Trump Signs NDAA
President Donald Trump signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act during a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday. “This legislation represents a momentous step toward rebuilding our military and securing the future for our children,” Trump said in remarks made before the signing. Just before signing the $700 billion defense policy bill, Trump called on Congress to “finish the job by eliminating the defense sequester and passing a clean appropriations bill.” Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
Airmen to Now Deploy on Individual Taskings as Teams
The Air Force announced Tuesday that airmen will deploy on individual taskings in three or more, the latest in Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein’s effort to strengthen teams in the service. The directive, titled “Deployed Teaming,” was effective Nov. 30 and is focused on providing mutual support throughout a deployment. “Deployed teaming places a higher value on mutual support and improves our warfighting capability,” Maj. Gen. Brian Killough, the deputy chief of staff for Air Force strategic plans, said in a statement announcing the initiative. “It allows us to be more effective, while increasing resiliency.” The teams will include airmen from the same duty location, deploying to the same location, during the same cycle, according to the Air Force. This team will train together for the deployment and travel together. Goldfein announced the effort during his first speech as Chief at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference in 2016. “[The team] will deploy together, it will employ together, and perhaps the most important thing is it will redeploy and it will reintegrate together,” he said at the time. “ And so we’re going to shift that pendulum a little bit and get back in the business of team deployments.” It was the second of his three main focus areas, the others being revitalizing squadrons and multi-domain command and control. —Brian Everstine
B-52s, F-22s Continue Hitting Taliban Drug Dens in Afghanistan
US aircraft, including B-52s and F-22s, continue to hit the Taliban’s drug infrastructure in Afghanistan. So far, 25 facilities have been destroyed and $80 million has been taken away from the group, the head of Operation Resolute Support’s future operations group said Tuesday. Still, leaders say the fight in Afghanistan remains a “stalemate.” Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Air Force Not Planning for Enlisted Pilots
The Air Force has no current plans to train enlisted airmen to fly combat aircraft, Air Education and Training Command clarified on Tuesday. Reports to the contrary have arisen in response to AETC’s Pilot Training Next program, which will include five enlisted airmen in a pilot training study focused on “how different groups of airmen learn,” AETC spokesman Capt. Beau Downey told Air Force Magazine in an email. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
SMC Looking for Value in Phase Two of EELV
Value will be king in Air Force space launch moving forward, according to a request for information released Tuesday by the Space and Missile Systems Center for Phase 2 of its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. In Phase 1A, SMC focused on standing up a competitive process for National Security Space launch services, a process that resulted in the certification of two providers, United Launch Alliance and SpaceX. In Phase 2, SMC will continue to “create a competitive environment for new and/or upgraded launch services,” as the Air Force focuses on the need to “acquire affordable [NSS] launch services.” Specifically, SMC’s strategy for Phase 2 will be to “award a majority share ratio of the launch services to the best value provider.” After that, “the next best value provider will be awarded the remaining launch services.” The service plans to select “two NSS launch services providers” for Phase 2 “starting in FY20.” Also in the next phase of EELV, SMC intends to complete its “transition from use of foreign propulsion systems,” a reference to congressional mandate that SMC replace the Russian RD-180 engine, currently used to power ULA’s Atlas V rocket, with a domestically-produced alternative. —Wilson Brissett
Draken Adds 12 South African Cheetahs to its Fleet
Draken International, which has been flying Red Air at Nellis AFB, Nev., since 2015, announced on Monday the acquisition of 12 South African Atlas Cheetah supersonic fighters. The aircraft—nine C-model single-seat and three D-model two-seaters—will be shipped directly from the manufacturer and will already be upgraded “with all the things you would expect of a fourth-generation fighter,” including radar warning and a radar warning receiver, color multi-function displays, head up display, and upgraded inertial navigation system and GPS, John Baum, Draken vice president of security and strategic projects, told Air Force Magazine. “Really, we’re getting a turn-key airplane,” he added. The acquisition brings the company’s total fleet to 109 aircraft. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
—Two USAF B-1B bombers deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, six F-35s, four US Navy F-18s, a USAF tanker, and four Jananese F-15 fighters conducted a show of force above the East China Sea, south of the Korean peninsula, on Tuesday: Reuters.
—Lt. Gen. Giovanni Tuck, head of 18th Air Force, relieved Col. John Howard of command of the 375th Air Mobility Wing on Monday citing lost confidence in his ability to lead. Col. Chris Buschur, the wing’s vice command, is serving as interim commander: USAF release.