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​Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics, speaks at an AFA Mitchell Institute event in Arlington, Va., on April 12, 2019. Staff photo by Mike Tsukamoto.

​Roper: Forget Acquisition Reform, Give Acquirers Top Cover to Go Fast

Acquisition reform that attempts to accelerate new systems by improving existing contracting tools is a pointless quest, Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper said Friday. He argued that USAF’s acquisition professionals are smart and have all the authorities they need to speed up, they just need the backing of senior leaders to take risks. Roper told an AFA Mitchell Institute audience the celebrated “804 Series” of congressional permissions to streamline don’t really add much, but the act itself is a “crystal clear message” that Congress wants the Air Force to go faster with fielding new gear, and it clears the way to do so. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

New Satellite Communications Strategy Coming Later This Year

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—The Air Force will roll out a new strategy by the end of 2019 detailing its plans to improve satellite communications coverage by working with both traditional and commercial providers, the head of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center said April 11. A new slate of military and commercial SATCOM pathfinder programs are also being considered under the forthcoming strategy. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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Lakenheath Eagle Squadron Conducts Change of Command During Combat Flight

The 493rd Fighter Squadron had a different sort of change of command earlier this year, with the handover of leadership taking place during a combat mission in the skies over Iraq and Syria. The F-15C squadron from RAF Lakenheath, England, had to do a “very short notice deployment” to Southwest Asia earlier this year, leaving them little preparation time to take over the air superiority mission in US Central Command from F-22 Raptors, which were returning home as part of a push to increase overall fighter readiness. On Feb. 28, Lt. Col. Anthony May took command of the 493rd FS from Lt. Col. Cody Blake in a ceremony that took place during a combat mission in an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, according to a Friday Lakenheath release. Typically a change of command like this takes place during a formal ceremony, with a guidon handed over, but in this instance the oath was read over the radio and a flag was in an Eagle’s cockpit. “That’s not how we normally envision changes of command, but I’m certain it was truly a memorable experience,” 48th Operations Group Commander Col. Jason Camilletti said in the release. —Brian Everstine

DOD Transgender Policy Goes Into Effect

The Pentagon’s controversial transgender policy went into effect on Friday after a series of legal challenges, potentially forcing service members out if they have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and cannot meet certain standards. The new policy reverses the 2016 policy enacted by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter that called for transgender individuals to serve openly, and states that a service member diagnosed with gender dysphoria can continue serving if they meet standards for their biological sex. Those who transitioned before the new policy went into effect Friday will be “grandfathered” and allowed to remain in uniform, said Anthony Kurta, the acting deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness. The policy stemmed from a review ordered by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis shortly after he entered office in early 2017, which focused on the readiness of the services under the transgender policy. During this review, which included senior uniformed and civilian personnel, President Donald Trump tweeted that the military would not allow transgender individuals to serve. The order and subsequent memorandum prompted a series of legal challenges. In January, the Supreme Court allowed the ban to go into effect while other lawsuits make their way through lower courts. Kurta, speaking to reporters on Friday, said the most recent data shows there are about 1,000 Active Duty service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria and less than 10 are currently going through transition. —Brian Everstine

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International Air Chiefs Converge on Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Twelve air chiefs from around the world met April 10-11 for their first annual gathering to discuss next steps as a coalition in space. America and its international partners are planning further cooperation on space situational awareness, training exercises, hosted payloads, and considering how to integrate each country’s systems and people, which should be easier to do now rather than waiting until space is more contested, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told reporters April 11. “We specifically looked at how do we, at this very early stage, build out our sensor capability and our battle management so it’s interoperable at the start?” he said, also noting that more work needs to be done to spot and characterize items in space. He said the chiefs are confident they have what they need to win a war in space today, and that other nations are working on their own new space organizations and launch enterprises. “To enhance our space collaboration, we are also discussing operational concepts, personnel needs, and infrastructure requirements to enhance multinational command and control of space forces in and through the Combined Space Operations Center and the other national Space Operations Centers,” the Air Force said. Countries represented included Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, England, and the United States. —Rachel S. Cohen

Winners Crowned at AFA’s CyberPatriot XI National Finals Competition

The Air Force Association's (AFA) CyberPatriot program crowned the winners of the 11th season of its National Youth Cyber Defense Competition on Wednesday, April 10 in Baltimore. During the awards ceremony US Cyber Command boss Gen. Paul Nakasone said the high school- and middle school-aged national finalists “are vital for the security of our nation.” He told the students, “We are always looking for cyber patriots like you to join our ranks.” Read the full story.
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RADAR SWEEP


Memorial for Dick Cole, Last of Doolittle Raiders, to be Held on 77th Anniversary of His Legendary Mission
Retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, the final surviving member of the storied Doolittle Raiders who died Tuesday at 103, will be remembered in a memorial service at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas on April 18. The memorial service will take place exactly 77 years to the day after the daring B-25 bomber raid on mainland Japan, Air Education and Training Command at Randolph said in a release Friday. Air Force Times

Hundreds Witness Veteran Shoot and Kill Himself in VA Waiting Room
A horrific scene unfolded Tuesday in the waiting room of an Austin, Texas, Veterans Affairs clinic when a veteran reportedly shot himself to death in front of hundreds of witnesses. Military Times

Boeing’s Other Problem: Much-Needed Air Force Tanker Keeps Hitting Snafus
Boeing faces a well-known crisis with the 737 MAX, but a second challenge is also confronting the company: its new tanker for the U.S. Air Force. Seattle Times

Air National Guard, Reserve Pensions Delayed for Months Due to Backlog
Several retired members of the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve say they have struggled to receive their pensions, a problem that military officials attribute to a beleaguered workforce and technology that one former general called "shamefully outdated." NBC Connecticut

US Establishes $20.4 Billion Fund to Bring 5G to Rural America: What 5G Means for You
The Trump Administration is looking to lead in the global race for 5G supremacy, with an eye on rural America. USA Today

75th D-Day Anniversary Goes High-Tech at Air Force Museum
A new high-tech exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will allow visitors to step inside the action that marked the beginning of the end of World War II. The Columbus Dispatch

One More Thing …

Israeli Spacecraft Crashes in Attempt to Land on Moon
An Israeli spacecraft crashed into the moon just moments before touchdown, failing in an ambitious attempt to make history Thursday as the first privately funded lunar landing. Associated Press