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​The Air Force launched the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency communication satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Oct. 17, 2018. USAF photo by Van Ha.


Questions Remain as Lawmakers Mull Space Force Proposal

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are confident an agreement on how to create a Space Force is within reach, although the path forward remains murky. “I think you’re going to see a much greater chance for Senate acceptance than we’ve ever had before,” House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee chair Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) told reporters. But in both legislative chambers, officials want more clarity on what a Space Force would do and what it will cost as they begin writing the annual defense policy bill. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.


Awaiting Relief Funds, Wilson Defers Dozens of Maintenance Projects

Recovering Tyndall AFB, Fla., and Offutt AFB, Neb., will require $1.2 billion in fiscal 2019 and $3.7 billion across 2020 and 2021, even as the final price tag continues to evolve, the Air Force said Wednesday. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said she decided on Tuesday to defer maintenance for 61 projects at 33 installations in 18 states because Congress had not approved supplemental funds. A new supplemental funding bill introduced this week would cover slightly more than half of the service’s 2019 O&M requirements for Tyndall and about one-fourth of the base’s MILCON needs through 2021. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Wilson: F-15EX Buy Takes Advantage of Existing Infrastructure, Production Line

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson on Wednesday defended the Pentagon’s plan to have the service buy more F-15s, a move she previously acknowledged was not in the original USAF budget plan. Bringing on F-15s will take advantage of existing infrastructure, maintainers, ground equipment, and the open production line to increase the capacity of the service’s fourth generation fighter fleet as older F-15Cs age out, she said during a speech at the Heritage Foundation. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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Ellsworth First to Get B-21 Bomber

Ellsworth AFB, S.D., is the preferred location to receive the first operational B-21 bomber and formal training unit beginning in the mid-2020s, the service announced Wednesday. Whiteman AFB, Mo., and Dyess AFB, Texas, also are slated to receive B-21s “as they become available,” while Barksdale AFB, La., and Minot AFB, N.D., will continue to host the B-52 Stratofortress. Ellsworth was chosen because it already “provides sufficient space and existing facilities necessary to accommodate simultaneous missions at the lowest cost and with minimal operational impact across all three bases,” states the release. Though the B-52 is expected to stay in service through 2050, the service plans to phase out the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit as the B-21 comes online. “We are procuring the B-21 Raider as a long-range, highly-survivable aircraft capable of penetrating enemy airspace with a mix of weapons,” Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in the release. “It is a central part of a penetrating joint team.” The Air Force is expected to make final B-21 basing decisions in 2021, according to the release. —Amy McCullough


USAF Proposes Moving F-22 Training to Langley

The Air Force announced this week it wants to formally move F-22 training to JB Langley-Eustis, Va., as Tyndall AFB, Fla., continues its recovery following a devastating hurricane last October. The move is the latest in a series of changes to the F-22 fleet, including building up other operating locations with Tyndall jets, to try to increase the readiness of the Raptors. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.


Trump Awards Medal of Honor to Soldier Killed in Iraq

President Trump on Wednesday awarded the Medal of Honor to Army SSgt. Travis Atkins, who was killed in Iraq in 2007 when he bear-hugged a suicide bomber, saving three fellow soldiers. Atkins was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions, but the award was upgraded as part of a Defense Department review of valor medals. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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North Korea Continuing with “Full Spectrum Training” Despite Canceled US, South Korean Exercises

North Korea has not made any changes to its military posture and there has not been “any progress to speak of” toward denuclearization, the head of US Forces-Korea and the Pentagon’s head of security affairs in Asia told lawmakers on Wednesday. Despite the cancellation of large exercises between the US and South Korea, Kim Jong Un has only taken steps that have been “inconsistent” with denuclearization, USFK boss Gen. Robert Abrams told the House Armed Services Committee. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.


Andrew Marshall, 1921-2019

Andrew Marshall, founder of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, died March 25 at age 97. Known to many as “Yoda” for his sagacity and strategic wisdom, Marshall led the office through eight presidential administrations, along the way correctly forecasting the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic and military rise of China. Marshall championed an asymmetric approach to strategic competition, emphasizing the targeting of an adversary’s weaknesses as a sure way to prevail, and mentored many influential defense leaders. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Berger Nominated as Marine Corps Commandant

President Donald Trump has nominated Lt. Gen. David Berger to get a fourth star and to succeed Gen. Robert Neller as Marine Corps Commandant, according to a Marine Corps release. Berger currently pulls double duty for the Corps, serving as both its deputy commandant for combat development and integration and as commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command. He formerly led I Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. Neller is slated to retire once he steps down from his current position following 44 years in uniform, the Corps said. —Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

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RADAR SWEEP


In a First, Enlisted Woman Aims to Become Special Operations Weather Airman
The first enlisted woman to try to become a special operations weather airman has entered the special warfare training pipeline. Air Force Times

Air Force JAG Says Commanders May Invoke God at Change of Command Ceremonies, Sparking Protest
A little publicized legal opinion that addresses commanders’ rights to mention God at change of command and promotion ceremonies, issued by the Air Force judge advocate general in December, is now drawing protests and praise. Air Force Times

Iraq Unveils Indigenous UAV
Iraq's State Company for Military Industries unveiled a new unmanned aerial vehicle during the IQDEX show held in Baghdad in March. Jane’s

India Shoots Down Satellite in Test, Modi Hails Arrival as Space Power
India shot down one of its satellites in space with an anti-satellite missile on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, hailing the country’s first test of such technology as a major breakthrough that establishes it as a space power. Reuters

Appeals Court Clears Path for Pentagon to Enforce Transgender Ban April 12
A federal appeals court finalized Tuesday its ruling to lift an injunction against President Trump’s transgender military ban, allowing the policy to take effect April 12 as planned. The Hill

Spacesuit Issue Cancels First All-Female Spacewalk
A spacesuit sizing issue has prompted NASA to reshuffle assignments for a pair of upcoming spacewalks at the International Space Station, cancelling a first-ever all-woman spacewalk and in the process turning what had been an accidental public relations coup for the agency into a headache. Space News

One More Thing …

COMBAT OBSCURA
Miles Lagoze was deployed to Afghanistan as Combat Camera—his unit's official videographer, tasked with shooting and editing footage for the Marine Corps. After his discharge, Lagoze took all the footage he and his fellow cameramen shot, and assembled a documentary, a raw look at daily life in a war zone. The film, COMBAT OBSCURA, arrives in theaters this week. Check out the trailer.