This is How Space Acquisition Gets Faster

When it comes to space acquisition, the Air Force is moving into a new era in which tolerance for risk will be higher and the demand for speed will be greater, Lt. Gen. John Thompson, the new commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said Friday at an Air Force Association Mitchell Institute event in Washington, D.C. SMC is tackling the “need to do some catch-up” by giving more authority to program officers, doing more space experimentation, maximizing its use of Department of Defense regulations, leveraging relationships with commercial space providers, and involving more space operators in program development work. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.


An F-16 of the Air Force’s Thunderbirds sits overturned in June near the runway at Dayton International Airport in Ohio. Air Force photo

USAF Investigation: Pilot Landing Too Quickly, Heavy Rain Caused June F-16 Crash

An Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 overturned and was destroyed in June because the pilot landed too quickly and had vision obscured by heavy rain, according to an Air Combat Command investigation released Friday. The pilot was injured and had to be cut out of the jet’s cockpit, while the crewmember in the back seat was uninjured. Read the full story by Brian Everstine


An Air Force F-35A lands at Kadena AB, Japan, on Nov. 2. Air Force photo by SrA Omari Bernard

F-35As Land in Japan

Twelve F-35As and about 300 airmen touched down in Japan on Nov. 2 for the first deployment of the Air Force’s newest fighter. The jets, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill AFB, Utah, are deployed to Kadena AB, Japan, for a US Pacific Command theater security package deployment, after two of the jets participated in a Seoul, South Korea, air show in late October. During the deployment, the F-35s will “integrate various forces into joint, coalition and bilateral training across many different environments,” according to Pacific Air Forces. The deployment is “long-planned,” according to the Air Force, and follows the deployment of US Marine Corps F-35Bs to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. The F-35 is “ideally suited” for the Pacific, and will be integrated both into training and “operations,” Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said in the release. —Brian Everstine

New Approach Speeding Up OCX Software Development

The OCX software development team at the Space and Missile Systems Center has “made great progress” using an industry-inspired “development ops” approach to coding and testing, SMC commander Lt. Gen. John Thompson said at an Air Force Association Mitchell Institute event Friday in Washington, D.C. The slow speed of software development is a crucial reason why the GPS III ground control-system (OCX) has encountered large-scale cost overruns and schedule delays. Developmental ops means the OCX team is “doing things more quickly in shorter bursts,” and performing “developmental testing as soon as you can with smaller portions of the software build.” Whereas OCX used to test its software development every 12 to 18 months, the team now performs “nightly builds” with testing immediately following, Col. Steve Whitney, director of the GPS directorate at SMC, told Air Force Magazine after the event. As a result, Whitney said, SMC has kept OCX on pace to deliver blocks 1 and 2 on schedule in 2022. —Wilson Brissett

SMC Awards $100 Million for Space Enterprise Consortium

The Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center on Thursday awarded $100 million to the Advanced Technology Institute of North Charleston, S.C., to manage SMC’s Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC). The SpEC program is SMC’s effort to work with a variety of industry partners to develop “prototypes for broad space-related technologies,” including “ground segment, launch segment, space segment, software, [and] processes.” SMC expects to give its first SpEC prototype award of about $5 million before the end of 2017 and ramp-up the number and value of projects thereafter. ATI is a non-profit group that specializes in coordinating collaborative research initiatives for government entities. —Wilson Brissett

B-1s Fly Another Deterrence Flight to the Korean Peninsula

B-1B bombers, accompanied by South Korean and Japanese fighter jets, flew another deterrence flight near the Korean Peninsula on Thursday shortly before President Trump arrived in the region. The two B-1s, deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, flew the “bilateral integration” flight over South Korea as part of the B-1’s continuous bomber presence deployment. Thursday’s flight was not in response to any current event and was planned, Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Capt. Candice Dillitte said in a statement. It is the latest in a series of flights by the B-1 to the region, and happened less than a week after a B-2 Spirit flew a round-trip flight from its home base of Whiteman AFB, Mo., to the Pacific. —Brian Everstine

AFA’s CyberPatriot Launches Its Tenth Season

The Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition began its tenth season on Friday, with more than 5,000 high school and middle school students from the US, Canada, and other nations participating. The teams will participate in an online competition, made up of four rounds, to see which can best protect against cyber attacks. The teams compete for 28 expenses-paid trips to Baltimore for CyberPatriot’s National Finals Competition in April. In addition to the CyberPatriot competition, AFA also hosts an elementary school cyber education initiative, youth cyber camps, and will publish a preschool-focused cyber security storybook “Sarah the Cyber Hero.” AFA this year is also beginning a senior citizen cyber awareness program.


President Donald Trump visited Yokota AB, Japan, on Sunday as part of a visit through the Asia Pacific. Before Japan, Trump also visited with airmen at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Yokota release

US aircraft conducted two separate airstrikes in Somalia on Friday, reportedly killing several terrorists. US Africa Command release

The Congressional Research Service recently released a report outlining information about the Oct. 4 ambush of US Army soldiers in Niger and the response. US Naval Institute

Three mailroom employees tested negative for contamination after a suspicious package was mailed to Channel Islands ANGB, Calif. Ventura County Star

The Air Force is planning to test a directed energy laser on a mobility aircraft before integrating it on a fighter jet, according to Air Combat Command. Inside Defense