F-35 Tops the Savings Charts
The F-35 strike fighter’s total acquisition cost dropped by an estimated $11.5 billion since last year, achieving the “most significant” savings of any DOD acquisition program, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
The 3.3 percent drop was “due solely to efficiencies found within the program” since the total number of F-35s on order did not change, states GAO in its annual assessment of selected weapon programs, released March 31.
DOD was due shortly to publish its own cost assessment—the annual Selected Acquisition Report—for the same period.
DOD’s overall acquisition portfolio grew by $12.6 billion between 2012 and 2013, most of which “can be attributed to a single program,” according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.
The Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle purchase ballooned by 78 percent over the previous year, GAO stated in its assessment of selected weapon programs, published March 31.
However, most of the cost growth—an estimated $28.1 billion—was due to the Air Force buying an additional 60 boosters. The remaining $6 billion was due to other factors, including extending the program’s life cycle by 10 years, according to GAO.
The EELV program was restructured after breaching cost-growth limits under the Nunn-McCurdy Act for the second time in 2012, GAO noted. The breach prompted service officials to seek additional launch providers, including SpaceX, which was still awaiting Air Force national security launch certification at press time.
AFNET Migration Complete
The Air Force completed its five-year project transferring all Air Force user accounts and workstations to a single computer network, officials announced in April.
“This is truly a significant milestone for Air Force cyberspace,” said Gen. William L. Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, in a news release.
The Air Force Network Integration Center at Scott AFB, Ill., transferred 646,000 email boxes and 12,318 servers at 275 Air Force-related sites, creating a “centrally managed standardized structure under the operational control of the 24th Air Force commander,” according to the April 1 release.
First Quick Reaction Satellite Delivered
The Air Force recently received its first revolutionary new satellite designed to be quickly configurable for missions ranging from communications and weather to surveillance, Northrop Grumman announced.
Dubbed Modular Space Vehicle, the satellite will allow payloads to be prepared and launched to support specific operational needs in a matter of weeks, instead of years, according to the company. “MSV provides ways for future development of rapid response space capabilities that will be timely, cost-efficient, and flexible,” said Doug Young, Northrop Grumman’s vice president for missile defense and advanced missions.
MSV can be launched on a number of different boosters, including the Minotaur I and IV, Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle class boosters, and the Falcon 9.
The satellite can also operate from low and medium Earth orbits, as well as from geosynchronous orbit. The first MSV was delivered Feb. 25.
Lightning Strikes the Thunderbolts
The first F-35A strike fighter assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing touched down at Luke AFB, Ariz., early this spring, opening a new chapter in flight training at the base.
“This is the first-ever international weapon system program, and Luke will be the future home of its first-ever international flying training unit,” said Air Force spokesman Maj. Matt Hesson in a statement ahead of the aircraft’s March 10 arrival.
All F-35 pilots currently train at the joint-service F-35 schoolhouse at Eglin AFB, Fla. “Upon completion of the programmed aircraft delivery, Luke will be home to 144 F-35A aircraft belonging to eight partner nations” for the training, said Hesson.
Luke’s first F-35A is the 100th F-35 airframe to roll off Lockheed Martin’s production line at Fort Worth, Tex.
Mechanical, Human Error Blamed in Kyrgyzstan Crash
A flight-control malfunction exacerbated by the crew’s response caused the midair breakup of the KC-135 that exploded over Kyrgyzstan last year, investigators determined.
The Accident Investigation Board stated that the tanker’s flight-control augmentation system malfunctioned, causing lateral oscillations shortly after takeoff from the Transit Center at Manas on May 3, 2013.
Recordings revealed the aircrew noted the problem, but did not disengage the yaw damper or boosted rudder control, leading to a combined lateral and horizontal oscillation, known as “Dutch roll,” according to the report’s executive statement, released in March. The pilot responded with rudder input, which intensified the oscillations, overstressing the tanker and breaking it into three sections. The three crew members aboard died.
The AIB stated that insufficient crew training, inexperience, and “cumbersome procedural guidance” contributed to the mishap. Loss of the aircraft is estimated at a $66.3 million.
ROKAF Selects F-35A
South Korea declared the F-35A the winner of its F-X fighter competition, becoming the Lightning II’s third foreign military sales customer alongside Israel and Japan, Lockheed Martin revealed.
“We are honored by and appreciate the trust and confidence the Republic of Korea has placed in the fifth generation F-35 to meet its demanding security requirements,” said Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Executive Vice President Orlando Carvalho in a March 24 release.
The F-35 beat out both the Eurofighter EF-2000 and Boeing’s F-15SE Silent Eagle after the Republic of Korea Air Force relaunched its F-X competition last summer.
“This decision strengthens and extends our long-standing security partnership while enhancing regional stability across the greater Asia-Pacific Theater,” added Carvalho.
South Korea is seeking to buy 60 F-35s under a proposed $10.8 billion package, including training, support, and parts, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
South Korea is looking to replace its elderly F-4 and F-5s with an indigenously produced aircraft under the separate KF-X competition.
Boom Time in the Baltic
The US is sending additional forces to reassure NATO Allies in the Baltic in light of Russia’s military annexation of Crimea, Vice President Joseph Biden said during a recent visit to the region.
“We stand resolutely with our Baltic allies in support of the Ukrainian people and against Russian aggression,” said Biden, speaking alongside Latvia’s and Lithuania’s heads of state in Vilnius, Lithuania, March 19.
On top of six more F-15s sent to buttress Baltic air policing in March, “we’re exploring a number of additional steps to increase the pace and scope of our military cooperation” with the Baltic States, he said.
US efforts would include “rotating US forces of the Baltic region to conduct ground and naval exercises and training missions,” explained Biden.
He said the Administration has reached out to other NATO Allies to provide “additional contributions” as well.
British Defense Minister Philip A. Hammond announced that the Royal Air Force would send several Typhoon fighters to augment Poland’s fighter contingent when it took over Baltic air policing from the US in April.
A Ride Without the Ruskies
The Defense Department is reassessing its use of Russian-made rocket motors to launch US military satellites, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told members of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee in March.
Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine highlighted the tenuous long-term viability of the Air Force’s rocket engine supply chain, said Hagel. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James the next day told the House Armed Services Committee that the partnerships should be reviewed.
The US has a two-year supply of the motors and has spent “hundreds of millions of dollars to prove that we have the capability to demonstrate our ability to build that same engine,” said United Launch Alliance President Michael Gass at a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing, March 5.
Elon Musk, owner of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), which has been trying to break into the launch business, said at the same hearing, “It would make sense ... for the long-term security interest of the country to probably phase out the Atlas V, which depends on the Russian engine, and have ULA upgrade the Delta family.”
That, combined with SpaceX’s Falcon rocket, would give “the Defense Department assured access to space,” said Musk.
Then There Were ’16s
The 54th Fighter Group activated in March and will host F-16 pilot training at Holloman AFB, N.M.
Holloman is slated to receive two F-16 squadrons from Luke AFB, Ariz., as compensation for the loss of its combat-coded F-22s to Tyndall AFB, Fla., earlier this year. Under the 54th, the F-16 squadrons will continue as a detachment of Luke’s 56th Fighter Wing, which trains approximately 285 F-16 pilots and 350 crew chiefs annually, according to officials.
Holloman “will undoubtedly be a great fit for this new F-16 training mission, and we’re looking forward to a great partnership between the 49th Wing and the 54th Fighter Group,” said 54th FG Commander Col. Rodney J. Petithomme at the March 11 ceremony.
The 311th Fighter Squadron simultaneously activated along with the 54th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 54th Operations Support Squadron to support the training mission.
Predator’s Sea Bed in the Med
A power converter failure doomed an MQ-1B Predator remotely piloted aircraft that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on Sept. 17, 2013, after a mission supporting US Africa Command, officials revealed.
Flight controllers were preparing to hand the RPA off to the launch and recovery controllers after a 20-hour surveillance mission when they lost communication with the Predator, an Air Combat Command press release stated April 2.
Two seconds before losing contact, the RPA transmitted engine, electrical, and flight-control warnings that the abbreviated accident investigation board determined “were a direct result of a power converter malfunction in the aircraft’s control module,” according to the press release.
The Predator spiraled out of control and impacted the sea, resulting in the loss of the aircraft and a communications pod valued at approximately $5.3 million.
The RPA was deployed from Creech AFB, Nev., at the time of the incident.
Auditioning for NATO?
Two Air Force F-15s practiced scrambling with Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fighters from Šiauliai AB, Lithuania, as part of a NATO-hosted exercise in April.
Tensions with Russia recently prompted Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Jan Björklund to call for a break with the country’s historic nonalignment to “set the wheels in motion” to potentially join NATO, the German newspaper Deutche Welle reported.
USAF Capt. Tyler Clark, in an April NATO press release, said, “NATO’s airspace borders that of Sweden and Finland and we have to work together to ensure safety of all our airways.”
Though Sweden is not a NATO member, Swedish forces regularly train alongside Alliance forces as part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.
During the Baltic regional training event, held several times a year, F-15s deployed from RAF Lakenheath, Britain, practiced jointly intercepting a Lithuanian C-27J with the Swedes, guided by a NATO AWACS.
C-5Ms Dover and Done
Airmen at Dover AFB, Del., welcomed the 18th and final upgraded C-5M Super Galaxy into the 436th Airlift Wing on April 2, Delaware’s News Journal reported. Serial No. 87-0040 completes the base’s transition from the legacy C-5 to the made-over C-5M.
“Completing our fleet marks a significant milestone for Team Dover and for the C-5M program,” said 436th AW Commander Col. Richard G. Moore Jr.
Upgraded C-5s incorporate new digital flight controls, navigation systems, and uprated and efficient new engines as well as numerous structural and reliability enhancements.
Back to Clark?
The US reached a tentative agreement with the Philippines to open greater US access to its military bases amid Chinese actions in disputed parts of the South China Sea, reported Reuters.
The deal would allow for the sharing of “defined areas within certain [Philippine armed forces] facilities with elements of the US military,” on a rotational basis, within parameters consistent with the Philippine constitution, said Pio Lorenzo Batino, the country’s defense undersecretary, during a March 14 press conference in Manila.
The two countries aimed to finalize the agreement during President Barack Obama’s planned April visit to Manila. With the Philippine senate’s blessing, the agreement would allow US forces access to facilities including the former Clark Air Base, as well as bases in Palawan, Cebu, and Nueva Ecija, among others.
According to the Philippine Star, Batino said the agreement takes into account the Philippines’ historical experiences, laws, and desire for “non-permanence of US troops.”
F-35 IOC Won’t Slip
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said he is “more confident” than ever that the F-35A will achieve initial operational capability in 2016, but that development issues with software will have to be watched closely for full operational capability.
Welsh told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel that he is closely tracking the progress of software integration with Lockheed Martin and its subcontractors.
The strike fighter achieved several recent milestones, including the F-35A’s first night flight on March 24. “The flight went fantastic,” he said.
F-35 program director USAF Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan echoed Welsh’s assessment in separate testimony on March 26. Bogdan told the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces panel that software remains the biggest technical concern, though he is “moderately confident” the program will successfully release Block 2B and 3I software capability as planned in 2015 and 2016.
More risk looms, however, with regard to Block 3F, the full combat capability software, which has a 2017 deadline. The contractors “need to improve both the speed and quality of software development” to catch up from previous delays, he said.
Boeing is designing a new rocket to affordably launch microsatellites into space from an F-15E, the company recently announced.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded Boeing’s Phantom Works an 11-month, $30.6 million contract to test its Airborne Launch Assist Space Access vehicle, Boeing stated in a March 28 news release. The contract also has options for Boeing to build as many as 12 ALASA vehicles.
The 24-foot-long rocket is designed to propel a 100-pound payload into low Earth orbit from the belly of an F-15E flying at 40,000 feet in altitude. “With our design, the first and second stages are powered by the same engines, reducing weight and complexity,” said Steve Johnston, the company’s director for advanced space exploration.
The DARPA-led ALASA project aims to reduce microsatellite launch costs by as much as 66 percent.
Empire State Reapers
The New York Air National Guard’s 107th Airlift Wing at Niagara Falls Arpt./Air Reserve Station recently began transitioning from the C-130 to the MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft.
The wing has already certified its first MQ-9 pilot and under a new manning document, effective April 1, will lose about 200 personnel billets, including its entire maintenance group, since no Reapers will be located at Niagara Falls.
The wing’s 107th Operations Group, however, will grow from 90 personnel to more than 220, and the base is slated for a new operations facility by 2017, according to officials.
Col. Robert Kilgore, 107th AW vice commander, said wing leadership realizes that wing personnel are “dealing with a lot of stress in the conversion to the new mission,” but added that the change “sets us on a clear path to the future,” according to a March 7 press release.
Overdue Aussie Star
Royal Australian Air Force Flying Officer Edward T. Mobsby was awarded the US Defense Department’s third highest award for valor, 72 years after he was killed in combat during World War II.
USAF’s Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Herbert J. “Hawk” Carlisle presented the Silver Star to Mobsby’s family in a ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on March 14, according to a PACAF news release.
Mobsby was copilot of a combined US-Australian crew on a B-25 Mitchell on July 26, 1942, when the aircraft was shot down over the Pacific near Papua New Guinea, killing all five crew members.
His squadron officer put in a recommendation for the crew to receive the Silver Star and the US Army Air Corps awarded four of the crewmembers in the 1940s, but Mobsby’s paperwork was delayed.
There was an “administrative oversight,” an Air Force spokeswoman told the Canberra Times. Since 1943, Mobsby’s family fought to get this issue resolved.
“Today, we right a wrong,” Carlisle said at the ceremony. “We correct an oversight that is nearly three-quarters of a century old by properly honoring the gallantry and courage of Royal Australian Air Force Flying Officer Edward Thompson Mobsby,” he said.
NATO partners buying the F-35 want the Air Force to pick up the development tab to make the aircraft nuclear capable, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III told House legislators. Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee March 14, Welsh said the Air Force has “committed to making the F-35 dual-capable”—i.e., able to carry both conventional and nuclear weapons. “There is discussion ongoing” with NATO F-35 partners who “don’t believe they can afford” a nuclear capability on their F-35s without US support, he said. However, these countries are “responsible for paying the cost to integrate capability on their aircraft,” he said. Rep. Richard R. Larsen (D-Wash.) questioned Welsh as to what USAF would do if NATO partners do not replace their nuclear-capable aircraft in the 2020s and beyond. Welsh said the cost is “not insignificant,” but if some Allies cannot afford it, the other NATO nations that have those capabilities “will pick up the load.” Talks are underway, and “we do have the capacity to pick up the load,” Welsh reported. USAF requested $15.6 million in the Fiscal 2015 budget to refine F-35 dual-capable requirements. By 2024, the Block 4B aircraft is supposed to be able to carry two B61 nuclear shapes internally, according to budget documents. The B61 is also being modernized and given a life extension modification to keep it viable.
—John A. Tirpak
James R. Schlesinger, 1929-2014
James R. Schlesinger, who served as Defense Secretary under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford from 1973 to 1975, died in Baltimore on March 27. He was 85. He counseled three different Presidents as chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Secretary of Defense, and as the nation’s first Secretary of Energy. Schlesinger “was a brilliant economist and had a keen understanding of defense budgeting. … I relied on his counsel when I was a United States Senator and as Secretary of Defense have benefitted enormously from … his guidance … as a member of the Defense Policy Board,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a statement. Schlesinger “devoted his career to ensuring that the American military had the resources it needed to defend against, and ultimately defeat, the Soviet Union,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R- Calif.) said in a statement. He was “the foremost intellectual architect of the policy of nuclear deterrence,” added McKeon. Schlesinger was a big proponent of the A-10 and the F-16 and lobbied hard for a stronger NATO. He promoted the idea of “burden-sharing” amongst NATO members and sought to standardize equipment within the Alliance. He also promoted the idea of increasing defense spending by NATO governments by up to five percent of each country’s gross national product, according to his official DOD bio.
Liberty’s Convoluted Comeback
Air Force Special Operations Command—not the Army—will take over the bulk of the MC-12 Liberty intelligence gathering fleet, according to AFSOC. The 51-strong MC-12W fleet had been divided between Air Combat Command, which operates 41 aircraft, and US Special Operations Command, which operates 10 airframes—dubbed “Javaman,” said AFSOC spokeswoman Lt. Col. Kristi Beckman.The Fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill called on the Air Force to draft a plan for “potential transfer” of its MC-12s to the Army. The plan now is for the Army to get eight airframes. USSOCOM will take the rest of the Liberty fleet, as well as its Javamen, and pass them on to AFSOC. “AFSOC will get those 33, plus an additional 10 MC-12s from USSOCOM that they currently own,” explained Beckman. “That’s a total of 43 aircraft for AFSOC.”The bulk of those aircraft will be assigned to Active Duty units at Cannon AFB, N.M., and Hurlburt Field, Fla., replacing the U-28A special operations surveillance aircraft. Thirteen will be assigned to the Air National Guard to create a new special operations mission at Will Rogers ANGB, Okla. “We will begin about a three-year transition to the MC-12 in FY ‘15 starting with the ANG wing and finishing with the Active Duty units,” said Beckman.
—Aaron M. U. Church
The War on Terrorism
Operation Enduring Freedom
CasualtiesBy April 22, 2014, a total of 2,314 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 2,311 troops and three Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 1,815 were killed in action with the enemy while 496 died in noncombat incidents.There have been 19,701 troops wounded in action during OEF.Best Month in a Dozen YearsMarch was the first casualty-free month since July 2002 for US combat forces worldwide, according to DOD’s Defense Casualty Analysis System.Since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001, March 2014 was only the third month that no combat related deaths occurred in Afghanistan. The other two months were January 2007 and July 2002. As of March, 2,312 US military members had died in Afghanistan, including 14 to that point in 2014. According to Pentagon statistics,19,693 troops were wounded in action over the same span. Two coalition soldiers died in Afghanistan in March, though neither was a combat-related fatality. The US plans to withdraw all combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of the year, though it is still not clear how many—if any—will remain in country in the future. President Barack Obama ordered military planners to draw up contingency plans earlier this year in case Afghan leaders fail to sign a bilateral security agreement to allow US troops to continue training and advisory missions after the end of combat ops. Russian Trouble and AfghanistanDOD officials are worried tension with Russia may threaten the US northern supply routes in and out of Afghanistan at a critical juncture as NATO forces are drawing down. The massive Northern Distribution Network winds through Russia and Central Asia and serves as an alternate to Pakistan for moving supplies into and out of Afghanistan. “If the Russians were to take action, ... we have other options [to the Russian section of the NDN] to move that cargo in and out,” Gen. Paul J. Selva, commander of Air Mobility Command, recently told legislators. Speaking during his confirmation hearing to lead US Transportation Command, Selva said this would require rerouting some 20 percent of subsistence cargo, such as food and noncombat materiel that moves through that supply route. Assuming Afghan officials do not sign a bilateral security agreement, Selva said there is enough capacity through several other networks to redeploy cargo out of Afghanistan through the “early fall,” but beyond that he would need to consult with US Central Command leadership.“As each day passes [without a BSA], our options decrease” though, warned Selva.
—Marc V. Schanz
The Air Force is significantly changing its ICBM training, development, and leadership in the wake of a recent cheating scandal in the nuclear community.Although the standards will remain high, Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen. Stephen W. “Seve” Wilson said, perfection will no longer be required 100 percent of the time. The command-directed investigation, launched following widespread cheating allegations at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., found that the line of “separation between training and evaluation” in the ICBM community had been completely lost. The Air Force will now place “greater emphasis” on how missileers are trained in addition to improving field evaluations to “better assess crew performance in the operational environment,” said Wilson. Wilson said AFGSC leadership is taking cues from its bomber community to address this problem. “An aircrew member takes a monthly test … called Bold Face. It’s something that they have to be able to do, no matter how stressful the situation. … Missile crew members don’t have that, so we’re [going] to develop what we call Bold Face for missile crew members,” said Wilson. “In most every flying weapons system, you get issued what we call a master question file. And it’s a series of questions on the important things [you need to know] to operate that weapons system,” said Wilson. “That’s a model we also think we could follow.” Finally, AFGSC is looking to mimic the 17-month evaluation cycle that is typical for flying crew members. “The execution of the ICBM mission has gone largely unchanged since its first missileers … started pulling alert in 1959,” said Wilson. “We’re not just putting a fresh coat of paint on these problems. ... We’re taking bold action.”
Senior Staff Changes
CHANGES: Brig. Gen. Casey D. Blake, from AF Instl. Contracting Agency, Office of the Asst. SECAF, Acq., Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, to Dep. Asst. SECAF., Contracting, Office of the Asst. SECAF, Acq., OSAF, Pentagon ... Maj. Gen. (sel.) Jack L. Briggs II, from Vice Cmdr., 1st AF, Air Forces Northern, ACC, Tyndall AFB, Fla., to Dir., Ops., NORTHCOM, Peterson AFB, Colo. … Maj. Gen. (sel.) Stephen A. Clark, from Dep. Commanding General, Jt. Spec. Ops. Command, SOCOM, Fort Bragg, N.C., to Dir., Center for Force Structure, Rqmts., Resources & Strat. Assessments, SOCOM, MacDill AFB, Fla. … Maj. Gen. (sel.) John L. Dolan, from Asst. Dep. Cmdr., USAFCENT, ACC, Shaw AFB, S.C., to C/S, PACOM, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii … Brig. Gen. Albert M. Elton II, from Dir., Plans, Rqmts., & Prgms., AFSOC, Hurlburt Field, Fla., to Dep. Commanding General, Jt. Spec. Ops. Command, SOCOM, Fort Bragg, N.C. … Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, from Dep. Dir., Ops., CENTCOM, MacDill AFB, Fla., to Asst. DCS, Ops., Plans, & Rqmts., USAF, Pentagon … Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold, from Vice Cmdr., SOCOM, Pentagon, to Cmdr., AFSOC, Hurlburt Field, Fla. … Gen. (sel.) Darren W. McDew, from Cmdr., 18th AF, AMC, Scott AFB, Ill., to Cmdr., AMC, Scott AFB, Ill. … Maj. Gen. Paul H. McGillicuddy, from Dir., Ops., Plans, & Prgms., PACAF, JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to Vice Cmdr., PACAF, JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii … Brig. Gen. Jon A. Norman, from Cmdr., 31st FW, USAFE, Aviano AB, Italy, to Dir., Ops., Plans, & Prgms., PACAF, JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii … Brig. Gen. John T. Quintas, from Sr. Defense Official, UK, DIA, London, to Cmdr., 380th AEW, ACC, Southwest Asia … Lt. Gen. (sel.) Anthony J. Rock, from Vice Dir., Strat. Plans & Policy, Jt. Staff, Pentagon, to Chief, Office of the Defense Rep.-Pakistan, CENTCOM, US Embassy, Islamabad, Pakistan … Brig. Gen. Kevin B. Schneider, from Cmdr., 380th AEW, ACC, Southwest Asia, to Asst. Dep. Cmdr., USAFCENT, ACC, Shaw AFB, S.C. … Brig. Gen. Barre R. Seguin, from IG, ACC, JB Langley-Eustis, Va., to Cmdr., 31st FW, USAFE, Aviano AB, Italy … Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Trask, from Dir., Center for Force Structure, Rqmts., Resources, & Strat. Assessments, SOCOM, MacDill AFB, Fla., to Vice Cmdr., SOCOM, Pentagon.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE SERVICE CHANGES: Jeffrey C. Allen, to Exec. Dir., AF Sustainment Center, AFMC, Tinker AFB, Okla. … Randall G. Walden, to Dir., AF Rapid Capabilities Office, Office of the Admin. Asst. to the SECAF, JB Anacostia-Bolling, D.C.
The Afghan Air Force is “rapidly gaining capability,”
standing up 20 more aircrews since their A-29 Super Tucanos began flying
strike missions in April, the head of the US mission said.
Even though the Afghan forces’ capabilities are
growing, the resurgent Taliban and the growth of ISIS in Afghanistan has
limited the amount of territory the government actually controls, the
head of the US mission said.
A pilot a Whiteman AFB, Mo., recently logged his
6,000th hour in the A-10 Thunderbolt II—that’s roughly 250 days spent in
the venerable Warthog’s cockpit.
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