USAF to Redesign Oxygen System on T-6 Fleet After Repeated Hypoxia-Like Issues
The Air Force plans to redesign the oxygen system in its T-6 Texan II fleet after an exhaustive study determined that varying levels of oxygen concentrations were to blame for the hypoxia-like symptoms reported by pilots. The redesign of the Onboard Oxygen Generation System is expected to take two to four years, the service announced Thursday. At the same time, USAF will work with industry to stabilize oxygen levels in flight, and it has partnered with the Navy to come up with new maintenance procedures intended to ensure the OBOGS system operates effectively. AETC also will offer additional training to its pilots. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
Hurricane Florence Watch: 7,000 Troops Ready, Thousands More Standing By
The military has 7,000 troops and dozens of aircraft on immediate standby, with thousands more ready to immediately deploy once Hurricane Florence makes landfall early Friday and begins to bring damage to the East Coast. USAF pararescuemen are ready to launch at Moody AFB, Ga., with more Guard combat search and rescue forces from across the country deployed and standing by. Read the full story by Brian Everstine and Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.
CMSAF: USAF Looking at New Ways to Improve Resilience, Fight Suicide
Russian Aircraft Intercepted West of Alaska, NORAD Says
Two F-22s assigned to JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, intercepted two Russian Tu-95 “Bear” bombers accompanied by two Su-35 “Flanker” fighter jets west of mainland Alaska around 10 p.m. Tuesday, the Pentagon said. The Russian aircraft stayed in international airspace, entering neither US nor Canadian airspace in the incident. “The homeland is no longer a sanctuary and the ability to deter and defeat threats to our citizens, vital infrastructure, and national institutions starts with successfully detecting, tracking, and positively identifying aircraft of interest approaching US and Canadian airspace,” NORAD Commander Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said. O’Shaughnessy, speaking during a Thursday briefing at the Pentagon, said the F-22s launched with an E-3 Sentry AWACS to intercept the bomber. While the Russian flight was not directly connected with the large Vostok exercise in the east of the country, it is “very much” related to Russia’s focus on readiness. The intercept happened as US Northern Command is preparing for Hurricane Florence, and shows that the US military is “maintaining our ability to respond” to threats while the possible natural disaster develops, O’Shaughnessy said. —Steve Hirsch and Brian Everstine
Conferees OK Fiscal 2019 Defense Spending Bill for Final House, Senate Approval
House and Senate conferees Thursday agreed on “minibus” appropriations legislation that includes Defense Department spending levels for Fiscal 2019. The action follows House passage if its $674.6 billion version of the bill in June and Senate passage if its $675 billion version in August. The text of the bill was not released, but will likely be available Friday and will probably be taken up by the Senate next week and the House the week after that. The conferees’ decision came one day after more than a dozen Republicans, led by former A-10 pilot Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), penned a letter urging conferees to accept the House-proposed $144 million figure for A-10 re-winging, which is $65 million more than the Air Force’s initial budget request, and falls in line with the level included in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The letter called the A-10 “one of the most utilized aircraft across multiple theaters” and asked conference committee members to fully fund the program “to mitigate aircraft groundings and prevent a critical capability gap in the operational fleet.” —Steve Hirsch
Senior House Armed Services Democrat Blasts Trump Space Force Proposal
Lockheed Developing “Extreme Range” JASSM Variant
Lockheed Martin has received a $50 million Air Force contract to design, develop, and test an upgrade to the JASSM family of standoff stealth cruise missiles. The new variant, called JASSM-XR, for “Extreme Range” will have new wings, a new mission computer, and an upgraded GPS system. The Air Force could not immediately say if the new variant will bear the designation AGM-158D, but the baseline JASSM, the JASSM-ER, and the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) variants carry the AGM-158A, B, and C designations. The JASSM-ER (Extended Range) has an acknowledged range of 500 nautical miles, so the XR version would presumably improve on that. The contract calls for work to be completed in 2023, but the Air Force could not immediately say when the new configuration will be cut into the production line. USAF has built more than 2,000 JASSM-ERs. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
PACAF Claims Victory in Defender Challenge
Pacific Air Forces took the top prize in the 2018 Defender Challenge, which returned this year after a 14-year break. Fourteen security forces teams from each USAF major command, along with the United Kingdom and Germany, competed in the three-day competition at JBSA-Camp Bullis, Texas. The event included dismounted operations, weapons challenges, and combat endurance events.
—Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said the service is not interested in purchasing an advanced version of the F-15 or a hybrid version of the F-22 Raptor and F-35 strike fighter, saying the service should invest instead in the F-35: Defense News.
—The US conducted an airstrike against al Shabaab forces in Mubaraak, Somalia, on Sept. 11. US Africa Command assesses that two terrorists were killed and one was wounded: AFRICOM Twitter announcement.
—At the request of US Strategic Command, a three-man innovation team at McConnell AFB, Kan., has used 3-D printed parts to create a solar-powered communications system that can be used “for everything from bare base set-ups to exercises:” USAF release.