Final Doolittle Raider, Dick Cole, Dies at 103

Retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, who served as co-pilot to Jimmy Doolittle on the first US offensive action against Japan in WWII, and who was the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders, died in Comfort, Texas, on April 9, at the age of 103. During the mission, 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers launched with 80 men aboard from the deck of the USS Hornet on April 18, 1942, toward targets in Japan. Cole, then a 26-year old lieutenant who had joined the Army before the war, was hand-picked by Doolittle, who recruited only expert, mature aviators for the mission. Cole survived the raid and served as an Air Commando in the China-Burma-India theater, flying cargo planes over “The Hump”—the Himalaya mountains. In retirement, he farmed in Texas, but was a constant presence at airshows and WWII commemorations. In 2016, the next Air Force bomber—the B-21 “Raider” was named in honor of the Doolittle flyers. Cole helped unveil the name of the aircraft at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber symposium in Washington, D.C. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

KC-46 Deliveries to Resume Within Weeks

The Air Force will begin receiving KC-46s again within weeks, following a second round of inspections after more foreign object debris was discovered in the aircraft—though the service now needs to send the aircraft it has already received back to Boeing for more checks. Will Roper, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, told reporters at the Space Foundation’s Space Symposium in Colorado on Tuesday the Air Force is again satisfied with Boeing’s corrective actions. Though he emphasized it will take months of FOD-free deliveries for the Air Force to say the “quality-assurance culture” of Boeing’s Everett facility is back. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen and Brian Everstine.

Hyten Nominated as Vice Chairman of Joint Chiefs

US Strategic Command chief Gen. John Hyten this week was nominated to become the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the second Air Force general in a row to hold the position. His nomination was submitted to the Senate April 8. Hyten, a leading voice in the Pentagon’s space enterprise overhaul and for nuclear weapons modernization, stepped into the top STRATCOM job in November 2016. He also brings to the Joint Chiefs a background in space operations and procurement, as the former commander and vice commander of Air Force Space Command, as well as a former space acquisition official at Air Force headquarters. Last year, Hyten also took over responsibility for building requirements for a new nuclear command, control, and communications portfolio and serves as the Defense Department’s top official overseeing the NC3 enterprise. Choosing Hyten to be the second-highest ranking defense official emphasizes the Pentagon’s growing focus on strategic conflict with other advanced militaries like Russia and China under the new National Defense Strategy. —Rachel S. Cohen

TACP Receives Silver Star, Bronze Star with Valor for Two Missions During Same Deployment

An Air Force tactical air control party airman on Tuesday received both the Silver Star and Bronze Star Medal with Valor for two separate missions in the same deployment to Afghanistan last year, where he is credited with saving members of the Army Special Forces team he was embedded with. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Though Not “Perfect,” Pace Pushes for Space Force in 2020 NDAA

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—National Space Council Executive Secretary Scott Pace is urging Congress to take up the Space Force proposal as part of the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill, not consider it under standalone legislation as a key House lawmaker has suggested. Pace added Congress shouldn’t quash the Trump administration’s intent to eventually make the Space Force a department independent of the Air Force—an idea disliked by some including Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. The Space Force is the best path forward on an issue where there are no perfect solutions, and has been necessary for years, he said. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

DOD: Three Marines Killed in Blast at Bagram

The Pentagon on Tuesday identified the three US servicemembers killed in the Monday blast at Bagram Airfield as US Marines, and corrected its initial report stating a contractor reported as killed is alive. The Taliban claimed credit for a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device that exploded Monday at Bagram, hitting a US convoy at a gate at the base. The names of the Marines had not been officially released as of Tuesday evening. The incident brings the total US service members killed in Afghanistan so far this year to seven. “We feel and mourn the loss of these Americans with their families and loved ones,” said Gen. Scott Miller, commander of Resolute Support and US Forces-Afghanistan, in a statement. “We will continue our mission.” The Pentagon’s initial statement said a contractor was also killed, though an update on Tuesday stated the contractor, an Afghan citizen, was initially treated along with other injured civilians before being identified and treated at Bagram’s base hospital. —Brian Everstine

Japanese F-35A Goes Missing After Takeoff from Misawa

A Japanese Air Self Defense Force F-35A went missing shortly after takeoff at Misawa Air Base on Tuesday, prompting a large search-and-rescue operation in the ocean east of the base. The jet was one of four that took off on a training exercise around 7 p.m. local time. It disappeared off radar about 84 miles east of the base, JASDF said, according to NHK News. Surveillance and rescue aircraft, along with Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force ships, have begun searching the area. In the meantime, the JASDF grounded its remaining 12 F-35As. The JASDF plans to eventually have a fleet of 18 F-35As, with Misawa serving as the main operating location for the jets. This is the second mishap involving an F-35. In September 2018, a USMC F-35B crashed in South Carolina; the pilot safely ejected in that incident. —Brian Everstine


Infographic: The Cost Of Training U.S. Air Force Fighter Pilots

The RAND Corp. recently released an interesting report examining the cost of training pilots on various US Air Force platforms. The cost of training a basic qualified fighter pilot adds up to an estimated $5.6 million for an F-16 pilot, $10.17 million for an F-35A pilot, and $10.9 million for an F-22 pilot. Forbes

Air Force Explores New Fitness Assessment for Airmen That Could Be Gender Neutral

The Air Force is exploring a fitness assessment that would plug a value for an airman’s 1.5-mile run time into an equation that would include waist and height measurements. The result: A fitness-fatness index that could be gender neutral. War is Boring

Guam EPA Fines Andersen Air Force Base for Sanitizing Drinking Water with ‘Pesticide’

The Guam Environmental Protection Agency has fined Andersen Air Force Base for sanitizing some of its drinking water with chlorination tablets made for sanitizing swimming pools, a 36th Wing spokesman said in a statement Saturday. Stars and Stripes via

The Latest: Iran Responds to US, Labels CENTCOM Terrorist

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council says it has designated the United States Central Command, also known as CENTCOM, and all its forces as terrorist and labeled the U.S. as a “supporter of terrorism.” AP

What About JMS? Air Force Reanimates ‘Old Clunker’ Space Tracking System

JMS was supposed to revolutionize how the US tracks objects in space. Its billion-dollar bust means the Air Force must revive SPADOC, a widely reviled vestige of the 1980s. Breaking Defense

Bush Foundation Wants Retired Air Force One Plane in Museum

The George and Barbara Bush Foundation has asked that an Air Force One plane set for retirement in 2025 be permanently exhibited at the late president’s museum at Texas A&M. AP

One More Thing ….

Dutch F-16 Makes Emergency Landing After Plane Shoots Itself

A Dutch F-16 fighter jet flying a training exercise over the Netherlands scored a direct hit — on itself — when the pilot fired the aircraft’s 20mm rotary cannon. Military Times