McConnell Welcomes KC-46 #21 to the Fleet

Goldfein: USAF Won’t Use KC-46 Unless It Has To

Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told Senate legislators March 3 the service will not use the new KC-46 tanker unless absolutely necessary to fight a powerful adversary. The wide-ranging Senate Armed Services Committee hearing—the first of multiple chances the Air Force has this week to argue for its $169 billion budget request—continually circled back to the Pegasus tanker’s most pressing issue: its subpar remote vision system, built by Rockwell Collins. Boeing’s new Chief Executive Officer David Calhoun “committed to me that the KC-46 was his top military priority and he was going to do what was required to fix it,” Goldfein said. “I have seen a change in the behavior of that company since he took over. That’s why we’re more confident sitting here today that we have a serious fix on the table.”
Student Pilot Completes His First Solo Flight

USAF Still 2,100 Pilots Short of Goal

The Air Force needs 2,100 more pilots to reach its goal of 21,000 aviators, indicating that efforts to stem the pilot shortage have not yet been successful. “Increasing production of new aviators remains the most significant lever we have to arrest aircrew shortages,” service officials said in written testimony submitted to the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee for a March 3 hearing. While the service is pushing to grow its pilot production pipeline to turn out 1,480 aviators a year by fiscal 2024, it has fallen short of its gradually increasing production goals for five straight years.
CMSAF Kaleth Wright at AWS 2020

CMSAF’s Parting Priorities

In an interview with Air Force Magazine at AFA's Air Warfare Symposium, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright outlined his top four priorities for the last six months of his tenure as the service’s top enlisted leader. They are: Fixing the Enlisted Performance Reporting system, eliminating Weighted Airman Promotion System tests, changing the bereavement leave policy, and create a culture of fitness in the Air Force.
557th WW realigns under new information warfare NAF

Air Force Builds Up Information Warfare Ops

The Air Force is using its first information warfare cell to support cyber operations, part of a new approach to digital, “gray zone” combat. The IW cell brings together experts in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; electronic warfare; cyber; information operations; and public affairs, according to 16th Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh. It is helping tackle overarching problems in the cyber realm including U.S. election security, protecting air defenses, and rooting out malign influence on networks. The cell will be a pivotal player in 16th AF’s evolving structure. Haugh said the organization’s multiple operations centers will merge into a singular hub under one commander on March 16.
Gunship crew awarded 14 medals for joint SOF Afghanistan mission

AC-130U Crew Receives 14 Medals for Afghanistan Mission

An AC-130U Spooky crew provided more than nine hours of air support to special operations forces, enabling the rescue of 15 patients during a mass casualty evacuation in an April 2019 mission in Afghanistan. In a March 2 ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla., the aircrew from the 4th Special Operations Squadron received 14 medals for their role in the mission: two Distinguished Flying Crosses with the “C” device, and 12 Single Event Air Medals with the “C” device.
Lt. Gen. David Thompson at AWS 2020

Pentagon Widening Search for SPACECOM, Space Force Bases

Space Force Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson indicated the military will add new locations to the list of bases under consideration for U.S. Space Command headquarters, saying some unexpected places could become home to parts of the new Space Force as well. “We’re now going to take a holistic look at all of the potential options, all the potential locations,” Thompson said at a March 3 House Armed Services readiness subcommittee hearing. “We’ve been directed to go back, open up the aperture and look at all of them. That includes bases, it includes perhaps some non-traditional locations.”
Air Warfare Symposium 2020

No Space Force Reserve Yet, Scobee Says

Details of how the Air Force Reserve will support the U.S. Space Force “haven’t been fully fleshed out,” but for now, any backup it provides will remain under the purview of Air Force Reserve Command, Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee told Air Force Magazine in a Feb. 27 interview. Scobee said “a couple different” options exist, but the current plan is to "delay slightly" while that is figured out. However, he said, Congress may make the ultimate call.
030320 Africa

US Sends Message to Russia, China in Africa

The Air Force recently sent an unexpected aircraft over the village of Kismayo, a rural town on the Somali coast that has been a hotbed of extremist activity by groups such as al-Shabab. A nuclear-capable B-52, forward deployed to U.S. Central Command, flew an unmistakable show of force over the region last month. USAF leaders said the Feb. 15 flight was a direct message, not necessarily to the violent extremist groups armed with AK-47s and pickup trucks, but to global powers working to exert their influence on a continent that is becoming increasingly important to the global power structure. “There’s a message opportunity here, not just to al-Shabab and [violent extremist organizations] on the ground, but more broadly to Russia and China that: 'Hey, we’re competing with you down here,'" US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa boss Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian said.

Radar Sweep

The Air Force Is Calling Off Its 'Fly-Only' Track Experiment

Despite high hopes for a program aimed at retaining full-time pilots, there are only two airmen currently utilizing Air Mobility Command's Aviator Technical Track, also known as the "fly-only" track. There are no plans to expand the program any further, the command's top general said Feb. 27.

Court Considers Whether Men-Only Draft Is Constitutional

Associated Press

Weeks before a government commission weighs in on the subject, federal appeals court judges will consider whether the military’s all-male draft system is constitutional. A Texas-based federal judge ruled last year that it is not, in response to a lawsuit brought by the National Coalition for Men. The government appealed, leading to a March 3 hearing before a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

DARPA Launch Challenge Ends Without Winner

Space News

A DARPA responsive launch competition that started two years ago came to an end March 2 without a winner as the sole remaining team was forced to scrub their final launch attempt less than a minute before liftoff.

Trump Officially Sends the Senate His Navy Secretary Nomination

The Hill

President Donald Trump on March 2 officially nominated Kenneth Braithwaite, his current ambassador to Norway, to serve as Navy Secretary. Braithwaite's nomination to replace Richard Spencer, who resigned in November, was sent to the Senate along with a host of other nominations.

One More Thing

Maps Show Drastic Drop in China’s Air Pollution after Coronavirus Quarantine

The Verge

There’s been a dramatic drop in pollution across China as the country tries to contain COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. New maps using data collected from NASA and European Space Agency satellites show how nitrogen dioxide, a dangerous gas released by burning fuel, has dissipated since the outbreak.