SASC Holds Confirmation Hearing for AT&L, USAF Nominees
Ellen Lord and Matthew Donovan appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee in a confirmation hearing for key Department of Defense positions on Tuesday. Lord, a former president and CEO of Textron Systems, was nominated for the position of undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics (AT&L), and Donovan was tapped to be undersecretary of the Air Force. In response to senators’ questions, Lord promised to “drive innovation to regain our nation’s technological edge, while focusing on affordability and accountability.” She praised the success of the Department’s DIUX effort and said that, if confirmed, she would “absolutely” prioritize the initiative. Donovan told senators that “the Air Force has [gotten] too small to do everything the nation expects it to do in today’s dangerous world,” and that, if confirmed, he would work on “reversing its capacity shortfalls in people, aircraft, and funding.” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) had a pointed warning for Donovan. “Pay close attention to the B-21,” he said. “Manage the hell out of that project.” Whereas recent USAF aircraft programs had been notoriously “difficult, expensive, and slow,” King said, “We have a chance to get it right with the B-21.”
Report Finds Broken Control Unit Caused KC-10’s Boom to Detach in Flight
An Air Force investigation found that a KC-10’s broken boom control unit, and an operator’s failure to deactivate the control unit, caused the aircraft’s refueling boom to detach and crash into an Idaho field in November 2016. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
DOD Acquisition Report Outlines Cost Overruns, Decreases
The Air Force’s KC-46 tanker, Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, and F-15 survivability systems saw significant cost reductions from December 2015 to December 2016. Meanwhile, the F-35 program and Joint Direct Attack Munitions saw significant increases during the same time period, according to the Pentagon’s periodic Selected Acquisition Report. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
USAF Signs Off $38 Million to Lockheed for JASSM-ER Wing Design
Lockheed Martin announced Wednesday it received an undefinitized contracting action from USAF in the amount of $37.7 million to continue its work on improving JASSM-ER wings for inclusion in production Lot 17. Undefinitized suggests there are still details or modifications that could be added to the contract as the scope of work becomes clearer. The new wing design aims to increase the range of the cruise missiles, currently set at over 500 nautical miles. “We’ve developed a novel design that provides additional standoff range to further increase pilot survivability in an anti-access, area-denial threat environment,” said Jason Denney, program director for long range strike systems at Lockheed Martin, in a release. “Our customers trust our already proven design and we look forward to enhancing its capabilities for warfighters.”
House Budget Resolution Conforms to NDAA Spending Levels
The House Budget Committee released its 2018 budget resolution for the federal government, as well as a summary document, on Tuesday. The blueprint budget calls for $621 billion in base budget defense spending and $75 billion in overseas contingency operations (OCO) money—the same level of funding approved last week by the House in the National Defense Authorization Act. Those numbers would place defense spending at $72 billion above the caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which also mandates a balance of federal spending between defense and non-defense discretionary spending. The House Budget committee is proposing $511 billion in non-defense discretionary spending. Committee members were set to offer amendments to the proposed legislation at a markup session on Wednesday. The House Rules Committee on Tuesday also presented a new version of a combined defense appropriations bill that stripped a provision requiring a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). The House Appropriations Committee had approved the measure, which was introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). In a statement released Wednesday, Lee expressed her disappointment. “Refusing to debate and vote on our ongoing wars is an abdication of our constitutional responsibility,” she said. “Our men and women in uniform deserve better.”
USAF Announces 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year
The Air Force has announced the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2017. They are: SMSgt. Raymond T. Artis Jr., Pacific Air Forces; SrA. Kaitlyn J. Callahan, Air Force Global Strike Command; SrA. Brittany F. Fuentes, Air Mobility Command; MSgt. Johann Ko, Air Force Reserve Command; SSgt. Stephen F. Lapointe, Air Force Special Operations Command; MSgt. Joshua D. Malyemezian, Air Combat Command; SrA. Nicole A. Moore, Air Education and Training Command; TSgt. Jason D. Selberg, Air National Guard; SrA. Kacper I. Sovinski, Air Force District of Washington; MSgt. Michael J. Stevens, Air Force Materiel Command; MSgt. Ashley T. Strong, Air Force Space Command; SSgt. Kyle T. Wilson, United States Air Forces in Europe. The airmen were selected from a total of 36 nominees who represented major commands, direct reporting units, field operating agencies, and Headquarters Air Force. The final 12 airmen were selected “based on superior leadership, job performance, and personal achievements,” according to an Air Force release. The Air Force Association will honor the airmen at its Air, Space & Cyber conference, which will be Sept. 18-20 in National Harbor, Md.
—The Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft made its international airshow debut at the Lethbridge International Air Show in Canada last week: ACC release.
—More than 50 airmen participated in a close air support exercise last week at Arkansas training areas. The Oklahoma Air National Guard-led Sooner Strike event included special operations MC-12Ws, as well as F-16s, A-10s, and KC-135s: AFSOC release.
—Lockheed Martin reported a five percent increase in income during the second quarter, fueled in part by an increased demand for F-35s. The DOD’s largest defense contractor also raised its earnings forecast for the rest of the year, saying the rosier outlook was based on expected increases in defense spending under President Donald Trump: Reuters.
—Three KC-10s from Travis AFB, Calif., are supporting multinational exercises in the US Pacific Command area of responsibility. The Extenders recently refueled five C-17s transporting paratroopers to Australia for Exercise Talisman Saber. The C-17s went on to participate in a strategic airdrop mission called Exercise Ultimate Reach. The KC-10s continued to support Talisman Saber by refueling F/A-18 Super Hornets and other aircraft involved: PACAF release.