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  • USAF’s Aircraft Availability Challenge


    ​Members of the F-22 Raptor Depot Maintenance Team at Hill AFB, Utah, install the night air-to-air refueling modification on an F-22. Air Force file photo.

    ​Across nearly all of its combat and mobility aircraft, the Air Force is failing to meet aircraft availability standards, according to data the service recently provided to Congress. The F-22A Raptor had the lowest availability rate at 46 percent, something Michael Lawrence, chief of maintenance division, said was primarily caused by work on the aircraft’s stealthy low observable platform surfaces. Programs like the B-1, B-2, and F-15E, which are undergoing service life extension programs, also suffered from low availability rates.

    Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

  • F-35 Chief Bogdan to Retire


    ​Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, shown here, the longest-serving F-35 program executive officer, will retire. His deputy, Navy Rear Adm. Mathias Winter, has been tapped for a third star and to serve as his replacement. Air Force photo by Jim Varhegyi.

    After 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. Bogdan steered the F-35 through a period when there was a broad clamor that the program be terminated for high costs and profound schedule delays, but succeeded in convincing the services, international partners, and even President Trump that the project is sound and will deliver good value for users. Bogdan’s frank style and uncompromising approach to getting what the government paid for made him a favorite with Capitol Hill committees, who urged the Pentagon to extend his tour in the job.

    Read the full report by John A. Tirpak.

  • Humans Essential to Artificial Intelligence Weapons


    ​William Roper, director of the Strategic Capabilities Office, argues USAF must increase its use of data in decision making at an AFA Mitchell Institute event in Arlington, Va., on March 28, 2017. Staff photo by Gideon Grudo.

    ​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.

    Read the full report from Gideon Grudo.

  • Nuclear Weapons Ban Unrealistic, Says EUCOM Commander


    ​The nuclear weapons ban treaty proposed by the United Nations is “just not realistic,” Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told Congress Tuesday. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, the commander of US forces in Europe said that North Korea’s nuclear activities are repeatedly in “violation of UN sanctions and resolutions” and that Russia is “aggressively improving their modernization of their nuclear weapons.” In such a global security environment, the US cannot consider giving up its nuclear deterrent, though he said “it’s something we would all like to see.” His comments came the day after US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told repo​rters that the US would join nearly 40 other countries, including Britain and France, who are not attending talks on the nuclear weapons ban treaty at the UN this week.

  • EUCOM Needs More ISR, Missile Defense

    ​US Forces in Europe commander Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told Congress Tuesday that greater capacity in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance is at the top of his priority list. Given the “modernization advances of our adversaries”—and particularly of Russia—Scaparrotti told the House Armed Services Committee that he needs ISR in “greater numbers than I have now.” With regard to the JSTARS fleet, the EUCOM boss said, “I do not have all that I’d like to have today to provide the [indications and warnings] that I need in Europe.” EUCOM needs increased capacity to “understand movement and change” within the large Russian force, Scaparrotti said, so that US forces have the “ability to react appropriately.” The EUCOM boss also said he needs “enhanced missile defense” in light of Russia’s recent deployment of a land-based cruise missile in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. After the unclassified open hearing, Scaparrotti briefed members of the committee on classified matters in a closed session.

  • Mobility in Europe Needs a Lift

    Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of US forces in Europe, told Congress Tuesday that he is concerned about mobility challenges EUCOM currently faces. In recent years “we began to atrophy,” he said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. When asked about airlift capability in the wake of several waves of C-5 Galaxy retirements since 2004, Scaparrotti said EUCOM’s airlift capability is “a little slower than I would like at this point.” He is particularly concerned about “civilian ships and aircraft that we routinely rely upon in a crisis,” though he said the US needs to update its knowledge of ground and rail infrastructure, as well. “We need agility,” Scaparrotti said, and added that Germany and other NATO allies have been helping to address this problem. “We are currently making investments as well as our allies and we should continue to do that.” The Air Force is in the process of upgrading 52 legacy Galaxies to the C-5M Super Galaxy configuration with new engines and avionics, and more reliable airframes.

  • Rotating Forces or Permanent Presence in Europe?

    ​Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, chief of US European Command, told Congress on Tuesday that he needs more US troops in Europe. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, he said the roughly 60,000 troops stationed there currently make up “a force that allows us to deter today,” but EUCOM is “looking to modernize that force” as it moves toward a “posture of deterrence and defense” in relation to Russia. Scaparrotti said he needs “an additional division,” and he asked specifically for “armored and mech brigades.” While some US forces have deployed to Europe on a rotational basis in recent years, Scaparrotti said that, with the new troops, “I would prefer to have an enduring armed force in Europe” because “the force then becomes accustomed to the environment.” However, Scaparrotti acknowledged there is some benefit to rotating forces because “much more of our force strength becomes familiar” with the specific operational environment and the allied partners.

    Scaparrotti said USAF has a “very capable posture” in Europe. Air Force presence there has been enhanced since 2015 through rotational theater security packages, like the one that recently deployed to Leeuwarden AB, Netherlands. Some 300 airmen and 12 F-15Cs from the Louisiana and Florida Air National Guard began duties at Leeuwarden this week in support of NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve. “We're providing forward forces for commanders if they need them,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Fischer, commander of the 122nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, according to a press release. “We’re building partnerships with our NATO allies and looking to deter any potential Russian aggression.”

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