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​A formation of F-35 Lightning IIs from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings stationed at Hill AFB, Utah, perform aerial maneuvers during a combat power exercise over Utah Test and Training Range, Nov. 19, 2018. Air Force photo by SSgt. Cory D. Payne.

GAO Pushes Pentagon on F-35 Reliability and Maintainability, Block 4 Business Case

The Government Accountability Office wants the Pentagon to nail down specifics in its F-35 reliability and maintainability improvement plan, and hold off awarding any more contracts for the Block 4 upgrade program until various cost estimates and a business case are established in reports expected later this fall. The recommendations were included in the GAO’s fourth annual F-35 review, which acknowledged “slow, sustained progress” in F-35 reliability, but still faulted the project for hitting only half of its required marks in this area. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Wilson Emphasizes Importance of European Alliance Following Poland Visit

The US military and allies, particularly in Europe, need to strengthen their relationships through increased training opportunities and the interoperability of common equipment, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Monday. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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The Evolution of USAF’s Operations in Space

Lt. Gen. David Thompson, the vice commander of Air Force Space Command, is all in on the idea of launching a giant network of satellites into low Earth orbit—an idea under debate within the Department of Defense for how realistically useful it may be and for which missions. “What we have to understand are two things: how close to a true operationally capable and effective service can these provide, … and then how do they integrate with the rest of the architecture?” Thompson said Monday at New America and Arizona State University’s Future Security Forum in Washington. A proliferated LEO constellation, the first undertaking of DOD’s new Space Development Agency, will certainly be part of the Air Force’s future space architecture, he said. What remains to be seen is what roles it will play and how soon. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

DOD Official: Ending US Support for Yemen Fight Would Worsen the Crisis

Efforts by some on Capitol Hill to pull US support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen would backfire and further harm civilians, a top Pentagon official said Monday. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump vetoed the War Powers Resolution, a Congressional measure that would have ended US involvement in the conflict. The Saudi-led fight has caused large-scale civilian casualties that supporters of the measure have called a humanitarian disaster. The Senate could take up the measure in the near future, though neither the Senate nor the House is expected to have the votes to override. Michael Mulroy, the deputy assistant defense secretary for the Middle East, said Monday at a Center for a New American Security event in Washington, D.C., that the US support is now limited to “side-by-side coaching to help mitigate civilian casualties.” The US doesn’t refuel aircraft anymore, he said, adding, “We don’t think we are in combat.” If a measure such as the War Powers Resolution passes, the US involvement in trying to limit casualties would end. “If that happens, that’s obviously not helping the situation,” he said. —Brian Everstine

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Northrop Overseeing Launch of Unified Platform Coding Center

Northrop Grumman is taking the lead on standing up a new coding center dubbed “LevelUp” that will help field the secretive Unified Platform for US Cyber Command, a company spokeswoman said Monday. “Northrop Grumman will work with its own developers, as well as with those of the five other companies selected, to enhance multiple cyber platforms with a provision of services in the areas of command-and-control, planning, generation, execution, assessment, reporting, and visualization,” a Northrop spokeswoman said Monday. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

US Service Member Dies in Non-Combat Incident in Syria

A US service member died Monday in a non-combat incident in northern Syria, the fourth non-combat casualty in the Middle East within two weeks. The service member’s name and unit has not been released, pending next of kin notification. The service member was deployed to Syria for Operation Inherent Resolve, the continuing anti-ISIS fight in Syria and Iraq. The death follows the April 23 death of US Army Spc. Michael Osorio in Iraq, the April 20 death of US Army Spc. Ryan Dennis Orin Riley in Iraq, and the April 19 death of USAF SSgt. Albert Miller at Al Udeid AB, Qatar. —Brian Everstine
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RADAR SWEEP


Air Force Academy Removes Commandant of Cadets Amid Investigation
The first openly gay general at the Air Force Academy has been removed as commandant of cadets, but leaders there were mum Monday on the exact cause of the apparent firing. Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin, who led military training at the academy since 2017, was removed from her role as commandant amid an investigation, the school confirmed Monday. The Gazette

“Crippling” Manning Crisis for Enlisted Aviators Prompts Air Force to Expand Retraining
Maj. Gen. Robert LaBrutta, the Air Force’s director of military force management policy, said in an April 22 memo that certain airframes and specialties in career enlisted aviator jobs are nearing 65 percent manning. Air Force officials have in the past said that they start to get nervous when manning drops below 90 percent in a career field. Air Force Times

US Air Force Provides X-60A Hypersonic Flight Test Details
The US Air Force (USAF) plans to use the first two test flights of its X-60A GOLauncher1 (GO1) hypersonic flight research vehicle as capability demonstrations before using further test flights for experimentation, according to a key official. Jane’s

Pushback Continues as Air Force Prepares to Request Bids for Space Launch Services
A war of words between the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and the Air Force over a multibillion-dollar national security launch services competition appears to be escalating. Space News

One Defense Agency Is Building a Bot Army
The Defense Logistics Agency will have an army of bots working independently across its networks by the end of fiscal 2019 and is currently deploying new automated applications every two weeks. Nextgov via Defense One

One More Thing …

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Dawn Goldfein discuss PCS with Elmo and Abby on "Sesame Street" during the month of the military child. "Sesame Street"