While F-35 Incidents Still Mysterious, Return to Flight Planned
The cause of five physiological incidents among F-35A pilots at Luke AFB, Ariz., remains a mystery, but the Air Force is contemplating an “initial” return to flight status as early as June 20, 56th Fighter Wing commander Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard told reporters Friday. All 55 F-35s at Luke—40 USAF F-35As and 15 strike fighters belonging to Australia, Norway, Italy, and Japan—were grounded on June 9 after five pilots flying five different aircraft experienced hypoxia-like symptoms over a five-week period. Read the full report by John A. Tirpak.
US Jet Shoots Down Manned Syrian Fighter
A US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet on Sunday shot down a manned Syrian Air Force jet after it dropped bombs on US-backed fighters. “The coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat,” read a coalition statement released Sunday. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
Air Force, Congress at Odds over How to Organize Space
The Air Force wants to be the lead service in US military space operations, but Congress is growing impatient with the service’s efforts to deliver long-promised reforms to unify leadership and streamline acquisitions. The tension may come to a head in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which could include policies to fundamentally reorganize the National Security Space enterprise, according to officials speaking at an AFA Mitchell Institute forum on Capitol Hill on Friday. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
Space Training May Receive NDAA Boost
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) wants to see funding for regular space operations training in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. The Air Force held its first ever devoted Space Flag exercise in April, and at an AFA Mitchell Institute event in Washington, D.C., Friday, Bridenstine said he wants “to make sure we build from there and [that] it’s adequately funded.” He plans to introduce “a policy proposal in the NDAA” to make Space Flag permanent. “It’s important that we start exercising our space warfighters,” Bridenstine said. He also wants to include in the NDAA “a war plan evaluation” that includes consideration of “a contested space environment” in training scenarios. The US military needs to practice operating in the midst of “a day without GPS,” he said. —Wilson Brissett
See also: Building a Pacific Space Force
AFRL Tests Lego-Like Pod System for Reapers
The Air Force announced Friday it is flight testing its AgilePod, a first-of-its-kind and lego-like structure allowing operators to answer various missions demands with multiple sensors on a single platform. A spokesperson for Wright-Patterson told Air Force Magazine testing will continue through the end of June. In July and August, the base will analyze the data it gathered throughout testing. On July 13, a showcase event will involve industry involvement and possible investment. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.
—Members of the 23rd Wing at Moody AFB, Ga., recently returned from a four-month deployment to the US Central Command area of operations where they spent more than 2,800 hours on call. During the deployment all three rescue components—the HC-130, HH-60, and Guardian Angels—were all deployed at one location in support of Operation Inherent Resolve: USAF release
—The 2nd Space Operations Squadrom at Schriever AFB, Colo., recently disposed of Satellite Vehicle Number 32, which had been orbiting the Earth for 24 years, six months and 23 days. The GPS satellite nearly tripled its expected seven and a half year service life: USAF release
—As the Air Force looks to buid up its pilot ranks, Air Education and Training Comming is studying whether it will need a fifth base to host Undergraduate Pilot Training and where such a wing might be based: San Antonio Express-News
—The Air Force intends to complete hardware installation of its Space Fence in August or September: IHS Jane’s