Air Force Leaders Say Goodbye to Dick Cole, the Last Doolittle Raider

USAF leaders and the family of retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole said goodbye to the last of the Doolittle Raiders during a Thursday ceremony at JBSA-Randolph, Texas. Cole, who co-piloted the lead aircraft on the famed April 18, 1942, raid on Tokyo with Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, died April 9 in San Antonio at the age of 103. The Thursday ceremony took place on the 77th anniversary of the raid. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Congressman Leads Push to Upgrade Special Ops Helo Pilot’s Air Force Cross to MOH

The heroic actions of a USAF special operations helicopter pilot, who saved dozens of American lives during a secret 1969 mission in Laos, are getting a renewed look. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif) introduced a bill this week to authorize the President to upgrade retired Col. Philip Conran’s Air Force Cross to the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest honor for valor in combat. Conran, then a pilot with the 21st Special Operations Squadron based in Thailand, received the award for his efforts to save a downed helicopter crew on Oct. 6, 1969. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

B-1 Fleet Remains Grounded, Recovery Plan in Place

The B-1 bomber fleet remains grounded three weeks after inspectors identified issues with a Lancer’s drogue chute system, but Air Force Global Strike Command boss Gen. Timothy Ray approved a recovery plan on Tuesday. After three incidents in a year involving the B-1’s escape systems, Ray told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, he “didn’t like what I saw,” and he acknowledged the fleet had been “overextended” in the US Central Command area of operations for years. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

AFGSC Boss Expects GBSD, LRSO Costs to Eventually Dip Below Expectations

While the Air Force will probably cite a higher cost for the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent missile in the near term, in the longer term the program could cost “tens of billions” less than expected, because of huge efficiencies in development allowing long-term sustainment savings, Air Force Global Strike Command chief Gen. Timothy Ray said Wednesday. Ray also reported high confidence in the nuclear Long-Range Standoff missile, and expects both will yield far lower costs thanks to modern design and development methods. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

AFGSC Chief Says It’s Too Early to Decide Bomber Force Size

Gen. Timothy Ray, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, believes the bomber force must grow, but said decisions about how large should wait until USAF has a firm handle on the production cost of the B-21 Raider. “My job … is to keep as many options on the table as long as I possibly can,” Ray said. It won’t be known until about 2024 what the production cost of the new B-21 bomber will be, he added. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

McConnell Tankers Flee to Fairchild as Storm Hits Kansas

Three KC-46s and 10 KC-135s fled McConnell AFB, Kan., on Wednesday as a storm approached the base. The evacuation, ordered “as a precaution due to the possibility of severe weather impacting the Wichita area,” does not include local personnel, according to a McConnell release. Fairchild AFB, Wash., which is a large KC-135 operating base, will serve as a “safe haven” location that can provide facilities to house aircraft and personnel and provide maintenance for the aircraft, according to the release. McConnell earlier this year began receiving the new KC-46s, though the deliveries stalled after the first three due to issues with debris being found inside the aircraft. Deliveries have not yet resumed. Storms rolled through the McConnell area late Wednesday, bringing large hail, lightning, and heavy wind, according to KWCH. The storm and corresponding evacuation is the latest in a series of natural disasters impacting USAF bases within the past several months, including severe flooding at Offutt AFB, Neb., and a hurricane and tornado at Tyndall AFB, Fla. —Brian Everstine

AFRL Wants Your Next Big S&T Idea

Air Force Research Laboratory boss Maj. Gen. Bill Cooley told reporters Thursday the lab will start soliciting ideas within the next several months to meet the goals of the service’s new “Science and Technology 2030” strategy. Some may evolve as “vanguard” ideas the Air Force will pursue by pulling together expertise from across the research spectrum, while others may be concepts that need more investigation before they can advance. Cooley plans to meet with AFRL leadership within weeks to start implementing the strategy, which aims to address global persistent awareness; resilient information sharing; rapid, effective decision-making; complex, unpredictable, and mass effects; and the speed and scope of disruption and lethality. The report notes the Air Force will set aside at least 20 percent of the annual science and technology budget—totaling $2.8 billion in fiscal 2020—for “transformational” projects, though that goal may change over time. “The ‘21 budget is in process and so clearly, the timing is synchronized such that we hope to use this to shape that ‘21 budget within the S&T portfolio,” Cooley said. “With respect to the ‘20 budget … we’re going to work with the Hill to, frankly, lean into making shifts that make sense for the S&T system. There are some things we can just do that are internal processes.” He added the lab doesn’t expect to “substantively” add or subtract workers, but wants to do more to place Air Force researchers in academic settings and bring more academics in. —Rachel S. Cohen


North Korea Says It Tested New Weapon, Wants Pompeo Out of Talks

North Korea said Thursday that it had test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon,” its first such test in nearly half a year, and demanded that Washington remove Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from nuclear negotiations. Associated Press

US Halts Recent Practice of Disclosing Nuclear Weapon Total

The Trump administration has halted, without explanation, the recent US government practice of disclosing the current size of the nuclear weapons stockpile. Associated Press

Air Force Academy Will No Longer Allow Transgender Students to Enroll

Transgender people selected for the U.S. Air Force Academy after April 12 will not be permitted to enroll in the academy unless they meet the Defense Department’s new criteria. The Hill

Japan’s F-35As Had Seven Emergency Landings Before Crash

In the months before Japan’s first F-35A stealth fighter jet crashed in the Pacific Ocean, the country’s air force made seven emergency landings of the aircraft, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said. UPI

Space Development Agency Draws Strong Objections From California Lawmakers

In a letter to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, California lawmakers question his decision to establish a Space Development Agency to take over the design of the military’s future space systems. Space News

SpaceX Booster Lost at Sea

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch Thursday was flawless by all accounts, but its third rocket booster won’t be coming back to Port Canaveral in Florida. UPI

Col. Wootan Assumes Command of CAP-USAF

Col. Mark A. “Woot” Wootan officially became the 31st commander of Civil Air Patrol-U.S. Air Force (CAP-USAF) today. Civil Air Patrol News

One More Thing …

Brothers in Paws: A List of Military-Utilized Dog Breeds

You may just think German Shepherds have solely led the charge in canine use in the military, but—as this list will show—we have more furry friends out there on the battlefield than you might think.