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  • Deborah Lee James
    Senate Armed Services
  • Gen. Mark A. Welsh III
    Senate Armed Services
  • Gen. Larry O. Spencer
    Vice Chief of Staff
    House Armed Services, Readiness
Defense Writers Group
  • Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr.
    Commandant, Coast Guard
  • Eric Fanning
    Undersecretary of the Air Force
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Data Points
Airpower Classics
From the AIR FORCE Archive

10 Years Ago




Editorial: The Dragon and the Snakes
The Cold War was long and expensive. The Global War on Terror will be no different.



The War Before the War
Long before the actual land invasion, Iraqi forces were taking a ferocious beating from the air.



A Plague of Accidents
Top leaders warn that USAF “cannot tolerate nor sustain” the recent level of loss.



A Line in the Ice
It has been a half-century since the “DEW Line” first started rising in the Arctic waste.



Trenchard at the Creation
The father of the RAF was one of the first to grasp that aviation would radically change warfare.





25 Years Ago





Editorial: The Doctrine of Tranquility



On Stealthy Wings
The B-2 is built for penetration. It will be a while before a Soviet long-range radar is good enough to detect it.



The Electronic Wind Tunnel
New regimes of flight become possible as supercomputers unlock the doors to their simulation and development.


Valor en Masse





50 Years Ago




The Myth of Overkill
An examination of the theories and proposals of Prof. Seymour Melman of Columbia University.



Greased Lightning
Last fall a B-58 and a SAC combat crew demonstrated the capabilities of a remarkable airplane and the versatility of our nuclear striking command by making the longest supersonic flight in aviation history.





Daily Report

Thursday April 17, 2014
  • Air Force Space Command last week launched a National Reconnaissance Office intelligence satellite from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. The successful launch was treated as routine, but it quietly marked a significant milestone in USAF launch history. It was the Air Force’s 100th consecutive successful national security space launch. The string of successes, which dates back to 1999, is the result of years of self examination, process improvement, and mission assurance changes implemented after a disastrous period in the late 1990s that saw multiple launch failures costing billions of dollars. Since April 1999, Air Force Space Command has successfully sent USAF, Navy, Missile Defense Agency, NOAA dual-use satellites, and other payloads into space with steady success. “We have literally gone back to basics on the launch business,” AFSPC boss Gen. William Shelton told Air Force Magazine. Every launch today is looked at as “our first in the sequence, not the latest in a long string of successes.” (Continue to full story.)
    —Marc V. Schanz
  • The Pentagon’s just-released list of additional pain the services will endure if sequester persists past Fiscal 2015 forecasts $66 billion more will be cut from modernization accounts through 2019. For the Air Force, that includes 15 fewer F-35 strike fighters and five aircraft—$1.1 billion—out of the KC-46 tanker program.  Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello, USAF’s deputy assistant secretary for contracting, told reporters Wednesday that further sequester means potentially “breaking” the fixed-price contract on the KC-46, and thus “exposing” the Air Force “to additional risk.” The KC-46, “right now, … is moving exactly as we want it to,” hitting cost and schedule marks, but Masiello said “it’s a possibility” that, if forced to reopen the deal, the Air Force could be on the hook for Boeing’s true development costs, which are higher than the contract amount. Masiello spoke to reporters after a speech to an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast event in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday.
    —John A. Tirpak
  • Companies that want to keep doing business with the Air Force will have to be more efficient, accept lower profits, and perform on-time and to budget, said Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello, Air Force deputy assistant secretary for contracting. Speaking at an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday, Masiello—who’s been selected for a third star and to head the Defense Contract Management Agency—said if companies aren’t meeting cost and milestones on existing projects, “we risk losing the program ... it’s just as simple as that,” because of the extreme tightness of the budget.  The Air Force is taking a “deep” look at costs, and reviewing “should cost” at every level, Masiello said. “We need the primes to look at the vendor and supply base” for greater efficiencies, she said, since some 70 percent of cost now is incurred at those levels. On long-term deals, where the Air Force “thought we were negotiating 10 percent profit” but the contractor is making 15-20 percent profit, Masiello said that’s fine, as long as USAF is benefitting from the efficiency. To encourage best efforts, competition will be introduced wherever possible, and companies shouldn’t assume a follow-on award unless they truly offer the best deal, she said, telling attendees to expect a lot of renegotiation. “Maybe we’ve been generous in the past,” she observed, and the profit being earned “is not commensurate with the risk.”
    —John A. Tirpak
  • NATO members agreed to deploy additional military forces to ensure European members' security in light of Russian military escalation and unrest in Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. "Today, we agreed on a package of further military measures to reinforce our collective defense and demonstrate the strength of Allied solidarity," Rasmussen announced after a meeting of allied leaders on April 16. "You will see deployments at sea, in the air, on land to take place immediately. That means within days," he stressed, adding that "more will follow, if needed, in the weeks and months to come." Rasmussen said allied fighters deployed to Lithuania as part of NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission will "fly more sorties," more ships will be dispatched to the Baltic and Eastern Mediterranean, and NATO will up the number of exercises in the region. Meanwhile, State Department officials said the US is studying "options for potential additional security assistance" to Ukraine, in addition to long-standing capacity building efforts, according to an April 14 statement.
  • One of the best ways to speed up the acquisition process is to make sure a program gets off on the right foot, said Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello, Air Force deputy assistant secretary for contracting, on Wednesday. Addressing an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast in Arlington, Va., Masiello said USAF is doing its utmost to get requirements “clear” right at the outset of a program, and keep them from changing. However, she said things will speed up tremendously if industry sends negotiators to the table who are “fully ... empowered”  to cut a deal, and  who don’t have to “ask ‘momma or papa, may I?’” Contractors also have to speed their response to request for proposals and make sure they are fully thought through. On USAF’s part, she’s pushed negotiating teams to “keep talking” to contractors right up until RFPs are submitted; there should be no lack of communication, she said. If there is, she wants to hear about it.
    —John A. Tirpak
  • Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello outlined her priorities for the Defense Contracting Management Agency during an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast event in Arlington, Va., Wednesday. The Senate confirmed Masiello, who currently serves as the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for contracting, for her third star and to head DCMA on April 9. Masiello said she would like to find ways to insert more competition into the bidding process and get more small business involvement; however, did not want to “knock them off the track of improvement” or reinvent the wheel in terms of the agency’s approach. “We see huge results, in terms of cost-savings, when we insert competition,” she said, adding that sometimes it is the smaller companies with more limited resources that have the most creative, cost-saving solutions. Masiello also emphasized a need to shorten the acquisitions timeline and make the overall process more efficient. Other priorities will include increasing collaboration with the Defense Contract Audit Agency to better understand cost-estimation mechanisms, differences in projected vs. realized costs to contractors, and evaluating fixed-price arrangements, and improving communications with partners, stakeholders, and within the agency itself.
    —Autumn A. Arnett
  • The joint service F-35 Lightning II fleet recently notched up 15,000 total flying hours, announced Lockheed Martin. "Flying 15,000 hours itself demonstrates that the program is maturing, but what I think is even more impressive is the fact that operational F-35s accounted for more than half of those," said J.D. McFarlan, the company's F-35 vice president for test and verification. Air Force F-35A test aircraft have logged 328 flight hours. The service's operational Lightning IIs have clocked 963 hours in the air so far in 2014, states the release. "Reliability metrics are trending upward as the operations tempo picks up—recently 60 F-35 sorties were flown in one day," added McFarlan. "While the fleet continues to train, we are actively flight testing the software and mission systems" to reach the Marine Corps' initial operational capability target "next year as planned," he said.
  • Royal Jordanian Air Force fighters intercepted and destroyed “a number of armored vehicles” on Wednesday on the country’s border with Syria, according to a Jordanian military statement. The statement claimed a number of “camouflaged vehicles” were spotted attempting to enter the country through rough terrain away from the primary border crossings. RJAF F-16s responded to the incursion, subsequently firing warning shots. When the vehicles failed to respond they were “targeted and destroyed.” However, the statement did not say whether the vehicles belonged to the Syrian military or other unidentified militants. A Syrian military source, quoted by the state-run SANA, said no Syrian Arab Army vehicles were mobilized in the area of the strike, noting the vehicles shot by the Jordanian armed forces were not from Bashar Al Assad’s military. Jordan is host to a large refugee population fleeing the Syrian civil war, and the Assad government has repeatedly criticized Jordan for not cracking down on the flow of rebels and weapons into the country. Since the start of the civil war, the Jordanians have expanded military cooperation activities with the US, such as the annual Eager Lion exercise, where USAF fighter crews train with their RJAF counterparts.
    —Marc V. Schanz
  • The Air Force Inspector General recently recognized the 21st Space Wing at Peterson AFB, Colo., as the first Active Duty or Reserve wing to fully implement the Air Force’s new inspection system, states an April 15 release. “We worked aggressively on the implementation of this new system within our wing,” said Col. John Shaw, 21st SW commander. Under the previous system, an external team inspected the unit. Now the unit commander regularly conducts inspections. “The frantic preparation” under the old system “was unsustainable,” said 21st Space Wing’s Inspector General L. J. Van Belkum. “You can't maintain at that speed and expect to stay mission ready and focused. Everyone was exhausted by the end of our most recent consolidated unit inspection; the AFIS is designed to eliminate that,” he said. The wing has come up with a two-year strategic plan to aid the self-assessment. “While we know we don’t have this AFIS 100 percent right, we are on a good course to meet its intent of improving operations within the wing,” said Shaw.
  • A new high-definition, digital edition of Air Force Magazine is available now. Members can view the digital edition on browsers today. Beginning in May, members also will be able to view the digital edition on an iPad, Android, or Kindle Fire tablet. “AFA is moving to put greater emphasis on digital communications to further engage those who share in AFA’s mission,” states an April 17 AFA release. “This new digital format is a testament to that transition.” The digital edition, which will be delivered by Qmags, will allow members to search text or articles using keywords, author name, or subject; jump to articles directly from the cover or table of contents; and access an Air Force Magazine library from anywhere in the world. AFA eMembers are automatically subscribed. Those who receive the print magazine can opt to receive the digital edition at no extra cost. To view the digital version of the April magazine, click here. Beginning in May, additional login information will be required. If members have already established a login for, the same login will provide access to digital Air Force Magazine. To establish a login, go to the AFA website and select “Login” at the top of the page. To join, click here.

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In More Depth
  • Fifteen years ago, the space launch business needed to overcome costly failures and setbacks. What followed was an unprecedented string of successes.
  • Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center, is trying to “develop a cost-conscious culture” through an initiative dubbed the “Road to a Billion and Beyond.”
  • In his book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates describes the Air Force as “one of my biggest headaches”—a perception USAF leaders were never able to turn around during his tenure.
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