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​​Tactical Air Support recently added 21 F-5E/F from the Royal Jordanian Air Force to its fleet. The company is one of several vying for an Air Force contract for adversary air. Photo courtesy of Chase Gallagher.

​USAF Releases RFP for Contracted Adversary Air

The Air Force on Aug. 24 released its long-awaited request for proposals for contracted adversary air support, after months of speculations and concerns raised by industry. The solicitation calls for about 30,000 annual sorties in the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii initially to focus on pilot combat readiness training and joint terminal attack controller close air support training. It is part of an effort to increase the amount of adversary aircraft available for USAF pilots to train with after the service has reduced its own aggressor squadrons. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

RAND Study Finds Weaknesses in the Air Force for Possible Future Scenarios

The Air Force’s flying force is ill-prepared for potential future needs, and the Pentagon needs to address these shortfalls in advance of any potential large-scale conflict, the RAND Corp. states in a report released this week. The report, “Is the USAF Flying Force Large Enough?/Assessing Capacity Demands in four Alternative Futures” is an effort to deal with the shortage of Pentagon tools to identify force requirements connected to ongoing operations and of efforts to collect data on operational demands over time. RAND estimated demands on the Air Force flying force under two scenarios envisioning a new Cold War with Russia or China, one in which the United States renews peace enforcement commitments similar to those in the 1990s, and one in which military operations continue to be dominated by global counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. The authors concluded USAF would not be able to meet the demands for all types of aircraft in all four instances, with the Air Force not likely to be able to meet projected bomber or airlift aircraft demands in the two Cold War projections. They also found no class of aircraft performs well under all the scenarios, with the biggest shortfalls in command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance/battle management platforms, with their small fleets and high level of demand. The analysis also suggests that longer operations would exert particular stress on the force, at a time that operation length has been rising. These problems cannot be easily fixed through changing deploy-to-dwell policies and those limiting deployment length, the report states. RAND calls on adding to Defense Department and services’ planning with historically based simulations of possible futures, and for the development of better metrics showing the force structure consequences of prolonged operations for the Air Force. –Steve Hirsch

NORTHCOM Boss: Homeland “No Longer a Sanctuary”

The world has changed and “the homeland is no longer a sanctuary,” US Northern Command chief Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy warned, and advanced capabilities and increased readiness is needed. During a Sunday speech during the National Guard Association of the United States conference there, he said the international security environment facing the US has “fundamentally changed” with the emergence of Russia and China as peer competitors, adding, “Our adversaries have the ability to reach out and touch us,” said O’Shaughnessy, who also commands the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The US must think about defense in new ways, he said, and must rethink what homeland defense means against a peer competitor. He pointed to, advanced, electronically scanned array radars the Pentagon is installing in F-16s used for homeland defense. They are not critical for dealing with something like a hijacked airliner, but they are for dealing with a peer competitor he said. “So,” he added, “we need to make sure that stays on track. We’re looking for those types of things and other things like that that we need to invest in and that investment has to be Active Duty, Guard and Reserve.” –Steve Hirsch

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Nebraska KC-135s Deploy to Czech Republic as Ample Strike Begins

KC-135s from the Nebraska Air National Guard have deployed to the Czech Republic for Ample Strike 18, a yearly exercise that brings out large numbers of aircraft. The Czech-led exercise, headquartered at Pardubice AB, will include day and night time operations “to improve NATO allies and partner nation interoperability,” according to a US Air Forces in Europe release. Previous iterations of the exercise have included B-52 and B-1 operations in 2017, and just B-1s in 2016. —Brian Everstine

McChord C-17s Airdrop 1,000 Soldiers, 40 Tons During Exercise

Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing and soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division joined earlier this month in Exercise Predictable Iron, to drop equipment and personnel at two drop zones at Pope Field, N.C. The Aug. 20-24 training involved airmen from 7th and 8th Airlift Squadrons and two C-17 Globemaster IIIs from JB Lewis McChord, Wash., dropping 40 tons of armored vehicles, resupply containers, other equipment, and more than 1,000 paratroopers. Mass-scale airdrop insertions are “something no other nation in the world can provide,” Capt. Jared Barkemeyer, 7th AS pilot and aircraft commander for one of the C-17s said in a release, but added that “without the Army, the Air Force would strictly serve an air-land mission and, as a service, we would become less flexible to user requests.” –Steve Hirsch

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RADAR SWEEP


—The Air Force is reportedly planning to announce the contract award for its T-X next-generation trainer by the end of September, likely the week of Sept. 24: Defense News.

—The F-35 program is allegedly reclassifying deficiencies to appear less serious in an attempt to control costs and finish development, the Project on Government Oversight alleges citing a JPO document obtained through the Freedom of Information Act: POGO.

—US Navy F-35Cs recently conducted Operational Test-1 aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. The test involved the aircraft operating within a carrier air wing, including integrating with other aircraft including F/A-18 Super Hornets: Navy release.

—NATO is reportedly considering a request from a United Kingdom member of parliament to name the alliance’s new headquarters building after the late Sen. John McCain: CNN.

—A bridge to Dover AFB, Del., will be named for USAF SrA. Elizabeth Loncki, an explosive ordnance disposal airman killed in Iraq in 2007: Del Marva Public Radio.

—Ramstein AB, Germany, on Tuesday held a small memorial ceremony commemorating the 30th anniversary of an air show disaster that killed 70: Stars and Stripes.

—A recently installed telescope at the Grand Mesa Observatory in Colorado is the newest site of the Air Force’s Falcon telescope network, used to track satellites and conduct outreach: The (Grand Junction) Daily Sentinel.