Air Force medical and mobility forces recently took extraordinary measures to help save the eyesight of a wounded 21-year-old marine. Among various wounds, including burns over 15 percent of his body, the shrapnel in the marine’s right eye prompted doctors at Balad AB, Iraq, to say he needed to go directly to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. The Combined Air Operations Center Aeromedical Evacuation Control Team alerted an on-call aeromedical team at Balad for an “alpha mission” and an on-call C-17 airlifter crew deployed outside Iraq. Normally, airlifters on special medevac missions fly from Iraq to a medical facility in Germany. Air staging facility airmen at Balad loaded the marine, accompanied by a critical care air transport team. The Air Force team delivered him 15 hours later to Brooke. Maj. Charles Puls, leader of the CCATT, said medical reports indicate the marine now is able to see out of both eyes. Puls called the flight a “landmark,” saying, “As far as I know, it was the fastest trip on record.”
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.