01 Jul 16. Lockheed-Boeing rocket venture cuts 350 jobs. A rocket company owned by Lockheed Martin and Boeing said on Friday it cut 350 jobs, with another 400 to 500 layoffs expected in 2017.
The staff reductions amount to a quarter of the workforce at United Launch Alliance LLC, the Centennial, Colorado-based company that supplies the U.S. Air Force with Atlas and Delta rockets to launch military and spy satellites into space.
ULA wants to position itself to better compete against technology entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies and other upcoming commercial launch service companies, such as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch Services.
SpaceX, as Musk’s privately owned Hawthorne, California-based firm is known, in April broke ULA’s 10-year monopoly on military satellite launch contracts with an $83m Air Force award to deliver a GPS spacecraft into orbit in 2018.
The price for a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch is 40 percent less than what the Air Force expected to pay for a ULA Atlas 5 rocket ride, Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, head of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, told reporters on a conference call after the contract announcement. About two-thirds of ULA’s layoffs were voluntary, with another 110 workers receiving notice on Thursday of an involuntary layoff, Rye said. (Source: Reuters)
30 Jun 16. F-35 Facing Policy Kinks in Mission Data Files. Hours before the F-35A joint strike fighter landed in the United Kingdom for the first time, a top US Air Force general laid out an example of how the multinational nature of the jet creates a unique problem set for program officials.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, director of the Air Force’s F-35 Integration Office, said Thursday that getting the in-flight data files to sync up among the nine partner nations and three international customers for the jet has been a challenge – but one related to policy, not technology.
At issue are the Mission Data Files (MDFs), which are supposed to be common across the fighter fleet. The idea is that one F-35 can scan a target and the MDFs automatically provide information about its capabilities, which are shared across data links to other F-35s in the area.
However, Harrigian told reporters after a speech at the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute that officials are running into a policy roadblock with those files because some nations have a requirement that they know the source of intelligence information – and the US may not be able to share that source with partner nations.
“It has to do with sharing, and what we can share and what we can take from them. There are concerns about where the data comes from, can you trust it, that kind of thing,” Harrigian explained. “So naturally, there are US government policies that want to make sure we’ve got that right.”
“There are nuances in some countries,” he added. “We could offer them data, but we have to give them sources, and we can’t give them sources, and they have a sovereign requirement to know where it came from so they know it’s good. That’s the nature of the challenge we work through with a very complex airplane like this.”
However, the general said “none of it’s a showstopper” for the program in the long term.
Harrigian has been nominated to take over US Air Forces Central Command, which would see him pin on a third star. He expressed belief that if the F-35 was needed in operation after it achieves Initial Operating Capability (IOC), it would be able to do so.
“Clearly it will be a requirement [that] comes in from the combatant command, and then whatever that requirement is, [Gen. Hawk Carlisle, Air Combat Command head] will look at what assets they have to make that decision. F-35 will be available. If it’s needed to go, then they will make it available.” (Source: Defense News)
30 Jun 16. Presidential Envoy Reports Counter-ISIL Progress, Ongoing Terrorism Threat. The U.S.-led multinational coalition is making progress