Dozens of Flights Kick Off AMC’s Biggest Exercise
Dozens of mobility aircraft took off in rapid succession across Washington state on Wednesday, tasked with fighting into the Inland Northwest and setting up a remote airfield in the first day of flight operations of Mobility Guardian. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
Air Force Launches Test ICBM from Vandenberg
Air Force Global Strike Command on Wednesday successfully test-launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile with a single test reentry vehicle from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. The reentry vehicle traveled to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands—about 4,200 miles away, the Air Force said. The test was the fourth of its kind so far this year. The Air Force stressed that the launch was not a response to the recent launch of an ICBM by North Korea, but Col. Dave Kelly, commander of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, noted that it highlighted “the commitment and outstanding professionalism” of his unit, the 90th Missile Wing, and mission partners in the 30th Space Wing. Test launches of this nature provide the data necessary to “validate the reliability, accuracy, and performance of the ICBM force,” he added. The team that launched the missile is from the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., one of three missile bases with airmen overseeing the country’s ICBM alert forces. —Jennifer Hlad
Stealth Is Still the Critical Secret Sauce for Combat Aircraft
Those arguing that stealth technology has already been overcome by better radars and detection methods employed by US adversaries are simply wrong, USAF stealth combat veterans reported at an AFA Mitchell Institute event at the Capitol on Wednesday. Even though it’s helpful to have jamming and other support, stealth aircraft are wildly more successful and survivable than non-stealth platforms, and always will be, authors of a new study, “Survivability in the Digital Age: The Imperative for Stealth,” asserted. Stealth multiplies advantages for the side that employs it judiciously and compels the adversary to spend resources on defenses which are then not available for offense, they said. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who observed that modern stealth technology is 40 years old, said stealth “will be around for the next 40 years.” Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
USAF Changing the Way it Approaches Innovation
Secretary Heather Wilson said the Air Force is changing the way it’s approaching innovation and is looking at industry and academia for help. “We need to get our ideas from the lab bench to the flightline fast,” said Wilson at an AFA Nation’s Capital Chapter dinner in Arlington, Va. As an example, she cited the recent launch of AFwerX, which is based on a US Special Operations Command model and intended to open the doors to “highly innovative problem solvers with small amounts of money in ways that strip out bureaucracy,” according to a July 21 Air Force release. The first AFwerX location will be located near the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, allowing students, faculty, and small business to easily interact with the Air Force. It’s slated to open in early 2018. “This isn’t the norm,” said Wilson at Tuesday’s AFA event. “But this is the direction we are headed.”
Senate Confirms Slew of DOD Nominations
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of eight senior Defense Department officials, including a new Under Secretary of the Air Force. Matthew Donovan will replace Lisa Disbrow as Under Secretary of the Air Force. Donovan most recently served as the policy director of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he advised the chairs of the airland and seapower subcommittees on policy and oversight relating to the four services. Donovan retired from the Air Force as a colonel after 31 years in uniform, including tours as commander of Officer Training School and an F-15C fighter squadron. The Senate also confirmed Richard Spencer, a former Marine pilot and investment banker, to serve as Secretary of the Navy, replacing Sean Stackley, who has served as acting SECNAV since President Trump’s inauguration. Ellen Lord, the former president and CEO of Textron Systems, will serve as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. She will replace James MacStravic, who has been performing the duties of the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer since Frank Kendall retired in January. Other nominations confirmed, include: Robert Daigle to be Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation; Elaine McCusker to be a principal deputy under secretary of defense; Robert Hood to be an assistant secretary of defense; Lucian Niemeyer to be an assistant secretary of defense; and Ryan McCarthy to be Under Secretary of the Army. —Amy McCullough
DOD Outlines Acquisition Restructure in New Report to Congress
The Pentagon outlined its plan to reorganize its acquisition, technology, and logistics organization in a new report presented to Congress on Tuesday, emphasizing the importance of quickly getting capabilities to the warfighters at an affordable cost. “The weapons systems and capabilities that the department delivers to the warfighter are in many respects the envy of other nations’ fighting forces. However, the current pace at which we develop advanced warfighting capability is being eclipsed by those nations that pose the greatest threat to our security,” reads the executive summary. “Additionally, the increasing cost of our major weapon systems has placed at risk our ability to acquire and sustain these systems at sufficient levels.” Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
Trump Signs Sanctions Bill Despite Reservations
President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia for its alleged meddling in the US presidential election, though he called the legislation “seriously flawed” in a statement released the same day. The “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” also imposes new sanctions on North Korea and Iran for their weapons programs and limits the President’s ability to negotiate sanctions without congressional approval. Trump said he has worked with Congress to “make this bill better,” though he said it “remains seriously flawed—particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.” However, he said he signed the bill “for the sake of national unity,” noting he hopes to continue improving cooperation between the US and Russia. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said in a statement, “Today, the United States sent a powerful message to our adversaries that they will be held accountable for their actions. These sanctions directly target the destructive activities of Iran, Russia, and North Korea. We will continue to use every instrument of American power to defend this nation and the people we serve.” —Amy McCullough
Afghan Air Force Requests Full Responsibility for A-29 Flightline Work
The Afghan Air Force recently requested the full responsibility for maintaining A-29 Super Tucanos on the three flightlines where the close air support aircraft operate. It is a major step in the growth of the AAF, but major work lies ahead. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
—The Air Force is offering high year of tenure extensions between 12 and 24 months to Active Duty senior airmen through master sergeants in select shortage Air Force Special Codes as it looks to “retain experience and enhance mission effectiveness and readiness:” USAF release.
—C-5A, tail number 0448, recently flew from Westover ARB, Mass., to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., where it will retire. The aircraft was one of three A-models left in the Air Force and the last to go to the boneyard. The other two will be flown to museums at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and Travis AFB, Calif., later this summer: Westover release.
—Preliminary construction has started on a $350 million Lockheed Martin facility, dubbed the Gateway Center, which will produce next-generation satellites. The facility will be located near Denver and is slated for completion in 2020: Lockheed release.