AMC Stands Down C-5 Operations at Dover
Air Mobility Command on Monday stood down all C-5M operations at Dover AFB, Del., following two nose landing gear issues within the past 60 days. AMC Commander Gen. Carlton Everhart said in a statement the command is taking “appropriate measures to properly diagnose the issue and implement a solution.” The stand down only impacts Dover, where 18 Super Galaxies are based. The Air Force has a fleet of 56 C-5s. During the stand down, the base will inspect the aircraft’s landing gear to ensure proper extension and retraction, according to an AMC statement. AMC “will work to ensure worldwide mission requirements are minimally impacted,” the release states. This includes using C-5s from other locations, C-17s, and contracted aircraft. Dover C-5s are active in supporting Atlantic Resolve operations in Europe, the ongoing mission in Afghanistan, and Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria, according to AMC. The two incidents occurred on July 15 and May 22. Both times, C-5Ms from Dover were unable to lower landing gear at Naval Station Rota, Spain. During the May incident, the aircraft was stuck on the runway for about a day, prompting mobility airmen to find a way to tow it away, according to an Air Force release on the incident. —Brian Everstine
Senate Confirms Shanahan as Deputy Defense Secretary
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, to be the No. 2 person in the Pentagon. Shanahan, who previously worked as Boeing’s senior vice president of supply chain and operations, will replace Bob Work, who had served as the deputy defense secretary since 2014. The Senate confirmed Shanahan during a floor vote of 92-7. Shanahan last month faced a rocky confirmation hearing when Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, (R-Ariz.) said he was not willing to move the nomination forward at the time because some of his answers on arming Ukrainian forces were “almost insulting,” and because of worries of conflicts of interest based on his experience at Boeing. McCain was absent from Tuesday’s vote as he recovers from surgery; doctors removed a nearly two-inch blood clot from above his left eye . —Brian Everstine
Selva Tells Senate the “Time is Not Right” for Space Corps
A new Space Corps would complicate the command and control of US satellite constellations and waste resources, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff USAF Gen. Paul Selva told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday morning. At his confirmation hearing for a second two-year term in his current position, Selva said the US military should focus on current efforts to consolidate space operations instead of creating a new military service. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
Selva to Convene JROC on Directed Energy Programs
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva said Tuesday that he would gather the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) to review directed energy programs that may be almost battlefield-ready. In the wake of an assessment by a top Pentagon official that lasers in combat are “still a long ways away,” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) asked Selva, who chairs the JROC, whether directed energy programs were being held to a higher testing standard by the Pentagon even though they possessed “significant advantages” over “alternative kinetic options.” Selva answered that lasers are not “being held to a different standard.” He also said that while lasers deployed against unmanned aerial systems have succeeded in “defeating the sensors or defeating the actual aircraft themselves,” demonstrating directed energy successfully in other areas “has proven a difficult task.” Heinrich told Selva that he is aware of a “handful of [directed energy] projects that are sort of on the shelf and ready to go right now…directly to the war-fighter.” At the end of the exchange, Selva promised to call “a meeting with the JROC and bring in the technology experts who can bring us up to date to make sure we’re not missing something.” —
US Can Respond to Russian Violations Without Breaking INF Treaty
The US has both diplomatic and military options to respond to Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty without breaking the treaty itself, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. The Department of Defense plans to present a full range of response options to President Donald Trump after the completion of the ongoing nuclear posture and ballistic missile defense review efforts, he said, which “will take several more months” to complete. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
GAO: Coalition’s Reliance on Airpower Creating Long-Term Issues for USAF
The military’s reliance on airpower in the ISIS fight has been effective in enabling ground forces to retake territory, but has long-term impacts on both the Air Force’s availability of weapons and the availability of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
USAF’s Capacity Gap
The United States Air Force has been in combat continuously since 1991. Over 26 years of operational employment, divestiture of fighter aircraft due to budget cuts, and anemic recapitalization have resulted in an air superiority capacity crisis. Today, the service possesses a total of just under 1,000 aircraft capable of air-to-air combat—F-15s, F-16s, F-22s, and F-35s. That is over 65 percent less than it possessed at the end of the Cold War. That number does not cut it when it comes to projecting necessary air-to-air capability to meet increasingly lethal threats that are more challenging today than during the Cold War, wrote retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute, in an op-ed published in Breaking Defense. In addition to a capacity gap, the US already faces a quantitative gap in America’s all-important efforts to ensure air superiority when US forces need it, argues Deptula.
Cuts to Readiness Increase Risk, Damage High-End Preparations
The defense budget has been cut by about 24 percent between 2010-2016, forcing the Department of Defense to cut readiness for near-peer and high-end conflict. “We deferred a lot of training during that time period in order to make those numbers work,” Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva said Tuesday. Instead of getting ready for potential conflict with Russia or China, the military focused “on the fight that was right ahead of us” against extremist groups. While he said the consequences of those readiness cuts “can be deadly” to US service members, Selva resisted Alaska Republican Rep. Dan Sullivan’s suggestion that the July 10 KC-130 crash that killed 16 Marines was due to training shortfalls. “It’s way too premature to make any conclusions about the cause of that accident,” he said. Nonetheless, he did tell the committee that “it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that reductions in training are potentially the causes of an increase in the risk we take to do the work we do.”
Wright Announces Professional Military Education Changes for Enlisted Airmen
CMSAF Kaleth Wright on Tuesday announced a revamped enlisted professional military education program to move toward allowing all Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve members an opportunity to attend Airman Leadership School and the NCO Academy. As part of an initiative called Enlisted Professional Military Education for the 21st Century, the Air Force will no longer use time in service to dictate an airman’s enrollment in professional military education. Airman now will only be required to complete distance learning courses before attending the school, according to an Air Force release. The changes came following the service’s triennial review of enlisted professional military education. “We must ensure timely, focused, and operationally relevant training and educational solutions at all levels,” Wright said. “Providing airmen with the appropriate PME at the right times in their career is a must.” Following this change, airmen must manually enroll in distance learning. Resident education is a promotion requirement, with the Airman Leadership School, NCO Academy, and the Chief Leadership Course required for promotion to E-5, E-7, and E-9 respectively, according to the release. —Brian Everstine
After Scare, DIUX Funding Secured Through End of Fiscal Year
The Department of Defense’s innovation effort was running out of money, but its director will deliver a reprogramming request to Congress soon that will ensure funding into the beginning of fiscal year 2018, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva said Tuesday. At Selva’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee for another term in his current position, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) told Selva the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUX) was “about to run out of money and we haven’t received the reprogramming yet.” Reed said that continuing to fund DIUX, the DOD’s attempt to mimic venture capital investments in new technology, represents “an urgent need.” Selva agreed, saying “we actually put tremendous demands on the DIUX.” He told Reed that DIUX director Raj Shah told the DOD “early last week” about the cash problem. “We have a reprogramming proposal that is in staff as we speak,” Selva told the committee. That proposal “will address the balance of their requirements for this fiscal year and will actually begin some of the funding for programs that will extend into next fiscal year.”_
—Members of the 412th Test Wing’s Experimentation Center for Ideas/Technology Exploration team hosted a one-day competition in which several engineers from Edwards AFB, Calif., partnered with three local high school robotics team to come up with a more efficient “way to gather ground-based radio frequency imagery of an F-22 Raptor:” USAF release.
—First-term Active Duty airmen can choose from more than 1,400 retraining quotas in more than 20 career fields for Fiscal 2018: USAF release.
—The Air Force plans to build four new dormitories for recruits at JBSA-Lackland, home of Basic Military Train. The plans come as the service looks grow its end strength. Last year, 31,524 Active Duty recruits were trained at Lackland, up significantly from the 24,137 trained in 2016, marking “the largest jump in more than 40 years:” San Antonio Express-News.