Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff, did fly a C-130J Hercules tactical airlifter to its home at Dyess AFB, Tex., where the 317th Airlift Group expects to receive another 27 new J model Herks over the next couple of years. At the arrival ceremony, Schwartz noted the ongoing modernization of USAF’s airlift inventory, but said that platforms alone “will not guarantee success; our people who permit us to use these machines to best effect are our number one asset,” noting the 2,200 continuous days of deployment by the group’s airmen to support operations in Southwest Asia, Haiti, and the US. Once the other 27 new Herks join this first Dyess J model, dubbed “Pride of Abilene,” Dyess will be home to the largest C-130J force in the world, according to 317th AG commander Col. Dan Dagher. (Also see Abilene Reporter News report; Lockheed Martin release; Dyess report by Janie Santos)
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.