An F-35A from the 58th Fighter Squadron crash-landed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on May 20. The pilot was able to eject. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.

Eglin F-35A Crashes Upon Landing, Pilot Ejects

An F-35A from the 58th Fighter Squadron crash-landed late May 19 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., according to the 33rd Fighter Wing. The pilot safely ejected. The crash marks Eglin's second recent fifth-generation jet mishap, following the May 15 crash of an F-22 assigned to the base. The F-35A crashed around 9:30 p.m. after a routine night training sortie, the fighter wing said on Facebook. The pilot was in stable condition and went to Eglin's 96th Medical Group for evaluation and monitoring. No civilian property was damaged in the crash, which will be formally investigated.
Gen. Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, speaks during AFITC

Some Air Force Missions Could Grow Under Bigger Budget

The Air Force wants to add more Airmen for space, sensing, command and control, and logistics, if upcoming military budgets let the service grow, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen “Seve” Wilson said May 20. Wilson also said plans for a larger bomber force will firm up within a year, that the other services will have to justify their long-range strike spending, and that he is cautiously optimistic that mission-capable rates or similar readiness measures will continue to improve. Speaking during an online Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event, Wilson said the service plans to focus on staffing the most urgent areas first as it builds toward 386 operational squadrons—the so-called “Force We Need."
New Space Force Leader Visits Crew at Cavalier Air Station

Space Leaders Plan for Missile Defense, Daily Ops

Space stakeholders are moving forward with a new plan for missile defense, warning, and tracking after a Pentagon-wide review meant to align the work of multiple DOD agencies. Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond told reporters during a May 20 Defense Writers Group event that officials briefed the high-level Joint Requirements Oversight Council on the findings a few weeks ago. The JROC approved the bulk of that blueprint, Raymond said. The idea is to figure out who takes responsibility for the overall missile defense enterprise, decide what overlap works and what doesn’t, and how to buy the various systems.
SECDEF Receives USNORTHCOM COVID Briefing

DOD Outlines Criteria for Bases to Lower Health Protection Levels

Military commanders may begin lowering health protection conditions and returning to more regular operations if their location meets certain criteria, like a two-week downturn in the number of coronavirus cases, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in May 20 guidance to the armed forces. Most U.S. military installations across the globe have been at health protection condition “Charlie,” the second-highest level, as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads.
B-52 works with Polish F-16s

USAF Releases B-52 Engine Replacement RFP, Award Expected July 2021

The Air Force has released its final request for proposals on the B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program, which seeks to replace the bomber's 1960s' vintage engines with new ones that will carry the plane to its 2050s retirement. The Air Force wants responses next month, expects to award a contract in a year, and will be converting airplanes well into the 2030s.
Skyborg

USAF Solicitation Offers Seed Money for Skyborg

The Air Force is getting its Skyborg wingman drone program underway, reaching out to industry for technology that could head to a future experimentation campaign. Multiple companies could each win $400 million to contribute technology toward a best-of-breed Skyborg drone, the service said in a May 15 solicitation. Skyborg is envisioned as an artificially intelligent unmanned partner for fighter jets that is cheaper than more complex aircraft but can take on some strike and intelligence-collection missions for human pilots. The Air Force indicated that companies whose designs aren’t initially chosen could still be wrapped into the program later. It also creates a stepping stone to a more advanced kind of aircraft: Later solicitations could look for a “prototype of a full autonomous system” as well as new sensors and mission software.
Space Force roadshows

Space Officials Woo Intelligence Airmen

New opportunities will open up for intelligence Airmen who opt to join the Space Force, intel officials said on a recent livestream. The Space Force is considering how Airmen could work in multiple career fields to broaden their understanding of the space domain, according to Col. Suzy Streeter, the service’s ISR director. Building the new service from scratch allows it to shake up its leadership echelons and let intel professionals hold command positions usually taken by the Airmen who operate satellites, U.S. Space Command intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance boss Brig. Gen. Leah Lauderback added.
B-1s integrate with Norwegian F-35s

Ellsworth B-1s, Swedish Gripens Partner for First Time

B-1Bs from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., integrated with Swedish Gripens for the first time during a long-distance bomber task force sortie to Europe that included fighter jets from multiple allied countries. The two B-1s, supported by a U.S. Air Force KC-135 from RAF Mildenhall, England, and a Dutch KDC-10 from Royal Netherlands Air Force Eindhoven Air Base, conducted close-air support training in Sweden at Vidsel Range, according to a U.S. Air Forces in Europe release.
F-15EX Boeing artist rendering

Air Force Opens Up F-15EX Engine Award for Competition

The Air Force has launched its competition for engines to power the F-15EX, after initial plans to simply award the contract to GE Aviation. The AIr Force wants 461 engines to be delivered at a maximum rate of six per month, ending with final deliveries in 2030. To compete, Pratt & Whitney will have to integrate its F100 powerplant with the F-15EX's digital flight control systems.

Virtual Events: 6th Annual Schriever Space Forum, and More

On Nov. 20, the Air Force Association's Schriever Chapter will host the 6th Annual Schriever Space Futures Forum—a live, virtual event—featuring appearances by Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John E. Hyten, Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson, Space and Missile Systems Center Commander Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, and incoming U.S. Space Command boss Lt. Gen. (sel.) John E. Shaw. Register for free here.

Radar Sweep

Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19

Air Force Magazine

Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DOD Civilians Offered Emergency Leave If They or Family Members Are Sick from Coronavirus

Stars and Stripes

Defense Department civilians can take up to two weeks of paid emergency leave if they or a family member are affected by the coronavirus, the Army said this week. Civilians are eligible if they are under government orders to quarantine or if they have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine, the Army said in a May 18 statement. The new emergency leave category is separate from sick leave and is authorized through Dec. 31.

Joint Base Charleston Delivers Russia-Bound Ventilators

USAF release

A Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina C-17 Globemaster III, today, picked up 50 USAID-provided ventilators at March Air Reserve Base, Calif. and delivered them to Dover Air Force Base, Del. The mission is the first leg of a USAID mission to deliver 200 ventilators this month to Moscow.

AFA Embraces Space Force in New Mission Statement

AFA release

“Just a few months ago, Congress and the President created this new Space Force, bringing it forth out of the Air Force, just as the Air Force was raised up out of the Army 73 years before,” said Air Force Association Chairman and retired Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Gerald Murray. “Now, as thousands of Airmen begin the process of transferring into the Space Force, we are making clear that AFA fully embraces every one of the 15,000 or more professionals who will eventually make up this great Space Force. Whether they come from the Air Force, the Army, Navy, or elsewhere, we welcome them with open arms and a steadfast commitment to fight and advocate for their every need.”

Air Force Says Space Development Agency Should Be in the Space Force Now, Not Later

Space News

Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett is pushing back on a Defense Department proposal that would delay transferring the Space Development Agency to the Space Force until October 2022. In a May 6 memo to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Barrett said the Space Development Agency—which is currently a Pentagon agency under the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering—should be part of the Space Force “as soon as possible.”

House Panel to Hold Private Ligado Call with FCC and Defense Officials

C4ISRNET

The House Armed Services Committee will host a private briefing on May 21, featuring representatives of both the Federal Communications Commission and the Defense Department, to discuss the ongoing fight over Ligado, C4ISRNET has learned. Scheduled to appear are Dana Deasy, the Pentagon’s chief information officer, who has taken the lead on the Ligado issue; Gen. Jay Raymond, chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force; Charles Mathias, associate bureau chief of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau; and Ron Repasi, acting chief engineer with the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology.

Commerce Slashes Restrictions On Remote Sensing Sats

Breaking Defense

After a year of interagency wrangling, the Commerce Department today announced streamlined rules for commercial remote sensing satellites that lift many restrictions on radar imaging, night-time imaging, and short-wave infrared imaging.

B-1 Bomber May Become the New Face of U.S. Military Power in the Pacific

Military.com

The Air Force's B-1B Lancer bomber is about to move front and center in the U.S. military's power-projection mission in the Pacific. As part of its mission "reset" for the B-1 fleet, the Air Force is not only making its supersonic bombers more visible with multiple flights around the world, it's also getting back into the habit of having them practice stand-off precision strikes in the Pacific, a dramatic pivot following years of flying close-air support missions in the Middle East.

Pentagon's Top R&D Chief Throws Cold Water on Laser Missile Defense Aspirations

The Drive

The Defense Department’s top official in charge of overseeing advanced research and development activities has said he does not believe it is feasible, at least at present, for an aircraft to carry a laser that would be sufficiently powerful to shoot down "an adversary missile." Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin appeared to be speaking about ongoing work on drones equipped with laser directed energy weapons for ballistic missile defense, raising questions about whether those efforts have hit significant hurdles.

Faster Acquisition

Air Force Magazine

The Air Force is leveraging emerging technologies and new legislation to accelerate acquisition decisions and streamline sustainment. Read more here.

Air Force and DISA Working to Secure Off-the-Shelf Phones with Specialized Cases

FedScoop

The Air Force and the Defense Information Systems Agency are currently testing phone and tablet cases that combine physical security—like coverings for cameras—and electronic methods, like having built-in biometric authentication and signal jamming. The program could allow military personnel to keep their phones with them in secure facilities that usually shun mobile devices, while helping to secure their communications when they’re just out and about.

One More Thing

Someone Taped Steve Carell’s Picture over the Space Force’s Top Officer at the USAF Museum

Military Times

A photo taken at the Ohio museum that first surfaced on Reddit revealed a superimposed—with Scotch tape—photo on top of where Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond’s official photo should be. The replacement? None other than Gen. Mark R. Naird, Steve Carell’s character in the upcoming Netflix workplace comedy series, “Space Force”—an obvious nod to President Donald Trump’s launch of the U.S. military’s newest branch.