F-16 Crashes During Takeoff in Texas, Pilot Safe

An F-16 pilot ejected after the aircraft caught fire and crashed during takeoff Wednesday at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base near Houston. The pilot, assigned to a detachment of the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing, was under direction of the North American Aerospace Defense Command at the time of the mishap, NORAD said in a statement. At about 9:30 a.m. local time, the pilot took off for a training flight and crashed at the base. The Houston Airport System told ABC-13 the F-16 caught fire during takeoff, and photos posted by the station showed the jet in the grass near the flightline. The pilot was being evaluated at a local medical facility, NORAD said. The command did not provide additional information on the F-16’s training mission. Ellington Field is home to the 147th Attack Wing, which flies MQ-1B Predators.

Separate Space Corps Included in Strategic Forces Markup

The Air Force may be required to establish a separate Space Corps within the service by 2019, according to the House strategic forces subcommittee markup of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, released Tuesday. The new Space Corps would be headed by a Chief of Staff of the Space Corps—a four-star general who would be appointed to a six-year term, would be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and would be “a co-equal of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.” Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

Strategic Forces Markup Calls for INF-Range Missile System

Congress may be ready to hold Russia accountable for its violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. In its markup for the National Defense Authorizations Act, the House strategic forces subcommittee includes a provision that declares Russia in material breach of the treaty. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

Goldfein and Wilson Defend Air Force Budget Request

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein underscored the service’s need for more personnel in testimony before the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee Wednesday. The purpose of the hearing was to review the Air Force’s fiscal year 2018 budget request, which calls for an increased end strength of 502,000. “The Air Force is too small for what the nation expects of it,” Wilson told the committee. “This budget starts to turn back up after a decade of decline” in the number of personnel. Many of the missions the Air Force provides to the joint force “have become assumed capability to the American people,” Goldfein added, but the service’s funding has not allowed it to keep pace with growing demand for air strikes, ISR, and space capabilities like GPS and missile defense. The service is “too small for the missions the nation relies on,” he said, and only “continuous, stable budgets” will enable the Air Force to “turn this around.” Even if Congress grants the service its requested growth in FY18, Goldfein said the road to recouping readiness would be a long one. “We didn’t get here overnight,” he said, and “we will not recover overnight.” See also: The Readiness Conundrum from the June 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine and Rebuilding the Ranks from the June 2017 issue.

Europe Needs More Airmen and Fighter Squadrons, but Carefully

The commander of US Air Forces in Europe would like to see “more growth and more fighter squadrons,” as USAF increases end strength, brings on new equipment, and improves the training and readiness of its existing units. “We’ll be very, very deliberate,” about adding forces, because equipment and personnel don’t come cheap, Gen. Tod Wolters said at a Paris Air Show briefing this week. Read Adam J. Hebert’s full report from Le Bourget, France.

Raytheon Anticipates Burgeoning Demand for Special Mission Aircraft

Raytheon anticipates that company sales in the special mission aircraft (SMA) area will steadily grow over the next few years as demand for multispectral ISR continues to expand. Raytheon serves as an integrator for a variety of special mission aircraft, midsize manned aircraft that host advanced, multispectral intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance packages. Read Adam J. Hebert’s full report from the Paris Air Show.

Mattis: More Military Cooperation With China Needed as a “Stabilizing Element”

Top military and diplomatic leaders with the US and China are moving forward on closer collaboration, including the exchange of military officers, to improve overall relations and cooperate in “mutually beneficial ways,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday. Speaking after he and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with their Chinese counterparts at the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in Washington, D.C., Mattis said the US and China have the same end state of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and the two countries are moving toward a “results-oriented” relationship. China on Wednesday expressed its understanding that the US views a nuclear North Korea as a “top threat,” Tillerson said. The meeting also comes as tensions have heightened between the two nations in the South China Sea, where China has built up its military presence despite heavy US opposition. Mattis said the purpose of meetings like Wednesday’s is to find disconnects between the two countries and find ways to “remove irritants.” The US and Chinese militaries have worked together in multiple ways, including in exercises such as RIMPAC, and this should continue to be a “stabilizing element,” Mattis said. —Brian Everstine


—The House Armed Services Committee is reviewing a classified report provided by the Air Force on what it would take to restart the F-22 production. Lawmakers ordered the report last year: Washington Examiner

—South Korean President Moon Jae-in said his country would consider “scaling down … joint exercises and training” with the United States if “North Korea suspends its nuclear and missile activities:” Nikkei Asian Review

—The Air Force reactivated the 6th Weapons Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., on Tuesday. The squadron is slated be the USAF’s Weapons School’s largest squadron by 2023, with 30 F-35 instructor pilots and 24 F-35s: Las Vegas Review-Journal

—Lockheed Martin said Wednesday it won a $104 million contract to develop, produce, and field the Advanced Radar Threat Variant 2, a threat simulator intended to train aircrew how to handle evolving threats: Reuters

—The Pratt & Whitney F119 engine, which powers the F-22 Raptor, recently surpassed 500,000 engine flight hours: Company release