Air Force Selects Alabama, Wisconsin Air National Guard for F-35s
The F-35 is going to get red tails and fly with cheeseheads. The Air Force on Thursday picked the Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing and the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing to transition to the F-35 from their current F-16 fleets. “Selecting Truax Field and Dannelly Field will increase Air National Guard F-35A units providing fifth generation airpower around the world,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a release. The Air Force announced in December 2016 that Dannelly Field and Truax Field were finalists, along with Guard bases in Idaho, Florida, and Michigan. Burlington AGS, Vt., has already been selected to receive the first Air National Guard F-35s. The aircraft are expected to begin arriving in Alabama and Wisconsin in 2023. Each location will get 18 primary aircraft, said Brig. Gen. Randal Efferson, chief of staff of the Alabama Air National Guard, during a press conference announcing the decision. Dannelly Field will also get about $20 million to build up infrastructure for the F-35s, Efferson said. —Brian Everstine
Will the B-52 Finally Get New Engines
The Air Force has “initial seed funding” in the 2018 budget to begin re-engining the B-52, after numerous false starts at such an effort over the last 40 years, the service announced. The project is aimed at making the venerable bomber more fuel efficient, maintainable at a far lower cost, quicker to get to cruising altitude, and able to fly longer or farther. An industry day was held last week at Barksdale AFB, La., to discuss replacing the B-52’s eight TF33-PW-103 engines with eight new engines providing better thrust, fuel burn, availability of parts, and longer on-wing time between engine overhauls. Representatives from 15 companies attended the event. The current engine is “costly and manpower intensive to maintain,” and parts are becoming difficult to get. The “bottom line,” according to briefing slides, is that the current engine is “not sustainable past 2030,” but the Air Force expects the B-52 to remain operational through at least 2050. Read the full story by Amy McCullough and John A. Tirpak.
Pentagon Appoints Senate Staffer to Oversee Acquisition Office Split
The Pentagon on Thursday announced a former Senate staffer and think tank official will oversee the new Office of Strategy and Design, tasked with reorganizing the department’s acquisition, technology, and logistics. Ben FitzGerald, who served as a professional staff member for the Senate Armed Services Committee and senior fellow and director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, will begin Jan. 2 and remain in the position for five years, according to a Defense Department announcement. Congress, in the Fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, directed the department to disestablish the office of the undersecretary of defense for AT&L. Instead the Pentagon must establish an undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, and an undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. FitzGerald, in the new position, will oversee this split. —Brian Everstine
Pentagon Building From the National Security Strategy to Budget, Posture Reviews
The White House’s National Security Strategy, announced earlier this week, is designed to have real “traceability” to upcoming budget requests, the Pentagon’s No. 2 leader said Thursday. That, along with the National Defense Strategy, which is expected to be released next month, will outline how the Pentagon will restructure and address growing issues such as readiness. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
DOD Awards Up to $2.2 Billion for T-6 Support
The Pentagon is awarding up to $2.2 billion to a Florida logistics company to keep T-6 Texan IIs flying to train pilots from the Air Force, Navy, and Army for at least the next five years. JPATS Logistics Services LLC in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Wednesday received the maximum $2.2 billion contract for a five-year ordering period of contractor operated base supply services, according to a Pentagon announcement. This covers a “full spectrum of transparent supply chain management services,” including managing supply and demand, sourcing parts, assembly, disposal, warehousing and inventory tracking, order management, and other services. Work is expected to end on Dec. 31, 2022. JPATS Logistics was one of four offers the Pentagon received, and $10.5 million is immediately being awarded. —Brian Everstine
Northrop Gets $110 Million Cruise Missile Contract
The Air Force on Wednesday awarded Northrop Grumman $110 million for research and demonstration of an affordable cruise missile to defeat enemy air defenses, part of a secretive program called Gray Wolf. The contract matches one awarded Monday to Lockheed Martin, and was one of seven offers the Air Force received. The contract covers design, development, manufacturing, and testing of the prototype cruise missiles, according to a Pentagon announcement. Work will be conducted in Redondo Beach, Calif., and will be completed in December 2024.
Happy Holidays from Air Force Magazine
The Air Force Association will be closed through the New Year, so the next Daily Report column will be on Tuesday, Jan. 2.
—Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Thursday. The surprise visit marks the first time a Pentagon chief has visited the base since 2002: The Associated Press.
—Airmen with the 418th Flight Test Squadron and a C-17 from JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., helped NASA test the Orion spacecraft by airdropping it over the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona on Dec. 13: 412th Test Wing release.
—South Korea reportedly plans to buy 20 more F-35As, according to a South Korean newspaper. The country already planned to buy 40 of the jets: Reuters.
—A Leonardo M-346, the base model of the T-100 that it is entering in the Air Force’s T-X competition, recently test fired an air-to-air AIM9L Sidewinder missile: Leonardo photos.