T-38 Crashes in Mississippi, Pilots Safely Eject

A T-38C Talon II crashed in a remote area near Columbus AFB, Miss., around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Both pilots safely ejected and were being evaluated at a local hospital, according to a statement posted on the base’s Facebook page. “First responders have extinguished the fire and are securing the area,” according to the statement. No houses or other structures were damaged in the crash. Seventeen airmen have died in aircraft crashes this year. On May 2, a Puerto Rico Air National Guard WC-130 crashed on its way to the boneyard in Arizona, killing all nine airmen on board. A month earlier, on April 4, USAF Thunderbirds No. 4 pilot Maj. Stephen Del Bagno died when his F-16 crashed during a training sortie in Nevada. And, on March 15, seven airmen were killed when their HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in Iraq. USAF officials said that crash did not appear to be caused by enemy activity. Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has ordered all USAF flying wings to take a one day safety stand down. The service is focused on finding any common causes in the string of mishaps, but officials maintain the spate of accidents does not constitute a “crisis” and is not likely tied to sequestration-related cuts or readiness issues. —Amy McCullough

USAF’s Aircraft Sustainment Center to Submit Trends Report Within 60 Days

Lt. Gen. Lee Levy, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center, is looking for trends in aircraft maintenance issues following a series of aviation mishaps this years. Speaking at an AFA Mitchell Institute event on Wednesday, Levy said he expects to report his findings to Air Force Materiel Command within the next two months, but so far, his teams haven’t uncovered anything they “didn’t already know.” AFMC boss Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski requisitioned the mishap trend collection from Levy earlier in May. The sustainment center is uniquely poised to determine such trends as problematic aircraft arrive at any one of its maintenance depots for repair. “This is an inherently dangerous business,” Levy said. “I wouldn’t say there are any surprises.” Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.

Preserve US Air Superiority, Mattis Tells Graduates

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Wednesday charged new graduates of the Air Force Academy with making sure that US air superiority “survives in a world of renewed competition” and said that as they enter their new roles, “my expectation for you is quite simple—always be ready to fight and to win.” Mattis, this year’s academy commencement speaker, told the 983 graduating cadets they should lead by example, and that “the warrior ethos and the fierce character that you now inherit as your own character will now have to stand between us and some of the forces that would take our democracy and liberty away.” Moreover, “It is now your responsibility that our adversaries know they should always prefer to talk to our Department of State rather than face the US Air Force,” he said. —Steve Hirsch

Air Force Wants More Retired Officers Back in Uniform

The Air Force on Wednesday announced it had expanded the Voluntary Retired Return to Active Duty Program in an effort to close manning gaps and improve quality of life for rated officers. Under the updated program, which was approved by Secretary Heather Wilson on May 11, retired rated officers in the 11X-pilot, 12X-combat systems officer, or 13B-air battle manager career fields have until Dec. 31 to apply. Applicants must have retired from Active Duty within the last five years, be under the age of 50, medically qualified for Active Duty, and have previously served in a rated position within 15 years or qualified in a USAF aircraft within the last 10 years. Retired rated officers older than 50 will be considered on a case-by-case basis, according to a press release. Previously, the service was only allowed to accept 25 participants for a maximum of 12 months, and all retired officers who returned to duty served in non-flying staff position. The expanded program now allows for up to 1,000 retired rated officers, and Active Duty tours are a minimum of 24 months and a maximum of 48 months. “Many who inquired [about the program previously] expressed interest in the stability afforded by a longer tour,” Air Force Personnel Center spokesman Mike Dickerson told Air Force Magazine. “In addition, longer tours also afforded the potential to utilize these officers in flying as well as non-flying positions, providing more time to requalify and be effectively utilized in various airframes.” Since 2017, 10 people have been approved and five have returned to Active Duty, said Dickerson. —Amy McCullough

Trump Administration Yanks China’s Invitation to Naval Exercise

The Trump administration Tuesday pulled its invitation to China to participate in a major Pacific naval exercise in light of that country’s “continued militarization” of the South China Sea. Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, in a statement emailed to reporters, said that as a consequence of that militarization, China had been “disinvited” from this year’s Rim of the Pacific Exercise to be held later this year. RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime exercise. “China’s behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise,” Logan said. Read more about China’s man-made islands and see photos of the buildup in Mischief in the South China Sea from the print edition of Air Force Magazine. —Steve Hirsch

North Korea Sees Nuclear Weapons as Key to its Strategy, Pentagon Report Says

A newly released Defense Department report emphasizes the importance North Korea places on its nuclear weapons as a defense against the United States and its allies. The report comes as President Donald Trump prepares for a summit with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, next month in Singapore. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.

Keesler Reservists Return from Southwest Asia Deployment

Air Force Reservists and several C-130Js from the 403rd Wing, based at Keesler AFB, Miss., are back from deployment to Southwest Asia where they supported Operations Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve, the Air Force said Tuesday. Among those returning were aircrew from the 815th Airlift Squadron, maintainers from the 803rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and support personnel from the 403rd Wing, who had been assigned to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Udeid AB, Qatar. The 815th AS provided combat airdrop and airlift and aeromedical evacuation support to operations within the US Central Command area of operations. —Steve Hirsch


—The commander of the 91st Security Forces Group at Minot AFB, N.D., has been fired, after his unit garnered national attention for losing a machine gun and grenades earlier this month: Task and Purpose.

—A former Air Force staff sergeant has pleaded guilty to seeking and receiving a bribe from an Afghan contractor while serving at Bagram Air Field: Stars and Stripes.

—Michele Evans has been named the deputy executive vice president for Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth-based aeronautics business unit: Dallas Business Journal.

—More than $600,000 of private funds have been raised for a new memorial dedicated to airmen from Dyess AFB, Texas, who have been killed in the line of duty: Bigcountryhomepage.com.