USAF F-35s Deploy to the Middle East for the First Time

Air Force F-35As deployed to the Middle East for the first time on Monday, arriving in the United Arab Emirates for combat operations across the region. An undisclosed number of strike fighters, assigned to the Active Duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings at Hill AFB, Utah, are operating from Al Dhafra AB, the same location that previously hosted F-22s. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Holmes: What ACC Expects from New “Century Series”

The new “Century Series” idea being pushed by USAF acquisition chief Will Roper will mean more fighters in simultaneous development that can be rapidly fielded to improve on existing capabilities and retired swiftly in favor of better versions, Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Holmes said in an interview with Air Force Magazine. The new fighters will be faster and cheaper to field because they won’t be built to have 20,000-hour service lives, and will be withdrawn as soon as the next moderate jump in capability is ready. Holmes also talked about the long-delayed EPAWSS F-15 EW system, arsenal planes, and moves toward an MQ-9 replacement. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

US Aircraft Flew More Than 120 Aid Flights to Mozambique

US military aircraft flew more than 120 sorties, delivering more than 800 tons of relief to Mozambique over two weeks after a cyclone devastated that country in early March. The response included more than 100 service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa working with the US Agency for International Development, beginning with US contingency response airmen deploying to the country to assess airfields and begin deliveries. Aircraft delivering the aid included C-12s, C-17s, and C-130s. While the airmen deployed to the country have returned, aid will continue to flow to Mozambique through non-military means, according to a Friday US Africa Command release. The storm killed more than 1,000 people in Mozambique and neighboring countries, and hundreds of thousands are still in need. The World Bank estimates Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi would need more than $2 billion to recover from the storm, according to Reuters.

Strike Kills Senior ISIS Commander in Somalia

US aircraft continued their increased pace of operations inside Somalia with a series of recent strikes, including one that took out the No. 2 ISIS leader inside the country. On April 14, US aircraft conducted a strike in the Bari Region, killing the leader Abdulhakim Dhuqub, who oversaw daily operations of the group, along with attack planning and resource procurement, according to US Africa Command. Additionally, AFRICOM conducted two strikes on April 9 and April 11 inside Somalia that reportedly killed three fighters total. On April 11, David Norquist, who is performing the duties of the deputy secretary of defense, met with Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre at the Pentagon. The two officials discussed security reforms, transparency, and accountability in the ongoing campaigns, according to a Pentagon statement. —Brian Everstine

Boeing Gets $14.3 Billion for B-1, B-52 Sustainment

The Air Force on Friday awarded Boeing a $14.3 billion contract to sustain and modernize weapons systems on B-1 and B-52 bombers. The B-1/B-52 Flexible Acquisition and Sustainment contract covers upcoming work “to increase lethality, enhance survivability, improve supportability, and increase responsiveness,” according to a Pentagon announcement. Work will be done in Oklahoma City and is expected to be complete by April 11, 2029. The contract comes as the Air Force has modernized the aircraft, including a new communications suite on both bombers, and a new rotary weapons launcher for the B-52. —Brian Everstine

Winners Crowned at AFA’s StellarXplorers V National Finals Competition

The Air Force Association’s StellarXplorers program recognized the winners of the fifth season of its National High School Space Challenge at an April 14 Awards Banquet in Colorado Springs, Colo. A total of 216 teams kicked off the season in October 2018. Six months later, after five rounds of competition, the “Jets” of James Clemens High School (Madison, Ala.) were named the 2019 National Champions. The “Tahsin Machine” of Great Mills High School (Great Mills, Md.) took second place; “LANTZ” from Bergen County Technical High School (Teterboro, N.J.) placed third. Read the full story.


Why the Days of ‘Fighter Jock Culture’ May Be Numbered

A recent study from the Rand Corp., sponsored by the Defense Department’s Office of Net Assessment, questions whether that hierarchy—with fighter pilots first, bomber pilots second and other specializations after—continues to serve the best interests of the service, especially in terms of fostering innovation. Air Force Times

US-Russia Chill Stirs Worry about Stumbling into Conflict

The deep chill in U.S.-Russian relations is stirring concern in some quarters that Washington and Moscow are in danger of stumbling into an armed confrontation that, by mistake or miscalculation, could lead to nuclear war. Associated Press

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Makes Flawless Liftoff, Landings

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket lifted off on schedule at 6:35 p.m. Thursday from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, the second launch for the biggest rocket in use today. UPI

Stratolaunch, the World’s Biggest Airplane, Takes Flight

By 2022, the company hopes to use the twin-fuselage, six-engined, catamaran-style aircraft to launch satellite-bearing rockets into space. Ars Technica

One More Thing …

Curiosity Watched Two Eclipses on Mars. Here’s What It Saw.

The rover just watched Phobos and Deimos, the two moons of Mars, pass in front of the sun. Popular Mechanics