Several F-22s Damaged at Tyndall as Base Faces Long Road to Recovery
Hurricane Michael damaged an undisclosed number of F-22s that were unable to leave Tyndall AFB, Fla., as the storm advanced, with many possibly damaged beyond repair—a debilitating blow to the Air Force fifth-generation fighter fleet. The news comes as Tyndall is beginning a long process to dig itself out from the storm, which harmed almost all of the buildings on base to the point where almost all on-base housing is uninhabitable. Air Force units from across the country, including special tactics airmen and contingency-response groups, arrived Oct. 11 to start flight operations at the base. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak and Brian Everstine.
Air Force Activates New Special Warfare Training Wing
The Air Force on Wednesday activated a new Special Warfare Training Wing at JB San Antonio, Texas. Part of a larger program to improve recruiting and training for Air Force special operators, it also includes phasing out the term “battlefield airman” in favor of the Special Warfare moniker. The wing will cover training and recruiting for all special operations fields for officers and enlisted personnel: pararescue, combat control, special operations weather team, tactical air control party personnel, combat rescue officer, special tactics officer, and non-rated air liaison officer. It also will support recruiting for two other specialties—survival, evasion, resistance, and escape specialist and explosive ordnance disposal technician—though training for those jobs will continue to be handled elsewhere. To combat attrition, the wing will have its own “Human Performance Support Group” with sports medicine specialists to reduce injuries, improve endurance, and speed recovery—and, hopefully, throughput. Historically, washout rates range from 50 percent to 85 percent for special warfare training. Next up: The unit will design a single-entry course for special warfare training. “The various Special Warfare Air Force specialty codes are a lot more similar than they are different,” said CMSgt. James Clark, the wing’s command chief. “By combining them, we’re making the pipeline much more efficient.” —Steve Hirsch
Senate Confirms US Forces-Korea, SOUTHCOM Nominees
The Senate on Thursday confirmed new commanders for US Forces-Korea and US Southern Command as part of a large amount of confirmations before Congress heads out on a break. The Senate confirmed Army Gen. Robert Abrams to take over command of USFK, taking over for Army Gen. Vincent Brooks. Navy Vice Adm. Craig Faller was confirmed for his fourth star and to take over SOUTHCOM from Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd. Abrams is currently the commander of Army Forces Command, and Faller currently is the senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. —Brian Everstine
AFRL Demonstrates Live, Virtual Constructive Training Capability
The Air Force Research Laboratory last month wrapped up a 40-month development and demonstration of a new capability to blend real-life and virtual training with actual aircraft flying alongside simulated jets. The September capstone demonstration of the Secure Live Virtual Constructive, Advanced Training Environment program under AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing featured real F-15E and F/A-18F aircraft flying at Nellis AFB, Nev., with SLATE pods connected to F-16 and F/A-18 simulators, and computer-generated “entities” in a “highly secure” virtual environment, according to an AFRL release. “This training capability will allow pilots to train like they fight against realistic threats in a secure, high fidelity training environment by combining synthetic and real-world air combat training,” Winston Bennett, AFRL’s 711th HPW technical adviser, said in the release. The effort, which began in March 2015, is part of the military’s push for live-virtual constructive training scenarios to help pilots replicate high-end threat environments that are difficult and expensive to replicate using only real aircraft and training ranges.
Rolls-Royce Gets $100 Million for Advanced Turbine Engine Development
The Air Force on Thursday awarded Rolls-Royce a $100 million contract for the first phase of advanced turbine engine technologies. The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for the Advanced Turbine Technologies for Affordable Mission-Capability program aims to develop and demonstrate modernized turbine propulsion for legacy, emerging, and future military applications, according to a Pentagon release. Rolls-Royce was the only company selected out of 54 total offers, and work is expected to be completed by October 2026. —Brian Everstine
Strategic Command Signs Space Agreement with Thailand
The US Strategic Command has signed an agreement with the Royal Thai Air Force to share space situational awareness services and data, the command said Thursday. Thailand joins 16 countries, the European Space Agency and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, and more 70 commercial satellite firms in such data-sharing agreements with the command. “Thailand signing these guidelines with the United States demonstrates their continued leadership within the [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] ASEAN organization and firmly establishes the Royal Thai Air Force in the space community,” said Rear Adm. Richard Correll, the command’s director of plans and policy, who signed the agreement. —Steve Hirsch
—After comments by Defense Secretary Jim? Mattis that “the jury is out” on whether women can succeed in combat roles, 11 senators have written to him outlining Pentagon progress in opening combat roles to women and urging not to block continued integration: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) release.
—Maj. Gen. William Cooley, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, told a Dayton, Ohio, meeting that the Air Force is getting ready to release “Air Force 2030,” a strategy aimed at determining “what” and “how” the service uses science and technology to maintain dominance against US adversaries: Dayton Business Journal.
—Russian jamming in Syria could disrupt commercial aviation in the area, the Federal Aviation Administration warned Oct. 9, saying in a notice to airmen that they should be aware of possible loss of global navigation satellite system signals in the Beirut flight-information region: Jane’s 360.
—The Air Force Public Affairs Entertainment Liaison Office recently participated in the filming of the movie “First Man,” starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon. The office has helped on hundreds of movies and TV shows: Air Force release.
—SrA Linda Wilson was recognized Oct. 2 at the 12th annual Angels of the Battlefield Awards Gala for her efforts at the deadliest shooting in modern US history, at the the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas in Oct. 2017. The aerospace medical technician with the 99th Medical Operations Squadron relied on her training and “selflessly ran towards gunfire to deliver lifesaving care to victims,” helped evacuate the injured and later took the lead triaging patients, the Air Force said: Air Force Medical Service release.