T-38 Crashes at Sheppard, Pilots Ejected Safely

Two pilots safely ejected after a T-38 crashed Tuesday morning at Sheppard AFB, Texas?. The mishap is the fourth crash involving a T-38 in the last year. The jet, assigned to the 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard, crashed upon takeoff at about 10:13 a.m. local time, according to a Sheppard release. A German Air Force pilot was treated for “minor injuries” at the Sheppard Clinic, while a USAF pilot on temporary duty assignment from Vance AFB, Okla., was taken to United Regional Medical Center in Wichita Falls “as a precaution, and is reported to be in stable condition,” according to a base Twitter post. “We are grateful both aircrew members are safe, and for the outstanding response for our fire, security, and medical personnel,” said Col. Lendy Renegar, 80th FTW vice commander in the Twitter post. The 80th FTW trains combat pilots from 14 nations as part of the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program. Flying operations at the base were paused on Tuesday, and the crash will be investigated, according to the base. The Air Force’s Talon fleet has been plagued by multiple crashes recently, prompting multiple groundings of the training jet. A T-38 crashed on Aug. 17 near Vance AFB, Okla., and another in May near Columbus AFB, Miss. In both those mishaps, the pilots were able to safely eject. However, one pilot was killed and another injured in November 2017 when a T-38 crashed near Laughlin AFB, Texas. —Brian Everstine

Bases Continue Evacuations Ahead of Hurricane Florence

USAF bases continued to evacuate aircraft Tuesday as Hurricane Florence approaches and threatens the Carolina coast. JB Charleston, S.C., issued a limited evacuation order to personnel on base, and evacuated its C-17s to other bases including Scott AFB, Ill., and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Shaw AFB, S.C., on Tuesday halted its flying operations and prepared to evacuate its F-16s, though no evacuation site had been announced as of Tuesday afternoon. The base closed one of its gates and canceled several events as the storm approached. Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C., issued a notice to its personnel to prepare for the storm to make landfall, though no evacuation of aircraft had been announced as of Tuesday afternoon. State and local governments have issued evacuation orders throughout the coastal areas of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina as the storm, currently a Category 4 hurricane, approaches. It is expected to bring hurricane-force winds Thursday night and make landfall Friday. —Brian Everstine

USAF Looking for Airmen Who Speak Computer

The Air Force is beginning a pilot program aimed at identifying airmen’s fluency in computer languages and coding, and treating that skill in the same way it treats fluency in a spoken language. The point, said Capt. Mike Kanaan, the enterprise lead for artificial intelligence and machine learning for Air Force intelligence, is to allow the Air Force to identify and use airmen’s digital fluency more efficiently. The first step in the effort, which is being conducted through the Language Enabled Airman Program run by the Air Force Culture and Language Center, is to identify the airmen who will participate in the pilot, and then find “compelling mission sets” that can use these abilities. Such applications could include manipulating human resources databases or area of responsibility target management. Kanaan said the pilot program will start in about 90 days. Then in about six to eight months, he said, the Air Force will take the information learned through the pilot and consider establishing new billets using these skills. The aim, he said, is to know where the airmen with these skills are located throughout the force and to value them instead of just wondering how many airmen code. “We have to fix the answer to that question, and its through this paradigm shift of understanding that in the 21st Century, computer languages unto themselves should be commensurately treated like human languages,” he said. —Steve Hirsch

B-52s Train in Romania

USAF B-52s flew alongside Romanian F-16s on Tuesday as part of a training deployment for the bombers and ongoing USAF training with allies in Eastern Europe. The B-52s, which deployed from Barksdale AFB, La., to RAF Fairford, England, last week flew with the Romanian jets to improve interoperability with NATO allies and to demonstrate “the United States’ commitment to regional security,” US Air Forces in Europe said in a release. While deployed, the bombers are also expected to fly in exercise Ample Strike 2018 in the Czech Republic and alongside other NATO allies, according to USAFE. The deployment means Barksdale B-52s are operating both in Europe and the Pacific, where a rotation is deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, for the Air Force’s Continuous Bomber Presence mission. —Brian Everstine

F-35Bs Deploy to CENTCOM Aboard USS Essex

F-35s are operating within US Central Command for the first time. The US Marine Corps F-35Bs, assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, are conducting a regularly scheduled deployment aboard the USS Essex. The Essex Amphibious Ready Group and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit are conducting maritime security operations, crisis response, theater security cooperation, and forward naval presence operations in the US 5th Fleet area of operations, according to a US Navy release. Before the deployment, the VMFA 211 F-35Bs were certified for deep air support, close air support, offensive air support, and electronic warfare, according to the release. The aircraft “strengthens the amphibious force through new and increased multi-mission capabilities, making our team a more lethal and survivable crisis response force,” Col. Chandler Nelms, the commanding officer of the 13th MEU, said in the release.


— US-backed forces, bolstered by coalition airstrikes, on Monday began the final ground push to clean up ISIS fighters in their last holdouts of the Middle Euphrates River Valley: CENTCOM release.

—Availability of both USAF and Navy aircraft has declined while operations and sustainment costs have increased, the Government Accountability Office found in a report that focused on 12 total aircraft from 2011 to 2016: GAO report.

— Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Holmes has released the 2018 Strategic Plan for the command, emphasizing the revitalization of squadrons, developing leaders, and future innovation: ACC release.

—The Russian military on Tuesday kicked off Vostok 2018, its largest exercise with 300,000 troops, more than 1,000 planes, and up to 36,000 tanks participating: NBC News.

—Officials from the US military along with F-35 user nations throughout Europe met in Germany last week to determine ways to bring down the sustainment costs of the aircraft: Reuters.