AMC Planning Large Expansion of Predictive Maintenance Effort

The Air Force’s use of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to forecast when aircraft parts will fail is broadening to include the military’s entire C-130 fleet, followed by C-17s and KC-46s. Conditions-Based Maintenance Plus aims to reshape how the service maintains its aircraft to mirror the commercial airline industry. Air Mobility Command is already using predictive maintenance for the C-5M fleet and many of its KC-135Rs. It’s so far been an “exciting journey, and we’re starting to see some results,” Brig. Gen. Steven Bleymaier, AMC’s logistics director, said. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Senate Defense Bill Suggests ANG Pave Hawk Plan

The Air National Guard should keep some of its HH-60G Pave Hawks around until the new HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter comes online because an interim solution is delayed, according to the Senate version of the 2020 defense policy bill. As part of the Operational Loss Replacement program, the Air Force is reconfiguring 19 Army UH-60L helos as Pave Hawks in order to have 112 HH-60Gs ready for rescue operations. Two test aircraft have been completed. The service previously said it was using 21 UH-60Ls that were supposed to arrive at ANG units in California, Alaska, and New York in fiscal 2018. That schedule has since gotten pushed back. The bulk of OLR helicopter deliveries are slated for 2019 and 2020; CRH deliveries are expected to follow in the early 2020s. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Ollie Crawford, 1925-2019

O.R. Crawford, a former AFA President and chairman of the board, a World War II P-40 pilot, and longtime promoter of the Air Force and airpower, died July 21, just after his 94th birthday. Crawford won official recognition and decorations for the American Volunteer Group—“the Flying Tigers” of WWII—and launched the Air Force Memorial Foundation, which raised funds for and built the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va. Crawford also helped found a number of aviation heritage organizations and frequently flew the Commemorative Air Force’s P-40 at air shows. Crawford founded several defense-oriented businesses and was a lifelong pilot, flying some 100 types over 70 years. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

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Lakenheath Eagles Return from Deployment

F-15s and airmen from RAF Lakenheath’s 493rd Fighter Squadron and 748th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron recently returned from a deployment to the Middle East, where they supported ongoing combat operations. Video posted Sunday by Lakenheath show the airmen and aircraft returning to their base in England. The squadron was deployed on short notice to take over the air superiority mission after the Air Force brought its F-22s home from US Central Command earlier this year. The deployment was so sudden that in February, the 493rd conducted a deployed change of command during a combat mission. F-22s returned to the region late last month, and are operating from Al Udeid AB, Qatar. —Brian Everstine

USAFE Gets New Command Chief

USAFE on July 22 got a new top enlisted leader—CMSgt. Brion Blais. Blais, who previously was the command chief master sergeant for the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center at JB-San Antonio, Texas, takes over for CMSgt. Phillip L. Easton, who will now serve as the top enlisted leader at US European Command. At USAFE, Blais will lead more than 32,000 total force personnel at eight wings and 88 geographically separated units in 104 countries, according to a USAFE release.

NORAD, NORTHCOM, Mexican Air Force Practice Intercepts

The US and Mexican militaries this month practiced working together to stop an “illicit or threatening air target” along their shared border during AMALGAM EAGLE 19. The live-flying exercise included participation from the North American Aerospace Defense Command, US Northern Command, and Mexico’s National Defense Forces with help from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Transportation Security Administration, and Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations Center, as well as Mexico’s Civil Aviation Authority and Air Traffic Control Agency. In addition to practicing how to identify and intercept unauthorized or dangerous aircraft, this year’s exercise focused on the organizations improving communication to create a “common operational picture,” fine-tuning protocols, and improving their ability to both intercept and transfer a target between the countries, according to NORAD. —Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

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Russian Aircraft Violates S. Korea’s Airspace Above East Sea Twice

A Russian military aircraft violated South Korea’s airspace above the East Sea twice July 23, prompting the Air Force to scramble fighter jets and fire warning shots, military officers in Seoul said.
Exclusive: Air Force Suspends Fee Payments to Landlord Balfour Beatty Following Reuters Report
The US Air Force has suspended paying incentive fees at all 21 military housing bases operated by landlord Balfour Beatty Communities following a Reuters-CBS News report that the company falsified maintenance records at an Oklahoma base to help it qualify for millions of dollars in bonuses. Reuters
Space Development Agency Looking to Recover from Tough Start
Just over four months since it was signed into existence, the Space Development Agency is preparing to host its first conference with space industry contractors and is trying to reassure skeptics that the SDA is a real thing. Space News
China Cyber Attacks on AFSPC Contractors "Stealing Us Blind"
“Cyber keeps me up at night,” says Brig. Gen. DeAnna Burt, director of Air Force Space Command operations and communications, because China’s cyber warriors are routinely breaching defense and space contractor networks and stealing data on a regular basis. Breaking Defense
Trump Quietly Working to Replace Director of National Intelligence
President Donald Trump is continuing to plan to replace his senior intelligence adviser, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and has considered at least one candidate, according to people close to the White House. The Washington Times
OPINION: Collaboration Key to Developing Superiority in Hypersonics
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute, and William Mahan, a former Navy submarine officer and National Defense Industrial Association board member, make the case for addressing “affordability and combat effectiveness” at NDIA’s first-ever Hypersonics Capabilities Conference, which kicks off at Purdue University on July 30. National Defense Magazine
New Military Suicide Report May Revive Debate Over Gun Restrictions
A new report from the Defense Department is likely to revive debate over the prospect of using "means restriction"––limiting access to firearms––as a way to reduce the number of suicides among US troops.
Military Studies “Hyperfit” Women Who Pass Grueling Courses
In the nearly four years since the Pentagon announced it was opening all combat jobs to women, at least 30 have earned the Army Ranger tab, two have graduated Marine infantry school, and three have passed the grueling initial assessment phase for Green Beret training. Their numbers are small, but their completion of some of the military’s most arduous physical and mental courses has raised an intriguing scientific question: Who are these “hyperfit” women and what makes them so competitive? Associated Press
EVENT: Former SECAF to Hold Fireside Chat, Book Signing in Virginia

Former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James will hold a fireside chat to discuss her book “Aim High: Chart Your Course and Find Success,” followed by a Q&A and reception, on July 31 at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Va. The event, sponsored by Leidos, is free to the public, but seats are limited. Register here.

One More Thing

The Very Real Aircraft of Area 51

Area 51 has long played a role in the development of secret aircraft and aircraft technologies. With its cavernous hangars, extremely long air strip, and remote location, it was the perfect place to test new concepts in aviation, as well as foreign warplanes acquired for testing and evaluation purposes. Popular Mechanics