Pilot Killed When USAF Aircraft Crashes Near Nellis
An Air Force aircraft crashed on Sept. 5 while flying a training mission near Nellis AFB, Nev., killing the pilot, Lt. Col Eric Schultz, according to a service press release. The crash, which occurred at the Nevada Test and Training Range about 100 miles northwest of the base, took place just two days after two A-10s crashed on the same range. The A-10 pilots safely ejected. The cause of both accidents is under investigation. The Air Force has declined to identify the type of aircraft involved in the fatal crash or the unit to which it was assigned because of classification, according to a Nellis spokesperson. “I can definitely say it was not an F-35,” Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told a reporter for Military.com on Saturday, countering initial media reports. The aircraft was assigned to Air Force Materiel Command. USAF’s refusal to identify it suggests it was either a “black” or secret aircraft, potentially a prototype in development, or possibly an adversary aircraft being evaluated for advantages and weaknesses, such as was done with the “Red Eagle” squadron in years past. Schultz, a test pilot with multiple advanced degrees including a doctorate in aerospace engineering, was a native of Annapolis, Md.. He had more than 2,000 hours of flying experience, according to the Capital Gazette, which received an obituary from Schultz’s family. Schultz had completed more than 200 missions flight testing the F-35 and CF-18 and had also flown more than 50 close air support missions in an F-15E while deployed to Afghanistan. He had also worked as director of operations and exchange officer with the Canadian Forces Flight Test Center and as a systems engineer for the airborne laser program, according to the Capital Gazette.
Trump Signs Three-Month Continuing Resolution
President Donald Trump on Friday signed into law a continuing resolution to fund the federal government at current levels through December 8. The measure, which allows federal spending beyond the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, was attached to a bill providing $15.25 billion in disaster relief funding. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) voted against the bill because they object to the impact of another continuing resolution on military readiness and long-term planning. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
Spotlight: SSgt. Stephen F. Lapointe
SSgt. Stephen F. Lapointe, a combat controller assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope AAF, N.C., is one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2017. Lapointe was a vital member of a 120-day joint task force rotation, supporting Navy special operation forces as the air-to-ground subject matter expert. He conducted 75 missions and seven strikes, taking out 30 enemy combatants. While conducting a mission ordered by the President, he identified and controlled an austere landing zone and close air support, eliminating a high-value target. Lapointe’s attention to detail prevented a catastrophic civilian casualty incident when he made a critical “abort” call during a fire mission, saving crucial political and military relationships. He also served as primary air traffic controller in a high-threat environment, controlling 244 aircraft with zero mishaps. Additionally, Lapointe instructed Navy joint terminal attack controllers, qualifying four Navy personnel. 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.
Draken Buys 20 Spanish F1s to Help Train Airmen at Nellis
Draken International on Friday closed a deal with the Spanish Air Force, purchasing 20 Mirage F1 fighter aircraft. The supersonic F1s will complement Draken’s existing fleet, which is currently flying on contract at Nellis AFB, Nev., supporting the Air Warfare Center. “Our mission is to provide the most cost effective solution to complement organic Red Air assets. We deliver a turnkey solution at a fraction of the cost the Air Force would spend generating the same number of sorties we produce everyday. Not only are we generating four to five sorties for the cost of a single F-16 flight hour, each flying hour preserves valuable life on USAF aircraft. Tremendous savings happen when squadrons are not tapped to go TDY away from their families to support Nellis with an already tiring deployment schedule,” said Draken CEO Jared Isaacman. The Mirage F1s are projected to include a helmet mounted cueing system, infrared missile seekers, data link, and electronic jamming from its radar as well as radar warning receiver capabilities.
White House Releases Policy Statement as Senate Begins NDAA Debate
The Senate began floor debate on the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act Monday. While it will take a number of days for lawmakers to work through more than 400 proposed amendments, the White House registered its views in a policy statement on the Senate bill released Sept. 7 The Trump administration asked the Senate to add a new round of BRAC, include specific counter-unmanned aircraft system authorities, and slow down developments in missile defense among other issues. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
—Some 4,600 service members were conducting relief operations in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Monday as Hurricane Irma continued moving across Florida, where another 10,400 troops were conducting relief operations. Homestead ARB, Fla., was in “good condition,” while DOD had not yet completed the assessment of Naval Air Station Key West: DOD hurricane update.
—“A small number of Resolute Support service members and Afghan civilians” were wounded on Sept. 11 when a suicide bomber attacked their convoy with a vehicle borne improvised explosive device near the village of Qal’eh-ye Musa Bala in the Parwan Province. None of the troops injuries are considered life threatening, but the condition of the Afghan civilians was not known: CENTCOM release.
—Two USAF B-1B bombers on Sept. 9 flew a training mission from Andersen AFB, Guam, alongside two Japanese F-15s over the East China Sea. The bombers are deployed from Ellsworth AFB, S.D.: PACAF release.