CBO: Nuclear Arsenal Operation, Maintenance Will Cost $1.2 Trillion
It will cost $1.2 trillion to maintain and modernize the military’s total nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years, a new Congressional Budget Office report claims. While this total is expensive, it would cost even more if the military did not modernize and just maintained its existing system. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Senate Confirms New Air Force IG, Deputy Chief of Staff for Space
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed two senior Air Force positions: Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris to be the service’s next inspector general, and Maj. Gen. David Thompson for his third star and to be the deputy chief of staff for space. Harris, who currently is the assistant vice chief of staff and director of the Air Staff, has also previously served as the commander of 22nd Air Force and the mobilization assistant to the commander of Air Mobility Command. Thompson, currently the vice commander of Air Force Space Command, will be the first to serve in the A11 position. The Air Force created the position to create a leader who solely focuses on integrating space operations into the overall US military. (For more about the new A11 position, see The Space Corps Question from the October issue of Air Force Magazine.) —Brian Everstine
Shaw F-16s Deploy to Afghanistan
F-16s and airmen from the 77th Fighter Squadron at Shaw AFB, S.C., recently deployed to Bagram Airfield where they will take over air support for combat operations in Afghanistan. The aircraft deployed on Oct. 26, taking over for F-16s from the 555th Fighter Squadron at Aviano AB, Italy, that had been deployed for six months. The deployment comes as combat operations have increased—the August total of 503 weapons released was the highest since 2012 in Afghanistan. The increased operations tempo prompted the 555th to build up its contingent of F-16s at Bagram, sending an undisclosed number of additional jets to augment the original deployment. The 77th F-16s will operate at Bagram alongside MQ-9s, C-130Js, and E-11s, according to an Air Forces Central Command release. —Brian Everstine
Navy Jets Escort Russian Bombers Away from Aircraft Carrier
Two F/A-18s from the USS Ronald Reagan escorted Russian bombers away from the ship on Sunday while it was underway in the Sea of Japan. CNN reported the incident happened when two of the Tu-95 Bear bombers approached the Reagan, flying about 80 miles from the ship. The jets escorted the bombers without incident. One day earlier, two Japan Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets also intercepted two Tu-95s near the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido, according to a Japanese Ministry of Defense statement. The US has three aircraft carriers underway in the Pacific in an unusual, but not unprecedented, show of force in the region. —Brian Everstine
SBIRS GEO Flight 4 Satellite Arrives at Cape Canaveral
The fourth Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite in the Air Force’s Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) constellation arrived on Tuesday at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., where it will go through final checkout procedure ahead of its scheduled January 2018 launch. GEO-4 was transported from a Lockheed Martin satellite integration facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., on a C-5 operated by the 22nd Airlift Squadron, Travis AFB, Calif. Security for the transport was provided by the California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing. “The delivery, launch, and successful operation of GEO Flight-4 will mark the fulfillment of the original SBIRS baseline constellation and reaffirm our commitment to provide our country, warfighters, and senior leaders with timely, reliable, and accurate missile warning and infrared surveillance information,” said Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, in a press release. GEO-3 launched from Cape Canaveral in January, and the fifth and sixth GEO satellites in the SBIRS constellation completed critical design review in October. —Wilson Brissett
Buying the Intellectual Property, in Addition to Spare Parts
The US Army Materiel Command is looking for new ways to save money on maintenance and logistics in the future, and that starts with buying the idea of the program. The Army is looking to buy the intellectual property rights of its future weapons systems, so it can devise its own ways to maintain and build parts in situations where it cannot easily buy a replacement straight from a company like a car part from a dealership, said Gen. Gustave Perna, commander of US Army Materiel Command. While the cost will be more upfront, it will save money down the road as the Army can control its own costs to fix its systems, he said. —Brian Everstine
—Air Education and Training Command held its first flying training awards ceremony on Oct. 27 to honor the performance of 57 exceptional individuals and a number of teams from across the command: AETC press release.
—A B-52 Stratofortress from the 419th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, Calif., recently received a new nose paint job, completed by aviation artist Mike Machat, that honors the aircraft’s participation in the top secret Tagboard program of the 1960s: Edwards press release.
—The 820th RED HORSE Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., recently completed a major overhaul of the Nellis flight line that was six months in the making and will increase the amount of time both Nellis runways are open and reduce aircraft holding time before takeoff: Nellis press release.
—US Air Force Academy firefighters took first place in the over-40 and over-50 relay competitions at the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge XXVI Worlds in Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 27: USAFA press release.