US Makes First Moves to Block Turkey from F-35 Buy Over Russian S-400 Dispute

The Pentagon announced yesterday it’s taking steps to block the transfer of F-35 parts and technology to Turkey, its NATO ally, because of Turkey’s insistence on buying the Russian S-400 air defense system. The US has complained that Russian technicians, operating the S-400 in close proximity to the F-35, will discover ways to track and shoot down the stealth fighter. The move comes as NATO foreign ministers gather in Washington for a summit. In addition to the US, five NATO nations are buying the F-35. The move seems to be a further warning to Turkey to quit the S-400 sale. However, Turkey is not, as yet, expelled from the F-35 program, on which it is a developmental partner. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Offutt Runway Reopened, Aircraft Returning to Base

Most of the aircraft that fled Offutt AFB, Neb., as floodwaters inundated the base in mid-March returned last week as the base gets back to normal operations. “What a difference two weeks make—thanks to the hard work of thousands who are building our base back,” 55th Wing Commander Col. Michael Manion said in a Facebook update. Before the flood, the base sent nine aircraft—eight RC-135s and an E-4B—to other locations to avoid damage, and it towed the remaining aircraft to higher ground. The Air Force won’t say exactly how many aircraft have returned, citing operational security concerns, but said most are now back home now that the base’s runway has reopened. Offutt still has more work to do to repair buildings and address other damaged facilities, including fuel pump systems. In the meantime, the base is planning a flood recovery “celebration” this week to mark the progress, Manion said. —Brian Everstine

Reserve Speeds Maintainer Hiring Amid Shortage

The Air Force Reserve is fast-tracking its hiring process for new technicians amid a shortage of about 1,600 maintainers across the component. Using direct hire authority lets the Pentagon bring in qualified personnel who may not make the cut by regular standards, and it reduces hiring time by at least half. “Feedback from our units indicates there are traditional Reservists interested in applying for ART [Air Reserve Technician] positions, but [they] might not make the referral certificate due to lack of deployment or other experience-based issues,” Lisa Armes, a staffing chief in the Reserves’ manpower, personnel, and services directorate, said in an April 1 release. “DHA allows the hiring official to make selections without the need of a referral certificate and thus opens up the ART opportunities to qualified traditional Reservists more easily.” Hiring a technician takes 160 to 200 days on average without DHA, and 60 to 80 days with that authority, according to the release. Some units made tentative job offers in six to 14 business days. The service did not immediately answer how many Reserve technicians it has hired using DHA so far, or how many it needs to find. Units at 13 bases, chosen for their manpower needs, will enjoy higher priority in the hiring system until April 30. All units will be allowed to wield DHA equally starting in May. “Hiring more maintainers enables increased aircraft availability and mission-capable rates,” said Maj. Monica Lombardo, Reserve chief of maintenance force management. “More flyable aircraft translates to more pilot training and combat readiness on the operational side.” —Rachel S. Cohen

NATO to Help Build New US Military Facility in Poland

NATO will invest more than $260 million into a new storage facility in central Poland, near Powidz Air Base, for the US military, Jens Stoltenberg, the organization’s secretary general, announced Monday. The new facility will preposition American equipment with the goal of speeding up US reinforcement for NATO allies in Eastern Europe, Stoltenberg said during a press conference in Brussels. Construction is expected to kick off this summer and is slated to be completed in about two years. The announcement comes the day before Stoltenberg visits Washington, D.C., for NATO’s 70th anniversary. While in the US, Stoltenberg will address a joint session of Congress. The investment is the latest in a series of moves to build up the US presence in Poland, following the establishment of a USAF MQ-9 detachment last month. —Brian Everstine

Airman Brings Weapon to Work, Prompting Lockdown at Goodfellow

An Active Duty airman brought a weapon onto Goodfellow AFB, Texas, prompting an active shooter alert and lockdown Monday. Security forces responded, detained the airman, and “there were no shots fired and all personnel are secure,” the 17th Training Wing said in a statement. During the lockdown, the north and south gates to the base were closed and local schools were locked down as well. The name of the airman will not be released “for the privacy of the individual involved.”


2 Air Force Commanders Relieved of Posts after Hazing Probe

Two commanders of squadrons at Air Force bases in Alaska and Washington state have been relieved of their duties after hazing investigations of their units.

Maryland National Guard First in US With All-Female Command

For the first time, a state’s National Guard command staff is entirely female. The Maryland National Guard’s four top leaders are all women, and three are African American. Associated Press

India Says Space Debris From Anti-Satellite Test To ‘Vanish’ in 45 days

India expects space debris from its anti-satellite weapons launch to burn out in less than 45 days, its top defense scientist said on Thursday, seeking to allay global concern about fragments hitting objects. Reuters

NATO Members Extend Secretary General’s Term

NATO members agreed to keep Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the post as the group’s top civilian until 2022, the alliance announced Thursday. The Hill

Italian Workers Demonstrate Outside Aviano; Say a Strike Is Possible

Dozens of Italian workers demonstrated near Aviano’s main gate Saturday, calling on the US Air Force to honor long-standing agreements on base employment.

One More Thing …

Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge and former Pentagon officials get History Channel show to prove aliens exist. Military Times