JPO Seeks to Slash F-35A Flight-Hour Costs

The F-35 program is driving toward two goals to drop the Air Force variant’s cost per flying hour over the next several years, seeking to hit $34,000 per flying hour by 2024 and $25,000 by 2025, the head of the F-35 Joint Program Office told lawmakers Thursday. But the Pentagon’s cost assessment and program evaluation director said the Defense Department doesn’t have a path to reach the lower number, noting that flying-hour costs are projected to flatten and rise as the jets age and need more maintenance. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

DOD Announces Steps to Combat Sexual Assault as New Report Details Prevalence

The Pentagon is announcing new steps to combat sexual assault, including designating sexual harassment as a standalone crime and creating a program to catch offenders, as a newly released report shows the increasing prevalence of assault in the military. The 2018 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military states that last year there were 6,053 reports of sexual assault, though there were an estimated 20,500 total assaults committed, with only 1 in 3 reported. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Lifetime Cost of New Nuclear Patrol Helicopter Pegged at $18.6B

The Air Force’s new fleet of MH-139 helicopters, provided by Boeing and Leonardo, is expected to cost nearly $19 billion over the course of its life, the service said in a report to lawmakers that Air Force Magazine viewed this week. A September 2018 service cost position for the UH-1N Huey replacement program, for which the Air Force chose the MH-139 last September, set the total life cycle cost at $18.6 billion. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Pentagon Finishes F-35, A-10 Comparison Testing

Comparative testing of the Air Force’s F-35 and A-10 to measure their performance in combat search-and-rescue, close air support, and airborne forward air control missions wrapped up earlier this spring, and should spur conversations about how best to partner fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft in combat, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester said Thursday. The 2016 and 2017 National Defense Authorization Acts ban the Air Force from retiring or divesting A-10s until the F-35 is vetted to see how well it can perform the Warthog’s missions. As anticipated, the F-35 proved to be a valuable close air support asset, the testing found. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Wolters Takes Command of EUCOM, NATO

USAF Gen. Tod Wolters took over command of US European Command and became NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe during a Thursday ceremony. Wolters, formerly the head of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, took over for retiring Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who had led EUCOM since 2016. During a ceremony at EUCOM’s Stuttgart, Germany, headquarters, Wolters said his goal with the command is to continue the mission to “deter and generate peace,” the “solemn perpetual goal.” “We’ll continue to fortify our stance and speed and push our competitive advantage as high as humanly possible,” he said. The ceremony was presided over by Army Secretary Mark Esper. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was expected, but he remained in Washington, D.C., to coordinate with other government agencies as clashes continue in Venezuela. —Brian Everstine

Texas Reserve F-16s Deploy to Romania

F-16s and airmen from the Reserve 457th Fighter Squadron deployed to Campia Turzii, Romania, as a theater security package. The airmen and aircraft, based at JRB Fort Worth, Texas, are deployed as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve—ongoing deployments to Eastern Europe under the European Deterrence Initiative to show support to NATO allies in the region. Previous packages have included deployments to Estonia, Bulgaria, and Hungary, among others. During this deployment, the F-16s and airmen will fly in readiness exercises with NATO allies, according to a US Air Forces in Europe release. —Brian Everstine


U.S. Airstrikes and Raids Killed 120 Civilians in 2018, Pentagon Says

The American military killed 120 civilians in strikes, raids and firefights across two continents in 2018, the Pentagon said Thursday — a far lower number than what watchdog groups previously have reported. The New York Times

OTS Beta Courses Aim to Test Shortened Commissioning Program for SNCOs

Today, Air Education and Training Command officials are reimagining how Airmen are developed and are announcing two beta course tests that would shorten the officer commissioning program for senior NCOs. AETC News

China’s Stealth Jet May Be Ready This Year, U.S. Commander Says

China may declare its first stealth fighter operational this year as it also develops long-range bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons, part of a regional buildup by Beijing that the U.S. is closely monitoring, according to the U.S. Air Force’s Pacific commander. Bloomberg

Shanahan Outlines China Threat

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan told a House hearing on Wednesday that countering the threat posed by China is one of the Pentagon’s highest priorities. The Washington Times

Senior US Military Officials Tour the Arctic as the Region Copes with Changing Climate and Shifting Security Demands

A contingent of senior Air Force leaders and other high-ranking officials are visiting multiple locations across the Arctic April 27-May 3 in an attempt to better understand operational challenges and refine approaches for meeting the changing security dynamics in the region. Air Force News

The US Military Doesn’t Follow Its Own Rules When Investigating Domestic Violence on Bases

An analysis of more than 200 cases of domestic violence at eight military installations has determined that commanders and law enforcement personnel are not following their own rules when investigating and handling these cases and their victims. Task and Purpose

U.S. House Panel Will Hold May 15 Hearing on Grounded Boeing 737 MAX

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a May 15 hearing on the grounded Boeing 737 MAX and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) aircraft certification program, three people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday. Reuters

One More Thing …

Video: It’s All ‘Because of You’

The first video in a new series voiced by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein focuses on the contributions of aviators. Next in line: maintainers, with more community tributes to follow. “These are the Air Force’s defining characteristics, our core values, our ethos – and what drives the Air Force to impressive heights,” Goldfein wrote on his official Facebook page. The videos will eventually be grouped together on either YouTube and/or the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).