Tyndall’s New Rebuild Plan to Address Unexpected Damage

As the Air Force learns more about the extent of the damage Hurricane Michael caused to Tyndall AFB, Fla., last fall, it is building a new master plan to demolish more facilities and replace them with an updated, community-friendly campus. A top planning official says the service wants to issue contracts for three projects by the end of September, but is still debating how it might pay for Fiscal 2019 work. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Wilson: B-1 and B-2 Retirements Will Go Forward; B-21 On Track

The Air Force hasn’t changed its plan to retire the B-1 and B-2 from its bomber fleet, despite its “Air Force We Need” study calling for seven more bomber squadrons, according to service Secretary Heather Wilson. In an exclusive interview with Air Force Magazine, Wilson said the service is sticking with a plan to field 175 bombers, comprised of new B-21 stealth bombers and venerable B-52s, which she noted will be modernized and re-engined. Wilson said the B-21 is on track, and is “one of our best-managed programs.” AFA’s Mitchell Institute has called for a force of 270 bombers to provide the range necessary to cope with air defenses and tactical missiles that will push US forces farther away from enemy territory. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

C-17s Deliver Aid Intended for Venezuela

Three USAF C-17s flew aid intended for Venezuela from Florida to Colombia on Saturday, in response to a request from the US-recognized leader of the country. The C-17s, from JB Charleston, S.C, and JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., flew 200 tons of palletized aid, including food, infant formula, and hygiene kits from Homestead ARB, Fla., to Cucuta, Colombia, according to Southern Command. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory and Brian Everstine.

Shanahan: US Withdrawal From Syria is a “Tactical Change” in Counter Terror Fight

The time for US forces on the ground in Syria is winding down, as ISIS will soon be permanently defeated, and the US-led coalition needs to start a “tactical change” toward being a “stabilizing force for peace” in the region, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Friday. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Shanahan said ISIS has lost more than 99 percent of the land it once held, so the US mission will change. There will still be “counter terrorism capabilities in the region” and continued support to local partners to ensure the ISIS defeat is permanent, though there will not be US forces fighting on the ground inside Syria, he said. Shanahan’s comments come the same day as the top uniformed officer in the region, Central Command boss Army Gen. Joseph Votel, told CNN that President Trump’s decision to pull out of the country is “premature” and would not have been his military advice. “The (caliphate) still has leaders, still has fighters, it still has facilitators, it still has resources, so our continued military pressure is necessary to continue to go after that network,” he said. —Brian Everstine

GOP Senators Push Back on F-15X Buy

Five Republican senators urged President Trump in a Feb. 14 letter not to buy a new variant of Boeing’s F-15 at the expense of the F-35. “We are extremely concerned that, over the last few years, the DoD has underfunded the F-35 program and relied on Congress to fund increases in production, sustainment, and modernization,” the lawmakers wrote. “In order to meet the overmatch and lethality goals laid out in the National Security Strategy, the DOD needs to make these investments in the F-35 to affordably deliver and operate this fifth-generation fighter fleet. The F-35 is the most affordable, lethal, and survivable air dominance fighter, and now is the time to double down on the program.” Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska cosigned the letter, which argues the Air Force needs to buy 60 F-35As in Fiscal 2020 to reach a rate of 80 jets required to succeed in the 2025 threat environment. “Buying outdated fourth-generation F-15 fighters, like the F-15X, for $100 million per jet … is far from a good deal,” according to the senators. “Choosing to invest in these fighters, which we know are neither lethal nor survivable against today’s advanced threats, would be a disservice to servicemembers and taxpayers.” Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the Air Force’s top uniformed acquisition officer, recently indicated the service wants the F-15X not because it is backing away from the F-35, but because the fourth-generation fleet that includes F-15Cs is aging out. Adding F-15X can also capitalize on efficiencies shared with foreign allies that own the same platform, he said. More details will be revealed in the Fiscal 2020 budget, which is expected out in mid-March. —Rachel S. Cohen

Barksdale Tests Upgraded B-52 Weapons System

Airmen at Barksdale AFB, La., are testing an upgrade to the B-52’s weapons systems that can nearly double the amount of smart weapons carried by the bomber. The 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron, in concert with other Barksdale units, recently installed an upgraded Conventional Rotary Launcher to a bomber at the base, which increases the launcher’s payload from four smart weapons each to eight. The test included eight AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles. With the new system, a B-52 can carry 20 smart weapons on the launcher and pylons under the wing, as opposed to the current total of 16, according to a Barksdale release. “Now, a B-52 going into a war zone has the ability to put 20 munitions on a target area very quickly,” SMSgt. Michael Pierce, the 307th Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament superintendent, said in the release. “Before, they would have to drop some of their munitions, power up the CRL again and then make another pass.”

USAFE Approves Medal for Airmen Who Served at Hungary Heavy Airlift Wing

Airmen who have served in the first and only multinational C-17 wing in Hungary since 2008 are now eligible for a new service medal, though the award may not practically mean much outside of that country. US Air Forces in Europe earlier this month announced the approval of the Heavy Airlift Wing Service Medal, which was approved for presentation to airmen on Jan. 14, according to a USAFE release. The award is classified as a foreign award, similar to an Air Force decoration. However, the award will not count toward promotion, must be presented in Hungary, and can only be worn while there, according to Stars and Stripes. The Heavy Airlift Wing at Papa AB includes the US as well as Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Sweden.


Secretary General at Munich Security Conference: “If We Stand United We Will Be Ready to Face the Future.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gave a keynote speech to the Munich Security Conference on Friday (15 February 2019). Mr Stoltenberg stressed that in a more unpredictable security environment it was essential to have strong multilateral frameworks; strong defence; and strong transatlantic cooperation. NATO

Vice President Details U.S. National Security Policy During Munich Speech

Vice President Mike Pence gave a report card on the Trump administration’s security policy two years after telling European leaders that “America first, did not mean America alone.” DOD

Trump Tells European Countries to Take Back IS Fighters

President Donald Trump has told the UK and other European allies to take back and put on trial more than 800 Islamic State (IS) fighters captured in the final battle against the group. BBC News

Cyber Command Expects Lessons From 2018 Midterms to Apply in 2020

Efforts to protect the 2018 midterm elections from foreign interference are expected to be studied and reapplied to protect the November 2020 elections, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command said on Capitol Hill. DOD

Air Force Smallsat to Fly on Upcoming Falcon 9 Launch

An experimental Air Force small satellite intended to test space situational awareness technologies will be a secondary payload on the upcoming Falcon 9 launch of a commercial communications satellite and lunar lander. Space News

F-35 Fighter Program Recruits Small Business Innovators

Officials want agile software development in days, not decades. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is seeking small businesses and startups capable of developing a variety of technologies in days to meet the aircraft’s immediate needs. AFCEA

One more thing …

USAF Commander Who Fired First Female Demo Team Leader Talks Mistakes, Redemption, And Leadership

Long before removing F-16 pilot Zoe Kotnik from her post, Colonel O’Malley faced his own controversy and he’s finally ready to talk about it publicly. The Warzone