USAF Airlift Plan Calls for Increase in C-17s, C-130 Reduction

Air Mobility Command is still trying to figure out exactly how it will increase the number of its C-17 squadrons, while simultaneously looking to reduce the size of its C-130 fleet. The Air Force at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber conference last month outlined its plan to grow the number of total squadrons to 386, which included a large increase for Air Mobility Command airlift and aerial refueling squadrons. The “Force We Need” calls for more airlift, but only with C-17s. Specifically, the Air Force wants an increase of three C-17 squadrons, with a corresponding drop of two C-130J squadrons. USAF studies have shown the strategic airlifter is in higher demand for potential future conflicts than the tactical C-130, AMC boss Gen. Maryanne Miller told reporters on Friday. The plan is largely based on classified information, so the Air Force’s reasoning for why it would need the larger C-17 isn’t public. However, Air Mobility Command is finalizing a mobility capabilities study for its future needs, which is in coordination with the Pentagon and Congress and will be released in the near future. The Air Force cannot, right now, say how any potential jump in the C-17 fleet would be possible because the Boeing production line for C-17s has closed. Those details “we have not looked at,” and would be the focus of future discussions with Congress. The “Force We Need” plan is an “initial stage” to get the concept out there, and more in-depth discussions are forthcoming, Miller said. —Brian Everstine

105th Airlift Wing’s C-5M Refurbishment Brings Modernization Effort Full-Circle

This month marks the conclusion of the eight-year C-5M Super Galaxy refurbishment program, led by the New York Air National Guard’s 105th Airlift Wing, based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY. During the program’s tenure, it overhauled the interiors of 49 of USAF’s 52 Super Galaxies, shrunk its maintainer team-size from 50 to 30 personnel through efficiency- and effectiveness-driven procedural tweaks—plus customer communication—and saved the Air Force $45.5 million in costs. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

Russian Navy Announces “Rocket Test Firings” Near Norway During NATO’s Trident Juncture

The Russian Navy announced on Tuesday it was planning four days of “rocket test firings” in the Norwegian Sea Basin in the middle of NATO’s multinational Trident Juncture exercise, NATO press officer Dylan White tweeted. The firings are slated for Nov. 6-9 from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m. local time, according to the notice, which was issued by the Main Air Traffic Management Center of Russia and included in White’s tweet. This year’s iteration of Trident Juncture, which began on Oct. 25 and will wrap up on Nov. 7, is NATO’s largest exercise since the Cold War, Air Force Magazine reported earlier this month. The exercise’s geographical boundaries include “Central and eastern Norway” and “the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, including Iceland and the airspace of Finland and Sweden,” NATO wrote. As of Oct. 24, approximately 50,000 people, coming from all of NATO’s member countries—plus Finland and Sweden—and about “250 aircraft, 65 vessels, and up to 10,000 vehicles” were slated to take part, according to the alliance. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that, despite the notice, Trident Juncture will run as planned, according to a statement later tweeted by White. While he said he expects professionalism from Russia—emphasizing that the test firings would take place in international waters and that NATO received word of them “in the normal way”—Stoltenberg said NATO will keep a close eye on the nation’s actions. —Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

Space Command, Mobility Command Move Forward on Innovation Competitions

The Air Force is continuing its push toward innovation with more competitions aimed at rewarding innovative thinking among airmen, academia, and industry. The Air Force this week is launching the Visionary Q-Prize competition, running until Jan. 15, with an award of $100,000 for “non-traditional industry partners” such as universities and small businesses. The goal of the competition is to find new solutions that use existing data to better display the current space picture, to avoid possible “catastrophic events” such as collisions, according to an Air Force Space Command release. Air Mobility Command also wrapped up its first Phoenix Spark Tank Competition last week at the Airlift/Tanker Association Symposium in Grapevine, Texas, where four airmen proposed their ideas to top USAF officials. The winning idea was a 3D-printed fix to a cargo parachute. Other ideas included a fix to KC-135 landing gear to help with towing the aircraft, a maintenance stand to help fix KC-135 engines, and a fix to help airmen paint C-17 tires, according to an AMC release.


Space Center Commander Wants More Interoperable Systems

The United States needs more modular space systems as the Pentagon moves to improve the way it acquires new technology, the commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center said Oct. 29. National Defense Magazine

The Air Force Is Actually Considering Rocket Launches to Move Cargo Around the Globe

Delivering cargo anywhere in the world in 30 minutes? Take that, Domino’s. Popular Mechanics

The Pentagon’s Getting More Secretive — and It’s Hurting National Security

Trump’s DOD is rolling back the kind of basic transparency that prevents waste and fraud, enables Congressional oversight, and promotes public trust. Real Clear Defense

Guam Guard Airmen Depart for Deployment

Thirteen airmen from the Guam Air National Guard 254th Security Forces Squadron departed over the weekend en route to a deployment in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel in Southwest Asia. Post Guam

Alaska Air Guardsmen Rescue Snowmachiner in Highly Technical Operation

Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th, 211th, and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued a snowmachiner Oct. 27 approximately 15 miles northeast of Paxson. The ECHO

After Laser Attacks, Pentagon Spending $200M to Protect Pilots’ Eyeballs

The US Air Force is planning to spend nearly $200 million on special glasses and visors to protect pilots’ eyes from dangerous lasers like the ones the Pentagon accuses China of firing into the cockpits of US warplanes. Defense One.