Thunderbirds’ F-16D Flips After Landing, Passengers in “Good Condition”
A Thunderbirds’ F-16D flipped after landing in Dayton, Ohio, on Friday. The two-seat fighter—one of two in the team’s inventory—was conducting a single-ship familiarization flight at the time. The pilot and the second passenger, a member of the Thunderbird’s enlisted team, were taken to the hospital and are in “good condition,” according to an Air Force release. Read th?e full story by Amy McCullough.
Airmen Operating Remotely Can Now be Recognized for Role in Combat
The Air Force recently released the criteria for the “R” device, to be awarded for meritorious achievement during a combat mission that is controlled by someone who is not on the battlefield. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
Deconfliction Line Was Open as Russia Conducted Cruise Missile Strikes
The US and Russia communicated via the established deconfliction line in advance of Russia’s large cruise missile strike on ISIS depots inside Syria, the coalition said Friday. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
Four Bases Participate in Resiliency Beta Test
Twenty social workers and mental health professionals are scheduled to arrive at Minot AFB, N.D., as part of a “beta test” program for Task Force True North, a resiliency effort based on a program developed for Air Force special operators at Hurlburt Field, Fla. True North integrates five-person medical health teams—including physiologists, nutritionists, and psychiatrists, among others—into a squadron to help airmen take better advantage of the services available to them. “They definitely will not be sitting in an office waiting for someone to come to them,” said Col. Mark Ramsey, Air Force headquarters operations division chief, according to a press release. “Their job is to be out where their airmen work, circling around and providing counsel.” Other installations participating in the True North beta test are Beale AFB, Calif.; JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and Whiteman AFB, Mo. Teams are expected to be in place by spring of 2018.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to accurately state the installations participating.
8th SOS Turns 100, Remembers Operation Eagle Claw
Air Force Special Operations Command celebrated the 100th anniversary of the formation of the 8th Special Operations Squadron and memorialized Operation Eagle Claw at a ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Friday. The 8th SOS, which traces its heritage back to the 8th Aero Squadron formed in June of 1917, is the second oldest operational squadron in the Air Force, Maj. Gen. Michael Plehn, AFSOC vice commander, told the audience. It has “engaged every major conflict since World War I,” he said. In 1980, the 8th was centrally involved in Eagle Claw, the US effort to infiltrate the Iranian desert and rescue 53 hostages held at the US Embassy in Tehran, “a mission of epic complexity,” Plehn said. The mission went awry and was aborted, but not before US forces lost eight service members, including five from the 8th SOS. Today, Eagle Claw is seen as a turning point in the development, training, and equipping of joint special operations forces. Plehn told the audience that the concept of a US Special Forces Command rose “from the ashes of that daring attempt in the Iranian desert.” He said those who lost their lives in the operation “deserve our unwavering gratitude.” At least fourteen participants in Operation Eagle Claw were present at the ceremony. —Wilson Brissett
USAF, IBM Collaborating on Artificial Intelligence Supercomputer
The Air Force Research Laboratory and IBM announced Friday they are working together to develop a supercomputer with a 64-chip array designed to model the neural functioning of the human brain. The system will be based on IBM’s TrueNorth neurosynaptic system and will have the same pattern recognition and processing capability as 64 million neurons and 16 billion synapses. It will also be remarkably energy-efficient, with its processor requiring only 10 watts of power to operate. “AFRL was the earliest adopter of TrueNorth for converting data into decisions,” said Daniel Goddard, director of the information directorate at AFRL, according to a press release. “The new neurosynaptic system will be used to enable new computing capabilities important to AFRL’s mission to explore, prototype, and demonstrate high-impact, game-changing technologies that enable the Air Force and the nation to maintain its superior technical advantage.” The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency originally developed TrueNorth in collaboration with Columbia University. Air Force and other military leaders have spoken frequently over the past few years about the significance of artificial intelligence and machine learning in US military missions from cyber operations to weapons systems. —Wilson Brissett
Military Chiefs Set to Delay Transgender Policy
The US military service Chiefs will ask Defense Secretary James Mattis for a six-month delay before accepting transgender persons as new accessions, the Associated Press reported Friday. DOD has allowed gender transition among Active Duty members since last year. The Air Force issued policy on gender transition requests in October 2016 and stated that policy on transgender accessions would be forthcoming July 1, 2017. The waiting-period for transgender accessions policy has had some real impact. This year, transgender cadets at the US Military Academy and the US Air Force Academy were allowed to graduate but not to commission as officers. While the Air Force has not commented on the number of airmen who have completed gender transition since then, the Omaha World-Herald profiled the transition of SSgt. Ashleigh Buch, an airman at Offutt AFB, Neb., in April. The AP reported that the Army and Air Force had originally requested a two-year delay before agreeing to ask Mattis for just six months.
Textron on OA-X: Since it’s an Experiment, It’s an Honor Just to be Invited
USAF’s light attack experiment comes with no promises. But for Textron, placing two aircraft in OA-X is a great opportunity for the aircraft to strut their stuff as the world watches. Read the full story by Adam J. Hebert.
Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the June 23 column, but the link was broken. We apologize for the inconvenience.
—A classified report delivered to Congress says F-22 restart would cost $50 billion for an additional 194 aircraft. The estimate includes $9.9 billion in start-up costs, with each aircraft costing $206-216 million: Military.com.
—A June 21 development flight test of a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missile, conducted by the US Missile Defense Agency and the Japan Ministry of Defense off the coast of Hawaii, failed. The missile is being built to counter medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles: MDA release
—US tech firms may be inadvertently enabling Russian cyberattacks: Reuters