Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., is calling on President Donald Trump to make security clearance reform a focus of the administration. "We write to request that you personally apply the utmost priority to personnel security clearance reform to ensure we can recruit and retain a trusted workforce for our nation's national security and public safety missions," states a letter by Warner sent on behalf of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The Pentagon has awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.46 billion contract for air systems aboard the F-36 Lightning II. These F-35s will be produced for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and international allies.
Secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force are meeting regularly to expand coordination on science and technology initiatives. "We've started getting together for breakfast every week or two, just the three of us," said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. "It's absolutely terrifying the staffs."
The Air Force is buying seven Orbital ATK AC-208 Eliminator aircraft for the Afghan military. The Eliminator is an Cessna 208 Caravan adapted for the military.
The Cessna SkyCourier has completed its first wind tunnel tests, reports Textron. "We're making progress in the development of this clean-sheet aircraft and are eager to continue defining the details that will allow us to start creating tools and parts," said Brad Thress, senior vice president of engineering.
Brisk hiring by major US airlines has sparked interest among young people in piloting careers. A pilot shortage has small airlines struggling to find pilots and Boeing predicts that 117,000 new pilots will be needed in the US by 2036.
SpaceX has received a $290 million fixed-price contract from the Air Force for the launch of three Global Positioning System Satellites. United Launch Alliance received a $351 million contract for two Air Force launches.
Industry experts say the Defense Department has a lot to gain by tapping the capabilities of small satellites. "The government has a couple of really strong reasons to go and use small launch and small satellites," said Virgin Orbit President and CEO Dan Hart. "One is the economics, but the other is resilience."
Orbital ATK is developing its follow-up to the Mission Extension Vehicle, announcing the ongoing development of the Mission Robotic Vehicle and Mission Extension Pods.