The New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing has begun its annual journey to Antarctica. The first ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules departed Stratton ANGB, N.Y., on Oct. 14 and is in staging at Christchurch, New Zealand, according to a release. Two more of the ski-equipped airlifters and 23 airmen left the base Tuesday in support of Operation Deep Freeze. Two more aircraft are scheduled to depart within a week. Between 300 and 350 missions—transporting scientists, fuel, supplies, and medical equipment as well as measuring ice depths—are planned for the season that runs through February. About 120 airmen will be deployed at any one time.
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.