ACC Won’t Cancel Exercises Despite Disaster Aid Delay

The Air Force doesn’t plan to cancel any upcoming training exercises as it waits for Congress to pass a disaster-aid supplemental funding bill, despite what the service’s vice chief of staff told lawmakers earlier in May. “ACC has looked into the possibility of having to cancel training exercises,” a command spokeswoman told Air Force Magazine May 30. “To date, all ACC exercises continue to be executed as planned.” Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Norquist: R&D Investment Needed as a Stepping Stone to Larger Force

The Pentagon consciously decided to funnel more money into research and development rather than grow the military in the short term in the 2020 budget request, acting Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said May 30 at the Center for a New American Security. Being able to meet challenges across domains is more important than manpower growth, Norquist said, while backing the services’ plans for a 386-squadron Air Force and a 355-ship Navy. Susanna Blume, the deputy director of CNAS’ defense program who led the discussion with Norquist, has called the Pentagon’s focus on numbers of platforms misguided and potentially unachievable even if annual defense spending sits around $750 billion. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Trump Touts Space Force, Commits to 386-Squadron Force at USAFA Commencement

President Donald Trump praised the “record number” of space operators in the US Air Force Academy’s Class of 2019, and committed to a 386-squadron force as outlined in the service’s Air Force We Need plan during his May 30 commencement speech. Despite the recognition of USAF’s “future space leaders,” only about 32 graduates will become space operators, whereas 525 graduates will head to pilot training—the highest number in nine years, according to Academy statistics. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Hill F-35s Relocate to Mountain Home During Construction

As many as 24 F-35 strike fighters and more than 250 airmen assigned to the Active Duty’s 388th Fighter Wing and the Air Force Reserve’s 419th FW—USAF’s only combat-coded F-35 wings—will relocate to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, while the runway at Hill AFB, Utah, closes for construction, according to a base release. The aircraft, which are assigned to the 34th Fighter Squadron, are expected to remain at their temporary home for more than two months while the $43.6-million construction project is completed. The wing’s other two F-35 squadrons have recently deployed, marking the “first time all three squadrons have been gone since the wing received the F-35A in 2015,” according to a base release. The 4th Fighter Squadron recently deployed to the Middle East and is supporting combat operations in Afghanistan as well as the anti-ISIS fight in Iraq and Syria, while the 421st FS deployed to Aviano AB, Italy, on May 24 as part of a European theater security package. While at Mountain Home, the strike fighters will conduct normal flight operations on most weekdays, and also participate in exercises. —Amy McCullough

Wright-Patt Escapes Tornadoes with “Minimal Damage”

Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, suffered “minimal damage” after multiple tornadoes touched down late on May 27. Flight operations were temporarily suspended on May 28 while the taxiways and runways in Area A were inspected, but the area was declared safe later that day after 331 pounds of debris, including fallen trees, were removed. Off base, a total of 12 houses in the Prairies at Wright Field housing complex were determined to be uninhabitable and the families were relocated to temporary lodging during recovery operations, according to a base release. The Dayton Daily News reported some 150 houses were damaged, and one person was injured. Although the roads have since reopened and electricity has been restored, residents are still being asked to boil water or take advantage of bottled water being given out at the Prairies Chapel Education Center. The tornadoes were the latest in a series of natural disasters to strike USAF bases in the last year. Offutt AFB, Neb., is still recovering from major storms and flooding from earlier this year, and Tyndall AFB, Fla., was nearly destroyed when Hurricane Michael made landfall late last year. —Amy McCullough

Air Force Unveils Statue at Pope Posthumously Honoring MSgt. John Chapman

The Air Force on May 30 commemorated MSgt. John Chapman, the first airman to receive the Medal of Honor for actions since the Vietnam War, with a life-size statue and replica of the award at a squadron where airmen entering his career field train. “It is particularly impactful that John’s legacy is standing guard over the future of our combat control community; a community I consider to be family,” Chapman’s widow, Valerie Nessel, said in a release. “I hope John’s dedication and sacrifice continue to inspire the next generation of heroes who are answering the call to serve and protect our nation.” The statue is located at the Benini Heritage Center at the 352nd Air Force Special Warfare Training Squadron at Pope Army Airfield, N.C. The squadron conducts entry-level training for combat controllers and special tactics officers. Chapman, a combat controller, was the first special tactics airman to receive the Medal of Honor. “John was a teammate of mine when he was killed and my very first friend to be killed in action,” squadron commander Maj. Michael Bain said in a release. “I can’t think of a better display, within our museum, that will motivate future special warfare airmen to complete any task in front of them, at home or overseas.” —Brian Everstine


Air Force Confirms Wright-Patterson to Host F-35 Support Organization

Outgoing Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson has confirmed the selection of Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, to host the F-35 Hybrid Product Support Integrator Organization. Wright-Patt was named a preferred location in December 2018 and an environmental assessment found no significant impact. USAF release

Cyber Command Appoints New No. 2 Amid Growing Battle with Foreign Hackers

The head of US Cyber Command has tapped the organization’s chief of staff to be his new deputy, filling a critical vacancy as the command looks to bolster operations to defend the 2020 election from foreign interference. Politico

4 F-35 Jets Make Unplanned Landing at Burlington Airport

The Vermont National Guard says the four F-35 fighter jets that made an unplanned landing at the Burlington International Airport due to weather and refueling issues are not connected to the Vermont Air National Guard. Associated Press via

10 Members of 187th Fighter Wing Exposed to Dangerous Hydrazine at Dannelly Field

First responders rushed to Dannelly Field on May 29 shortly before noon after there were reports that members of the 187th Fighter Wing had been exposed to a caustic propellant. Montgomery Advertiser

EUCOM Sees Larger Role for US Diplomats in Military Exercises

US European Command leaders are developing new military war games in coordination with some unconventional partners: American diplomats in Europe. Stars and Stripes

Inside America’s Multimillion-Dollar Plan to Get Allies Off Russian Equipment

To address the issue, the US State Department has, in the last year, quietly launched a new program known as the European Recapitalization Incentive Program (ERIP), a new tool developed with US European Command to try and speed the process of getting allied nations off Russian gear. As envisioned, it targets Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia and Slovakia. Defense News

Inspection Reveals Missing, Inaccurate Headstones at Military Cemeteries

The Pentagon needs to establish on overall set of rules for 36 cemeteries run by the military service branches to avoid mistakes in record-keeping that can result in missing headstones and wrong dates of birth and death, according to a report from the Defense Department’s Inspector General.

One More Thing…

NASCAR Honors Fallen Special Tactics Airman

Family members and teammates of SSgt. Dylan Elchin, a combat controller who was killed Nov. 27, 2018, when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, attended the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 Miles of Remembrance race on May 26, 2019, in Concord, N.C. The #43 Coca-Cola Chevy had Elchin’s name on the windshield. USAF release