Space Corps? Space Force? House and Senate Plans Diverge

The House Armed Services Committee backed the creation of a Space Corps in a bipartisan voice vote early June 13 during the markup of the 2020 defense authorization bill. “It is not a separate service as the President had proposed,” said HASC strategic forces subcommittee chairman Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.). “It is instead a corps underneath the Air Force. It is not a $13 billion expenditure, a gold-plated plan, like had been proposed to us by the Secretary of the Air Force. It is instead a reorganization so that space professionals can be properly recognized for their skill and ability, and promoted.” HASC drove conversation about the possible need for a Space Corps two years ago, although the plan failed to stick in the final 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. In the end, both committee chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and strategic forces subcommittee ranking member Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), who had expressed skepticism about a new space organization, gave the corps proposal their blessing. The House bill differs from the Senate plan, which calls for a “Space Force” that would likewise report through a four-star officer to the Secretary of the Air Force. As previously reported, SASC’s solution is to upgrade the existing Air Force Space Command from a Major Command to a component under the Air Force, but still part of the Department of the Air Force. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Two Republicans Join Dems to Pass HASC Policy Bill

The House Armed Services Committee voted 33 to 24, almost entirely along party lines, to send its 2020 defense policy bill to the chamber floor at the end of a marathon markup that began June 12 and lasted nearly 21 hours. Most Republicans decided not to back the annual legislation, which normally enjoys broad bipartisan support, following intense disagreements with the Democratic majority over how much money to offer the national security enterprise and about the future nuclear arsenal. Republican Reps. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Don Bacon (Neb.) sided with Democrats to pass the $733 billion authorization bill. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) was the only Democrat who supported an amendment to raise the bill’s topline to $750 billion, which was floated by Ranking Member Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). The proposal now needs the full House’s approval and must be reconciled with its Senate counterpart. —Rachel S. Cohen

First Flight Test of New Hypersonic Weapon Conducted at Edwards

The Air Force on June 12 conducted the first flight test of a new hypersonic weapon, launching the prototype from a B-52 out of Edwards AFB, Calif. The sensor-only version of the AGM-183 Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) was carried externally on the B-52 to evaluate the drag and wind impacts on the weapon itself. The ARRW was not launched during the flight, which is an early test in a series of data collection events needed to develop the weapon system, according to an Air Force release. The service expects it to reach early operational capability by fiscal 2022, though Will Roper, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, has acknowledged this is an “aggressive schedule.” “Getting to this flight test on time highlights the amazing work of our acquisition workforce and our partnership with Lockheed Martin and other industry partners,” he said. The rapid prototyping effort on the weapon began with a $928 million contract to Lockheed for the ARRW and the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon last April. —Brian Everstine

With Time, Turkish F-35 Ouster Won’t Hurt; Lockheed Focusing on Sustainment

Lockheed Martin doesn’t expect major hiccups in F-35 deliveries or cost due to the divorce of Turkey from the multinational fighter partnership, company aeronautics executive Vice President Michele Evans said June 13. Evans said the company is constantly looking for alternative sources in case of unexpected interruptions, and there should be little effect on the program given an unhurried Turkish exit. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Trump Displays Proposed Paint Job for Next Air Force One

President Donald Trump unveiled his plan for the livery of the next Air Force One during a June 13 television interview, though it may need Congressional approval. During an interview with ABC News, Trump showed a piece of paper with the proposed redesigned paint scheme for the presidential aircraft. Unlike the light blue and chrome livery of the current VC-25A, the VC-25B would be blue on its bottom, with a red strike and a white top half. The interview came one day after the House Armed Services Committee, during its markup of the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill, voted to restrict the paint scheme, interiors, and livery of the VC-25B without Congressional approval. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Space Command Chief Nominee Moves to Senate Floor

The Senate Armed Services Committee on June 12 voted to confirm Gen. Jay Raymond as head of the revived US Space Command and reapproved him to lead Air Force Space Command, according to a SASC press release. His nomination now heads to the full Senate for approval. The Trump administration decided to stand up US Space Command as a unified combatant command with a singular focus on space warfighting. If a Space Force is created using the Senate’s proposed language, Raymond would simultaneously lead both the combatant command and the new organization within the Air Force for one year. The House Armed Services Committee does not include similar language. Raymond took the helm at AFSPC in October 2016. —Rachel S. Cohen


Islamic State in Afghanistan Aims to Attack US, General Says

The Islamic State group in Afghanistan is a “very worrisome” threat to the United States, and US counterterrorism efforts have yet to shrink its extremist ambitions, a senior American general said June 12. Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie said IS would be hard pressed, however, to carry out an attack on the US homeland because it is under strong military pressure. Associated Press

These Are the US Military Bases Most Threatened by Climate Change

After a five-month delay, US lawmakers can finally see which military bases are most threatened by climate change—information that arrived just ahead of a Congressional finding that the Defense Department has little idea how to prepare for these threats. Defense One

Sexual Assaults at Military Academies Could be Handled Outside the Chain of Command

House Democrats advanced a plan to partially remove military commanders at service academies from decisions to prosecute sexual assault accusations, instead relying on an independent expert to evaluate the cases. Military Times

Air Force Looks at Faster, Smarter Hardware Acquisition and Big Data to Help Solve T-6 OBOGS Issues

Nineteenth Air Force hosted a forum of experts as part of the on-going process to improve the safety of the T-6 On-Board Oxygen Generating Systems during a conference last month at JBSA-Randolph, Texas. USAF release

US Blames Iran for Tanker Attacks in Gulf of Oman, Oil Prices Rise

Two oil tankers were attacked on June 13 and left adrift in the Gulf of Oman, driving up oil prices and stoking fears of a new confrontation between Iran and the United States, which blamed Tehran for the incident. Reuters

Iran Supreme Leader Says He Has No Intention to Make or Use Nuclear Weapons

Khamenei’s comment, a reiteration of Iran’s stance, comes at a time of increased US-Iranian tension, a year after Washington abandoned an agreement between Iran and world powers to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international financial sanctions. Reuters

A New Coalition Is Fighting for Vets Sickened by Environmental Hazards

A dozen veterans and health organizations have joined forces to represent sick US troops and veterans whose illnesses may be related to exposure to environmental hazards on the battlefield and aboard US military installations.

Some Women in Armed Forces Miss Out on Maternity Leave. Kansas Lawmaker’s Bill Would End That

In 2016, the US Department of Defense enacted a 12-week maternity leave policy to cover Active Duty personnel, but the policy did not cover women in the National Guard or Reserve. They can still be penalized for taking time off to care for their newborn children. McClatchy via Chicago Tribune

One More Thing…

What It Was Like To Fly the SR-71 Blackbird

Adelbert “Buzz” Carpenter accumulated 4,400 flight hours in various airplanes during his military career, including more than 300 hours in strategic reconnaissance aircraft such as the U-2 and SR-71. Now retired, Carpenter volunteers as a docent at the Air & Space Museum, explaining to kids who were born after the SR-71 was retired what it was like to fly the fastest jet ever built. Popular Mechanics?