Goldfein: USAF Still Looking for “Smoking Gun” Plaguing T-6 Fleet
The Air Force still doesn’t have the “smoking gun” for the ongoing hypoxia-like events plaguing its T-6 trainer fleet, and is pushing forward with a safety investigation board to get information “without consequence” to determine exactly what is going on. The service “in recent weeks” formed the SIB, and selected Maj. Gen. Glenn Davis, the mobilization assistant to the commander of Air Force Materiel Command, to lead the investigation. The service is also working with Navy, NASA, and different elements of the Air Force “to bear down on a root cause and figure these out,” USAF Secretary Heather Wilson told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. The entire T-6 fleet returned to flight earlier this month after being grounded in February because of ongoing hypoxia-like incidents reported by pilots, though at least 12 pilots have reported similar episodes since the grounding was lifted. USAF Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told lawmakers that standing down the fleet shows how serious the Air Force took the situation. During the grounding, Air Education and Training Command identified parts of the on-board oxygen generation system that were failing faster than expected and replaced them. “Although we have fairly high confidence that we’ve identified the highest break-rate items that can contribute, we don’t have the smoking gun yet, and we’re not going to stop until we find it.” —Brian Everstine
House Subcommittee Proposes Unified US Space Command
The Defense Department would be directed to re-establish a US Space Command as a subordinate unified command under the US Strategic Command under a proposal put forward Wednesday by the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee. The proposal was contained in one of a series of subcommittee “marks,” language put forward to start the process of putting together a Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The US first established a US Space Command in 1985, but former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld merged the command with STRATCOM in 2002. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.
Space Corp Assessment by June 1, Shanahan Says
The Pentagon’s “interim” evaluation of whether a new Space Corps is needed will be done by June 1, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters at a Defense Writer’s Group session Tuesday. “My focus has been to get at what are the fundamental changes we need to make in order to be more effective. The output of that is a recommendation on how to restructure,” he said. “From a management standpoint, the easiest thing to do is re-draw the lines and boxes on an [organization] chart, but that’s actually the hardest thing to implement.” Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
GAO: Pentagon Must Improve F-35 “Lessons Learned” Sharing Between Services
The individual service’s F-35 operational organizations need to better share their lessons learned as the Joint Strike Fighter program continues to rapidly expand, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday. The Defense Department does not formally share lessons across the military services. USMC personnel, for example, told the GAO they only use “personal relationships” through phone calls to colleagues to share what they have learned from operational steps, such as the Marine’s transfer of F-35Bs to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. “The F-35 program does not currently disseminate or make available lessons learned across all services, although program officials agreed that doing so would be beneficial,” the GAO report states. —Brian Everstine
French President Addresses US Congress, Praises “Strong Military Legion”
French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday reaffirmed the long-lasting and strong bond between the United States and France before a joint session of Congress, calling for the two countries to continue to “work closely together” as they battle terrorism both in the Middle East and at home and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. During the address, Macron left open the door to a new Iran nuclear deal that would address Republican concerns over the initial agreement signed under the Obama Administration. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
Griffin Developing Consolidated Hypersonic Roadmap, Shanahan Lauds F-35
Pentagon research and engineering chief Mike Griffin is developing a hypersonics roadmap, to be ready in July, that will assign priority to the various related projects underway across the DOD, seek “synergies” between them, and reduce duplication, toward getting a working capability faster and at lower cost, said Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in a session with defense reporters Tuesday. Shanahan also praised the F-35 fighter and said that negative comments about the program are about its execution, not the capabilities of the aircraft itself. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
USAF: Steady Pacific Presence Needed to Counter North Korea’s Ambitions, Chinese Modernization
The Air Force has kept a steady focus on the Pacific even as it has been forced to reduce its force structure in other areas, USAF officials told lawmakers on Tuesday. Renewed budget stability under the new budget deal can help USAF reinforce its commitment to allies in the area through increased exercises and improved infrastructure. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
PJs Mark Final Days at Lakenheath with a Last Jump
Pararescuemen at RAF Lakenheath, England, marked the end of an era last week with one final jump at the base. Almost 350 airmen and five HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons are finalizing their move from Lakenheath to Aviano AB, Italy. To mark the end of their time in England, PJs on April 20 made a final jump over the base. “We’re sad to be leaving but are incredibly proud of the work we’ve done while located at RAF Lakenheath and are excited about the squadrons’ new home in Italy,’” Maj. Seth Davis, commander of the 57th Rescue Squadron, said in a release. The squadrons moved to Lakenheath from Keflavik, Iceland, in June 2006, and their move to Aviano is expected to be complete by June 2018.
—President Trump has nominated Lt. Gen. Bradford Shwedo for assignment as director of command, control, communications, and computers/cyber and chief information officer on the Joint Staff. Shwedo currently serves as USAF chief of information dominance: DOD release.
—Boeing and Northrop Grumman have decided not to challenge Lockheed Martin for the next round of GPS III satellites, essentially guaranteeing the award will go to Lockheed: Space News.
—Raytheon Missile Co. has been awarded a $12.1 million contract for Lot 32 production of Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles and spares, including foreign military sales to Australia, Korea, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Turkey: DOD contract announcement.
—Effective June 1, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency will reduce the administrative surcharge for foreign military sales from 3.5 percent to 3.2 percent, reducing the overall cost to international partners: DSCA release.
—A C-17 assigned to Travis AFB, Calif., delivered a fire truck and ambulance to Guatemala City, Guatemala, on April 20. The emergency vehicles were donated by the Mission of Love Foundation and shipped through the Denton Program: USAF release.