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​Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson speaks at an AFA-sponsored Air Force breakfast on Capitol Hill on March 30, 2018. Staff photo.

​2018 Budget Shows Shift to High-End Threats

The recently passed Fiscal 2018 budget lets the Air Force begin the difficult task of rebuilding the strength of the force, Secretary Heather Wilson said Friday morning at an AFA-sponsored Capitol Hill breakfast. The budget, finally passed this week—midway through the fiscal year—adds 9,000 airmen to USAF’s end strength. “We’re going to use those positions to try to restore the strength of our squadrons,” she said, “particularly those that are preparing for the high-end fight.” Read the full story.

Clean Up the Instructions, Wilson Says

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson stressed the need to free airmen from burdensome over-regulation so they can creatively perform their jobs and develop the skills needed to think and adapt on their feet in combat situations. Speaking March 30 at an AFA-sponsored Capitol Hill breakfast, Wilson noted there are currently 1,400 Air Force Instructions (AFIs) weighing down airmen with some 85,000 official requirements. Some of the AFIs are obsolete, and some of them are just plain silly—but they are all on the books. “We have a mandatory instruction on how to build an obstacle course,” Wilson noted. “I was at Little Rock Air Force Base [Ark.] earlier this week. My guess is, if they need to build an obstacle course, they can probably figure it out.” USAF has recently rescinded about 100 AFIs as being out of date, and will continue to scrub the lists, she said. For airmen this overregulation is “just annoying—to be told how to do everything, especially when the instructions are inconsistent,” Wilson said. Leadership via guidebook can have a real-world impact on the quality of the force as well. The Air Force needs airmen to take their orders and execute their missions “based on their best judgement … and if we expect them to operate that way in wartime we have to treat them that way in peacetime,” the Secretary said. Less micromanagement-by-AFI will move the Air Force closer to its ideal of centralized command enabling decentralized execution.

Goldfein Wants All Planned F-35s, at F-16 Support Cost

Despite press reports that USAF is looking to trim its F-35 buy because of high sustainment costs, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Thursday that such talk is premature and USAF is committed to the full planned F-35 buy. However, he wants the sustainment cost of the new jet to match that of the F-16 it’s replacing. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

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Goldfein Says Media Chill Because OPSEC Muscles Have Atrophied

The Air Force has put a chill on media engagements because senior leaders have grown uncomfortable with the release of operational details considered entirely appropriate when dealing with “violent extremists,” but not in the context of “Great Power Competition,” Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Thursday. The service is providing fresh training to airmen at every level in operational security, and he expressed the hope that media will detect “little difference” in the service’s willingness to meet its obligations to explain what it’s doing with the nation’s airmen and money. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Air Force Identifies Airman Who Died on Andersen

The airman who died Tuesday at a temporary lodging facility on Andersen AFB, Guam, has been identified as A1C Bradley Hale, 20, who was deployed from Barksdale AFB, La., according to a release. “A subject is in custody, and the cause of death is currently under investigation,” according to Andersen. Linda Card, a spokeswoman in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Quantico, Va., told Air Force Magazine in an email that details on the cause of death could not be confirmed until the official autopsy is complete and the report is released. “At this time, investigators have ‘no conclusive evidence’ to determine how the airman died, or enough evidence to bring charges against anyone involved in his death,” she said, adding that the medical examiner from the Office of Armed Forces Medical Examiner from Kadena AB, Japan, was scheduled to conduct the autopsy March 30. —Steve Hirsch

Oregon F-15 Guard Unit Lifts Grounding

The Air Force’s main F-15C advanced training base returned to flight on Thursday following a grounding that lasted about a week after maintainers noticed “structural issues” with the aircraft, a base spokesman told Air Force Magazine.  The 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field, Ore., grounded its 30 Eagles because of a “possible maintenance issue” focused on “structural issues” that needed a closer look, wing spokesman TSgt. Jefferson Thompson said in an email. The Air Force’s F-15 Aircraft Structural Integrity Program went to the base to look at the issue, according to the wing. The 173rd Fighter Wing is responsible for advanced F-15C fighter training for the Total Force, and the grounding is not expected to impact the wing’s training schedule. Air Combat Command said in a statement Thursday the grounding did not impact its operations. The Air Force is still working to get its undergraduate training aircraft, the T-6, back into the air following a grounding of that fleet after pilots reported hypoxia-like incidents earlier this year. —Brian Everstine


Defense Department Begins Mobility Study Required by NDAA

The Pentagon has begun a congressionally mandated assessment of the number of tanker and airlift aircraft, as well as sealift ships, needed to meet future combatant commander requirements, the US Transportation Command said Thursday. The Mobility Capabilities and Requirements Study, to be carried out by TRANSCOM and the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation organization within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, was directed by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018. The study, which began March 8, is aimed at estimating fleet requirements of the latest National Defense Strategy, and is set for completion this fall. —Steve Hirsch

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RADAR SWEEP


—Capt. Mark Weber, who was among seven airmen killed in March when a helicopter crashed in Iraq was posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal March 21: Air Force Times.

—An all-woman crew flew a C-17 Globemaster III from Travis AFB, Calif., to Australia last month to honor Women’s History Month: Daily Republic.

—US and Indonesian air forces March 23 completed Cope West, a tactical fighter aircraft exercise, with a ceremony at Sam Ratulangi International Airport near Manado, Indonesia: Air Force release.

—Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing worked with soldiers during Exercise Arctic Pegasus for four days last month, transporting about 30 soldiers and four Interim Armored Strykers in a pair of C-17 Globemaster IIIs from Eielson Air Force Base to Deadhorse, both in Alaska: Air Force release.

—Around 30 leaders from Air Force fifth-generation F-22 and F-35 units were set to meet last week at Hill AFB, Utah, for a summit held by the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings, touring F-35 facilities and discussing common issues: Air Force release.

—Changes are in the works for Boeing’s defense and space business. CEO Leanne Caret is to establish two new divisions—one called Commercial Derivative Aircraft and one called Missile and Weapon Systems—and make changes in how Boeing manages weapon development: Defense One.