Shanahan Steps Down, Esper to be Named Acting Defense Secretary

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is stepping down from his position and withdrawing from consideration for the Pentagon’s top job, and President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that Army Secretary Mark Esper will be named the new acting Secretary. In a statement released June 18, Shanahan said, “it has been a deep honor and privilege to serve our country alongside the men and women of the Department of Defense,” but “After significant reflection, I have asked to be withdrawn from consideration for Secretary of Defense and will resign my position as deputy secretary of defense. I will coordinate an appropriate transition plan to ensure that the men and women in harm’s way receive all the support they need to continue protecting our great nation.” With Esper moving to acting Secretary of Defense, the Army will soon be the second military service to be led by an acting Secretary. Matt Donovan, who until recently was the Air Force’s under secretary, is now serving as the acting Secretary of the Air Force, after former SECAF Heather Wilson resigned to become the president of the University of Texas at El Paso. In addition, the Pentagon’s No. 2 job is temporarily filled by David Norquist, who is performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

FOD Sweeps of Delivered KC-46s to be Complete Within Weeks

LE BOURGET, France—The Air Force expects to wrap up foreign object debris checks of the 11 KC-46 tankers it has already accepted within the next few weeks, Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Will Roper told Air Force Magazine in an interview at the Paris Air Show. The service has twice stopped accepting KC-46s from Boeing this year because of FOD found inside the aircraft, but Boeing has put in place a plan to thoroughly sweep all aircraft, including those already delivered and the ones still on the production line. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Roper: ARRW Test Flight Shows Hypersonic Weapons are Real

LE BOURGET, France—The first flight of a prototype hypersonic weapon on the wing of a B-52 last week means hypersonics are becoming real, the Air Force’s head of acquisition said June 18. “It’s a step. Not a huge step, but it’s an important step to start thinking of hypersonic weapons not as science and technology, but as a current weapon system,” he said. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.


Northrop, Raytheon Team Up to Develop Scramjet Hypersonic Weapons

LE BOURGET, France—Northrop Grumman and Raytheon announced June 18 they are teaming up to develop hypersonic scramjet weapons. Under the agreement, Northrop will develop scramjet combustors to power air-breathing hypersonic weapons developed by Raytheon. The two companies are working under a $200 million Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept program through the Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, according to a Northrop release. Scramjet weapons use the missile’s high vehicle speed to forcibly compress the air it takes in before combustion to sustain flight. The two companies announced the agreement at the Paris Air Show. The Air Force has selected Raytheon and Lockheed to both develop HAWC weapons, along with Lockheed’s separate Tactical Boost-Glide weapon development. —Brian Everstine

Raytheon, V-22 JPO Using AI to Predict Osprey Maintenance

LE BOURGET, France—Raytheon announced June 18 it is working with the V-22 joint program office to use a new artificial intelligence capability to predict when repairs are needed on Osprey radars. The Air Force and Raytheon began working on the capability as a pilot program in late 2018, and they are now testing the concept with the goal to improve CV-22 readiness beginning in 2020, according to a company release. The tool can help the Air Force get in front of problems that can occur with Osprey radars by “feeding in years of maintenance data into a system that has an overlay of AI and be able to basically predict what’s going to happen and when, so you get out in front of real problems,” Dave Wajsgras, Raytheon’s president of Intelligence, Information, and Services, during an interview at the Paris Air Show. This use of AI is similar to the way commercial airlines do predictive maintenance, a model the Air Force has said it wants to follow for maintaining aircraft. —Brian Everstine

Selva: SCO Needs to Support Combatant Commanders

The Joint Staff has jumped into an ongoing debate over where the Pentagon’s secretive Strategic Capabilities Office should sit, arguing that wherever the research group lands, its key purpose should be to continue supporting warfighters in the field. On June 16, Inside Defense reported Pentagon research chief Mike Griffin had ousted Strategic Capabilities Office Director Chris Shank. Griffin believes the SCO should be part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a move opposed by lawmakers and officials from US Special Operations Command, US Indo-Pacific Command, and US European Command, and the Joint Staff. But the Joint Staff’s opinion comes with a caveat, according to Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva. “It was a conditional question to … [the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for] Research and Engineering on how they intended to make sure that the connections between the Strategic Capabilities Office and the combatant commanders remained as intact as possible,” Selva said. “It wasn’t a hard ‘no.’ … The condition was, ‘help us understand that process.’” Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Strike Eagles Deploy to Middle East as Part of Increased US Presence

F-15Es from Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., touched down at Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates, on June 13 as part of a further buildup of US forces in the Middle East. The Strike Eagles join F-15Cs and F-35s at Al Dhafra, along with a bomber task force of B-52s recently deployed to Al Udeid AB, Qatar. The deployments are part of a response to threats the White House and the Pentagon have said are emanating from Iran. Read the full story by Brian Everstine and Rachel S. Cohen.

US Concerned About Europe Limiting Military Contracts to American Companies

US officials went to the Paris Air Show this week looking to raise concerns with allies about European efforts to increase defense spending and procurement, which they say could unintentionally push American products and interests out. The European Union’s Permanent Structured Cooperation policy aims to increase the union’s focus on defense, while also calling for a limit on involvement by third-party states. Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition, said PESCO’s third party limit is a “large concern,” because “we want to make sure partners and allies have the advantage in utilizing the best technology in the world”—products created by American companies. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.


SACEUR Wolters on Priorities, Disinformation, Baltic Intercepts, Troops in Poland

Gen. Tod Walters, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander and the commander of the US European Command, discusses his priorities, combating Moscow’s disinformation, the recent intercept of Russian aircraft, and the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to Poland at the 2019 Paris Air Show. Defense & Aerospace Report

Air Force Landlord Falsified Records to Boost Income, Documents Show

One of the US military’s largest private-industry landlords falsified maintenance records, helping it secure incentive fees as families awaited repairs. The company’s actions, a former employee said, were akin to “bank robbery at a corporate level.” Reuters

US Airstrikes Target Al-Shabaab in Support of the Federal Government of Somalia

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, US Africa Command conducted two airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on June 16. AFRICOM release

Three More Steps Before Cyber Command Can Split from NSA

The Pentagon would have to meet a series of new requirements before US Cyber Command could split from the National Security Agency, according to a proposal from a Senate defense committee. Fifth Domain

One More Thing…

Here’s How Many Nuclear Warheads Exist, and Which Countries Own Them

The number of warheads has decreased over the past year, even as countries continue to modernize their nuclear forces, according to an annual assessment of global nuclear arms. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released the SIPRI Yearbook 2019, which found that 13,865 warheads were in existence at the start of 2019. All of the weapons are owned by nine nations: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. Defense News