Mattis Calls for Space as Its Own Combatant Command

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday he is “absolutely” in support of creating a separate combatant command for space operations, but stopped short of endorsing a completely separate military service. “We need to address space as a developing, warfighting domain, and a combatant command is certainly one thing that we can establish,” Mattis told reporters Tuesday. “This is a process we’re in. We are in complete alignment with the President’s concern about protecting our assets in space, to contribute to our security, to our economy, and we’re going to have to address it as other countries show a capability to attack those assets.” Mattis spoke as the Pentagon was finalizing a Congressionally mandated report about the creation of a separate “space force.” That report was initially supposed to be released last week, and Mattis said the Defense Department is working “closely daily” with the White House and Capitol Hill. “What that actual organization will look like, it will be fit for purpose, [that] I can assure you,” Mattis said. “But I don’t have all the final answers yet. We’re still putting that together.” —Brian Everstine

AMC Opens Competition for First KC-46 Pilots

The Air Force is beginning the process to pick the operational pilots who will fly the next-generation tanker. Air Mobility Command announced Tuesday it will conduct a KC-46 Pilot Selection Board later this fall, aiming to pick about 104 pilots for the first two operational Pegasus squadrons at McConnell AFB, Kan. AMC is calling on pilots with a broad range of experience, especially those in their first and second flying assignments to fill the 344th and 349th Air Refueling Squadrons, along with staff positions in the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, according to an AMC release. Additionally, AMC wants pilots with experience in non-mobility aircraft, specifically the RC-135 Rivet Joint, E-3 Sentry, and E-8C JSTARS. Packages are due by Sept. 7, according to AMC. The Air Force expects to accept delivery of the first KC-46 in October, with 17 more by next spring. —Brian Everstine

DOD Announces Awards for Universities, Industry Research on Defense Capabilities

The Defense Department on Tuesday announced the selection of five university-industry teams for the Defense Enterprise Science Initiative—a pilot program focused on accelerating basic research on defense capabilities. The program aims to increase university-industry partnerships, and find new ways to transfer basic research to innovative technologies, the Pentagon said in a release. Of the five awards, four are focused on Air Force topics. A combined team of Boeing, Arizona State University, and Syracuse University will research power beaming. Stanford University and Skydio will research highly maneuverable autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles. Northwestern University and TERA-print LLC will research soft active composites with intrinsic sensing, actuation, and control. Duke University, the University of Washington, and Northrop Grumman will research metamaterial-based antennas. Lastly, Stanford, the University of California-Merced, and Visor Corporation will research alternate topics. The program is sponsored by the Basic Research Office in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and administered by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

UK Defense Secretary: The Special Relationship is Alive and Well in Military Cooperation

The United Kingdom’s military has flown and fought alongside the United States consistently, and that special relationship will only strengthen militarily even in a time of confusion about NATO funding and the UK’s upcoming exit from the European Union, the UK’s Secretary of State Gavin Williamson said. The US “will never have a more reliable ally than Great Britain,” said Williamson during an event at the Atlantic Council on Tuesday. This special relationship has manifested in several recent military missions, including the April airstrikes carried out by the US, UK, and France in Syria, along with the ongoing British contribution to Operation Inherent Resolve—UK aircraft have conduction more than 1,700 strikes on ISIS targets, Williamson said. The UK has provided the second most significant contribution to the military campaign after the US in that theater, and the UK is also increasing its contribution to the mission in Afghanistan. In the near future, the UK is building its own fifth generation aircraft, the Tempest, and a new aircraft carrier with the focus of cooperation with the US. “Our great nations are together pushing the boundaries of innovation,” Williamson said. —Brian Everstine

Travis Wing Commander Relieved, Under Investigation for Financial Misconduct

The commander of the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis AFB, Calif., has been relieved under investigation for alleged personal financial misconduct, 18th Air Force announced Monday. Col. Ethan Griffin, who had been in command for less than one month, was relieved by 18th Air Force boss Maj. Gen. Sam Barrett for the loss of trust and confidence in Griffin’s ability to continue serving as commander. “The Air Force’s core values are at the center of who we are as airmen, and we hold ourselves accountable to those values,” Barrett said in a release. “The decision to remove a commander is not an easy one, but this is the best step to ensure continued mission success and care for the airmen of Team Travis.” Col. Matthew Leard, vice commander of the 60th Air Mobility Wing, will serve as interim commander. —Brian Everstine

Kirkland Takes Command of Sustainment Center

Lt. Gen. Donald Kirkland on Tuesday assumed command of the Air Force Sustainment Center from retiring Lt. Gen. Lee Levy during a ceremony at Tinker AFB, Okla. Kirkland, who received his third star during the ceremony, previously served as the director of logistics, deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering, and force protection. At AFSC, Kirkland will command more than 32,000 military and civilian personnel, focused on the readiness of USAF aircraft and weapons systems.


—An Air Force pilot who went missing during a mission over North Vietnam in 1965 has been accounted for. Col. Frederic Mellor was flying the lead RF-101C aircraft on a reconnaissance mission Aug. 13, 1965, when he was shot down: The Associated Press.

—A US airstrike on Monday reportedly killed at least a dozen Afghan security forces by mistake while they were fighting with the Taliban near Kabul, local officials said: The New York Times.

—The Air Force on Tuesday awarded Booz Allen Hamilton a $47.4 million contract for operational resilient cyber advancements. The contract is for the ability to rapidly respond to cyber development, engineering, penetration testing, integration, and transition requirements: DOD release.

—Also Tuesday, the Air Force awarded Cummins Power Generation Inc. a $46.8 million delivery order for expeditionary airfield resources power units: DOD release.