CJCS Nominee Highlights Growing Chinese Threat

The nominee to be the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer continued to sound the alarm about China’s growing influence in the Pacific, an issue that promises to be the top US concern for decades to come. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 11 that the US needs to continue to exert a strong presence in the Pacific and further its partnerships because concerns about a militant China are “palpable as you go around the region.” Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

SASC to Consider Esper for DOD Secretary July 16

The Senate Armed Services Committee will vet Mark Esper to become defense secretary at a July 16 confirmation hearing, lawmakers said July 11. The committee received pre-nomination paperwork for Esper, the current acting defense secretary, though the White House has not formally submitted his name. Committee rules require senators to wait seven days to hold a confirmation hearing after receiving the formal nomination, but “given the exigencies of the situation," the committee waived the rules to expedite the confirmation process. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Under Secretary to Oversee Top-Level “Digital Air Force” Vision

Acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan this week unveiled a “Digital Air Force” policy vision to unify the service’s various efforts to use data in new ways for faster, more efficient operations. “We must synergize three interconnected and mutually supporting reform efforts: IT architecture, data management, and business operations reform,” according to a July 9 white paper. “Every segment of the Air Force will be impacted by these changes: we are driving to integrate warfighting, information operations, cyber, and business practices as a vehicle for dominating great-power competition.” Rather than rely on stovepiped computer systems that can’t share information, the Air Force will work to make data more shareable and accessible, rely more heavily on cloud-based servers, and prioritize resilient cybersecurity. The service’s under secretary will oversee that work. These changes also come as the Air Force sketches out data-driven approaches to battle management and command and control, outsources IT services to private companies, merges its intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, cyber, and electronic warfare airmen into a new organization, and touts the merits of artificial intelligence, autonomy, and quantum computing. “By correlating multi-spectral and multi-source data, we will find adversaries that try to hide in the ‘noise,’ helping us prosecute fleeting, mobile, or time-sensitive targets with greater confidence and precision,” the white paper said. —Rachel S. Cohen

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Fifth AEHF Satellite Launch Delayed Until August

The rocket slated to carry a key military communications satellite has hit another snag on its way to space. United Launch Alliance spokeswoman Heather McFarland said July 11 the company’s Atlas V rocket will not fly the fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite into orbit until at least Aug. 8, "due to an anomaly during component testing at a supplier, which has created a cross-over concern." The industry team will review the issue and decide if any corrective action is needed. Last month, ULA said the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s AEHF-5 mission would be bumped from June 27, its original launch date, to July 9 at the earliest due to a rocket battery failure. —Rachel S. Cohen

Hurricane Hunters Track Tropical Storm Barry Near Gulf Coast

Hurricane season is starting in the Gulf of Mexico as Tropical Storm Barry approaches Louisiana and Mississippi and is expected to make landfall this weekend. A hurricane-hunting WC-130J from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron began flying into the storm this week, including a nine-hour mission on July 11. The squadron reported the storm strengthened after it initially covered a broad area but had weak winds. Barry will bring a dangerous surge to the Gulf Coast over a period of several days, according to the National Hurricane Center. Keesler AFB, Miss., posted a message to its Facebook page that it expects heavy storms and road closures, but did not announce any evacuations of its C-130s or other assets. —Brian Everstine

Berger Begins Job as Marine Corps Commandant

Gen. David Berger took over as the 38th commandant of the Marine Corps on July 11, replacing retiring Gen. Robert Neller. Berger, who received his fourth star in the promotion, is the former commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command and deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for combat development and integration. He’s a former commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force and US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. He was nominated for the position in March and confirmed by the Senate in June. —Brian Everstine

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OPINION: How We Tamed the F-35’s Spiraling Costs—and Created a Model for Controlling Waste

Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter says defending America means defending taxpayers’ dollars. Defense One

North Korea Calls South Korea’s F-35 Jet Purchases “Extremely Dangerous Action”

South Korea’s acquisition of American F-35 stealth fighter jets will force North Korea to develop and test “special armaments” to destroy the new weapons, North Korea’s state media said July 11, citing a government researcher. Reuters

Defense Department Accelerates Hypersonic Weapons Development

A renewed sense of urgency spurred by rivals Russia and China has pushed the US military to speed up the development of hypersonic technology. The Army, Navy and Air Force are all closely involved in the campaign with more test flights coming in 2020. National Defense Magazine

US Missiles, Sold to France, Found in Rebel Hands in Libya

The French military, which bought the missiles from the United States, said it wasn’t sure how the weapons ended up under insurgent control in Libya. UPI

Lawmakers Still Fighting to Keep US Out of War With Iran

The House began floor debate Wednesday on the massive defense policy bill, including the 3.1% military pay raise, as several Democrats pressed for an amendment that would block the use of military force against Iran unless Congress approved. Military.com

A $655M Satellite Ground System Contract Has Led to a Lawsuit

Peraton is suing the government over a $655 million, six-year contract to support the Air Force’s satellite ground systems. C4ISRNET

Vice President Pence Visits Vandenberg AFB

Vice President Michael Pence and Karen Pence met with base leadership, airmen and their families during a visit July 10 at Vandenberg AFB, Colo. USAF release

Seymour Johnson AFB Pledges to Fix Dismal Housing After Photos Surface

Leaders at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., on July 10 pledged to go “room by room” and inspect its lodging facilities after a social media post exposed filthy conditions at several rooms at the base’s temporary living facilities. Air Force Times

Government, Industry Officials Cite Diversity as Key to Resiliency at Milsatcom USA Conference

Access to satellites operating in different orbits and bandwidths will help keep the US military connected in an increasingly contested environment where information can be the difference between victory and defeat, industry and defense officials said. Government Satellite Report

One More Thing

Patrouille Suisse: Fighter Jet Display Team Fly-By Misses Town

A Swiss aerial display team has performed a fly-by over the wrong town, surprising people at a yodelling festival taking place nearby. BBC News