President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next Secretary of the Air Force will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee for a confirmation hearing “very soon”—possibly by the end of the month—according to a committee spokesperson. Heather Wilson, a former Republican congresswoman from New Mexico, was tapped by Trump to be the Air Force’s top civilian soon after his inauguration in January. Wilson is a 1982 Air Force Academy graduate and a former Rhodes scholar who has worked with the National Security Council on matters related to European defense. She served on the Energy, Armed Services, and Intelligence committees as a lawmaker. In 2013, a consulting firm headed by Wilson ran afoul of the Department of Energy for failing to complete work on a $450,00 contract. An inspector general report found that the Department “did not receive evidence that work performed under the agreements had been completed,” even though Wilson’s company had already been paid even. Wilson denied wrongdoing in the case, though her company repaid more than $440,000 to the Department.
The Pentagon on Thursday identified an airman who died while deployed as part of Operation Inherent Resolve as SSgt. Alexandria Mae Morrow of Dansville, N.Y. Morrow, 25, was deployed to an undisclosed location in southwest Asia as part of the 366th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron out of Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. She died while performing maintenance duties, according to a Pentagon statement. Mountain Home, on its Facebook page, said Morrow sustained a fatal injury while “executing her duties as a weapons loader.” “Those who knew her valued her love of life and art, her leadership, her skills and her passion,” the statement said.
Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, commander of US Africa Command, speaks Friday during a Pentagon press conference. Screenshot photo
ISIS has remained a threat inside Libya, and the US is standing by to assist if called upon, even after several months of sustained airstrikes on the group drove the group from its seaside haven, the head US official in Africa said Friday. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, commander of US Africa Command, said during a Pentagon briefing that uncertainty inside Libya and “that drama that continues” has helped ISIS maintain a presence, even after Operation Odyssey Lightning rid the city of Sirte from the group. “Anywhere you have weak, unstable, or no government, that’s a green light for ISIS,” Waldhauser said. While he was hesitant to assess the strength of the group, Waldhauser said an estimate of between 100 and 200 fighters inside the country would be accurate but the “trend line is down.” The ability and desire of the group to occupy territory is no longer there, but if the Libyan Government of National Accord asks the US for assistance, the US will be ready, he said.
DARPA recently completed the first phase of its Gremlins program. Illustration courtesy of DARPA.
DARPA has chosen two finalists for its Gremlins program’s second phase, taking the UAV recovery program past its first, proof-of-concept phase. The 12-month long, second phase of the project started in March and is worth up to $21 million.Read the full report by Gideon Grudo.
The 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB, Ariz., received its first F-35A this week. The jet is the first for the squadron, which is tasked with advanced pilot training, and the 51st jet assigned to Luke, according to a base news release. Squadron commander Lt. Col. Matt Vedder flew the flagship jet to Luke from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas. “It’s a monumental day and a huge milestone for the base,” Vedder said.
A Lebanese A-29 Super Tucano student pilot from the 81st Fighter Squadron, conducts the first “in-seat” training sortie, March 22, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Air Force photo by TSgt. Zachary Wolf
A Lebanese pilot has completed the first training flight in the A-29 Super Tucano international pilot training program at the 81st Fighter Squadron, Moody AFB, Ga. The Lebanese initiative was announced by the Air Force in December, and is being modeled after the successful Afghan pilot training program operating at Moody since 2014. The 81st FS plans to train a total of 12 Lebanese pilots and about 20 maintainers in the first round, which should be complete sometime in 2018. “We’ve got one student with one flight under his belt but it’s a small victory for us,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Hill, 81st FS commander, in a press release. “These guys will be fully-trained operational combat pilots in the A-29 aircraft. The ultimate goal is for them to fight ISIS on their eastern border.”
The recently restored World War II-era B-29 Superfortress, known as “Doc,” will make at least four stops on a short tour across the country this spring and summer. The B-29 will hold an open house at Yingling Aviation on April 22 in Wichita, Kan.; appear at the Defenders of Liberty show at Barksdale AFB, La.; on May 6-7; at the Wings Over Whiteman show at Whiteman AFB, Mo., on June 10-11; and at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisc., from July 24-30. In addition to these shows, Doc’s Friends Inc., which owns and operates the B-29, is in talks to appear at four other air shows later in the year. The crew working on the aircraft have nearly completed a winter maintenance program, and expect to return to flight in early April, according to a news release.
A QF-16 drone sits on the flightline before its first flight at Holloman AFB, N.M. in, February. Air Force photo by SrA Emily Kenney
Boeing this month received a $24.6 million contract adjustment for the next lot of QF-16 targeting drones. The contract covers 18 QF-16s full-scale aerial targets and 18 associated warranties, with work expected to be completed by April 27, 2021. The Air Force flies the converted F-16s as aerial targets for training and weapons certification, with the Falcons having replaced converted F-4 Phantoms. The contract was awarded March 14 and announced Wednesday.
Tweets by @AirForceMag