Aircrew Crisis Task Force Gets New Leadership

The Air Force now has a five-year plan for closing the pilot shortage gap, but the outgoing head of the Aircrew Crisis Task Force said the service already is seeing some positive momentum. Brig. Gen. Mike Koscheski, who was tapped to stand up and lead the Aircrew Crisis Task Force last August, is moving on to US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, where he will serve as the new director of plans, programs, and analysis. He will be replaced next week by Brig. Gen. Chris Short—a command pilot with more than 3,300 flight hours in the T-37, T-38, A-10, and F-15E—who currently serves as the senior defense official and defense attaché in London. In an exit interview with Air Force Magazine, Koscheski discussed what he thought were the task force’s biggest accomplishments over the last 10 months as well as some some of the challenges that still need to be addressed. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

A Tiny Fleet of Small Aircraft Take on a Large Role in the Pacific

Three small C-12Js based at Yokota AB, Japan, have taken on an outsize role. The aircraft and airmen of the 459th Airlift Squadron now fly the majority of aeromedical evacuation for Pacific Air Forces, freeing up KC-135 tankers to do their primary mission as the Pacific rises in importance for the US military. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Gen. Lawrence Skantze, 1928-2018

Gen. Lawrence Skantze, a pilot and technologist who concluded his career in 1987 as head of Air Force Systems Command—the forerunner of today’s Air Force Materiel Command—has died at the age of 89. Skantze, who served as an enlisted sailor before attending Annapolis and accepting an Air Force commission, worked on cutting-edge technologies throughout his years in the service, starting with work on an atomic-powered airplane and continuing through programs such as SRAM nuclear missile and, perhaps most notably, the E-3A AWACS. As a general, Skantze oversaw many top-secret programs in the 1980s that evolved into leap-ahead capabilities, such as the F-117, B-2, and what would become the F-22. He received AFA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

AFCENT Further Eases Requirements on Deploying Airmen

Air Forces Central Command’s manpower, personnel, and services directorate has begun the second phase of lowering pre-deployment requirements for airmen headed for the Middle East. The second phase, which took effect June 15, further cuts the number of pre-deployment checklist items to complete, further extends the validity of computer-based training, and simplifies local reporting instructions for countries in the region, the Air Force said Wednesday. In March AFCENT took the first steps, including cutting paperwork and extending the “shelf life” of some training. —Steve Hirsch

AFSOC Stops Using Commercial Off-the Shelf UAS

Air Force Special Operations Command has stopped buying and flying commercial off-the-shelf unmanned aircraft systems, AFSOC spokeswoman Capt. Amanda Farr said by email Thursday. Farr said the command is abiding by a May 23 memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan directing the military services to suspend purchasing and operationally using the equipment. “The ban will remain in effect until the DOD develops a strategy to adequately assess and mitigate potential cybersecurity risks associated with using” the devices, she wrote. The Pentagon has a process in place allowing military departments to request exemptions for urgent needs, and both the Air Force and the command continue to use other types of unmanned aircraft systems. According to Farr, AFSOC uses small versions of the systems for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance functions in addition to terrain mapping and airfield surveys. Public affairs, she said, also uses UAS to shoot pictures and videos for AFSOC stories and documentation. —Steve Hirsch

Air Force Reserve C-130s Aid Colorado Wildfire Battle

Two Air Force Reserve C-130s on Monday helped authorities battle a major wildfire in Colorado. The National Interagency Fire Center, the Idaho-based support center for fighting wildland fires, asked the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing for two C-130s equipped with Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems to support fire suppression efforts in the West, an area now being plagued by wildfires. The wing flew a number of missions Monday, dropping fire retardant to support efforts to suppress one of those fires, the massive Spring Creek fire in Colorado, the Air Force said. MAFF is a US Forest Service firefighting system that can discharge 3,000 gallons of fire retardant in under 10 seconds, covering a quarter-mile strip 100 feet wide, and can be refilled in under 12 minutes on the ground. —Steve Hirsch


—The State Department said Thursday the Trump administration is still committed to a denuclearized North Korea as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed for Pyongyang for talks: The Chicago Tribune.

—Japan has agreed to take over some of the administrative costs for military equipment orders in exchange for faster deliveries and more openness about prices: Nikkei Asian Review.

—Boeing and Embraer announced Thursday they had signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a partnership to speed the firms’ growth in global aerospace markets: Boeing press release.

—Bills that have recently passed the Senate include more than $60 million for an F-35 instructional facility, student pilot dormitory, and additional maintenance personnel at Eglin AFB, Fla.:

—John Watts, who claimed to be an Air Force veteran and set himself on fire in front of Georgia’s Capitol building in protest of the Veterans Affairs system last month, has died, authorities said: Associated Press.

—More than 100 family members and friends greeted the over 60 members of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing when they returned home on Independence Day after a four-month deployment to the Middle East: Defense Department release.