Defense Innovation Board Recommends Ways for DOD to Go Faster
The Defense Innovation Board held its second public meeting Tuesday and issued four new recommendations to help the Department of Defense speed up the development and fielding of new technologies. After months of visiting various installations within the US military, the members of the civilian advisory group agreed “there is no shortage of innovation in the Defense Department,” as Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America, said. The goal of the new recommendations is “to empower the innovators that already exist in the military,” she said. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
F-35A Pilots Have Experienced Five Physiological Events Since June
The Air Force said Tuesday that F-35A pilots across the service have experienced five “physiological events” since June. F-35A flight operations were temporarily halted at Luke AFB, Ariz., on June 9 after pilots reported a series of “hypoxia-like” physiological events at the base in May and June. While the Air Force did not identify a root cause of the events, F-35A flying resumed at Luke on June 21. Since then, five more such events have occurred, Joint Program Office spokesman Joe DellaVedova told Air Force Magazine. Three of those physiological events were at Luke, one was at Nellis AFB, Nev., and another at NAS-JRB Fort Worth, Texas. Such events constitute “a recognized hazard in aviation,” Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff told Air Force Magazine, and they occur “across all platforms, to include the F-35.” DellaVedova said the JPO “takes a multidisciplinary approach to monitoring and tracking the physiological events within the fleet,” and that the service is “integrating any findings to improve the weapon system.” —Wilson Brissett
GAO: F-35 Parts Shortfall, Maintenance Issues Limiting Fleet’s Readiness
The F-35 program faces a staggering delay in maintenance and parts availability, which has kept the jets grounded about 22 percent of the time this year, the Government Accountability Office states in a new audit. The average time to repair an F-35 part is 172 days, about twice the objective of the program, the GAO found in a yet-to-be-released audit obtained by Bloomberg News. The lack of parts availability calls into question the official $1.14 trillion estimate for the cost of F-35 maintenance and operations over the jet’s 60-year lifetime. The F-35 Joint Program Office and prime contractor Lockheed Martin have found ways to increase parts availability “to prevent these challenges from worsening” as the fleet grows, but the Defense Department has found “the program’s ability to speed up this timeline is uncertain,” the GAO found, according to Bloomberg. From 2018 to 2023, the Pentagon faces a shortfall of about $1.5 billion for F-35 sustainment along with “significant readiness risks.” The problems come as the F-35 fleet continues to grow. The Marine Corps has already deployed its F-35B variant to Japan, and the Air Force is preparing to send 12 of its F-35As to Japan later this year. The Pentagon is also kicking off a “deep dive” review of F-35 costs, with defense officials reviewing the jet’s supply chain and meeting with major contractors to study ways to reduce costs of the program, said Shay Assad, the Pentagon’s director of defense pricing, according to Defense News. – Brian Everstine
US, South Korean, and Japanese Militaries Practice Missile Tracking
The US military, along with South Korea and Japan, is practicing missile tracking near the Korean Peninsula as the top leaders of the three countries militaries pledge to work more closely to deter North Korea. The two-day missile tracking drill began in the waters off the coasts of South Korea and Japan, following an informal meeting of the defense ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Monday in the Philippines, the South Korean military announced. During the meeting, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met individually with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, where the two officials reaffirmed the US-Japanese alliance as “the cornerstone of peace, prosperity, and freedom in the Asia-Pacific region,” according to a Pentagon statement.. The US and Japanese militaries will build their bilateral security cooperation, along with trilateral work with South Korea, to “respond to threats posed by the Kim Jong Un regime,” according to the statement. Mattis also met with Republic of Korea Minister of Defense Song Young-moo on Monday to discuss the North Korean threat. US and South Korean officials will hold a meeting on Saturday in Seoul to plan future exercises and other military cooperation. —Brian Everstine
USAF Flies in South Pacific Exercise
USAF aircraft and personnel are participating in the Southern Katipo exercise, which recently kicked off in New Zealand. A C-130H assigned to the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 133rd Airlift Wing and a C-17 assigned to the 176th AW at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, are flying in the biannual multinational event, which also includes partners from New Zealand, Australia, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Brunei, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Canada, France, and Britain. Over the course of the exercise, participants will undertake air drops, cargo missions, and troops movements across the islands of New Zealand. “We’re really excited to work with our partners from New Zealand and other countries,” said Maj. Austin Tally, 517th Airlift Squadron lead exercise planner, in a press release. “Every time we conduct exercises like this with our allies and partners, we both learn from each other and get better at working together in the future.”
—Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein helped an airman at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., find his family in Puerto Rico after a month of silence following Hurricane Maria. “You think about this young airman out there guarding the nation’s nuclear enterprise and pulling 12-hour shifts in a Montana winter wondering if his family is okay in Puerto Rico … On the one hand, it’s an incredible testament to the dedication of this next greatest generation serving. On the other, it’s a reemphasizing [of] the responsibilities of leaders to take care of those great airmen,” Goldfein told reporters flying with him: Defense One.
—About 50 airmen and EC-130J Commando Solo aircraft from the 193rd Special Operations Wing are returning from a deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, where they flew psychological operations as part of the fight against ISIS: Air Force release.
—Thirty members of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 168th Wing deployed Monday to support the fight against ISIS and the ongoing battle in Afghanistan. The unit, based at Eielson Air Force Base, deployed on a KC-135 to an undisclosed location, where they will provide personnel support and aerial refueling for operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel across US Central Command: Alaska ANG release.
—The Air Force has awarded Orbital ATK a three-year $24 million contract to produce composite bullnose and blade seals for the F-35 strike fighter. The company already produces upper and lower wing skins, engine nacelles, and access covers for the F-35: Business Wire.
—SSgt. Michael Zamora, 30, who is assigned to F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., has been identified as the shooter in a double murder-suicide near Fort Collins, Colo., last week. Savannah McNealy, 22, and Tristian Kemp, an Air Force veteran who previously served with Zamora, were killed. Another woman received non-life threatening injuries: Stars and Stripes.