Warrior Games Kick Off at Air Force Academy

The 2018 Warrior Games kicked off Friday at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. The games, which continue through June 9, “showcase the resilient spirit of today’s wounded, ill or injured service members through Paralympic-style sports,” Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said Thursday. This year’s event includes 250 athletes representing all US military services, along with representatives from the UK, Canada, and Australia. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch

Mattis: China Guilty of “Intimidation and Coercion” in South China Sea

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis targeted China’s military build up in the contested South China Sea, accusing it of “intimidation” in the region. Mattis, speaking Saturday at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, said China’s militarization of the islands in the sea is the reason the country was disinvited from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise, and more steps will be taken if this militarization continues, though Mattis left open the door for diplomacy and cooperation between the two nations. “We do not ask any country to choose between the United States and China, because a friend does not demand you choose among them,” Mattis said. “China should have a voice in shaping the international system, and all of China’s neighbors have a voice in shaping China’s role. If the US will continue to pursue a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China, cooperation whenever possible, will be the name of the game.” Mattis spoke shortly after US Pacific Command was renamed US Indo-Pacific Command, a move that highlights the importance of the Indian Sea and other regions extending beyond the Pacific, and “America is in the Indo-Pacific to stay.” —Brian Everstine

Pratt & Whitney Gets $2 Billion F-35 Engine Contract

The Pentagon on Thursday awarded Pratt & Whitney a $2 billion for the next production lot of F135 engines, which power the F-35. The contract includes 51 F-135-PW-100 engines for the Air Force, along with 10 engines for the Navy’s F-35C, 24 for USMC F-35Bs, and 50 engines for international partners. Work on the contract is expected to finish by May 2021. The contract, in addition to engines, includes management, engineering support, and spare parts, with delivery beginning later this year. —Brian Everstine


More Promotions to be Available Under Air Force STEP Program

The Air Force said Thursday it is increasing the number of promotions commanders can award as part of changes to the Stripes for Exceptional Performers program, which is aimed at promoting early enlisted airmen who show unusual potential. In addition, the service is changing timelines for the program. For Fiscal Year 2018, the number of such promotions has been raised from 96 to 180. “Increasing STEP allocations is another way we’re empowering commanders at every level to identify and reward their top performers,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said. —Steve Hirsch

An Elegy for the Predator

The Air Force’s legendary MQ-1B Predator was indispensable during its lifespan, flying about 92 percent of its total flight hours in combat. In a sign of how much the service needed the aircraft, it flew its last combat sortie in the Middle East on the same day the Air Force held a retirement ceremony for the fleet at Creech AFB, Nev., in March. “The MQ-1 has helped shape the character of warfare,” said Col. Julian C. Cheater, the commander of the 432nd Wing at Creech, which was the home to the remotely piloted aircraft for 23 years. What started as a makeshift program, flown by the Army in converted trailers during an early operational deployment to Eastern Europe, became the Air Force’s backbone of Middle East operations. Read the full story by Brian Everstine, from the newest issue of Air Force Magazine.


—Lt. Gen. Mark Ediger, the Air Force’s Surgeon General, retired Friday after 32 years of service: USAF Health on Twitter.

—Sierra Nevada Corp. is entering the contest for the Air Force’s UH-1N Huey replacement, offering used UH-60 Black Hawks acquired through a US Army exchange program: IHS Jane’s.

—US aircraft on May 31 conducted an airstrike southwest of Mogadishu, Somalia, reportedly killing 12 Al Shabaab militants: AFRICOM release.

—Air Force Korean language analysts are eligible for new bonuses to try to keep them in service: Air Force Times.

—The Air Force on July 12 will host an “industry day” for international intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance training: Intelligence Community News.