GAO Rejects Sikorsky’s Pre-Award Protest of the UH-1N Replacement Program

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is “reviewing” its “options” after the Government Accountability Office dismissed its pre-award protest of the Air Force’s UH-1N helicopter replacement program, allowing the service to move forward with source selection. “We remain confident the Sikorsky HH-60U offering is the strongest, most capable and only technically compliant solution for the UH-1N Huey replacement program,” company spokeswoman Melissa Chadwick told Air Force Magazine in an emailed statement. “We remain committed to supporting the Air Force and providing them with a proven, in-production military aircraft for the critical no-fail mission of protecting our nation’s nuclear missile silos and supporting the continuity-of-government mission.” Lockheed’s highly unusual decision to protest before USAF awarded a contract, was based primarily on concerns related to intellectual property rights. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said the service planned to award a contract for “up to 84” replacement helicopters by the end of the fiscal year. “The Air Force remains committed to delivering a UH-1N replacement as soon as possible. UH-1Ns are one part of a multi-layered ICBM defense system,” said Stefanek. “DOD will continue to take actions necessary to mitigate UH-1N capability shortfalls. Our nation’s nuclear deterrent remain safe, secure, effective, and ready.” —Amy McCullough

Mountain Home to Test New Air Combat Command Wing Structure

The 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, this month will start testing a new organizational structure, removing commanders, cutting a group, and realigning maintenance units to make the wing more deployable. The move is the latest in an Air Force-wide effort to revitalize squadrons in the service, and gives more authority to squadron commanders in the wing. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

F-35 Makes Combat Debut as Israel Strikes Iranian Targets

Israel is the first country to use the fifth-generation F-35 in combat, flying operational missions “across the Middle East,” including recent strikes on Iranian forces inside Syria. “The F-35 squadron has become an operational squadron,” Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said Tuesday, according to Haaretz. While the F-35 Adir jets have participated in strike missions, the IAF is still evaluating how to fly the aircraft and use the “incredible potential” of the jet, he said. The Israel Defense Forces boasted on Twitter on Tuesday that it is now “the first in the world to use the F-35 in operational activity.” The F-35 missions came after Iran fired 32 rockets at Israel earlier this month, prompting Israeli aircraft to strike more than 20 Iranian targets. Iran, in turn, fired more than 100 anti-aircraft missiles, Norkin said. Israel received its first F-35 in June 2016, and declared its fleet operationally capable in December 2017. The country expects to eventually field 50 of the aircraft, which are conventional takeoff A variants. —Brian Everstine

William Dyess, WWII Aviator, Awarded Posthumous Congressional Gold Medal

Lt. Col. William Edwin Dyess, for whom Dyess AFB, Texas, is named, was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal during a May 11 ceremony at the base, the Air Force said May 16. Dyess received the award in recognition of his sacrifice and dedication to the Army Air Corps from 1916 to 1943, having distinguished himself as an aviator and POW escapee from the Davao Penal Colony prison camp in the Philippines, the announcement said. He died during a training sortie on Dec. 23, 1943, at the age of 27, while preparing to return to war—just eight months after his escape from prison camp. His P-38 caught fire over California, but Dyess refused to bail out, steering the fighter instead to an unpopulated area. “We are honored to present this prestigious award to Dyess’ family and be a part of honoring our base’s namesake,” 1st Lt. McCall Sears, 7th Medical Support Squadron resource management flight commander and one of the coordinators of the ceremony, said. Dyess’ younger sister, Elizabeth “Nell” Denman, the only surviving member of his immediate family, received the medal for him. (To learn more about Dyess and his short, but heroic military career, read Namesakes: Dyess from the print edition of Air Force Magazine.) —Steve Hirsch

Trump “All For” Creation of Space Force, Rogers Tells Newspaper

President Trump is “all for” creation of a Space Force, the chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces said in a newspaper interview published Tuesday. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) outlined his long-standing support for the creation of a separate service in an interview with the Washington Examiner, saying he had talked with Trump about the idea privately “and he’s all for it.” Trump, Rogers said, “told me on the phone he is not going to turn loose of it, and he told me not to turn loose of it either.” —Steve Hirsch

Analysts: Max Pressure Has Brought North Korea to Negotiations, but Expectations Are High

The US policy of maximum pressure has worked on pushing North Korea toward the negotiating table, though there will be a lot riding on any potential discussions between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un given the US administration’s recent history on treaties and deals with other global powers, two think tank analysts and former US officials argue. Joe Bosco, a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former Pentagon official, and Bruce Klingner, a Heritage Foundation research fellow and former official with the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, discussed the upcoming summit on Tuesday at an AFA Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill. Bosco said China is a central figure, and has thrown a “monkey wrench” in the proceedings by pressuring Kim to postpone or even cancel discussions. China has used its influence over North Korea for multiple goals, including garnering prestige and becoming an “indispensable partner” that the US can’t afford to offend, while still hindering US counter proliferation efforts and distracting the US from its national security interests abroad. The Trump administration’s policy of pressure has worked on North Korea, and should be broadened for additional pressure on China, Bosco said. The US is going into the possible meeting with extremely high expectations, given the fact that the Trump administration has criticized or ended several deals, including the Iran nuclear deal, Klingner said. For Trump to have success, any agreement with North Korea needs to be better than the Iran deal, along with all the former agreements between the US and North Korea and previous UN resolutions, said the officials. It’s a “pretty high bar” but anything else leaves the administration open to criticism, Klingner said. —Brian Everstine



—The Air Force has moved the launch of its first GPS III satellite back, from this month until at least October while it reviews the latest SpaceX rocket planned for the mission: Bloomberg.

—The Air Force Academy class of 2018 will graduate during a ceremony Thursday in Colorado Springs. The class includes 984 cadets, 78 percent of which are men. Thirteen cadets are from other countries. Forty-five members of the graduating class were prior enlisted: USAFA release.

—Army Lt. Gen. Scott Miller, currently the commander of Joint Special Operations Command, has been picked to be the next commander of US Forces-Afghanistan. If confirmed, Miller will take over for Gen. John Nicholson: Wall Street Journal.

—The Federal Aviation Administration has established new airspace restrictions governing drone operations over four Navy locations across the US: Air Force Technology.