George K. Muellner 1943-2019

Retired Lt. Gen. George K. Muellner, former chairman of the board of the Air Force Association, and a leading figure in Air Force and American aerospace technology development, died Feb. 11 in Newport Beach, Calif., at the age of 75. Muellner flew 690 combat missions in the Vietnam War, was a test pilot instrumental in fielding the F-15 and F-16, and was a program chief who took the experimental JSTARS radar plane to war in Operation Desert Storm, ushering in a new era of ground situational awareness for US forces. Muellner headed a secret Air Force squadron charged with obtaining and evaluating Soviet-designed aircraft during the Cold War, and was involved with development of a number of secret weapon systems. He established the parameters and organization for what would become the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter system, and in retirement served as head of Boeing’s Phantom Works advanced development organization. He also headed the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and served on numerous boards and government advisory committees. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Pentagon Releases New AI Strategy, Calls for Collaboration

The Defense Department on Tuesday released its first-ever strategy on artificial intelligence, saying development of these capabilities is needed to stay relevant in an emerging technology that will touch all mission areas. Russia and China are developing and weaponizing their own AI capabilities. Read the full story by Brian Everstine and Amy McCullough.

First Female F-16 Viper Demo Team Lead Removed After Two Weeks

Capt. Zoe Kotnik, the F-16 Viper Demo Team’s first-ever female commander and pilot, was removed from her position on Feb. 11 after just two weeks on the job, Col. Derek O’Malley wrote in a Feb. 12 Facebook post. O’Malley said he fired Kotnik, who assumed the role on Jan. 29 and was touted by the Air Force Academy as the “real Captain Marvel” on Feb. 6, after losing “confidence in her ability to lead the team.” “We have thousands of airmen across our Air Force serving our country, and not one of them is perfect,” O’Malley wrote. “As good people, like Capt. Kotnik, make mistakes, I want them to have the opportunity to learn from them without being under public scrutiny, and to continue to be a part of this great service. They’ll be better for the experience, and in turn, we’ll be better as an Air Force.” Maj. John Waters has resumed his former role as the team’s leader, O’Malley wrote. —Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

US Sees No Change in North Korean Nuclear Capability

North Korea has not made a “verifiable change” toward denuclearization following last summer’s summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, though there has been a “palpable” reduction in tensions, the head of US Forces-Korea said Tuesday. As the two leaders prepare for a second summit in Vietnam later this month, USF-K is moving forward on planning future exercises that had been suspended, though future versions could be more limited in scope. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Inhofe: Shanahan Not Likely to be Nominated for SECDEF

The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee told reporters on Tuesday he fully expects President Trump to nominate someone to serve as the Secretary of Defense, though he couldn’t provide a timeline for when that might happen. “Right now we have a temporary. We need to have a Secretary of Defense, so I anticipate we will,” Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said during a Defense Writers Group breakfast on Capitol Hill. “If you’re acting, you don’t have the force you should have with the office.” Inhofe acknowledged there are no laws limiting the amount of time an acting Secretary can serve in the role, and he said he’s not likely to set one. President Trump has praised Shanahan’s performance so far and said he’s in no rush to name an official replacement for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who stepped down at the end of last year. When asked by reporters if he thought Shanahan would officially be nominated for the job, Inhofe said, “I don’t think it’s going to happen.” Inhofe added that he’s had “many conversations” with Trump about the Defense Secretary position, noting it’s still “a work in progress.” —Amy McCullough

Shanahan Visits Baghdad to Review Remaining Fight Against ISIS

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan made his first visit to Iraq in his position, meeting with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad about the future of the fight against ISIS as the US plans its withdrawal from neighboring Syria. Shanahan told reporters en route to Iraq he wanted to hear from the country first-hand about how it is battling the remnants of ISIS, according to The Associated Press. Shanahan met with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and discussed the need to “further develop” the capabilities of Iraqi forces, according to a Pentagon statement. There are about 2,500 forces still in Iraq, and President Trump said earlier this month that the US may move forces out of Syria and into Iraq, and potentially use the deployment to watch Iran. Shanahan stopped in Baghdad after a brief visit to Afghanistan, where he met with US forces and Afghan leaders about the future of that fight. —Brian Everstine

Fake DOD TAP Website Tries to Solicit Service Members’ Personal Data, Install Malware

Air Forces Cyber issued a Facebook post on Tuesday cautioning airmen against visiting a fake DOD Transition Assistance Program website that attempts to solicit website visitors’ personally identifiable information and download malware onto their computers. The website, which Air Forces Cyber said was first discovered by its Marine Corps counterpart, attempted to pull one over on service members by using a .com suffix versus the standard .mil one utilized by US military websites. “The correct URL is,” Air Forces Cyber stressed in the post. —Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory


OPINION: Building The Air Force We Need To Meet Chinese and Russian Threats

Retired Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute writes: For the first time in a generation, America’s global interests are at risk. Failure to win when contested by either China or Russia would have negative consequences not just for the United States, but for the entire free world. Accordingly, it is time to prepare deliberately and prudently to achieve levels of capability to deter conflict with these states, and if necessary win if deterrence fails. Nowhere is this truer than for the U.S. Air Force. Forbes

SpaceX Launch Certification to Get Review by Pentagon Watchdog

The Pentagon’s inspector general said it will begin an evaluation of the Air Force’s certification of SpaceX’s primary launch vehicles, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, years after a legal fight led to a victory for the company founded by Elon Musk. Bloomberg

Military Mulls Medical Personnel Cuts Even as Suicide Rates Rise

The Defense Department is weighing the option of cutting thousands of uniformed medical personnel, including psychologists and other mental-health professionals, even as military leaders grapple with rising suicide rates among troops.
Air Force Ospreys Spotted in Vietnam For First Time

A group of Air Force CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft were photographed at a Vietnam airport last week, marking their first landfall in the Southeast Asian nation. Freelance journalist Duan Dang tweeted out the photo of four Ospreys landing at the Danang International Airport on Feb. 5. Air Force Times