Holmes says USAF Will Fix the Readiness Holes, But the Money Won’t Last

Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes said he’s focusing on readiness rather than building up force structure because he doesn’t expect the current largess in the defense budget will last beyond Fiscal 2020 or so, regardless of which party controls Congress. He also told industry attendees at an AFA conference Wednesday that he’s shortening the technology horizon of ACC to securing new capabilities within a five-to-seven year window, to both get new capability faster and avoid going down paths that are overtaken by technology. Holmes further said ACC is focused on fulfilling its flying hour program as the cornerstone of readiness and pilot retention efforts. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

DOD Not Accepting F-35 Deliveries Due to Contractual Issue With Lockheed

The Defense Department on Thursday confirmed it is not accepting deliveries of F-35s following a contractual issue with Lockheed Martin on who is responsible for repair work. Joint Program Office Director Vice Adm. Mat Winter directed the pause “to ensure the warfighter receives a quality product from industry,” according to a JPO statement. The issue focuses on repair work for a “known aircraft fastener hole primer quality escape,” according to the statement. The statement suggests holes drilled for fasteners are not being properly treated with anti-corrosion paint, or that there is some deficiency in the paint itself. It is not a “safety of flight issue, but rather a contractual resourcing issue that needs to be resolved,” according to the JPO. The office did not state when the pause began. Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, USAF’s top uniformed acquisition officer, told a House hearing Thursday that five aircraft had not been accepted, including three for the Air Force and one each for Norway and Australia. Lockheed Martin, in a statement, said production on the F-35 continues, and the company is confident it will meet its delivery target for 2018. “While all work in our factories remains active, the F-35 Joint Program Office has temporarily suspended accepting aircraft until we reach an agreement on a contractual issue and we expect this to be resolved soon,” Lockheed said. This is the second time the JPO has stopped accepting deliveries. Last year, a pause lasted 30 days and Lockheed’s delivery goal was met, according to Reuters. —Brian Everstine and Steve Hirsch

Pilot’s Failure to Deconflict Altitude Caused 2017 Weapons School Crash

An A-10 pilot’s unintentional failure to stick to altitude deconfliction, coupled with task over-saturation, a misperception of the changing environment, and environmental conditions caused two Warthogs to collide during US Air Force Weapons School training last year near Nellis AFB, Nev. Both pilots safely ejected, but the aircraft were considered a total loss. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Mattis: Readiness Crisis Requires New Aircraft, Not Just Repairs

Years of neglect now means the military cannot “repair” itself out of its readiness hole. New aircraft and other equipment is needed, and is on its way now that Congress has given an increased budget to the Pentagon. It is now on the Defense Department to spend the money wisely and climb out of its readiness hole, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told lawmakers Thursday. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Mattis: Chemical Weapon Use “Absolutely Inexcusable,” Though No Concrete Evidence Yet

The US is still waiting on concrete proof that the Syrian regime was behind Saturday’s alleged chemical attack, though there is a set of options ready if President Trump decides to strike, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said. While US intelligence hasn’t directly confirmed the attack, inspectors are on the way to the site, Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee there are “indicators” that the Syrian government was behind the attack. The use of chemical weapons is “absolutely inexcusable,” he added. No decision has yet been made, Mattis told lawmakers at a hearing shortly before he went to the White House for a National Security Council meeting on the issue. The US needs to be prudent and, if it does strike, find a way to avoid civilian casualties because on a strategic level it is “how we keep this from escalating out of control,” Mattis said. Trump, on Twitter on Thursday, walked back an earlier statement that missiles were coming, saying a strike “could be very soon, or not so soon at all.” Mattis told lawmakers that he would brief Congress “as soon as possible” if a strike occurs, but would not say if a briefing would be in advance. —Brian Everstine

Northrop Grumman Receives $210 Million Missile-Protection System Contract

Northrop Grumman on Wednesday received a $209.7 million contract modification for Large Aircraft Infrared Counter Measures equipment and support. The LAIRCM system is aimed at increasing aircraft survival through better monitoring of the “electromagnetic threat environment,” according to DOD. The system is designed to detect missiles and then track and jam them to protect aircraft. The new contract modification provides for equipment and support in this year’s base hardware buy and raises the total cumulative face value of the contract to $1.6 billion. —Steve Hirsch



—An enlisted airmen who admitted to killing a fellow airman at Offutt AFB, Neb. was sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole. He also was dishonorably discharged: Air Force Times.

—The 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota AB, Japan, lifted a temporary suspension on parachute training over Tokyo on Thursday after a piece of a parachute landed on a nearby school. USAF also sent an officer to the school to apologize: Stars and Stripes.

—The Air Force will soon conduct environmental sampling at Battle Creek ANGB, Mich., to determine if previous firefighting activities have contaminated local drinking water: DVIDS release.

—A technical sergeant at Nellis AFB, Nev., who posted a racially charged video on social media while in uniform has been demoted to staff sergeant: Military.com.

—New Mexico residents are pushing back on an Air Force plan to expand F-16 training sorties at Holloman Air Force Base, citing safety concerns. Proponents argue the plan could bring more jobs to the area: KOB 4.