It’s been tough for the Army to get its arms around the changes that have come with the close cooperation between air and ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said in his last press conference June 20 (see above). Wynne said that field officers who wanted fire support used to have to go through the chain of command—“it was a headquarters event”—but now need only radio up to a fighter orbiting overhead. It was “a big cultural change. They had to go through a big revolution in thought in the Army” to accept and take advantage of the reality of modern close air support. There is no longer a question of unpredictable collateral damage, Wynne said—long an Army argument against involving airpower in counterinsurgencies.
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.