KC-46 Program Finishes Tests Required for First Delivery
The KC-46 program in early July finished the flight testing required for the first delivery of the aircraft in October, the service and Boeing announced Friday. On July 6, Boeing and the Air Force finished all of the test points for the KC-46’s Remote Vision System, which controls the refueling boom, along with receiver certifications for the F-16 and C-17. Lastly, the KC-46 in June finished testing for receiving fuel from the KC-135. These tests were the minimum required for the long-delayed delivery of the first KC-46. “With this milestone complete, the test program demonstrated a level of maturity that positions Boeing to deliver, and the Air Force to accept, an aircraft by the end of October 2018,” Air Force Service Acquisition Executive Will Roper said in a release. The test program is now moving on to the follow-on receiver testing and certifications that are required for operational testing, slated to begin next year, the release states. —Brian Everstine
KC-135s Damaged by Storm Return to Duty at Andersen
The KC-135s at Andersen AFB, Guam, that were damaged in a recent storm have been returned to operational duty, Pacific Air Forces said in a statement late Thursday. Tropical Storm Maria hit the base last week, damaging an undisclosed number of Stratotankers, which were then sidelined for repairs. Maintenance professionals and engineers at the base made progress, and “to date, all repairs have been accomplished on site with parts readily available in the inventory and without need for follow-on maintenance teams,” PACAF said in a statement. The aircraft are back on duty and “continue to ensure mission needs are met,” the statement reads. Air Force Magazine visited the tanker crews at Andersen late last month, where they are flying regularly to support the Air Force’s continuous bomber presence, along with fighter rotations through the region. —Brian Everstine
USAF, RAF Look to Keep Communication Lines Open as They Bring on F-35s
RAF FAIRFORD, ENGLAND—US Air Forces in Europe boss Gen. Tod Wolters said the US relationship with the United Kingdom is already “incredibly strong,” but it will only get stronger as the two nations work together to bring the F-35 online. RAF Marham accepted delivery of its first four F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing variants last month, and Wolters said having the fifth generation fighters in theater has already been “tremendously” helpful. Marham is located less than 20 nautical miles from RAF Lakenheath, where the USAF will begin bedding down its own F-35As in 2021. Wolters said in the near future USAF F-35A pilots will fly a simulator at RAF Lakenheath, while RAF F-35B pilots fly a sim at Marham, with both pilots talking to each other throughout the training. Read the full story from Amy McCullough, who is reporting from the Royal International Air Tattoo. ?
SkyGuardian RPA On Display At RIAT After First-Ever Trans-Atlantic Flight
A General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., MQ-9B SkyGuardian completed the first-ever trans-Atlantic flight for a medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft as it landed here for the Royal International Air Tattoo on July 11. “We knew we wanted to do something that really showed the strong relationship with our RAF customer in commemoration of the [Royal Air Force’s 100th anniversary],” Rob Walker, GA-ASI senior director of strategic development, told Air Force Magazine. “RIAT really is a show that celebrates RAF, so it rapidly became a no-brainer to select.” Read Amy McCullough’s full report from the RIAT. ?
Pentagon Limits Transfers of Post-9/11 Education Benefits
The Defense Department Thursday said that, starting in a year, it will limit service members’ eligibility to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits to family members to service members with less than 16 years of active duty or selected reserve service. Approvals for transferability of Post-9/11 bill still require a four-year commitment in the armed forces and the member must be eligible for a four-year retention. The change is a step to maintain the distinction of transferability as a retention incentive, Stephanie Miller, director of accessions policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said in a release. Service members who do not fulfill their service obligation because of “force-shaping” events, such as officers involuntarily separated because of being passed over twice for promotion, or enlisted personnel involuntarily separated for failure to meet minimum retention standards, will still be able to retain eligibility to transfer education benefits, even if they have not served their whole obligated service commitment through no fault of their own, the Pentagon said. —Steve Hirsch
Yokota’s Port of the Future Serving as a Model for USAF
The aerial port at the USAF hub in the Pacific is the most advanced in the service, and one the service wants to serve as a model for other mobility locations globally. The 515th Air Mobility Operations Group operates an aerial port that automatically positions and prioritizes pallets for airlift missions across the theater, cutting the amount of time and manpower needed to load an aircraft and get materiel on the move. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
MacDill Goes Joint With EOD Training
The 6th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight at MacDill AFB, Fla., on July 2 expanded its semiannual training session, bringing in the 927th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Joint Communication Support Element and the Army’s 5-159th G-Company General Support Aviation Battalion from Clearwater, Fla., participating with the EOD team for a joint, total force training exercise. According to the Air Force, all units reacted to simulated roadside bombs and combat and medical situations. The 927th ASTS added its Tactical Combat Care Course to the exercise, which included speaking and bleeding manikins, while JSCE medical operations experts joined to improve interoperability and consistency during training. —Steve Hirsch
—Linda Ambard, a violence prevention integrator assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo., was among the guests June 4 when President Trump invited 40 families of fallen service members to Washington for a reception and memorial service; Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, were so struck by Ambard’s story that Pence gave her a vice presidential commemorative coin: Air Force release.
—Northrop Grumman chairman and CEO Wes Bush said Thursday he will leave the CEO post Jan. 1 and remain as chairman through next July; the company’s board of directors has elected Kathy Warden, the company’s president and chief operating officer, to be CEO and president, effective Jan. 1: Northrop Grumman release.
—The Defense Security Service, set to take over background investigations for civilian and defense agencies, is reviewing submissions from a solicitation for new methods to conduct background checks: Defense One.