Less than half of the US bomber fleet is ready to ‘fight tonight’

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer prepares to take off for a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, into Japanese airspace and over the Korean Peninsula, July 30, 2017. (Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger/Air Force)

 

WASHINGTON – Less than half of the bombers President Donald Trump would rely upon to be “locked and loaded” against North Korea could launch today if needed, according to the latest Air Force figures available.

That’s not a surprise to the bomb squadrons who have seen firsthand the combined effects of aircraft age, the demand of 15 years of air war operations and reduced budgets. But the numbers can be stark. Of the nation’s 75 conventional and nuclear B-52s, only about 33 are ready to fly at any given time, according to Air Force statistics. Of the 62 conventional B-1s, only about 25 are ready. With the 20 nuclear B-2 stealth bombers, the number drops further. Seven or eight bombers are available, according to the Air Force.

On a nominal basis you don’t have more than single digits of B-2s available to do anything,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, currently the dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace.

“If anything good comes out of the North Korea crisis,” it should be a wake-up call, he said.

“It’s not just the nation’s bomber force,” that is so stretched, Deptula said. “It’s the military writ large. The U.S. Air Force is the smallest and least ready it’s ever been in history – that should get people’s attention.”

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US Ballistic Missile Defense to Enter New Domains

 

Much has been said about the US ground-based missile defense program and the sites in place or to be installed soon in Europe and Asia. But land is not the only domain where the effort it taking place. This is the time the priority is shifting to air- and space-based systems. The US officials and military leaders believe that space is now a warfighting domain on par with air, land and sea. This is one of rare issues the administration and Congress see eye to eye on.

On June 30, President Trump signed an executive order to reinstate the National Space Council – an executive agency with Vice President Mike Pence at the helm that will be tasked with guiding US space policy during the administration. The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, as well as NASA’s administrator, will serve on the council as well. Continue reading

US Air Force Grounds F-35s at Arizona Base

An F-35A Lightning II on static display at Luke AFB, Arizona, in April 2016. (U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz)

 

Base officials halted local flights after five pilots experienced symptoms of oxygen deprivation.

The U.S. Air Force has grounded 55 of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at Arizona’s Luke Air Force base following five incidents in which pilots experienced symptoms of oxygen deprivation.

The pilots “reported physiological incidents while flying” but a backup oxygen system turned on, allowing them to land safely, Capt. Mark Graff, an Air Force spokesman at the Pentagon, said in an email Friday afternoon.

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US Air Force to deploy five Global Hawk UAVs to Japan

The USAF plans to deploy five units of the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV (seen here) to Japan from May to October 2017. (USAF)

 

The US Air Force (USAF) plans to deploy five Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and approximately 105 personnel, currently based at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, to Yokota Air Base in Japan from May to October 2017. Continue reading

F-35 programme remains at risk at SDD conclusion, chief Pentagon test official warns

…and just a few weeks ago it was warned here that the F-35 program was touted as combat ready — out of rushed haste, not confidence.

 

Key Points

  • The Pentagon’s director of operational testing has warned that the F-35 programme is still at risk of failing to deliver its full combat capability at the conclusion of SDD
  • The USAF and the USMC have declared IOC with interim 3i combat software, while the USN has said that it will wait until 3F software is complete

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U.S. Air Force laments that it’s short of pilots

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A member of the U.S. Air Force stands in front of an F-22 Raptor at Seoul Airport in South Korea, on Oct. 19, 2015. The Air Force says it faces an imminent shortfall of 700 pilots by the end of 2016. SeongJoon Cho Bloomberg

 

 

The U.S. Air Force faces a shortfall of 700 fighter pilots by the end of the year and as many as 1,000 pilots within a few years, Air Force officials said Wednesday.

“It is a crisis,” said Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff. “Air superiority is not an American birthright. It’s actually something you have to fight for and maintain.”

Aggressive hiring by commercial airlines has helped thin the ranks of Air Force pilots, and lengthy deployments overseas, long separations from family and reduced flying time when back on U.S. soil have exacerbated the problem, Goldfein said.

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The Pentagon’s controversial plan to hire military leaders off the street

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Lateral entry, if approved, could open a door for civilians to join the military’s senior officer ranks. Some leaders want to explore this idea for enlisted military jobs, too.(Photo: John Harman/Staff)

 

Defense Secretary Ash Carter wants to open the door for more “lateral entry” into the military’s upper ranks, clearing the way for lifelong civilians with vital skills and strong résumés to enter the officer corps as high as the O-6 paygrade.

The idea is controversial, to say the very least. For many in the rank-and-file military, it seems absurd, a bewildering cultural change that threatens to upend many assumptions about military life and traditional career paths. But while it’s not universally embraced, there is interest in Congress and among some of the military’s uniformed leaders — even, they say, in exploring how the services could apply this concept to the enlisted force.

This is a key piece of Carter’s “Force of the Future” personnel reform. Unveiled June 9, it aims to help the military bring in more top talent, especially for high-tech career fields focused on cyber warfare and space. Advocates say it will help the military fill important manpower shortfalls with highly skilled professionals and, more broadly, create greater “permeability” between the active-duty military and the civilian sector. Continue reading

New US nuclear-capable cruise missile expected to proceed

A US Air Force (USAF) programme to develop and field a new nuclear-capable Long-Range Stand-Off (LRSO) cruise missile has undergone a Pentagon review and appears poised to proceed to development soon. Continue reading

U.S. to Send Bombers to Australia

Deal highlights America’s fear of rising power in China.

The United States and Australia are currently finalizing a deal that will see a number of U.S. B-1 bombers deployed to Darwin. While not officially confirmed by the Australian government, U.S. Pacific Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson made the announcement to media sources on Tuesday.

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F-35 Stealth Fighter Still Has 419 ‘Deficiencies,’ Manager Says

The head of the U.S. Defense Department’s F-35 program said the number of “deficiencies” in the stealth fighter jet’s hardware and software is decreasing but that hundreds of technical challenges remain.

Speaking to reporters last week in his offices in Arlington, Virginia, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan discussed a range of issues affecting the Pentagon’s biggest weapons program at nearly $400 billion, including the hundreds of lingering deficiency reports, or DRs, known as “technical debt” in acquisition parlance.

There are 419 things that we have yet to decide with the war fighters how we’re going to fix them, whether we’re going to fix them and when we’re going to fix them,” he said. The figure was three times higher a few years ago and “we think the technical debt that we have — the deficiencies that we have — are things that we can handle … within the next two years,” he said. Continue reading

Firm with Saudi ties works on Air Force One, other VIP jets

GDC Technics has been servicing President Obama’s jet as a contractor for Boeing, according to the Air Force. This is the first time the Pentagon has acknowledged that a contractor from a business with foreign ties has worked on Air Force One.

The company was bought in 2013 by MAZ Aviation, which is owned by Saudi businessman Mohammed Alzeer. It also has operations in Fort Worth, Texas, and in Germany. Continue reading

Cutting Budgets and Increasing Nuclear Dangers (Part 2)

PART 1 is here – click

The US defense budget was unveiled by the administration and sent to Congress February 9, 2016 and already the “military critics” and their long knives are anticipating how to disembowel critical elements of our nation’s military.

For example, Mr. Gordon Adams, previously at the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton administration and Mr. Lawrence Korb at the Center for American Progress, are both calling for the dismantlement of the US nuclear deterrent.

Mr. Adam’s proposals not only will save almost no money over the near term, any delay in the acquisition of the new submarine is fraught with danger. For example, already the hull life we are expecting from the current submarines will be greater than any other submarine in our nation’s history. Continue reading

Russian marines join Hizballah in first Syrian battle – a danger signal for US, Israel

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Before dawn on Thursday, Sept. 24, Russian marines went into battle for the first time since their deployment to Syria, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources reveal. Russian Marine Brigade 810 fought with Syrian army and Hizballah special forces in an attack on ISIS forces at the Kweiris airbase, east of Aleppo.

This operation runs contrary to the assurances of President Vladimir Putin to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sept. 21 – just three days ago – that Russian forces in Syria were only there to defend Russian interests and would not engaged in combat with the Syrian army, Hizballah or Iranian troops. Continue reading

Chinese Air to Air Missile Hits Targets, Spooks USAF General

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The PL-15 is developed by the 607 Institute. It is the replacement for China’s current, BVRAAM, the radar guided, PL-12, which reportedly has a range of approximately 100KM. Compared to the PL-12, the PL-15 has an improved active radar seeker and jam resistant datalinks, along with a dual pulse rocket motor to extend its range. Continue reading

USAF begins removing nuclear role from some B-52 bombers

America’s continued suicidal disarmament while its enemies continue to arm and modernize:

 

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Thirty of the USAF’s 76 operational B-52H bombers are to lose their nuclear role under the terms of the New START treaty with Russia. A further 12 monthballed aircraft will also go through the process, with work set to be complete in early 2017. Source: IHS/Patrick Allen

 

The US Air Force (USAF) has begun converting nearly half of its Boeing B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers to the conventional role only, in line with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) signed with Russia in April 2010, the service announced on 17 September.

Conversion of the first (serial number 61-1021) of 30 operational aircraft into non-nuclear-capable platforms was completed at Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB) in Louisiana over the previous weeks. Continue reading