The U-2 Story

The Fiscal 2013 budget decision to retain the U-2 for longer and retire the Global Hawk Block 30 variant was pretty much a no-brainer, according to Lt. Gen. Larry James, the Air Staff’s intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance chief. USAF thinks the U-2 has...

House Lawmakers: More BRAC Just Too Costly

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday once again urged Congress to support two more rounds of BRAC during his second trip to Capitol Hill in two days to discuss the Pentagon's Fiscal 2013 budget request. Once again, House lawmakers didn't bite, just as their Senate counterparts were lukewarm to the idea on the previous day. The controversial topic was raised 31 times during Wednesday's House Armed Services Committee hearing. "There's obviously no wild enthusiasm in the Congress for additional BRAC rounds," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.). He added, "Every one of those facilities is in somebody's district and it might be yours that gets gored. And secondly, we really don't save any money in the short term because of the cleanup." Panetta said he realizes that "BRAC costs a hell of a lot of money," but said it's "the only effective way to try to achieve needed infrastructure savings" necessary "in the long run." BRAC 2005 is estimated to have cost the Defense Department some $39 billion to execute, and lawmakers bemoaned the fact that no savings will come from it before 2018, citing the Government Accountability Office. The Pentagon is expected to present its BRAC proposal to Congress next month, said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.). (Panetta's prepared statement) (Dempsey's written testimony)

Adjusting the US Military’s European Presence

The Defense Department has already closed roughly 100 facilities in Europe over the last six to seven years, but more cuts are coming, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told members of the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday. Panetta said Pentagon leaders...

First Shoots of the Treaty Year

A week after the New START agreement’s first birthday, US and Russian inspectors simultaneously conducted the year’s first on-site nuclear inspections. “A Russian team arrived here in the United States to start the first inspection under the new treaty year...

Boutique ISR

The Air Force will take “a year or two” to decide whether to keep, expand, or jettison a variety of “boutique” intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capabilities created as ad-hoc solutions to special needs during the past 10 years of war in Iraq and...

What No One Else Will Do

The Air Force will not cut its science and technology budget much, but officials are subjecting priorities within the budget to a needs test, said Air Force Research Lab Chief Technologist Jennifer Ricklin on Wednesday. The Air Force has placed...

Blowing an AMP

In place of the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program, which the Air Force seeks to terminate in its Fiscal 2013 budget request, the service is proposing a more affordable and less technically complex project to upgrade the communications and navigation gear on its legacy combat-delivery C-130s. The Optimize Legacy C-130 Communication, Navigation, Surveillance, Air Traffic Management program will outfit these H-model C-130s to comply with modern air space requirements, allowing them to fly at the most advantageous altitudes and direct routes for reduced fuel consumption, according to the Air Force's Fiscal 2013 budget overview (caution, large-size file). These upgrades will "meet the basic CNS/ATM requirements and resolve obsolescence issues for the legacy C-130 fleet," states the document. The Air Force projects that the proposed savings from these changes will to amount to some $300 million in Fiscal 2013 and $2.3 billion between Fiscal 2013 and Fiscal 2017, according to the Pentagon's Fiscal 2013 budget overview (caution, large-size file.) Boeing has been the lead contractor for AMP, which has progressed into its low-rate initial production phase.

Sierra Nevada Steps Up

Sierra Nevada announced on Wednesday that it is exploring ways to mitigate delays in meeting the Air Force’s April 2013 schedule for delivering the first A-29 Super Tucano aircraft. “Given the stakes and given recent reports of a potentially accelerated...

Enter the F-16V

Lockheed Martin unveiled a revamped version of its F-16 multi-role fighter at the Singapore Air Show on Wednesday. The F-16V—the V stands for Viper, the name F-16 pilots have dubbed the distinctive fighter—features enhancements like an active electronically scanned array...

Falcons among White Eagles

Air Force F-16s and C-130s will begin regular training rotations to Poland later this year with the creation of a Poland Aviation Detachment, permanently staffed with USAF support personnel. The "10-person detachment" will manage "approximately four USAF C-130 and F-16 rotations each year," states the Air Force's Fiscal 2013 budget overview (caution. large-size file). The goal of the detachment is to "strengthen our working relationship with the Polish air force." states the document. The Poles now fly F-16 Block 50 fighters and earlier model C-130E airlifters. The memorandum of understanding signed with Poland last May explicitly opens the possibility of future deployment of fifth generation aircraft such as the F-22. Aircraft pulled from both US Air Forces in Europe and stateside units will operate from the Polish air force's 32nd Tactical Air Base near Lask in central Poland, reports Stars and Stripes.