Internal Pentagon Memo Outlines Deadlines for Establishment of Space Force

Senior military leaders will have to meet a series of important deadlines in the coming weeks, as planning for the creation of a sixth military service dedicated solely to space gains momentum, according to an internal memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan dated Sept. 10. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering have already submitted their draft concepts for the proposed new Space Development Agency. The next deadline—due Sept. 30 to the Space Governance Committee—is an interim progress review on efforts to reestablish a combatant command for space by the end of the year. Read the full report by Steve Hirsch.

AFA: “Now Is Not the Time for New Space Force”

The Air Force Association opposes creating a separate military service dedicated to space but supports plans to reestablish US Space Command, the association announced in new policy statement released on Wednesday. The association argued that further national debate is needed as the Defense Department’s space strategy, and that the cost of creating a new service also would drain much-needed resources from overall readiness. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

Malfunctioning Navigation System Caused Global Hawk to Break Up Mid-Flight

An Air Force RQ-4B Global Hawk broke up mid-air because its navigation systems malfunctioned, causing it to enter unusual altitudes and airspeeds beyond its limitations and eventually crash near Lone Pine, Calif., in June 2017, the Air Force announced Wednesday. The RQ-4B, from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, Calif., was flying from Edwards AFB, Calif., to Beale and was operated by a contractor aircrew from Northrop Grumman, according to an Accident Investigation Board report released Wednesday. Shortly after takeoff, the remotely piloted aircraft navigated to planned waypoints “uneventfully” until one of the aircraft’s navigators began to produce erroneous data. The Global Hawk did not detect the erroneous data, which prompted it to roll until it was almost inverted. The aircraft then dove, causing excessive airspeed, and eventually broke up during flight, eventually crashing in a rugged, unpopulated area that included part of the Inyo National Forest near Mount Whitney, according to the report. The AIB report stated that a preliminary environmental analysis indicated no significant impact to nature, and the Air Force is still working with the US Forest Service to clean up part of the wreckage. The RQ-4 was completely destroyed at a loss of $79 million. —Brian Everstine

House Sends Defense Spending Bill to White House

The House on Thursday approved a “minibus” funding bill, which includes $674.4 billion in defense spending in Fiscal 2019, sending the bill to White House for President Donald Trump’s signature. The 361-61 House vote on the bill follows Senate approval of the legislation earlier this month. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) issued a statement on the legislation, saying, “The Department of Defense is now set to receive its full funding on time for the first time in over 10 years. Providing this stability and predictability to our military leaders is a necessary and welcome step as we rebuild our armed forces.” —Steve Hirsch

Infrastructure Key to Successful Multi-Domain Operations

Building the right infrastructure will be key to the success of future multi-domain operations, but the one star general in charge of the services multi-domain command and control initiative called that a “stellar” undertaking. Speaking Wednesday to an AFA Mitchell Institute audience, Brig. Gen. Chance Saltzman said, “Once we get the infrastructure right, I’m convinced that the applications will be much faster in development and integration.” However, he acknowledged that doing so requires a significant culture shift inside the Air Force. Everything from how the service works with Congress, industry, and academia, to the way it conducts operations will have to change, and all of those things must happen in parallel to one another, he added. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

Lockheed Martin Gets $1.4 Billion GPS III Contract

Lockheed Martin has received a $1.4 billion contract for GPS IIIF Space Vehicles 11 and 12, the Air Force said Wednesday. This is the initial order under the Air Force’s selection earlier this month of the company for a deal worth up to $7.2 billion for GPS III follow-on satellites. The award covers the two space vehicles, “as well as options for the production of up to 22 GPS III Space Vehicles, Space Vehicle storage, launch, and on-orbit support,” according to the Air Force announcement. —Steve Hirsch



—Two F-35As are still set to go to Luke AFB, Ariz., to be used for Turkish pilot training unless Defense Department direction expected in November bars the move. Recently enacted defense authorization legislation puts deliveries of F-35s to Turkey on hold until the Pentagon completes a report on the impact of Turkish behavior:

—The Defense Health Agency will take over responsibility for administration and management of healthcare at all of the military’s medical treatment facilities beginning Oct 1, a change called for in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. Among the first facilities to be covered in the first phase are hospitals and clinics at Keesler AFB, Miss.; JB Charleston, S.C.; and Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.: Air Combat Command release.

—An F-15E, tail 472 assigned to the 333rd Fighter Squadron, reached 10,000 flying hours Sept. 18, becoming the first F-15E assigned to a Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., training squadron to reach that milestone: Air Combat Command release.