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A 55th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron member marshals an RC-135V/W Rivet Joint from its parking spot, Aug. 5, 2018, at Offutt AFB, Neb. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Drew Nystrom.

Offutt’s ISR Planes Prep for Evolving Threats

OFFUTT AFB, Neb.—Great power competition may be the focus of the Pentagon’s latest strategy, but the 55th Wing here says handling evolving threats is just another day on the job. The wing’s niche intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance jets have flown about 12 miles off the coast of Russia and China for decades, wing leaders say, but they don’t expect their planes’ unique electronic signals, missile launch, and radioactivity recon roles to change much. “Honestly, this wing’s been doing that since the ‘60s,” 55th Operations Group Commander Col. Eric Paulson said in a June 4 interview. “We’ve spiraled our technology to meet adversary technology and kept up with it, but this is what we’ve been doing.” But there’s more to do to rebalance the wing’s assets and expertise for the coming decades. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Topline Disagreement Threatens Bipartisan HASC Vote

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the House Armed Services Committee’s top Republican and former chairman, will bring up an amendment this week to raise the panel’s spending recommendation to $750 billion in the 2020 defense policy bill. The Trump administration requested $750 billion for national security in 2020, including $718.3 billion for the Defense Department. But the Democrat-led HASC recommends $733 billion, one figure the administration reportedly considered earlier in its budget-crafting process. The GOP will need to evaluate “the good, the bad, and the ugly in the bill,” Thornberry said, hoping the June 12 markup produces legislation both parties can support. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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Trump Administration Opposes House Minibus Spending Bill

The Office of Management and Budget this week came out against a 2020 “minibus” spending package, slated to be taken up on the House floor June 12, which largely denies funding for President Donald Trump’s Space Force and a barrier at the southern US border. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Goldfein: Pilot Shortage, Retention Issues “Leveling Off”

The Air Force’s pilot shortage has “leveled off,” with more pilots looking to stay in service, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said June 11. The Air Force has said for years it is about 2,000 pilots short, but Goldfein said it expects to reverse that trend within the next five years. “Indicators for retention are going slightly uphill,” he said at the Association for Defense Communities conference in Washington, D.C., though he did not provide specific numbers.  Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Hill F-35s Move to Spangdahlem for Europe Deployment

The F-35 squadron that deployed to Europe in late May has transitioned from Aviano AB, Italy, to Spangdahlem AB, Germany, where it will be based for the rest of its summer-long deployment. The F-35s from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill AFB, Utah, deployed to Aviano on May 23 and participated in the Astral Knight exercise, where they flew alongside a USAF B-52 and Italian Air Force aircraft. At Spangdahlem, the aircraft will participate in exercises and train with other Europe-based aircraft, US Air Forces in Europe said in a June 11 release. For example, F-35s have flown to exercises in Spain and Switzerland, and are set to appear at the Paris Air Show next week. This is the aircraft’s second deployment to Europe, the 34th Fighter Squadron deployed to RAF Lakenheath, England, in April 2017. F-35s from the same Hill units also are deployed to the Middle East for combat operations. —Brian Everstine

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RADAR SWEEP


Trump May be Having Second Thoughts About Shanahan as Defense Secretary
While in Europe to commemorate D-Day, Trump asked at least three people if they had any suggestions for different candidates, said four sources. NBC News

Critical Update: Inside DARPA's DARPA
Valerie Browning, director of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, discusses self-aware machines, the future of quantum computing, and preventing technology surprises. Nextgov

US Air Force Performs KC-46A Testing with B-2, EC-130H
The US Air Force recently performed Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tanker testing with the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the Lockheed Martin EC-130H Compass Call wide-area coverage electronic attack and offensive counter information aircraft. Jane’s

OPINION: Finding the Way (Again): Building the Air Force’s New Century Series
Dr. William Roper, the Air Force’s senior acquisition official, has set a new goal for the development of combat aircraft: Create an Air Force acquisition process that can design a new fighter every four years, and maintain that high development tempo for the next generation of programs. War On The Rocks

OPINION: Only a Separate Service Can Create a Space Culture
If the culture issue is not addressed, the current organization will fail to develop the human capital required to preserve US dominance. Space News

One More Thing …

“Candy Bomber” Joins Tens of Thousands on Base for 70th Anniversary of Berlin Airlift’s End
Retired Col. Gail Halvorsen—better known in these parts as the “Candy Bomber”—will always be a hero in the eyes of the German children who grew up in postwar Berlin, no matter how old they grow. Seventy years after the lifting of the Soviet blockade that cut off the German capital from food, fuel, and other essential supplies, those children still remember the delight of a chocolate bar tied to a makeshift parachute dropping from the sky. Stars and Stripes