Investigation: Pilot Errors Caused May WC-130 Crash, Though Systemic Maintenance and Morale Contribute

Pilot errors caused a Puerto Rico Air National Guard’s WC-130 to crash in May, killing all nine airmen on board, though maintainers’ failure to properly diagnose and fix issues with the engine prior to take off and a systemic culture of “apathy and low morale” within the wing significantly contributed to the crash, an Accident Investigation Board found. The aircraft—tail number 65-0968—belonged to the 156th Airlift Wing and was one of the oldest C-130s in the Air Force’s fleet. It was on its way to Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., where it was to be retired at the time of the crash. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Malmstrom Security Forces Squadron Commander Relieved of Command

Lt. Col. Raymond Fortner, commander of the 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., was relieved of command on Tuesday because of “a loss of trust and confidence” for establishing and maintaining “an unhealthy command climate,” according to a base statement. Fortner, who will be assigned to another position at Malmstrom until he rotates to another duty location, assumed command of the unit in July 2017. Maj. Cody Elliott is the unit’s interim commander. Read the full story by Jennifer Rowell who is reporting from Montana.

NATO, Coalition Announce New Mission to Build Iraqi Military Education and Structure

NATO and the US-led coalition are standing up a new mission to help Iraq strengthen its military after ISIS, focusing on the “institutions” and education feeding into the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, the coalition announced Tuesday. NATO Mission-Iraq, slated to stand up in early 2019, will be a non-combat mission in which advisers will work with Iraq to build more “effective, and transparent, and inclusive” defense institutions, said United Kingdom Army Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, the deputy commander for strategy and information for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, during a Tuesday briefing. Specifically, advisers will work with Iraq’s Ministry of Defense to address its structure, along with the MOD schools such as the Iraqi Defense University and engineering schools that feed into the military. Advisers will help train and educate the instructors teaching in those schools, Ghika said. The coalition and NATO have not specifically disclosed the number of advisers or the specific counties that will participate. —Brian Everstine

Proliferation of UAVs, Swarming Could be a “Transformative” Threat for the Pentagon

The development and proliferation of unmanned vehicles may be a “transformative concern,” forcing the Defense Department to learn how to both defend against the systems and find ways to use them offensively, the DOD’s head of research said Tuesday. The combination of the sheer amount of UAVs and the development of swarming technology — using a multitude of the systems to overwhelm defenses—is a major issue that needs to be addressed, Michael Griffin, the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, said Tuesday. The threat isn’t just from the air, but also with the further development of unmanned ground and underwater systems, Griffin said. One of the “most promising” defenses could be directed energy, either in the form of lasers or in high-power microwaves, Griffin said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington, D.C. In addition to learning how to defend against swarming attacks, the Pentagon should find ways to “perpetrate our own version,” he said. The Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are researching several solutions for multiple missions, including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. —Brian Everstine



How Martha McSally Could End Up In the Senate Even Though She Lost the Election

Rep. Martha McSally received widespread praise from people on both sides of the political aisle for her concession speech Monday night in which she bowed out of the tight race for Arizona’s Senate seat. The laudatory reaction prompted widespread speculation that she might be leaving the door open for a future foray back into politics. ABC News

Pentagon Sees Faster Move on Next F-35 Contract With Lockheed

Pentagon weapons buyer Ellen Lord said the Defense Department and Lockheed Martin Corp. are speeding up efforts to complete the contract for the next and largest order of F-35 jets. Bloomberg

USAF Reserve and Air National Guard F-16s to be Upgraded With Anti-Jam GPS

The US Air Force awarded Rockwell Collins a contract to upgrade US Air National Guard and US Air Force Reserve F-16 aircraft with anti-jam GPS receivers. Flight Global

VA Secretary Expects Fiscal 2020 Budget to be the Biggest Ever

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said Friday that his department won’t be exempted from President Donald Trump’s planned spending cuts, but he is also confident that Congress will ultimately increase the VA budget to ensure programming needs are met. Military Times

Greatest Sacrifice: B-24 Liberator Pilot Identified, Repatriated After 73 years

As his B-24 Liberator started a spiraling descent after encountering hostile anti-aircraft fire over Bulgaria, 1st Lt. John Crouchley knew what he had to do. Holding tightly onto the controls and desperately fighting with two badly damaged engines, he made sure his nine-strong crew were able to parachute to safety and escape with their lives before the aircraft hit the ground. USAFE news

One More Thing:

Elmo, Meet ‘Dr. Heather’: Air Force Secretary Talks STEM with Sesame Street Characters

For decades, kids have asked how to get to Sesame Street. And this week, at least, it seems the path goes through the E ring of the Pentagon. Air Force Times