KC-46 Pegasus #7 Lands at McConnell AFB

USAF, Boeing Reach Plan to Replace KC-46’s Problematic Remote Vision System

The Air Force and Boeing have agreed on a plan to replace the cameras and other components of the KC-46’s remote vision system, addressing the biggest flaw with the service's new tanker. As part of the deal, the company will receive $882 million of previously withheld money, providing Boeing with additional cash flow. The announcement came the same day Boeing offered more than 153,000 employees a voluntary buyout. The new system will include an overhaul of the plane’s technology, to include new 4k color cameras with proper viewing geometry, larger and higher definition screens for the boom operator, a laser ranger for refueling aircraft distance measurement, and augmented reality. “We wanted to send a clear signal in the deal that this is our tanker for the future,” USAF acquisition chief Will Roper said.
C-17 Globemaster III

Air Force Readying Isolation Pods for Transporting COVID-19 Patients

Aeromedical flight crews are training at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., on an older isolation system for transporting highly infectious patients by air, even as the Air Force rapidly develops and tests a newer and more elaborate system for the mission. Testing on the C-17 is underway, and test flights are expected later this month. The capability is being readied in response to the need to move COVID-19-infected personnel. Air Force Materiel Command said it is working “in the most expeditious manner possible.” An initial flight test of the new isolation pod is expected in April.
Hill AFB 5G graphic

DOD Seeks 5G Prototypes for USAF Bases

Work is kicking off to bring fifth-generation wireless network-enabled tools to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The Defense Department recently released its final requests for prototype proposals as it looks to experiment with 5G’s military applications at Hill, JBLM, Naval Base San Diego, Calif., and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga. The new generation of wireless technology promises to be a game-changer for the Pentagon, though it has much to learn about the specifics of using that technology.
819th Expeditionary RED HORSE construction at Niger Air Base 201

Inspector General Blasts USAF, AFRICOM for Niger Air Base Construction Effort

The Air Force and U.S. Africa Command skirted Congressional oversight, didn’t adequately complete a site survey, and didn’t meet safety requirements in building a new operating base in Niger, leading to extended delays, cost overruns, and possibly unsafe conditions for personnel at Air Base 201, according to a newly released report from the Defense Department’s Inspector General. Niger Air Base 201 is the largest Air Force-led construction project in the service’s history, expected to be a hub of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the Sahel region of Africa and capable of C-17 operations. The IG report, released April 2, outlines a list of issues with the construction process, though U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa disputed the findings, saying it "accomplished the construction of an ISR and C-17 capable airfield in an operationally challenging environment with changing requirements during the construction period.”
10292019 Tournear_web sized

SDA’s First Satellites Aim to Enable JADC2

The Space Development Agency has released its draft request for proposals for an initial batch of 20 data-relay satellites known as the “Tranche 0 transport layer.” Pentagon officials see the transport layer as a way to unify the various space-based sensors that are part of the Air Force-led joint all-domain command-and-control vision, SDA Director Derek Tournear told reporters April 2. SDA will accept feedback on its draft RFP through mid-April, publish the final solicitation May 1, and issue contracts to at least two companies in August. The agency aims to launch a functional transport layer for test and training purposes at the end of fiscal 2022.

Radar Sweep

Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19

Air Force Magazine

Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

OPINION: COVID-19 Shows Why Military Health Care Shouldn’t Be Downsized

Military Times

“The Military Health System is arguably among the most effective medicine systems in the world and is our nation’s strategic medical reserve,” writes retired USAF Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright, Air Force Association president, and retired USAF Col. Keith Zuegel, AFA’s senior director for government relations. “This recent pandemic highlights the imperative to maintain such capacity rather than risk reducing it in size and scope.”

Just 18 Total Patients Were Sent This Week to the USNS Mercy, Comfort

Navy Times

Neither the Comfort nor the Mercy are accepting walk-in patients, the captains said. Rather, patients are referred to the ships from local hospitals, who are screening and conducting COVID-19 tests on patients before boarding the vessels to prevent the spread of the virus.

Russian Cargo Plane with Medical Supplies Lands in New York

Defense One

A Russian Air Force cargo plane reportedly carrying medical supplies for coronavirus patients landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport just after 4 p.m. April 1. Moscow seized the chance to publicize the rare instance of a Russian plane bringing humanitarian aid to a U.S. airport, flooding social media with pictures and video shortly after the plane’s arrival. State media even had a live video feed of forklifts carrying brown boxes off the plane.

Military Memo from 2017 Warned of Pandemic’s Impact on Combat Readiness and Risk of War

Military Times

An internal Defense Department document from 2017 warned about the potentially catastrophic impact of a pandemic like the coronavirus, one that could “result in debilitating illness in military forces at levels significant enough to degrade combat readiness.” The internal Defense Department document, first reported by The Nation magazine on April 1, says a pandemic like the one currently spreading across the United States may impact U.S. Northern Command’s “operating environment for up to 24 months,” according to the document made available online.

Amid Pandemic Crisis, Military Sending 540 More Troops to the Border


The military will be sending 540 more troops to the southern border to help prevent crossings by migrants potentially infected with coronavirus, U.S. Northern Command generals said April 1. The upcoming deployment to the border will take place "very soon" to guard against the spread of COVID-19, said Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North.

Air Force, Lockheed Martin Finalize $818 Million JASSM-ER Contract

Inside Defense

The Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin an $818 million contract to produce 790 extended-range variants of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM-ER), according to a notice the Defense Department released April 1. Under the agreement, Lockheed will provide 360 missiles in Lot 17 and 390 missiles in Lot 18 to the service, along with 40 missiles to support foreign military sales programs.

Rapid Acquisition & Sustainment

Air Force Magazine

The Air Force and U.S. defense establishment are breaking down barriers and injecting speed, innovation, and creativity into the procurement system. Check out our new page to learn more about these efforts.

Innovative App Improves Training for KC-46 Pilots

USAF release

With new aircraft and systems comes the task of setting up programs to train aviators. Members of the 56th Air Refueling Squadron updated the training process by releasing a mobile application for their Electronic Flight Bag. The app emulates the KC-46 flight and navigation computer software, the Multi-Function Control and Display Unit, to allow students to study the MCDU in their free time.

Bill Marion Announces Departure from Air Force


Bill Marion, the longtime Air Force IT and cybersecurity official and current deputy CIO, will leave the service after a 28-year career in which he started as an intern. Marion told FedScoop he will depart at the end of April to move home to Austin, Texas, and take a role in industry. Marion couldn’t yet reveal his next role but said it will be closely tied to digital transformation, “but on the other side of the wall, if you will.”