Griffin Says Hypersonics, Acquisition Reform are Top Priorities

Mike Griffin, the newly minted Pentagon chief of research and engineering, laid out his priorities at the McAleese/Credit Suisse conference in Washington Tuesday, naming hypersonics as his top technology priority and accelerating the pace of delivering new capabilities as his top policy priority. China is well ahead in hypersonics, and without the means to threaten China and other powers with similar weapons, the US could be held at bay from projecting power where it wants to go. Griffin promised fewer and faster program reviews, and incentivizing program managers to make speed more desirable than avoiding mistakes. He also pledged careful choices between fixed-price and cost-plus contracts. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

USAF Buying Back Sixth Generation Development

The Air Force’s Fiscal 2019 budget request contains a big jump in funding to develop next-generation air dominance, or a sixth generation air superiority system, Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, said Tuesday. The Fiscal 2019 budget request, released last month, shows “we put a ton of money back in, but that’s money pilfered” from previous budgets where the service was forced to fund current operations over long-term planning. “All we’ve done is put it back,” Harris said. The Air Force’s Fiscal 2019 budget request calls for $504 million in research, development, test, and evaluation for Next Generation Air Dominance. This is up from $294.7 million in Fiscal 2018. This funding will dramatically increase to $1.4 billion in Fiscal 2020 and $2 billion the year after. The next generation of air superiority is not going to just be an airborne platform, it will also need to work with space assets and sensors that are “not typically associated with an air vehicle,” Harris said. This also needs to be coupled with development of new weapons, because the Air Force “can’t continue to shoot fourth generation weapons off fifth and six generation” aircraft, Harris said. —Brian Everstine

70 Squadrons, And How Not to Get There

The Air Force has 55 fighter squadrons, but “we think we need 70,” USAF Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, deputy chief of staff for plans and requirements, said Tuesday. Though the goal is 70 fighter squadrons, Harris said USAF plans to “fix the 55” it already has first by fully equipping them with aircraft, upgraded capabilities, and enough pilots and maintainers to operate them, he said. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Force-Sizing Constructs Nixed in NDS, Goodbye “Anti-Access” Strategy

Don’t expect a shorthand version of the new national strategy, usually referred to as a “force-sizing construct,” Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday. Selva said he finds slogans such a “win-hold-win” and others that have evolved over the last 27 years to be “trite,” and counterproductive in deciding how big a force the US needs. Rather, the force will be governed by what he called “dynamic force projection,” which will focus on what it takes to deter and if necessary, defeat China and Russia as the US’s “pacing” competitors. Selva also said he’ll be avoiding terms like “anti-access” and “area denial” coping strategies, as simply getting into a contested area isn’t a goal but a step toward a goal. He prefers the term “assured force projection,” which means the US can go where it needs to in order to achieve the military effects it desires. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

B-21 Will Test at Edwards, But May Not be as Soon as Reported

The Air Force confirmed on Tuesday it’s likely to test the B-21 Raider at Edwards AFB, Calif., though officials said when that testing will begin has yet to be determined. “Edwards AFB is home to Air Force flight testing and where we have historically tested new aircraft,” USAF spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Air Force Magazine. “As we’ve said previously, the first B-21 aircraft are expected to begin arriving as early as the mid-2020s.” Her comments come after Brig. Gen. Carl Schaefer, commander of the 412th Test Wing at Edwards, announced at an Antelope Valley Board of Trade and Business Outlook Conference on March 3 that the B-21 not only will be testing at Edwards, but “we will be testing it here in the near future,” reported The Drive, which cited the Antelope Valley Press whose coverage is behind a paywall. Stefanek said the use of the term “near future” could be relative, given it’s already 2018 and the new bombers are slated to start arriving in the mid-2020s. “The timing is TBD,” she said. —Amy McCullough

Space Command Official Highlights “New Day” for Space Operations

A new Coalition Space Operations Center will open this summer at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., Maj, Gen. Joseph Guastella, Air Force Space Command’s director of integrated air, space, cyber, and ISR operations said during a recent AFA Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill. The CSpOC will bring allies and partners together with varying space capabilities to plan for war in space. “We’re using examples from war fighting in the air domain and we’re bringing it to space,” said Guastella. “It’s real, it’s happening,” he added. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.

US Missile Defense Can Counter Today’s Threats, but Needs to Plan and Spend for What’s Next

While the current array of sensors and ground-based interceptors are adequate for current threats, the Missile Defense Agency needs to spend money and adequately plan now for emerging threats, such as hypersonics and maneuverable ballistic missiles, the agency’s head said Tuesday. USAF Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, speaking Tuesday in Washington, D.C., said the time for debate is over. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Top US Intel Leaders Skeptical Over Reports of North Korean Talks Offer

Two top US intelligence officials Tuesday expressed skepticism over recent reports that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is willing to negotiate with Washington over getting rid of its nuclear weapons. One of the officials, DIA Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, also downplayed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that Russia had a new generation of invincible nuclear weapons. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.

Keeping Pace with China in Africa

US Africa Command is reworking its theater strategy and campaign plan in part to address the rising influence of China on the continent, AFRICOM boss Gen. Thomas Waldhauser told members of the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. China built its first overseas base directly outside Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, and Waldhauser said it would be “naive” to think it wasn’t conducting counter intelligence operations against the US. However, he also said there are opportunities for the US and Chinese to work together in Africa, specifically with medical exchanges. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

Families Have Not Yet Been Briefed on Niger Investigation

Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of US Africa Command, assured members of the House Armed Services Committee that he would “provide a full detailed account” of the deadly Oct. 4 ambush in which four US Green Berets were killed in Niger, but first the families have to be briefed on the investigation. Waldhauser said he has completed an “exhaustive” review and forwarded his findings to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for review. Once that’s complete, the families will be briefed, he said. “These brave men died valiantly in service to our country and I offer my sincere condolences to their family,” Waldhauser said during an AFRICOM posture hearing on Tuesday. Waldhauser has requested that troops serving in Niger and “other countries in the area where it is dangerous” be paid imminent danger pay, noting that request is at the Office of Management and Budget “for reconciliation.” —Amy McCullough

HASC Leader: Budget Increase Shows “We’ve Won”

The two-year budget deal, which increases defense spending beyond what the president requested, shows that the American people understand the importance of funding defense, a senior Republican defense hawk told an audience of largely defense industry representatives Tuesday. Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) expressed optimism about the future during the McAleese/Credit Suisse conference in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, saying the Defense Department is starting to restore its readiness and though the world hasn’t gotten any safer, the period of declining budgets has turned. This shows that, “We’ve won the narrative, people understand” that defense spending is necessary, said Turner, who is the chairman of House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee. Now Congress and the Pentagon need to show they can spend this additional money wisely and avoid waste. To address this, Turner said he is pushing a bill that aligns the budgetary fiscal year with the calendar year rather than ending the fiscal year in October. He said this will encourage Congress approve budgets on time instead of driving uncertainty in the Defense Department. —Brian Everstine


—Guor Maker made his way out of war-torn South Sudan almost 20 years ago and, after losing 28 family members and being captured and enslaved twice, is now an airman first class and a dental assistant in technical training: USAF release.

—Lockheed Martin’s Cyber Solutions division will compete for the Air Force’s Unified Platform contract, the company said Tuesday by disclosing details of its Henosis prototype—a joint integrated mission system: Lockheed Martin release.

—The Trump administration has considered more military action against Syria’s government following reports of continuing chemical weapons use, which could mean a second strike on President Bashar al-Assad in under a year: Washington Post.

—Two Lockheed Martin PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative interceptors, which support the Army’s Field Surveillance Program, recently intercepted two tactical ballistic missile targets at White Sands Missile range in New Mexico, marking the 10th and 11th successful PAC-3 CRI FSP intercepts in six years: Lockheed Martin release.