Wilson To Congress: Turn Off Autopilot, Pass a Budget
The military’s escalating warnings about the readiness crisis and lack of budgetary stability intensified Tuesday, as Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told a Washington, D.C., summit that Congress needs to “turn off autopilot” and actually pass a budget. Lack of funding stability, coupled with constant war-time operations, has meant the Air Force is “wearing out our people,” Wilson said. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
USAF Ready in the Pacific, But Tensions With North Korea Not New
While the US military needs to be ready at any moment on the Korean Peninsula, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson tried to calm nerves over the situation with North Korea on Tuesday saying this isn’t the first time tensions have been high. The Defense Department is poised to support the State Department, because it is better for North Korea to deal with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson than Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Wilson said Tuesday. She mentioned the 1969 shoot down of a US EC-121 plane off the coast of the peninsula, and the 1976 deaths of US Army officers by North Korean soldiers in the Demilitarized Zone as two other times when tensions were very high between the two countries. What’s different now, however, is North Korea is “so close to having a nuclear capability” and “that is obviously a very serious concern,” she said. Wilson’s comments come as North Korean hackers reportedly stole classified South Korean military documents, including a joint South Korea-US wartime operational plan, Reuters reported. Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning said Tuesday that the Defense Department is confident “in the security of our operations plans.” —_
An F-22 Raptor from the 1st Fighter Wing, JB Langley-Eustis, Va., lands at RAF Lakenheath, England, Oct. 8, 2017. USAF photo by TSgt. Matthew Plew.
F-22s Deploy to Europe
A contingent of F-22s and airmen from the 27th and 94th Fighter Squadrons at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., deployed Oct. 8 to RAF Lakenheath, UK, for a training deployment with NATO allies. While in Europe, the aircraft will conduct air training with unnamed nations and other USAF aircraft in theater, the Air Force announced in a release. The deployment, which is funded by the military’s European Deterrence Initiative, will demonstrate the “steadfast commitment to NATO” and deter any actions that destabilize the region, according to the Air Force. F-22s deployed to Europe last year, where they conducted training missions in Romania and Lithuania, among other locations. —Brian Everstine
Little Rock C-130s Deploy to Afghanistan
C-130Js and airmen from Little Rock AFB, Ark., recently deployed to Afghanistan as operations in that country pick back up. The C-130s touched down at Bagram Airfield “recently,” though no specific date was released, according to Air Force photographs of the aircraft at the base. While deployed, the aircraft will fly aeromedical evacuation, cargo, personnel airlift, and airdrop missions, according to Air Forces Central Command. The deployment comes as airdrop operations in the country have been increasing. So far this year, US aircraft have airdropped 12,163 pounds of supplies compared to zero in both 2015 and 2016. C-130s from the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron deployed from Dyess AFB, Texas, conducted the first airdrop in more than two years in August, dropping 11,000 pounds of supplies at night, according to an Air Force release. Little Rock crews flew extensively in Air Mobility Command’s Mobility Guardian exercise this summer as part of their spin-up to deploy, and practiced missions such as “hot defueling” before leaving for Afghanistan. —Brian Everstine
Lockheed’s GPS III Officially Ready for Space
The Air Force has determined the GPS III is “available for launch,”clearing the way for the first launch in 2018. Manufacturer Lockheed Martin said the first 10 GPS III satellites are currently in full production, touting the GPS III has three times the accuracy, eight times “improved anti-jamming capability,” and a production empire comprising more than 250 subcontractors spanning 29 states. Read the full story by Gideon Grudo.
Pentagon: Diplomatic Tensions With Turkey Not Impacting Incirlik Operations
Continued US operations out of Incirlik AB, Turkey, have not been impacted by an ongoing diplomatic dispute between the two countries, the Defense Department said Tuesday. Both the US and Turkish governments suspended visitor visas over the weekend as tensions rose between the two countries. On Sunday, Turkey arrested an employee of the American consulate, accusing him of being a supporter of an exiled cleric the Turkish government accuses of attempting a coup last year, according to The New York Times. Despite these tensions, US operations at Incirlik are continuing and fulfilling “an important role supporting NATO and coalition efforts,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning said Tuesday, according to Reuters. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson also speaking on Tuesday said the US and Turkey have been allies for a long time, and she hopes the “most recent issues are resolved.” Incirlik has been an unstable location for US operations in the fight against ISIS, with power going out and flight operations halted during the coup attempt last summer. Turkey had originally not allowed the US to fly any strike operations in the fight against ISIS before striking a deal early on in the operation. —Brian Everstine
—Gen. John Nicholson, the top US military commander in Afghanistan, promised “a tidal wave of airpower is on the horizon” and that “this is the beginning of the end for the Taliban:” Washington Post.
—Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy has tasked Lt. Gen. Ed Cardon to lead a 120-day task force aimed at determining the “ultimate form and function” of a new command to be focused solely on Army modernization efforts: DOD Buzz.
—A Russian Sukhoi-24 attack aircraft crashed while taking off from Hmeymim Air Base in Syria on Tuesday, killing the two-man crew: Reuters.