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​The first KC-46 to be delivered to the Air Force lands at McConnell AFB, Kan., on Jan. 25. The Air Force is beginning its planning for a future tanker while it is just starting to receive KC-46s. Air Force photo by A1C Alan Ricker.

​Air Mobility Command Beginning Look at KC-Z Requirements as it Brings On KC-46

The Air Force is now beginning to look at what it needs in its next generation tanker, laying out an aggressive timeline for the “KC-Z” while it is just now bringing on the KC-46. Air Mobility Command boss Gen. Maryanne Miller said that over the next year, the command will develop the initial capabilities it wants to see in the future tanker. The command then expects an analysis of alternatives in the next three to five years. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

USAFE: New Reaper Detachment in Poland Focuses on “Indications and Warnings” in the Baltics

The new, fully operational USAF MQ-9 base in Poland will begin flying over the Baltics to give the US and NATO better early warning and a better understanding of the potential battlespace as the alliance pushes to further deter Russia, the head of US Air Forces in Europe said. The detachment at Miroslawiec AB will get more eyes on the potential battlespace in the Baltics, which in turn will increase NATO readiness in the region. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

McSally Shares Story of Sexual Assault in the Air Force, Presses for Commander Education

Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot and squadron commander, on Wednesday said she was raped by a superior officer during her Air Force career and that she almost quit the service after the horror of how she was received after sharing her story. McSally, during a Senate Armed Services Committee Personnel Subcommittee hearing on sexual assault in the military, said the experience of the sexual assault and the reaction later in her career made her feel like “the system was raping me all over again.” “I am also a military sexual assault survivor,” she said. “But unlike so many brave survivors, I didn’t report being sexually assaulted. Like so many women and men, I didn’t trust the system at the time. I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong, but felt powerless.” Inside the Air Force and broader military, many perpetrators of sexual assault abuse their positions of power, she said. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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USAF JAG: Keep Commanders Involved in Sexual Assault Proceedings

Removing commanders from Air Force sexual assault proceedings would threaten Total Force discipline and readiness, and challenge current efforts to combat assault within the service’s ranks, the Air Force Judge Advocate General told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Personnel Subcommittee on Wednesday. But its ranking member, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said the decision as to whether or not felony sexual assault has been committed in such cases should rest with outside experts with criminal justice backgrounds. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

Executive Order Revokes the Obligation to Disclose Certain Airstrikes, Related Casualties

A new Trump Administration executive order has rescinded an Obama-era mandate aimed at increasing transparency around US airstrikes and their human toll around the world. The order states that the director of National Intelligence no longer has to release an annual report on airstrikes “against terrorist targets outside areas of active hostilities,” nor does he need to publish evaluations about how many deaths those strikes cause, including those of civilians, “among other information.” Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.


Mitchell Institute Proposes an Easier Way to Calculate Force Size  

The Air Force should revive the Air Expeditionary Force concept it developed in the 1990s to manage force rotations and use it as a force-sizing tool to define requirements, AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies argues in a new policy paper. Read the full story by Tobias Naegele.

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AFRL’s Experimental Hypersonic Flight-Testing Rocket Passes CDR

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s X-60A hypersonic flight research vehicle was cleared for its first flight test after passing its critical design review, the service said Thursday. Developed by Generation Orbit Launch Services, the X-60A is an “air-dropped liquid rocket, specifically designed for hypersonic flight research to mature technologies including scramjet propulsion, high temperature materials and autonomous control,” according to the Air Force. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Construction at USAF Base in Niger to Complete This Summer

Niger Air Base 201—the new headquarters for USAF MQ-9 operations in Africa and the biggest Air Force-led construction project in history—will be operational this summer, the head of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa said. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
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RADAR SWEEP


Former Service Secretaries James, Mabus, Fanning Accuse Pentagon Witness of Misleading Congress on Transgender Military Service. The Palm Center

Pentagon Wants 78 Lockheed F-35s in 2020, Six Fewer Than Planned
Move comes amid push to buy upgraded F-15s from rival Boeing. Bloomberg

A Battlefield Bond, Unbroken: Goldfein Reunites With PJ Who Rescued Him in Serbia
It was a harrowing rescue under fire: A three-man team of two pararescuemen and a combat controller flew into enemy territory 20 years ago to save an F-16 pilot who had been shot down over Serbia. Air Force Times

Pentagon’s R&D Request Will Be the Biggest Ever, Shanahan Says
The Pentagon will request a research and development budget of $104 billion, the biggest in the department’s history, boosting spending in space and for hypersonic weapons, according to defense officials. Bloomberg

EELV Is No More. It Is Now ‘National Security Space Launch’
In keeping with a mandate from Congress, the Air Force on Friday officially renamed the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. It is now the National Security Space Launch program. Space News

Lasers, AI, Hypersonics Top DARPA’s Small-Biz Wishlist
The Defense Department announced the 10 research areas where it wants innovative small businesses to direct their efforts in 2019. Defense One

One More Thing …

F-35 Demonstration Flight Sneak Peak. YouTube