While leading a formation of North American B-25 Mitchell bombers against the heavily defended Japanese air base at Wewak, New Guinea, Maj. Ralph Cheli’s aircraft is intercepted and damaged. Although a crash is inevitable, only after the bombing and strafing run is completed and the base heavily damaged does Cheli relinquish the formation lead. He then ditches the B-25 in the sea. Captured by the Japanese, he dies on March 6, 1944, when, while being transferred to Japan, the troop ship that he was on was bombed and sunk. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Wewak.
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.