are tasked with monitoring the border, along with other jobs such as logistics support, aviation support, and food service. Shanahan also said the Department of Health and Human Services has requested options to house migrants on military bases, and if the agencies agree, “We would prepare to hand the keys” of these facilities to HHS, Shanahan said. —Brian Everstine


The Air Force’s New Trainer Jet is Attracting the Navy’s and Marine Corps’ Interests

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are monitoring the development of the Air Force’s T-X training jet, but it may be years before they can launch their own competitions to replace the T-45, officials said Monday. Defense News

Inside the Air Force’s Plan to Revolutionize Pilot Training

When Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson visited AFWERX’s Pilot Training Next program in Austin, Texas, last year, she watched as trainees took flight from the seats in front of her through the use of virtual reality. Officials with Air Education and Training Command (AETC) are now gearing up to present Wilson’s successor with a business case for more widespread use of the system, within the force.

Pentagon Suspends War Remains Effort with North Korea

In a new sign of troubled relations with North Korea, the Pentagon said Wednesday it has suspended its efforts to arrange negotiations on recovering additional remains of U.S. service members killed in the North during the Korean War. The Associated Press via

Can NSA Stop China Copying Its Cyber Weapons

China is copying malware the NSA has used against them. Is this preventable or is it an inherent weakness of cyber warfare? Breaking Defense

New Mexico Air Base Part of Conservation Partnership

Cannon Air Force Base has partnered with The Conservation Fund for the protection of nearly 48 square miles (124 square kilometers) of land adjacent to the Melrose Air Force Range. US News and World Report

Parts of Crashed F-35 Stealth Fighter Jet Found in Sea Off Aomori

Japan said Tuesday it had recovered some debris from a stealth fighter jet that crashed in April, but was still looking for the “all-important” memory that could offer clues into the accident. Japan Today

One More Thing …

Just Don’t Call Them UFOs

The US military wants pilots to report strange sightings in the sky, but doesn’t want any of the stigma that comes with it. The Atlantic