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  • Eastern European Allies Want More US Air Force

    ​US allies in Eastern Europe are growing increasingly concerned about “snap exercises” by Russia and are pushing for the US to make increased funding to work alongside them permanent, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said. James recently returned from visiting eight European countries, including the Baltic states and Ukraine, to focus on how the Air Force can assuage allied concerns about the increasingly threatening stance of Russia in the area, particularly following the country’s incursion into Crimea. “Those closest have the greatest concerns” about Russia, James said, noting those are the countries making the NATO commitment of spending at least two percent of their gross domestic product on defense spending. James said allied nations in the region were happy to hear that the US was aiming to quadruple the amount of funding on its European Reassurance Initiative, though they would like to see the increases permanent. There’s no concern of the US abandoning them, though “every country wants more US Air Force,” James said.

  • Incirlik Ran Low on Reserves During Power Outage

    ​SrA. Darrin Proffitt, 39th Communications Squadron postal clerk, inserts mail into cubicles July 20, 2016, at Incirlik AB, Turkey. Due to an extended loss of commercial power, members of the Official Document Center operated under limited lighting conditions. Air Force photo by TSgt. Caleb Pierce.

    ​US airmen needed to prioritize which areas of the base received power during the outage earlier this month at Incirlik AB, Turkey, forcing airmen to sleep on cots in their work places. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Tuesday that she spoke Monday with the Incirlik commander, who said base operations were returning to normal and the relationship with Turkish troops on base was no problem during the July 15 attempted coup. “People were doing well” during the outage, James said. However, there was not enough reserve fuel to power the entire base. That means non-mission-critical buildings were not powered, and airmen needed to sleep in their work areas because those were the only places with air conditioning. “The biggest hardship was the lack of A/C,” James said Tuesday at a Defense One event in Washington, D.C. Once air space was reopened to military aircraft, the base continued striking ISIS despite the power outage.

  • Fifth Gen Fighters Plan Integration


    ​F-22 Raptors from the 94th Fighter Squadron, JB Langley-Eustis, Va., and F-35A Lightning IIs from the 58th Fighter Squadron, Eglin AFB, Fla., fly in formation after completing an integration training mission over the Eglin Training Range, Florida, Nov. 5, 2014. Air Force photo by MSgt. Shane A. Cuomo.

    ​Commanders of operational F-22 Raptor wings and leaders of the emerging F-35A Lightning II units met at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., to discuss joint training, maintenance, manpower, and strategies to help integrate the F-35s into the joint team. Col. Pete Fesler, 1st Fighter Wing commander, said the two aircraft have “incredible capability” and were designed to work together. Although the F-35As were designed primarily for the air-to-ground mission and the F-22 for the air-to-air fight, they will bring “complementary capabilities to assist each other in either role,” Fesler said in an Air Combat Command release. “Together they are a team that is optimized to go after an air threat and a surface threat simultaneously.” The F-22 community plans to share its decade of fifth-gen experience with the F-35As, which are expected to achieve initial operational capability in August. Maintenance was considered a key area for shared experience. The integration planning started 20 months ago when four F-22s deployed to Eglin AFB, Fla., to conduct introductory training missions with F-35s from the 33rd FW.

  • ANG F-16s Qualify with Lower Cost, Laser-Guided Bomb


    ​A Lockheed Martin Enhanced Laser Guided Training Round is loaded on an Air National Guard F-16 during flight evaluations in Arizona. Lockheed Martin photo.

    ​An Air National Guard F-16 unit has successfully released eight Lockheed Martin Enhanced Laser Guided Training Rounds (ELGTR) during flight evaluations at the Barry M. Goldwater Ranges in Arizona, the company announced Tuesday. The weapons employment—the first for an ANG unit—completed the evaluation of ELGTR for use on F-16C/D Block 40/42 fighters. The relatively low-cost ELGTR duplicates the key performance and laser engagement requirements of the expensive Paveway II Laser Guided Bombs, providing fighter units an economical way to practice precision strikes. The flight evaluation demonstrated the accuracy of the ELGTR, with the weapons hitting within three meters, about 10 feet, Lockheed said. ELGTRs are in use by several allied air forces and are compatible with F/A-18s and AV-8Bs, in addition to F-16s. (See also: Yes, There is a Bomb Shortage.)

  • DOD Opens Second Startup Technology Office

    ​The Defense Department on Tuesday opened the second office of its technology “startup”—the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental—in Boston to increase outreach between the Pentagon and the tech community. The office includes leaders from organizations such as MIT who are focused on identifying new technologies for DOD and on engaging with existing startups to encourage them to focus on national security. “For those interested in foreign policy and national security, there are lots of interesting challenges and problems to work on,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in unveiling the new office on Tuesday. Chief Science Officer Bernadette Johnson, former chief technology officer at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories and military lead for Air Force Reserve Col. Mike McGinley, will lead the office. Like the Silicon Valley office, which was established last year, it will include three teams: a venture team to identify existing commercial technology the Pentagon could use, a foundry team to identify coming technologies that could require additional development or adaptation for the military, and an engagement team to introduce innovators to national security challenges.

  • More DOD Innovation Hires


    ​Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Tuesday  announced nine new members of its main outreach board to the technology community, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The Defense Innovation Advisory Board was established in March to push to make the Pentagon more tech friendly. The board, chaired by Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, also includes names such as former Special Operations Command chief retired Navy Adm. William McRaven and Code for America founder Jennifer Pahlka, among others. (Full list of board members.) (See also: The Pentagon’s New Hires for Innovation.)

  • First Test Flight for Second T-50A


    ​Lockheed Martin and Korean Aerospace Industries said the second T-50A aircraft configured for the Air Force’s T-X competition for a new pilot trainer has completed its initial test flight at KAI’s airfield in Sacheon, South Korea. “We now have two aircraft in flight test proving our upgrade, and we’re nearing completion of our assembly and training operations center in Greenville, S.C.,” Doug Batista, Lockheed Martin T-50A program manager, said in a company release. “We’re now on track to provide the Air Force with a production line and training capability on day one of contract award.” Lockheed is offering the T-50A, based on a trainer and attack aircraft already in service with the Korean Air Force, as a low-risk option for the advanced pilot training competition to replace the T-38, first produced in the 1960s. The Lockheed-KAI offering also includes a ground-based training system. Three other contractor teams are offering candidates to provide the Air Force the 350 new pilot training aircraft it wants. Raytheon, Finmeccanica, and CAE are offering the existing T-100, while Boeing-Saab and Northrop Grumman are offering clean sheet designs. (See also: Teeing up the T-X from the June 2015 issue of Air Force Magazine.)

  • Blue Angels Trading Up

    ​The Navy's Blue Angels aerial demonstration team. Blue Angels photo.

    ​The Navy awarded Boeing a $12.05 million contract Monday to start work on engineering needed to configure F/A-18E/F aircraft to perform as the Blue Angels aerial demonstration team. The Super Hornets would replace the existing mixed fleet of F/A-18A/C/D Hornet aircraft the Blue Angels have been flying since 1986. The service said in December it was planning to make the change due to the age of the existing aircraft. There have been several incidents in the last 14 months in which pieces have fallen off Blue Angels aircraft during flight, and in June, team member Capt. Jeff Kuss was killed when his F/A-18 crashed near Smyrna, Tenn., during a rehearsal for an airshow. The Navy has not yet explained the cause of that crash. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is substantially larger than the earlier version, with a wing area 25 percent larger than its predecessor, making it physically similar in size to the Air Force’s F-15 Eagle. The Super Hornet is considered a less nimble platform due to its greater size and weight, but the jet is specified to be able to pull 7.5 G turns. The engineering work will involve removing the jet’s gun and missile launch equipment, adding smoke generators, adding fuel pumps that can feed the engines during prolonged inverted flight, and some cockpit adjustments. The Air Force’s Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team has been flying F-16Cs of the Block 52 configuration since 2008 but has no plans to change aircraft in the near future. (See also: Thunderbirds from the July 2016 of Air Force Magazine.)

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