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​767-2Cs—the basis f​or KC-46 tankers—lined up at Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on Thursday. They are awaiting conversion into tankers. Staff photo: John A. Tirpak.

KC-46 Upgrade Roadmap Coming, May Chart End of Boomers

The Air Force and Boeing are building a roadmap to improve the KC-46 tanker, even though the type is not yet in service. During a media program Thursday at the company’s plant in Everett, Wash., company program manager Mike Gibbons said the roadmap may do away with a boom operator crew position, shifting to an autonomous system. Company officials also insisted they’ll deliver 18 aircraft by year’s end, explaining how they’ll correct some deficiencies identified by the Government Accountability Office. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.


DOD Where it Should be on Examining Space Corps Issue, Official Says

The Trump administration is studying the concept of a Space Corps and is right about where it should be, a top Defense Department official told a Washington audience Friday. Establishment of such a force has support in some quarters of Congress, including the Republican and Democratic leaders of the key House Armed Services Subcommittee, and President Trump has expressed support for the idea as well. Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Space Policy Stephen Kitay told an AFA breakfast meeting the department is in the “study phase” on whether a separate service for space is necessary, with a final report expected in August. “Where we are in it is exactly where I think you would want the department to be insofar as holistically looking at the very difficult and complex topic, and making sure that we really understand all the aspects of it,” he said. —Steve Hirsch

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Nakasone Takes Over Newly Elevated US Cyber Command, NSA

Newly promoted Army Gen. Paul Nakasone on Friday proclaimed a new beginning for the US Cyber Command as he took over command there and at the National Security Agency, and as the command was elevated to full unified command status. “Today we start writing the opening chapter for US Cyber Command as our nation’s newest unified combatant command,” he said during a change-of-command ceremony at Fort Meade, Md., during which he assumed command from retiring Navy Adm. Michael Rogers. CYBERCOM, he said, now has the chance “to build a combatant command from the ground up.”  He also lauded NSA, saying the agency “will continue our unfailing role as a vital combat support agency to our nation’s military forces” and will continue to be “the elite foreign signals intelligence producer across the globe.” Working with the closest US partners and allies, “We are an irreplaceable cornerstone of our intelligence community,” he said. —Steve Hirsch

EOD Preliminary School Revamps PT

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal preliminary school at Sheppard AFB, Texas, has revamped its physical training program in an effort to reduce injuries without impacting the rigorous nature of the program. Exercise physiologists from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, observed the training and offered—for free—suggestions on how the program could be tweaked. Prior to the changes, the PT program was known as “getting smoked,” because airmen would exercise continuously until physical exhaustion, according to a release. The 26-day preliminary course was designed to weed out those who didn’t meet the standards, but too often airmen were getting hurt, especially during the ruck marches. “Injuries were costing the Air Force a lot of money and most of the attrition was coming from injuries and self-eliminations,” said MSgt. Joshua Crowley, 366th Training Squadron EOD preliminary course superintendent. “We had 100 to 150 students that were on injury profiles at any given time here.” Most of those airmen would remain in injury status for 90 to 100 days, making it more difficult for USAF to meet the high demand for EOD technicians and costing USAF $215 a day to house and feed them while they recovered. Now USAF is providing more time to rest time between ruck marches and all instructors must go through physical education training before they can teach. “It’s nearly eliminated the injuries. We’ve only had one or two this year,” said SSgt. Shawn Briggs, 366th Training Squadron explosive ordnance disposal preliminary course instructor.


HASC Releases Proposed NDAA Summary, Hearings Set for Next Week

The House Armed Services Committee Friday released a summary of its version of the Fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill, which includes $639.1 billion in the base budget plus an additional $69 billion in overseas contingency operations funds. The full committee will consider the legislation next week. Subcommittees last week sent their proposals for language in the bill to the full committee in preparation for the session, largely unchanged from what had been released earlier. A key provision would bring back the US Space Command as a subordinate unified command under US Strategic Command. The proposal would also direct the Defense Department to establish a separate space acquisitions process, the Air Force to come up with and institute a plan to raise the size and quality of the Air Force space cadre, set up a new numbered Air Force for space warfighting, and directs the Defense Secretary to develop a plan identifying joint essential tasks for space as a warfighting domain. The full text of the bill will be released May 7 and the committee will consider the proposal May 9. —Steve Hirsch

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RADAR SWEEP


—The Defense Department has offered to host the new NATO Joint Force Command for the Atlantic at US naval facilities in Norfolk, Va. The North Atlantic Council is expected to decide where the new command, which is part of NATO’s overall reorganization, will be located this summer: DOD release.

—The Oakland Raiders or April 28 announced their Day 3 draft selections from the USAF Thunderbirds hangar at Nellis AFB, Nev. The Raiders are expected to move from California to Las Vegas: ACC release.

—The fourth Space Based Infrared System missile warning satellite has transmitted its first images back to Earth: Lockheed Martin release.

—Northrop Grumman has opened a new 7,700 square foot cyber center in San Antonio, Texas: Northrop release.

—Lockheed Martin expects to begin tracking objects with its USAF Space Fence on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in June: Space News.

—Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service has launched a new marketing tool to be displayed at airshows and other recruiting events with a large, high-definition touchscreen that includes interactive quizzes, games, and a photo booth with AFRC-branded backdrops: USAF release.

—The Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, which was developed to fulfill an urgent operational need in Afghanistan where communication was difficult, has transition from a Joint Urgent Operational Need to a Program of Record as of March 30: WPAFB release.