Campia Turzii

USAF Begins Basing MQ-9s in Romania

Air Force MQ-9s have a new permanent home in Romania. U.S. Air Forces in Europe announced Jan. 4 that Reapers and about 90 Airmen are now based at Romanian Air Force Base 71 at Campia Turzii. The surveillance and attack drones are assigned to the 31st Expeditionary Operations Group, Detachment 1, under the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy. “The forward and ready positioning of our MQ-9s at this key strategic location reassures our allies and partners, while also sending a message to our adversaries that we can quickly respond to any emergent threat,” Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, the United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, said in a release. USAFE did not disclose the number of Reapers that will be assigned to the base, which houses a unit of Romanian Air Force MiG-23 fighter jets.
Air Force sustainment

Air Force Seeks 3D Scanner to Reverse-Engineer Parts

The Air Force’s Rapid Sustainment Office is again reaching out to industry for new approaches to three-dimensional scanning so it can replicate aircraft parts that are no longer in production. On Jan. 4, the RSO published a call for a “cutting-edge, automated 3D scanning system” that can create models to reproduce machine parts. That scanner should be able to gather the data for a blueprint showing complex, even hidden, geometry as well as color and reflectivity. A request for proposals is slated for release on Feb. 4, with ideas due March 5 and a contract on tap for March 31.
Luke F-35s, F-16s train daily

DOD Extends F-35 Full-Rate Production Decision Due to Pandemic

The F-35 will miss yet another deadline for completing final tests and being approved for full-scale production, according to a memo from Pentagon acquisition and sustainment chief Ellen Lord. The sticking point is integration of the F-35 with a wargaming simulation system. This has gone slowly because the programming must be done in secure facilities, challenged by the COVID pandemic. An independent entity will help set a new timetable for passing the milestone.
SpaceX SDA

SDA Taps SpaceX for Two Launches of New Satellites

SpaceX will carry data-transport and missile-tracking satellites to orbit for the Space Development Agency, the Pentagon said Dec. 31. SpaceX won a $150.5 million contract for two launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., starting in September 2022. The entire constellation of up to 28 initial satellites, known as “Tranche 0” of the transport and tracking layers, is slated to reach space by March 31, 2023. The launch contract is another boon for the firm owned by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, which the Space Force recently selected to handle 40 percent of its rocket launches through 2024.
Ellen M. Lord

DOD Formalizes Program Giving Companies More Access to Classified Info

The Pentagon has formally created a group of defense companies that can get broader access to classified programs, hoping that more insight will make contractors more efficient and cost-conscious. In a Dec. 15 memo to the defense industrial base, Pentagon acquisition boss Ellen M. Lord formalized the Special Access Program Contractor Portfolio, which ran as a pilot initiative for several years. The effort will help companies balance the need to understand technology development with the need to protect that information. “As the world sees a return to great power competition, the Department of Defense must strengthen its engagement with the defense industrial base in order to respond to the national security challenges facing the United States in a more responsive and cost efficient manner,” Lord wrote.

Radar Sweep

Free 3-Year Memberships!

Air Force Association

Airmen and Guardians—Active, Guard, Reserve and civilian: Join your Air Force Association today and get a 3-year membership free—a savings of $85! Act now—this offer ends tonight. Be a member of the only association totally dedicated to advancing Air and Space Power, Airmen, Guardians, their families, and the industries that support them.

Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19

Air Force Magazine

Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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OPINION—All 10 Living Former Defense Secretaries: Involving the Military in Election Disputes Would Cross into Dangerous Territory

The Washington Post

“As former secretaries of defense, we hold a common view of the solemn obligations of the U.S. armed forces and the Defense Department,” write Ashton Carter, Dick Cheney, William Cohen, Mark Esper, Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel, James Mattis, Leon Panetta, William Perry, and Donald Rumsfeld—the 10 living former U.S. secretaries of defense. “Each of us swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We did not swear it to an individual or a party.”

Journey to JADC2

Air Force Magazine

Joint all-domain command and control is driving change throughout the Air and Space Forces. Check out our latest on the quest for greater interconnectedness across the battlefield.

Air Force Colonel, Charged with Sexual Assault, to Face Court-Martial

Air Force Times

The former commander of the 39th Medical Group at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, has been charged with sexual assault, and is scheduled to face a court-martial beginning in late March. Col. Sean McNamara, currently of the 316th Medical Support Squadron at Joint Base Andrews, Md., is facing three specifications of violating Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

One More Thing

DOD in Photos: 2020

Defense Department photo gallery

This collection showcases the work of military photographers in 2020, when U.S. service members continued to conduct around-the-clock training and operations worldwide to ensure the nation's security, even while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.