Digital AIR FORCE
Gen. Paul J. Selva
Nominee, TRANSCOM Cmdr.
Senate Armed Services
Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak
ACS, Strategic Deterrence & Nuclear Integration
Senate Armed Services, Strategic Forces
Lt. Gen. Stephen W. Wilson
Senate Armed Services, Strategic Forces
Defense Writers Group
Senator James Inhofe, Congressman Buck McKeon
Ranking Member, SASC, Chairman, HASC
Congressman Adam Smith
Ranking Member, HASC
Chairman, USAF Structure Commission
From the AIR FORCE Archive
10 Years Ago
25 Years Ago
The Myth of Overkill
An examination of the theories and proposals of Prof. Seymour Melman of Columbia University.
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.
Wednesday March 12, 2014
The Air Force was forced to make many “tough
choices” as it put together its Fiscal 2015 budget request, including the
termination of the F-16 Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite, or CAPES,
program, said Maj. Gen. Jim Martin, USAF budget director, on
Tuesday. Under the CAPES program, F-16s were to be upgraded with new AESA radar
and a new cockpit display, along with data link enhancements and an improved
defensive suite in an effort to keep the aging fighters viable until the F-35
strike fighter comes online. “[Termination of] that program did save us money
over the [Future Years Defense Program], but let me be very clear that we still
invested money in our legacy aircraft to keep them viable,” said Martin during
an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast event in Arlington, Va. “We did provide
some upgrades and modifications for our F-15s, for example, so we did our best
in the legacy aircraft to keep those platforms capable.” The Air Force’s Fiscal
2015 budget requests $240.947 million for the APG-82(V) radar modernization
program for F-15E Strike Eagles, up significantly from the $182.927 million for
the program in Fiscal 2013. In addition, USAF will continue to fund the
APG-63(V)3 radar upgrade for its F-15C/D Eagles, according to budget documents.
(For a full list of Fiscal 2015 budget documents, click
The Air Force’s five-year Future Years Defense
Program includes about $600 million to begin replacing the service's
40-to-50-year-old T-38 trainers, said Maj. Gen. Jim Martin, USAF deputy assistant
secretary for budget. Speaking Tuesday at an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast
event, Martin said the new trainers, known as T-X, will allow for an “easier
transition to more advanced aircraft,” such as the fifth-generation F-35 strike
fighters. During a different breakfast event in Washington, D.C., also on
Tuesday, Air Force Undersecretary Eric Fanning said he was “glad we were able
to fit [the T-X] in the budget,” calling it an “existential investment for the
Air Force.” He added, “We were getting to the point where that trainer was
going to be training three generations of airmen,” so “it was time to invest in
the next generation.” The Air Force is expected to award a contract for the new
trainer in Fiscal 2017, said Martin during the March 4 budget
Gen. John Hyten, vice commander of Air Force Space Command at
Peterson AFB, Colo., has been nominated for a fourth star and for assignment as
AFSPC commander. If the Senate approves his nomination, he would replace Gen.
William Shelton, who has led AFSPC since January 2011. The President also has
Gen. Darren McDew for appointment to the rank of general and for
assignment as commander of Air Mobility Command at Scott AFB, Ill. McDew, who
currently serves as commander of 18th Air Force at Scott, would replace Gen.
Paul Selva, who has been tapped to lead US Transportation Command. Selva has
led AMC since November 2012. (DOD release)
There are some concerns about the long-term use
of the Northern Distribution Network now that tensions with Russia over the
country’s military operations in Ukraine are escalating, Air Mobility Command
boss Gen. Paul Selva told Senate legislators on Tuesday. Selva, who has been
tapped to lead US Transportation Command, was speaking to members of the Senate
Armed Services Committee during his nomination hearing. The massive supply
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 out,” said Selva. However, he said that would require
re-routing some 20 percent of subsistence cargo, such as food and non-combat
materiel, which moves through the massive network. Selva said even though
Afghanistan has yet to sign a bilateral security agreement, there is enough
capacity in multiple transit 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,” said Selva.
NATO is deploying E-3 AWACs to monitor Russian
military activity in neighboring Ukraine from the confines of allied airspace
over Poland and Romania, alliance officials announced on
Monday. "All AWACS surveillance flights will take place solely over
Alliance territory and no flights will take place over Ukraine," according
to a March 10 statement from NATO's AWACS component. Air Force F-16s also will
deploy to Łask AB, Poland, to exercise with Polish air force fighters in the
coming days, Defense Department officials announced the same day. "What we
are doing is reassuring our allies that we are there for them," said DOD
spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren in a release.
"This is an important time for us to make it crystal clear to all our
allies and partners in the region that the United States of America stands by
them," he added. US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa deployed
additional F-15s to Lithuania to augment its NATO air
policing rotation last week, and Navy destroyer USS Truxton began exercises with allies in the Black Sea this week. (See
in the Baltics.)
Pentagon probes into components used in major US
weapons systems uncovered Chinese materials used on some F-16 and B-1B
aircraft—notably in radar systems, Reuters
The Defense Department issued waivers to allow Northrop Grumman to temporarily
use Chinese sourced rare-earth metals in magnets used on the F-35 Lightning
II's active electronically scanned array radar to keep the fighter's production
on track, according to the press report. DOD also granted similar waivers for
the B-1B, export F-16s, and SM-3 IIA missiles, a Pentagon spokesperson told Reuters. A 2012 Senate Armed Services
uncovered a pandemic of counterfeit Chinese electronic parts in everything from
remotely piloted aircraft to airlifters. The Government Accountability Office
is currently investigating the issue of Chinese specialty metals cropping up in
US weapons and plans to present their findings to Congress in April, reported Reuters.
The Defense Department has requested $13.3
billion for intelligence programs in the Fiscal 2015 base budget. That’s a
significant drop from the $14.6 billion requested in DOD’s Fiscal
2014 base request. While DOD “determined that releasing this
figure does not jeopardize any classified activities,” other budget figures and
program details remain classified, according to a March 6 release.
DOD will release its Fiscal 2015 overseas contingency operations funding
request for military intelligence programs at a later date, states the release.
The Pacific Air Forces held
its first AirSea Battle forum with the US Pacific Fleet at JB Pearl
Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, last week. “Sometimes fiscal
constraints drive people to think separately; we need to fight that urge and
think more cooperatively,” said PACAF Commander
Gen. Hawk Carlisle to the nearly 300 airmen and sailors present at the March 6
event. PACAF historian Steve Diamond spoke about historic joint air and
seapower operations, notably the Doolittle
Raid, in which Air Force Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle
led a surprise attack on Japan from the USS Hornet
on April 18, 1942. “At the end of the day, our job is to provide the United
States with the greatest military possible, with the resources they give us,
and the only way to do that is if we do it together,” said Carlisle. The forums are now scheduled to take place quarterly,
states a March 10 release.
Vice Adm. Michael Rogers, who has been nominated to
lead US Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, fielded plenty of
questions from Senate legislators Tuesday over NSA’s collection of telephone
metadata, as well as reports of Iranian cyber intrusions into Navy networks. Rogers
said speed and access remain important variables in the now-revealed Section
215 metadata-tracking program. If changes are made to the program, Rogers said a
process should be put in place to ensure NSA can still “query” needed data in a
timely manner. However, he said it could be possible for a third party
administer to retain the data if necessary. During questioning by Sen. John
McCain (R-Ariz.), Rogers said the NSA must become more transparent, and do a
better job explaining just what the organization’s mission entails, as well as
the threats it must respond to. As for reports of an Iranian
intrusion into Naval networks, Rogers, who currently
serves as commander of US Fleet Cyber Command, said he directed a comprehensive
operational response to the whole naval system, rather than just a tactical
response. “I didn’t want to just remove the immediate threat,” Rogers said.
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In More Depth
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.
Air Force Secretary Deborah James acknowledged the Air Force does “have a systemic problem” within its nuclear forces, though she said she is confident the mission itself remains strong.
After a 23-year seesaw legal battle in which both sides were at some point “up” by more than a billion dollars, the Navy and its A-12 contractors have put the A-12 controversy to rest with a settlement.
The Document File
Aircraft Accident Reports
10 Years Ago
Editorial: The Thirty Years’ War
The volunteer military has had its problems, but a conscript force would have even more.
Compressing the Kill Chain
The goal is to put weapons on time sensitive targets in “single-digit” minutes.
The Guard and Reserve Stand Fast
Guardsmen, Reservists, employers, and family members have stepped up to a bigger mission, but it has not been easy.
25 Years Ago
Editorial: Discriminate Deterrence
Russia's defense leaders are willing to take short-term risks in the hope that Gorbachev's economic reforms will sustain Soviet military power over the long term.
50 Years Ago
The Future of Manned Aircraft
In the debate over our strategic deterrent, manned aircraft are getting much the worse of the suppositions. Yet the new technology can be used to strengthen rather than weaken the arguments for manned aircraft.
The Great Deterrent Dialogue
Missiles, bombers, space weapons, arms control are all advanced as essential to deter general war. Many participants engaging in this debate are long on words, short on knowledge.