Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford told
the 979 graduates in the 2017 US Air Force Academy graduating class that
their success will no longer be based solely on their individual
merits, but what they are able to accomplish as a team, and flexibility
will be key as they navigate today’s ever-changing security environment.
Rep. Mike Gallagher on Thursday questioned whether the
Air Force is low balling the actual number of B-21 Raiders it will need
in the future, citing a 2015 AFA Mitchell Institute study that found the service would as many as 258 bombers if conflict were to erupt with Russia.
Boeing filed a protest with the Government
Accountability Office on May 19 alleging the Air Force’s acquisition
strategy regarding the EC-130 Compass Call recap “seems to ignore
inherent and obvious conflicts of interest.”
Thursday is Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan’s last day as the Program Executive officer for the Joint Strike Fighter. In an exclusive exit interview with Air Force Magazine,
he discusses why he’s been able to remain in charge for five years on a
project where, by law, he should have been gone in two.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has
chosen Boeing to collaboratively develop and fly the XS-1 spaceplane, a
reusable launch vehicle capable of lofting a 3,000-pound payload to
orbit at an “aircraft-like” tempo.
President Donald Trump’s budget proposes a 20 percent
increase in Air Force space investment over President Barack Obama’s
F-22s have played a key role in the fight against ISIS,
helping protect aircraft from Syrian air defenses and coordinating
strike packages. Their pace has increased, and Raptors are now flying in
their “full capacity” in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
One of the areas where the Air Force’s Fiscal 2018
budget request sees a sharp increase is in munitions. The war against
ISIS has drained USAF stocks, particularly precision munitions that are
the preferred weapon in a war where extreme accuracy is needed to
prevent civilian casualties.
Despite its pleas to modernize and grow its smallest
fleet ever, the Air Force isn’t buying many new airplanes, relative to
the many missions it now undertakes.
President Donald Trump is requesting $574 billion in
base funding for the Department of Defense and $65 billion in overseas
contingency operations (OCO) funding for fiscal year 2018.
Research, development, test, and evaluation gets a
more than 25 percent increase in the Air Force’s Fiscal 2018 budget
request to Congress.
The Air Force isn’t boosting its buy of F-35s in the Fiscal 2018 budget, and chances are, it won’t for a few years.
The Air Force’s Fiscal 2018 budget, released on
Tuesday, requests $132.4 billion in the baseline “blue budget” and $13.9
billion for overseas contingency operations.
When F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen.
Christopher Bogdan took over the project, he had doubts that such a
massive effort would actually work. In an interview with Air Force
Magazine, Bogdan, who turns over the program to his deputy on Thursday,
explained the technical, programmatic, and military/political turning
points that convinced him the F-35 had a chance of success.
Five years after making headlines saying the
relationship between Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon over the F-35
program was the “worst I’ve ever seen,” Joint Program Office director
Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said things are improving, but there’s more
work to be done.
Though the F-35’s price has been coming down
consistently, it will start to rise in the early 2020s as the services
and partners begin applying a series of upgrades, Joint Program Office
director Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, who is stepping down from the job
Thursday, said in an interview with Air Force Magazine.
The Department of Defense briefed
reporters on the Trump administration’s new strategy for an “accelerated
operation against ISIS” Friday afternoon, and speed of operations took
Air Force Research Laboratory technology was on
display during DOD’s Lab Day Thursday, showcasing some innovative ideas,
and some old ones, too.
At the military service academies, transgender cadets
are being allowed to graduate but not to commission as officers this
spring. The decisions are in line with current Department of Defense
policy, but that is likely to change soon.
The Pentagon’s ponderous acquisition system has gone
from being a red tape headache to a genuine security threat, as US
adversaries step on the gas and field new technologies and systems far
faster than the Pentagon can stay ahead of them.
During the type’s first deployment to Europe, F-35As
maintained a mission capable rate higher than a concurrent F-16
deployment, while forward deploying to the Baltics and training
alongside fourth generation jets.
The Air Force completed the first programmed depot maintenance of a nuclear launch facility since its activation in the 1960s.
Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes is a believer
in the idea of a light attack aircraft fleet for the Air Force, if the
money can be found to buy one.
Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday in latest clash
between the Intelligence Community (IC) and the White House. The IC itself is composed of departments within various agencies, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, and others.
The Air Force has settled on the slate of companies to
be invited to participate in this summer’s OA-X Light Attack Aircraft
experiments, a service spokesman confirmed Tuesday.
The Air Force is looking for some friendly hackers to
find vulnerabilities its public websites in an effort to bolster cyber
security. Hackers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada,
Australia, and New Zealand are invited to participate in the Hack the
Air Force contest, which will run from May 30 to June 23.
The Senate confirmed Heather Wilson as the 24th
Secretary of the Air Force on Monday with a vote of 76-22. Wilson has
extensive experience with the Air Force, Congress, and in education and
since she is only the second of President Trump’s nominees to be
confirmed, she will likely wield significant influence in the new
USAF’s push to bring its air operations center into
the modern era is years in the works, hundreds of millions of dollars
over its initial budget, and currently paused for lack of FY17 funding.
And the service’s senior uniformed acquisition official, Lt. Gen. Arnold
Bunch, told Air Force Magazine he will get it done—with or without its
current and main contractor, Northrop Grumman.
Since operations commenced against ISIS in August 2014, the Coalition has dropped nearly 80,000 weapons against
ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Of that figure, USAF alone has delivered
approximately 70 percent of all the weapons. In the last week of April,
the Air Force dropped an even larger share, 80 percent, of the nearly
700 weapons delivered against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. The Navy,
while flying a smaller share of the total strike effort, also offers
valuable surge capacity and flexibility to the overall war effort. Air
Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart said Navy air
assets are “a crucial part of enabling the coalition to quickly adapt to
the dynamic environment in which we operate. … The coalition is
stronger because of each service and coalition partner’s unique
capabilities that they bring to the fight.”
Medal of Honor recipient retired USAF Col. Leo
Thorsness died Tuesday in Florida, according to the Congressional Medal
of Honor Society. He was 85.
A recent war game conducted by US Transportation
Command revealed that US military lift is “distinctly vulnerable”
because of its heavy reliance on commercial partners, TRANSCOM boss Gen.
Darren McDew told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday.
The number of sexual assaults of Active Duty troops
decreased in Fiscal 2016, while the percentage of troops who reported
those sexual assaults increased, according to a report released Monday by the Pentagon. However, sexual assault reporting in the Air Force remained “unchanged,” the report states.
The Defense Department awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.377
billion contract on April 28 to start the process of the so-called
“block buy” program, expected to save $2 billion over three lots of
Air Force’s fifth generation F-22s and F-35s flew alongside the best
British and French fighters for the first time in a large-scale exercise
here, but the aircraft is not the focus of the event. For USAF commanders planning and
flying regularly in Exercise Atlantic Trident 2017, the pilots and
maintainers themselves are the important focus of the trilateral
Lockheed Martin announced Wednesday that the newest
version of its Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, which
the company calls “the IT backbone of the F-35,” has been approved for
installation on Air Force and Navy F-35s.
Gen. William Kirk, one of the USAF leaders credited as a
“father” of the Aggressors and the Red Flag exercise, commander of US
Air Forces Europe, a two-time MiG killer and a noted expert in
electronic warfare, died April 26 in Florida.
The F-35 Joint Program Office disputes several of the
conclusions in the Government Accountability Office’s second annual
assessment of the project, released Monday.
Two US F-35A strike fighters arrived
Tuesday at Amari
AB, Estonia, but then returned to their deployed location at RAF
Lakenheath, England, a couple hours later. “The purpose was to show
their presence,” Col. Jaak Tarien, the Chief of the Estonian Armed
Forces, told Air Force Magazine.
About two dozen American airmen and about 60 airmen
from several African nations recently participated in an African
Partnership Flight in Burkina Faso designed to share best practices for
maintenance and logistics in a humanitarian assistance or disaster
The F-35 program should wait until the all-up Block 3F
software version is fully developed before asking industry to offer
upgrades for future iterations, known as Block IV, and before
significantly increasing the fighter’s production rate, the Government
Accountability Office said Monday.
Two retired special tactics airmen were awarded the
Air Force Cross at the same ceremony here Thursday for heroic actions in
separate battles in Afghanistan more than a decade apart.
The movement of eight F-35As to Lakenheath,
England—the first overseas deployment of the Air Force’s newest
fighter—isn’t meant to send any kind of political message, and the
aircraft won’t be available for operational missions during their
weeks-long stay in the UK.
Air Force revelations in recent weeks that it’s
beginning to think about the phaseout of the F-15C/D Eagle has raised
eyebrows and concern on Capitol Hill, potentially setting the stage for a
replay of the controversy over USAF’s attempt to retire the A-10. But
the move is inevitable, sooner or later, and is being considered in
light of anticipated budgets and force structure.
It appears that some of our nation’s lawmakers might surrender to the idea that the Department of Defense can operate on a continuing resolution for defense appropriations the remainder of this fiscal year. To be clear, it won’t be an enemy that grounds the world’s best Air Force—this would be a self-inflicted wound.
The US military needs to get better at using existing
acquisition regulations more flexibly, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff Gen. Paul Selva said Thursday at an AFA-sponsored, Air Force
breakfast. This means taking risk, staying out of the safe middle-ground
of the rules, and looking for the “corners” that allow unexpected
arrangements. It may also mean working with “kids that wear flip-flops,
worn-out jeans, and bleached t-shirts to work every day.”
Thirty-six years ago, NASA sent humans into space in a brand new type of shuttle—one with wings and wheels.
Eighteen months after engaging in a 96-hour-long
battle in Afghanistan, Tech. Sgt. Brian Claughsey received a Silver Star
Medal on April 7.
The April 6 attack on a Syrian airfield was not
intend to destroy the airfield, but was aimed at limiting the Syrian
government’s ability to conduct operations “in the short term.”
A reconstituted National Space Council can “help
streamline” space decision making and support needed legislative
changes, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) said Tuesday at the 33rd Space
Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.
US needs a separate military service to handle space, separating it
from the Air Force, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said Tuesday.
An AFRL department is working to figure out what a person may be concealing—among other things—just by looking at them.
Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.
Lockheed Martin is hoping to demonstrate the full capabilities of its virtual prototyping lab if it wins a contract to develop the next Ground Based Strategic Deterrent. Lockheed also thinks its digital tapestry approach can help accurately pinpoint the total cost of the system, estimates of which have varied widely within the Department of Defense. “The more you can mature a cost model the better,” John Karas, vice president and GBSD program manager told reporters at the Lockheed Martin facility in Littleton, Colo., Monday.
As the Air Force works to retire its fleet of MQ-1
Predators, Air Force Magazine spoke with the man whose engineering feats
of the 1970s and 1980s first made unmanned systems reliable.
Congress has helped mitigate serious damage to the Air Force’s top-priority programs, but dozens of projects would be severely hampered if Congress continues to substitute continuing resolutions for approved long-term spending plans, top service officers told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s airland panel Wednesday.
Air Force Secretary nominee Heather Wilson, in her
nomination hearing Thursday, pledged to focus on cost effectiveness on
the Air Force’s major acquisition programs and urged lawmakers to repeal
sequestration, giving the service more budget certainty to face issues
such as a growing pilot shortage.
Artificial intelligence is much more powerful when a
human is helping it think outside the box, said William Roper, head of
the Defense Department’s Strategic Capabilities Office, at an AFA
Mitchell Institute event on Tuesday.
a five-year tour, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan will retire in
the coming weeks, to be succeeded by his deputy, Navy
Rear Adm. (selected for Vice Admiral) Mathias Winter.
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.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry
(R-Texas) described a military in disrepair after eight years of the
Obama Administration. In a conversation with reporters on Wednesday,
they laid out a defense budget plan to restore readiness and discussed
the need for further acquisition reforms.
The Lockheed Martin’s T-50A entry in the T-X advanced
trainer competition is so low-risk that the company believes it could
achieve initial operational capability with the jet two years ahead of
the Air Force’s requirement, should the service wish to do that, company
Skunkworks chief Rob Weiss claimed Tuesday.
China is set to modernize its nuclear arsenal and accelerate a path toward regional deterrence—maybe even adjusting current nuclear policy, according to a recent RAND study.
The inaugural F-35 symposium at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, was a “who’s who of the F-35,” with more than 100 participants from the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps as well representatives from Pacific F-35 partner-nations South Korea, Japan, and Australia, Brig. Gen. Craig Wills, Pacific Air Forces director of strategic plans, requirements, and programs, told Air Force Magazine. The two-day event focused primarily on the aircraft itself, rather than the broader picture of F-35 command and control, with topics including bed down, integration, logistics, sustainment, and combat operations.
Flintlock, an annual special operations training
exercise in Africa, wraps up Thursday. More than 20 countries and 2,000
people participated in the exercise, which included events in Chad,
Niger, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon, and Mauritania.
The social media scandal in which male US Marines
posted nude pictures of female Marines without their knowledge through a
private Facebook group is just one instance of a problem that involves
all the military services.
The J-20 “Mighty Dragon,” China’s first purportedly
stealth combat aircraft, is operational, Chinese state television
reported on March 9, without giving further details.
The Air Force plans to release a draft solicitation to
industry for nearly 40,000 hours of adversary air and support at 12
different bases, including 11,250 hours per year at the US Weapons
School at Nellis AFB, Nev. The multi-award contract, which is expected
in January 2019, has the potential to “consume the entire industry
several times over,” said Russ Bartlett, President and CEO of Textron
The Defense Logistics Agency chose Lockheed as USAF’s
industrial product-support vendor (IPV) for the service’s third
generation logistics program. The major focus of the agreement is
managing rapid replenishment of consumable parts so maintainers can access the components they need when
they need them.
Lockheed Martin’s Paveway redesigned dual-mode
laser/GPS-guided weapon—rebranded as “Paragon”—is slated to complete
flight tests this year, with the aim of competing with laser-guided JDAM
and other precision-guided munitions as early as next year. Lockheed said the weapon will offer the same capabilities of the JDAM, but will be about 30 percent cheaper.
With marching orders from the new administration to improve
readiness first, the Air Force in the near term may have to scale back some of
its enormous and ambitious modernization efforts, senior Air Force leaders said Friday.
Russians are testing fusion capabilities in Syria much like Americans experimented with technology during Desert Storm, but they’re “absolutely not” where USAF is with regard to command and control and fusion warfare, said Brig. Gen. Peter Lambert, Air Combat Command’s director of intelligence.
David Shulkin, the freshly minted Secretary of
Veterans Affairs, said without congressional support, his agency’s
claims backlog will likely “grow.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis got some big overhauls rolling at the Pentagon with a pair of Jan. 17 Department-wide memos with tight deadlines. He wants to fulfill Congress’ direction to abolish the Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics job, replacing it with two and possibly three other posts, and he wants the services to look at consolidating their non-fighting activities, such as healthcare, commissaries, and MWR.
Given its heavy usage and its high operating cost, the
B-1 may be retired sooner than the B-52, which is 20 years older,
according to Air Combat Command chief Gen. Hawk Carlisle.
Twenty years after the Air Force gave up its EF-111
stand-in jamming platform, it is again looking to create an escort
electronic warfare aircraft capability, inheriting the mission from the Navy.
The Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, will soar above US Central Command for its 10,000th mission this month.
Behind the scenes of the Marine Corps’ historic F-35B
deployment in January was a team of aging tankers, enabling the flight
with 250 total air refuelings. As the next generation fighter force
deploys more, it will rely more on a tanker fleet that is aging and
awaiting its own recapitalization.
Defense Secretary James Mattis, in his first visit to
NATO since his confirmation, warned the alliance that its member
countries must increase defense spending or the US support for the group
The US military must think in terms of managing
long-term outcomes in the global war against terrorism, not decisively
winning the conflict, according to security experts who testified before
the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
The Air Force wants a quick-turnaround additional
source of small, precision-guided, and maneuvering munitions to equip
the F-35 as early as next year. Longer term, the Air Force also is looking to develop a
new class of direct-attack munitions to equip the new Penetrating
Counter-Air jet and other stealthy platforms.
Thirteen F-35As from Hill AFB, Utah, made an impressive
showing at the fifth generation aircraft’s first Red Flag exercise,
notching a 15:1 kill ratio, a mission capable rate of more than 90
percent, and setting the stage for future large-scale exercises and
DARPA is moving ahead with plans to develop
space-faring robots to inspect and fix satellites despite a lawsuit from
Orbital ATK saying those plans violate federal space policy.
Buried deep inside the Pentagon’s sprawling policy bill
is a little-noticed provision that would allow the Air Force to more
quickly hire mechanics and other civilian personnel at its three major
aircraft maintenance facilities, potentially giving the service a big
boost in its readiness rates. But the recent federal hiring freeze could slow efforts
to recruit and hire new workers at the depots, which are tasked with
maintaining the oldest fleet in Air Force history.
USAF has no system in place to figure out if its February loosening of tattoo restrictions will work, though it will be seeking anecdotal data on the impact or success of it.
Readiness within the Air Force is currently worse than
it was in the “hollow force” days of the late 1970s, Vice Chief of Staff
Gen. Stephen Wilson told the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday
morning. He raised the alarm before lawmakers, painting a dire picture
of the service’s state of affairs.
The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin’s handshake deal
on Lot 10 production of the F-35, announced Friday, brings the cost of
the F-35A model, which is used by the Air Force, below $100 million.
The field of competitors in the Air Force T-X contest narrowed again on Wednesday, as Northrop announced it would not bid on the program. Based on comments late last week by Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush, Northrop viewed the T-X as requiring more investment and risk than the business case warranted.
Space and Missile Systems commander Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves said the Air Force is still reviewing SpaceX’s investigation of the Sept. 1, 2016, Falcon 9 explosion, and has not yet made a determination as to whether the company is ready to support National Security Space launches.
Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein may be getting rid of the long-standing and long-lamented 24-year up-or-out requirement for brigadier generals in Air Force.
Air Combat Command boss Gen. Hawk Carlisle said the F-35 should get first dibs if a supplemental defense budget is approved, noting the Air Force’s fighter fleet “has paid the bills” for too long and is too small to meet demands.
The Trump Administration announced it’s approving $1.9 billion in foreign military sales to four countries, perhaps signaling an “assertive” attitude toward foreign policy and economic issues.
The Air Force wants more airmen, but exactly how to get there is largely in the works.
Insisting multiple times that the US military needs to become stronger and more lethal, retired Marine Corps Gen. James
Mattis, nonetheless, presented a moderate vision of military leadership
in his Senate confirmation hearing to be the next Secretary of Defense.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus took aim at joint military programs Wednesday, criticizing the F-35 as slower, more costly, and lacking accountability because of its joint nature. The Navy’s sixth-generation fighter program, F/A-XX, should not become a joint program for these reasons, he told defense reporters in Washington, DC. Mabus also addressed concerns about the safety of the F/A-18 fleet in the wake of a series of deadly crashes over the past year and reflected on the progress made during his tenure in the realm of gender and sexuality inclusion.
Experts on US military-civilian relations recommended to the Senate Tuesday that retired Marine Gen. James Mattis be granted a waiver permitting his confirmation as Secretary of Defense.
The F-35 program probably won’t enter initial operational test and evaluation on-time by August, likely slipping a minimum of 16 months, Pentagon test director Michael Gilmore said in his final test report to Congress Tuesday.
The MQ-1 pilots of the 46th Expeditionary
Reconnaissance Squadron fly every day in support of Operation Inherent
Resolve, taking off and landing remotely piloted aircraft for missions
piloted by operators in the US. And previously, when the deployed pilots
went home, they would only get two weeks off before they were back to
flying missions. Now, because of a new scheduling configuration, these
pilots will get about four months of training and deployment
preparations when they get home.
A Jan. 5 Congressional Research Service report tells Congress if it wants Mattis as the next SecDef, it’ll have to either suspend a law, eliminate it, or just altogether ignore it.
During her tenure as Air Force Secretary, Deborah Lee
James has overseen a significant overhaul of the USAF nuclear community,
which was rocked by a cheating scandal shortly after she began her
tenure. Since then, the Air Force has implemented hundreds of actions
aimed at boosting morale and modernizing aging infrastructure.
The departure of the USS Eisenhower carrier
strike group left an aircraft carrier gap in the Central Command area of
operations. Now, USAF and coalition partners are stepping up to make
sure the fight against ISIS gets all the air power it needs.
Seth Jefferson McKee, who was the
four-star head of North American Air Defense Command from 1969-1973,
headed US Forces, Japan, and was a World War II combat pilot with two
aerial victories, died in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Dec. 26, 2016 at the age
The initial cadre of Air Force and Navy nuclear
officers have nearly wrapped up their part in the Striker program, and
so far the biggest lesson learned is that the grass is not always
greener on the other side.
Air Force Magazine recently spent a few days in the US
Central Command area of operation. Read correspondent Jennifer Hlad’s
first-hand account of a C-130 flight from an undisclosed base in the
region into Camp Taji, Iraq, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
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