Why Syria’s Chemical Weapons Didn’t Disperse
Russian trolls have been dismissing the effectiveness of the US-Anglo-French strike on Syria’s chemical weapons infrastructure since the April 16 attack, saying, in effect, that if a true chemical weapons site had been hit, then any stored weapons at the facility would have been released, injuring or killing civilians in the area. No such release has been detected. In an interview on Monday, Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Holmes declined to speak specifically to the Syria attack because he wasn’t directly involved in it, though he suggested the answer to that question may be found in the number of explosives used. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
RAF, USAF Chiefs: Joint Strikes in Syria Made Possible by Close Alliances
The long-time alliance between USAF and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force came together in the skies over Syria on Friday in the “clearest possible demonstration” of the close relationship of the two services, RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said Monday. Around 9 p.m. Eastern—or early Saturday morning local time—USAF bombers struck a chemical weapons production site in Syria, while RAF fighters and French air force aircraft and sea-launched missiles simultaneously hit a storage facility in the west of the country. “I can’t think of a better example of what happens when three nations stand for what they believe,” USAF Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Monday during the same event hosted by AFA’s Mitchell Institute in honor of the 100th anniversary of the RAF. “We took a stand against evil.” Hillier said the strikes, which followed an alleged chemical weapons attack against the Syrian people as well as last month’s chemical attack targeting a former Russian spy inside England, demonstrated to the world that the UK and its allies will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons. Friday’s strike was successful because of the “skill and professionalism” of the crews, and it was made possible in part because of the close relationship between the UK and the US, according to the leaders. “I was absolutely confident, based on the decades of experience that we have working together, that it would go as well as it did,” Hillier said. —Brian Everstine
Read our full story on the strike in Syria, which included the combat debut of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) in combat (Editor’s Note: This story originally ran in the April 16 Daily Report, but included the wrong link.)
F-22 Skids on NAS Fallon Flightline
An F-22 from the 3rd Wing at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, skidded on its belly after a loss of thrust during takeoff at NAS Fallon, Nev., on Friday. Photos of the mishap, posted on the Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page, show the F-22 on the Fallon flight line with one thrust vectoring engine pointed down and the other level. An unconfirmed report, posted on the page, claims the aircraft had been airborne and landing gear was raised before it lost thrust and hit the ground. There were no reports that the pilot had been injured. The Drive reported the aircraft was at the base to support the Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program. A similar incident in 2012 at Tyndall AFB, Fla., caused damage that cost an estimated $35 million to repair. —Brian Everstine
RAF Looks to Modernize, Work Closely with Allies
The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force this week passed its century anniversary, and is looking forward to improving its capabilities and increasing operations and training with allies, especially the United States Air Force, RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said Monday. Hillier, appearing alongside USAF Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein at an AFA Mitchell Institute event in Arlington, Va., said his three major priorities are to focus on the well-being of the people in his service, on the RAF’s capability to deliver operations, and to grow its overall frontline capabilities. “The world demands more air and space capabilities on a daily basis,” he said. “I want to, as I describe it, thicken up our capabilities to give us more resilience, more sustainment.” This includes closing capability gaps inside the service, such as with its maritime patrol aircraft, where, “with a bit of luck,” Hillier said he could see the P-8 Poseidon filling that role. The RAF will field F-35s, and needs to look further into the future. “We need to modernize our capabilities to grow a next generation Air Force because the world is changing,” he said. “Air and space power, which was taken for granted throughout those 28-plus years [of Middle East conflict] is now being challenged in a way we haven’t seen for at least a generation. Our strengths have been noticed.” The RAF and USAF can work even more closely together, including on future common air frames. In addition to efficiencies on the acquisition level, this could provide a “decisive advantage” by having RAF and USAF airmen operating together on similar platforms. —Brian Everstine
Fueling the Fight Against ISIS
The 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron based in Southwest Asia supplies some 150,000 gallons of fuel every day in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the ongoing fight against ISIS. But even that’s not enough. “The team is currently adding extra fuel lines to the existing fuel bladders and pumps, allowing twice as much fuel to be distributed to the aircraft and trucks as fast as possible,” according to a USAF release. The Air Force also is updating each pumping unit so it can be controlled remotely, making the process quicker and safer. “The constant process of degradation is extremely noticeable in a contingency environment,” said SMSgt. Christopher Cady, 386th ELRS fuels management flight superintendent, deployed from Offutt AFB, Neb., in the release. “We will probably not accomplish everything that needs to be done, but I am confident we will be working the whole rotation to leave this place better than we found it.” Air Force Magazine’s correspondent Jennifer Hlad wrote more about Air Forces Central Command fueling operations during a 2017 visit to Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates.
—The Charlotte Air National Guard in North Carolina has received the first of four C-17s from JB Charleston, S.C., which will send a total of 16 Globemaster IIIs to four different ANG bases: ANG release.
—B-52 bombers deployed from Barksdale AFB, La., recently completed a five-day enhanced air cooperation initiative in Australia aimed at enhancing interoperability between USAF and Australian forces “across the full spectrum of air operations:” PACAF release.
—Northrop Grumman, members of the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings, Georgia Air National Guard leadership, and political leaders recently marked the 30-year anniversary of the first flight of the E-8C JSTARS: Northrop release.
—A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket carrying multiple USAF communications and technology demonstration satellites launched from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., on Saturday evening: Space Flight Now.
—Air Force Reserve Command boss Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller told House appropriators last week she is considering a different full-time status called Active Guard and Reserve for “many of our mission sets,” which is different from the Air Reserve Technician status “because it allows you return employment rights.” The initiative is aimed in part at closing the pilot shortage, she said: AFRC release.