B-1B Lancer Emergency Landing Under Investigation
The Air Force is investigating the emergency landing of a B-1B Lancer in Texas May 1. In a late Monday afternoon release about the incident, Global Strike Command said the four crewmembers of the B-1B “experienced an in-flight emergency” and were able to land “unharmed.” Despite adding there were no munitions on the aircraft, the Air Force remains mum on further details pending the investigation by a safety investigation board. The B-1B was assigned to Dyess AFB, Texas, and the emergency landing occurred at the Midland International Air & Space Port, halfway between Dallas and El Paso. To see photos of the bomber after it landed see the Midland Reporter-Telegram’s coverage of the incident. —Gideon Grudo
Pace of Strikes in Afghanistan Continues to Increase
US aircraft in Afghanistan again increased their operations against the Taliban in April, dropping 562 weapons last month—the highest monthly total since October and the second highest since 2011. US aircraft have flown 2,238 strike sorties so far this year, already almost half of the 2017 total as they have targeted the Taliban’s drug and financial infrastructure along with supporting US and Afghan forces in the beginning of the yearly fighting season. The airdrop mission has also increased, with US airlifters dropping 135,840 pounds of supplies so far this year, according to statistics released by Air Forces Central Command. The Afghan Air Force has also increased its capability, adding precision-guided munitions to its A-29 attack aircraft in Southern Afghanistan. Since May 11, A-29s have dropped more than 50 laser-guided bombs in support of 30 ground missions, according to an AFCENT release. Nearly 96 percent of these strikes have been successful, according to AFCENT. —Brian Everstine
So Long Pacific Command, Hello Indo-Pacific Command
The Pentagon may move to change the name of US Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command to better reflect the authorities of the command, in advance of a possible legislative move to do so. The markup of the Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act released by the House Armed Services Committee earlier this month includes a provision, Section 1247, to change PACOM to Indo-Pacific Command beginning on Jan. 1, 2020. Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning, during a Monday briefing, could not confirm that any changes were being made, but said any adjustments to the titles of military organizations “should encapsulate their responsibility.” Any potential name change would not change the command’s area of responsibility, Manning said. The Senate is scheduled to markup its version of the policy bill this week. —Brian Everstine
DOD, State Department: US, Allies Must Counter Iran’s Behavior
The Pentagon said Monday it is assessing all of its options, including taking new steps, to address Iran’s actions in the Middle East. The statement came following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s warnings to Iran during a Monday speech, in which Pompeo said the Iranian government has only shown repression to its own people and the US will “respond” if Iran restarts its nuclear program. Speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Pompeo said Iran must withdraw all of its forces from Syria, and end support for groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis in Iran. The US will work with allies in the region, including Saudi Arabia and other gulf nations, along with strengthened sanctions to exert pressure on Iran. “The regime has been fighting all over the Middle East for years,” Pompeo said. “After our sanctions come in force, it will be battling to keep its economy alive. Iran will be forced to make a choice: either fight to keep its economy off life-support at home, or keep squandering precious wealth on fights abroad.” Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning, during a Monday briefing, said the Pentagon is a planning organization, and it is looking at all steps to counter Iran’s “malign influence.” This could include “doubling down” on current efforts, or taking new military steps. —Brian Everstine
Global Strike Kicks off Missile Squadron Safety Officer Pilot Program at Malmstrom
The 341st Missile Wing and 341st Operations Group at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., have begun a pilot program to develop missile squadron safety officers, given the critical role safety plays in ICBM missions, Air Force Global Strike Command said earlier this month. “We developed the MSSO program to influence and help operators be more safety-minded with a different approach than the ICBM operator culture is used to,” Lt. Col. Kevin Byrd, 341st Missile Wing chief of safety, said. The pilot program is similar to the way squadron flight safety officers work, although there are distinct safety issues in ICBM operations. Safety officers work for squadron commanders by advising and directing squadron safety plans and policies, and they coordinate information with the wing’s safety chief. The 341st Missile Wing Safety Office worked to put MSSOs in three missile squadrons and the operations support squadron, and Byrd said Global Strike Command leaders have been briefed on the pilot program. “While the officers occupying the MSSO positions here at Malmstrom are already labeled MSSOs, we want to expand these duties into a status that AFGSC will legitimize with guidance and regulations,” he said. —Steve Hirsch
Lockheed Competes Launch Environment Testing on Fifth AEHF Satellite
Lockheed Martin finished launch environment tests for its fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency missile warning satellite, the company said Monday, and is now in system-level testing in preparation for delivery to the Air Force next year. The jam-resistant AEHF system provides global, protected communications for US strategic command and tactical forces, as well as for other countries such as Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The recent tests included 39 days of thermal vacuum chamber testing to simulate conditions in orbit, and acoustic testing to simulate the vibrations generated during launch. The fourth AEHF satellite is scheduled to be shipped to Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., this year in preparation for launch. —Steve Hirsch
Japanese AWACS Fleet Slated for Upgrade Under USAF Contract
Japan’s E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System fleet will be getting upgrades under a $208 million contract awarded to Boeing by the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center for work on the aircraft and ground support facilities. Mission computing improvements are aimed at increasing the Japan Air Self-Defense Force AWACS’ interoperability with US systems as well as the aircraft’s own command and control capabilities. According to the Air force, the contract specifically includes “the installation and checkout of enhanced mission computing capability, electronic support measures, traffic alert and collision avoidance system, next-generation identification friend or foe interrogator, and data link upgrades,” as well as such support elements as spare parts and training. —Steve Hirsch
—The CEO of the Fairbanks Economic Development Corp. wants the Air Force to provide written assurances that it does not plan to add privatized housing near Eielson AFB, Alaska, so the local government can seek large-scale housing investors to help with a planned buildup at the base: Associated Press.
—Airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing and 435th Contingency Response Group, based at Ramstein AB, Germany, recently completed participation in Exercise Stolen Cerberus V with the Hellenic military: airforce-technology.
—The head of US European Command reaffirmed the US’ commitment to Georgia and its hope of joining NATO during a two-day visit to the country: DOD release.