AMC Focusing on High-End Threats AFter Demanding Humanitarian Responses of 2017
Air Mobility Command’s airmen and aircraft faced a demanding stretch in 2017 where it responded to multiple hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires, in addition to ongoing support to wars in the Middle East. As the command’s operations have slowed, it is now looking toward what’s next, including getting ready for high-end threats. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
MQ-9 Reaper Performs Historic Multirole Mission in Afghanistan
An MQ-9 Reaper performed what the Air Force is calling a “historic multirole mission” on Feb. 22 against Taliban revenue sources when it released four 500-pound precision guided munitions from a single Reaper, effectively destroying a Helmand province Taliban narcotics facility. MQ-9s are now being used in a number of roles, including executing strikes; armed overwatch and close air support; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in a single mission. The Air Force said using the Reaper in this way gives planners more flexibility in choosing from a range of manned and unmanned aircraft supporting operations, including F-16s, B-52s, A-10s, and MQ-9s. —Steve Hirsch
DOD: Nuclear Posture Review is a Response to a New Threat Environment
The Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review addresses a “much more challenging nuclear threat” that has emerged in recent years and is aimed at tailoring responses to specific emerging threats that have arrived, a senior Pentagon official said Monday. Even as the review calls for more capabilities, such as a low-yield submarine launched missile, and more response options for non-nuclear threats, such as large-scale cyber attacks, David Trachtenberg, the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, pushed back harshly on reporting and analysis that claims the review is a new arms race or that it changes the US calculus in using nukes. The NPR “lays out the path to ensure that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st century threats and reassure allies,” Trachtenberg said Monday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review had claimed that if the US “led by example” in reducing its nuclear stockpile and pushed for treaty certification, the rest of the world would follow. However, “the threat environment moved in contrary and much more challenging directions,” such as Russia modernizing its stockpile and deploying an intermediate-range missile, Trachtenberg said. “These new threat realities drove the need to adjust nuclear posture,” he said. —Brian Everstine
Competition Begins for Spots on Air Force Wounded Warrior Games Team
The Air Force last week began trials for selection of wounded warriors to join the Air Force team in this year’s Defense Department Warrior Games, which will be held June 2-9 at the Air Force Academy. More than 150 wounded warriors from the Air Force, Army, United Kingdom, and Australia are taking part in the trials, which began Feb. 23 and continue through Friday. The Paralympic-style event is part of a program aimed at promoting the mental and physical well-being of wounded, ill, and injured service members. The event includes wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery, shooting, track, field, cycling, and swimming competitions. Among the participants this year are 52 Active Duty, 12 Air National Guard and Reserve, and 55 Air Force veterans. Air Force Magazine attended the 2017 Navy-sponsored Warrior Games in Chicago. Read our story from the October 2017 issue. —Steve Hirsch
—The first Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35A arrived at Misawa AB, Japan, on Feb. 24. AX-6, the first F-35A to be assigned to JASDF’s 3rd Air Wing, was the second F-35A assembled at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ F-35 Final Assembly and Check Out facility in Nagoya, Japan: Lockheed Martin release.
—An RQ-4 Global Hawk at Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates,reached 20,000 flight hours Feb. 13—the aircraft’s original lifespan: AFCENT release.
—The USAF, Royal Australian Air Force, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force on Feb. 23 finished the five-day humanitarian assistance and disaster relief portion of the Cope North 18: USAF release.
—More than 30 members of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing deployed to the Persian Gulf on Feb. 23 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve: ANG release.
—Yokota AB, Japan, has received its 11th C-130J, part of an Air Mobility Command fleetwide redistribution of assets: PACAF release.