Maintenance Issues, Availability Rate Shortfalls Plaguing Pave Hawk Fleet
The Air Force’s combat search and rescue fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks are flying well beyond their service lives and face increasing maintenance challenges as the service works to bring on its replacement. The Government Accountability Office, in a report released Thursday, detailed issues with the current HH-60G fleet, such as a mission capable rate of 68 percent, below the Air Force’s desired rate of 75 percent. Pave Hawks spent 332 days in depot maintenance on average in Fiscal 2017, compared to 233 days in Fiscal 2007. The current 96-helicopter fleet averages about 7,100 flight hours, 18 percent more than the initial expected life of 6,000 hours. Sikorsky Corp. is planning to accelerate the schedule for the helicopter’s replacement, the HH-60W Pave Hawk II, with a goal of delivery as early as March 2020. —Brian Everstine
China Likely Training for Attacks on US, Allied Targets, Pentagon Report Says
China is likely training for bomber strikes against US and allied targets, the Pentagon said in a report released Thursday. The Defense Department made the statement in its annual report to Congress on military and security developments involving China for 2018. The People’s Liberation Army, the report said in a section on overwater bomber operations, “has long been developing air strike capabilities to engage targets as far away from China as possible.” In the last three years, the report said, “the PLA has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against US and allied targets.“ The PLA, the report says, may continue to extend operations, demonstrating the ability to hit US and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific, including Guam. “Such flights could potentially be used as a strategic signal to regional states, although the PLA has thus far has not been clear what messages such flights communicate beyond a demonstration of improved capabilities,” the report said. In addition, it said PLA strategists see the ability to use space-based systems, as well as to deny them to adversaries, as central to today’s warfare. “The PLA continues to strengthen its military space capabilities despite its public stance against the militarization of space,” the report said, adding that space operations are “viewed as a key enabler of PLA campaigns aimed at countering third-party intervention.” —Steve Hirsch
USAF Space Systems Supply Chain at Risk, Pentagon Report Says
Air Force Space Command has not taken needed steps to control the supply chain for key space systems, the Defense Department Inspector General claims in a new report. The report, “Air Force Space Command Supply Chain Risk Management of Strategic Capabilities,” finds the command did not fully implement Pentagon supply chain risk management policy for the Space Based Infrared System, in that it did not take the steps to thoroughly analyze and identify the critical components and associated suppliers to manage risks to the system; submit complete and accurate requests to conduct threat assessments of critical component suppliers; require the purchase of application-specific integrated circuits from trusted suppliers using trusted and accredited processes; or ensure the use of rigorous test and evaluation capabilities. The report, which was released Aug. 14, found similar concerns in a limited review of the Air Force Satellite Control Network, the Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals, and the Global Positioning System. Consequently, an adversary could “infiltrate the Air Force Space Command supply chain and sabotage, maliciously introduce an unwanted function, or otherwise compromise the design or integrity of the critical hardware, software, and firmware,” the report said. The report recommended that the AFSPC develop a plan of action for the SBIRS system to comply with Pentagon supply chain risk management system. The report also called on the AFSPC to review supply chain risk management for the other systems and other programs critical to the command to ensure compliance with Pentagon supply chain risk management policy and, if deficiencies are found, develop a plan to correct the them. AFSPC agreed with the recommendations and said it would take specific steps to address the report’s recommendations. — Steve Hirsch
Vance T-38 Crashes, Pilot Ejects
A T-38 pilot was able to eject before the aircraft crashed Friday west of Vance AFB, Okla. The instructor pilot, who was flying solo at the time of the mishap, was not seriously injured. The Talon crashed about 70 miles east of the base at about 1:48 p.m., according to a Vance relea?se. The aircraft is a total loss. It was the third crash involving a T-38 within the past year. In November, a T-38 at Laughlin AFB, Texas, crashed near Del Rio, Texas, killing one pilot. In May, a Talon from Columbus AFB, Miss, crashed, with both pilots able to eject. —Brian Everstine
McChord Crews Complete Unexpected Firsts During Deep Freeze
The 2018 Operation Deep Freeze season in Antarctica featured two firsts, both unexpected. Deep Freeze is a 63-year-old mission where USAF airlifters support the National Science Foundation’s facilities in Antarctica. C-17s from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., airlift supplies and personnel to McMurdo Station. This year, troublesome weather delayed several missions to the point where, when the skies cleared, the C-17 crews flew at a record pace. “We were challenged with quite a few delays caused by winters storms, which put us behind to start the season,” Lt. Col. Trace Dotson, commander of the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, in an Air Mobility Command release. “We were so far behind that our team flew six days in a row once the weather cleared.” During the recent season, the squadron also flew an upgraded Block 21 C-17 for Deep Freeze flights, another first. The squadron’s assigned aircraft had a maintenance issue, so the 304th EAS swapped it in the middle of the deployment to the upgraded Globemaster III, according to the release. —Brian Everstine
Faller Nominated to Take Over Southern Command
President Trump on Thursday nominated Navy Vice Adm. Craig Faller to be the next commander of US Southern Command. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced the move in a speech Thursday in Santiago, Chile, before the formal announcement was made. Fuller, who will rise to the rank of admiral if confirmed, is currently the senior military assistant to Mattis. Previously he has served as the director of operations at US Central Command and commander of Navy Recruiting Command. Fuller, if confirmed, will replace Adm. Kurt Tidd. —Brian Everstine
Security Forces Airman Received Minor Injury in Wright-Patterson Incident
A security forces airman suffered a “laceration” during the recent reported active shooter situation at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. The base earlier convened a board to look into the chaotic response to the report, during which a security forces airman shot at a locked door, although the report turned out to be an error, Associated Press reported. Wright-Patterson spokesperson Marie Vanover told Air Force Magazine on Friday that “a Security Forces Defender received a minor injury, a laceration, during the incident,” but could provide no further details. —Steve Hirsch
—Melting ice at the Gauli Glacier in Switzerland is uncovering the wreckage of an Army C-53 transport plan that crashed in 1946: The New York Times.
—Two Russian nuclear-capable bombers have flown to the easternmost point of the country, near Alaska, during a recent exercise: The Associated Press.
—The city of Biloxi, Miss., is hoping to have the remains of a local native, 1st Lt. Robert Philip Gaude Jr., who was killed during the Korean War, returned to the city: Biloxi Sun-Herald.
—China plans to launch a series of surveillance satellites to keep watch over the country’s man-made islands in the South China Sea: South China Morning Post.