Metro-East News

Roger That: GAO shoots down Boeing protest of new Long Range Strike Bomber contract

The Government Accountability Office denied The Boeing Company’s protest of the Long Range Strike Bomber contract award following a comprehensive review of the source selection process. The Air Force was confident that the source selection team followed a deliberate, disciplined and impartial process to determine the best value for the warfighter and the taxpayer, the Air Force has announced.

“We look forward to proceeding with the development and fielding of this critical weapon system. This platform will offer the joint community the required capability needed to meet our national security objectives and the evolving threat environment,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James.

The service plans to procure 100 LRS-B aircraft at a cost of between $55 billion and $80 billion. The aircraft preserves the president’s options for missions across the full range of military operations from permissive to anti-access/area denial environments, according tot the Air Force statement.

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In the early years of the Obama administration, the United States developed an elaborate plan for a cyberattack on Iran in case the diplomatic effort to limit its nuclear program failed and led to a military conflict, according to a forthcoming documentary film and interviews with military and intelligence officials involved in the effort.

The New York Times is reporting that the plan, code named Nitro Zeus, was designed to disable Iran’s air defenses, communications systems and key parts of its power grid, and was shelved, at least for the foreseeable future, after the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six other nations last summer was fulfilled.

Nitro Zeus was part of an effort to assure President Obama that he had alternatives, short of a full-scale war, if Iran lashed out at the United States or its allies in the region. At its height, officials say, the planning for Nitro Zeus involved thousands of American military and intelligence personnel, spending tens of millions of dollars and placing electronic implants in Iranian computer networks to “prepare the battlefield,” in the parlance of the Pentagon.

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Defense Department officials are hopeful that by the end of this year they’ll be paying for salaries of only Afghan soldiers who actually exist, according to Military Times.

In testimony before House Armed Services Committee members late last week, Pentagon officials said they hope to have in place in coming months “an integrated pay and personnel system” for Afghanistan security forces that will help U.S. forces better identify and account for thousands of individuals in the ranks.

“That will mitigate opportunities for corruption in the system,” said Christine Abizaid, deputy assistant defense secretary for Central Asia. “It has taken a while to develop, given the unique terrain that is Afghanistan. But it is something that we are absolutely focused on, and think is an important aspect of the mission.”

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Space News is reporting that the U.S. Air Force plans to invest more than $1.2 billion over the next five years to develop a new launch system that would aim to end the Defense Department’s reliance on a Russian rocket engine, according to budget documents set to be released Feb. 9.

The President’s budget request for the next fiscal year also includes about $2.1 billion in 2021 to develop follow-on systems to two of the Air Force’s crown jewels in space: the highly protected communication satellites known as the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites and the missile-warning satellites in the Space Based Infrared System constellation.

But the spending on the new rocket shows how replacing the Russian engine has become a top priority for lawmakers, as well as Defense Department and intelligence community leaders.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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