Spurred in part by a potential sale to Colombia of F-16 fighters, the Defense Department is considering novel ways for cash-strapped allies and partners to finance and buy U.S. weapon systems—by bolstering the ability of domestic industry to compete, an Air Force international sales expert said Aug. 6. Although she hasn’t “finalized her thinking,” Heidi Grant, director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “is looking at ways that we can compete … more creative financing options for partners,” said Col. Anthony Walker, senior materiel leader in the International Division of the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate.
A number of high-profile training mishap deaths in recent years drew attention to the Defense Department’s resurging problem with non-combat fatalities. The number of deaths in training vehicle accidents has more than doubled over the last two reported years after hitting a 10-year low of seven in 2017. After the Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle accident that killed nine in July 2020 and the May 2019 death of 1st Lt. Hugh Conor McDowell in a vehicle rollover, Congress requested that the Government Accountability Office report on these specific training deaths. The GAO found that no “prescribed training regimen” is currently being implemented.
Italy has hiked defense spending with a new budget that includes the first 20 million euro Italian funding for the Tempest fighter. The 2021 budget includes 16.8 billion euros ($19.9B) in defense ministry spending, up five percent over 2020, which was in turn an increase on the previous year, putting an end to a series of annual falls. The part of the budget devoted to procurement stood at four billion euros, ($4.7B) up a massive 44 percent over the previous year.
The Space Force is taking a lot of flak from Congress for not producing expected results, especially considering the service has been around for nearly two years. The Air Force Research Laboratory’s director is advocating for a more balanced architecture for investment and planning in order to not only tackle long-term problems but also deliver short-term results.
Top Senate Republicans are looking to add more than $50 billion in defense funding to bipartisan infrastructure legislation to tackle overdue repairs and upgrade efforts at shipyards, depots, test ranges, and defense laboratories. Senate Appropriations ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has filed an amendment to the infrastructure package to boost defense funding, which was obtained by Politico. The Republican defense hawks' effort is the largest, and most detailed, proposal for defense money in an infrastructure bill so far.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.-N.Y., is demanding answers from the Air Force after the department nixed funding for a program that helps helicopter pilots avoid midair obstacles, which was put in place after a 2018 crash in Iraq killed seven service members, including three based on Long Island. The Air Force's 2022 budget request to Congress eliminated funding for the Degraded Visual Environment program, which equips rescue helicopters with sensors that help pilots guide through dust, snow, clouds of smoke, and hard-to-see electrical wires.
In episode 34 of the Aerospace Advantage, host John Baum delves into a key challenge facing the Air Force: The service has too few pilots and needs to produce a new generation of talent fast. In discussions with 19th Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Craig D. Wills, the leader who oversees the majority of Air Force pilot training, and members of the Mitchell team, he discusses what it takes to produce an Air Force pilot.
The U.S. Air Force's lone WC-135W Constant Phoenix "nuke sniffer" aircraft flew an unusual mission over the Baltic Sea on Aug. 5. This plane is typically used to collect air samples to monitor for spikes in radiation levels in the atmosphere. It can also be employed after nuclear weapon tests and atomic accidents to help glean more information about those events and track the potential spread of dangerous radioactive material.
Scott Mayfield plays arguably the fastest game on Earth for the New York Islanders, but hockey felt like kickball after the 28-year-old defenseman flew an F-16 Viper with his brother, Air Force Capt. Patrick Mayfield. One week of training and touring Holloman Air Force Base in Otero County, N.M., led to a flight that reached Mach 1.11, an estimated 852 mph and faster than the speed of sound (761.2 mph) assuming an air temperature of 59 degrees. Scott was trained to handle G-force, ensure his body was in the best position, and what to do in an emergency, and he had a couple of bags tied around his leg in case he felt sick.