The Air Force's next-generation airlifter design will depend on the Army's next-generation ground vehicle, as Inside the Air Force reports this morning:
As the Air Force moves toward transitioning its vision for a next-generation airlifter from early developmental planning into the requirements-setting phase, its next moves are highly dependent on the direction the Army takes in pursuing a next-generation ground vehicle, according to an Air Mobility Command requirements official.
In the world of air mobility, the Army is the Air Force's primary customer, and Scott McMullen, deputy director of Air Mobility Command's strategic plans, requirements and programs directorate, told Inside the Air Force in an Oct. 21 interview that this means any planning the service conducts is done with an eye on Army requirements.
The Army's efforts to move forward with a new ground vehicle were most recently articulated through the Ground Combat Vehicle program, which was canceled in February because of a lack of funding. The program has since been downgraded to a science and technology effort without follow-on procurement funding. That S&T work is largely aimed at maturing next-generation capabilities -- work that, according to McMullen, the Air Force is closely watching.
Continuing our coverage of the Pentagon's finalized FY-14 omnibus reprogramming action:
The Air Force is launching high-priority, new-start modernization programs this fall after winning approval from Congress to begin a sixth-generation fighter aircraft program and the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System replacement effort with fiscal year 2014 funds, sidestepping a statutory ban on new projects mandated by the stopgap spending bill funding the government through Dec. 11.
The service, which originally planned to begin these programs in FY-15, this summer requested permission from lawmakers to reprogram prior-year funds in order to avoid schedule delays for its Next-Generation Air Dominance program and Next-Generation JSTARS program -- requests granted by all four defense committees, the Pentagon disclosed on Oct. 16.
Under the continuing resolution funding the federal government from Oct. 1 to Dec. 11, the Pentagon may not launch any new programs or expand the scope of existing programs beyond levels funded in FY-14. That restriction would have stalled these two aircraft-modernization efforts which both planned to commence using FY-15 funding. However, the Air Force's wish found favor this summer with lawmakers who tend to frown upon Pentagon requests to launch new starts in reprogramming actions.
News on the Global Hawk engine:
Rolls-Royce has almost completed the physical construction of a new, organic RQ-4B Global Hawk engine maintenance and overhaul facility for the Air Force at Tinker Air Force Base's Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, and soon plant equipment will be moving to the factory floor to have the facility operational by the end of calendar year 2015, as planned.
The company currently services the high-flying spy aircraft's AE 3007H power plant at a facility in Canada but as the Global Hawk program moves from development and production to sustainment, the Air Force has a Title 10 requirement to maintain the capability organically.
During an Oct. 16 interview with Inside the Air Force, Rolls-Royce executives said construction work is about 90-percent complete and over the next six months or so machines and equipment will begin moving in.
More unmanned news:
The Air Force is struggling to generate enough organic aircrews to support the high operational demand for MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers and is considering hiring contractors as pilots and sensor operators to support non-combat missions after an existing arrangement expires in 2016.
Earlier this month, the Air Force posted a sources-sought notice on the Federal Business Opportunities website to gauge whether companies are capable of providing experienced MQ-1 and MQ-9 operators to support production acceptance and developmental test sorties.
The Oct. 15 notice suggests this is not a new requirement, because the anticipated five-year contract for aircrew services would replace an existing arrangement which expires in January 2016. Responses to the notice's contractor capability survey are due by Nov. 6.
The Navy's top military officer plans to do a lot of talking to lawmakers on how important the SSBN(X) program is to the service:
Once Congress is back in session, the chief of naval operations plans to "educate" members of Congress on the importance of the Ohio-class replacement ballistic missile submarine program.
Adm. Jonathan Greenert said Oct. 23 at the Naval Submarine League's annual symposium in Falls Church, VA, that only about 10 lawmakers understand the program.
"I think we need to educate in essence what it takes to do such a complicated thing," he said, adding: "I've got some work when they reconvene."
SM-6 missile news:
A Navy ship testing its Standard Missile-6 interceptors has successfully shot down two anti-ship cruise missile targets prior to its own radar detecting the incoming threats, instead using targeting information from another Aegis ship nearby, according to a Raytheon statement.
"As part of 'engage on remote' scenarios, the ship launched the SM-6 interceptors prior to its own radars 'seeing' the incoming threats, using targeting information from another Aegis ship in the area," Raytheon announced Thursday. "The first SM-6 intercepted a low-altitude, short-range supersonic target (GQM-163A), while the second intercepted a low-altitude, medium-range subsonic target (BQM-74E)."
The destroyer Sampson (DDG-102) detected the targets and SM-6 interceptors were launched from the cruiser Chancellorsville (CG-62). The test was conducted during the Navy's Combat Ship Qualification Trials.
Some new documents of note:
The Oct. 22, 2014, Defense Department directive "updates and reestablishes the functional and organizational relationships among all DOD elements involved in providing DOD C2 enabling capabilities and directs necessary operational links to non-DOD organizations."
On Oct. 15, 2014, the Air Force issued a sources-sought notice to gauge whether companies are capable of providing experienced MQ-1 and MQ-9 operators to support production acceptance and developmental test sorties.
On Oct. 17, 2014, Air Force Global Strike Command issued a request for information regarding a B-52 re-engining effort.
On Oct. 23, 2014, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and South Korean Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo "agreed to implement South Korea's proposal for a conditions-based approach to transferring wartime control of allied forces, known as OPCON, to ensure the combined defense posture remains strong and seamless."
The purpose of the Oct. 16, 2014, chief of naval operations instruction is "to issue revised required operational capabilities (ROC) and projected operational environment (POE) statements for Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron SEVEN (VQ-7)."
-- John Liang