US, South Korea to More Closely Align Deterrence Strategies
The US and South Korean governments on Tuesday announced they will more closely align their deterrence strategy. The announcement comes as South Korea gives the greenlight to additional THAAD deployments, and President Trump says he has approved more military sales to both South Korea and Japan. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Air Force Tracks, Prepares for Hurricane Irma
The Air Force is again preparing for another major storm to make landfall. Homestead ARB, Fla., on Tuesday moved to Hurricane Condition IV, warning that destructive winds are possible within 72 hours. The base planned to move its F-16s to NAS Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, on Wednesday. The Air Force’s Hurricane Hunters of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron deployed to St. Croix on Sunday, and have flown multiple missions into Hurricane Irma to help accurately forecast the storm, the 403rd Wing announced. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
F-16 Crashes in Arizona
An Iraqi F-16 training with the Arizona Air National Guard crashed Tuesday afternoon during a training flight, killing the pilot. The jet, which was assigned to the 162nd Wing out of Tucson ANGB, crashed at about 3 p.m. local time near the town of Safford, the wing said in a Facebook update Tuesday night. Rescue efforts were underway and the Air Force has convened a safety board to investigate the crash, according to the wing. The 162nd Wing is a training wing for Air National Guard pilots, which also trains international F-16 pilots. –Brian Everstine
Aviano Sends More F-16s to Afghanistan
The “Triple Nickel” from Aviano AB, Italy, recently deployed additional F-16s to build up its already deployed fleet at Bagram AB, Afghanistan. The undisclosed number of additional F-16s landed at Bagram on Aug. 31, according to Air Forces Central Command, and were ready to begin combat missions within hours. The 555th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron has already dropped more than 600 bombs during its deployment before the additional aircraft arrived. The squadron marked the 555th bomb it dropped, writing “I’m Bomb 555!” on it before a mission in late August. “To hit 555 bombs is proof positive that we’ve been extremely busy,” a weapons loader at Bagram said in a video marking the milestone. The deployment comes as the US is increasing its presence in the country. The Army announced last week it was sending about 1,200 more soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division from JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, to eastern Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press. President Trump on Aug. 21 announced a coming buildup of forces in Afghanistan, along with a change in rules of engagement, focused on a “lasting victory” in the country. —Brian Everstine
Spotlight: MSgt. Michael J. Stevens
MSgt. Michael J. Stevens, a military training flight chief with the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2017. Stevens was instrumental in directing Air Force Materiel Command’s sole military training program by ensuring the health, morale, and safety of 486 airmen. He improved a dormitory entry-control program that reduced unauthorized entries to zero. He led the Airman Leadership Program at the 711th Human Performance Wing, mentoring and developing 71 airmen. This resulted in 24 distinguished and honor graduates, the highest rate in three years. He set up an airman development program, leading 80 mentoring sessions that shaped three Airman Quarterly Award winners. Furthermore, he finalized an agreement that saved the Air Force $921,000 in annual basic allowance for housing. Stevens’ professionalism and leadership abilities were key to his selection as AFMC’s 2015 NCO Military Training Leader 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.
United Technologies Buys Rockwell Collins
United Technologies, parent company of Pratt & Whitney, which makes engines, space suits, aircraft sensors, generators, auxiliary power units, and myriad accessories for military and commercial aircraft, announced Monday night that it’s buying Rockwell Collins for $23 billion, plus taking over $7 billion in the company’s debt. Rockwell Collins makes a wide variety of assorted aircraft accessories, such as cockpit displays, avionics, flight controls, landing gear, engine controls, and commercial airline interior amenities. Rockwell’s major Air Force programs include the F-35 helmet (along with Elbit of Israel), the guidance section of the JDAM precision-guided bomb, and GPS receivers. After the deal is made final, a new company under UTC will be formed, called Collins Aerospace Systems. It will be comprised of the old Rockwell Collins and UTC Aerospace Systems, which does not include Pratt & Whitney. UTC is expected to become a $7 billion company when the merger is completed. UTC’s CEO, Greg Hayes, called the acquisition “compelling” and will allow the larger company to create new innovations based on the “integrated companies’ expertise in developing electrical, mechanical, and software solutions.” The two companies have both overlapping and complementary product lines, and the merger should make it more competitive against Boeing, which in recent years has pursued a similar vertical integration strategy. UTC sold off its Sikorsky helicopter business to Lockheed Martin in 2015. —John A. Tirpak
Northrop Gets $265 Million Battlefield Communication Node Contract
Northrop Grumman on Tuesday received a $265 million contract for maintenance and support of its Battlefield Airborne Communications Node. The BACN system, used on high-altitude aircraft, translates and distributes voice communications, video, imagery, and other information, according to a Northrop release. The system extends communications from different users on aircraft such as EQ-4 Global Hawks and manned aircraft. The new contract covers maintenance for four Bombardier E-11A, converted business jets outfitted with the system. It is a base year contract with four option years, according to Northrop. —Brian Everstine
Tackling the Migrant Crisis
Reservists with USAF and US Coast Guard last week hosted an exercise with NATO representatives focused on military and civilian ways to address the migrant crisis across Europe, Africa, and the Mediterranean Sea. Thirteen NATO nations met in Prague to participate in the exercise, called CIMEX, which focused on the “core causes of migration and its effects from different perspectives: maritime, legal, resilience, and national internal defense,” said USAF Col. Vanessa Dornhoefer, the individual mobilization augmentee to the director of logistics and a leader of the tabletop exercise, in a release. The yearly event, which is sponsored by NATO’s confederation of Reserve officers, focuses on different problems every year, with last year’s event focusing on refugees. American, French, Hungarian, Canadian, German, and British speakers focused on ways to counter violent extremism, military resilience, the role of militaries in migration and internal security, building refugee reception centers, and Coast Guard operations, according to the release. —Brian Everstine
—A detachment of the Air Force Reserve’s 710th Combat Operations Squadron at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., activated at Shaw AFB, S.C., on Sept. 1. Det. 1 “will become a Total Force partner” with the 609th Air Operations Center and Air Forces Central Command in support of Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein’s third focus area: enhancing multi-domain command and control: AFCENT release.
—The Air Force is expanding the scope of runway repairs at Offutt AFB, Neb., to include replacing roughly one fourth of the 11,700-foot runway, which was built just before World War II. The new project will take about a year to complete, instead of the initial six-month projection, and it will be more expensive, but it will double the life of the runway from 10 to 20 years: Omaha World-Herald.
—Hurlburt Field’s weather flight, which provides weather forecasts for local training sorties, has transferred from the 1st Special Operations Support Squadron to the 23rd Special Operations Weather Squadron, which provides weather support for SOF forces across the globe. The merger allows the 23rd SOWS to control weather forecasts from the beginning to the end of a mission: Hurlburt release.
—Lockheed Martin’s second GPS III satellite has successfully completed an acoustic environmental test meant to simulate “pressure and pounding vibrations generated by more than 700,000 pounds of thundering rocket thrust:” company release.