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Class A mishaps, like this June 23, 2017, F-16D Thunderbirds crash, are on the decline, but less serious Class C mishaps are increasing, USAF officials said. Photo from USAF aircraft accident investigation board report. ​

Air Force Examining Accident Rates, Vice Chief of Staff Tells Conference

The Air Force is looking at the rates of lower-level accidents to see if there has been a discernible trend, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson told a Washington audience Monday. Wilson acknowledged that “Class C” mishaps, which involve damage of $50,000 to $500,000 and less-severe injuries, are increasing. However, the number of more severe “Class A” mishaps involving property damage of $2 million or more, an injury or occupational illness resulting in a fatality or permanent total disability, or destruction of an Air Force aircraft, have actually declined.  Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.


USAF Vice Chief Says, “More to Come” on Space Corps

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson Monday refused to commit on whether there should be a separate Space Corps in the US military, but lauded the current US space force as the world’s best and pointed to the need to continue US dominance in space.  Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.


Acquisition System Termed Danger to Continued US Preeminence

US national security agencies must choose between maintaining their acquisition process or US preeminence, “but we probably can’t do both,” said Defense Undersecretary for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin on Monday. Speaking during a session of the 2018 Future of War Conference, sponsored by the New America think tank and Arizona State University, Griffin said the United States must be able to “move inside the decision loop of our adversaries,” who “are not burdened by the acquisition system we have that has grown up, really, since post-World War II days, starting with the development of the ICBM and so on, and it has just gotten more and more protracted.” He said that as a corporate CEO making purchases he did not have to be fair, give all parties equal access, entertain protests, or pick the lowest bidder. “I’m responsible for picking that which I think is going to advance my corporation’s interests,” he said. The US acquisition system, he said, “is built for a period of time in which … American preeminence was not really questioned,” and throughout the last 70 years the US has “had the luxury of time to make decisions as if others couldn’t catch up. Now we should know that they can, and we can either devote ourselves to the maintenance of the structure that we have, or we can devote ourselves to remaining on top, but that’s the choice we face.” —Steve Hirsch

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US Expands its Efforts to Hit Taliban Drug Production

The US offensive against the Taliban’s drug production infrastructure expanded into Western Afghanistan for the first time, with a team of manned and unmanned USAF aircraft striking facilities in Farah and Nimroz provinces last week. Over April 3-5, USAF F-16s, A-10s, and MQ-9s struck 11 production facilities in the region, the first time the aircraft have expanded their focus beyond Helmand Province and Southern Afghanistan, according to a Resolute Support release. The strikes are a part of Operation Jagged Knife, a US Forces-Afghanistan effort to target the Taliban’s revenue production. The Taliban has “become a criminal organization that profits from selling drugs and using those funds to conduct operations that maim and kill Afghans,” USAF Maj. Gen. James Hecker, commander of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan, said in the release. “By cutting off the Taliban’s economic lifelines, we also reduce their ability to continue these terrorist activities.” US forces also continued striking ISIS targets inside Afghanistan on Monday, killing a senior leader of the group in the north of the country, according to The Washington Post. —Brian Everstine


Mattis Doesn’t Rule Out US Action in Syria Following Gas Attack, Israeli Response

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday would not rule out any possible strikes against the Syrian regime, though he stopped short of directly blaming Syrian President Bashar Assad for the Saturday poison gas attack that killed at least 40 people in a besieged suburb of Damascus. Mattis said the “first thing we have to look at is why are chemical weapons still being used at all” in Syria after Russia guaranteed it would push for removing chemical weapons. The US will work with NATO and other allies to “address this issue.” His statement came shortly after the Israeli Air Force carried out air strikes against a Syrian air base in Homs province, firing eight missiles, according to NBC News. The strike follows Saturday’s gas attack, which killed families and children who were sheltered in their homes. The attack prompted President Trump, who earlier declared his intent to withdraw US forces from Syria, to blame Assad for the “mindless” attack, as well as Russia and Iran for enabling the regime. —Brian Everstine


3rd SOS Wins Inaugural General Atomics RPA Squadron of the Year Award

Air Force Special Operations Command’s 3rd Special Operations Squadron was named the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Squadron of the Year, an Air Force award sponsored by General Atomics, during a ceremony Friday in Clovis, N.M. The first of its kind award is designed to annually recognize the top RPA squadron in the Air Force. The 3rd SOS was awarded the trophy in part for completing its transition from the MQ-1 to the MQ-9 six months earlier than anticipated in 2016. At the time, the squadron also fielded multiple MQ-9 software and hardware enhancements and ended 2016 as the Air Force’s largest MQ-9 squadron. The award, presented by the president of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (the manufacturer of both the Predator and Reaper), coincided with the 100-year celebration of the 3rd SOS. Retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, Dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony. “Having overseen the first RPA engagement in October 2001 as the first Operation Enduring Freedom Air Operations Center director, it’s staggering to see how far airmen like those from the 3rd SOS have progressed with RPAs in 17 years,” said Deptula.

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RADAR SWEEP


—CMSAF Kaleth Wright last week hosted the first-ever Air Force Element Senior Enlisted Leader Conference at the Pentagon, bringing together more than 50 leaders from across combatant commands and the Joint Staff. The meeting focused on how to better develop joint leaders: USAF release.

—Lockheed Martin on April 5 delivered the first HC-130J Combat King II to the California Air National Guard: Lockheed release.

—The remains of Col. Edgar F. Davis, an RF-4C Phantom navigator who was killed in 1968 when he was shot down over southeast Asia, returned home to North Carolina on April 6: WSOC-TV.

—An airman who served on the presidential security detail has been charged with conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman for encouraging service members to send lewd photos from military locations across the world: The Associated Press.

—The US Air Force Academy on Friday unveiled plans to build a $35 million visitor center on campus, which will include hotels, offices, and an indoor skydiving facility: The (Colorado Springs) Gazette.

—Australia recently received a new batch of F-35As, including its first jets with the latest Block 3F “full combat” software suite: IHS Jane’s.