USAF Wants Retired Airmen to Come Back to Active Duty
The Air Force is increasing maximum officer incentive pay by just under 20 percent and enlisted force maximum incentive pay by a clean 50 percent, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said Friday. The service also wants to recruit retired airmen to take up staff positions so that current pilots can stay in their cockpits. Read the full report by Gideon Grudo.
Trump Issues Directive on Transgender Troops
President Donald Trump issued a memorandum Friday detailing his new policy on transgender individuals serving in the US military. The document bans new transgender accessions and calls for a halt to Defense Department-funded gender transition medical care because such allowances, according to the memo, would “hinder military effectiveness and lethality,” “disrupt unit cohesion,” and “tax military resources.” Trump directs Secretary of Defense James Mattis to cancel the DOD’s plan to begin allowing transgender people to join the military on Jan. 1, 2018, and to disallow such accessions going forward until Mattis “provides a recommendation to the contrary that I find convincing.” Effective March 23, 2018, the memo also directs the DOD to “halt all use of DOD or [Department of Homeland Security] resources to fund sex reassignment surgical procedures for military personnel,” except for those members who have already begun the process and whose health would be adversely affected by ending treatment. The memo gives the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security latitude to “determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving in the United States military.” Those members have been allowed to serve openly as transgender individuals since then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter changed long-standing DOD policy in June 2016.
North Korea Launches Three Short-Range Ballistic Missiles
North Korea launched three short-range ballistic missiles late Friday night and early Saturday morning Hawaii time, US Pacific Command said in a press release. PACOM detected and tracked the launches from Kittaeryong between 11:49 a.m. and 12:19 p.m. The first and third missiles “failed in flight,” PACOM said, while the second exploded “almost immediately.” PACOM determined that the missiles posed no threat to Guam, and NORAD determined they posed no threat to North America. The US and Republic of Korea militaries are currently conducting the Ulchi Freedom annual joint war games in the South.
Texas Guard Mobilizes as Hurricane Harvey Makes Landfall
Seven hundred members of the Texas Army and Air National Guards and Texas State Guard were mobilized Thursday to provide disaster assistance as Hurricane Harvey made landfall late Friday between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor. UH-60 Blackhawk and UH-72 Lakota air crews were on standby in Austin, Texas, and San Antonio to provide search and rescue, swift water rescue, and emergency evacuations as needed. “This is what we train for,” said Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, commander of Domestic Operations Task Force, in a press release. “We’re proud to stand beside our civilian partners, first responders, and volunteers to serve the citizens of Texas.” Before Harvey blasted the Texas coast, members of the Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron completed at least ten flights into the storm beginning Aug. 17, collecting data to inform the National Weather Service’s ability to track the hurricane and predict its movements and strength. Harvey made landfall as a category 4 hurricane with winds gusting to 130 mph. The National Weather Service expected a storm surge of eight to 12 feet along with rainfall of 18-24 inches or more in some areas.
Air Force Launches ORS-5 Satellite
The Air Force’s fifth Operationally Responsive Space satellite launched early Saturday aboard an Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket at Cape Canaveral AFB, Fla. The $87.5 million satellite will operate from a low inclination orbit and help the US track other satellites and space debris, Air Force Space Command said in a news release. The satellite will be a “gap filler mission” for the Space-Based Space Surveillance Block 10 mission, which was originally launched in 2010. The launch was the fifth mission on the ORS series, which is designed to let the Air Force develop capabilities more quickly. This system’s optical sensor provides continuous, rapid search of objects in the geosynchronous belt, according to the Space and Missile Systems Center. ORS-5 marked the first Minotaur IV launch from Cape Canaveral, according to a press release. —Brian Everstine
Louisiana, Florida F-15s Deploy to Iceland
Six F-15Cs from the Louisiana and Florida Air National Guard deployed to Iceland on Wednesday to fly NATO air surveillance missions. The jets, along with about 280 support airmen from the 125th Fighter Wing at Jacksonville ANGB, Fla., deployed to Keflavik in support of NATO commitments, according to a US Air Forces in Europe release. US aircraft have flown the NATO surveillance mission in Iceland annually since 2008 as a way to “demonstrate commitment” to NATO and Europe. The F-15s were refueled on the way by a KC-135 from McConnell AFB, Kan., and a KC-10 from JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. —Brian Everstine
SMC Expands Access to Infrared Data
The Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center opened a new unclassified research space for third-party users within its Remote Sensing Systems Directorate on Aug. 24. The move provides expanded access to SMC’s Tools, Applications, and Processing (TAP) laboratory, in Boulder, Colo., which was previously available only to researchers with a secret-level security clearance. The Air Force hopes that giving researchers easier access to SMC’s remote sensing infrared and weather data will lead to faster development of new military and civil applications in advanced algorithms, data storage and dissemination, user experience, and data fusion. “The Air Force will benefit from having the best minds work on these projects with much easier access to data,” said Col. Kerri Mellor, Future Ground and Exploitation Capabilities Division chief, in an SMC press release. The TAP lab is co-managed by SMC’s Remote Sensing Systems Directorate, the University of Colorado, Boulder, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, and two Colorado-based small businesses, Net-Centric Design Professionals and Cosmic AES.
SrA. Roger Thomas, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, observes preparations being conducted on a 37th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules on Otopeni AB, Romania, Aug. 21, 2017. Air Force photo by A1C Joshua Magbanua
Ramstein C-130Js Train in Romania
USAF C-130Js and airmen from Ramstein AB, Germany, recently trained alongside the Romanian air force in an exercise focused on airdrops and assault landings. The airmen and aircraft from the 37th Airlift Squadron are participating in the two-week-long Exercise Carpathian Fall at Otopeni AB in Romania. The longstanding exercise also includes US Army paratroopers, according to US European Command. —Brian Everstine
—The Pentagon’s comptroller is preparing for short-term continuing resolution but is optimistic a government shutdown can be averted: Defense News
—A British test pilot has successfully demonstrated for the first time a USMC F-35B ski jump launch at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md: The Aviationist
—The United Nations is calling for a pause in airstrikes over Raqqa, Syria, to give civilians an opportunity to leave the city before the US-backed assault on the self-proclaimed ISIS capital proceeds: Military Times
—The 341st Missile Wing, Malmstrom AFB, Mont., recently staged an exercise with local law enforcement partners to practice a scenario involving an attack on a missile convoy: Malmstrom release
—One Air Force member and three Army members have been reassigned from the security detail for Vice President Mike Pence’s communications team. The members failed to register women they brought back to their hotel rooms in Panama, where they were doing preparation work ahead of Pence’s recent visit there: NBC News
—Pakistan’s prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi issued a statement Aug. 24 on President Donald Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy. In response to Trump’s call for Pakistan to root out terrorists on its own territory, Abbasi said the US needs ?to step up efforts to fight Afghan-based terrorists launching attacks across the border in Pakistan: Reuters