Mattis Says All Three Legs of Nuclear Triad are Necessary
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Wednesday that he has become convinced that the US must keep all three legs of its nuclear forces in order to maintain a credible deterrent. “I’ve questioned the triad,” Mattis told reporters in route to Minot AFB, N.D., according to the Omaha World-Herald. Minot is one of three ICBM bases, which make up the ground-launched portion of the triad. The US also has submarine-launched nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable bomber aircraft. “I cannot solve the deterrent problem reducing it from a triad,” Mattis said. “If I want to send the most compelling message, I have been persuaded that the triad in its framework is the right way to go.” After his visit to Minot, Mattis will travel to Offutt AFB, Neb., on Thursday to visit the headquarters of US Strategic Command. The Pentagon is working on a nuclear posture review ordered by President Donald Trump in April. —Wilson Brissett
USAF Contracts Boeing to Turn Boneyard 747s Into Air Force Ones
The Air Force on Sept. 12 awarded Boeing a $600 million contract to modify two 747-8s—salvaged from a Mojave desert boneyard—and turn them into the next iteration of Air Force One, the Presidential aircraft. Boeing will incorporate designs into the two aircraft, originally ordered by the now-defunct Russian airline Transaero, for a “mission communication system, electrical power upgrades, a medical facility, executive interior, self-defense system, and autonomous ground operations capabilities,” according to the service announcement. The original Presidential Aircraft Replacement program concept called for three airplanes, so this contract further solidifies that’s changed to two. The PAR is aimed at replacing the current VC-25A aircraft, around since the 1980s. The new airframes should be mission ready by 2024, according to an August statement from Maj. Gen. Duke Richardson, PAR program executive officer. —Gideon Grudo
For more on this topic, see The Next Air Force One from the June 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine.
Boeing Makes the Case for a Manned JSTARS Recap
Boeing’s entry for the JSTARS recapitalization program—a modified version of its 737-700 business jet—demonstrates the necessity of using a manned platform to meet the Air Force’s airborne surveillance and battle management mission, Rodney Meranda told reporters Wednesday. While some in Congress have worried that the new JSTARS program may be delayed or refocused around unmanned assets, Boeing’s capture team lead insisted that a manned JSTARS offers “something an unmanned platform can’t do.” Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
Spotlight: SrA. Kaitlyn J. Callahan
SrA. Kaitlyn J. Callahan, a physical medicine technician with the 341st Medical Operations Squadron at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., is one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2017. Callahan served as a physical therapy supervisor for eight months, treated 6,900 patients, and led her flight in winning the wing’s 2016 Professional Team of the Third Quarter award. Callahan’s oversight of two flight safety programs and 14,000 medical record reviews led to the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care Survey hailing the group as the “best-seen clinic in 35 years and 480 inspections” and the group’s Personnel Reliability Program’s “Outstanding” rating during the 2015 Nuclear Surety Inspection. Callahan volunteered 40 hours aiding disabled children and served as an Honor Guard member, completing 24 details. Finally, she won the 2016 US Air Force Physical Medicine Airman of the Year award. Air Force Magazine is shining the spotlight on each OAY in the days leading up to AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference, which starts Sept. 18 in National Harbor, Md.
Seymour-Johnson Finalized as KC-46 Main Operating Base
The Air Force confirmed on Wednesday that Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C., has been selected as first Reserve-led KC-46A Pegasus main operating base. The decision to center KC-46 tanker operations at Seymour-Johnson was initially made in October 2015 pending the results of an environmental impact study. “We notified Congress that everything went well with the environmental assessment,” Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanik said Wednesday. The 916th Air Refueling Wing will replace its current fleet of KC-135R aircraft with a total of 12 KC-46s. Delivery is expected during the second quarter of fiscal year 2020. —Wilson Brissett
—The State Department has approved a possible $5.23 billion Foreign Military Sale to Canada for 10 F/A-18E and eight F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft along with engines and various weapon systems: DSCA announcement.
—The State Department also has approved a possible $2.785 billion Foreign Military Sale to Bahrain for F-16V aircraft and support: DSCA announcement.
—The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, recently signed an educational partnership agreement with the University of Cincinnati’s College of Engineering enabling students to conduct materials research “in areas of interest to the Air Force:” USAF release.