Secretary Wilson Resigns to Lead University of Texas at El Paso

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced March 8 she will resign, effective May 31, to become president of the University of Texas at El Paso. “It has been a privilege to serve alongside our airmen over the past two years and I am proud of the progress that we have made restoring our nation’s defense,” she said. Under Secretary Matt Donovan is likely to stand in as civilian head of the service while the Defense Department works through the fiscal 2020 budget process, which is expected to kick off Tuesday. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

ABMS Expected to Pick Up Speed With New Chief Architect in Place

Preston Dunlap, a former executive of national security analysis at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, started his new job as chief architect of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System last week. The robust, open architecture family of systems will include both air and space components and will eventually replace the service’s legacy E-8 JSTARS aircraft. USAF acquisition chief Will Roper has acknowledged that ABMS has gotten off to a slow start, but said now that Dunlap is on board, he expects it to pick up speed. “During the next phase of my tenure in acquisition, I think getting ABMS right is a critical thing,” Roper told Air Force Magazine in a recent interview. “It creates a new model in acquisition.” Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

Pentagon Promises “Grave Consequences” if Turkey Buys Russian Missiles

The Pentagon on Friday ratcheted up its threats to Turkey—a NATO ally—if it proceeds with its planned purchase of the Russian-made S-400 “Triumf” surface-to-air missile system. Pentagon spokesman Charlie Summers told reporters there would be “grave consequences” in terms of Turkey’s relationship with the US if it completes the purchase, including, but not limited to, blocking the country from buying the F-35 and the Patriot missile system. Results would be “very heavy,” he said. This week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country not only has a “done deal” with the S-400 system, but is even considering buying the more advanced S-500 system in the future. Summers’ comments come two days after Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of US European Command and NATO supreme allied commander, told lawmakers the US should not sell F-35s to Turkey if it buys the S-400. Turkey plans to buy 100 F-35As, and took delivery of its first aircraft in June 2018. That jet is based at Luke AFB, Ariz., for pilot training. Vice Adm. Mat Winter, F-35 Program Executive Officer, told Air Force Magazine in November he provided the Pentagon with an assessment of the impact to the program if Turkey was pushed out. Turkey, he said, “produces 844 parts” for the F-35, and “they are quality parts, affordable parts, and delivered on time.” Turkey is also on track to set up an F135 engine depot on its soil, and is to become a second source to Northrop Grumman for the F-35 mid-fuselage. Winter said at the time, “I am doing appropriate acquisition supply chain risk management, like I do everywhere.” —Brian Everstine and John A. Tirpak

White House Reportedly Pressing to Charge Allies More for Hosting US Forces

The White House is pressing Germany and Japan to dramatically increase their payments to the US for housing military bases and personnel. The Trump Administration is finalizing plans that would call for the two countries to pay the full price of US service members deployed to the countries, plus another 50 percent “for the privilege” of hosting them, several administration officials told Bloomberg. The plan calls for the demands to be made to these two nations first, with several other nations possibly to follow, according to Reuters. Pentagon spokesman Charlie Summers on Friday refused to comment on the reports. The Defense Department has reportedly begun to calculate the specific costs involved in hosting the US facilities in advance of a proposal. Last month South Korea agreed to an 8 percent increase in its payments for US bases in its country. —Brian Everstine

AFSOC Vice Commander Nominated for Top Job

Lt. Gen. James Slife is slated to take over as head of Air Force Special Operations Command, replacing Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, the Defense Department said in a nomination announcement Thursday. Slife currently serves as the vice commander of US Special Operations Command, and would move to AFSOC headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Webb, who became AFSOC commander in July 2016, has led the organization through the latest stages of buying the AC-130J Ghostrider gunship from Lockheed Martin, as well as pursuing a laser weapon for that platform, among other initiatives. A command spokesman declined to say when Webb plans to leave or where he is headed. —Rachel S. Cohen


Radar Sweep

Pentagon May Tap Military Pay, Pensions for Border Wall

The Pentagon is planning to tap $1 billion in leftover funds from military pay and pension accounts to help President Donald Trump pay for his long-sought border wall, a top Senate Democrat said Thursday. AP

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Capsule Splashes Down Off Florida Coast

An unmanned capsule from Elon Musk’s SpaceX splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean on Friday, successfully completing a mission crucial to NASA’s long-delayed quest to resume human space flight from U.S. soil later this year. Reuters

Pentagon Review Calls for Changes in Special Operations Ethics Training

The Pentagon’s comprehensive review of the ethics and professional training received by its elite Special Operations Forces has found no systemic issues are to blame for a series of high-profile incidents of misconduct, but said it is pursuing changes to improve that training, particularly when it comes to moral decision making. ABC News

AFRL Introduces New Sharable Supercomputing Capability for Classified Research

Air Force Research Laboratory and Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program officials hosted a ribbon cutting and groundbreaking ceremony Feb. 26 to unveil the first-ever shared classified Department of Defense high performance computing capability at the AFRL DoD Supercomputing Resource Center at Area B. Air Force News

One More Thing …

NASA Photographs Supersonic Shock Waves From the Closest Vantage Point Yet

NASA released a series of stunning images that show two T-38 supersonic jetliners tearing through the atmosphere, creating sonic shock waves. Yes, these pictures are real. Popular Mechanics