Air Force Special Operations Command is retooling its aviation foreign internal defense efforts to deepen longer-term mentorship efforts with a few, key international partners, AFSOC boss Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold said. “We’re looking for persistent engagement in places, versus episodic, which doesn’t seem to get us the results that we want,” he said during a Mitchel Institute for Aerospace Studies event on March 18. AFSOC has found that focusing the 6th Special Operations Squadron’s small pool of aircraft and air commandos on a smaller number of long-term relationships “is more beneficial” than speeding them thinly, Heithold said. Partners like the Afghan Special Mission Wing have “been declared successes because we’ve been there for a long, long time flying in the right seat until you can develop an instructor cadre,” he said. AFSOC is also abandoning the “petting zoo” of “zebra-striped Hueys” and Russian-built airframes for a standardized AvFID fleet. Five C-145 Skytrucks will provide AFSOC pilots with basic flight currency and “if we’re going to go train somebody … we might lease [a specific aircraft type] for the period of time.” Heithold said? AFSOC has already done this in some places, and overall, the shift will both save money and provide better type-specific training to partners.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.