Cooley Promises a Look at Bringing Back Retired F-16s as Drones

Air Force Research Labs chief Maj. Gen. William Cooley said he’ll give consideration to an idea, offered by AFA’s Mitchell Institute, to dust off F-16s languishing in permanent storage as combat drones, using artificial intelligence/autonomy gear. Cooley said the concept must offer a workable business case against another idea to simply build “attritable” drones that are capable but inexpensive enough that their loss would be bearable in combat. One such drone, called the XQ-58, will make its first flight this fall, Cooley revealed. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

CMSAF Lauds Air Force Special Operators for Aiding Thai Soccer Team Rescue

CMSAF Kaleth Wright cited the Air Force special operators from Kadena AB, Japan, involved in the dramatic freeing of 12 young soccer players and their coach from a flooded Thai cave complex in a Facebook post Tuesday. Writing when only one of the boys and the coach were still left in the cave, Wright pointed to airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group and US pararescue teams, survival specialists, divers, and medical personnel working to support the Thai-led rescue effort. “This 18-day rescue effort has been nothing short of phenomenal,” he wrote. —Steve Hirsch

Carrying the Load in the Pacific

C-17s with the 535th Airlift Squadron at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, have been called on to support major moves in the Pacific this year, including supporting last month’s summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, along with being on call for humanitarian aid and flying firsts in major exercises. The commander of the squadron told Air Force Magazine during a visit to the base that all of these flights need to be balanced with training for missions that would be needed to fight in the Pacific. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Air Force Awards GE Key Contract in Adaptive Engine Program

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center has awarded General Electric a $437 million contract modification to design and implement complete, flight-weight adaptive engines, the Pentagon said June 29. The contract would cover “execution of next generation adaptive propulsion risk reduction for air superiority applications.” Work, to be performed in Cincinnati, is to be completed by March 30, 2022. The contract is part of an ongoing effort to develop adaptive engines, which provide better range, persistence, performance, and energy savings for multiple types of combat aircraft. The Air Force in 2012 launched an Adaptive Energy Technology Development research program, then in 2016 kicked off a competition between GE and Pratt & Whitney for the next-generation adaptive engines. The technology is seen as integral to the future of propulsion, according to experts. GE spokesman David Jon Wilson told Air Force Magazine Tuesday the current GE engine has been designed to work with the F-35, but the new contract modification is focused on taking these technologies “and designing an engine to meet potential air superiority requirements of future aircraft, somewhat different than the F-35 requirements.” —Steve Hirsch

Trump Slams NATO on Defense Spending Before Summit

President Trump’s confrontation with NATO over defense spending continued Tuesday as he headed for Belgium for the Alliance’s annual summit. “Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of two percent (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made. Will they reimburse the US?” Trump tweeted Tuesday. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, during a press conference Tuesday, stressed steps NATO members are taking to boost defense spending and credited Trump for leadership on the issue. Stoltenberg said new defense estimates are “encouraging,” with all allies increasing spending, including eight spending at least two percent of GDP on defense this year, compared to three in 2014. In addition, he pointed to investments in equipment and contributions to missions and operations. “So we have reversed the trend,” he said, adding, “For decades, our nations were cutting defense spending by billions of dollars. Now they are adding billions of dollars.” He also thanked Trump for “his leadership on defense spending,” which he said “is clearly having an impact.” Stoltenberg said European members and Canada are expected to add $266 billion in defense between now and 2024. Meanwhile, European Union President Donald Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, pushed back against Trump’s repeated criticism of NATO, saying America has no better ally than Europe. “I would therefore have two remarks here: First of all dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don’t have that many,” said Tusk. “And, dear Europe, spend more on your defense because everyone respects an ally that’s well prepared and equipped. Money’s important, but generally solidarity is even more important.” —Steve Hirsch


—The Air Force is determining the extent of damage suffered by aircraft at Andersen AFB, Guam, when Tropical Storm Maria passed over the island last week: Stars and Stripes.

—The share of the Pentagon’s contract funding going to research and development has dropped over almost 20 years, with defense R&D contracts at eight percent of all defense contracts last year, compared to 15 percent in Fiscal 2000, according to the Congressional Research Service: Bloomberg.

—The Air Force Materiel Command Logistics, Civil Engineering, and Force Protection Directorate and Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration Directorate have merged into a Logistics, Civil Engineering, Force Protection, and Nuclear Integration Directorate to increase coordination in support of Air Force nuclear modernization efforts, effective June 25: Air Force Materiel Command release.

—The Air National Guard wants to increase F-16 flight operations at its 162nd Wing at Tucson International Airport next year when a Taiwan Air Force training unit moves there from Luke AFB, Ariz.: