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​Air Force Secretary Nominee Barbara Barrett testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee, as a part of the confirmation process, on Sept 12, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark.

​Barrett Confirmation Vote Slated For Mid-October

The Senate will likely hold a confirmation vote for Barbara Barrett, the nominee to become the Air Force’s next secretary, in mid-October. At 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 15, the chamber will decide whether to proceed to the final tally—expected on Oct. 16. Lawmakers set that schedule Sept. 26, the same day they confirmed Ryan McCarthy as the permanent Army secretary. Barrett and McCarthy jointly testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 12. Barrett, an aerospace executive and former diplomat, would replace Acting Secretary Matt Donovan, who took over when former USAF civilian boss Heather Wilson left at the end of May. While SASC passed Barrett’s nomination out of committee by voice vote, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he would oppose her confirmation and put a hold on the process until she promises to create a policy to block Air Force spending at Trump-owned properties once confirmed. The senator pressed the nominee on the issue at her hearing, prompted by recent news reports on USAF stopovers at the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland. —Rachel S. Cohen

White House to Host Interagency Space Tabletop Exercise

Representatives from across the federal government will convene at the White House in November for a tabletop exercise aimed at improving interagency cooperation in space. The meeting this fall brings together officials at the highest echelons of government and builds on earlier tabletop iterations with the same players. US Space Command boss Gen. Jay Raymond indicated the upcoming tabletop will focus on how the federal government can share information about space to deter enemies from threatening US assets. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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Third Airstrike in Seven Days Shows Islamic State Lingering in Libya

The third US airstrike in a week targeting the Islamic State group in southwest Libya reportedly killed 17 fighters Sept. 26, a sign that the group is resurging in its former stronghold and that the US could resume routine US air operations in the area to counter the IS. An undisclosed airframe conducted the strike. The previous strikes, on Sept. 19 and Sept. 24, took place in the vicinity of Murzuq, in the same region. “This ongoing campaign against ISIS-Libya demonstrates that US Africa Command persistently targets terrorist networks that seek to harm innocent Libyans,” Navy Rear Adm. Heidi Berg, AFRICOM’s director of intelligence, said in a Sept. 27 release. AFRICOM believes 36 IS fighters died in the three incidents—the first US airstrikes in Libya in nearly a full calendar year. US forces in 2016 conducted an aerial operation dubbed “Odyssey Lightning” that largely targeted the IS in the seaside town of Sirte. The operation included MQ-9s and other services’ aircraft, and was followed by B-2s that flew from the US in 2017 to strike an IS training camp in the desert. When the bulk of the operation was wrapping up in 2016, AFRICOM warned the IS still posed an “evolving threat” to Libya. IS fighters have recently claimed responsibility for attacks targeting the Libyan military and civilians. Voice of America reported 500 to 750 fighters are active in the country. —Brian Everstine

Got the Next Big Science and Tech Idea?

The Air Force is in the market for “disruptive” new science and technology capabilities, and is offering a $14 million pot for the best ideas. The service on Sept. 26 announced “Air Force Explore” as part of its "Science and Technology 2030" strategy, which wants to draw transformational ideas from across the country “to become the Air Force we need,” Maj. Gen. William Cooley, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, in a Sept. 26 release. The service anticipates awarding four to seven contracts, each worth $1 million to $2 million, for suggestions focused on “global persistent awareness; resilient information sharing; rapid, effective decision making; complexity, unpredictability, and mass; and speed and reach of disruption and lethality,” according to the release. Submissions are due Nov. 11, and funds will be doled out by March 2020. Air Force Explore is a joint effort between AFRL, the Air Force Warfighter Integration Capability planning organization, and the Air Force’s acquisition boss. —Brian Everstine

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RADAR SWEEP


Air Force Brass Lead New SPACECOM Subcommand
Space Command head Gen. John Raymond will start the new component command designed to provide space capabilities to joint and allied forces in the field on Oct. 1. Although the Combined Force Space Component Command is a joint command, its top two leaders are Air Force brass: Maj. Gen. Stephen Whiting has been named commander; Brig. Gen. Matthew Davidson is his deputy. Breaking Defense

OPINION: An Old Idea Could Bring Antiaircraft Missiles of Unprecedented Capability
“Ramjet SAMs promise interceptions at altitudes and distances far beyond today’s defenses,” write Douglas Barrie and Joseph Dempsey, both of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Defense One

Spy Agencies Must Work Through AI’s Ethical Issues, Former Leader Says
Spy agencies need to fully embrace artificial intelligence to maintain the country’s geopolitical strength in the years ahead, but in order for that to happen, officials must focus on building trust, according to the intelligence community’s former second-in-command. Nextgov

Air Force Awards Contract for Airborne Radio Prototype
The Air Force has awarded L3Harris Technologies a contract to develop a competitive prototype for a new aircraft-mounted radio to replace the service’s AN/ARC-190 airborne HF radio. The prototype, the L3Harris Falcon Wideband Airborne HF Radio, is a software-defined, digital multi-mode system that meets the ARC-190 communication requirements, Ryan McCarty, vice president of Defense Department business development at L3 Harris’ Communication Systems, said in an interview. National Defense Magazine

Maryland Senators Introduce Bill to Give Death Benefits to ROTC Members to Honor Bowie State Student Killed
Maryland Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin have introduced a bill to extend death benefits to ROTC members who die before they’re able to serve their first active-duty assignment for the military. The bill is in recognition of Lt. Richard W. Collins III, who was killed before he could serve his first assignment for the US Army. Baltimore Sun (subscription required)

An Air Force First—a Sikh in Beard and Turban Graduates at Lackland
Airman 1st Class Sunjit Singh Rathour stood out in the crowd as he graduated Sept. 26 from Security Forces training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. San Antonio Express-News (subscription required)

Bullet from M-4 Injured Person During 2018 Wright-Patterson Active Shooter Scare
A new Air Force investigative report paints a detailed picture of the chaos that erupted when emergency responders in August 2018 searched Wright-Patterson Medical Center for an active shooter that turned out to be nonexistent. The report—by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations—also reveals for the first time that a responder hurt in the 2018 active shooter scare at Wright-Patterson AFB was injured by a bullet from a service member firing an assault rifle to open a locked door. Dayton Daily News

200 Air and Missile Defense Soldiers Set to Deploy to Saudi Arabia
The Pentagon has settled on sending an Army Patriot missile defense battery and four Sentinel RADAR units to defend Saudi Arabia against attacks, following airstrikes on oil fields earlier this month. That would include 200 support personnel, according to a Sept. 26 statement from Defense Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman. Military Times

One More Thing …

Russia Launches Missile Warning Satellite
The Russian Defense Ministry said a Soyuz-2.1b rocket, topped with a Fregat upper stage, launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 0746 GMT (3:46 a.m. EDT) on Sept. 26 carrying a military payload. A statement from the Russian Defense Ministry did not identify the payload, but information about the mission’s trajectory released in warning notices to pilots and mariners suggested the satellite was likely the third EKS, or Tundra, missile warning satellites for the Russian military. Spaceflight Now