Report Claims Current Airlift, Tanker Fleet Size Enough for Future Needs

A new report from US Transportation Command and the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office finds the current USAF mobility size is enough to meet projected needs under the National Defense Strategy. The fleet sizes detailed in the study largely mirror the current aircraft operating, even though USAF officials have said there is a dramatic need for more aerial refueling in the future. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

SECAF: GAO Report on Maintainer Shortage “Was Outdated by the Time it Came Out”

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson on Monday pushed back on a recent Government Accountability Office report that criticized the Air Force for not having retention goals or an overall strategy to address its maintainer shortage. While the Air Force agreed to the GAO conclusions, Wilson told Air Force Magazine on Monday the office relied on outdated data and didn’t take into account ongoing efforts to restore readiness across the force. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

DIA: China, Russia Building Space Doctrine and Military Capabilities

The American advantage in space is a target for Russia and China as they develop military doctrines and capabilities to reduce US effectiveness, the Defense Intelligence Agency says in a new report. The 46-page report, entitled “Challenges to Security in Space,” was released on Monday and provides an overview of the growing threat to space supremacy from the two countries, plus new threats from North Korea and Iran. “The advantage the United States holds in space—and its perceived dependence on it—will drive actors to improve their abilities to access and operate in and through space,” the report states. “These improvements can pose a threat to space-based services across the military, commercial, and civil space sectors.” Specific threats from China include a growing number of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance satellites, which can target and track US and allied movements throughout the Indo-Pacific, according to the DIA. Russia is improving its space situational awareness capabilities, along with growing orbital threats, kinetic and directed energy threats, and cyberspace threats, the report states. “Some actors are seeking ways to deny the effectiveness of the United States, having witnessed more than 25 years of US military successes enabled by space capabilities,” the report states. “China and Russia, in particular, are developing a variety of means to exploit perceived US reliance on space-based systems and challenge the US position in space.” The new report is similar the DIA’s January assessment of China’s military, though more limited in scope and details. —Brian Everstine

Shanahan Makes First Visit to Afghanistan in New Role as Taliban Talks Continue

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Monday made his first visit to Afghanistan in his new role, meeting with US troops and Afghan leaders amid uncertainty about the future of the American presence in the country. Shanahan touched down unannounced in Kabul, visiting the headquarters of the Resolute Support mission before meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. His visit comes as US negotiators are meeting with the Taliban, without Afghan leaders present, though Shanahan said Monday it is important the country is involved in discussions about its future. “The Afghans have to decide what Afghanistan looks like in the future,” he told reporters, according to Reuters. “It is not about the US, it is about Afghanistan.” After visiting with US forces and Afghan leaders, Shanahan will travel to NATO in Brussels to speak with defense ministers about the future of the mission in Afghanistan. In Washington on Friday, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told an audience at the United States Institute for Peace he is aiming to have an agreement for peace in place by next summer in advance of the Afghan presidential election. —Brian Everstine

Air Force Modifying, Shifting Around Its C-21 Fleet

The Air Force is overhauling its C-21 fleet by moving four aircraft to Scott AFB, Ill., by the end of summer and upgrading the avionics on the VIP transport. This year will be the “Year of the Lear” at Scott. The base will increase its C-21 fleet to a total of 14 by taking in the jets from JB Andrews, Md., but first the jets will be sent to Wichita, Kan., for a $38 million avionics upgrade focused on meeting Federal Aviation Administration standards, according to an Air Mobility Command release. “Aircraft with the new avionics upgrade give our crews the tools they need to continue to operate safely in that busy environment, while also gaining access to some of the exciting new advances in communication and navigation systems being implemented now throughout the airspace system,” Lt. Col. James Chapa, director of operations for the 458th Airlift Squadron, said in the release. The C-21 is a modified Learjet 35, which is largely used for passenger lift though it’s also outfitted for aeromedical evacuation. The Air Force has 19 total C-21s, including 14 at Scott (after this move) and five assigned to US Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein AB, Germany. —Brian Everstine



Junior Officers Are Now Tracked in Air Force’s Misconduct Probes Database

The Air Force has quietly expanded a database used to keep tabs on airmen under investigation to include all of its officer ranks.

AETC Launches Podcast Focused on “Developing Mach-21 Airmen”

Air Education and Training Command has launched a new professional development podcast to help communicate and inform Total Force Airmen across the globe on relevant, timely topics related to the recruiting, training, education and development fields. AETC News

Northrop Grumman Awarded $17.4M For Space Tracking System

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems was awarded an option of $17.4 million for on-orbit operations and sustainment for the Defense Department’s space tracking and surveillance system. UPI

Why the New Air Force’s Cyber and Information Strategy is a Return to the Past

For the military, trying to determine how to come to terms with cyber and information has been a continuous challenge, as noted by the recent change in the U.S. Air Force cyber missions. Fifth Domain

Marine F-35B Lightning II Fighters Strike with Externally-Mounted Ordnance at Sea for First Time

F-35B Lightning II aircraft with the fixed-wing detachment of Medium Marine Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted milestone flight operations with externally-loaded inert and live ordnance in expeditionary strike training from the USS Wasp (LHD 1) in the Philippine and East China Seas, Jan. 26 through Feb. 6. US Indo-Pacific Command release

One More Thing …

South Carolina Town Honors Black WWII Veteran 7 Decades After Brutal Beating

A South Carolina town has honored the memory of a black WWII veteran whose 1946 beating at the hands of a white police chief left him permanently blind and helped spur President Harry Truman’s drive to integrate the U.S. military. Military Times