U.S. Capitol with Flag

Senate Panel Endorses Air Force’s 2021 Spending Plan

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s defense spending plan for 2021 would give the Air Force and Space Force largely what they want, with some notable tweaks. “What this bipartisan bill does is straightforward: care for our troops; preserve peace through strength; and defend this great nation,” Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said. “Congress has passed [a National Defense Authorization Act] every year for the last 59 years in a row—always on a bipartisan basis. Now, I look forward to working with my colleagues to make it an even 60 years.” The full Senate is likely to approve the committee’s version of the fiscal 2021 defense policy bill in the coming weeks.
Duda and Trump

Trump: U.S. to Withdraw Forces From Germany and Move Them to Poland

Some of the U.S. forces withdrawing from Germany will go to Poland with the new host country paying to bring in the troops. However, the overall American footprint in Europe will drop, President Donald Trump said June 24 during an appearance with Polish President Andrzej Duda. Earlier this month, Trump said he was ordering the Pentagon to withdraw almost 10,000 forces from Germany and cap the total that could be in the country at one time at 25,000. During the appearance in the Rose Garden, Trump said Germany is not meeting the NATO goal of spending 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, a mark Poland is meeting. “They asked us if we would send some additional troops,” Trump said. “They’re going to pay for that. They’ll be paying for the sending of additional troops and we’ll probably be moving them from Germany to Poland. We’re going to be reducing Germany very substantially.”
Fiery Cross Reef 2020 and 2006 China PLA

The Next Chief of Staff Keeps Eye on China Threat

As Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. prepares to take the helm as the service’s top officer in early August, he already is thinking about how to best position the Air Force for a potential conflict with China. Brown, who has led Pacific Air Forces since July 2018, told reporters in a State Department-hosted teleconference he is considering following in the footsteps of the Marine Corps, which recently unveiled a plan to get rid of heavy equipment such as tanks and some artillery to instead focus on light mobility, unmanned systems, and anti-ship missiles as it looks to optimize its force to compete with China. Brown said he has talked to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger about his plan, and that when he takes over as the next Air Force Chief he is considering doing something “very similar” to push the Air Force forward as it thinks about the Pacific and China.
F-35A weather restrictions

No Lightning for F-35A Lightnings Until Further Notice

A problem with an inert gas system meant to protect F-35 fighters if they're struck by lightning has led to a safety order to avoid thunderstorms. Lockheed Martin advised the Air Force to route F-35s around potential lightning conditions until the issue is resolved, the company said June 24. Deliveries of the fighter were halted for almost three weeks while the problem was being analyzed, but it's apparently not a factory problem. It's not yet clear when the restriction might be lifted.
Misawa Elephant Walk

Misawa F-16s Show Off Advanced Armament in First Bilateral Elephant Walk

The Wild Weasels at Misawa Air Base, Japan, showed off their advanced armament in the base’s first joint, bilateral elephant walk on June 22. Twelve F-16CMs from the base lined up with 12 Japanese F-35As, two U.S. Navy E/A-18G Growlers, a Navy C-12, two U.S. Air Force MC-130Js, and a U.S. Navy P-8. The 35th Fighter Wing F-16s in the formation could be seen carrying training versions of AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles. Misawa’s elephant walk is the latest in a series of similar events across the globe, including ones at Andersen; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and Aviano Air Base, Italy, among others.
Kadena fire

Kadena Still Investigating Cause of Fire at HAZMAT Facility

Kadena Air Base officials have moved into the “recovery phase,” which includes a thorough investigation, after a fire at a hazardous materials storage facility at the Japan base on June 22 resulted in about 100 people being treated for symptoms of smoke and chlorine gas exposure.
District of Columbia National Guard offers support to community during civil unrest

D.C. Air National Guard Reactivated in Nation’s Capital

Security forces Airmen from the District of Columbia Air National Guard’s 113th Wing are part of a new D.C. National Guard activation to help safeguard monuments in the nation’s capital amid persistent civil unrest stemming from George Floyd’s Memorial Day death in police custody, the wing confirmed to Air Force Magazine on June 24.
USAFA Falcon

Meet USAFA’s Newest Mascot

The U.S. Air Force Academy added a new mascot to its Falconry Team. The as-of-yet-unnamed female gyrfalcon hatched in Wyoming in May, Academy spokesperson Maureen Welch told Air Force Magazine via email. The USAFA Class of 1995 undertook a fundraising campaign to cover the costs of bringing her to Colorado Springs. Other classes also raised funds for the effort. The bird is living with the Academy's Master Falconer until she loses her down, her feathers fully develop, “and she's ready for training,” which is expected in late July, Welch said. Once that happens, and after the Academy's vets check her out, she'll be given a new home at USAFA.

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.

Fauci: Coronavirus Vaccine Could Be Available by End of 2020

Vox

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told Congress June 23 he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the development of a coronavirus vaccine, saying he believes one could be available as soon as the end of this year, or the beginning of 2021. Fauci’s update came during a House Energy and Commerce Committee on the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

AFA Creates COVID-19 Masks

Air Force Association

Proceeds from the masks will support the COVID-19 Airman’s Assistance Fund to provide emergency support to Total Force Airmen and their families, as well as small business supporters impacted by the pandemic.

Coalition of GPS User Groups Joins Fight Against FCC’s Ligado Decision

SpaceNews

Five associations representing users of the Global Positioning System will be joining forces against the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to permit Ligado Networks to operate a terrestrial wireless network using satellite spectrum. The associations announced on June 23 they will support the Senate Armed Services Committee’s proposed legislation that would force Ligado to provide financial relief to GPS users impacted by the company’s 5G network, which the Pentagon claims will interfere with GPS.

Tanker Directorate Team Installs ADS-B Out on KC-135 Fleet

USAF release

The ADS-B Out program was established to upgrade the KC-135 fleet with the next-generation transponder system that is critical for air traffic control’s visibility into their respective airspace. The system broadcasts the precise position and location of aircraft in real time, giving air traffic control better visibility to track and manage, while enhancing safety by providing aircrew more situational awareness of nearby aircraft.

Rapid Acquisition & Sustainment

Air Force Magazine

The Air Force and U.S. defense establishment are breaking down barriers and injecting speed, innovation, and creativity into the procurement system. Check out our new page to learn more about these efforts.

Pentagon Quietly Moves to Make CBD Use a Criminal Offense for Troops

Military.com

In February, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Matthew P. Donovan directed the services to issue general orders or regulations by March 1 prohibiting the use of products made from hemp under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Donovan's memo, dated Feb. 26, was highlighted in a June 22 tweet by the Defense Department’s Operation Supplement Safety, an initiative within the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences that provides information to service members on dietary supplements.

U.S. Soldier Confesses to Plotting Attack on Unit with Neo-Nazi Group

UPI.com

A U.S. Army private has confessed to planning a terrorist attack with a satanic neo-Nazi group to kill as many members of his unit while deployed overseas, prosecutors said. Ethan Phelan Melzer, 22, has been charged in a 19-page indictment unsealed June 22 with a slew of terrorism offenses for sharing sensitive information about his unit with members of the Order of the Nine Angels that prosecutors described as "an occult-based neo-Nazi and racially motivated violent extremist group."