Trump: Budget Impasse Will Hurt Military Most
The House approved a stopgap spending measure late Thursday evening in an effort to keep the government open past midnight on Friday when the existing continuing resolution expires. The bill would fund the government through Feb. 16, but a similar deal is looking unlikely in the Senate, reported the New York Times. Earlier Thursday, President Trump acknowledged a government shutdown was possible, noting the worst part would be “what happens to our military.” Congress has until midnight on Friday to reach a budget agreement or pass another continuing resolution, which would be the fourth such temporary measure since Oct. 1 when the fiscal year began. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch and Brian Everstine.
Air Force “Zero-Based Review” Underway
The Air Force has begun a “zero-based review” of all programs to weed out those that have persisted largely through inertia and not operational need, Undersecretary Matthew Donovan reported Thursday. Speaking at an AFA event on Capitol Hill, Donovan said “everything is on the table” in the review, and programs will have to “fight” to get back into the budget. The review will influence the Fiscal 2020 budget and beyond, not the budget that will be sent to Capitol Hill Feb. 5. Donovan also said he thinks signs point to an extended continuing resolution instead of a signed budget, and that this would be highly deleterious to Air Force efforts to restore readiness. He expressed support for the OA-X “Light Attack Aircraft” concept and said he hopes Congress will end the practice of using the Air Force as a “pass through” budget conduit for secrete programs for other-agencies, as it gives the impression the USAF budget is much larger than it actually is. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
USAF Acquisition Nominee Plans Review of F-35A, B-21 Sustainment and Force Structure
William Roper, the White House’s nominee for undersecretary of the Air Force for acquisition, told lawmakers on Thursday the service needs to review F-35 sustainment costs or else it might be forced to reduce the overall buy. Roper, who currently leads the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, also said the administration’s upcoming National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Reviews will help the Air Force determine how many B-21s it should purchase. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
AFRL Announces 14 “Listening Sessions,” Next Step in its Science and Technology Review
During USAF’s Science and Technology Summit 2030, the Air Force Research Laboratory announced 14 information-gathering events around the country, officially unrolling the engagement phase of its year-long science and technology review. These “listening sessions” aim to let non-traditional USAF partners in the science and technology arena—really, the American public—offer the service innovative ideas, explained AFRL Commander Maj. Gen. William Cooley at the National Academies of Science in Washington, D.C. Though AFRL is a force to be reckoned with, “at its core, the military isn’t a research organization,” said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson at the event. Therefore, it is imperative for the service to reach outside of itself to seek innovation, a key component of the review. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.
Shaw Airman’s Death Under Investigation
A crew chief assigned to the 95th Fighter Group at Shaw AFB, S.C., was found dead in his off-base residence on Monday. SSgt. Zachary Townsend enlisted in the Air Force in July 2008. “We are heartbroken to have lost a valued member of our team,” said Col. Michael Dean, commander of the 495th FG. He added, “This loss is felt by each of us deeply. Our condolences are with all those who grieve with us during this time of tragedy.” Foul play is not suspected, though Townsend’s death remains under investigation by the Richland County Coroner’s Office, according to a base press release.
What’s the Status of USAF’s A-10 Rewinging Program
The Air Force said it expects to receive funding for a new A-10 wing production line this year and is open to the program going forward if called for, despite a new report from a government watchdog organization saying the service intends to end the rewinging program before the fleet us fully updated. The Project on Government Oversight on Wednesday said the Air Force’s A-10 Program Element Manager said at a meeting of Warthog personnel that the rewinging program “was not going to happen” and that the service had no intention to buy new wings for additional aircraft beyond the 171 that had already been upgraded. The Air Force awarded Boeing the initial contract for about 242 wing sets in 2007, with work beginning in 2010. The original plan called for 50 sets per year through 2018. The Air Force in a statement said it plans to use $103 million authorized in the Fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, once approved, to create a new wing production line and produce four more A-10 wings. “Establishing the production line will enable to Air Force to procure additional wings if the decision is made to do so in budgets beyond FY18,” the statement reads, adding that Air Force leaders have publicly supported retaining A-10s. —Brian Everstine
Air Force Consolidating Thule Air Base in the Arctic
The Army is conducting major consolidation work on Thule AB, Greenland, which monitors the skies for missiles from its position halfway between Washington and Moscow. Many of the original buildings are still in use, but have become worn, and heating them wastes energy, according to a base release. The consolidation effort looks to cut the size of the base by 40 percent through the demolition of 31 old buildings. The government will then build new structures closer together in the base’s central area. The new and renovated buildings will receive an improved heating system and the base heating plant is getting more energy-efficient exhaust gas heat recovery boilers and engines. Thule already has saved almost $37 million in energy and base operating costs since the project began in 2009, and officials estimate the consolidation once complete will cut energy use by 35 percent, according to Dan Rodriguez, acting deputy base civil engineer at Peterson AFB, Colo. Thule is 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 950 miles from the North Pole. The northernmost US installation served in the 1950s as an aircraft refueling stop, before later performing missile warning and space surveillance. It is home to 650 personnel, including 200 US military, as well as Danish and Greenlandic residents. The US Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, is performing the work. —Steve Hirsch
—Lockheed Martin will relocate its F-35 partner support center for Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory from Fort Worth, Texas, to Eglin AFB, Fla., under a new $7.47 million contract announced on Wednesday: UPI.
—Six F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan AB, Korea, are participating in Commando Sling 18, which kicked off Monday at Paya Lebar AB, Singapore, and runs through Feb. 2: PACAF release.
—Terma North America, Inc., was awarded a $44.3 million contract for engineering, integration, and production of a 3D audio system in F-16C/D aircraft. Work will be performed in Denmark and is slated for completion in January 2024: DOD contract announcement.
—The surgeon general of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa will host the “first-ever” African and European partnership flight aeromedical evacuation symposium Jan. 16-19. Participating countries include Albania, Algeria, Angola, Bulgaria, Croatia, Gabon, Hungary, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Zambia: AFRICOM release.
—The Defense Department and the Food and Drug Administration have launched a pilot program aimed at expediting medical products to US troops, es?pecially those that could be used to treat injuries on the battlefield: DOD release.
—The State Department’s Undersecretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon and the Defense Department’s Deputy Under Secretary for Policy David Trachtenberg met with their South Korean counterparts during the second meeting of the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group in Washington on Wednesday: State Department release.