CENTCOM Counters Anti-ISIS Coalition Leader, Claims Iran Poses “Possibly Imminent” Threat
Hours after a British general and senior coalition member told reporters “there was no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” US Central Command issued a statement saying that’s not true. “Recent comments from OIR’s deputy commander run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from US and allies regarding Iranian-backed forces in the region,” US Navy Capt. Bill Urban, lead spokesman for US Central Command, said in the statement. “Central Command, in coordination with Operation Inherent Resolve, has increased the force posture level for all service members assigned to OIR in Iraq and Syria. As a result, OIR is now at a high level of alert as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to US forces in Iraq.” Read the full story by Amy McCullough and Brian Everstine.
Fighter Jets Win, Space Force Stalls in House Defense Spending Bill
House appropriators boosted the Air Force’s fighter procurement plans in their version of the fiscal 2020 defense spending bill, adding 12 F-35As at the Air Force’s request and funding the start of the F-15EX program. The House Appropriations Committee’s $690.2 billion Defense Department funding legislation, which the defense subcommittee will consider May 15, offers a topline that is $8 billion lower than the Trump administration’s 2020 request. Notably, the bill text also allows the Defense Department to use $15 million to study and refine its plans for a potential Space Force, but stops short of endorsing its creation as a sixth service within the Air Force. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.
Boeing Buoyed by House Appropriators’ Push for F-15EX
Boeing’s vice president for advanced F-15 programs, Prat Kumar, said he is encouraged by the House Appropriations defense subcommittee’s version of the fiscal 2020 funding bill, which provides initial funding for the F-15EX, but acknowledged the plan has a long legislative path ahead of it and it faces resistance in the House Armed Services Committee. However, Kumar said the Air Force can get jets sooner than the fiscal 2020 budget suggests, in order to get testing underway faster, and can have single-seat F-15s if the service prefers not to fly a two-seat jet with one crewmember. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
Appropriators: No Space Development Agency Funds Until We Get More Info
The House Appropriations defense subcommittee wants to ban the Pentagon from spending 2020 funding on the new Space Development Agency until after defense leaders send Congress a report on the organization’s future. Together, the Air Force Secretary and the Defense Department’s research and engineering chief must submit a proposal for establishing the SDA that includes descriptions and costs of the programs and projects it expects to run in the next three years. Lawmakers also want to know how the Air Force and SDA will “coordinate and cooperate to develop an agreed-upon integrated space architecture that will guide both SDA and Air Force investments.” Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.
Arrival of Luke F-35 Squadron Delayed
The arrival of an F-35A squadron at Luke AFB, Ariz., has been pushed back to winter 2023 from summer 2022, the service and Arizona lawmakers announced. Luke is scheduled to stand up six F-35 squadrons, but the arrival of the fifth had to be moved back to reduce congestion as both F-16 training continues and the planned “F-35A ramp configuration construction project” has yet to begin, Luke spokeswoman Maj. Rebecca Heyse said in a release. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) said in a statement that Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson informed her of the delay last week, but assured her Luke will receive all six squadrons and “no jobs will be impacted.” Luke is a main training base for F-35As, and will eventually have 144 of the aircraft. —Brian Everstine
USAF Renames Special Operations Weather Career Field
Air Force Special Operations Command recently overhauled its special operations weather career field to reflect the changing nature of its mission, renaming it Special Reconnaissance. The change, effective April 30, will include a revamped training course to move away from “long-term regional forecasting to short-term, small-scale, team-specific environmental reconnaissance with an emphasis on special recon as a whole,” according to AFSOC. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
55th FS “Shooters” Return from Deployment
More than 400 airmen and approximately 20 F-16CM Vipers deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, the military intervention against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, have returned home. Shaw release
F-16’s Jammed Weapon During Training Leads to Emergency Landing
An F-16 fighter jet with the 180th Fighter Wing performed an emergency landing May 14 at the Toledo Express Airport after an onboard weapon jammed during training. The (Toledo) Blade
Report: Radar in South Korea Network Could Not Track Missiles
North Korean missiles tested last week may have been only partly detected in South Korea despite an extensive network of early warning radar in the country, according to a local press report. UPI
F-16s Land in Romania to Strengthen Russian Deterrence Mission
A short US Air Force deployment to Romania is doubling the number of F-16 fighter jets in the country, ahead of Romanian plans to purchase more of the US-made aircraft. War is Boring
Air Force Physicist Responsible for Significant Weapon Advances Dies
Robert Edward “Ed” Deal, a retired Air Force physicist who helped develop the U2 high reconnaissance camera that was used to take photographs of Soviet missiles in Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, died April 15. He was 88. Dayton Daily News
World War II Vet Bob Maxwell, the Oldest Medal of Honor Recipient, Dies at 98
World War II veteran Bob Maxwell, the nation’s oldest Medal of Honor recipient, has died in Oregon more than seven decades after grabbing a blanket and throwing himself on a German hand grenade in France to save his squad mates. He was 98. Associated Press via Army Times
The 2019 Military Family Lifestyle Survey is Now Live Until June 14
Blue Star Families, in collaboration with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, analyzes trends related to major shifts in military life issues and helps local and national government leaders better understand the realities military, veteran, and National Guard/Reserve families face. Take the Survey
One More Thing …
Gen. Hap Arnold Led Army Air Forces in WWII. You Might Be Surprised by What He Did as a Major
Frustrated by interservice rivalries in which Army aviation always seemed to come up short, Arnold wrote a series of six books in the mid-1920s intended to highlight the value of military aviation and promote flying to a young audience. Aviation History Magazine via Air Force Times