US, Coalition Aircraft Set Record Highs in ISIS Fight, Afghanistan
US aircraft set record highs in both the fight against ISIS and in Afghanistan in August. In that month, US and coalition aircraft dropped 5,075 bombs in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria—the highest monthly total since Operation Inherent Resolve kicked off in August 2014. That number eclipsed the previous high, set in June, for a yearly total of 32,801—just over 2,000 more than all of 2016, according to statistics released by Air Forces Central Command. In Afghanistan, US aircraft released 503 weapons in August, the highest total since August 2012 when 589 bombs were dropped. This brings the total for 2017 to 2,487, which is already higher than every full year total since 2013. The increase in Afghanistan will continue through the year as the US sends additional troops as part of the White House’s new strategy for a “lasting victory” in the country. The 555th Fighter Squadron from Aviano AB, Italy, originally deployed to Afghanistan in May and in late August sent additional F-16s to build up the amount of aircraft at Bagram Airfield. The buildup in Afghanistan is also seeing the return of airdrops. So far this year, US aircraft have dropped 12,076 pounds of supplies. There were no airdrops in 2015 and 2016. —Brian Everstine
Air Force Awards L-3 Compass Call Contract
The Air Force on Sept. 7 awarded an undefinitized contract action to L-3 Technologies to move equipment from the EC-130H Compass Call to Gulfstream G-550 business jets. The new Compass Call program will now be called EC-X, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement to Air Force Magazine. The award comes shortly after the Government Accountability Office denied a protest from Boeing and Bombardier against the Air Force’s planned recapitalization of the EC-130H fleet. L-3 has already upgraded the platforms on the EC-130, and these systems will be “cross decked” to the new platform. The GAO, in its denial of the protest, said an award to Boeing would “require the transfer of classified information to two contractors, despite the agency’s finding that it cannot transfer such information to any contractor other than L3.” The award does not have a cost value yet. —Brian Everstine
Flying into the Eye of a Hurricane
During Maj. Jeremy DeHart’s Sept. 6 journey into the heart of Hurricane Irma, he and his crew had “seven or eight minutes” to gather data about the storm and send it off the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center for further analysis. As their WC-130J punched through the storm wall into the eye of the hurricane, DeHart said it felt like he was on a “roller coaster.” Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.
A-10 Pilots that Crashed Were in Weapons School
The two A-10s that crashed Wednesday evening near Nellis AFB, Nev., were flying as part of the US Air Force Weapons School and were carrying chaff and inert munitions at the time of the crash. The two A-10s, assigned to the 66th Weapons Squadron at Nellis, were flying on a routine training mission when they crashed at about 8 p.m. on the Nevada Test and Training Range, according to a Nellis release. The pilots ejected and were taken to the Mike O’Callaghan Military Medical Center at Nellis. They were released early Thursday with no significant injuries. The Air Force is investigating the crash.
Spotlight: TSgt. Kyle T. Wilson
TSgt. Kyle T. Wilson, an Airman Leadership School instructor with the 86th Force Support Squadron at Ramstein AB, Germany, is one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2017. Wilson was instrumental to the success of the Ramstein Airman Leadership School’s mission. He educated 1,407 frontline supervisors across 2,800 classroom hours. Then a staff sergeant, he filled in as the ALS commandant and managed the schoolhouse’s training program while the school transitioned an unprecedented 10 cadre members in a 12-month period. During this time, his professionalism and commitment culminated in his selection as the Air Force’s only staff sergeant certified as a Core Values coach. As a direct result of his mentorship and guidance, Wilson’s team was selected as the Air Force’s A1 Professional Development Team of the Year. 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.
Defense Organizations Urge Congress to Avoid Continuing Resolution
Twelve defense-related organizations, including the Air Force Association, on Sept. 7 sent a leader to congressional leadership urging lawmakers to fully fund the government for all of Fiscal 2018 instead of a short-term continuing resolution. Action “within a very short time frame” is needed to avoid a government shutdown and a potential default. “These damaging effects are set to play out again if Congress does not reach agreement to continue government funding,” the letter states. Congress is likely to pass a short term continuing resolution funding the government until at least December before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. “The Air Force is already suffering readiness issues, and continuing resolutions delay the start of new acquisition programs, services, and training that are critical to the warfighters. They waste dollars by preventing the termination of obsolete programs. The Air Force needs full defense appropriations at the earliest opportunity,” said Denise Hollywood, AFA Vice President and Executive Director. —Brian Everstine
US Strikes Al Shabaab for Second Time in Three Days
US aircraft on Sept. 7 again struck Al-Shabaab in Somalia, the second time within three days as part of an increasing campaign in that country. An undisclosed aircraft killed one Al-Shabaab fighter near Baraawe, nearly 170 miles southwest of Mogadishu at 2:45 p.m. local time, according to a US Africa Command release. Two days earlier, a US aircraft killed three fighters in another airstrike. Both strikes were conducted in coordination with the Somali government. The strikes are “within the parameters” granted by President Trump in March to allow lethal action against Al-Shabaab. —Brian Everstine
—Senior Air Force leaders will visit Alaska, Canada, and Greenland next week to be understand what it’s like operating in the Arctic: Air Force release.
—Six of 13 people aboard an Air Force Reserve bus were injured when it collided with a semi truck in Minnesota: Air Force Times.