Daily Report

June 10, 2021

Biden Addresses Airmen after Landing in Europe for First Overseas Trip

Just a few moments after landing in the United Kingdom on June 9 to kick off his first foreign trip as President of the United States, Joe Biden took to a stage in a hangar at RAF Mildenhall and delivered an address to hundreds of U.S. Airmen and their families, praising them for their service and offering his goals for the overseas trip.

Investigation: Pilot’s Disorientation Caused 2020 Fatal F-16 Crash in Michigan

A Wisconsin Air National Guard pilot experienced spatial disorientation while flying at night, in poor weather conditions, and without working GPS, causing the F-16 to crash in a wooded area of northern Michigan, according to an Air Force Investigation. Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones, 37, was killed instantly in the Dec. 8, 2020, crash in the Hiawatha National Forest. He was assigned to the 176th Fighter Squadron, 115th Fighter Wing out of Truax Field Air National Guard Base.
Boeing VC-25B Air Force One

Air Force One Replacement Delay Could Mean More Maintenance for Existing Planes

The existing VC-25As, known as Air Force One when the President is on board, may have to undergo another maintenance cycle, requiring Air Mobility Command to take funding from other requirements, as the replacement program faces a possible schedule slip. Boeing presented the Air Force with a revised schedule for the production of the VC-25B, which would push back the delivery of the first aircraft by one year to 2025. Air Force Acquisition boss Darlene Costello said during a June 9 House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee hearing that the Air Force is reviewing this schedule, and will make a decision on it by September.

No One Hurt After Possible Shooting at Lackland Gate

Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, lifted a lockdown on the base Wednesday afternoon, after a shooting was reported at the main gate. No one was injured in the incident, said officials. Lt. Col. Brian Loveless, commander of the 802nd Security Forces Squadron at the base, told reporters there was a report of shots fired outside the base’s Valley Hi Gate. Responders did not determine anything “up front” when responding, but security forces and local police are pursuing a “couple of leads to confirm gunshots did take place.”

China Task Force Recommendations Focus on Education, New Defense Strategy

The Pentagon will overhaul its policy on China after a task force spent 100 days looking at the issue and forming recommendations on how the Defense Department can better compete with Beijing. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on June 9 announced DOD efforts to address these challenges, though most of these steps will remain classified. Public initiatives will include using the background of the China Task Force to guide the development of the next National Defense Strategy and a new look at education. “The efforts I am directing today will improve the department’s ability to revitalize our network of allies and partners, bolster deterrence, and accelerate the development of new operational concepts, emerging capabilities, future force posture, and a modernized civilian and military workforce,” Austin said.

Correction

A story in the June 9 Daily Report, First 2 Raiders Complete; USAF Won’t Retire More B-1s Until B-21 On Duty, was updated to clarify comments Air Force acting acquisition executive Darlene Costello made during a House Armed Services subcommittee on projection forces hearing on June 8. The first two B-21s are "in production," but are not completely built, according to the Air Force.

Radar Sweep

Pentagon Has No Idea How the Afghan Air Force Will Stay in the Air

Task and Purpose

The U.S. Defense Department has spent billions trying to help develop an independent Afghan Air Force, but the service still relies heavily on civilian contractors for maintenance—and when U.S. forces leave Afghanistan in the coming months, so too will American contractors, Secretary Lloyd Austin III has said. The Pentagon is still working on a plan to prevent the majority of the Afghan Air Force being grounded within a few months, spokesman John Kirby said June 8.

OPINION: Help The Afghan Air Force To Blunt Taliban Attacks

Breaking Defense

“Unfortunately, despite significant progress, the Afghan Air Force is not yet ready to provide the full range of air support. While it may conduct most air support now, Afghans still depend on the United States for some of the more difficult missions. An Afghan general in Kandahar warned in January that ‘without U.S. air support, the Taliban would gain power here,’” writes Bradley Bowman, Ryan Brobst, and Air Force Maj. Jared Thompson from the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

China's Stealthy New Fighter Just Made an Appearance in the Wild

Popular Mechanics

Observers recently spotted the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation FC-31 Gyrfalcon at a naval aviation training facility in Wuhan, sparking speculation that the Chinese military is finally starting to utilize the fifth-generation fighter following years of development and reports that officials from the Chinese Air Force and Navy weren’t interested in the design.

GAO’s Annual Review of DOD Programs Raises Concerns on Space Launch, Missile Warning Satellites

Space News

Technical challenges in the development of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket could prevent the Defense Department from ending its use on the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine by 2022, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. Congress directed DOD in 2016 to stop using the Russian-made rocket by 2022, but the new rocket engine, the BE-4 developed by U.S.-based Blue Origin, is having issues with igniter and booster capabilities and may not be ready in time.

Hostage Advocates Concerned by US Military Pullout from Afghanistan

The Associated Press

American troops are set to leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, at the direction of President Joe Biden. When they do, however, advocates for Americans who have been captured and are still being held hostage fear that “it will become more difficult to generate the intelligence needed to find Americans and conduct rescue operations for current hostages held in the area,” according to a report from the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, a hostage advocacy group.

Experts Weigh In on Pentagon UFO Report

Scientific American

The formation of the Pentagon’s UAP Task Force and reports on the unidentified aerial phenomena observed by U.S. military forces has led to a frenzy of media speculation in the past few months and years. But with the task force set to deliver an unclassified report in the coming weeks, what will it actually say and mean for those who believe in aliens? And what about those worried about advanced technology being developed by foreign governments? Scientists weigh in on the matter.

Germany Selects Lockheed Martin for Space Tracking System

National Defense Magazine

The German Space Agency has contracted with Lockheed Martin to use its iSpace system to track debris in orbit—space debris has become an increasingly common concern for agencies as the realm becomes increasingly congested, and Lockheed Martin’s system can help track more than 300,000 objects in multiple orbits.

One More Thing

Why Portugal Paints F-16s to Look Like Tigers

Task and Purpose

If you were following the U.S. Air Force Facebook page last weekend, you might have noted a photo of an F-16 with an unusual paint scheme—orange and black with spots. The Portugese fighter is actually part of a longstanding tradition among NATO fighter squadrons to use tiger-themed paint jobs. There’s even the NATO Tiger Association, which exists to promote solidarity and teamwork between NATO fighter squadrons, and the Tiger Meet, when the crews and planes get together to fly training missions.