The Air Force has confirmed the earlier announcement by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that Air Force Special Operations Command has passed the environmental hurdle for starting the take-over of Cannon AFB, N.M. AFSOC plans to install Col. Tim Leahy, former vice commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., as the first commander of the new wing at Cannon. The wing will be the 16th SOW. The new wing’s first aircraft will be the MC-130W Combat Spear of the 73rd Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt. The W model Hercules are designated aerial refuelers for the new CV-22 tiltrotors and conduct infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special ops forces.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.