Current CR Will Trigger Sequestration Cuts, CRS Report Says
If left unchanged by Congress, the spending levels of the current continuing resolution (CR) would exceed the caps set in place by the 2011 Budget Control Act and trigger across-the-board sequestration cuts, a new Congressional Research Service report warns. The BCA cap for defense spending in fiscal year 2018 is $549 billion, while the nondefense limit is $516 billion. The federal government is currently operating under a three-month CR, which funds the government at a cap-breaking annualized rate of $551 billion for defense and $518 billion for nondefense spending, the report says. When the congressional session ends in December, the Office of Management and Budget will evaluate spending levels in relation to the caps, and CRS expects “a sequester to be triggered in both the defense and nondefense categories.” In order to avoid a sequester, CRS says Congress could delay OMB’s evaluation process, enact lower levels of spending that do not exceed the BCA caps, or work out a budget deal that will raise the caps. —Wilson Brissett
McCain, Thornberry Ask Congress to Raise Defense Spending
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) urged Congress on Friday to strike a budget deal that will allow an increase in defense spending. “We call on the negotiators to meet Congress’s constitutional obligation to give our troops the resources they need,” said McCain and Thornberry, who chair the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, in a joint statement. Both the House and Senate have already approved a defense policy bill that authorizes $700 billion in spending, and the lawmakers said, “the President himself has endorsed a defense budget at this level.” The 2011 Budget Control Act, however, limits defense spending for fiscal year 2018 to $549 billion. So in order to appropriate the full amount authorized by the defense bill, Congress would have to raise the limits set in place by the BCA. McCain and Thornberry urged their colleagues to do so, saying, “Congress has done its due diligence to authorize the appropriate level of funding based on threats, requirements, and missions,” and that “this era of forcing our troops to do more with less must come to end.” —Wilson Brissett
Wilson Says Logistics and Maintenance Ripe for Innovation
To find the most cutting-edge work within the Air Force, don’t look at the big weapons programs, service Secretary Heather Wilson said Friday. “I think that the opportunity for innovation in maintenance and logistics is actually the largest in the Air Force,” Wilson told the audience at a Logistics symposium in National Harbor, Md. She said the service wants to begin manufacturing aircraft replacement parts on site through 3D printing, and a cold spray device that can repair metal is less than a year away. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
Facing the Unknown in a Multi-Domain Command and Control Environment
The team in charge of Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein’s multi-domain command and control initiative will brief the service’s four-star generals on Nov. 27. Brig. Gen. Chance Saltzman, USAF’s director of current operations and leader of the MDC2 initiative, said the briefing will be focused on three main lines of effort—building a trained cadre of multi-domain and command control experts; rapidly leveraging existing technology; and figuring out exactly what a multi-domain force package would look like and how it would operate. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
JBSA, Academy Have Highest Number of Air Force Sexual Assault Reports
The highest number of sexual assault reports inside the Air Force took place at JB San Antonio—the service’s main training location—and the US Air Force Academy, according to a new Pentagon report on sexual assault at military installations released Friday. Overall, the total number of sexual assault reports in the Air Force was 1,334 in 2016, up from 1,070 in 2013, according to the report. That number includes Air Force specific locations (not including members of other services), USAF personnel on other service bases, and USAF personnel on joint bases. San Antonio, where enlisted airmen go through basic training, reported 117 instances of sexual assault in 2016, down from a high of 148 in 2013. The Academy reported 44 in 2016, down from its high of 59 the previous year. Read the full report, with specific totals for each military installation. —Brian Everstine
Ballistic Missile Defense Radar Completes Design Review
Lockheed Martin’s long-range discrimination radar has completed critical design review, the company announced Nov. 16. The ground-based radar will provide a crucial element in the Missile Defense Agency’s layered approach to protecting the US from ballistic missile attacks. The MDA completed its CDR evaluation in late September, and the LRDR system has been in low-rate manufacturing since early October. Full-rate production should begin in mid-2018, the company said, and the system is on track to achieve initial operational capability in 2020. Lockheed received a $784 million contract to build the system in 2015. —Wilson Brissett
FAA Evaluating Prototype for Drone Authorization System
The Federal Aviation Administration is currently evaluating a prototype of a system designed to provide “near-real time processing of airspace authorization requests” for recreational and commercial unmanned aerial systems across the nation, according to an FAA press release. FAA rules prohibit UAS operators from flying in “airspace controlled by an air traffic facility” without FAA authorization, and the low altitude authorization and notification (LAANC) system provides an efficient way to grant this permission. Initial LAANC services are being provided by two companies, AirMap and Skyward. The system makes use of existing UAS facility maps to show the altitude of UAS near flying airports and can provide automatic notification and authorization requests to the FAA. The FAA will complete prototype evaluation of the system in early 2018 and will “launch a national Beta test shortly thereafter.” The agency may also contract with additional service providers as the system expands. —Wilson Brissett
Editor’s Note: This entry was updated on Nov. 20 to accurately reflect LAANC’s use for commercial drones.
—Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast took command of Air Education and Training Command from Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson during a ceremony at JBSA-Randolph, Texas, on Nov. 16: USAF release.
—There are now 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan after the Pentagon recently completed its surge of 3,000 additional troops, Joint Force Director Lt. Gen. Frank McKenzie told reporters at the Pentagon on Nov. 16: Radio Free Europe report.
—The Air Force awarded Boeing a $23.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract for 10 full-rate production combat network communication technology upgrade kids for the B-52 bomber: DOD contract announcement.