Army Gen. William Ward, head of the fledgling US Africa Command, said last week one of his highest priorities is establishing “adequate and predictable” inter- and intratheater airlift support for the command and its US interagency and African partners. Ward, speaking to a Capitol Hill audience June 19 at a USAF-sponsored breakfast, said he is still determining his lift requirements. “To be perfectly candid, I’m not having any discussions [with Air Force leadership] right now,” he said. “What I know is I like C-17s, I like C-130s. They can do a lot and can make a difference in a hurry. What’s the number? Can’t tell you.” Ward said the Air Force’s reach will be “a vital enabler” for AFRICOM. “When a C-17 lands with a load of peacekeepers, humanitarian supplies, and critical equipment … the impact is visible, positive, and immediate,” he said. Following Ward’s speech, Air Force Brig. Gen. Michael Snodgrass, Ward’s chief of staff, told reporters that the command is just now working with US Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command on the airlift requirements and is currently planning its Fiscal 2010 force structure chart. “In Africa, a small unit can make a big impact,” Snodgrass said. Contemporary requirements-building processes don’t necessarily fit into the Africa model, he pointed out. “You can do a lot in Africa with three C-130s and a team of dentists,” he said, highlighting the work of the medical civil action programs on the continent already.
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.