Esper Confirmation Likely Smooth Despite Ethics Questions

Defense secretary nominee Mark Esper enjoyed largely bipartisan support at his July 16 confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee—presaging a smooth, fast-tracked approval process in the full chamber—despite fielding criticisms from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) about his time at Raytheon. Esper appeared before the committee the day after his nomination became official, and could be confirmed within a week. In a testy exchange with Warren, Esper said he has abided by his ethics agreement and has not sought any waivers, though he didn’t promise to avoid waivers in the future. Esper also rejected Warren’s request for a guarantee that he wouldn’t seek employment at Raytheon or another defense contractor after leaving the Pentagon. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Trump Bans F-35 Sales to Turkey As S-400 Begins Delivery

The US will not sell Turkey F-35s in response to its acquisition of the Russian-made S-400 missile system, President Donald Trump said Tuesday, adding that the country is in a “tough situation.” Turkey on July 12 began receiving the first components of the S-400 system, after months of Pentagon warnings that it would be kicked out of the F-35 program if it continued with the buy. The move also shows that Turkey has “drifted over the past several years” away from close relationships with the US and NATO, defense secretary nominee Mark Esper said. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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US to Afghanistan: Ditch the Mi-35

The Pentagon is trying to get the Afghan Air Force to dump its Russian-built Mi-35 attack helicopters and instead focus on American-made aircraft, even as the growing military received four more of the rotorcraft from India last year. In a semiannual Defense Department report published July 12 that covers December 2018 through May 2019, officials noted they have advised the Afghans to abandon the Mi-35 HIND maintenance program, for which the US doesn’t offer funding or advisory support. Afghanistan owns 10 more US-supported airframes than it did in the second half of 2018, and the number of qualified pilots and copilots rose by about a dozen in December 2018 to 222 this month. The AAF is making incremental progress despite lacking effective leadership, DOD said. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Lakenheath Starts Work on F-35 Infrastructure

RAF Lakenheath broke ground on its new F-35 infrastructure in a July 15 ceremony co-hosted by the 48th Fighter Wing, the UK’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation, and community members, according to an Air Force release. US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Commander Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian also participated in the ceremonial groundbreaking. The new additions to the installation, including a flight simulator facility, a maintenance unit, new hangars, and storage facilities, will enable it to host F-35As beginning in late 2021, the release said. “This ceremony is an exciting milestone for the [48th FW] as we prepare this installation to welcome two squadrons of F-35A Lightning II aircraft and supporting personnel,” said Wing Commander Col. William Marshall. “Breaking ground on this project takes us one step closer to becoming a more lethal and ready force as US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa’s premier combat wing.” ––Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

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Schwartz Tapped to Lead Institute for Defense Analyses

Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz will take over as president of the Institute for Defense Analyses, Air Force Magazine has learned. Schwartz, who retired as CSAF in 2012 after almost 40 years of service, serves on the group’s board of trustees. IDA is a nonprofit organization based in Alexandria, Va., that runs three federally funded research centers focused on analyzing national security issues. After leaving the Air Force, Schwartz served as the president and chief executive officer of Business Executives for National Security. He isn’t the only former CSAF to lead the group: Gen. Larry Welch served as IDA president before retiring in 2009. —Brian Everstine



AFRL, IBM to Pioneer Quantum Information Technology for DOD

The Air Force Research Laboratory is breaking new ground in their efforts to partner with industry, academia, and the Department of Defense to apply quantum information science to Air Force concerns and ensure they remain the most advanced and capable force in the world. USAF release

Space Force Legislative Talks at Impasse Over Personnel Issues, Cost Concerns

The Senate and the House have passed competing versions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. Both give the Pentagon the green light to stand up a military space branch, although they diverge on the details. Space News

Cotton, Van Hollen, Colleagues Introduce the Defending America’s 5G Future Act

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), along with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on July 16 introduced legislation to reinforce the Trump administration’s efforts to prevent the Chinese-owned telecom company Huawei from threatening America’s national security. The Defending America’s 5G Future Act would codify President Trump’s recent executive order and would prohibit the removal of Huawei from the Commerce Department Entity List without an act of Congress. Office of Sen. Tom Cotton release

US Could Use Turkish F-35 Parts Contracts to Entice New Customers

If the United States ejects Turkey from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, it would gain new enticements to help sell the stealth fighter jet to other allies. That’s because contracts for the 900-plus F-35 parts currently made in Turkey could be offered to countries that are considering buying the jet, such as Canada, Finland, Switzerland, and Spain. Defense One

Service Academy Graduates Could See Longer Military Obligations

Senators want to look at the service obligations that graduates of U.S. military academies incur for the first time in more than 20 years. Military Times

Wright-Patterson AFB Opens Cyber Defense Facility

During a July 9 ribbon cutting ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Fighters and Bombers Directorate officially opened a new $1.5 million facility essential to protecting weapon systems from cyber threats and mitigating cyber vulnerabilities across the Air Force fighters and bombers fleet. USAF release

Hmong Veterans Ask for Burial Rights in US Veterans Cemeteries

In 2018, US President Donald Trump signed into law the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act, which allows Lao-Hmong veterans to be buried in US national cemeteries. The law, however, only recognizes veterans who became naturalized US citizens after the year 2000. St. Paul Pioneer Press

One More Thing

Explore the Apollo 11 Command Module

The Smithsonian Digitization Program Office completed a full 3D scan of the Command Module, Columbia, from the National Air and Space Museum’s collection. The scan was handled by DPO’s 3-D Program team––a small group of technologists using three-dimensional scanning technology and analysis tools. The highly detailed model allows anyone with an internet connection to explore the entire craft, including its interior. Smithsonian 3D Program