Luke F-16 Crashes, Pilot Safely Ejects

An F-16C from the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Ariz., crashed Tuesday morning. At 10:35 a.m., during a routine training flight, the aircraft diverted and attempted to land at Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport, which is located between Luke, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., and Nellis AFB, Nev., according to the Air Force. “During landing the aircraft departed the prepared surface and the pilot ejected from the aircraft. The pilot is in good condition and is being transported to Havasu Regional Medical Center,” states the release. The widely read but unofficial Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco posted a picture of the F-16 wreckage, as well as audio of emergency responders coordinating recovery efforts. According to that audio, two F-16s requested an emergency landing at the local airport, one of which had encountered an “engine flameout.” The pilot of that aircraft ejected and landed on the runway, while his F-16 skidded off the runway and “through a fence.” The pilot was up and walking around by the time first responders arrived, according to the audio. —Amy McCullough

“Nuke Sniffer” Fleet’s Availability Too Low, USAF Seeks to Convert Tankers for the Mission

The Air Force’s move to retrofit three KC-135Rs into WC-135Rs is needed now because the current “nuke sniffer” fleet cannot meet Defense Department and combatant command requirements, USAF Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told lawmakers on Tuesday. The Air Force asked for funding in its Fiscal 2019 budget request to retrofit three tankers into Constant Phoenix aircraft because the current WC-135s are “wearing out,” and their current mission capable and availability rates are not high enough, Goldfein told the Senate Armed Services Committee. WC-135s have regularly been activated in the wake of nuclear tests in North Korea, and the conversion plan “allows us to give more time to be able to accomplish this mission,” Goldfein said. —Brian Everstine

F-22 Suffered Engine Failure at Tyndall, Days Before Fallon Mishap

An F-22 from the 90th Fighter Squadron at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, suffered engine failure just days before another Raptor from the same squadron skidded on the flight line at a Nevada Navy base. The F-22 was at Tyndall AFB, Fla., on April 6 when its engine failed during “typical training maneuvers,” according to a statement from the 673rd Air Base Wing. The pilot was not hurt and was able to land safely without any incident. The aircraft remains at Tyndall while the mishap is under investigation. On April 13, an F-22 training at NAS Fallon, Nev., suffered engine failure during takeoff and skidded on the runway. “In relation to the incident at NAS Fallon, each aircraft mishap is under separate investigation and no determinations have been made at this time about whether there’s any commonality between the two.” —Brian Everstine

Senate Confirms Nakasone for CYBERCOM

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Army Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone to be the commander of US Cyber Command. Nakasone, currently the commander of US Army Cyber Command, will receive a fourth star in the promotion and replace the retiring Adm. Mike Rogers as the commander of CYBERCOM and of the National Security Agency. Also Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved the nomination of USAF Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, commander of Pacific Air Forces, to be the next commander of US Northern Command, and the nomination of Adm. Phil Davidson, currently the commander of US Fleet Forces Command, to lead US Pacific Command. Their nominations now await full Senate confirmation. —Brian Everstine

Griffin Developing Consolidated Hypersonic Roadmap, Shanahan Lauds F-35

Pentagon research and engineering chief Mike Griffin is developing a hypersonics roadmap, to be ready in July, that will assign priority to the various related projects underway across the DOD, seek “synergies” between them, and reduce duplication, toward getting a working capability faster and at lower cost, said Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in a session with defense reporters Tuesday. Shanahan also praised the F-35 fighter and said that negative comments about the program are about its execution, not the capabilities of the aircraft itself. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

USAF: Steady Pacific Presence Pacific Needed to Counter North Korea’s Ambitions, Chinese Modernization

The Air Force has kept a steady focus on the Pacific even as it has been forced to reduce its force structure in other areas, USAF officials told lawmakers on Tuesday. Renewed budget stability under the new budget deal can help USAF reinforce its commitment to allies in the area through increased exercises and improved infrastructure. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Air Force Looking for Sources for Global Hawk Modernization

The Air Force is conducting market research in anticipation of multiple contract awards to modernize and sustain its RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft fleet, according to an April 23 announcement. Northrop Grumman is now the prime contractor for the development, manufacture, modernization, and sustainment of the system. Although the Air Force is not currently issuing a solicitation and has not determined its acquisition strategy for the requirement, the Global Hawk Program Office “anticipates awarding multiple contracts for the modernization and sustainment of the Global Hawk system through fiscal year 2025,” according to the announcement. —Steve Hirsch

AI Could Alter Risk of Nuclear Conflict, Rand Paper Says

Artificial intelligence could impact the chance of nuclear war in coming years, according to a Rand Corp. paper released Tuesday. AI could undermine the strategic stability wrought by mutual assured destruction, according to the report. It also notes that improved sensor technology could allow destruction of such retaliatory forces as mobile missiles, and nations might pursue first-strike capabilities merely for bargaining leverage—and an adversary would not know whether they are intended to be used. On the other hand, artificial intelligence could increase strategic stability through more accurate intelligence, the paper says. Although AI might make second-strike forces more vulnerable, better analytics could cut miscalculation or misinterpretation. It is also possible that AI systems will ultimately develop capabilities that are less error-prone than human alternatives and could be stabilizing influences in the long term. —Steve Hirsch


—A Marine Corps F-35B made an emergency landing at Tsuiki Air Base in the Fukuoka Prefecture in western Japan on Tuesday. No injuries or property damage was reported: NHK World Japan.

—Israeli F-15s will remain on alert at home rather than participating in Red Flag Alaska as originally planned, as tensions increase between Iran and Israel: The Times of Israel.

—Members of the Georgia Air National Guard’s 202nd Engineering Installation Squadron deployed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in mid-April to help fix communications infrastructure damaged in Hurricanes Irma and Maria: DOD release.

—The commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., is approving waivers for enlisted airmen who finish their upgrade training ahead of schedule, so they don’t have to wait the required year before receiving their rank and moving to the next skill level: Federal News Radio.