Members of the Afghan air force’s Kandahar Air Wing and US Army’s Task Force Thunder recently conducted their first joint air assault mission. During Operation Sand Hill Crane, two Army UH-60 Black Hawks and one AAF Mi-17 helicopter inserted specialized teams into villages around Kandahar Airfield to target Taliban fighters with reintegration leaflets. “The mission was absolutely successful,” said Lt. Col. Fred Koegler of the 441st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron. Army OH-58D Kiowa Warriors and AH-64 Apaches provided overwatch during the two-day mission. “Our Afghan air force partners worked hard with us to ensure success, and we couldn’t have performed this mission without their dedication,” said TSgt. Jason Sitzes, an adviser evaluator. (Kabul report by Capt. Jamie Humphries)
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.