The Missile Defense Agency has approved Lockheed Martin's preliminary design for the Long Range Discrimination Radar -- a program central to Pentagon plans to improve homeland defense by bolstering the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program with an unprecedented ability to detect ballistic missile threats by the end of this decade.
Improving ballistic and cruise missile capabilities and inventories by potential adversaries could render U.S. military forces -- particularly equipment and units deemed critical to war plans -- vulnerable, and requires a new three-pronged strategy to shore up U.S. defenses that could cost $2.5 billion annually.
One of the Air Force's top priorities is to field fully mission-capable helicopters to keep intercontinental ballistic missile sites in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming safe under U.S. Strategic Command. To that end, the Air Force recently issued a second draft request for proposals to replace the UH-1N Huey that formalizes a new acquisition strategy letting companies install extra items onto their helicopters before production, as the service announced it would do in February.
Hypersonic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft are getting a new look under an effort that will explore air-breathing engines and may try to estimate the overall cost of such a platform that could be fielded after 2030, officials recently told Inside the Air Force.
The Pentagon's operational test workforce has been shrinking and is expected to be 42 percent smaller in 2020 than it was in 2010, according to a recent report sent to lawmakers by the Defense Department's top weapons tester.
The commander of the Air Force's operational space forces is concerned that a broad Air Force effort to establish more integrated, cross-domain battle management command-and-control capabilities could slow down within the space community to quickly develop an enterprise space BMC2 network.
The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, which faced an uncertain future at the start of the Trump administration, remains a priority now that Defense Secretary James Mattis runs the Pentagon and reports directly to him in the same way it did with his predecessor, Ash Carter, who established DIUx to inject greater innovation into the acquisition system.
After a successful intervention on the troubled next-generation GPS operational control segment, the director of the Air Force Digital Service said last week the group is looking to partner with the Space and Missile Systems Center as it develops an acquisition model for its new approach to managing space systems on the ground.
The Pentagon is gearing up to release a set of broad agency announcements within the next month seeking industry and academia's input into technologies needed to test future warfighting capabilities, according to a Defense Department testing official.
Details have yet to emerge on how, or even if, the massive executive branch reorganization directed by the White House last week will impact the Pentagon, but some are voicing skepticism concerning any potential civilian workforce reductions.
Inside Missile Defense is a biweekly report on efforts to defend the U.S. homeland as well as its troops abroad against missile attacks. We track both national and theater missile defense systems as well as arms control issues, counterproliferation efforts, related space activities and much more.