More T-6 Pilots Reporting Physiological Incidents Even As Fleet Returns to Flight
All of the Air Force’s T-6 training fleet has returned to flight, but pilots are still reporting hypoxia-like physiological incidents. The Air Force grounded its entire T-6 trainer fleet in early February after pilots reported hypoxia-like incidents in flight. Air Force engineers had determined that parts of the jet’s onboard oxygen generating system were “failing at a much higher rate than anticipated,” USAF Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told lawmakers last month. Air Education and Training Command replaced those parts and as of mid-April all 444 T-6s were cleared to return to flight. This was faster than Goldfein predicted—in his testimony to the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing, Goldfein said the whole fleet would by airworthy by summer. The issues have continued, however. There have been 12 physiological incidents involving the T-6s since March 1, and as of Wednesday there were “currently no plans for a stand down,” AETC spokeswoman 1st Lt. Geneva Croxton said in an email to Air Force Magazine. T-6 pilots are flying without any restrictions to flight parameters or training profiles, Col. Lee Gentile, the deputy commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing, told Aviation Week. —Brian Everstine
Fighter Roadmap Coming Soon, Along With Air Dominance AOA
A “Fighter Roadmap” explaining how the Air Force sees its fighter/attack fleet evolving in the coming years is set to be completed in time for budget deliberations this fall, Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes said in an interview. At about the same time, an analysis of alternatives should be finished offering senior defense leaders options on how to achieve and exploit air superiority in the 2030 timeframe. Both documents will provide a basis for USAF’s Program Objective Memoranda and congressional action on the Fiscal 2020 budget, Holmes reported. He also said solving the problem of communications between fifth and fourth generation fighters is one that will have to be addressed jointly, and that USAF will need to invest in contract Red Air for at least a few years. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
Air Force Expands Space Training for Allies
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Claiming it is “time to build on years of collaboration to deepen our relationships with our allies and partners in space,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson Tuesday night said the Air Force will expand the availability of space training to allies. She made her remarks in her keynote address at the 34th Space symposium, also announcing moves to accelerate acquisition and to restructure the space and Missiles System Center to cut the time needed to build the next-generation missile warning satellites. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.
Space Capabilities Key to Raids Like Syria Strike, Goldfein Says
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein Tuesday stressed the importance of space capabilities in military actions like last week’s US raid on Syria. Speaking to reporters before Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson’s keynote address at the Space Symposium here—during which she said allied countries’ access to US space training would be expanded—Goldfein said he could not think of too many parts of the mission that had not been directly affected or supported by space capabilities. In such a mission, he said, a director for space forces in the combined air operations center determines what space capabilities will be needed. Then, he said, space is integral for defining the battlefield and dispatching forces “because not only do you need to know where our friendly forces are, but we have to also know where adversarial forces are.” In addition, he said, the strike itself involves use of precision-guided weapons. So, all of these mission aspects—setting the theater, planning the mission, and assessing the results of the strike—“have space capabilities that are built-in.” —Steve Hirsch
Understanding of Space Threat in Washington has Greatly Increased, Hyten Says
COLORADO SPRING, Colo.—Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the commander of US Strategic Command, said Tuesday that understanding of the strategic threat in space has increased greatly in Washington in recent years. Speaking to reporters during the 34th Space Symposium here, the former head of Air Force Space Command said that while five years ago there was very little understanding of the threat, now there is “a broad understanding that continues to expand.” He pointed to the identification of the problem—the threat and the need to respond to the threat—in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, significant discussions in the press and in the public domain of space as a warfighting domain, and of the possibility of a Space Corps or force. That identification, he said, has allowed increased engagement by defense officials with Congress on the space threat, which has included sharing a detailed tabletop exercise with the Senate and House Armed Services Committees “so they can see the full implication of all the things that we’re worried about.” —Steve Hirsch
Pace of Airstrikes in Afghanistan Surpasses that of Anti-ISIS Fight
US airstrikes in Afghanistan have surpassed the total airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria for the first time since the early days of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to statistics released Wednesday by Air Forces Central Command. US manned and unmanned aircraft released 339 weapons against the Taliban and IS-K in Afghanistan in March, down from 469 the month before. This comes as US and coalition manned and unmanned aircraft released 294 weapons as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, by far the lowest total since the first month of the operation. So far this year, US aircraft have flown 1,236 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance sorties in Afghanistan along with 831 tanker sorties. This compares to 1,964 ISR sorties and 2,163 tanker sorties as part of Inherent Resolve. —Brian Everstine
—AFA’s senior director of government relations, in a recent op-ed, notes that without air superiority “all military endeavors are at risk.” However, without “drastic changes” the US could lose this capability within the next 10-15 years: Defense News.
—The Portuguese Air Force in May will take the lead of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission with four F-16M fighters based at Siauliai AB, Lithuania. Spain also will contribute six Eurofighters at Siauliai and France will deploy four Mirage 2000-5 jets to Amari AB, Estonia: NATO release.
—Deloitte and Touche LLP have been awarded a contract worth up to $800 million for “financial improvement” and audit support: DOD contract announcement.
—North and South Korean leaders are expected to meet next week to discuss ways to ease tensions between the two countries and possibly put an official end to the Korean War. The countries have been operating under armistice since 1953; an official Peace Treaty has never been signed: Bloomberg. (For more on how armistice has helped maintain stability in the region, read: Keeping Peace in Korea from the November 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine.)