Bunch: Air Force Can Get F-35, F-16, and F-22 Fleets to 80 Percent Mission Capable Rate

The Air Force’s top uniformed acquisition official, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, thinks the service can get its F-35s, F-16s, and F-22 up to a level of 80 percent mission capability by the end of the fiscal year, although they’re far from that point now and it will be a “challenge” to get them there. He, Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon, and the Joint Program Office are working together to identify the top bad actors among components and systems, invest in improving them, and to establish dates to achieve waypoints enroute to the 80 percent goal. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

F-15X in, Light Attack Out in FY20 Budget

The Air Force plans to request new F-15X aircraft in the fiscal 2020 budget, but won’t be requesting a Light Attack aircraft program this year, the service’s top uniformed acquisition official said Friday. Both decisions were driven by “priorities” stemming from the National Defense Strategy, he said. The F-15s are needed to meet NDS-demanded force structure within a certain timeline, while the Light Attack program will continue as an experiment. There’s a stated requirement for it, which is new, but it was always “additive” to Air Force plans and can’t be pursued if other NDS-demanded programs must be addressed first. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Combat Rescue Helicopter Program Faces Delays

The Air Force’s next combat rescue helicopter is facing a series of challenges in development, which could impact the schedule of evaluation and production. The CRH, once touted by Sikorsky as being ahead of schedule, now needs several components to be redesigned, and the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation is urging the Air Force to adjust its schedule to ensure that testing is “meaningful.” Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

DOD to Proceed with Cruise Missile Plans as US Prepares to Leave INF Treaty

The United States—with NATO’s blessing—will begin withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty over the next six months as it continues working toward two new cruise missiles in response to Russia’s deployment of a land-based weapon banned by the agreement. While withdrawal proponents say the US should not be constrained by a treaty that Russia ignores, others argue leaving the pact will lead to a new conventional and nuclear arms race. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Open Skies Replacement Aircraft RFP Due Out in May

The Air Force plans to issue its final request for proposals in May for a new commercial jet that will replace Boeing’s 1960’s-era OC-135B, the service said Jan. 31. The new pair of airliners, dubbed OC-X, will conduct observation flights of 33 other countries’ military installations under the 1992 Open Skies Treaty. According to an updated program schedule posted on Federal Business Opportunities, the Air Force expects to publish a draft RFP in mid-February and hold a presolicitation conference in late March. Although the OC-135B is expected to fly until 2040, the Air Force says it is increasingly difficult to sustain. Future Open Skies aircraft will feature digital sensors rather than the three wet-film cameras that are “nearly obsolete, frequently unreliable, [and] hard and increasingly expensive to maintain,” according to the service. In recent years, the jet has been caught in political crossfire as lawmakers raise questions about the radars other countries use on Open Skies flights and whether Russia is playing by the rules of the treaty. —Rachel S. Cohen



A C-5M Super Galaxy Made A Daring Landing With Its Nose Gear Up At Travis Air Force Base

A C-5M Super Galaxy strategic transport aircraft landed with its nose landing gear up at Travis Air Force Base in California on Thursday evening. Task & Purpose

US Intelligence Report Reveals Another Mysterious Chinese Stealth Bomber Project

A new report on China’s military power from the Defense Intelligence Agency just revealed yet another Chinese stealth bomber project. Business Insider

AF Gets Bigger Bang for EOD Bucks

The Air Force has been granted an exception to policy enabling it to offer Selective Retention Bonuses to a wider population of Explosive Ordnance Disposal senior noncommissioned officers, if they agree to continue serving in EOD for a minimum of three years. AFPC News

SAIC Wins $655 Million Air Force Contract to Modernize Satellite Ground Systems
The decision comes just two weeks after SAIC, based in Reston, Virginia, completed a $2.5 billion acquisition of Engility, which greatly expanded the company’s space services portfolio. Space News

US Air Force F-16 Training Consolidation Contract Allows for Better Fidelity Across Programmes

The US Air Force’s consolidation of F-16 training will allow for better fidelity across programmes. L3 Technologies was awarded a USD350 million contract with options through 2028. Janes

Germany Officially Knocks F-35 Out of Competition to Replace Tornado

Germany’s Ministry of Defence has officially ruled out the F-35 joint strike fighter as a choice to replace its aging Tornado fleet. Defense News

One More Thing …

Atlanta Falcons’ Ben Garland, an Air Force graduate, wins NFL’s Salute To Service Award

Garland was recognized Wednesday by the league and USAA for his exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community. The [Colorado Springs] Gazette