Pence Calls for Renewed US Leadership in Space

In the first meeting since the re-establishment of the National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence promised that, “America will lead in space once again.” As he led a discussion of urgent needs across the civil, commercial, and national security space sectors, Pence assured government and business leaders that President Donald Trump is “committed to American leadership on Earth and in the boundless expanse of space.” National security space experts told Pence the US needs greater real-time space situational awareness and anti-satellite capabilities to deter adversaries from initiating combat operations in space. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

NSC Developing Rules of Engagement for Space

The National Security Council is coordinating a Trump administration effort to produce a “space strategic framework,” National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said Thursday. The framework will provide “an integrated strategy” to ensure the United States’ “vital interests are advanced,” and it will “identify specific tasks, the resources, and authorities required” for various operations in the space domain, McMaster said at the initial meeting of the recently re-established National Space Council in Chantilly, Va. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson praised the development at a separate event in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. “What we’re seeing in space tells me it’s time for America to develop some of these policies more fully,” Wilson told the audience at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event. Among other matters, the strategic framework will clarify “our rules of engagement in space,” Wilson said, including what kinds of adversary behavior should trigger a US response and what the nature of that response should be.

Wilson Closely Focused on Air Force Space Mission

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson made it clear Thursday that she is focusing her tenure significantly on space. “I spend about a third of my time … focused on space,” she told the audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The service is confronting real challenges in the areas of domain awareness and command and control, she said, noting she hopes the elevation of several space command roles will help address those problems quickly. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.

DOD: Current Demand for Airlift Will Delay Afghan Deployments

Current demand on airlifters, which are flying constant missions in support of storm relief inside the US, will delay the deployment of additional forces to Afghanistan. US Transportation Command has a “finite” amount of aircraft available, and the constant demand on aircraft such as C-17s and C-5s means those aircraft are not available to assist in deployments overseas. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.

Three Special Forces Soldiers Killed in Niger

Three US Army Special Forces soldiers, along with at least one soldier from a “partner nation,” were killed when they were ambushed Wednesday on a patrol in Niger. Two other US soldiers were airlifted to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany where they were recovering, US Africa Command said in a statement. The US service members were providing “advice and assistance to Nigerian security force counter terror operations” during the incident, which occurred about 125 miles north of the capital city of Niamey. The group was reportedly ambushed by about 50 fighters believed to be aligned with ISIS, CNN reported. French Puma helicopters responded to airlift the wounded and killed soldiers, in addition to providing air support, French officials told the network. The Defense Department has not yet released the names of those killed pending next of kin notification. The US has about 800 forces deployed to Niger on a security assistance mission. It is a “pretty broad mission with the government of Niger” in order to increase security in that country, said Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, during a Thursday briefing. The US also supports the French mission against militants in neighboring Mali, providing aerial refueling and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in the region. —Brian Everstine

Boeing Ups Autonomy Game by Acquiring Aurora Flight Sciences

Boeing announced Thursday that it will acquire Virginia-based Aurora Flight Sciences, which specializes in autonomous flight systems. In 2016, Aurora was awarded a contract to work with DARPA on a Vertical Takeoff and Landing Experimental Plane. “The combined strength and innovation of our teams will advance the development of autonomy for our commercial and military systems,” said Greg Hyslop, chief technology officer at Boeing, in a press release. “Together, these talented teams will open new markets with transformational technologies.” The companies did not release the terms of the deal.

Pratt & Whitney Gets $2.7 Billion for C-17 Engine Work

The Air Force on Wednesday awarded a $2.7 billion sustainment contract to Pratt & Whitney for continued work on the F-117 engine that powers C-17s. The contract involves military sales to the United Kingdom, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar , India, Australia, and the US-led NATO Strategic Airlift Capability. The sole-source contract covers work at United Airlines in San Francisco; the Columbus Engine Center in Columbus, Ga.; and Tinker AFB, Okla. —Brian Everstine

State Approves AMRAAM Sale to Japan

The State Department on Wednesday approved the sale of 56 AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles to Japan, increasing the capability of that country’s air self defense force as tensions rise with North Korea. The sale, worth $113 million, now requires congressional approval. The deal includes containers, weapon support equipment, and spare parts, and supports the national security of the US by “meeting the security and defense needs of a major ally and partner nation,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a release. It also will help Japan provide “critical air defense” in protecting both the Japanese homeland and US personnel stationed there, according to DSCA. —Brian Everstine


—Four general surgeons and three resident surgeons from the Air Force’s 99th Medical Group helped treated patients at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada following the largest single-shooter massacre in modern US history. “Within two hours after the incident, all the resuscitation bays were full and six patients were being operated on by trauma surgeons,” said Maj. (Dr.) Charles Chesnut, a general surgeon with the 99th Medical Group at Nellis AFB, Nev. “Everyone worked together taking care of these patients and do some good in the face of evil. We treated over 100 patients, ranging from surgical procedures to end-of-life care:” USAF release.

—Apple CEO Tim Cook said Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria’s response to racial slurs written on prep school message boards was exactly what “leadership looks like.” In a tweet, that had garnered at least 6,000 retweets and 21,000 likes, Cook urged his followers to watch the video: CNBC report.