Debris Again Causes Air Force to Pause KC-46 Acceptance
The Air Force again stopped accepting KC-46A tankers from Boeing after more debris was found hidden in closed compartments, the service said Tuesday. Foreign object debris turned up last month, causing the Air Force to pause acceptance March 23—just two weeks after it had started accepting the new tankers again. Even more debris was discovered this week after the pause. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.
Wilson Officially Named Texas University President
The University of Texas System Board of Regents officially announced Tuesday Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson will become president of UT at El Paso effective Aug. 15. “Regents approved the appointment at a special called meeting of the board today,” according to a school system statement. “Wilson was unanimously selected as the sole finalist for the position at a board meeting March 8. Under state law, university governing boards must name finalists for a presidency at least 21 days before making an appointment.” Board Chairman Kevin Eltife noted that although some have raised concerns about Wilson’s fitness to lead a diverse school, including criticizing her voting record on LGBTQ issues while serving in Congress, “we also have considered Secretary Wilson’s professional experiences over decades, each of which demonstrated she has always focused on the well-being and advancement of the people and communities she has served.” In a surprise announcement last month, Wilson said she plans to resign May 31. —Rachel S. Cohen
USAF Considers Networking, Not Recapping, Aging ISR Planes
Legacy big-wing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance planes like the RC-135 variants could go the same way as the E-8C Joint STARS, which the Air Force is replacing with a network of sensors and satellites instead of a dedicated jet. Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told legislators on Tuesday the service is looking “at all of these capabilities” that are “platform-centric” in the same way the service is looking at the Advanced Battle Management System, the disaggregated family of systems that will eventually replace Joint STARS. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.
Shanahan Expects F-35 Deal With Turkey
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan thinks the F-35 impasse with Turkey will be resolved, and that country will agree, as the US has requested, to buy the Raytheon Patriot air defense system rather than the Russian S-400 Triumf. Meeting briefly with reporters Tuesday, Shanahan was asked what would happen to Turkey’s F-35s, now in the international F-35A training rotation at Luke AFB, Ariz. “I expect them to be delivered,” Shanahan said. His comments come just one day after the US halted the transfer of F-35 parts and technology to Turkey, one of the F-35 program’s international partners. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
Wolters: US “Competitive Advantage in Europe is Eroding”
AFRICOM Nominee: Russia, China Growing Concern in Africa
While the current fight against extremism is the top American concern in Africa, the rise of Russia and China will shape the US mission on the continent in the long-term, the nominee to take over US Africa Command said Tuesday. Gen. Stephen Townsend, currently the boss of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command and a past commander of the anti-ISIS coalition, said China’s rise will likely be his top priority in the future it builds bases and spreads influence on the continent. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Acquisition Report Shows Growth of Global Attack Programs, Secret Projects
The Air Force will spend the bulk of its fiscal 2020 acquisition dollars on global precision attack programs, such as fighters, bombers, and missiles, over special access programs, a role reversal from last year, according to a new report from the service released Tuesday. The annual acquisition report, which covers fiscal 2019 spending and the 2020 requests for the service’s major programs, highlights both the funding amounts and schedules for individual weapons systems. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Eglin’s Invisible Wounds Center to Become Part of New TBI, Post-Traumatic Stress Center
The Invisible Wounds Center at Eglin AFB, Fla., will soon become part of a new, state-of-the-art medical center specializing in traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress, and pain thanks to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a nonprofit that builds treatment facilities for US military service members dealing with TBI and PTS. Construction is slated to start in May, and is expected to be completed the same time next year, Arnold Fisher, senior partner at Fisher Brothers and the fund’s honorary chairman, told Air Force Magazine. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.
99 House Lawmakers Push For More F-35s
With Lockheed’s fifth-generation F-35 and Boeing’s fourth-generation F-15X in a dogfight for budget dollars, a bipartisan group of 99 House lawmakers has called on colleagues to add 24 F-35s over President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request, for a total of 102. Defense News
Air Force Gearing Up for Next A-10 Re-Winging Contract
The next contract for the “A-10-Thunderbolt II Advanced-Wing Continuation Kit,” known as “ATTACK,” is going through source selection and is expected to be awarded this fall, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Monday. The service has $267 million set aside to buy “about 20 total wings,” she said. Military.com
DOD Sexual Assault Audit
Victims of sexual assault were denied the opportunity to state their preference for how their cases were prosecuted for 21 of the 77 cases we reviewed. For the remaining 56 cases, Military Service officials provided insufficient documentation showing whether the victims were consulted on their preference for prosecuting offenses. DOD Inspector General Report
New Direction for Female-Specific Flight Equipment
The Air Force is working to redesign the gear used by female pilots across the force after facing challenges with current flight equipment. Air Force News
One More Thing ….
Ride ’em, Airmen
To help protect the nesting habitats of the Western snowy plover along its beaches, as well as other conservation efforts, Vandenberg Air Force Base is home to a patrol unit unlike any other within the U.S. Department of Defense. Santa Ynez Valley News