October 18, 2018

Keith's Congressional Corner

“The decade-long reliance on Congressional continuing resolutions has exacerbated uncertainty, both for DoD and across the supply chain. Combined with the adverse impacts of the Budget Control Act, these fluctuations challenge the viability of suppliers within the industrial base by diminishing their ability to hire and retain a skilled workforce, achieving production efficiencies, and in some cases, staying in business. Without correcting or mitigating this U.S. Government- inflicted damage, DoD will be increasingly challenged to ensure a secure and viable supply chain for the platforms critical to sustaining American military dominance.”
- Administration’s Report on Industrial Base

Five fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending bills were signed into law before the start of the new FY on October 1st—providing approximately 80 percent of discretionary spending for the federal government. As a result, the Air Force received its policy and funding earlier than any year in more than a decade. The Department of Veterans Affairs also received much-needed funding. During the lame-duck session that will follow the November elections, some parts of the government face a continuing resolution (CR).

The FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act directed the Secretary of the Army to make a decision on Arlington National Cemetery burial eligibility by September 30, 2019 in order to preserve the cemetery as an active burial ground well beyond the next two decades.

In addition to defense appropriations, September was highlighted by long-awaited contract awards for the UH-1N helicopter replacement, new T-X jet trainer to replace the aging T-38 Talons, and the Global Positioning Satellite IIIF—which serves billions of people.

Over the past six months, the Air Force has stripped 56 years out of their planned acquisition schedules—they are buying essential equipment faster and smarter. As a result, warfighters and taxpayers win. Due to competition, the Air Force saved taxpayers approximately $13 billion.

“Rocket science is tough, and rockets have a way of failing.”
- Sally Ride, astronaut

This year, AFA’s StellarXplorers program reached the ‘boiling point’ number with 212 teams entering the competition. StellarXplorers inspires and attracts high school students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and careers. The students have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on, space design challenge involving all aspects of space systems development and operation with a spacecraft and payload focus. AFA’s CyberPatriot also began its 11th cycle this year with more than 6,000 teams. We wish all competitors good luck!

“The Navy can lose us the war, but only the Air Force can win it. The fighters are our salvation, but the bombers alone provide the means of victory.”
- Prime Minister Winston Churchill (UK)

Congratulations to the Air Force Falcons for their 35-7 sinking of the Navy Midshipmen a couple weekends ago! They face off against the Army Black Knights on November 3rd. Go Air Force, Beat Army!

AFA’s thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by Hurricane Michael. Tyndall AFB, FL—the home to F-22A training, 1AF, NORAD units, and air battle management training—was devastated as the storm came ashore. 11,000 people were evacuated and approximately 95 percent of the buildings have damage. Read more.


Air Force Highlights

"To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well."
- Isaac Asimov, writer and professor

Trump Space Force, Pentagon Plan Set to Collide With Budget Caps
RealClearDefense.com | 11 Oct 2018 | by Roxana Tiron & Anthony Capaccio

Call it “Revenge of the Budget Control Act.” If this year is a feast for the Pentagon with its newly minted budget of almost $700 billion, the next two years threaten famine. The Pentagon has laid out ambitious plans to take on strategic adversaries like Russia and China, grow the Air Force and the Navy, boost lethality, and – at President Donald Trump’s prodding – launch the new Space Force that could have a $13 billion price tag in its first five years by one preliminary Air Force estimate. But those may be impossible under current fiscal 2020 and 2021 budget projections and spending limits set in law. The White House will complicate the picture because it plans to move money from the budget account set aside for overseas military operations into the Defense Department’s day-to-day, base budget. That would break the budget caps by the largest amount since they were put in place in 2011 and require another congressional spending deal — of massive scale. Read more.

All US F-35s grounded worldwide
MilitaryTimes.com | 11 Oct 2018 | by Tara Copp and Shawn Snow

The Pentagon announced Thursday it is grounding its entire fleet of F-35s, just days after the first crash of an F-35B led investigators to suspect there is a widespread problem with the advanced fighter’s fuel tubes. Read more. Editor's Note: 80 percent of F-35 fleet has been cleared to return to flying status.

  “People ask me all the time, ‘What keeps you up at night?’ And I say, ‘Spicy Mexican food, weapons of mass destruction, and cyber attacks.'”
- Rep Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), former Ranking Member, House Intelligence Committee

Department of Defense weapons systems can 'easily be hacked' allowing adversaries to take control of them, chilling report warns
DailyMail.com | 9 Oct 2018 | by AFP

US weapons systems being developed by the US Department of Defense can be easily be hacked by adversaries, a chilling new government report has warned.

The Government Accountability Office said the Pentagon was unaware of how easy it could be for an adversary to gain access to the computer brains and software of the weapons systems and operate inside them undetected.

The weak points began with poor password management and unencrypted communications, it said. Read more.

Trump’s Industrial Base Report Blames China, Sequestration
BreakingDefense.com | 4 Oct 2018 | by Paul McLeary and Colin Clark

Congress and China have emerged as the primary culprits for the weakening the US defense industrial base. Those are the most striking findings of a new White House report that takes a deep-dive into the state of defense manufacturing in the United States, sounding alarm bells over the decline in capability and the rise of China’s industrial might.

Nothing, the report indicates, has harmed America’s industrial base more than the self-inflicted harm of sequestration.

With the economy having shed millions of manufacturing jobs in recent years, the Pentagon is concerned over a “skill atrophy” that has taken hold, especially among skilled workers who can operate complex machinery so critical to making next-generation weapons systems. The report notes that some 17,000 American companies stopped working as prime contractors for the DoD between 2001 and 2015. Read more.

Hill Air Force Base's next round of F-35s will be least expensive yet
Standard.net | 1 Oct 2018 | by Mitch Shaw

The most expensive weapons system in Department of Defense history is getting a markdown. Contract deliveries will begin in January 2019.

[F-35 Joint Program Office spokesman] Joe Della Vedova said the cost of each of the three F-35 variants was reduced from previous contracts. As it stands now, the Air Force's F-35A model costs $89.2 million per plane, the Marine Corps B model comes in at $115.5 million, with the C model (used by the Navy) priced at $107.7 million.

Greg Ulmer, Lockheed's F-35 general manager, said as production continues, the defense contractor plans reduce the cost of the F-35A to $80 million by 2020 — a price equal to or less than most legacy aircraft, like the F-16. Read more.

US Air Force rolls out new official uniform
FoxBusiness.com | 1 Oct 2018 | by Brittany De Lea

“This celebrates joint warfighting excellence as OCPs will become the joint combat uniform for Airmen and Soldiers while patches and nametapes will identify our respective services,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein said in a statement. Read more.

Military Voting – Elections November 6th

Most states require you to register to vote to start the absentee voting process. We encourage you use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). The FPCA is a form you can use to register to vote and request absentee ballots for the year. We suggest that you send in a new FPCA every year and when you move.

Many states allow you to submit your FPCA electronically and all states allow at least one form of electronic transmission of your blank ballot. Mail delivery times will vary based on location and customs requirements. Send your materials early enough to account for delivery time. Using electronic options can reduce the ballot transit time for your election materials. Read more.

Dental and Vision Insurance Changes

Effective January 1, 2019, retired members of the uniformed services, their families, and family members of active duty service members will be eligible for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). Eligible individuals must enroll during the 2018 federal Benefits Open Season from November 12 to December 10, 2018 to have coverage starting January 1, 2019. The current U.S. Department of Defense's TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP) will sunset on December 31, 2018. For more information about this new opportunity to join FEDVIP, please visit www.tricare.benefeds.com.


Quotes to Note

  • “We are committed to remaining the world’s preeminent fighting force, pursuing global security and stability, modernizing the nation’s nuclear deterrent, and embracing new technologies.”
    - Department of Defense Public Affairs

  • "If we are able to encourage more companies to participate in competition for procurement, that helps to not only drive innovation to get the best out of American industry, but also drives competitive pricing."
    - The Honorable Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force

  • "The Air Force we need must have Airmen that are well trained; Airmen that are well led; Airmen that are agile; resilient Airmen who are the masters of their fate…the captains of their soul."
    - Kaleth O. Wright, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force

Your Air Force - Did You Know?

PACAF: Pacific Air Forces, headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, is one of nine U.S. Air Force major commands and the air component of U.S. Pacific Command. PACAF's primary mission is to provide ready air and space power to promote U.S. interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. PACAF consists of 46,000 members, including active duty, Air National Guard, Reserve, and civilians. PACAF's area of responsibility is home to 60 percent of the world's population in 36 nations spread across 53 percent of the Earth's surface and 16 time zones, with more than 1,000 languages spoken.

USAFE-AFAFRICA: As the air component for both U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM), USAFE-AFAFRICA executes Air Force, EUCOM, and AFRICOM missions with forward-based airpower and infrastructure to conduct and enable theater and global operations. USAFE directs air operations in a theater spanning three continents, covering more than 19 million square miles, containing 104 independent states, and possessing more than a quarter of the world's population and more than a quarter of the world's gross domestic product (GDP).


Key Dates to Watch

2018

  • Oct 1 - FY 2019 Began
  • Oct 25 - Unveiling of The Legacy Wall (Doolittle Brick Campaign), AFA HQ
    Order your personalized brick here.
  • Nov 6 - Election Day
  • Nov 11 - Veterans Day
  • Nov 14 - AFA Breakfast with Gen Stephen “Seve” Wilson, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, Key Bridge Marriott
  • Dec 7 - Mitchell Institute Breakfast with Gen John Raymond, Commander, Air Force Space Command, Capitol Hill Club  

2019

  • Feb 4 - Expected release of FY 2020 President's Budget
  • Feb 27-Mar 1 - AFA's Air Warfare Symposium, Orlando, FL

If you have questions, please contact:

Keith Zuegel, (Ret.), USAF
Senior Director, Government Relations
Air Force Association (AFA)

GRL@afa.org