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The X-51A Waverider, shown here under the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress, is set to demonstrate hypersonic flight. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne SJY61 scramjet engine, it is designed to ride on its own shockwave and accelerate to about Mach 6. USAF graphic.

​DARPA Chief Says National Hypersonics Effort Needed

The head of DARPA, Steven Walker, told reporters Thursday he believes a national program is needed to pursue hypersonics research, expand the infrastructure needed to test hypersonic missiles and craft, and catch up to China, which is investing hundreds of billions of dollars in the technology. He provided budget information showing that hypersonics research is going well beyond basic science and technology and will leap more than 130 percent in fiscal year 2019 if Congress approves. Prototypes of operational missiles could potentially be in flight test in the next year or two, he said, and there are projects underway with the Air Force, Navy, and Army on hypersonic weapons. He confirmed a combined-cycle turbine and scramjet engine program that could make a hypersonic craft possible in the next 12 years. He also said that while DARPA has provided reams of data to the Missile Defense Agency, that organization will head research into air and missile defense applications of the technology. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

US “Not Surprised” By Russia’s Claim to Have New “Invincible” Nuclear Weapon

The Pentagon said on Thursday it was “not surprised” by Russia’s claims to have a new nuclear-capable cruise missile capable evading US air and missile defense systems. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

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Little Cost Seen in Cyber Attack on US, Cyber Command Nominee Says

The Trump administration pick to head the US Cyber Command told a Senate hearing that US adversaries are not concerned about the consequences of launching a cyber attack against the country. Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, now commanding general of the Army Cyber Command, made the comments during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. Read the full report by Steve Hirsch.

Trump Nominates New Global Strike Command Boss, Vice Commander for Space Command

Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray has been nominated for a fourth star and for assignment as commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, and Maj. Gen. David Thompson has been nominated for lieutenant general and assignment as vice commander of the Air Force Space Command, a position that is based at the Pentagon. Thompson was confirmed last year as deputy chief of staff for space, but the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act killed the position. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.

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—Lockheed Martin announced on Thursday that Jeff Babione will assume the role of vice president and general manager of the company’s Skunk Works, succeeding Rob Weiss who will retire at the end of the year. Greg Ulmer will replace Babione as vice president and general manager of the F-35 Program: Lockheed Martin release.

—John Gibson, previously the Defense Department’s deputy chief management officer, has become the department’s third in command and the first chief management officer. His office separates CMO duties from the deputy defense secretary with a focus on Pentagon operations, and is charged with establishing policies and overseeing all business operations: DOD release.

—The Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a $150 million contract, with up to $942.8 million in options, for two high-power laser weapon systems, including ISR and counter-unmanned aerial system capabilities, in what Lockheed said is a “major step forward in it its goal to field laser weapon systems aboard surface ships,” the company said Thursday: Lockheed Martin release.

—The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, known as the “Hurricane Hunters,” this month performed weather reconnaissance on “atmospheric rivers,” which carry water vapor in streams through the atmosphere in an effort to improve global weather forecasting models: USAF release.

—The State Department has cleared a possible $47 million sale of Javelin missiles and command launch units to Ukraine, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Thursday: DSCA release.