Air Force test pilots flying C-17s are working with NASA testers at Edwards AFB, Calif., to find a way to reduce aircraft noise at commercial airports—potentially opening up some 8,000 smaller airfields with excess noise restrictions. Some of the testing involves making a variety of approaches—the typical straight-in used by commercial airliners and the spiral down often used by military aircraft in a combat zone. The spiral landing approach reduced noise to an acceptable level, said officials. The test also included evaluating the rate of descent from an airliner passenger perspective—the spiral down passed.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.