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The first 3D printed part flown in space traveled 1.7 billion miles to Jupiter on the Juno spacecraft, shown here. Lockheed Martin illustration.

Lockheed: Artificial Intelligence, 3-D Printing Will Completely Change Space Industry

Artificial Intelligence and additive printing will lead to much cheaper, more capable satellites, as well as larger and more resilient constellations, Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President for Space Rick Ambrose said Monday. Speaking at a company media day in Arlington, Va., Ambrose also predicted that satellites will soon be re-programmable, behaving like a smartphone with applications easily added and deleted as the user’s needs change. Satellites might even take along their own 3-D printing gear to alter their own hardware over decades-long lifespans that will outlast their original software and purpose. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

SOUTHCOM: Storm Response Illustrates Need for Airlift in its Region     

The intense need for help across the Caribbean during hurricane response efforts in 2017, especially an immediate requirement for airlift, shows to the overall Defense Department that US Southern Command needs assets continuously deployed to its area of responsibility, the head of the command said Monday. SOUTHCOM forces were stretched thin throughout late 2017, responding to locations such as the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and St. Maarten. These storms also hit Miami, meaning SOUTHCOM forces were responding in other areas while their own families needed to deal with storms at home, SOUTHCOM boss Adm. Kurt Tidd said during a Pentagon briefing on Monday. When Hurricane Maria hit Dominica and Puerto Rico in September, the biggest need was for airlift, especially rotary wing, to get aid to areas that were cut off, Tidd said. Air Mobility Command itself flew more than 3,000 humanitarian assistance disaster relief missions throughout the year, mostly focused on storm response, AMC Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. Thomas Sharpy said. Tidd said that this intense response “continues to justify the requirement to keep a certain amount (of aircraft) in theater,” Tidd said. “When a crisis hits, you can’t have too much.” —Brian Everstine

China, Russia, Iran Looking for Influence in South America

The military’s emerging focus on great power competition, as outlined in the Pentagon’s recently released National Defense Strategy, is already apparent in an unexpected region: Central and South America. Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander of US Southern Command, said SOUTHCOM is “watchful for attempts by China, Russia, and Iran to erode [our] shared principles, to threaten our interests, or to undermine partnerships in the region.” For example, China is “making interesting moves geopolitically” and has recently started “significant investments” in Panama. “It’s an area where more and more they are coming in,” Tidd said. To counter this, the US needs to continue strengthening its ties with allies on the continent and ensure that they are not taken for granted. “If we do not actively engage and work with these partners, others will.”  —Brian Everstine

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Hewson Says Hypersonics Will Be Game-changer Like Stealth

Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson on Monday asserted that hypersonics, lasers, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and electronic warfare are the key military technologies that will disrupt warfare in the coming decades. Speaking at a company media day outside Washington, D.C., Hewson said the four technologies address both the speed of physical action and the speed of information—or denying information to adversaries—and declared the company well along in staying on top of these changes. She also commented on the prospects of trade war and pitched for reductions in federal business regulations, saying they are hurting the company’s small business suppliers. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

USAF to Stand Up Information Operations Tech School at Hurlburt

Air Force officials have announced the creation of a new Information Operations technical training school, which is expected to open in fiscal year 2019. USAF created the 14F Information Operations career field in late 2016. Previously airmen temporarily served in IO positions as a “career broadening” experience and then returned to their core AFSC, limiting institutional knowledge in the field. “Information Operations is not new to the Air Force,” said Col. Ziggy Schoepf, 14F career field manager. “However, this is the first time that the Air Force has codified this capability in a dedicated officer career field. With the creation of the career field and a dedicated schoolhouse, the Air Force is acknowledging the importance of Information Operations to the future of warfare.” The 14F initial skills course will be 14 to 15 weeks long and will “consolidate and integrate content from multiple IO-related training courses,” according to a release.  “The course will provide students with cohesive training rooted in social science,” said Schoepf. “Graduates will have the skills to build strategies and plans that sustain or change perceptions and attitudes driving the behavior and decision making of relevant actors.”

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—Airmen at Offutt AFB, Neb., scrambled to save E-4B Nightwatch jets as an EF-1 tornado hit the base in  June 2017. The storm caused $8.3 million in damage to the two jets, and a total of $20 million in damage to the base: Omaha World-Herald.

—Airmen deployed to Nigerien Air Base 201 recently hosted local leaders in a step to “demystify” US operations at the base. The base is the site of the largest Air Force-led military construction project in USAF history, according to US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa: 435th AEW release.

—More than 120 South Dakota Air National Guardsmen returned from multiple deployments on Feb. 21. The airmen, who came from 17 different career fields, deployed to locations throughout US Northern, Southern, and Africa commands, along with locations in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel: ANG release.

—Airmen and a C-130J from Yokota AB, Japan, recently exercised a new refueling capability during Exercise Cope North on Feb. 26. The C-130J landed and quickly refueled a Navy helicopter: PACAF release.

—A USMC F-35B landed aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp on March 5, marking the first time the F-35B has deployed aboard a US Navy ship in the Pacific: Navy release.

—The Air Force Reserve 304th Rescue Squadron in Portland, Ore., rescued several climbers who were lost and distressed on Mount Hood last month: AFRC release.