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​A B-2 Spirit bomber refuels from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a deployment to Andersen AFB, Guam. Air Force photo by MSgt. Val Gempis.


PACAF Boss: More Tankers Needed in the Pacific

A major portion of the increase in operational squadrons, outlined in the USAF’s “Force we Need” plan is for aerial refueling. That need is felt in the Pacific, where PACAF relies on a stressed tanker force to support a vast area of operations, both in exercises and in planning of possible operations. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Brookings Expert: Classification Makes USAF’s 386-Squadron Plan a Hard Sell

A lack of transparency about the warfighting scenarios that inspired USAF’s new, 386-squadron force-structure plan may make it hard to justify to defense appropriators, Brookings Institution expert Michael O’Hanlon said Tuesday. And, even assuming that the threat picture warranted the squadron scale-up, the funds needed to get there might not. “The only way you reduce the deficit is through a sense of shared sacrifice,” he said. Read the full story from Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.


Roper: USAF to Field Operational Hypersonic Weapon By 2020

Will Roper, Air Force acquisition chief, thinks the Air Force will be able to field its first, basic hypersonic weapon in about late 2020, thanks to technology sharing with the other services and a streamlined acquisition program aimed at getting an initial capability quickly. That first version, though, will likely lack the “bells and whistles” desired for an all-up system, he told reporters at ASC18, and probably will only be bought in small quantities. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.  

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Competitive Prototyping Necessary to Preserve Industrial Base

Besides generating more ideas and options, competitive prototyping will be useful for preserving the industrial base, Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper told reporters at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference. Roper, explaining why Lockheed Martin received the GPS III contract sole-source, emphasized that operational time limits and industry expertise were a factor, but hastened to add that components of the system were competed. “When you can’t compete the whole system, you should try to compete as many of the components,” he said. It should be competition for its own sake, “although that’s a really good end state to aim for,” but because doing so “brings down risk in the program,” he added. At the same time, “We’re also keeping the industry base sharp. So we need to use competitive prototyping, folks. You’re going to see it a lot.” It will reduce risk, but more importantly, “it’s also going to keep more industry competitors in. Just having that competitor—even when they don’t win—take their design through a critical design review, it’s a lot better than just saying, sorry, you didn’t win. I’m a big believer.” Roper said he didn’t realize that competitive prototyping “was so useful for the industry base.” Now, “I’m seeing, wow, this is a really great tool for ensuring that we don’t, in the future, have only one vendor that can build” a given kind of product. —John A. Tirpak

AMC Overhauling KC-10 Slide Rafts as Investigation Continues

Air Mobility Command is finalizing the root cause investigation into a slide-raft issue in its KC-10 fleet, which has limited the fleet’s ability to carry personnel but not impacted the Extender’s main aerial refueling mission. Following a May incident when a slide raft did not deploy during an emergency on the ground at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., the command began a fleet-wide investigation into the equipment. AMC expects to have identified a root cause with a way forward by the end of the month, and in the meantime has limited Space-A and medical evacuation passengers, AMC spokesman. Col. Christopher Karns said in an email, and refueling missions continue. Aircrews are trained on ways to egress the aircraft if slide rafts do not employ. AMC has directed that a minimum of three rafts be installed regardless of configuration, with a maximum of 16 military-essential and 21 total on board. With four rafts installed, a maximum of 62 passengers can fly, according to AMC. The command is overhauling all forward slide rafts “to ensure worldwide missions are not impacted,” Karns wrote, though the overhauled raft “is not necessarily the final solution” while the investigation continues. Going forward, all rafts older than 15 years will be inspected every year as opposed to the traditional three-year cycle. —Brian Everstine


CMSAF: Resilience is Everyone’s Responsibility

CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright challenged USAF airmen to lead the charge when it comes to building a more resilient force in a Wednesday-morning keynote at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference. He said that, while questions about how the service is stepping up efforts to better support airmen are valid, building “the airmen we need today” is a team effort that starts with them. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.


Holloman Reapers Realigned Under Air Education and Training Command

The 49th Wing at Holloman AFB, N.M., and co-located units will shift from Air Combat Command to the Air Education and Training Command, effective Oct. 1. The change will align Holloman, which hosts formal training units for both the MQ-9 and F-16, under the major command that is responsible for training, and will allow MQ-9 pilots and sensor operators to obtain initial and graduate training in the same command. “This realignment is the right move at the right time for Holloman and AETC,” said Lt. Gen. Steve Kwast, AETC commander. “In AETC, we have the tools and the resources to help the 49th Wing maximize the effectiveness of training.” —Steve Hirsch

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RADAR SWEEP


—A total of 140 Air Force Reservists from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla., and four HH-60G Pave Hawks deployed to Moody AFB, Ga., to support search-and-rescue operations following Hurricane Florence: USAF release.

—Search and rescue crews from the Alaska and New York Air National Guard, operating out of two HH-60s and “a couple of C-130s,” helped save 19 lives following Hurricane Florence: USAF release.

—What companies likely will benefit most from the Air Force’s growth plans: Motley Fool.

—A new RAND report found that the five bases where women are most likely to be sexually assaulted are all Air Education and Training Command locations: Air Force Times.

—A US district judge has ruled that all federal lawsuits against the US Air Force over last year’s deadly Texas shooting by a former airman will be combined into one lawsuit. So far, four lawsuits have been filed by victims or their relatives: Fox News.

—The trailer for the new Captain Marvel movie, which shows Air Force Col. Carol Danvers’ (played by Brie Larson) rise from her youth to USAF cadet to skilled fighter pilot, might encourage more Americans to join the US Air Force. The movie comes out just as the Air Force pushes for a massive expansion of its ranks: Business Insider.