More than 40 F-35s Without Engines, Air Force Leaders Say

More than 40 F-35s across the U.S. Air Force are currently without engines according to the most recent data, top officials told Congress on July 13. Speaking before the House Armed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces, acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Darlene Costello said 41 of the fifth-generation fighters don’t have an engine due to maintenance issues, while 56 F135 power modules are currently being repaired at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. There are 272 F-35A jets in the Air Force’s inventory, meaning nearly 15 percent are without an engine.

Biden Nominates First Commander for Space Systems Command, New Boss at AMC

President Joe Biden has nominated new commanders for the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command and the Space Force’s Space Systems Command. Lt. Gen. Mike Minihan has been tapped for a fourth star and to replace Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost as head of AMC. Minihan currently serves as the deputy commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii. Biden also nominated Maj. Gen. Michael A. Guetlein to receive a third star and for assignment as commander of Space Systems Command at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. Guetlein, who currently serves as deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office, would be the first commander of the Space Force field command, which is slated to officially stand up this summer and will be tasked with overseeing the new service’s acquisition and launch services.
GA Air National Guard C-130H

USAF Defends C-130 Cuts as Service Looks to Future of Tactical Airlift

The Air Force faces an uphill fight with its plans to cut five units worth of C-130s, largely from the Guard and Reserve. The service, however, says the tactical airlift fleet can afford to absorb some risk and that there could be future lift possibilities outside of the venerable Hercules. USAF wants to cut 55 C-130 tails, down to a fleet size of 255. Lt. Gen. David S. Nahom, the deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, said that number “covers what we need for our tactical airlift fleet and includes support to the homeland." But both Congress and the National Guard have recently questioned whether that is true.

‘Operation Allies Refuge’ Will Fly Interpreters Out of Afghanistan, White House Says

The White House on July 14 announced Operation Allies Refuge, an effort to fly interpreters who helped the U.S. military in Afghanistan out of the country. The operation is beginning as the Taliban makes major gains in the country now that the U.S. has withdrawn about 95 percent of personnel and equipment. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the interpreters, and others who helped the U.S., are “courageous individuals” who have proven their value. Defense Department spokesman John F. Kirby, in a separate briefing, said the Pentagon has not been asked to provide military transportation for the personnel, likely meaning chartered flights will be used to fly them out of Afghanistan.

Pick to Lead DOD Acquisition Withdraws His Nomination

Michael Brown, the Pentagon’s nominee to lead Defense Department acquisition, has withdrawn his nomination, citing ongoing scrutiny for allegedly circumventing hiring regulations while leading the Defense Innovation Unit. Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby said July 14 that Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III received a letter from Brown “expressing his desire” to withdraw from the nomination process. Brown raised concerns about a lengthy investigation and a desire not to slow down the nomination process, Kirby said.

Radar Sweep

CAPE’s TacAir ‘Affordability’ Insights Out In Fall

Breaking Defense

DOD has not one, not two, not three but at least six studies on tactical aircraft needs underway. They are looking at everything from affordability/capability trade-offs to combatant commander concepts for deployment in future conflict to acquisition strategies. “The results of these efforts will inform the National Defense Strategy, and decisions to be captured in the President’s fiscal year 2023 budget submission and associated future year’s defense program,” Joseph Nogueira, acting director of DOD’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE), told lawmakers July 13.

US Air Force Tests Embedding Software Coders with Industry

C4ISR.net

The U.S. government and military traditionally relied on industry for much of the software development, but in recent years, the armed services have trained software developers to build tools for operators. Now, an Air Force cyberspace wing is testing a hybrid approach by embedding developers at commercial production spaces—an idea the wing calls software factory as a service.

The Air Force’s Anti-Beard Policy is Actually Damaging Airmen’s Careers

Task and Purpose

Big news for the many Airmen out there who want to grow out their beards: Not only is there little evidence showing that beards interfere with a gas mask seal, but the Air Force’s ban on beards may also be contributing to racial discrimination and hurting promotion opportunities within the service. That’s according to a new research paper published last week in the journal Military Medicine, which found that Air Force regulations against facial hair disproportionately affect Black or African American Airmen and can lead to slower rates of promotion and limited job opportunities within the service.

Plywood Satellite Cleared for Space Launch

Defense One

A tiny Finnish cubesat could make history later this year as the world’s first plywood satellite—and it will even have a selfie stick to record the moment. On July 9, after technical testing of the Woodsat’s birch-plywood outer shell, the European Space Agency certified it for flight.

Security Is Lax at Major Arms Shipping Facilities, IG Finds

Military.com

The Defense Department’s inspector general on July 12 criticized the military's two coastal facilities in charge of shipping large containers of arms, ammunition, and explosives around the world for security lapses, which could place these weapons at risk of theft. The IG report said U.S. Transportation Command's ocean terminals at Concord, Calif., and Sunny Point, N.C., have been plagued by staffing and funding shortages that hurt their ability to provide security both on land and the water surrounding the facilities.

Gigantic Hangar Near Secretive Chinese Test Facilities Points To Exotic Airship Development

The Drive

China's expansive far western regions are well suited to hosting facilities to support various kinds of military research and development and test and evaluation activities, especially in the air and space arenas. One particularly interesting facility that appears to have largely escaped public attention, features, among other things, an absolutely massive hangar and is situated near other sites associated with missile defense and anti-satellite activities. The hangar clearly has to do with the development of lighter-than-air craft, which could include large unmanned airship designs capable of operating in the upper reaches of the atmosphere.

Bush Criticizes Afghanistan Withdrawal, Fears for Women

The Associated Press

Former President George W. Bush criticized the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan in an interview with a German broadcaster released July 14, saying he fears that Afghan women and girls will “suffer unspeakable harm.” Asked in an interview with German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle whether the withdrawal is a mistake, Bush replied: “You know, I think it is, yeah, because I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad.”

Military Station in New Boston Now Named to Reflect its Space Force Role

WMUR

The Air Force station in New Boston has been renamed to reflect its role in the U.S. Space Force, authorities announced July 12. The station is now called the New Boston Space Force Station. Officials also announced a change of command. U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Highlander relinquished command to U.S. Space Force Lt. Col. David Zesinger.

One More Thing

Why Air Force Legend 'Chappie' James Almost Shot Moammar Gadhafi

Military.com

Daniel "Chappie" James Jr. was a lot of things over the course of his life: Tuskegee Airman, Korean War fighter ace, the first Black four-star general in the U.S. armed forces—and the man who almost shot and killed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.