Shanahan to Get Defense Secretary Nomination

The White House on Thursday announced President Donald Trump will nominate Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to take over the Pentagon permanently, a move long expected but delayed by a recently closed ethics inquiry. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

House MILCON Bill Raises Fighter Beddown, Resiliency Concerns

Managing the effects of natural disasters and updating antiquated buildings top the list of Air Force-related concerns in the House Appropriations military construction, veterans affairs subcommittee’s fiscal 2020 spending bill, which lawmakers approved May 9 with a vote of 31-21. The $108 billion legislation would allocate $1.6 billion to Air Force MILCON, about $150 million higher than the service received in 2019, but $590 million less than the service asked for in the upcoming year. Nearly $736 million is tagged for Air Force construction, planning, and design projects related to last year’s Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Two More B-52s Deploy to CENTCOM

Two more B-52s deployed to US Central Command on Thursday, bringing the bomber task force in the Middle East to a total of four aircraft from Barksdale AFB, La. The Stratofortresses touched down Thursday evening local time. The bombers were deployed to CENTCOM along with the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group this week in response to what Pentagon officials said was “very, very credible” intelligence that Iran was preparing to attack US forces or interests in the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told lawmakers on May 8 that US officials received the intelligence on Friday and decided over the weekend to deploy the additional forces as a message to Iran that the US would respond to any attack with force. CENTCOM boss USMC Gen. Kenneth McKenzie emphasized that the US is not seeking a fight, but “if a fight is to be had, … it won’t be a fair fight.” The first deployment of the B-52s from Barksdale’s 20th Bomb Squadron was supported by two KC-10s from JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The tankers offloaded about 180,000 pounds of fuel to help the bombers cross the ocean en route to the Middle East. Photographs posted by Air Forces Central Command show the bombers touching down at Al Udeid AB, Qatar. —Brian Everstine

More than 60 Lawmakers Call for More C-130Js

Dozens of bipartisan lawmakers on Thursday sent a letter to the House Armed Services Committee urging the addition of eight C-130Js to the fiscal 2020 defense bill, with the aim to keep the production line going. The letter calls for the new aircraft to continue the recapitalization of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve’s fleet of 160 aging C-130Hs. The Air Force has not budgeted more of the aircraft, despite higher levels of funding and support from recent USAF studies calling for more of the aircraft, the letter states. “The C-130J is the only US airlifter still in production,” according to the letter. “A stable C-130J production line, supporting current and future validated DOD and allied nation requirements, is the best approach to maintaining the 32,000 jobs and 570 supplies across 41 states that contribute to the C-130J.” Adding the eight aircraft would keep C-130J production above minimum levels and move C-130H recapitalization into two more squadrons. The letter was signed by 43 House Republicans, 20 House Democrats, and a representative from Puerto Rico. —Brian Everstine

Global Strike Conducts Second Minuteman Test Launch This Month

The Air Force, for the second time in about a week, test launched a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. At about 12:40 a.m. local time May 9, a crew from F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., launched the unarmed missile, which traveled about 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The missile was outfitted with a test re-entry vehicle, with a “high-fidelity package used for operational testing,” according to an Air Force Global Strike Command release. The test follows the May 1 test of an ICBM, also launched by a crew from F.E. Warren. The Air Force builds its launch calendars three to five years in advance, planning for each individual launch beginning at least six months in advance, according to Global Strike. —Brian Everstine


Opinion: Light-Attack Aircraft is the Solution to the US Air Force’s Dwindling Fleet

Retired Maj. Gen. Lawrence Stutzriem, director of research for AFA’s Mitchell Institute, writes that the Air Force should not delay, and Congress should provide funds specifically for, the acquisition of light-attack combat and reconnaissance aircraft within Air Force Special Operations Command. Defense News

Training AI to Win a Dogfight

Artificial intelligence has defeated chess grandmasters, Go champions, professional poker players, and, now, world-class human experts in the online strategy games Dota 2 and StarCraft II. No AI currently exists, however, that can outduel a human strapped into a fighter jet in a high-speed, high-G dogfight. As modern warfare evolves to incorporate more human-machine teaming, DARPA seeks to automate air-to-air combat, enabling reaction times at machine speeds and freeing pilots to concentrate on the larger air battle. DARPA release

Smart Drones to Command and Launch Smarter Missiles

The future of war is a synergy in euphemisms, launched as a co-branding event. AeroVironment—maker of missile systems, including the one-way guided flying “switchblade” missile—announced May 7 that it is partnering with Kratos, maker of target and combat drones. The desired effect is cheap but smart drones to launch cheaper but smart missiles. C4ISRNET

Air Force Simplifies Promotion Recommendation Forms for Officers

The Air Force announced today it will make adjustments to the way the Air Force Form 709, Promotion Recommendation Form, will be filled out and used for Total Force officer promotion boards beginning in September 2019. USAF release

CSAF Helps Honor Rescue Community

More than 400 members of the rescue community gathered to commemorate the 50th, and final, Jolly Green Association reunion in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, May 2-4. USAF release

One More Thing …

First Moon Landing Manual Could Fetch $9 Million at Auction

The detailed manual used by US astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to land on the moon in 1969 is going up for auction in July and could fetch up to $9 million, New York auctioneers Christie’s said. Reuters