Rogers Sees Space Force Language in NDAA Next Year
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, told an AFA Mitchell Institute breakfast that language to set up a new Space Force could be ready for congressional consideration next year. He made the comments days after President Trump said he was “directing” the Pentagon to start working on setting up the new military service. However, USAF’s top uniformed acquisition officer told reporters late Thursday, the service is moving forward with plans to establish the Space Rapid Capabilities Office and to reorganize its space enterprise, noting, “We’re going to keep running the way we’re going until we get told otherwise.” Read the full story by Steve Hirsch and Amy McCullough.
Griffin Says China Should be Subject to Cold War-like Restrictions on Tech Transfer
China has exploited US industry, American willingness to cooperate as a trading partner, and American openness to rapidly advance its defense technology, Pentagon witnesses said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday. China has at the same time prosecuted a relentless and comprehensive strategy of stealing US intellectual property and military secrets, and its efforts at harvesting US knowledge must now be treated with Cold War-like suspicion, subject to far greater restriction and broad scrutiny, Pentagon research and engineering chief Mike Griffin said. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
Bunch: STEM Graduate Rates Bear Watching, Industry Concerned About Workforce
With a lot of high-end projects all clamoring for workers, the Air Force’s top acquisition officer said he’s aware that industry is worried about finding enough qualified people to accomplish them all. Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch also said the classified B-21 program is progressing on schedule—apparently not affected by the hiring crunch. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
Senate Committee Approves Language to Stop F-35s to Turkey
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved language to keep Turkey from receiving its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The move came during the committee’s markup of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for Fiscal 2019, the same day Lockheed held a ceremony marking delivery of the first two F-35s to the country. The Senate amendment would bar spending funds from Fiscal 2019 or previous years for the transfer of the fighters to Turkey until the State Department certifies that Turkey is neither purchasing nor accepting deliveries of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said last month that Turkey’s planned purchase of the Russian system presents problems and the Trump administration was discussing the issue with Turkey. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a backer of the amendment, said he supported the transfer of F-35s to Turkey but not if Turkey buys the S-400 system, a move that would “jeopardize the national security of the United States and our other allies,” he said. “This provision makes it clear that if Turkey ignores the concerns of its NATO allies and moves forward with this partnership with Putin, it will no longer receive F-35s,” he said. —Steve Hirsch
GAO Calls on Services to Collect More Data to Improve Pilot Retention
The Government Accountability Office, in a report on the military pilot shortage, Thursday called on the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps to collect more data to improve pilot retention rates. The report said the Defense Department does not have information on how many pilots leave the military for the airlines because the services do not have a way to gather the data. Moreover, the report said the Air Force’s legally required annual business case for its aviation retention bonuses does not distinguish among staffing gaps by officer grade to make sure the bonuses go to the right pilots. The GAO said the services should develop ways to gather information about pilots’ employment after they leave the services, and called on the Air Force to include officer grade among the factors it considers when analyzing staffing levels in preparing its case for aviation retention bonuses. —Steve Hirsch
Officer Nominations Announced
The Defense Department on Thursday announced the nominations of several USAF general officers. Twelfth Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Mark Kelly has been nominated for assignment as deputy chief of staff of operations at the Pentagon. Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, who currently serves as commander of 11th Air Force and head of Alaskan Command, has been tapped for assignment as deputy commander of US Forces Korea, while Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, who currently heads 8th Air Force, has been nominated for a third star and to replace Wilsbach at 11th AF. Maj. Gen. Christopher Weggeman, who currently serves as commander of 24th Air Force, also has been nominated to receive a third star and for assignment as deputy commander of Air Combat Command.
Existing UH-1N Bases Will Receive Replacement Helos
All bases that currently house UH-1N Hueys will receive the replacement for the aging aircraft, the Air Force announced Wednesday. The service is in the process of replacing the 46-year-old UH-1N fleet, and hopes to award a contract by October after a pre-award protest by Sikorsky delayed the process. The current UH-1N operating locations are Duke Field at Eglin AFB, Fla.; Fairchild AFB, Wash.; F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; JB Andrews, Md.; Kirtland AFB, N.M.; Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; and Minot AFB, N.D. The helicopters are usually used for personnel transport and to protect USAF missile fields. The Air Force will conduct an environmental impact analysis before the aircraft are based, with deliveries scheduled for 2020-2032, according to a USAF release. —Brian Everstine
—Three airmen assigned to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, were killed in a car crash this week. They were: SrA. Carlos Johnson, with the 366th Civil Engineer Squadron; SrA. Lawrence Manlapit, with the 391st Fighter Squadron, and SrA. Karlie Westall, with the 366th Operations Support Squadron: Idaho Statesman.
—The US Department of Health and Human Services was to tour Little Rock AFB, Ark., to determine its suitability for detaining people who have illegally entered the United States: Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
—The Pentagon is sending 21 military lawyers to the US-Mexico border, where they will be appointed as full-time special assistant US attorneys to help prosecute illegal immigration cases: NBC News.
—An M-240 machine gun, reported missing from Minot AFB, N.D., in May, has been located at an airman’s off-base residence. The missing weapon, along with grenades that also went missing, prompted the reassignment of the base’s security forces squadron commander: KFYR.
—The Air Force and Montana National Guard are assisting local emergency crews in the rescue of 100 students who are trapped at bible school after heavy rains washed out several roads and made it impossible for their families to reach them: The Independent Record.
—The Pentagon’s inspector general is conducting a review to determine whether “incentive fees paid” to Lockheed Martin for its F-35 program were warranted: Bloomberg.
—The Marine Corps has decided it would be too costly to repair an F-35B that caught fire nearly two years ago, making it the service’s first strike fighter to be lost: Marine Corps Times.