An EC-130H Compass Call prepares to take off to execute the first
training mission with an upgraded cockpit acquired via the avionic
viability program at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., July 11, 2016.
Since it became operational in 1983, the EC-130H Compass Call has
demonstrated its electronic combat power in tactical air operations
around the world. Courtesy photo.
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.” However, the service’s top uniformed acquisition officer, defended that strategy on Thursday, telling the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces panel that L3 Technologies is inherently qualified to serve as the program’s systems integrator because it has played that role for the last 15 years and is "very familiar" with the “highly classified” systems on the intelligence aircraft. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the Air Force's top uniformed officer for acquisition, testifies before the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces panel on May 25, 2017. Screenshot photo.
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. Air Force leaders emphasized the service will need a minimum of 100 B-21 bombers and said the actual number could actually be around 165. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
The threat from nuclear weapons is growing and the need for a strong US deterrent needs to keep up, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson said Thursday at an AFA Mitchell event in Washington, D.C. The top threat comes from Russia, who is “our only peer” in nuclear development, and “will likely remain so in the coming decade.” Russia now has “robust programs in place” that began development “about a decade ago.” These programs include “modernizing their ICBM force, their ballistic missile submarines, their nuclear-capable bombers, their nuclear cruise missiles, their national command and control,” Wilson said. “It’s not talking about it—they’ve done it.” China is more difficult to assess because “they are being completely opaque with regard to nuclear capabilities.” Still, Wilson said, it is clear that China is investing in “both fixed and mobile ICBM systems and the technology to counter US ballistic missile defense technology.” China also reorganized its military last year to create a “strategic rocket force,” that is focused on nuclear weapons, and a “strategic support force,” to work on space, cyber, and electronic warfare, Wilson said. All of these developments, he added, underline the “importance of strategic stability” provided by a strong US deterrent.
There are lessons to be learned from the B-2 program that can inform the development of the Air Force’s new B-21 bomber, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson said Thursday. The big takeaway is, “I have to be able to go faster because that’s what our adversaries are doing,” Wilson told the audience at an AFA Mitchell Institute event in Washington, D.C. “How we do things today,” he said, “takes way too long.” Speeding things up will be a team effort. “I’ve got to have help from Congress—I think stable funding is really important,” Wilson said, adding that “too much oversight is not good.” But he also insisted that “industry has to be part of this—I need to be able to reduce the timeline.” He said the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office has provided a better alternative. “Their oversight is four people,” he explained, “the Chief, the Secretary, AT&L, and our service acquisition executive.” The RCO has also succeeded in quickening acquisition because “they’re tied to the warfighter” and “they’ve got good contracting folks, they’ve got good budget folks.”
The development of a new Long Range Standoff weapon (LRSO) is “a cost-imposing strategy” that doesn’t cost very much, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson said Thursday. The stealthy, air-launched, nuclear-capable cruise missile would allow the Air Force to “maneuver or position my bombers wherever they have to be,” and would not require “overflight of any particular countries,” Wilson told the audience at an AFA Mitchell Institute event in Washington, D.C. These capabilities, plus the reality that a bomber would be able to carry 21 LRSO missiles at a time, makes the weapon “a very daunting challenge for any adversary.” But the key, Wilson said, is that Russia already has a similar missile “in production,” and LRSO’s deterrent value is much more cost-effective than the development of a new system to defend against the Russian weapons. The LRSO won’t be fielded until 2030, however, so the current air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) will continue to undergo a service life extension, updating “telemetry, encryption, and our flight termination components”—for now, Wilson said. But getting the LRSO online is “the key to making sure we can maintain an air leg of the triad going forward.” The LRSO development program is slated to receive $451 million in President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget request.
ISIS explosives that had been previously planted in the building contributed to 105 civilian deaths resulting from a coalition airstrike on March 17 in Western Mosul, according to the results of a Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve investigation. The strike was intended to take out two snipers using the building as cover to fire on Iraqi forces. Iraqi and coalition forces were unaware that 137 civilians were also using the lower floors of the building to shelter. When coalition forces dropped a GBU-38 precision-guided munition, the detonation of the weapon triggered a secondary explosion that caused damage “far in excess to what could have been caused by the GBU-38's net explosive weight,” according to the investigation’s structural analysis. Investigators also found at the site “residues common to explosives used by ISIS, but not consistent with the explosive content of a GBU-38 munition,” according to an OIR statement. As a result of the secondary explosion, “the vast majority” of the civilians in the building were killed, as well as four more in an adjacent structure, the investigation concludes. Thirty-six civilians remain unaccounted for.
Newly minted Air Force second lieutenants celebrate during their graduation at the Air Force Academy, Colorado, May 24, 2017. The guest speaker during the ceremony was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford. Air Force photo by TSgt. Julius Delos Reyes.
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.
Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
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