Meet the Future Unmanned Force

Two unmanned aircraft now in development for the Air Force would open the door to a new range of combat capabilities driven by 21st century autonomy and artificial intelligence. Experts say their rise, as well as other future platforms to come, could change the way the Air Force flies in combat and may ultimately push the service to consider “unmanned-first” approaches. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

USAF Stands to Lose Nearly $30 Billion Under Looming Sequester

A new round of sequestration would cut the Air Force’s budget by about $29 billion if the US busts spending limits set by the 2011 Budget Control Act, service Secretary Heather Wilson told senators Thursday. Service officials also warned the Senate Armed Services Committee of the impact a yearlong continuing resolution would have in 2020 if lawmakers cannot agree on a final budget that satisfies government needs or a deal to avoid a sequester. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

24th, 25th Air Force to Merge This Summer

After mulling the change for about three years, the Air Force announced Thursday its two organizations overseeing cyber, intelligence, electronic warfare, and more will merge to create a new numbered Air Force for information warfare. The decision reflects a growing consensus that digitally focused missions should be more closely integrated to succeed in multidomain operations. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Parts Delays Impacting F-35 Production, Turkey Situation Likely to Make it Worse

F-35 production lines already are facing delays in parts deliveries, a fact that would be exacerbated if Turkey is removed from the program and Turkish parts providers are cut off from the supply chain, the head of the joint program office told lawmakers on Thursday. F-35 Program Executive Vice Adm. Mat Winter said the delay is causing headaches as the program office ramps up production of the aircraft, with 131 F-35s expected to be delivered this year and 167 next year. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Enlisted Airmen May See Broader Space Career Opportunities

The Air Force’s decision to allow enlisted airmen to fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk may now be paving the way for further opportunities for those personnel in space operations. Schriever AFB, Colo., has seven enlisted airmen controlling global GPS constellations, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. After allowing enlisted members in 2016 to learn to pilot the RQ-4 as a way of bolstering the RPA operator enterprise, the service acknowledged a similar need in its space ranks. “As we work through in space and look at building the force we need to fight and win in a contested environment, today all constellations are being flown by our young enlisted force,” Goldfein said. “The question we’re asking is, what is the future of the enlisted operator when you look at space transitioning to a contested domain, and high-altitude ISR going forward, and is there a broader discussion that we’re having about that enlisted operator in high-altitude ISR when it’s above the atmosphere and below the atmosphere, and is there a career path where someone can now go into the business of [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] as an enlisted operator and transition between the two? … That’s where I think we’re going to land.” —Rachel S. Cohen

Airstrikes Slowed in Iraq and Syria as the ISIS Caliphate Crumbled

Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria slowed to a steady pace in the waning days of the ISIS caliphate, though airdrops and surveillance flights remained steady, according to statistics released this week by Air Forces Central Command. US and coalition aircraft in February conducted 607 airstrikes, a sharp drop from January’s 2,005, but still higher than the spring and summer of 2018. So far this year, US and coalition aircraft have flown 1,862 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance flights, and have airdropped 177,810 pounds in the ISIS fight. In the same month in Afghanistan, US aircraft conducted 327 airstrikes—the lowest monthly total since March 2017. —Brian Everstine

House Approves Measure Ending Support for Yemen Fight, White House Likely to Veto

The House on Thursday approved a resolution to end the US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. The rebuke of the ongoing mission likely won’t make it far since the White House has promised a veto that would be difficult to override. The 247-175 vote is the latest criticism of US support, which first began with aerial refueling and targeting support in 2015. The US has since ended aerial refueling, and is seeking payment from the Saudi-led coalition for three years of the services. The Senate in December approved a similar measure following increased concerns of civilian casualties and the alleged murder of a Washington Post journalist at a Saudi consulate in Turkey. A White House Statement of Administration Policy issued last month said a veto would be likely because the “resolution is flawed.” US support to the Saudi coalition is logistics-based and US forces are not involved in hostilities, so Congressional approval under the War Powers Act is not needed, according to the statement. —Brian Everstine


Brig. Gen. Leavitt, First Female Fighter Pilot, Among 23 Nominated for Second Star

Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, the commander of the Air Force Recruiting Service who made history as the service’s first female fighter pilot, was one of 23 general officers nominated Tuesday to receive their second star. Air Force Times

U.S. Air Force B-52 Conducts Training in Romania

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress flew from RAF Fairford, England, to Romania on April 3, 2019, to conduct close air support training at the Cincu Range with Romanian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers. DVIDS

Northrop Grumman Awarded $22M For T-38, F5 Engineering

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $22 million contract for engineering services on the Air Force’s T-38 Talon and F-5 Tiger II training aircraft. UPI

Raytheon and USAF to Modernize Legacy Space Debris Tracking System

A Raytheon-led consortium is partnering with the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center to modernise and simplify the legacy space debris tracking and monitoring system Space Defense Operations Center.

The Pentagon Says Iran Killed 603 US Troops During the Iraq War

Iran is responsible for the deaths of more than 600 U.S. service members in Iraq from 2003 until 2011, according to a Pentagon report provided to the State Department. Task and Purpose

One More Thing …

Watch A U-2 Spy Plane Pilot Suit Up and Take Off on a Mission Over the Middle East

The “moon suit” looks surprisingly agile. Popular Mechanics