F-22 Fleet May Not Meet Mattis’s Readiness Goal

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said the service’s F-22 fleet may not reach former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s 80 percent mission-capable rate mandate by the end of the fiscal year because the jets were uprooted after Hurricane Michael. The service needs to reprogram around $750 million to boost F-16 and F-22 sustainment, Wilson said following a March 13 Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

USAF Requests $36M in Fiscal 2020 to Start Prototyping for ABMS

The fledgling Advanced Battle Management System program needs $36 million in fiscal 2020 research funds to kickstart its second year of work, and will “significantly” ramp up funding in the outyears, an Air Force spokeswoman told Air Force Magazine on Thursday. “ABMS funding fully stands up the … chief architect office and executes architectural analysis, family-of-systems assessments, prototyping and experimentation, as well as forms common/open-architecture standards and interfaces,” Capt. Cara Bousie said in an email. This is the first year ABMS, a network of sensors and satellites envisioned to replace the service’s E-8C Joint STARS recapitalization program, will receive its own development funding line. More details will be unveiled in the service’s forthcoming budget justification documents. —Rachel S. Cohen

Wolters Nominated for EUCOM Commander, NATO Supreme Allied Commander

President Trump on Friday nominated USAF Gen. Tod Wolters to be the next commander of US European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. If confirmed, Wolters would take over for US Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who has led EUCOM and NATO since replacing former USAF Gen. Philip Breedlove in 2016. Wolters has commanded US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa since August 2016. Previously, he served as the director of operations at the Joint Staff and the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for operations. Wolters, a 1982 graduate of the Air Force Academy, is a command pilot with more than 5,000 hours in aircraft such as the F-22, F-15C, and A-10, among others. —Brian Everstine

Permanent Contract Red Air Slated for Kingsley, Holloman in 2020

The Air Force plans to stand up two flying training units of contract adversary air at Klamath Falls Arpt/Kingsley Field, Ore., and Holloman AFB, N.M., service spokeswoman Capt. Cara Bousie told Air Force Magazine. Kingsley is home to the 173rd Fighter Wing, the sole formal training schoolhouse for the F-15 Eagle, while Holloman’s 54th Fighter Group—a detachment of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Ariz.—hosts F-16 pilot training. The awards will be part of a broader multi-award contract, known as CAF/CAS, worth up to $6 billion for 40,000-plus hours of adversary air at 12 fighter bases and nearly 10,000 hours to help train joint terminal attack controllers at nine Army bases. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

Kessel Run’s Success Spurs Two New Coding Teams

The Air Force is opening its second and third coding groups after its original effort, Kessel Run, set a new standard for software development in the revamping of the service’s air operations centers. “Kobayashi Maru” is up and running at the Space and Missile Systems Center, and “Bespin” will launch in Montgomery, Ala., as Kessel Run also tackles the F-35’s troubled logistics system, Air Force Acquisition Executive Will Roper said Friday. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

DOD IG to F-35 Program Office: Inventory Government Property Before Beginning Full-Rate Production

The F-35 Joint Program Office did not adequately track government-furnished property lent to contractors on the program, and as a result had no “visibility over the property” and no way to hold Lockheed Martin accountable for losing government property, the Pentagon’s watchdog finds in a new report. The Defense Department Inspector General found that the Pentagon doesn’t know the actual value of government-furnished property lent to Lockheed or subcontractors, which the contractor estimated is worth $2.1 billion. “The lack of asset visibility restricts the DOD’s ability to conduct the necessary checks and balances that ensure the prime contractor is managing and spending F-35 Program funds in the government’s best interest and could impact the DOD’s ability to meet its operational readiness goals for the F-35 aircraft,” the report states. The DOD IG recommends the Pentagon review accounting and management practices in the F-35 Program Office, and hold necessary officials accountable if needed. Additionally, the JPO needs to ensure the list of government property is complete, appoint a property officer to work with Lockheed and the Defense Contract Management Agency to ensure all property is accounted for, and perform a complete inventory of government property before the JPO makes a decision to begin full-rate production. —Brian Everstine

Offutt Evacuates Aircraft As Flooding Damages the Base

Offutt AFB, Neb., evacuated many of its aircraft Saturday as portions of the base flooded, damaging several buildings. Cities across Nebraska declared a state of emergency beginning Friday as extensive flooding spread throughout the state, and National Guard members used Black Hawk helicopters to help local agencies rescue stranded residents. Col. Michael Manion, commander of the 55th Wing at Offutt, said in a Facebook update Saturday that more than 20 buildings on base had to be evacuated, and more flooding was expected. No injuries were reported on base as of Sunday. The base ordered evacuations of recreation and camping areas, but not of its on-base housing. “The entire Offutt team continues to demonstrate courage, tenacity, and pride as they defend the base,” Manion wrote. The wing launched its aircraft on Saturday as flood waters approached the runway, with nine aircraft taking off in a short period of time, Manion wrote. Only mission essential personnel were allowed on base starting Sunday. No information was released about how many aircraft were evacuated, or to where, but the base is home to US Strategic Command, the E-4B airborne command post fleet, and fixed-wing reconnaissance aircraft such as RC-135s. The floods mark the second time within six months that a major USAF installation sustained serious damage due to a natural disaster; Tyndall AFB, Fla., was hit by a hurricane in October. —Brian Everstine



Is Miscommunication to Blame in US Airstrike That Killed at Least 5 Afghan Troops

Authorities are investigating an errant U.S. strike on an Afghan military base in the country’s south that killed at least five Afghan troops, a lawmaker said Thursday. AP via Military Times

About 21,000 Troops Booted So Far Under ‘Deploy or Get Out’ Policy

About 21,000 nondeployable troops have been forced out of the ranks since the Defense Department’s “deploy or get out” policy began last summer, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Thursday. Military Times
Forget Project Maven. Here are a Couple Other DOD Projects Google is Working On

Google may no longer be providing artificial intelligence to the Pentagon under Project Maven, but the Silicon Valley company is moving ahead on other efforts that could ultimately support military operations. C4isrnet

AFMC to Host Virtual Hiring Event

The event will provide an opportunity for hiring officials and qualified candidates to connect directly via an interactive, online platform to fill immediate, critical vacancies as well as future positions at AFMC headquarters and center locations across the U.S. AFMC News

One More Thing …

US Air Force Astronaut Col. Nick Hague Makes Second Launch to ISS

Few Airman astronauts have aborted their space flight mission after launch, and even fewer received the opportunity to relaunch just months later. Air Force News