The House-Senate conference report for the 2007 defense appropriations bill likely has derailed calls for a delay to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, and—much to the Pentagon’s dismay—it would resurrect the alternate engine program. The House already has passed the spending bill; the Senate was expected to follow suit this week. Despite a push in the Senate to delay F-35 production—fronted primarily by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)—conferees agreed to fund two F-35s in 2007 and provide advance funding for 12 in 2008. (JSF program manager, Brig. Gen. Charles Davis, had said a delay would significantly increase unit cost.) Conferees also added $340 million to “continue developing a second source for JSF aircraft engines.” And, they went one step further, directing DOD to include second engine funding in its 2008 budget request.
Changes are coming this year for Airmen taking professional military education (PME) distance learning courses. Closer interactions with facilitators, a revised capstone course, and more feedback on test performance are meant to improve the overall experience for distance learning students, who often include members of the Air National Guard.