Trump Says He’s “Directing” Pentagon to Begin Creation of a “Space Force”

President Trump says he’s directing the Pentagon to immediately begin the process of creating a sixth military service—a Space Force—that would be “separate but equal” to the Air Force. The move, which goes against repeated public positions of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as well as USAF leadership, would require Congressional action, where previous attempts have so far stalled. Trump made the announcement during a meeting of the National Space Council. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

US Airstrike Pace Increases in Both Afghanistan and Anti-ISIS Campaign in Iraq and Syria

US aircraft, in May, continued the increased pace of airstrikes inside Afghanistan, dropping 591 bombs—the highest since last October. So far this year, US manned strike aircraft have flown 2,964 sorties, 353 of which included at least one weapons release. US mobility aircraft in 2018 have airdropped 327,240 pounds, representing almost a tenfold increase from last year’s 33,423, according to statistics released Monday by Air Forces Central Command. US and coalition aircraft conducted 431 airstrikes in May against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and US aircraft have flown a total of 6,811 sorties this year, 417 of which included at least one weapons release, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to AFCENT. —Brian Everstine

AFA Study: USAF Needs to do More, Immediately, to Address Pilot Shortage

The Air Force needs to take even more action to address the growing pilot shortage, including ramping up production beyond current plans and ensuring that the next generation T-X program is not delayed, according to a new white paper by AFA’s Mitchell Institute. The Air Force is short about 2,000 pilots, and the problem is only going to grow as shortages in commercial airline cockpits draw more pilots away from uniformed service. Addressing this issue, and ensuring the Air Force has enough capable pilots to fight future wars, is urgently needed in many new ways. “As Air Force pilot training ramps up to overcome the service’s severe pilot shortage, opportunities exist for transformation of the training enterprise,” the paper states. “The Air Force should embrace innovations, utilize more contracted services, and eliminate inefficiencies. Initial flight training has validated that contractor-run operations are viable.” The Air Force needs to up its pilot production to 1,600 per year, up from the roughly 1,200 today. Current aircraft and infrastructure does not support this increase, so more is needed. Steps to increase long-term capacity is needed “in months, not years,” according to the paper. The Air Force’s current T-X acquisition program to replace the aging T-38 “cannot fail” in this effort, the paper states. In order to retain pilots, the Air Force needs to energize crisis action at all levels, improve the pilot resource management structure, ensure its retention efforts are fully understood, increase its overall size, and make sure its budget is sufficient and stable enough to keep pilots flying, the paper states. See also: The Pilot Shortage Quandary from the June issue of Air Force Magazine. —Brian Everstine

Mitchell Study: USAF Needs to Change its Approach to Data Rights in Acquisition

The Air Force needs to be more proactive with companies about data rights ownership in future weapons systems procurement, with a specific need to find the right balance between owning the data for its aircraft and allowing companies to own its intellectual property, according to a new AFA Mitchell Institute white paper. “While the government clearly has growing needs for procuring and using data, it also has a responsibility to meet those needs in ways that also encourage private investment and encourage competition,” the study states. “Achieving this goal requires a mutually beneficial relationship between the Air Force and the broader defense industrial base that depends on both the continued competitiveness of traditional primes, their suppliers, and the ability to attract new commercial technology innovators to support the Air Force.” As shown with the recent UH-1N protest, companies are expressing concern that the Air Force is pressing too hard to own intellectual property of future weapons systems under the pretense of wanting to control future development. The paper’s authors observe that USAF appears to be seeking more expansive data rights in aircraft programs than in other systems, such as space and missile systems. It also isn’t clear whether the government understands the role of intellectual property valuation in development. Going forward, the Air Force should take a “deep look” at the nature of the system to date, improve its policy and regulation, stand up a new cadre of acquisition officers specializing in data requirements, and develop a series of data rights “templates” to adapt for future programs, the paper argues. —Brian Everstine

USAF Awards Marvin Engineering a Contract for 1,450 Air-to-Air Missile Systems

The Air Force on Friday awarded Marvin Engineering Co. a $126.6 million contract for 1,450 missile launchers and 925 components for AIM-120 missile systems. The contract covers components for missiles used by USAF F-15s, F-16s, and US Navy F-18s, along with foreign military sales, according to a Pentagon release. The firm-fixed-price contract covers work that is expected to be completed by May 2023.


—2nd Lt. Robert R. Keown, who was killed when his P-38 crashed into a mountain in Papua New Guinea in 1944, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday: Associated Press.

—A former radar dome at the now closed McClellan AFB, Calif., is being used by the Wildlife Care Association tend to wild animals, such as birds and possums, before they are returned to their natural habitat: DOD release.