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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
  • Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler
    Commander, III MEF and Marine Forces Japan
  • Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr.
    Commandant, Coast Guard
  • Eric Fanning
    Undersecretary of the Air Force
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

Wednesday April 23, 2014
  • The Defense Department will send some 600 US soldiers to “a series of expanded US land force training activities” in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in response to recent Russian aggression in Ukraine, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby on Tuesday. “A company-sized contingent of paratroopers from the US Army Europe’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat team, Airborne, which is based in Vicenza, Italy, will arrive in Poland [April 23] to begin exercises with Polish troops,” said Kirby. He added, “Additional companies from the 173rd will move in the coming days to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia for similar exercises.” The goal is to have a “persistent, rotational” US presence in the region, with “fresh troops” rotating in once these exercises conclude, said Kirby. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the decision to bolster US presence near Ukraine after consulting with Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Kirby. Breedlove recently cautioned that the “armed masked men” operating in Ukraine are, in fact, Russian forces conducting a “well planned and organized” military operation directed by Russia. Earlier this month, he said Russia had built up enough forces along the Ukrainian border to quickly and successfully carry out an “incursion.” (Kirby transcript.)
  • Six F-35 Lightning IIs are squaring off against potential adversaries' air defense systems to test the fighter's real-world sensing and penetrating capabilities at Edwards AFB, Calif., reported "The surface threat is a tough problem. … If the missile is big enough it can shoot you from hundreds of miles away," said Thomas Lawhead, F-35 integration office operational chief. Testers are specifically probing the effectiveness of F-35's electro-optical targeting system and distributed aperture situational awareness suite against Chinese, Iranian, and Russian threat systems, according to the April 17 press report. Pitting the F-35's sensors and systems against various surface-to-air systems allows testers to develop a database of threat profiles "so that when the aircraft sees something on radar … it can categorize what it is," added Lawhead.
  • The Obama Administration is considering maintaining a force of less than 5,000 US military members in Afghanistan after combat operations cease later this year, far less than the 8,000-12,000 previously requested by US military leaders. Thanks to promisingly high voter turnout in a “surprisingly smooth election,” US officials say they now believe Afghan forces may be in a stable enough position to justify the smaller force, reported Reuters Monday. The US forces that will remain in Afghanistan after 2014 would focus on counter-terrorism and training operations, reported Reuters. "The discussion is very much alive," one US official who asked not to be identified told the news organization. "They're looking for additional options under 10,000" troops. In the absence of a bilateral security agreement, however, the exact terms of the drawdown remain unclear. Talks are expected to resume once Afghanistan’s new President is announced. Troop numbers peaked around 100,000 in 2011. Some 33,000 US troops operate in Afghanistan today.
  • President Barack Obama is expected to leave on his fifth visit to the Asia-Pacific today. The six-day trip includes stops in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, as well as a visit to Malaysia to make up for an October 2013 trip that was cancelled due to the government shutdown, announced the White House. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said America’s top priorities are “tied to Asia,” whether in promoting trade agreements or protecting security interests. All stops on the trip intersect with the Administration’s priorities, which include modernizing security alliances, advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and investing in institutions like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosted the ASEAN defense ministers in Hawaii earlier this month. The stop in the Philippines comes on the heels of a recent breakthrough in negotiations between the State Department and Philippine officials to expand regular rotations of US military forces, including USAF training and exercising. Obama is expected to unveil a finalized agreement with the Philippines during the visit. (DOD release.) (White House transcript.)
  • Air Force Col. Robert Spalding, a visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, recently penned a defense of the service’s proposal to divest the A-10 fleet, charging critics with “missing the point” behind the retirement. “The US Air Force is the best in the world at close air support in a permissive environment like Afghanistan,” wrote Spalding, a former vice commander of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo., for Defense One. In the future, the US will be able to rapidly respond to requests for CAS in similar environments using a range of aircraft, from B-1s to F-15Es and F-16s, all of which have demonstrated the ability to respond quickly, strafe, and put bombs on target, said Spalding. Calls for CAS are answered faster than at “any time in the history of air warfare.” Even if the A-10 is excluded, troops can get support when and where it's needed. Congress, however, is increasingly skeptical of the Air Force’s plan. In response to such arguments, Spalding notes that sequestration has given USAF a jigsaw puzzle, and retiring the A-10 is a big piece of how to solve it. The other services are faced with similar issues, he adds. Still, the US needs to modernize its aircraft to ensure it can maintain air superiority in a future fight. Keeping $3.7 billion worth of A-10s “is not the answer,” he wrote.

  • Air Frame: August O’Neill is kissed by his service dog, Kai, April 9, 2014, during the cycling portion of the Air Force Trials at Nellis AFB, Nev. O’Neill, an Air Force wounded warrior, competed in the six-mile men’s handcycle heat with four others. (Air Force photo by SrA. Jette Carr) (Click on image above to reach wallpaper version.)
  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reiterated his commitment to “stopping sexual assaults in the military,” during a recent visit to the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network. During the visit, Hagel praised RAINN workers for raising awareness of sexual assaults and for providing victims a strong support network, states an April 21 release. "You are changing the world for the better," he told RAINN employees. More than 300,000 people have used the “military-centric” Safe Helpline for information regarding sexual assaults, since it was launched three years ago. More than 22,000 people have sought anonymous one-on-one assistance and crisis support during the same time period through online chat, telephone, and texting helplines, states the release. “The connections we’ve seen on [Safe Helpline] are pretty powerful,” said Jennifer Marsh, the network's vice president for victim services. “People leave feeling like they’re not alone and like they’ve helped somebody else, which we know is a big part of the military.”
  • Airbus Military handed over the first A400M Atlas airlifter to the Turkish air force in a ceremony at its production facility earlier in the month, the company announced. Turkey's A400M is the third Atlas off the assembly line, following delivery of the first two operational airlifters to the French air force last year. The first A400M bound for Britain's Royal Air Force is currently in final assembly along with another two Atlases for the RAF, according to a service release. "Our people, including aircrew, engineers, and support crew, are currently preparing at the International Training Center to operate the aircraft," said RAF Air Vice Marshal Sean Reynolds during a visit to the production line in Seville, Spain, according to an RAF release. Meanwhile, Airbus launched work on Germany's first example early this year, which is slated for delivery in November, the company announced.  The company has firm orders for a total of 174 A400Ms thus far.

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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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