F16 at Fort McCoy

Pilot Missing After Wisconsin ANG F-16 Crashes

An F-16 from the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing crashed at about 8 p.m. on Dec. 8, and the pilot’s status was not known as of early Dec. 9. The incident is the latest F-16 crash this year, including a June fatal mishap at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and a July crash at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. In November 2019, the Air Force Safety Center and F-16 Program Office said it did not see any systemic safety issues with the jet despite a series of crashes in recent years.
Patrick Space Force Base

Cape Canaveral, Patrick Named First Space Force Installations

Historic Air Force installations on Florida’s Space Coast marked a modern milestone on Dec. 9 as they were redesignated Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station—the first facilities named as part of the new service. “Today, we start a new era at both Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Space Force Base, aligning the installations’ names with their critical missions,” Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond said at a ceremony to mark the occasion. Language in the pending 2021 defense policy bill appears set to put guardrails on the process of transferring other bases.
Retired Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin

Biden Calls for Swift Confirmation of Defense Secretary Pick

President-elect Joe Biden called on Congress to “swiftly” confirm Lloyd J. Austin III as the next Defense Secretary, rebutting concerns that his plan to nominate the recently retired Army general chips away at civilian control of the military. Introducing Austin at a Dec. 9 event in Delaware, Biden said the civilian-military dynamic has been under great stress during the Trump administration, during which multiple former uniformed personnel have served in top posts. Austin would be only the third nominee in American history to receive a waiver to serve as Defense Secretary, and the first Black man to hold the top civilian job if confirmed.
B-1B Lancer

B-1 Drops JASSM from External Pylon, Expanding Bomber Firepower

A B-1B bomber on Dec. 4 released a JASSM stealth missile from its Sniper targeting pod pylon. The demonstration follows a captive-carry dress rehearsal in November, and paves the way for the B-1 to carry a variety of munitions, but especially hypersonic missiles, on external hardpoints that have not been used operationally before. The B-1's external hardpoints were deactivated under the START treaty, but the bomber is now in a purely conventional role, and the new capability could give each B-1 more firepower.
T-6 Texan II

T-6A Fleet Saw Fewer—But More Frequent—Physiological Episodes in Fiscal 2020

The Air Force saw a total of 33 hypoxia-like events in its T-6A Texan II trainer fleet in fiscal 2020—a nearly 20 percent decrease from the fiscal year prior—Air Force Safety Center data obtained by Air Force Magazine shows. However, the rate of these events—defined as the number of incidents per 100,000 flying hours—within the T-6A fleet increased slightly over fiscal 2019. The Air Force recently made progress on its quest to determine the cause of hypoxia-like events in its T-6A fleet—including ruling out contaminated air as the culprit and putting a greater focus on the potential role of rapid fluctuations in in-flight oxygen levels—but the puzzle has yet to be solved.
Armed Overwatch A-29

Draft NDAA Refuses to Fund Armed Overwatch Program

Lawmakers want to quash the prospect of buying new armed overwatch planes for special operations troops or the Air Force in the next few years, as part of the final draft of the 2021 defense policy bill released this month. They seek to block SOCOM from buying armed overwatch aircraft in fiscal 2021, as well as the Air Force through fiscal 2023. The bill zeroes out the “armed overwatch/targeting” funding line, which had asked for $101 million and five planes.
Jason Rathje AFWERX Screen Shot

USAF Tech Incubator Goals for 2021: What Have You Got?

The Air Force's technology incubator, which doles out more than 1,000 small research contracts worth up to $50,000 each year, unveiled an advance look at its 2021 programs during its virtual Accelerate event, Dec. 7-11—the first organized by the newly relaunched AFWERX 2.0. AFWERX 2.0 will seek to mimic venture capital, leveraging its own spending to generate more investment dollars for open-ended technology research.

Virtual Events: USAFA Superintendent on Mitchell’s ‘Aerospace Nation,’ and More

On Jan. 21 at 11 a.m. EST, the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies will host USAFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark on the next installment of its “Aerospace Nation” series. Clark will share his insights into how the Academy is preparing cadets to face today's global challenges, the implications of the creation of the Space Force for the Academy, what it means to accelerate change in an educational institution, and other Academy priorities. Advanced registration is required. Sign up here.

Radar Sweep

Free 3-Year Memberships!

Air Force Association

Airmen and Space Professionals—Active, Guard, Reserve, and civilian: Join your Air Force Association today and get a 3-year membership free—a savings of $85! Act now—this is a limited-time offer. Be a member of the only association totally dedicated to advancing Air and Space Power, Airmen, Space Professionals, their families, and the industries that support them.

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.

Secret Bomber Programs Set for Possible Rollouts in 2021

Aviation Week Network

Although the U.S. Air Force has backed off from a schedule revealed in July 2018 to fly the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider for the first time on Dec. 4, 2021, the first aircraft still may emerge from Building 401 on Site 4 at Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., during the next 12 months.

OPINION: Air Force Structure in the Next National Defense Strategy

Center for a New American Security paper

“The Air Force is too small to meet COCOM requirements, yet too big to balance current ops, readiness, and modernization within its current budget,” writes former Air Combat Command boss and retired USAF Gen. James M. Holmes. “Air Force choices will affect the alternatives available to national security decision-makers and warfighters for years to come. Successful resolution of these issues will require updated strategies and approaches to budget planning and execution.”

VIDEO: Electronic Warfare/Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority

Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies video

A panel of leading experts on EW/EMS superiority discuss efforts to develop the strategy, doctrine, and capabilities essential for success in future operating environments with AFA Mitchell Institute Dean retired Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula.

Vets Living Abroad Left to Navigate Pandemic Problems Without VA Help

Military Times

But medical issues not connected to the military are not covered under the Veterans Affairs Department’s Foreign Medical Program, even if they may present serious health threats to veterans. In the case of COVID-19, that means veterans living outside the United States can’t get any medical coverage for testing or treatment, even if most veterans in the U.S. can get that assistance.

Did Michèle Flournoy Face ‘Double Standard’ over Defense Industry Ties?

Military.com

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, a female-led organization working to end U.S. conflicts and militarism abroad, was quick to celebrate "quashing" Flournoy's potential nomination following Politico's story on Dec. 7. But Code Pink's founder failed to mention that retired Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, like many retired generals, has served on corporate boards since his retirement in 2016, most notably as a member of the board of directors of Raytheon Technologies, a large aerospace and defense firm specializing in missile defense and smart weapons.

RAAF Pilots Eject from F/A-18F During Take Off Incident at RAAF Base Amberley

The Aviationist

The aircraft was taking off along with seven other aircraft when it suffered what some local media have reported as an engine failure. As a consequence, the aircrew ejected while the aircraft ran off the runway where it came to a halt. Images taken by bystanders and published by Australian media outlets show the Super Hornet with a collapsed nose gear in the grass beside the tarmac.