USAF Calls for One-Day Stand Down, Safety Review for Flying Wings
The Air Force is directing its flying wings to stand down operations and maintenance for one day in the next several weeks to try to find causes in a string of ongoing mishaps, as well as ways to improve overall safety. Active Duty wings have until May 21 to ground their aircraft and review their focus on safety, while Air National Guard and Reserve units have until June 25. While the push is for a broad, service-wide review of safety issues, there will not be a publicly released overview of what the review finds. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Puerto Rico Air National Guard Holds Memorial for Fallen Airmen
The Puerto Rico Air National Guard on May 4 held a private memorial service at Muniz Air National Guard Base for the nine airmen killed when their WC-130 crashed near Savannah, Ga., last week. The aircraft was one of the oldest in the Air Force’s inventory and was on its way to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., where it was to be retired. The crash was the third fatal crash in as many months for the Air Force. On March 15, seven airmen were killed when their HH-60G Pave Hawk crashed in Iraq and on April 4 USAF Thunderbirds pilot Maj. Stephen Del Bagno died when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed in Nevada during training. The Air Force announced in April it was examining accident rates after the recent series of fatal crashes and the House Armed Services Committee is considering establishing a National Commission on Military Aviation Safety. Read the full story by Amy McCullough for more information on the nine airmen killed.
F-35 Deliveries Resume After JPO, Lockheed Reach Agreement
The Pentagon on May 1 began accepting deliveries of F-35s again after a contract dispute between the Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin paused the acceptance of the jet. Lockheed said in a statement on Monday it reached an agreement with the JPO to “effectively and efficiently address” the issue that prompted the disagreement. The Pentagon on March 29 stopped receiving the jets because it and Lockheed could not agree on who needed to pay for damage caused by holes drilled for fasteners, which were not properly treated with anti-corrosion paint. The Joint Program Office on Tuesday did not say which party was covering the costs of the repairs. During the pause, the Pentagon refused to accept five F-35s, including three for the USAF. F-35 production continued during the pause, and Lockheed said it is on track to meet its target of 91 aircraft for 2018. —Brian Everstine
Coalition Launches New Operation to Rid ISIS from its Remaining Locations in Eastern Syria
The US-led coalition this week started its latest named operation targeting ISIS—Operation Roundup, an attempt to rid the group from the last areas it holds in Eastern Syria. As part of this operation, US and coalition aircraft have, since May 1, launched 40 strikes against ISIS targets east of the Euphrates River. These strikes destroyed eight ISIS-held buildings, six logistical assets, two explosive factories, and two weapons caches, UK Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, the deputy commander of strategy and support for the coalition, said during a Tuesday briefing. These strikes included ones recently conducted by Iraqi F-16s inside Syria. Coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are resuming their offensive operations to clear ISIS. While Gedney would not estimate the number of remaining ISIS fighters in the area, he said “by the time we finish there will be a lot less.” —Brian Everstine
First Overseas Deployment for F-35A Ends as Airmen Return from Japan
Marking the first long-term overseas deployment for the F-35A, airmen and aircraft from the Active Duty 388th Fighter Wing and the Reserve 419th Fighter Wing returned to Hill AFB, Utah, in recent days after a six-month deployment to Kadena AB, Japan, the Air Force said May 7. The airmen had been in the Kadena area since October as part of a theater security package. During the deployment, pilots flew 1,086 sorties and deployed eight other times in the region. “They accomplished a lot,” said 419th FW Commander Col. Regina Sabric. “The biggest thing with being the first operational F-35 theater security package, it sets the playbook for every other operational wing to follow.” —Steve Hirsch
Pentagon IG Faults Air Force Handling of Patient Information
A report by the Pentagon’s inspector general faults officials from the Air Force, as well as the Defense Health Agency and Navy, for not consistently using security procedures on systems handling electronic health records and patient health information. The IG’s team visited USAF’s 436th Medical Group in Dover, Del., and Wright-Patterson Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio, as well as three Navy facilities, reviewing 17 information systems. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.
—President Trump Tuesday said he was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, a signature achievement of former President Barack Obama. “This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made,” Trump said. “It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will:” New York Times.
—The Air Force has extended the life of an F-16 Fighting Falcon multi-role fighter, the first of almost 300 F-16Cs and Ds that will benefit from upgrades and modifications at the 573rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at the Ogden Air Logistics Complex: Air Force Technology.
—Charles River Analytics, of Cambridge, Mass., has received a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contract to develop the Picassa tool, to help military commanders to better understand potential threats in space: Air Force Technology.
—The Air Force is cutting mandatory computer-based learning on most ancillary training courses, giving commanders wide discretion on conducting most such training: Stars and Stripes.
—The Army & Air Force Exchange Services is reaffirming its plan to hire 50,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of the decade. Exchange director and CEO Tom Shull said the exchange will hire 16,000 more veterans and military spouses to reach the total by 2020: Army & Air Force Exchange Service.
—The Air Force hopes to complete its overhaul of the officer performance evaluation and promotion system by Fiscal 2020, according to Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services. The modernization will be accompanied with improvements to the IT systems that automate the evaluation process and link it to the Internet: Air Force Times.