Holmes Says A-29 Crash Won’t Derail Light Attack Experiment

The head of Air Combat Command doesn’t think the recent crash of an A-29 participating in the service’s light attack experiment will derail the program. Gen. Mike Holmes, speaking with defense reporters in Washington on Thursday, said the experiment is “on pause” as investigators determine what caused the crash last weekend at Holloman AFB, N.M., that killed a Navy pilot. “We have suspended flying operations” pending a safety review board, Holmes said, and while he voiced the Air Force’s condolences for the pilot’s family, he said he doesn’t think the accident will have a “chilling effect” on the project, which looks to explore whether lightweight, inexpensive-to-operate turboprops can substitute for fast jets in a permissive environment and serve as a collaborative platform with less technically advanced allies. Holmes said, it’s well understood that “aviation is unforgiving,” and the accident doesn’t invalidate the concept being explored. Since “it’s not an operational mission, … we can take a pause” and wait for the safety and accident boards to do their work. “We’ll look at the data and decide whether we want to go forward with the program,” he said, but he’s not aware of any immediate reason to terminate the effort outright. The A-29 and AT-6 have been “flying since May” developing additional flight data on “sortie rates and … sustainment,” Holmes said. —John A. Tirpak

F-35 An Uneasy Neighbor With S400

It’s probably inevitable that the F-35 eventually will be based in close proximity to the Russian S400 air defense system, but that’s something Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes wants to hold off as long as possible. Speaking with defense reporters in Washington on Thursday, Holmes said the S400 has longer range and more sensitive sensors than its predecessor, the S300, and he’d prefer the Russian system not get a close up look at the F-35 until it become necessary. Holmes also said the F-35s now coming off the production line work well and are popular with pilots, and that parts issues will settle down as the jets become more numerous and the parts enterprise expands commensurately. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

AFWERX Launches Austin Hub

The Air Force opened its latest technology innovation hub in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, about one week after AFWERX Vegas reached full operational capability. During her speech, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson encouraged the audience to get started innovating now and not to let USAF bureaucracy slow them down. She promised the service would do its best to open doors and catch up, but she said, “We need your help. We need you to engage with us, to teach us how to be more creative.” Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

Defense Bills Advance in House, Senate

Both houses of Congress moved forward on key defense legislation, with the House passing defense appropriations legislation and the Senate Appropriations Committee approving its own version of the bill. Meanwhile, the House named its conferees to work out differences with the Senate on defense authorization legislation. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.


—The Air Force has started shifting more pilots to the MQ-9 Reaper as it continues working to retire the MQ-1 Predator: Fox News.

—The Air Force will not charge Air Force Col. Eric Holt, a battlefield physician accused of sexually and physically abusing boys, after an Air Force general found the evidence discovered “inconclusive”: USA Today.

—Defense officials said Wednesday the Pentagon had received a request from the Homeland Security Department to house and care for as many as 12,000 migrants: DOD release.

—US and Czech airmen have been participating in the June 18-29 Sky Avenger 2018 training exercise, which focuses on planning and implementation of complex operations: Prague Daily Monitor.

—John Watts, who said he was an Air Force veteran, put fireworks on his chest Tuesday and set himself on fire in front of Georgia’s Capitol building, protesting the Veterans Affairs system: Associated Press.

—US and Australian service members this week celebrated 100 years of “mateship’ with services at the National Cathedral and a Twilight Tattoo at Fort Myer, Va.: DOD release.