Pave Hawk II Takes Flight

Nearly 20 years after the Air Force first embarked on its search for a new combat search-and-rescue helicopter with the CSAR-X program, the helicopter that will replace the legacy HH-60G Pave Hawk flew for the first time May 17 in Florida. The helicopter’s maiden flight went smoothly, test pilot John Biscaino told Air Force Magazine May 17, and didn’t point to any needed changes. Biscaino highlighted the helicopter’s improved situational awareness and missile warning systems, calling them game-changers for future search-and-rescue operations. “That’s going to allow this aircraft to be a much bigger player and a much bigger asset in theater because essentially the eyes and ears of the aircraft are going to be much more expanded than what they currently are,” he said. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

F-16 Crashes During NORAD Training in California

A F-16 crashed near March ARB, Calif., while flying an afternoon training mission for the North American Aerospace Defense Command May 16, the Air Force Reserve said in a release. The sole pilot is under evaluation at a nearby hospital after ejecting from the fighter, which is assigned to the 114th Fighter Wing in the South Dakota Air National Guard. Five others were injured on the ground outside the base, the Air Force said. According to the Associated Press, the Lockheed Martin jet crashed into a warehouse, sending a dozen people without major injuries to hospitals for medical evaluations. The cause of the crash is under investigation, but the AP reported the pilot lost control of the aircraft while having hydraulic problems. The jet was carrying standard armaments, and authorities will recover the aircraft once they ensure the weapons are safe to handle. USAF Thunderbirds No. 4 pilot Maj. Stephen Del Bagno died when his F-16 crashed in April 2018 during a training sortie in Nevada. In 2017, a D.C. Air National Guard pilot survived after his F-16 caught fire and crashed near JB Andrews, Md. —Rachel S. Cohen

DOD’s New AI Center Ramps Up

The Pentagon’s new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is ramping up its work, adding two new areas of focus—cybersecurity and robotic process automation—and expanding its outreach to academics and foreign allies, its new chief scientist said. “We want to help the DOD understand [cyber] attacks that are happening on our systems and networks and actually facilitate collaboration across the DOD,” said Jill Crisman, who is also acting chief technology officer for the JAIC. She spoke at the AFCEA TechNet Cyber event in Baltimore, Md., on May 16. Read the full story by Shaun Waterman.

Air Force Academy Sees Record Number of Female Applicants

Women made up 30 percent of applicants for the Air Force Academy’s class of 2022, marking a school-high for female candidates, the service’s personnel chief said May 16. Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services, told lawmakers at a House Armed Services personnel subcommittee hearing, he expects those who are accepted into the USAFA class of 2022 will reflect a 70-30 gender split between men and women. In the past, Kelly said, classes have been closer to 75 percent men and 25 percent women. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.


US Special Ops Command at Odds with Air Force Over Need for Light-Attack Aircraft

US Special Operations Command is bullish at the prospect of buying a light-attack aircraft, according to the command’s top leaders—a marked contrast from the US Air Force, which wants to expand the effort to other types of platforms. Defense News

Senate Hearing Examines Commercial Implications of Space Force

While most of the debate about establishing a Space Force within the Defense Department has centered on its national security implications, a recent Senate hearing examined how it could bolster growing commercial activity in space. Space News

Secret Tracking Device Found in Navy Email to Navy Times Amid Leak Investigation Raises Legal, Ethical Questions

A Navy prosecutor last week sent an email to the editor of Navy Times that was embedded with a secret digital tracking device. The tracking device came at a time when the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is mounting an investigation into media leaks surrounding the high-profile court-martial of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes. Military Times

KISS Frontman Gene Simmons Delivers Briefing at Pentagon Podium That Has Not Seen a Spokesperson in Almost a Year

As the frontman of KISS, Gene Simmons occupies rarefied air — a rock star who entertains arenas filled with adoring fans. On Thursday, Simmons joined another exclusive club, conducting only the second on-camera press briefing at the Department of Defense in the last year. CNN

One More Thing …

Nukes, Flying Cadillacs, a Crash Landing, and … Tiny Bubbles.

Legendary entertainer Don Ho says his entire entertainment production draws upon his USAF experience.