USAF Reviewing Travel Policies as Trump Resort Stays Face Scrutiny
The Air Force has ordered a global review of its airport- and accommodations-selection processes, though it maintains its mobility crews did nothing wrong, after media reports surfaced that aircrews repeatedly stayed at a property owned by President Donald Trump during stopovers in Scotland. Air Mobility Command is reviewing all of its guidance regarding how airmen choose airports and lodging during international travel. “We must be considerate of perceptions of not being good stewards of taxpayer funds that might be created through the appearance of aircrew staying at such locations,” top Air Force spokesman Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas said. In 2017, AMC issued a directive to flight crews that listed the nearby Prestwick Airport as one of the top-five recommended stops on standard routes through the area because it is a better option than a nearby airport in Shannon, Ireland. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
White House Announces Barrett Nomination
The White House on Sept. 9 announced
that it sent Barbara Barrett’s nomination to the Senate for consideration to be the next Air Force secretary, about four months after President Donald Trump said on Twitter the former Federal Aviation Administration deputy administrator was his pick to succeed outgoing SECAF Heather Wilson. The Senate Armed Services Committee appears ready to fast-track the nomination and has scheduled a Sept. 12 hearing to consider Barrett’s nomination. If confirmed, she would take over the Air Force’s top civilian post from Matt Donovan, who has served as acting secretary since Wilson left for academia at the end of May. —Rachel S. Cohen
Six Countries Interested in USAF’s New Combat Rescue Helicopter
Multiple foreign countries are interested in buying the Air Force’s new Sikorsky-built Combat Rescue Helicopter, the HH-60W, according to a company official. Greg Hames, Sikorsky’s CRH program director, told Air Force Magazine on Sept. 9 the company has pulled together six briefings for those undisclosed countries. He referred other foreign military sales questions to the Air Force, which did not immediately respond. “If we are able to stimulate the international customer into buying these combat search-and-rescue [helicopters], that ultimately helps the Air Force because it drives down unit cost,” Hames said. “The Air Force has the entire portfolio and who they’re entertaining with this capability.” If other countries want to invest in the program, the Air Force would have to choose whether to take airframes from the existing production line and when. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.
Warfighter Council Shaping SDA Research Ahead of Demos
A council formed within the Pentagon’s new Space Development Agency has started meeting, with the goal of hearing what service members need from a new array of military assets in orbit. The SDA Warfighter Council stood up as part of the agency’s establishment in March as a “conduit for ongoing, two-way communication between the SDA and the warfighter,” according to Defense Department spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea. It includes about 20 organizations spanning the Joint Staff, combatant commands, service acquisition branches, and the intelligence community. Members have met twice so far this year, including the council’s first meeting on May 1. They plan to convene quarterly, and another meeting is slated for the end of 2019. The group isn’t planning any visits to bases or industry facilities at the moment, Elzea said, but did participate in an SDA tabletop exercise to weigh in on how the systems SDA pursues would support operations. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.
Air Mobility Command Kicks Off Largest-Ever Exercise
SPOKANE, Wash.—Air Mobility Command’s biggest exercise is off and running here in the Inland Northwest, bringing together 46 US aircraft and those of 29 other nations, along with more than 4,000 personnel. Mobility Guardian 2019, the second iteration of the exercise since it began in 2017, will run for three weeks. It is headquartered at Fairchild AFB, Wash., and also includes several other locations and training ranges throughout the Northwest. The USAF presence includes KC-10s, KC-135s, C-5s, C-17s, and C-130s, but not the new KC-46. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Base Defense Beats Airborne Strike for Directed-Energy Tests
The Air Force is eyeing a new type of weapon to defend overseas air bases from enemy cruise missiles: directed energy. Starting in fiscal 2020, the service will vet high-energy lasers and high-power microwaves that can counter cruise missiles as part of its overarching effort to experiment with DE technology and get working systems into the field. Lasers can burn through the body of a missile, while microwaves would fry the internal electronics. In a fall 2018 request for information, the Air Force also said it wanted to pursue lasers and microwaves for “precision airborne offensive strike and aircraft defense” against surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. But as the service shifts its focus within its DE Flight Plan to hone in on countering unmanned aircraft and securing bases instead of protecting airborne planes, experiments to shape the offensive strike and self-defense missions will reportedly be pushed back. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.
Outstanding Airmen of the Year Spotlight: MSgt. Jahara A. Brown
The Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2019 will be formally recognized at AFA’s Air, Space, and Cyber Conference Sept. 16-18. Air Force Magazine is highlighting one each workday from now until the conference begins. Today, we honor MSgt. Jahara A. Brown from Air Force Materiel Command.
Defense Lawmakers Set Aggressive Schedule for NDAA
While lawmakers have been on a five-week summer recess, staff for each chamber’s armed services committees were working to resolve non-controversial issues on the massive annual defense policy measure, clearing the way for conferees to focus on more problematic policy differences when they return this week. Even with complicated work ahead and only 13 working days in September, aides in both chambers confirmed that leaders hope to draft a compromise conference report by Sept. 19, finalize signatures to the bill by Sept. 23, and set floor votes in each chamber before the end of September. Defense News
US Military Likely to Ramp Up Operations Against Taliban: US General
The US military is likely to accelerate the pace of its operations in Afghanistan to counter an increase in Taliban attacks, a senior US general said on Sept. 9 following Washington’s suspension of peace talks with the insurgents. Reuters
White House Pushes Back on Senate Language on Space Force, Missile Defense Satellites
The White House and the Pentagon are unhappy with the Senate language because it doesn’t give DoD full legal authority to establish a space service as a sixth branch of the armed forces. Space News
Peterson Air Force Base Holds Ceremony to Mark Opening of Space Command
A ceremony was held at Peterson AFB, Colo., to mark the re-establishment of the Pentagon’s US Space Command. President Donald Trump re-launched Space Command in December with the goal of improving the organization space operations across the US military and to speed up technical developments. CBS Denver
As Criticism Mounts, Boeing Looks to Keep Pace With KC-46 Deliveries
Following years of delays and high-profile snafus, the Boeing Co. is predicting the KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tanker program will meet its key performance goals. National Defense Magazine
Pentagon’s New Electronic Health Records System Deployed to Second Wave of Bases
The second wave of military medical facilities have adopted the Pentagon’s enterprise electronic health records system, MHS GENESIS, expanding the program to four more bases in the Western United States: California’s David Grant Air Force Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base; Naval Health Clinic Lemoore at NAS Lemoore, and Army Health Clinic Presidio of Monterey, as well as the 366th Medical Group at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. Nextgov
Pentagon Suspends Mental Health Counseling Referral Services for DOD Civilians
The Defense Department on Sept. 1 abruptly suspended its Employee Assistance Program, which offers referrals for hundreds of thousands in the civilian workforce for health care, mental health counseling, legal matters and other support services. And while officials say there’s an agreement in place to resume the service, it’s not clear when it will start up again. Military.com
One More Thing
F-22 Demo Cockpit Hyperlapse
Take a virtual ride inside the cockpit of an F-22 Raptor during a full demonstration performance from the 2019 Fort Lauderdale Air Show in this hyperlapse video by USAF 2nd Lt. Samuel Eckholm. USAF video