F-35A Completes Air-to-Ground Weapons Evaluation
F-35As from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill AFB, Utah, completed the first ever operational air-to-ground weapons evaluation for the fifth-generation fighter on Friday. The weeklong evaluation marks the next step in the Weapons System Evaluation Program and puts the aircraft further along the way to full operational capability. The evaluation proceeded as expected, and the F-35s achieved above-average mission and sorties rates, according to a Hill release. In the evaluation process, “the emphasis is on finding potential issues in a controlled environment, with the ability to assess the weapons in real time to ensure that we don’t get surprised in combat,” said Col. Dave Abba, commander of the 53rd Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., which is the Air Force’s operational test wing. The F-35A achieved initial operational capability in August 2016. The F-35 Joint Program Office expects delivery of the full 3F capability—which represents the “full warfighting capability” of the F-35A—by the end of 2017, according to JPO spokesman Joe DellaVedova. Initial operational test and evaluation will begin in early 2018.
Donovan Sworn In as Air Force Undersecretary
Matthew Donovan was sworn in as undersecretary of the Air Force during a ceremony at the Pentagon on Friday. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson officiated and told the audience that Donovan “understands the mission of [the] Air Force,” according to a press release. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this,” Donovan said. “I look forward to helping Secretary Wilson and [Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein] meet their goals, and to ensuring we sustain the world’s greatest air, space, and cyberspace force.” Donovan served in the Air Force for 31 years ?beginning in 1977. He was a command pilot and flew more than 2,900 hours in the F-15C and the F-5E. He retired from the service at the rank of colonel. Before his nomination, Donovan worked on the Senate Armed Services Committee staff as advisor to the chairman. President Donald Trump nominated Donovan for his new role in July, and the Senate confirmed the nomination on Aug. 1. He was administratively sworn in on Aug. 3.
US Military Preparing Options, Pushing for Diplomacy With North Korea
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford, in a joint statement with South Korean President Moon Jae-In, said the military is preparing military options in the event diplomacy with North Korea fails. Dunford, after his visit to Seoul, arrived in Beijing for his first visit to China as Chairman. The trip is to support Tillerson’s diplomatic and economic push to deter North Korea. Dunford is being hosted by his counterpart Gen. Fang Fenghui, and will also “continue to develop our military-to-military relationships,” according to a Pentagon release. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
Iranian Drone Again Flies Close to US Ships, Aircraft in Gulf
An Iranian drone came within an unsafe distance of a US Navy ship and aircraft underway in the Persian Gulf on Monday, the second such incident within a week. An Iranian QOM-1 drone conducted an “unsafe and unprofessional” approach of the USS Nimitz during flight operations in international waters, the Navy’s 5th Fleet said in a statement. The Nimitz repeatedly tried to establish communications with Iranian representatives as the drone made several passes without using navigation lights, according to the Navy. On Aug. 8, a QOM-1 drone flew within 200 feet of a Navy F/A-18E of the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 assigned to the Nimitz. That dangerous maneuver “created a collision hazard and is not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws,” the 5th Fleet said in a statement.—Brian Everstine
US and international partners deconstruct pallets during Exercise Mobility Guardian at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 10, 2017. More than 3,000 airmen, soldiers, sailors, marines, and international partners converged on the state of Washington in support of Mobility Guardian. USAF photo by A1C Gracie I. Lee.
AMC’s Biggest Exercise Wraps Up
US and partner aircraft flew about 650 sorties over 1,200 flight hours as part of Air Mobility Command’s first-ever Mobility Guardian exercise. The event, designed to practice every part of AMC’s mission, which included 25 partner nations, wrapped up Aug. 12 at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash. During the flights, refueling aircraft offloaded about 1.2 million pounds of fuel, aerial porters processed 3,676 passengers and 4,911 tons of equipment, and aircrews airdropped 356 paratroopers, according to an AMC release. The exercise included contingency response, aerial refueling, aeromedical evacuation, airdrops, among other missions. “It was the first exercise in a long time where the sole focus was on the desired learning objectives of the mobility forces across the spectrum,” said Col. Johnny Lamontagne, combined forces air component commander for the exercise. (For more of Air Force Magazine’s coverage of the exercise, see also: Contingency Response Airmen Mirror Current Fight in Rural Washington and C-130 Crews Exercising Emerging Capability at Exercise—Brian Everstine
Fifth Woman Begins Air Force Special Operations Training
A fifth woman has begun special operations training in the Air Force, Military.com reported Monday. The unidentified female airman is currently participating in basic military training (BMT) at JBSA-Lackland, Texas, with the ultimate goal of becoming a tactical air control party (TACP) specialist. Another woman is currently undergoing specialized TACP training, which is several steps down the road from BMT. Three other women previously entered special operations training for the Air Force. One withdrew from training because of an injury; another did not match entry standards; and a third met the physical standards but did not complete a selection program application. Special operations positions have been available to women since then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter opened all military jobs to women on Dec. 3, 2015. After BMT, new airmen must complete a battlefield airman prep course and an indoctrination course—both taking place at Lackland—before traveling to another command to complete specialized training for specific positions, including TACP.
Hornets Coming Back Early
The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., recently prepared 23 F/A-18C Hornets for a US Marine Corps refurbishment project a year ahead of schedule. The aircraft had been placed in war-reserve storage at Davis-Monthan, and the USMC had asked AMARG, which is part of Air Force Materiel Command, to dismantle the fighters and prepare them for shipping at a clip of nine aircraft in 2016, seven in 2017, and seven in 2018. But the six-person restoration team at AMARG developed procedures that allowed them to cut their productivity time in half and prepare all 23 Hornets a full year early. The first 16 aircraft have already been shipped to the Jacksonville, Fla., facility where Boeing will perform F/A-18C-plus upgrades. The final seven Hornets are packed up and ready for shipping, according to an Air Force press release.
—The Pentagon on Monday identified two soldiers killed conducting combat operations on Sunday in Iraq as Sgt.? Roshain Brooks of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Spc. Allen Stigler of Arlington, Texas. Five more soldiers were injured in the incident, which was not caused by enemy fire, officials said. Defense Department release.
—A new initiative at Air Force Space Command is offering airmen an opportunity to submit proposals with innovative ideas that could improve any aspect of the mission. “Our airmen are the experts,” said AFSPC boss Gen. Jay Raymond, “this gives us an opportunity to hear directly from them”: AFSPC release.
—Senior Air Force leaders met with some 70 industry members during an industry day at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., to talk about Air Mobility Command’s future needs. The event was not part of the Mobility Guardian exercise, though it was conducted at the same time: USAF release.