Raytheon Completes OCX Block 1 as Second GPS III Satellite Set for Launch

Raytheon finished developing the newest version of the control system for the Air Force’s GPS III satellites one day before the second satellite is set to launch into space. “We will begin deploying the Block 1 modernized monitor station receivers to their global locations this fall, keeping us on track to deliver the full system capability to the US Air Force by our June 2021 contractual deadline,” Bill Sullivan, vice president for Raytheon’s GPS Next-Generation Operational Control System (OCX), said in an Aug. 21 email. The Air Force is on track to launch Lockheed Martin’s second GPS III satellite, dubbed Magellan, from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., on Aug. 22. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Northrop Grumman, Air Force Plan Future of B-2 Fleet as Spirit Turns 30

PALMDALE, Calif.—The Air Force and Northrop Grumman officially marked the 30th birthday of the B-2 on Aug. 20, celebrating a bomber that changed US nuclear deterrence at a time when it is overhauling the aircraft’s defensive systems and laying the groundwork for its successor. In July 1989, the first B-2 rolled out onto the same Palmdale flight line where the ceremony was held. Since then, the aircraft has flown in major US conflicts and evolved with new technology, weapons carriages, and maintenance techniques. The Air Force expects to phase out the Spirit into the 2030s as Northrop’s next-generation B-21 bomber comes online. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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Pentagon Investigating Possible Attack on MQ-9

The military is investigating reports that the armed Houthi movement attacked an MQ-9 Reaper in Yemen, a US Central Command spokesman confirmed Aug. 21. “We have been clear that Iran’s provocative actions and support to militants and proxies, like the Iranian-backed Houthis, poses a serious threat to stability in the region and our partners,” Army Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in an email. Brown declined to answer who was flying the remotely piloted aircraft during the alleged attack or whether it was armed. Houthi rebels, members of a military and political movement in Yemen that opposes the Yemeni government, Saudi Arabian, and US forces, are also said to have downed a US drone in June. —Rachel S. Cohen

Two US Service Members Killed in Afghanistan

Two US military personnel were killed Aug. 21 in Afghanistan, NATO’s Resolute Support mission said in a release issued the same day. Their names are withheld for 24 hours after the Pentagon notifies their next of kin. Resolute Support did not specify which service the personnel belong to. Fourteen American service members have now been killed in Afghanistan this year, one more than in all of 2018. Most recently, two soldiers were killed in a combat-related incident in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan Province on July 29. US aircraft carried out 613 strikes in Afghanistan in July, Air Force Magazine previously reported. American forces conducted 3,700 strikes in that theater in the first seven months of 2019 as insurgent forces regain strength. —Rachel S. Cohen

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Pentagon Cancels Billion-Dollar Missile Defense Project

The Pentagon is pulling the plug on a billion-dollar, technically troubled project to build a better weapon that would destroy incoming missiles. The announced reason for canceling the Boeing contract, effective Aug. 22, was that the project’s design problems were so significant as to be either insurmountable or too costly to correct. Associated Press

Inside America’s Dysfunctional Trillion-Dollar Fighter-Jet Program

The F-35 was once the Pentagon’s high-profile problem child. Has it finally moved past its reputation of being an overhyped and underperforming warplane? The New York Times Magazine (paywall)

Tectonic Shift as NRO Moved Under Space Command in Wartime

If war in space erupts, the new US Space Command will have the power to order the National Reconnaissance Office to take “defensive space operations” under a new joint concept of operations. The new chain of command represents a tectonic plate shift in US national security space, which has long been plagued by often testy relationships between the Intelligence Community and Defense Department. Breaking Defense

Wary of China, Pentagon to Launch “Trusted Capital Marketplace” This Fall

To help bolster the industrial base against potential adversaries, the Defense Department is planning to kick-start its “Trusted Capital Marketplace” project this fall, said the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment Aug. 20. National Defense Magazine

Mattis’s Successor Signals He Wants to End the Pentagon’s Long Silence

Defense Secretary Mark Esper is beefing up his media relations team. But is it too late? Foreign Policy (partial paywall)

Airmen, Companies Tackle Mission Pain Points During AFWERX Spark Collider

Over the span of two days, more than 150 airmen representing 50 bases and 200 entrepreneurs representing 100 Small Business Innovation Research Phase I companies joined together to see which missions could match up to an associated business product. USAF release

Four Super Hornets Damaged in Carrier Landing Gone Wrong

While attempting to land on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea earlier this month, an E-2D Hawkeye propeller aircraft struck two F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft and sent debris flying into two other F/A-18s on the flight deck, according to the Naval Safety Center. Military.com

One More Thing

Military Scientists Harness AI To Fight Synthetic Opioids

A Defense Intelligence Agency team is using artificial intelligence to map the shadowy production-and-distribution networks of synthetic opioids that kill more than 47,000 Americans a year—and in the process showing how military and law enforcement will put AI to work. Defense One