The Air Force once again needs to find a few more good enlisted aviators. The service has opened retraining opportunities for airmen who want to move into one of eight aviator fields. Those fields open to first-term airmen are flight engineer, flight attendant, and aerial gunner. The service has openings for staff sergeants and technical sergeants that want to retrain as boom operators, flight engineers, loadmasters, aerial gunners, and specialists in airborne mission systems, airborne battle management, and cryptologic linguistics. Overall, USAF has about 900 slots open in areas where it has critical shortages. As in the past, the service wants to take volunteers from a group of NCOs it has marked as “vulnerable for retraining.” There are plans for an involuntary phase and beyond that separation, as the service continues to draw down to an end strength of 316,000 active duty members in 2009.
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.