USAF Releases Final Huey Replacement RFP
The Air Force on July 14 released its final request for proposals to replace the UH-1N fleet that patrols the service’s nuclear missile fields. The proposal calls for responses by Aug. 28, with a contract award expected in spring 2018. The service is looking for an initial operating capability as early as 2020. The Air Force has repeatedly released draft RFPs, as recently as April, after industry told the Air Force it could not meet requirements with an “off the shelf” solution. The Air Force wants to buy 84 helicopters, with the bulk of the fleet providing security for Air Force Global Strike Command, though they also will be used for transporting VIPs. —Brian Everstine
Heithold: Directed Energy Roadmap Close, Don’t Expect Common Use Soon
While the Pentagon’s long-term plan for the use of directed energy is nearing completion, a top evaluation officer is warning that the possible use of lasers on the battlefield is still a long ways away. “Laser development for military purposes, while showing great promise, has suffered somewhat from a Star Wars syndrome,” Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, the principal deputy director of the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, said in a Q&A for the upcoming Integrated Air and Missile Defense Summit. The Pentagon’s Directed Energy Roadmap, expected to be complete next year, is looking at the threats, development plans, and concept of operations for directed energy, said Heithold, who previously served as the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command. While at AFSOC, Heithold pushed to have a high-energy laser installed on AC-130 gunships by the end of the decade to counter surface-to-air threats. “The study will evaluate the current state of the art in laser technology and assess the advancements that are required to meet service and warfighter needs.” —Brian Everstine
China Flies Long-Range Bombers Near Japan, Taiwan
China sent multiple long-range bombers and fighters to the Pacific over the weekend, flying near Japan and Taiwan. Chinese H-6K bombers and “many other types of aircraft” flew through the Bashi Channel and Miyako Strait to test “actual battle capabilities over the sea,” a Chinese military spokeswoman said, according to the Japan Times. China claimed the flights were not aimed at any specific country, though Japan scrambled fighters in response to a flight of the bombers. Japan has scrambled fighters 101 times between April and June in response to Chinese aircraft, the Times reported. —
Death of ISIS-K Leader Comes as US Plans Way Forward in Afghanistan
The US strike and raid that killed ISIS’s leader in Afghanistan is a “victory on our side,” and comes as the Pentagon is planning its strategy in that country. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the final plan is not yet complete. “Welcome to strategy,” he said. “Seriously, this is hard, and there’s a reason we’ve gotten into some wars in our nation’s history and didn’t know how to end them. This is hard work, and anyone who says otherwise is someone who has not had to deal with it, or deal with the consequences of the decisions they made. It is hard work.” Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
Moody A-10s, Airmen Deploy for ISIS Fight
More than 300 airmen and A-10s from Moody AFB, Ga., deployed to Southwest Asia to continue the coalition’s fight against ISIS. The airmen and aircraft, assigned to the 74th Fighter Squadron, deployed July 10-11 to an undisclosed location, according to a Moody release. A-10s with the 354th Fighter Squadron, deployed from Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., are flying from Incirlik AB, Turkey, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to Air Forces Central Command. The deployment comes as the coalition shifts its priorities to focus on Raqqa, Syria, following the liberation of ISIS from Mosul, Iraq. OIR Commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said last week that a “greater level of resourcing,” including strike aircraft, will focus on Raqqa.
—A plan to revamp US Cyber Command is expected to be released in the coming weeks. Though details are still being worked out, the plan is expected to split CYBERCOM from the intelligence-focused National Security Agency, as the administration looks to bolster the country’s ability to wage cyber war against ISIS and other adversaries: The Associated Press.
—The North American Aerospace Defense Command and US Northern Command and the Mexican Air Force completed exercise Amalgam Eagle 17 on July 12. The tactical exercise “was designed to enhance mutual warning and information sharing procedures in support of a cooperative response to an illicit flight that crossed the US-Mexico border.” Command centers were based in Mexico City and Colorado Springs, Colo.: NORAD release.
—Members of US Central Command are participating in the annual command-post exercise Regional Cooperation in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, July 12, 21. There are about 200 participants from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Mongolia, and the US participating the exercises, along with observers from Kazakhstan. The exercise has been conducted every year since 2001: CENTCOM release.
—Two Ohio businessmen are accused of trying to get a Robins AFB, Ga., official to steer contracts to US Technology and US Technology Aerospace Engineering. The head of both companies recently pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to bribe a public official, money laundering, and bribery, while the owner of LT Associates in Canton pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and money laundering: The Akron Beacon-Journal.