US, Coalition Aircraft Ramp Up Syria Strikes in Roundup of ISIS
US and coalition aircraft have increased their strikes on the remaining ISIS targets inside Syria as part of its effort to clean up the last remaining fighters, in what the coalition is calling Operation Roundup. Since May 1, US and coalition aircraft have conducted 132 strikes with 161 engagements. This is a 78 percent increase over the 74 strikes conducted in March, and is a pace that will likely surpass the 183 strikes reported in April, according to a Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve release. According to statistics released by Air Forces Central Command, there had been 309 coalition kinetic strike sorties through the first three months of the year resulting in 1,821 weapons released. Strikes have largely focused on the eastern Euphrates River Valley, with most taking place near the villages of Abu Kamal and Al Shadaddi. For example, on Thursday, US and coalition aircraft conducted eight strikes near Abu Kamal, hitting ISIS tactical units, an ISIS-held building, an ISIS weapons storage facility, and one supply route. —Brian Everstine
Global Strike Orders Weapons Inventory Following Losses at Minot
Air Force Global Strike Command on Friday said it had directed a weapons inventory across the command following the loss of a machine gun and grenade rounds at Minot AFB, N.D. A 91st Missile Wing Security Forces team from the base lost the rounds earlier this month, meanwhile the base said Thursday that during an inventory on Wednesday, “a M-240 7.62 caliber weapon was discovered missing.” Linda Frost, a spokeswoman for the command, said in an email to Air Force Magazine that “Air Force Global Strike Command takes the safety and security of our installations, our airmen, and the public very seriously. In the interest of safety and accountability, AFGSC leadership has directed an immediate command-wide weapons inventory.” —Steve Hirsch
ACC Deputy Director Defends Safety of Light-Combat Aircraft
A senior Air Combat Command official Friday defended the potential use of light-attack aircraft despite concerns that have been raised about their vulnerability. The Air Force began the second phase of its Light Attack Experiment at Holloman AFB, N.M., earlier this month, and if all goes well Secretary Heather Wilson said USAF plans to work with Congress to reprogram funds over the next five years so it can speed up procurement of a light attack aircraft. In a paper released Friday, AFA’s Mitchell Institute argued the service needs a fleet of 300 such aircraft to give it a needed boost in combat capacity. Some countries already use variations of this type of aircraft, said James Dunn, ACC deputy director for requirements in the directorate of plans, programs, and requirements, during the paper’s rollout in Arlington, Va. USAF also already uses similar aircraft, he added. “Our special operators, our AFSOC guys, are flying aircraft very similar to this class of aircraft,” said Dunn. The Air Force, he said, is evaluating potential vulnerabilities and ways to mitigate them. However, considering the environment the aircraft is expected to be used, as well as available technology and weapons, “We think we have an appropriate balance here.” According to the Mitchell paper, such light combat aircraft would conduct missions in various low-intensity operations, which are currently being conducted by a limited supply of fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft. A low-cost light combat aircraft would help the Air Force rebuild its capabilities more affordably, while lowering wear and tear on fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft, and increasing “reliability and readiness rates—especially in low-intensity operations.” —Steve Hirsch
USAF Adds Three New Events to Upcoming Warrior Games
The Air Force this year will host the Warrior Games for the first time since the Defense Department took over management, and it’s adding a few new events to the schedule. The 2018 Warrior Games, which will be held June 1-9 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., will include three new medal events: indoor rowing, paraolympic powerlifting, and cycling time trials. The indoor rowing will use a computer program to monitor how far an athlete rows in one-minute and four-minute races. The paraolympic powerlifting is a modified bench press, that’s “measured in relative strength,” so “how much weight can you push up on that bench press as it relates to your overall body weight,” said Kallie Quinn, the US Air Force team’s head coach. The Warrior Games has always had a cycling medal event, but it has traditionally only been a road race. This year athletes also will have an opportunity to medal in timed cycling trials, which are run in 30 second intervals, said Quinn. —Amy McCullough
—US officials say a training exercise called Blue Lightning with US B-52s and South Korean aircraft was cancelled in recent days after South Korea raised concerns about potential tension before the planned summit meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: Wall Street Journal.
—The Air Force on Thursday apologized for trying to use the “Yanny” or Laurel” meme in a tweet about responding to a Taliban attack in Afghanistan: CNN.
—More than 100 community leaders from 39 states attended the 65th National Security Forum at the Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Ala., earlier this month. The event, which is sponsored by the Secretary of the Air Force, looks to strengthen military and civilian relationships: Air Force release.
—Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., has won the Commander-in-Chief’s Installation Excellence Award, making it the top base in the Air Force. The base last won in 2012: Tucson News Now.
—If F-35s cannot land in Vermont, the state’s Air Guard is likely to be grounded, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told the Senate Appropriations Committee. The state’s congressional delegation has backed the basing of F-35s at the Burlington Air National Guard Base, even though the City Council voted to ask the Air Force to switch to a quieter aircraft: WCAX-TV.
—Afghan maintainers, with coalition support, have been able to repair six Mi-17s that were badly damaged from enemy forces: Air Force Release.
—President Donald Trump said Friday he had selected acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to head the department, making the announcement during a White House prison reform summit and telling the audience Wilkie didn’t know about the selection: Politico.
—Heather Penney, a senior fellow at AFA’s Mitchell Institute, was recognized with an honorary doctorate degree at Widener University in Philadelphia, Pa., on May 19. As part of the ceremony, Penney offered commencement remarks to the graduating class: Philly.com.