Posted this morning:
The Defense Department has requested that Congress allow it to reprogram a total of $1 billion in fiscal year 2014 overseas contingency operations funds to launch a major effort to fight Ebola in Africa, a Pentagon official has confirmed.
"DOD has requested to reprogram an additional $500 million in fiscal year 2014 OCO funds to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to fight Ebola," the official told InsideDefense.com Sept. 17. "This is on top of a previous reprogramming request of $500 million for both Iraq and Ebola. As such, DOD would be prepared to devote up to $1 billion to Ebola response efforts."
All four congressional defense committees must approve a reprogramming request before DOD can execute it.
Continuing our coverage of this week's Air Force Association conference:
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has called for "bold leadership" and compromise from Congress to avoid the two fiscal crises that she says would significantly impair the service: a government shutdown and sequestration.
Speaking to reporters at the Air Force Association's Air and Space Conference in Washington on Sept. 16, James urged lawmakers in the House and Senate to lift sequestration and come together to pass a continuing resolution to extend fiscal year 2014 budget authority until a full appropriations bill is passed.
The secretary also confirmed the service is still prepared to make the significant force-structure cuts outlined by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in February -- including retiring the KC-10 tanker fleet -- if sequestration remains law.
Unanticipated wiring problems continue to push back the KC-46 program's initial flight tests, and the Air Force's program executive officer for the tanker program said on Sept. 16 that it is crucial the effort achieve first flight before the end of this year to remain on track for future milestones.
The KC-46 Pegasus is being designed as a second-degree derivative of Boeing's 767-200 passenger aircraft. The company converted it to a freighter-style 767-2c by building an enhanced flight deck and cargo-carrying doors and floors. The KC-46 configuration will further alter the design to include military avionics, refueling systems and a more robust wing structure.
First-flight of the 767-2c, the first EMD aircraft, was slated for this summer, but Pegasus PEO Maj. Gen. John Thompson said during a Sept. 16 presentation at the Air Force Association's annual conference in National Harbor, MD, that the flight has been pushed back to mid-November. The first KC-46 flight, planned for February 2015, has been delayed to April.
The Defense Department and F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin are in the "midst of finishing" contracts for the Joint Strike Fighter eighth production lot in a deal that includes buying aircraft for Israel and Japan, according to a company executive.
Lorraine Martin, F-35 executive vice president and general manager for Lockheed Martin, told reporters Sept. 16 at the Air Force Association's annual Air and Space Conference in National Harbor, MD, that her team is working every day with the government to close the deal. She anticipates a contract award within "the next week or couple of days going forward."
"It's for 43 aircraft, it's the first LRIP that will include [foreign military sales] partners in Israel and Japan, they both have aircraft in that lot," Martin said. "As LRIP 8 goes through its production, we'll have eight countries with aircraft in their possession."
The Air Force's remotely piloted aircraft capabilities division is developing a long-term strategy to guide the development of small unmanned aircraft systems and the team is looking to academia and industry for input, according to the head of that office.
Col. Brandon Baker, a former Global Hawk pilot, told a Sept. 15 panel at the Air Force Association's annual Air and Space Conference in Washington that continued development of RPAs, and particularly small unmanned aircraft, must continue despite ongoing fiscal pressures.
The colonel said he expects the RPAs to have a "robust counterterrorism role" over the next 25 years, but that the service must also continue to invest in new types of unmanned aircraft that are capable of performing specialized missions in highly contested environments.
News on the SM-3 Block IB interceptor:
The Missile Defense Agency will soon conclude an investigation into why Raytheon's Standard Missile -3 Block IB interceptor failed during a test last September, an assessment that is expected to influence Pentagon deliberations this fall on whether to proceed with full-rate production.
Richard Lehner, a spokesman for the agency, said a failure review board examining the root cause of a troubled SM-3 Block IB shot -- executed as part of a two-interceptor, salvo launch on Sept. 18, 2013 -- is due to conclude no later than early next month.
"The FRB is scheduled to be completed late September/early October," Lehner said in an email to InsideDefense.com.
A preview of a big NATO meeting next week:
Details for a NATO "high-readiness" force eyed as a response to Russia's incursion into Ukraine likely will emerge from an upcoming meeting of NATO defense chiefs, according to U.S. European Command chief Gen. Philip Breedlove.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Sept. 16, Breedlove said he expects a "robust discussion" at a meeting next week of the alliance's Military Committee, which will feature top military leaders from member states. The gathering follows the Wales summit earlier this month, where heads of state endorsed the plans in general terms.
According to NATO's website, a "military committee conference" will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, from Sept. 19-21. Breedlove and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, are scheduled to attend, according to a website announcement dated Sept. 15.
The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing yesterday:
Document: Senate Hearing On Iraq, Syria And ISIS
On Sept. 16, 2014, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on Iraq, Syria and ISIS. Includes the opening statements of committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) as well as the prepared testimony of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Senate lawmakers that not authorizing the training of Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria would send a devastating message to the world.
"I think that message would be very, very seriously misunderstood and misinterpreted by our allies, our friends, our partners around the world and our adversaries," Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee Sept. 16.
The Defense Department is seeking authorization from Congress to fund the training of Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia to fight ISIS. According to Hagel, the United States is "at war with [ISIS], as we are with al Qaeda." DOD is seeking $500 million, along with the authorization, to fund the training. Congress is expected to add the authorization as an amendment to a continuing resolution, which will fund the government at fiscal year 2014 levels until the end of calendar year in lieu of a defense appropriations bill.
Related ISIS news:
The Pentagon and other government agencies must assume that they will sustain damage from the proliferation of cyberattacks and remediate them while continuing their missions, the U.S. Cyber Command chief said Sept. 16, noting that he is also monitoring threats from the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 16 that vehicles would be included in the equipment package slated to be given to Syrian rebels the Pentagon plans to train to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as well as the regime of Bashar al Assad.
-- John Liang