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If the Air Force has to return to sequestration funding levels, it will once again have to ground some aircraft just as it did when the Budget Control Act was first implemented in 2013. Here, several F-16 Fighting Falcon’s from the 388th Fighter Wing sit on the flightline Sept. 9, 2013, at Hill AFB, Utah.The wing had to stand down an entire F-16 squadron for three months, and its sister-squadron drastically reduced flying hours. Air Force photo by Desiree N. Palacios.

​Wilson Says Return to Sequestration “Would Break This Service”

A return to sequestration levels of funding “would break this service,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said Wednesday. If Congress cannot approve a budget and the Budget Control Act cuts return, as in 2013, it would be a “$15 billion cut to the United States Air Force,” which means pilots would be limited to flying “only in combat or spinning up for combat,” Wilson said. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.

JSTARS Recap Evaluation Results Coming in October

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said the service is looking at alternatives to replacing the aging JSTARS platform with a straightforward “version 2.0” of the command and control aircraft and she expects the evaluation to be complete in October. Saying that “technology has enabled different solutions” to the requirements the JSTARS platform fulfills, the service is currently investigating whether it makes more sense to “do that mission in a new way,” Wilson said. The key question driving the analysis is “can you do it in a way that is disaggregated and uses the network” to draw information from a variety of sensing assets, like the F-35, Wilson said. The problem is that a simple JSTARS replacement may provide “no more capability” than the current fleet. For the alternative capabilities the service is considering, Wilson said, “a lot of it already exists” in currently fielded systems. If the sensor and communications functions of existing assets can be harnessed in coordination with a platform like AWACS, it could be “a better way” to deliver the same requirements to combatant commanders, Wilson said. —Wilson Brissett

USAF Answers the Call in Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts

Units from across the Air Force responded in support of FEMA efforts to bring relief to Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and other Caribbean islands struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. National Guard Bureau officials reported Wednesday that more than 3,000 National Guard airmen and soldiers are currently assisting with relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.

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RAND Authors Urge Hypersonic Missile Non-Proliferation Deal, Fast

Authors of a new RAND study propose quick action to establish a non-proliferation regime on hypersonic weapons, saying this new class of missile is highly destabilizing and that the three countries most advanced in this field—the US, Russia, and China—have good incentives to strike a deal. The authors suggested adapting the Missile Technology Control Regime to include the enabling technologies and components necessary for other countries, many of which are well along in their own hypersonics programs, to achieve a practical hypersonic weapon in the near future. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Connecting Airmen to the Mission at Al Dhafra

The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates, consists of some 3,000 airmen as well as F-22 Raptors, KC-10 tankers, U-2 Dragon Ladies, RQ-4 remotely piloted aircraft, Kingpin and E-3 Sentries. Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein said the wing is one of, if not the most, diverse in the Air Force. Air Force Magazine correspondent Jennifer Hlad visited the wing recently. Read her story.

U-2 Chase Cars Guide Pilots and Plane to Safety

Landing the U-2 is notoriously difficult, as pilots must get the plane within about two feet of the ground and then stall it. Pilots go through rigorous training and regularly practice landing on their own, but during normal operations, they have a little help: Another U-2 pilot in a chase car who can radio the plane’s position, assist with steering, and give the pilot a heads up if anything is wrong. Read Jennifer Hlad’s full report from Al Dhafra AB, UAE.  


NORAD Commander Sees Russia Increasing Range

Gen. Lori Robinson, commander of NORAD and US Northern Command, expressed concern Wednesday about Russia’s “ability to hold targets at risk at ranges we’re not used to.” Robinson also said the US is prepared to defend the homeland from a North Korean ICBM attack, and spoke on the need to update parts of the US missile defense system. Read the full story from Wilson Brissett.

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US Team captain Capt. Christy Wise (USAF) carries the American flag as the US team enters the Opening Ceremony for the 2017 Invictus Games at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Septe. 23, 2017. At right is co-captain Sgt. Ivan Sears (USMC). DOD photo by Roger L. Wollenberg.

Invictus Games Underway in Toronto

More than 550 wounded, ill, or injured military service members from 17 countries are competing in this year’s Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada. Eighty US service members and veterans are participating in the international paraolympic-style games, including 20 USAF members (18 on the USAF team and two airmen are on the US Special Operations Command team). “These games and the entire adaptive sports concept are small examples of how the Air Force provides a full-spectrum of care and recovery for airmen and families who continue to make incredible sacrifices for our nation,” said Capt. Christy Wise, 79th Rescue Squadron pilot and Team Air Force captain. “This team, Air Force and US, is comprised of some of the most fiercely competitive and determined athletes around—injury or not. Our plan is to represent our nation to the best of our ability and ideally come out victorious in as many events as possible—we all want to bring back some ‘gold’ with us to the states.” Participants will compete in a total of 12 events: archery, athletics, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair rugby, golf, and “a demonstration match of sledge hockey, as well as the first-ever Invictus Games relay, which coordinators state will help ignite the Invictus Games spirit across all 32 Canadian military bases and neighboring communities,” according to a USAF release.

Air Force Scientific Advisory Board Announces 2018 Studies

USAF’s SAB has announced its focus studies in 2018. For one, it’s going to run a parallel review of the service’s science and technology strategy to the one the Air Force Research Laboratory is running in the coming year. The studies, along with input from the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, aim to result in a new S&T strategy. SAB’s second study focuses on “technologies for enabling resilient command and control,” researching “current capabilities and limitations” in C2, and possible means to “improve” current systems for the service. Read the full story by Gideon Grudo.

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RADAR SWEEP


—The Senate voted unanimously to confirm the nomination of USMC Gen. Joseph Dunford for appointment to a second term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Wednesday evening: Washington Post.

—Air Mobility Command will launch a follow-up to its 2013 Mobility Capability Assessment to determine if its aircraft are distributed across the force in a way that maximizes readiness and meets combatant commander requirements: Air Force Times.

—Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $60 million contract modification to find a way to save costs for the F-35 program. The funding is part of the Blueprint for Affordability cost reduction initiative, according to the company: Dallas Business Journal.

—Mitchell Flint, an American P-51 Mustang pilot who helped found the Israeli Air Force, died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles on Sept. 16. He was 94: Los Angeles Times.