U.S. Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation

Most Air Force Recruits with COVID-19 Show No Symptoms

The Air Force is relying on testing early and often to curb the new coronavirus's spread at Basic Military Training, even as the majority of recruits who test positive are asymptomatic. About 200 Airmen in BMT have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past four months, totaling around 2 percent of the Air Force's BMT recruits, 2nd Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Andrea D. Tullos said. Sixty percent of those who tested positive showed no symptoms while infected, a staggering number compared to the Army, which reported just 1.8 percent of asymptomatic cases among basic combat trainees. All infected Airmen have returned to training without needing hospitalization.
Appointees arrive at USAFA for I-Day

Air Force Academy Confirms New COVID-19 Cases

An undisclosed number of Air Force Academy cadets who went back to campus over the summer—including some from the class of 2024—have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the school confirmed to Air Force Magazine on July 8. If any cadets test positive for or show symptoms of COVID-19, or if they had contact with someone carrying the virus, USAFA responds in accordance with the academy's quarantine and isolation plan, “with guidance from our public health professionals,” USAFA spokesperson Mike Slater said. “We expected positive cases and are carrying out our plan,” he said. Details of the plan were not releasable by press time. However, a request for proposals issued by the school on July 6—which was first reported by the Colorado Springs Indy—suggests that the plan may involve moving some Cadets to area hotels in order to create more social distance within living spaces.
Faller and Esper

Drug Busts Grow as More Aircraft Deploy to SOUTHCOM

U.S. Southern Command has seized more than 122 tons of cocaine since April as America uses more surveillance aircraft to crack down on regional counternarcotics operations, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said July 10. The federal government has deployed 75 percent more intelligence-collection and target-tracking planes, like the Air Force E-3 AWACS, E-8C Joint STARS, and MC-12 Liberty, to SOUTHCOM in the past three months than it has in typical drug interdiction missions. They are accompanied by 65 percent more Navy and Coast Guard ships than normally participate in drug busts, Esper said during a visit to SOUTHCOM headquarters in Florida with President Donald J. Trump.

Japan’s F-35 Buy Advances to Congress as Tokyo Presses Ahead with ‘F-X’

Japan has gotten a green light from the State Department to buy 105 more F-35s in two variants, which will make that country the largest operator of the Lightning II outside the U.S. The news comes the same week Japan's defense ministry informed the country's legislature that it will move ahead with its own “sixth generation” fighter, which bears a strong resemblance to the Air Force F-22.
F-15EX Boeing artist rendering

General Electric’s F-15EX Engine Contract Includes 19 Powerplants

The Air Force's first batch of engines for the F-15EX will number 19 powerplants; 16 installs and three spares, Air Force Materiel Command said. The number of engines was withheld when the engine contract to General Electric was announced last month. The three spares constitute a 20 percent spare factor, which is lower than in previous F-15 buys due to increasing engine reliability.
Michael Griffin at McAleese

Lewis to Perform Duties of Undersecretary for Research and Engineering

The Pentagon is expected to name the acting undersecretary of defense for research and engineering as early as July 13, with the department’s current director of defense, research, and engineering for modernization to perform the duties in the interim. Michael D. Griffin, who held the position since December 2017, stepped down, with his last day in the Pentagon on July 10. For now, Mark J. Lewis will be “performing the duties of” the undersecretary, but will not be “acting,” a Pentagon spokesman said.

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.

17 Sailors, Four Others Injured in Three-Alarm Fire Aboard USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego

The San Diego Union-Tribune

A three-alarm fire onboard the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard injured 17 sailors and four civilians the morning of July 12 while multiple agencies battled the blaze throughout the day. The cause and location of the blaze and the extent of damage were not known as of the afternoon of July 12. The Navy declined to discuss the fire’s origin pending an investigation.

Fewer Pilots Took Aviator Bonuses in 2019

Air Force Times

According to statistics released by the Air Force Friday, 285 manned pilots last year accepted aviation bonuses worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, in exchange for service commitments of up to 12 years under the Aviation Bonus Program. That is down from the 330 pilots of manned aircraft who accepted the bonuses in fiscal 2018.

Long-Range All-Domain Prompts Roles & Missions Debate

Breaking Defense

"It's ridiculous, to be quite candid. It is encroachment on roles and missions," says retired USAF Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, about Army plans for super long-range weapons that rival the capabilities of Air Force combat aircraft.

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DOD Knew K2 Troops Were Exposed to Cancer-Causing Toxins; VA Continues to Deny Care

Stars and Stripes

Recently declassified Defense Department documents show the Pentagon knew troops were exposed to multiple toxins and hazards that have led to hundreds of cancer cases and dozens of dead veterans after deploying to Uzbekistan in the early days of the War on Terror. The Veterans Affairs Department is denying most of them care and disability.

One More Thing

721 AMXS, 305 MXS Restore C-17 after Lightning Strike

USAF release

The 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron facilitated a maintenance recovery team from the 305th Maintenance Squadron at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., to remove and replace components of a C-17 Globemaster III that calls Joint Base Charleston, S.C., home on July 7.