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Author: Subject: USAF, Part 2
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[*] posted on 21-9-2017 at 02:48 PM


New DIUX Software Saves Air Force Millions Of Pounds Of Airborne Tanker Gas A Month

By Richard Whittle

on September 19, 2017 at 3:45 PM

AFA: The Defense Innovation Unit experimental (DIUx) is working with airmen and DOD civilian software coders to rapidly change the planning and conduct of air operations, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of Air Forces Central Command, told reporters here Tuesday.

Over the past few months, Harrigian said, DIUx has helped develop new software used by the Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid, Qatar that have streamlined and rationalized aerial refueling tanker operations, saving 350,000 pounds of fuel a week. They are also on their way to improving and accelerating target planning, command and control and other aspects of waging an air war.

“We’re fighting a war, so I can’t fix all the issues that we have with respect to the tools, but the higher priority ones, we’re getting after and we’re using DIUx to help us,” Harrigian said.


KC-135 tanker being prepped

The first and most vivid example Harrigian offered was a software innovation called JIGSAW that ended the 20th Century practice of airmen using a whiteboard, phone calls and other forms of communication with tanker units to plan and adjust refueling fleet operations.

“We used a whiteboard, pretty old school way, took several hours to execute,” Harrigian said. “The whiteboard — no kidding — they would look at the whiteboard and they’d put these little pucks up, and then they would draw lines from each tanker and then the receivers over time.” With the JIGSAW software application, he said, hours become minutes. “In the software they get a download that says, ‘Here are the tankers’ and then each of the units populate ‘here’s our guys that are needing gas today.’ And then they’re able to basically hit a button where it’ll match ’em up and then they can fine tune it. The beauty of it is, when there’s a change, they can fix it like that,’ Harrigian said, snapping his fingers. “Where if you had to go back to the whiteboard, it would take a lot of work.”

DIUx is now working with Air Force civilian and airmen coders to develop or refine five other software tools for CAOC functions.

The truly innovative aspect of the way DIUx and the Air Force are working to improve CAOC tools, Harrigian said, is the direct communication and iteration of the products the innovation unit can do. CAOC personnel “frame the problem and then DIUx comers out with about 10 to 12 people and they sit with our operators and do multiple interviews,” Harrigian said. “Then they go back and build the software, the app. And then they send it to our guys and they go, ‘I don’t like this’ (or) ‘Let’s change this,’ and then they make another change and then they’ll come back and see us again and we’ll go through those iterations.”

CAOC officers and airmen using the old whiteboard method, for example, ”were taking a lot of time to manually input data,” Harrigian said. “So they took this whole whiteboard thing and turned it into a software program and they iterated with us. There were probably three, four, five versions of it before we said, ‘We’re good. Push it out.’” After that, he said, “I gave them a priority list of things I wanted to work on.”

In answer to a question, Harrigian said Centcom’s work with DIUx is on a much smaller scale than a project to upgrade Air Operations Center networks called Northrop 10.2, which the Air Force cancelled last summer after key members of Congress refused to add money to the program to cover a massive cost overrun. Bloomberg reported in December that Northrop 10.2’s cost had risen from an estimated $374 million to $745 million.
Harrigian told me after his media roundtable that the projects his command is working with DIUx are costing “a million to two million each. It’s chump change.”

Also, no doubt, a welcome change.
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[*] posted on 21-9-2017 at 09:39 PM


AC-130J poised to hit initial operational capability target

21 September, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

The US Air Force’s Lockheed Martin AC-130J gunship is set to reach initial operational capability this month, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) chief Lt Gen Brad Webb confirms.

The AC-130J Ghostrider is still two years shy of combat, Webb said during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space and Cyber conference outside Washington DC. AFSOC is developing the gunship by removing refuelling pods on the existing MC-130J and replacing them with weapons racks outfitted with precision strike packages. The Block 10 AC-130J configuration includes an internal 30mm gun, GPS-guided small diameter bombs and laser-guided missiles that will launch from the rear cargo door.


US Air Force

Last July, the USAF received the first Block 20 configuration aircraft, which adds a 105mm cannon and large aircraft infrared countermeasures equipment. AFSOC is also planning to add wing-mounted Lockheed AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and radio-frequency countermeasures for its next round of updates.

A select number of AC-130Js will be outfitted with a high-energy laser, which the USAF could mount on the side in place of the 30mm gun. The laser gunship became the crown jewel of former AFSOC chief Lt Gen Bradley Heithold’s directed energy plan, with the commander once describing the concept as his “moon shot” ambition. Heithold’s successor has been less vocal on the programme, attributing his perceived apathy to an uncertain budget. Webb says he remains an enthusiastic supporter of the laser gunship demonstration, which is slated for 2020.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge from a priorities standpoint, which is why you hear me talk about it a little bit less, because I need to secure funding both from the air force and SOCOM [US Special Operations Command] to do it,” he says. “But right now we’re on the path to have this window – that is very necessary to be able to have the beam shoot out of – that will be installed on the plane and that happens in the next year. Then we go airborne with shooting the laser a couple years after that.”
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[*] posted on 22-9-2017 at 02:55 PM


Defense Firms to Air Force: Want Your Planes’ Data? Pay Up (excerpt)

(Source: Defense One; posted Sept 19, 2017)

By Marcus Weisgerber

The U.S. Air Force wants computers to predict when its cargo planes and tankers are going to break. Some of its planes even have the necessary equipment installed — but service leaders can’t turn it on unless they fork out more money to manufacturers.

That’s because even though the Air Force owns the planes, the rights to the diagnostic information they produce is controlled by manufacturers Boeing and Lockheed Martin and engine makers Pratt & Whitney and General Electric.

“I want to own the data,” Gen. Carlton “Dewey” Everhart, head of Air Mobility Command, said Tuesday during a press conference at an Air Force Association-sponsored conference in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.

“Lockheed, Boeing, [and] everybody else, have a say-so in that,” the general said. “It’s just I want to be a shared partner with them.”

Everhart — who oversees more than 1,200 cargo planes and tankers — said some airlines are already using this kind of predictive maintenance technology, which is built into many new commercial aircraft. It’s installed on some Air Force planes as well‚ including the C-130 and C-17 airlifters and the new KC-46 tanker.

But putting it to use? That’ll cost you.

“Our airplanes have the capability right now,” Everhart said. “All I have to do is put it on contract. We have the capability; we just didn’t buy the capability.”

…/…

He said he plans to start putting money toward the technology, but it might take a few years before he can cobble together enough cash to get the equipment and hardware so the planes can start passing real-time info back to the ground. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Defense One website.

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2017/09/military-planes...

-ends-
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[*] posted on 22-9-2017 at 08:08 PM


Budget uncertainty could delay F-15C IRST delivery

22 September, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

The US Air Force has selected Lockheed Martin’s Infrared Search and Track (IRST) system for its Boeing F-15C, but a potential freeze on Pentagon dollars could delay delivery.

President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget included $57 million for an IRST upgrade to the F-15C fleet. But if Congress refuses to pass a long term budget, the Defense Department will be forced to operate under a continuing resolution that would maintain funding at the previous fiscal year level. Lockheed plans on delivering its first Legion Pod to the USAF in 2018, but since the programme is considered a new start it could risk a delay under the continuing resolution.

IRST, a passive air-to-air radar system that detects airborne threats in radar denied environments, is already fielded on the US Navy’s Boeing F/A-18E/F fleet and international F-15 aircraft. Budget woes have hit the USAF’s IRST implementation previously. Though never a joint programme, the USAF and Navy shared identical requirements for IRST, but while the Navy went ahead with IRST, the USAF had funding issues in 2010 and set the programme aside, says Don Bolling, director of business development at Lockheed missiles and fire control.

“Now we’re at an opportunity where we can bring the programmes back in alignment,” he says.

Lockheed plans to deliver engineering, manufacturing and development pods in 2018, with a fielded capability for the USAF by 2020, Bolling says. The navy and USAF configurations only differ in their “wrapper,” with the navy’s IRST inside a centerline fuel tank and the air force’s version inside Legion pod, he adds.

Boeing and Lockheed have discussed a future F-15 configuration, though Bolling says he’s not sure at this point whether Boeing’s “Advanced F-15” will entail different sensor configurations or airframe modifications.
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[*] posted on 23-9-2017 at 01:29 PM


USAF provides new detail on KC-46 issues

22 September, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

The US Air Force’s Boeing KC-46 tanker is facing three outstanding issues as it moves through testing, including a boom scraping problem that could pose serious risk to the tanker’s aircrew.

Earlier this week, the USAF’s chief of air mobility command revealed the air force has discovered three major deficiencies during testing on Boeing’s next-generation tanker. Video and data gathered during developmental testing showed the tanker scraped receiver aircraft outside the receptacle, according to the USAF’s programme executive for tankers, Brig Gen Donna Shipton.

The USAF is also working to understand a high-frequency transmit and “uncommanded boom extension issue,” which the air force plans to solve this October. The service will collect data on the scraping problem throughout October and November, and, until that data is analysed, Shipton is not sure when the issue will be solved.

Based on a schedule risk assessment, the KC-46 programme office does not believe Boeing will be able to complete first delivery in December and instead, expects a spring 2018 delivery. Those delays, which the Government Accountability Office predicted in a report last spring, are not related to the deficiencies but to test points Boeing must complete to acquire US Federal Aviation Administration and military aircraft certifications.

During developmental testing last October, the KC-46 boom’s tip struck receiver aircraft outside their refuelling slipways.The USAF did not discover the issue until testing completed and the service analysed data and completed a deficiency report in May.

“When the boom isn’t being carried into the receptacle, there’s instances where there’s contact outside the receptacle by the boom and in some instances, it goes undetected by the boom operator,” Shipton says. “We have aerial refueling procedures that require... the boom operator [to] notify pilots, make them aware that the boom contacted outside the receptacle.”

The air force believes KC-46 is potentially scraping aircraft at a higher rate than legacy tankers, but Boeing and the KC-46 programme office are analysing historical data to compare how often the issue occurs in the current fleet, Shipton says. While the two other category one issues are not severe, scraping could pose a significant risk to aircrew, she adds.

The USAF is concerned about KC-46 scraping low observable aircraft, but the tanker has not yet refueled stealth aircraft in testing. KC-46 has refueled the F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17 and A-10.

Less severe but still unknown is a high frequency (HF) transmitting issue during aerial refueling. HF transmitting must be turned off during refueling to avoid electrical sparking between the boom and receiver. The USAF first identified the issue in 2016, but does not have sufficient test data to confirm that when transmitting is turned off, it stays off, says Col John Newberry, KC-46 system programme manager.

“If for some reason it’s off but somehow failed, we needed the test data to prove it wouldn't inadvertently come back on,” he says.

The service will conduct testing in October and, assuming the results are positive, will be able to close out the deficiency report.

The service is also grappling with what it calls an “uncommanded boom extension” on KC-46. During ground testing, fuel flowed through boom, exerting pressure which pushed the boom forward and extended the boom into a test stand acting as a receptacle. The issue also occurs on the legacy fleet, where if a pilot somehow disconnects unexpectedly then the boom operator retracts the boom from the aircraft. That phenomenon is known as a commanded scenario, Shipton says.

With the KC-46 ground testing, the test stand was not rated to withstand the same impact as an aircraft receptacle.

“Initially there was some concern,” Shipton says. “After looking at the data, we believe this is not going to be an issue, however we won’t make a decision on closing this deficiency report until October.”
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[*] posted on 23-9-2017 at 04:09 PM


But, but, but Boeing is the world's best at building tankers, they told us so, in all their glossy lobying campaign. Sure they haven't built any in decades before we awarded the contract to them and other people have, but the Pagasus is da bomb, better than anyone elses, even though their's are in service and on tasking.

Boeing told us they were the best and we believed them because they're 'mericcan and they have the bestest senators and congress scritters, bought and paid for right here in the US of A.

Wot; you mean Boeing lied...




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[*] posted on 24-9-2017 at 12:59 AM


It has problems but so did the KC-30A for a long time. I still think the KC-30A is the better tanker, but it was never going to beat ‘Made in Murica!’





In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 25-9-2017 at 12:37 PM


U.S. Air Force Priority: Get A Budget

Sep 22, 2017

Jen DiMascio | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Cost of Dysfunction

In Washington, departures appear to be the norm. Lawmakers complain constantly about adhering to what is known as regular order—such as passing spending bills by the start of each new fiscal year beginning in October. And yet, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress has required a stopgap solution to the budget known as a continuing resolution (CR) in 36 out of the last 40 years. 

The short-term CR keeps the federal government running—but at the same levels allocated the previous year. For example, Congress already has agreed to keep the government funded through early December at fiscal 2017 levels.

But this haphazard approach is not without its costs. GAO notes that agencies delay hiring and letting contracts in the midst of a CR. 


Air Force leaders say the service is dropping up to 100 precision weapons against so-called Islamic State militants every day.
Credit: Airman 1st Class Kristan Campbell/U.S. Air Force

The Air Force is preparing for this year’s set of CR-related challenges—including how to contract for weapons and how to follow through on contract awards such as the $16.3 billion T-X program to replace T-38 advanced training aircraft.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson indicates that if the CR were to be continued past December, the service will need some exceptions. She is working with industry to see how to expand capacity and build relationships with suppliers. “This is a very serious situation,” she says.

After all, the Air Force is dropping 100 precision munitions on so-called Islamic State militants every day, the situation in the Pacific is growing tense and the Russians are in the midst of a major military exercise in Eastern Europe. Says Wilson: “The most important thing we have to do now is get a budget.”

Ex-Im Revival?

Industry boosters are sensing new life in their push to revive the U.S. Export-Import Bank after the White House nominated three more individuals for its board of directors: Kimberly Reed, once a senior advisor to U.S. Treasury Secretaries John Snow and Henry Paulson; Claudia Slacik as a small business representative; and Judith Pryor.

“This group exhibits the track record of leadership and belief in the mission of the bank to restore it to full functionality,” says the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). “For far too long, the bank has been languishing without a quorum of at least three members on its board, unable to fulfill its mission or process transactions exceeding $10 million, and we urge [Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee] Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) to schedule hearings on these nominees as quickly as possible.”

The AIA also addressed two prior White House nominations to the board that Crapo has yet to take up: former Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who it supports, and former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), a vocal bank critic who it opposes for Ex-Im Bank president.

At Odds

The Senate’s version of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill sets up a showdown over a controversial proposal to create a Space Corps. The idea was championed in the House Armed Services Committee by the leaders of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee—Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.). The proposal in the House version of the bill has support from committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). But the Senate’s version of the bill includes language that would prohibit funding for the creation of the corps.

John Isaacs, a senior fellow at the Council for a Livable World, has watched the markups closely this year. He says that given the opposition to the Senate bill, and the forceful reaction against the idea from the Pentagon and the Air Force, the Space Corps may ultimately come to pass—but probably not this year.

—With Michael Bruno in Washington
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[*] posted on 25-9-2017 at 12:42 PM


Pilot Shortage May Force U.S. Air Force To Outsource Training

Facing shortage, U.S. Air Force weighs contracting out training

Sep 22, 2017

Lara Seligman | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Faced with a critical shortfall, particularly in the fighter community, the U.S. Air Force may be forced to take drastic steps to produce new pilots.

The service is short 1,500 pilots, including 1,000 fighter pilots, says Brig. Gen. Michael Koscheski, director of the new Aircrew Crisis Task Force established to tackle the problem. That gap will continue to grow with an increased demand for experienced combat aviators in regions such as the Middle East and Asia.

“In Desert Storm, we had 134 combat-coded fighter squadrons.

Today, we have 55,” Koscheski said on Sept. 18 at the Air Force Association’s annual air, space and cyber conference. “We have gotten smaller, and the mission has at least stayed the same, if not grown.” 

U.S. Air Force’s Pilot Supply Problem
- The need for more pilots is not really a recruitment issue
- Outside help may be needed to fix a complex problem
- Air Force considering outsourcing some training to universities and commercial companies
- Service ramping production to max capacity and trying to stand up new training squadrons

Although the Air Force is stepping up recruitment efforts to combat the shortage, recruitment is not the core issue. In fact, there are more men and women who want to fly than the service has capacity to train, says Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, commander of Air Education and Training Command.

The real challenge is pilot production, absorption and retention, officials say. In simple terms, due to a combination of snowballing factors—budget cuts, longer deployments and a recent spike in commercial airline hiring, to name a few—the Air Force is challenged both to train enough new aviators to keep up with demand from the field and to keep experienced pilots from leaving. 


The U.S. Air Force is faced with a growing pilot shortage even as demand from the field rises. Credit: Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson /U.S. Air Force

The shortage feeds on itself in complex ways, creating a problem that is almost impossible to fix without outside help. The most critical shortfall is at the intermediate level, particularly instructors needed to move new airmen through the pipeline.

CAAC Lowers Famously High Physical Standards For Pilots
The gap cannot be plugged overnight, but the Air Force is doing its best to begin climbing out of the hole. “The first step in recovery is admitting we have a problem,” Koscheski says. “We’ve got to call it a crisis.”

In the long term, the Air Force is weighing some drastic steps to tackle the crisis. One such measure would be outsourcing some training to universities or commercial companies, such as Flight Safety International. Such companies primarily train pilots to fly business-class aircraft and do not train military aviators, but “we need to look at that,” Roberson says. 

The Air Force would pay private companies to conduct initial pilot training, conserving government resources such as aircraft, runways and simulators for intermediate and high-level training, Roberson explains. The service would then take graduates and “modify” them to fly military aircraft.

This approach likely would not work for the fighter community but could be used to produce pilots for business jet or commercial-derivatives such as the C-21 or mobility aircraft such as the C-130 or C-17. 

“They then come into the military for a truncated, shortened pipeline, so now that allows us to get more military pilots with higher throughput,” says Koscheski. “That is probably more a mobility-pilot focus, but that would take a little bit of the burden off the resources that we have assisting currently to help produce combat Air Force pilots.”

Within the Air Force, officials have already maxed out pilot production. Last year the service produced 1,100 pilots, including 235 to fly fighters; this year the output will be close to 1,200, including 285 fighter pilots, Roberson says. Now the service is ramping up to 1,400 a year—a number Roberson says is “the top of the capacity we can produce.” 



This approach runs the risk of overstretching the force and reducing flexibility, which could lead to accidents.

“Fourteen hundred maximizes all the assets that we have, the number of instructors and the hours in the daylight, the number of runways that we have, the airspace, all those variables that go into our production capacity [are] maxed out,” says Roberson. “In the flying business, it is not good to be maxed out.”

Even this will not be enough to meet future requirements, projected to grow to 1,600 pilots produced a year, Roberson says.

Internally, the Air Force is looking to stand up additional training squadrons to help produce new pilots, particularly for fighters.

The service is looking to reactivate the 7th and 8th Fighter Sqdns. at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, as fighter-training squadrons to train new F-16 airmen, says Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, commander of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Arizona.

But the Air Force does not have enough instructors to man the new squadrons, Leonard says. It is also proving a challenge to hire contractors to maintain the aircraft, because F-16 maintenance is such a specialized skill. Still, the Air Force hopes to be able to place instructors and begin producing pilots next summer,  he adds.

The Air Force’s ultimate goal is to produce 335 fighter pilots a year, Roberson says. However, budget uncertainty could derail the  service’s efforts to open the aviator pipeline, he warns. If Congress extends the short-term continuing resolution currently funding the government at prior-year levels, or if sequester-level budget cuts return, the Air Force may not be able to stand up the 7th and 8th Fighter Sqdns., he says.

Koscheski’s task force is in the middle of consolidating recommendations and will present them to senior leadership later this year. Roberson hopes to see decisions on future initiatives in the November time frame. 
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[*] posted on 26-9-2017 at 06:36 AM


Wonder if they could approach friendly air forces for some of their training needs, thinking of the RAAF, RAF and RCAF to slot some of their people into the early parts of the training sylabus.

Basically do beginner and intermediate training here and head home for advanced and type specific training.




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[*] posted on 26-9-2017 at 10:23 AM


Sounds like a great idea especially as both the RAAF and RAF are doing/just finished major upgrades to both their training aircraft and syllabus................this is probably why it won't be adopted! Far too much common-sense.................. the UK also has the Empire Training school going full blast, under QINETIQ management, that could remove some seniors from having to cramp up the general USAF syllabus...................
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[*] posted on 26-9-2017 at 11:42 AM


US Air Force official: Northrop’s JSTARS program still needs ‘heavy lifting’

By: Valerie Insinna   6 hours ago


An E-8C Joint STARS takes off from Robins Air Force Base, Ga., on a mission in support of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts on September 1, 2017. (Airman Amanda Bodony/U.S. Air National Guard).

WASHINGTON — Northrop Grumman is still having trouble moving E-8C JSTARS out of its depot despite improvements in quality control, and aircraft availability is suffering as a result, the head of US Air Force Materiel Command said.

The service grounded four JSTARS aircraft in 2016 when it found quality control issues on planes from Northrop’s depot in Lake Charles, La., and within weeks, those aircraft were flying again. While changes were made to its leadership and sustainment processes, Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski said more progress needs to be made.

“We’re still at a point of not being able to get those jets through the maintenance period in the timely manner that we need in order to keep the aircraft available,” she told Defense News in an exclusive Sept. 20 interview during the Air Force Association’s annual conference.

“We are on a path to get there, but there is still a lot of heavy lifting to be done to get us to the point where we have the aircraft availability that Air Combat Command needs,” she added.

The U.S. Air Force’s JSTARS — short for Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System — is the service’s premier battle management and surveillance aircraft, used to detect ground targets and convey that information to nearby combat aircraft.

However, after decades of operation, including more than 130,000 combat hours flown in Iraq and Syria since 2001, the aircraft is becoming significantly more difficult to maintain.

The health of the fleet might be even more critical should the U.S. Air Force cancel the JSTARS recap program, which would replace the aging E-8Cs with modern aircraft outfitted with a more advanced radar. Because the latest assessments of the aircraft show it can last until almost 2030, the service is considering retaining its current capability while deciding how best to field a more survivable replacement.

“The urgency, the need to immediately replace them isn’t there anymore,” Pawlikowski said. However, she also acknowledged that it still is a challenge to keep the legacy fleet flying. “Every time we bring one of the jets into the depot we find places where there’s corrosion we have to deal with.”

The U.S. Air Force operates only 16 JSTARS planes with an additional aircraft for training. However, over the past year, about six planes have been in Northrop’s depot, located at Lake Charles, La., at a single time. The company’s current sustainment contract does not stipulate how many aircraft can be in depot at a single time, but Patty Welsh, a spokeswoman for Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., noted that Northrop is “heavily incentivized” to decrease the number of planes going through maintenance.

Northrop’s sustainment contract with the Air Force runs until 2022. Past that, the service will consider whether other companies are better fit to maintain the legacy of JSTARS fleet going forward, Pawlikowski said.

“I think we should do that regardless of whether we continue to make progress here. We’re looking at a different situation now, if indeed we’re going to potentially keep those aircraft a little longer,” she said.

The service is also working on a maintenance plan that will lay out how to keep the planes flying for the rest of its service life.

Pawlikowski anticipates that plan could be delivered as early as 18 months from now and will spell out how often planes must be inspected, which parts will be treated for corrosion and adjusting what work is done by the U.S. Air Force on the flight line instead of in the depot, for instance.

The legacy JSTARS aircraft are encountering problems not “in the instruction manual” for a typical Boeing 707 due to the many modifications made so that the plane could incorporate military-specific equipment. The new maintenance plan will also address those challenges as well, she said.

In a statement to Defense News, the leader of Northrop’s JSTARS program said the company “is committed to quality, safety and mission assurance for our customers.”

“We continue to work closely with our Air Force customer in supporting this critical mission and the required demands of the warfighter for the Joint STARS fleet,” said Bryan Lima, the company’s director of manned C2ISR programs.
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[*] posted on 26-9-2017 at 12:17 PM


How industry’s helping the US Air Force with multi-domain command and control

By: Mark Pomerleau   7 hours ago


Sailors perform checks on an F/A-18E Super Hornet before flight operations on the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson flight deck on February 7, 2017. The ship and its carrier strike group are on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet. (Sean M. Castellano/U.S. Navy)

Each U.S. military service recognizes that operations must be seamlessly coordinated across all domains of warfare for future conflict. Within that broad sphere, the Air Force, under the direction of Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, has made multi-domain command and control a top priority.

Broadly speaking, this will involve the seamless integration of air, space and cyber capabilities, providing commanders cross-domain options to make more rapid decisions in complex battle spaces. The Air Force is in the throes of a highly anticipated study on the issue lead by the multi-domain C2 enterprise capability collaboration team, or ECCT, which should be finalized by November.

Message received: Industry is prepared to back the Air Force as it takes different approaches toward multi-domain C2 and figures out what this might look like and how to employ it.

Regarding the latter, Lockheed Martin in April held a war game in partnership with the Air Force on multi-domain C2 as a means to help inform the Air Force and the ECCT team, which participated.

The war game looked at operational planning in air, space and cyber in support of the ECCT. Lockheed will continue this work during another war game this fall. This upcoming war game will build on the efforts of its predecessor, adding additional layers such as hundreds of targets with actual Air Force operators coming together and planning against a much larger scenario, said Steve Froelich, director of operational command and control for Lockheed Martin C4ISR, during an interview with C4ISRNET at the Air Force Association’s annual symposium.

At the conference, Lockheed briefed reporters on some of the systems ― both those currently used by the Air Force and others in which the company is investing ― as well as systems of systems that could be produced to fit a multi-domain C2 construct.

“What we’re looking at doing is enabling the vision of linking assets that are space-based, in the air, in the sea and on the ground to create combined effects,” according to Jack O’Banion, vice president of strategy and customer requirements for Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “[The] challenge is: How do you create a dynamic network that allows you to link things together to create effects inside the bubble and from outside the bubble to create collaborative engagements and multiple dilemmas for an adversary?”

Renee Pasman, mission systems road maps director for the Skunk Works division, noted that what Lockheed was demonstrating is merely a concept from a multi-domain C2 perspective, not a specific solution. The adoption of things like open-systems architectures makes these solutions possible.

“The key is really as the speed of information and the speed of war increases, making sure that we can get the right information to the right person to allow them to make that decision quickly,” said Pasman, adding that being able to share that information across the entire network is critical.

“One key thing from a Lockheed Martin perspective is we’re trying to approach the technologies … there’s key enabling technologies that come up again and again and again; open-system architecture, automation, that ability to do machine to machine. And part of what we’re trying to do is make sure all of those technologies are mature no matter where the Air Force chooses to apply them so the technology doesn’t limit how the Air Force uses their systems. It’s really how they want to use it to be most effective for the war fighter.”

Other contractors have applied diverse approaches to the problem set of more multi-domain capabilities for the Air Force and the military writ large.

Tom Gould, head of business development for Harris Corporation, when asked how he sees the company fitting into multi-domain concepts, said the company is developing a modem and a waveform that is truly multi-domain, highly jam resistant and very hard to detect. This will allow forces in the ground, in the air and in space to seamlessly talk to one another without being detected and without being jammed, he said.

Raytheon’s vice president of mission support and modernization, Todd Probert, said during an interview with C4ISRNET that the firm wants to serve in a ”facilitator role to work at the foundational layer; foundational layer being building those constructs, be it the open architecture.”

Probert explained that Raytheon’s work within the “foundational layer” involves enabling services to play and talk together, much like applications on a cellphone. Though apps are developed by different organizations, he said, they are brought into a single store. Using the example of a mapping layer, Probert noted how several apps can render a map even though they may not even know the map app provider in and of itself.

Raytheon is also building applications to help commanders better understand the non-kinetic effects of battle such as cyberspace.

“We’ve been fighting wars literally since the rocks and spears age in a kinetic sense. If you’re a commander out there, you understand the impact of a bullet missile … it’s very tried and true … the concept of operations, to deploy over years, and they’ve migrated in a progresses in very serial sense as technology has come along,” he said. “In the space of an operations environment, we’ve built modeling and simulation capabilities to merge kinetic ― again, bullets and missiles ― and non-kinetic, things like cyber and electronic warfare and other things into that same space using frames of reference that our military understands ― mostly kinetic ― to project how they might employ these non-kinetic-like things.”

What Lockheed’s demonstrations and war games focus on is integration, and making systems within an air operations center talk. Today, the tools in each individual operations center, while very good at what they do, are stovepiped, Froelich said.

“One of the ways in which we can move faster is to see if we can take all of these stovepiped systems and get them to start to talk to each other,” he said. “You want it to be integrated and you want it to be collaborative and you want it to start to have real-time intelligence layered on top of it as well so you now have some machine-to-machine conversations that will take care of the routine planning, tactical decision-making, all of the routine things so it makes real-time recommendations to the operator.”

Some of the capabilities displayed during the demonstration included:

- The ability of a multi-domain common operational picture to illustrate to commanders that either a cyber, air, space or a mix of each can be used against a certain target overlaid on a map.
- Coordinated planning and air-tasking orders to include coordinated and space tasks pushed to tactical C2 nodes.
- Use of software applications to unburden pilots in single-cockpit aircraft to allow them to focus on their primary tasks.
- Software that automatically detects that and automatically will find the next best communications path through which to send information if links are broken due to jamming or distance without any input from the pilot.
- Machine learning to pick out key targets from a synthetic aperture radar map, which normally would take several minutes for a well trained operator to find.
- Ability for the machine to make recommendations to the commander for effects to be used.

Next steps

Pasman, of Lockheed’s Skunk Works, explained that the firm eventually wants to get to the point where all services and all domains are incorporated.

Joint force and combatant commanders require holistic options from all domains and services to include air, land, sea, space and cyber. Land and maritime capabilities will be incorporated into the future tabletop exercises.

“One key thing in terms of seeing how we can best instantiate that vison, we’re doing tabletop war games, which look at everything and look at [concept of operation] development,” Pasman said.
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[*] posted on 27-9-2017 at 04:52 PM


Air Force Rationale for Killing J-Stars Radar Plane Replacement isn't Credible (excerpt)

(Source: Forbes Magazine; issued Sept 25, 2017)


An E-8C J-Stars plane in flight, displaying the radar on its underside that tracks moving ground targets. The planes may look graceful in flight, but they average nearly 50 years of age and finding spare parts to keep them flying is becoming difficult. (Wikipedia photo)

The people who brought you "military transformation" 20 years ago have a new idea. It's called "multi-domain battle." It isn't a bad idea, but it isn't really new either -- it repackages some common-sense warfighting concepts for an era in which conflicts will be waged more on the electromagnetic spectrum and in cyberspace. So, the armed forces need to synchronize their operations with the aim of achieving superiority across all the "domains" of warfare -- not just in the air, on land and at sea, but in space, on the EM spectrum, and in the cyber realm.

If this seems kind of obvious to you, then you haven't read the white papers circulating around the Pentagon. They make multi-domain battle sound like an intellectual breakthrough -- the same way military transformation supposedly was in the 1990s, or "airland battle" in the 1970s. In reality, multi-domain battle is just the latest plea for inter-service cooperation in fighting wars. The only thing that really changes over time with these various warfighting visions is the technology -- but the visions tend to be way out ahead of what is technologically do-able.

Which brings me to the Air Force's recently disclosed move to cancel replacement of one of its most unique warfighting assets. It's a radar plane called the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (J-Stars) that can track moving ground targets over a 20,000 square mile area, focusing in on items of particular interest and using its sensor to take pictures through clouds, dust or the dead of night that can be quickly shared with friendly forces. The information can reveal where enemy combat vehicles are, which direction they are headed, and at what speed.

It's an invaluable tool for U.S. Army commanders; the Marines have their own version of the same kind of radar on the Navy's new Poseidon maritime patrol plane (the radar can track ships too). But sometime later this week, the Air Force is likely to put out a position paper explaining why it doesn't want to buy a new manned aircraft that can replace the 16 aged J-Stars in the current fleet. It will claim manned radar planes can't survive in a world of multi-domain battles and near-peer adversaries equipped with the latest weapons.

It's odd that this concern doesn't seem to come up when the Air Force talks about its plans for the tanker and airlift fleets, which consist of hundreds of planes bigger than the likely successor to J-Stars. It's also a little hard to explain how the Air Force could have conducted five different analyses to determine what kind of ground moving-target system it needed for the future that all led to the current J-Stars recapitalization plan, and then suddenly discovered it needs to do a sixth such study because the enemy might have surface-to-air missiles.

What I'm suggesting here is that the novel terminology of multi-domain battle is being invoked by Air Force planners who never much cared for J-Stars in the first place, since it exists mainly to support soldiers on the ground. In other words, the unspoken motivation for discovering a manned radar plane won't survive in the future is to back away from the kind of inter-service cooperation that multi-domain battle is supposed to promote. If you think that's too cynical, then consider what the Air Force will propose doing instead -- relying on drones. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Forbes magazine website.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2017/09/25/air-fo...

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[*] posted on 27-9-2017 at 06:41 PM


USAF Preparing To Send Light Attack Contenders To Combat

Sep 26, 2017

Lara Seligman | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report


AT-6: Hawker Beechcraft

The U.S. Air Force is moving forward with preparations to take two off-the-shelf light attack turboprop aircraft downrange to fight terrorists next year.

Preparations for the combat demonstration, called Combat Dragon III, are notably far along—especially since Air Force leadership has not yet made a final decision on whether to move forward with the exercise. The Air Force has picked a squadron commander, a designation, and a total detachment size of about 70 people, said Air Force Reserve Col. Mike Pietrucha, light attack adviser to Air Combat Command (ACC).

The service has decided to take four total aircraft downrange—two each of the Embraer/Sierra Nevada Corp. A-29 Super Tucano and Textron’s AT-6 Wolverine, Pietrucha said.  
“We are preparing as if we’re going,” he said.

Combat Dragon III would be the follow-on to the Air Force’s light attack demonstration that took place this summer at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. The goal of the high-profile experiment was to evaluate four off-the-shelf aircraft for the light-attack counterterrorism mission: top candidates Super Tucano and Wolverine, as well as two “tier two” contenders—Textron’s Scorpion jet and L-3-Air Tractor’s AT-802L Longsword.

The Air Force released the interim report from the light attack experiment internally on Sept. 21, and leadership expects to make a final decision on moving forward with the combat demonstration by year’s end, Pietrucha said.

Industry is on board; the last remaining hurdle is identifying a funding stream, Pietrucha stressed. The Air Force may not have to wait for Congress to reach a budget agreement for fiscal 2018 to find resources for the demo; it could request supplemental funding for fiscal 2017, or potentially use funds from the Overseas Contingency Operations account, he said.

Combat Dragon III likely will be much more costly than the light attack demo, which ran the Air Force less than $6 million paid for out of the service’s experimentation and prototype budget account. Pietrucha estimated the combat experiment would cost more than $100 million.

The concept of a light-attack combat demonstration has roots in the Combat Dragon II program, during which the U.S. Navy deployed a pair of heavily modified OV-10G Broncos to the Middle East to evaluate their surveillance and light-attack capability. Despite a successful deployment, Congress blocked the program.

But the time may now be ripe to pick up where Combat Dragon II left off. The high-end fighters currently helping the venerable A-10 Warthog provide close-air support for troops in the Middle East are worn out from decades of war. A new fleet of about 300 affordable light-attack aircraft designed for the low-threat environment would ease the burden on F-15s, F-16s and other aircraft, allowing them to perform the high-end missions they were designed for, officials argue.

Additionally, a light-attack fleet would provide much-needed seats for pilot training as the Air Force struggles with pilot production, absorption and retention.

Combat Dragon III would be the next step toward a program of record. To man the squadron, the Air Force is pulling airmen from operational squadrons and the air staff, Pietrucha said. The criteria for aircrew are the same as they were for the Holloman demonstration: 1,000 flight hours, time in fighter or attack aircraft, previous or current instructor qualification and combat experience.

At least one partner nation is interested in participating, Pietrucha said.

The combat experiment would take place in U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, but where in the region would be decided by the commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian. The aircraft would be destroying targets in support of U.S. and coalition forces, just like any other assets in the region, Pietrucha said.

“We expect these aircraft to act like any other fighter attack aircraft that we deploy, a flexible air asset that’s assigned based on what the Combined Forces Air Component commander needs to assign in order to support the operations that are going on,” he said.

The Air Force has not yet decided where the combat demo would take place, but has ruled out several options. For example, the aircraft would not operate out of Al-Udeid air base, Qatar, because the airfield is too short. They also would not operate in areas where Russian air defenses are present, which rules out certain regions in Syria.

During the combat demonstration the Air Force would for the first time evaluate the effectiveness of the aircraft’s weapons—precision weapons, free-fall munitions and guns, Pietrucha said. Officials also would look at maintenance sustainability, parts consumption and reliability for the operational environment.

“These are the kinds of things you want to know if you are going to work on a theater-wide operation: where can you put these aircraft, how can you sustain them?” Pietrucha said.

The Air Force also will examine options to use rapid acquisition authorities to procure the aircraft faster than in a normal acquisition program, he added. If the Air Force moves forward with a program of record, the service likely will buy the aircraft directly instead of leasing them, because they will be used in combat.
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[*] posted on 29-9-2017 at 04:34 PM


Pentagon Contract Announcement

(Source: US Department of Defense; issued Sept 27, 2017)


Boeing has not even begun to deliver its KC-46 tanker to the US Air Force, but has already been awarded a contract worth nearly $102 million to modernize aircraft of its first and second production lots. (Boeing photo)

Boeing Co., Seattle, Washington, has been awarded a $101,841,380 ceiling price, sole–source, fixed-price-incentive-firm modification (P00068) to previously awarded contract for initial common spares and readiness spares packages in support of production aircraft lots 1 and 2 for the KC-46 modernization program at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.

Work will be performed in Seattle, Washington, and is expected to be completed by March 31, 2020. Fiscal 2015 procurement funds in the amount of $87,544,716; and fiscal 2016 procurement funds in the amount of $3,767,300 are being obligated at time of award.

Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8625-11-C-6600)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: In the strange and convoluted world of Pentagon procurement, Boeing is being paid to modernize KC-46 tankers which it has not even begun to deliver.)

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[*] posted on 5-10-2017 at 05:53 PM


B-1B To Fly Through 2040 Without Major Life Extension

Oct 3, 2017

James Drew | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report


The U.S. Air Force anticipates that the Boeing B-1B swing-wing supersonic bomber will fly to 19,900 equivalent flight hours, more than double its original design life: USAF

The U.S. Air Force is changing the way it inspects, maintains and repairs the B-1B based on initial results from full-scale fatigue testing, but the service does not anticipate any major structural life extension to keep the “Bone” fleet flying through 2040.

B-1B wing and fuselage testing are being carried out by Boeing in Tukwila, Washington. The same company also is putting the airframes of the Air Force’s F-15C/D Eagle and F-15E Strike Eagle through their paces in St. Louis.

The B-1B entered service in 1986 and the Air Force retains an active inventory of 62 aircraft assigned to squadrons at Dyess AFB, Texas, and Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. So far, of those aircraft, 32 have been modernized through the Integrated Battle Station upgrade process at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

In 2012 and 2013, Boeing began fatigue testing the wing and fuselage, respectively, to validate the predicted life of the B-1B, which at the time was forecast to fly through 2050.

With 72% of wing testing and 20% of fuselage fatigue testing now complete, the Air Force estimates the B-1B can operate through 2040 without needing an expensive life extension.

Brig. Gen. Michael Schmidt, the Air Force’s program executive officer for fighters and bombers, says B-1B testing is extremely important and helps identify which parts of the swing-wing supersonic bomber need closer inspection and which need repair or replacing, and in what timeline.

“As of right now, we don’t plan a fully fledged life extension,” Schmidt confirmed during a Sept. 25 interview.

Like the Boeing B-52 and Northrop Grumman B-2, the B-1B was built tough and will fly longer than expected without needing new wings or other major structural upgrades, like smaller fighters and attack aircraft. The B-1B was originally designed to fly 9,681 equivalent flight hours. But data provided by the fighters and bombers directorate at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, shows it lasting far longer. The projected service life of the B-1B, originally built by Rockwell and acquired by Boeing, will reach 19,900 equivalent flight hours, the service says.

There are no plans to conduct fatigue testing or a life extension on the nuclear-armed B-2, the nation’s largest low-observable stealth aircraft, introduced in 1997. “Structurally, the program is great,” Schmidt says. “We don’t have full-scale fatigue testing going on in that platform, and it’s really not required.”

But parts obsolescence is a serious concern for the B-2 fleet, since only 21 aircraft were built and 20 remain in active service.

New parts often need to be custom built.

The B-1B doesn’t carry strategic nuclear weapons, but has more payload capacity for guided and unguided weapons than any other aircraft in the U.S. inventory. B-1Bs stationed at Andersen AFB in Guam frequently fly to the Korean Peninsula in response to missile and nuclear warhead tests by Pyongyang.

The Boeing-led Integrated Battle Station is the largest single upgrade of the B-1B since it entered service, improving the front and aft cockpit and introducing a new diagnostics system and Link 16 data link to improve situational awareness and communications for the “Bone” crew.

The B-1B was the first aircraft to carry Lockheed Martin’s extended-range AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, and Schmidt notes that it is now the threshold platform for the Navy’s new AGM-158C Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (Lrasm).

The B-1B tested Lrasm against a maritime target at the Point Mugu Sea Range in August, and Schmidt says another test is expected in November. Lrasm will enter service on the B-1B next year, followed by Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in 2019.

The B-1B is receiving the Rockwell Collins Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS-JTRS) terminal for improved communications and networking. The bomber will be upgraded with Mode 5 Identification Friend-or-Foe and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B Out) to meet the FAA’s NextGen air traffic mandates.
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[*] posted on 6-10-2017 at 12:14 AM


Retired AF Pilots Welcomed Back On Active Duty

(Source: US Air Force; issued Oct 02, 2017)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas --- Retired Air Force pilots holding Air Force Specialty Code 11X are encouraged to apply for the Voluntary Retired Return to Active Duty Program in order to fill rated staff positions to help alleviate the existing manning shortages within the Air Force rated pilot community.

The Secretary of the Air Force approved VRRAD for implementation on July 11, 2017, as one of a wide range of initiatives the Air Force is pursuing to improve pilots’ quality of life and quality of service in order to increase retention.

Air Force efforts to address the pilot shortage include reviewing requirements to ensure pilots are utilized effectively. As a number of non-flying staff positions require a pilot’s expertise, the Air Force reviewed these positions to determine which ones require pilot expertise and which staff positions do not. VRRAD Rated Liaison Maj. Elizabeth Jarding, from the Air Force Personnel Center, said volunteers for VRRAD would help fill positions where pilot expertise is required.

“We will match VRRAD participants primarily to stateside rated staffs that don’t require requalification in a weapon system, with emphasis on larger organizations like major command staffs,” she said. “They’ll fill critical billets that would otherwise remain vacant due to the shortage of active-duty officers available to move out of operational flying assignments.”

Pilots who retired within the last five years in the rank of captain, major or lieutenant colonel, and under age 60, may apply for the program. Participation is limited to 25 retired pilots and active-duty tour lengths are limited to 12 months.

In addition, the program requires applicants be medically qualified for active duty with a flying class II physical and they must have served in a rated staff position within 10 years, or have been qualified in an Air Force aircraft within five years of application.

AFPC will accept applications until Dec. 31, 2018, or until all openings are filled, whichever happens first, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Retired pilots returned to active duty will not be eligible for the aviation bonus and will only deploy if they volunteer. Officers who retired pursuant to, or in lieu of, a Selective Early Retirement Board and officers who retired for physical disability are not eligible to apply.

VRRAD application procedures, to include detailed eligibility criteria, are located on myPers on the Retiree Officer Assignment landing page at myPers>Retiree>Officer, under “Learn More About” on the left side, then click the Assignment link.

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[*] posted on 6-10-2017 at 11:16 AM


USAF teases JSTARS decision for end of October

05 October, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

The US Air Force could have a decision on the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) recapitalisation programme by the end of the October, the service’s top civilian hinted during a 5 October event in Washington.

USAF Secretary Heather Wilson had indicated in September that the service could announce a JSTARS decision as early as October, but service now seems likely to wait until the end of the month. The USAF told Defense Secretary James Mattis in a 8 September letter the service was exploring alternative intelligence and surveillance platforms outside of JSTARS, riling the Northrop Grumman E-8 jet’s supporters in Congress.

Following a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington this week, Wilson said USAF engineers are examining whether there is technology mature enough to step in for the JSTARS mission. The source selection process for the replacement programme is continuing as the USAF evaluates alternative options.

“It is cycled with the budget and we know we have [request for proposals] out there,” she says. “We should be able to make a rapid assessment and decision so we can explain to the secretary of defense...as well as the other branch of government what we think is the best thing to do.”

Wilson intimated the JSTARS replacement programme could fall out of the air force’s budget as a tradeoff. When asked about balancing aircraft modernisation priorities and ambitious new space programmes, Wilson pointed to the air force’s scrutiny over its legacy battlefield command and control platform, specifically the JSTARS aircraft introduced in 1991. In 2018, the USAF will take up the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) analysis of alternatives, which will consider alternative options such as networking sensors that could complete BMC2 functions in contested environments. Eliminating JSTARS is not a direct tradeoff for new space capabilities, Wilson clarified.

“It’s a great aircraft, a great concept but technology has moved on,” she says. “Everything now is a sensor. If an F-35 can send its picture and its radar on an image to another aircraft and we’re also pulling all that down to a battle station in the middle east, why can’t we distribute it? We can do better than this with a network. We’re asking ourselves those questions, that does mean moving money among programs to try to do more priorities.”

Even with the air force mounting an offensive, JSTARS still has its staunch supporters on Capitol Hill. The House of Representative’s version of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act included an amendment that would prevent any FY18 funds from being used to retire or prepare to retire existing E-8 JSTARS aircraft. The House and Senate have both passed their versions of the defence policy bill and will go to conference, where both chambers work out one comprehensive piece of legislation.
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[*] posted on 12-10-2017 at 09:44 PM


PICTURE: KC-46A refuels another KC-46A

12 October, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Greg Waldron Singapore

A Boeing KC-46A tanker has refuelled another KC-46A for the first time.

The work took place during a four-hour flight in which the two aircraft refuelled each other, says Boeing in a statement.

The pair achieved the maximum offload rate of 1,200 gallons per minute, and transferred 38,100lbs of fuel. The activity involved personnel from both Boeing and the US Air Force.


Boeing

"The milestone flight helps pave the way for the next phases of certification and specification compliance testing," says Boeing.

It adds that the KC-46 has completed 2,000 flight hours and 1,300 contacts with types including the Lockheed Martin F-16, as well as the AV-8B, A-10, C-17, and KC-10.

In late September, the USAF's Air Mobility Command revealed that boom scraping issues and a slew of completed test points could delay delivery of the 767-based type until 2018.
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[*] posted on 17-10-2017 at 05:04 PM


T-X trainer award not likely until at least spring 2018

By: Valerie Insinna   17 hours ago


A T-38 Talon with the 2nd Fighter Training Squadron flies over the Gulf of Mexico during a routine training mission on Aug. 8, 2017. The Air Force plans to replace the T-38 with the T-X trainer ( U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Burt Traynor).

WASHINGTON — A contract for the Air Force’s T-X trainer program probably won’t be awarded until next spring, even if Congress is able to pass a spending bill that would remove restrictions on new-start programs, one of the service’s top leaders said.

At the time of the release of the final T-X solicitation last year, the service stated it planned to announce a winner before the end of calendar year 2017. Now, the Air Force is aiming for a later goalpost, said Air Force Under Secretary Matt Donovan during his first interview in his new role at the Pentagon.

“Source selection is never based on the calendar, it’s based on events that they finished the source selection, and they do expect that to be somewhere in the spring,” he told Defense News, adding that the new target date is probably sometime near the end of March.

Donovan did not explain why the award had been pushed back, but said broadly that “sometimes they have to go back out to the offerors and get more information, and it’s an iterative process.”

T-X is the Air Force’s biggest ongoing aircraft competition, with about $2 billion at stake over the next five years. However, the contract delay is no huge surprise to those who have been closely watching the program or budget deliberations occurring in Congress.

In August, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson acknowledged that the service would likely not be able to award a contract for T-X as long as a continuing resolution was still in place. The current CR expires on Dec. 8.

Donovan reiterated that same concern on Oct. 12, saying that even if the Air Force were to finish its source selection process in time for a 2017 decision, a CR prohibits awarding a contract for a new program unless Congress approves a request for additional funding, called an anomaly.

“The department did not submit any anomaly request this year for the CR because, I think, they were thinking it would just be sort of a normal CR year where it goes two and a half, three months into the beginning of the year. But if it goes past that, then there are definitely going to be some implications,” he said.

Three prime contractors—Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Leonardo DRS — are battling it out for the T-X award, and a contract for 350 trainer aircraft for the U.S. Air Force is up for grabs.

Lockheed Martin has partnered with Korean Aerospace Industries to offer the T-50A, a version of KAI’s T-50, which is in use in South Korea and several other U.S. partner nations. Boeing and Swedish aerospace firm Saab developed a brand-new design, the only clean sheet offered by a major manufacturer for the competition. And DRS, the U.S. subsidiary of Italian firm Leonardo, is marketing the T-100, which is based on the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master operated by F-35 users Israel and Italy.

Although the Air Force — like the other military services — have grown accustomed to working under an initial three-month CR, budget analysts are worried that Congress could have its attentions focused on other political quagmires, like heath care and tax reform, to pass a spending bill by the end of the year.

Donovan said an CR extension into the second quarter of fiscal year 2018 would cause “real problems,” including the delay of about fifty to sixty new-start programs.

“What that means is that our projected costs for those programs are probably going to go up, because we’re going to start them a little later than we thought, and remember, inflation waits for no man,” he said.
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[*] posted on 18-10-2017 at 03:23 PM


Thinking Smaller, the Air Force Learns a Thing or Two: After evaluating “light attack” aircraft, the military likes what it sees

(Source: Air Space Mag; posted Oct 13, 2017)

By Tim Wright

The Light Attack Experiment that took place in August at Holloman Air Force Base, deep in the New Mexico desert, “exceeded my wildest expectations for success,” says U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command project officer Colonel Mike Pietrucha, “and I am not normally the fountain of excitement.”

Senior Air Force leaders seems to share his optimism.

The trial, which saw four manufacturer-supplied aircraft put through their paces in mock-combat scenarios, was intended to show the Air Force just what modern light attack airplanes—the kind typically used against small groups of enemy combatants on the ground—can do. The Air Force effectively lost light attack capabilities when the Cessna A-37 was retired after the 1991 Gulf War, and was replaced by the significantly heavier and more capable Fairchild-Republic A-10. That airplane was well-suited to destroying Soviet tanks, the job for which it was designed, but is overkill for the low-intensity wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, now well into their second decade.

Among the aircraft taking part in the event were the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano and the Beechcraft AT-6C Wolverine. Both competed in 2010 to supply Afghanistan’s air force with 24 light attack aircraft. The A-29 won, and is arguably the aircraft to beat in any future competition.

Also taking part were two aircraft at opposite ends of the light attack spectrum: Textron’s internally-developed Scorpion jet and Air Tractor’s AT-802L Longsword, a modified crop duster produced in partnership with L3. Not participating was the IOMAX Archangel, a highly modified Thrush crop duster that the UAE has been employing in the Middle East since 2015. The Scorpion was the only pure jet in the contest; the others are propeller-driven turboprops, all powered by the ubiquitous Pratt & Whitney PT-6 engine.

“They all gave us something to experiment with,” says Pietrucha ,who stressed that “we are not making a direct comparison between aircraft. We’re looking at showing off aviation capabilities of one kind or another.” Asked to elaborate, Pietrucha said that non-disclosure agreements with the manufacturers prevent him from discussing any aircraft in detail.

He also says it’s too early to talk about a potential combat demonstration. “We’re still wrapping up from the first experiment....I was drawing stuff out over the weekend on the back of an auto repair receipt, so we’re definitely at the bar-napkin stage of the follow-on.” As of now, there’s no funding for such a demonstration. “We have to be cautious here, because there’s a lot more problems than combat air force capability, a lot more technical challenges and so on that we want to experiment with.”

The Holloman experiment was reported to have cost approximately $6 million. Press reports suggest the combat demonstration, Combat Dragon III, could cost as much as $100 million, and would likely involve crews from the Air Force, Navy, Marines, and an unidentified foreign country.

The Holloman experiment made two things clear, says Pietrucha: “One is that the Air Force needs to be paying attention to a much broader portion of the aircraft industry.” Several of the participants, he says, “showed us things we didn’t know really existed. The second big thing we learned is that industry has advanced well beyond what we’re used to in terms of mission systems and in terms of manufacturing processes. We’ve been locked into our long-term, 20-plus year production programs for so long that we missed developments in the commercial aviation industry.”

One development that caught his eye was the separation of flight control software from mission attack software. “Every participant had a variant of that,” says Pietrucha, adding that Air Force research labs have been advocating this approach.

To illustrate why software separation is attractive, Pietrucha cites the software upgrade cycle for the F-15E, which he used to fly for a living. Because the flight control software and the mission software are combined, Pietrucha says the aircraft has to be re-certified every time its software gets updated. Consequently, it takes two years before any change can be adopted. By separating flight and mission software, he says updates could be done in weeks. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the AirSpace Mag website.

http://www.airspacemag.com/daily-planet/will-air-force-final...

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[*] posted on 18-10-2017 at 06:21 PM


Air Force Wants Steadier Production of Precision Bombs


A dozen 2,000-pound joint direct attack munitions sit inside a warehouse at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 17, 2015. The bombs were assembled by hand by airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Munitions Flight. The Munitions Flight had put together nearly 4,000 bomb and tail-kit pieces since July 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Posted By: Oriana Pawlyk October 17, 2017

The U.S. Air Force wants more, albeit steadier, production of precision-guided bombs.

The service is racing to buy more Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, as well as GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs, as the Pentagon grapples with a growing bomb shortage driven in part by the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the Air Force’s military deputy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition at the Pentagon, confirmed on Tuesday the Air Force is looking to acquire 45,000 new JDAM tail-kits — which, via GPS, guide the bombs to their intended targets — a jump from the current annual production level of 36,500 kits. Bloomberg News first reported the increase earlier this month.

And the Air Force also wants to know as soon as possible whether companies are short on technologies or processes to meet this goal, the service’s top acquisition official said.

“Weapons are a big focus area right now across the Department of Defense, particularly those that are precision-type that we are utilizing so much of in the fight around the world today,” Bunch told audience members during an Air Force Association breakfast in Washington, D.C.

“We are taking a very holistic look at this — it’s not just the tail-kit, it’s the bomb body, it’s the energetics that go with it, it’s all aspects of this,” Bunch said. “So if you are in this industry and you are contributing to what is going into the weapons portfolio, and you believe you’re running into issues based on production, or you’re running into quality, we’ve got to know that really quickly.”

The Air Force — which flies more than half the sorties for Operation Inherent Resolve, the name of the operation against ISIS — in December 2015 revealed bomb stockpiles were decreasing in light of the air war that began the previous year.

The stockpiles were further strained when the joint force began sharing weapons with coalition partners engaged against the terrorist group in the Middle East, then-Lt. Gen. John Raymond, deputy chief of staff for operations at Headquarters Air Forces said at the time.

Now, the Air Force is on a path to produce 8,000 precision guided small diameter bomb packages per year, Bunch said.

“That’s actually almost triple what we produce when we originally went on the contract to buy [them],” he said.

Bunch later told reporters the Air Force had over the years steadily increased production of SDBs to 5,000 and now again to 8,000.

For the next incremental JDAM increase, “what we really want to do with industry is, I don’t want to have the throttle going full bore, back to idle, back to full bore, back to idle,” Bunch said, referring to fluctuations in production.

“We want to make sure we provide industry a more stable area, even at a high rate,” he said.

Boeing Co., the world’s largest aerospace company, makes tail kits for both the GBU-39 and JDAM.

The general emphasized the Air Force doesn’t want to increase to an even higher bar — say, 55,000 JDAM bombs per year — until the service and industry are confident they can meet the current production goals — “make sure we can produce everything, make sure we have all the components, make sure we have the whole industrial base — and then let’s figure out if we want to go up.”

Should the Pentagon overall need more bombs, the Air Force “can always readdress” the issue, Bunch said.

Additionally, Bunch said the Air Force is working with the Army to acquire additional AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and with the Navy on APKWS Laser-Guided Rocket.

Addressing industry once more, he said, “Again if you think you’re running into issues, please let us know so [we can] … continue to work with all parties involved.”
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[*] posted on 18-10-2017 at 08:19 PM


Discovery Air Defence offering F-16s for USAF CAF Adversary Air competition

Pat Host - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

17 October 2017

Key Points
- Discovery Air Defence is offering F-16s for the USAF’s AdAir competition
- Discovery is part of a potentially crowded field aiming for a multi-billion-dollar programme

Discovery Air Defence is offering General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighters for the US Air Force’s (USAF) massive combat air forces (CAF) Adversary Air (AdAir) services competition, according to a company executive.


Discovery Air Defence plans to offer F-16s for the USAF's CAF AdAir competition. (US Air Force)

Garry Venman, Discovery Air Defence executive vice-president of business development and government relations, told Jane’s in a recent interview he believes the company’s F-16 offer separates it from competitors, who Venman said are offering third-generation solutions trying to be fourth-generation.

Venman said Discovery Air Defence has finalised a deal to acquire the aircraft, and though he would not provide specifics, he said it was for a large volume of aircraft.

There is a growing demand around the world, not just in the United States, for companies to provide adversary air training solutions to militaries. Not only is the USAF soliciting bids, but Venman said the US Navy is in source selection for its own procurement. In addition, he said the United Kingdom has an active competition called Air Support to Departmental Operational Training (ASDOT). Venman said ASDOT is a 15-year programme buying everything from business jets with electronic warfare equipment to high subsonic and supersonic aircraft.

AdAir promises to be a heavily anticipated programme as Venman expects multiple awards for as much as USD6 billion combined. Jeffrey Parker, CEO of bidder Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC), told Jane’s in September the USAF is looking to procure services providing nearly 37,000 hours of flight, using 140-150 fighter aircraft spread among 12 or 13 different bases. ATAC is offering French Dassault F1 multirole fighters.

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[*] posted on 18-10-2017 at 08:50 PM


US Air Force ramping up JDAM, SDB I munition production

Pat Host - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

17 October 2017

The US Air Force (USAF) is ramping up production of its Boeing Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and GBU-39B Small Diameter Bomb I (SDB I) munitions, according to a key official.

Lieutenant General Arnold Bunch, office of the assistant secretary of the air force for acquisition, military deputy, said on 17 October that the service is on track to produce as many as 8,000 SDB I munitions per year, almost triple the rate, he said, of the original contract. This would roughly represent a USD213 million boost in production as, according to the USAF, the unit price of the SDB I is USD40,000.

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