F-15 mishap near St. Louis

F-15QA Involved in Mishap Near St. Louis

Two Active-duty U.S. Air Force pilots ejected from an F-15QA fighter at MidAmerica airport near St. Louis after the jet departed the runway May 18, the service said. Both pilots received minor injuries. The cause of the accident is under investigation, but the Air Force has not grounded its own two F-15EX jets, which are based on the F-15QA, nor has it issued a safety grounding of the F-15QA or similar aircraft. The jet had recently been accepted by the Air Force and was to be transferred to Qatar under the Foreign Military Sales program.
C-17s deliver cargo to support Afghanistan drawdown

Afghanistan Withdrawal Pace Increases With Five Bases Handed Over

The military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is speeding up, with five facilities now handed over to the Afghan government and about 115 C-17 loads of material flown out of the country. U.S. Central Command reported May 18 that more than 5,000 pieces of material also have been turned over to the Defense Logistics Agency for destruction. So far, CENTCOM estimates that between 13 percent and 20 percent of the overall retrograde process has been completed. Kandahar Airfield, which has long hosted major U.S. Air Force operations, is among the installations that have been handed over to the Afghan Ministry of Defense. This latest update marks a significant increase from the previous CENTCOM statement one week earlier, which said just one base had been handed over to the Afghan army.

Guard Moving Ahead on C-130J Basing Plan Following Election Controversy

The Air National Guard is moving ahead with its plans to base new C-130Js at four bases in Kentucky, West Virginia, Texas, and Georgia after an election-year controversy in which the Air Force was blasted for the timing of its preferred location announcement. The Air Force announced in November it wanted to add Georgia’s 165th Airlift Wing to the list of bases slated for new J models, causing some lawmakers to accuse the Air Force of playing politics by announcing the decision during that state’s runoff elections. “My understanding, in working with the Air National Guard, [is] that as soon as the J models are available, they’ll start moving [to] the ... units with the oldest C-130s so that we can retain the capability and capacity our nation needs,” National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson said during a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing May 18.

Radar Sweep

Iron Dome Intercepts Drone During Combat for First Time, Says Israeli Military

Defense News

Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system has intercepted a drone belonging to the Hamas militant group, a first for the platform, according to the country’s defense forces. In total, Israel has intercepted six drones using multiple countermeasures since hostilities began between Israel and Hamas on May 10, the Israel Defense Forces said May 17.

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Air Force Gets $152 Million in Upgrades Underway at Base in Romania

Stars and Stripes

Major improvements to a Romanian base are set to begin this summer as the U.S. Air Force looks to boost its presence and support larger NATO missions in the strategically important Black Sea region. The $152 million in construction projects will enable Campia Turzii air base to support heavy cargo aircraft, host fighter jets and deployed personnel, and quickly respond to any security issues in the region, the Air Force said. The upgrades will also allow the former Soviet airfield to safely receive and store munitions. The Cold War-era base in central Romania is expected to serve as a rotational hub in the future.

Two Navy Training Jets Collide Over South Texas, 1 Person Injured

The Hill

Authorities are investigating a May 17 collision between two Navy training jets over South Texas that left one person with minor injuries. The official Twitter account of the chief of Naval Air Training, based in Corpus Christi, Texas, announced in a thread Monday that two British-built T-45 Goshawk jets collided in mid-air over Ricardo, Texas, around 11 a.m. local time.

Travis Partnership Springs Air Force Forward with New Aerial Porter Exoskeleton

Air Force Release

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Air Mobility Command partnered with Arizona State University to develop the Aerial Port Exoskeleton, a new piece of equipment that was set to be used in an official capacity May 17, at Travis Air Force Base, Arizona. The Aerial Port Exoskeleton helps aerial porters perform their duties with less strain. “Aerial ports have a high injury rate in the Air Force,” said Tech. Sgt. Landon Jensen, Air Mobility Command innovations, systems, and future command manager. “That’s why we are looking into this kind of solution to help porters perform their duties more safely while also helping reduce the risk of injuries, so they are not suffering later in life.”

Defense Innovation Unit selects ABL Space to launch DOD mission


Small launch startup ABL Space Systems announced May 17 it was selected by the Defense Innovation Unit to launch a military payload. Based in El Segundo, California, ABL is developing the RS1 small launch vehicle designed to deliver up to 1,350 kilograms into low-Earth orbit. The Defense Innovation Unit, headquartered in Silicon Valley, was created to work with commercial companies to bring new technologies into military programs.

Pentagon Weighs Keeping Trump-era Change to ‘Psychological Operations’


In the final months of the Trump administration, then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper quietly moved to let the military run influence campaigns—often called “psyops”—more quickly and with less time for input from the State Department. The policy change, which eight people described to Politico, highlights tension between military leaders and diplomats about how the U.S. handles gray-area operations that fall short of all-out war.

Under Biden, Kaine Sees Stars Aligning for War Powers Repeal

Defense News

After a years-long fight to reclaim Congress’s war powers from the presidency, supporters say they are in talks with the White House for a potentially game-changing “green light” from the Biden administration. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said “the stars are aligning” for his bill with Sen. Todd Young (R-Indiana) to repeal the Iraq-focused 1991 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force. Unified government under Democrats and willingness in the White House to make a change have combined to create a rare opening politically, the bipartisan duo said May 17 at a Heritage foundation event.

DOD Publishes DevSecOps 2.0 Docs For Accelerating Apps

Breaking Defense

In just three years, the Department of Defense has made significant progress in creating a secure software development operations environment, or DevSecOps, to make better code faster. As part of these ongoing efforts, the Pentagon has released a batch of Enterprise DevSecOps v2.0 documents—and one of the leaders behind that initiative has just started working with the Joint Staff J6 on making DevSecOps resources available to joint all-domain command and control.

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France, Germany, and Spain Strike Deal Over Joint Combat Jet


France, Germany and Spain said May 17 they had reached a deal over the next steps of the development of a new fighter jet, Europe’s largest defense project at an estimated cost of more than 100 billion euros ($121.4 billion). France in particular has billed the combat jet project—which includes a next-generation manned and unmanned aircraft—as crucial for Europe to strengthen its defense autonomy and face competition from China, Russia, and the United States. The next development phase for the Future Combat Air System is expected to cost 3.5 billion euros ($4.25 billion), to be shared equally by the three countries.

China Rolls Out Rocket for Tianzhou-2 Space Station Supply Mission


China is set to launch the Tianzhou-2 space station cargo mission this week after rollout of a Long March 7 rocket at Wenchang spaceport. Rollout took place late May 15 Eastern time (May 16 local time) at the coastal Wenchang satellite launch center. Final checks, rehearsals, and pre-launch preparations will take place ahead of an instantaneous launch window expected around May 20 local time.

One More Thing

How the Air Force Turns a Combat-ready F-16 Into a High-flying Thunderbirds Act

Task and Purpose

What do the protagonists of “The Princess Diaries,” “Pretty Woman,” “Miss Congeniality,” and Air Force F-16 tail number A91-0470 have in common? They all went through intense makeovers to go from workaday beauties to runway queens, with pretty makeup to boot. That’s right, F-16 tail number A91-0470, formerly of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, recently became the newest member of the Air Force Thunderbirds, the branch’s premier aerial demonstration team. The aircraft, which we’ll just call 470, took its first flight in its new livery May 5, just in time as the Thunderbirds get started on their 2021 airshow season.