An aircrew with the 23rd Bomb Squadron at Minot AFB, N.D., became the first to fly a B-52H bomber over the North Pole. “The flight was actually quite unusual because no one has ever done it before,” said Maj. Patrick Small of Minot’s 5th Operations Support Squadron. “The jet was designed for this type of flight, but [it] was never practiced. It took a lot of mission planning and coordination to make this happen.” The airmen made the trip last month en route to Russia to participate in the 2011 Moscow International Air and Space Aviation Salon as part of a US contingent of aircraft and personnel. The B-52 did not require in-flight refueling to reach Moscow since the polar route is a lot shorter in distance than flying more traditional routes to Europe, said Minot officials. (Minot report by A1C Jessica McConnell)
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.