Military News

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

1,000th F-35 training sortie flown at Luke AFB



By 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, / Published April 01, 2015

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) -- The 56th Fighter Wing flew its 1,000th F-35A Lightning II training sortie March 31, making it the fastest F-35 wing to reach the 1,000-sortie milestone in the Defense Department.

This is the second historic milestone in the past two weeks. Last week, Luke’s first F-35 student sortie was flown marking a significant step forward for the Airmen at Luke in realizing its new mission -- training the world's greatest F-35 and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter pilots. That student was the commander of the 56th Fighter Wing, Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, who is making the transition from the F-16 to the F-35.

The first official class of student pilots is scheduled to begin in May, at the Academic Training Center, a 145,000-square-foot, two-story training center.

"I’m extremely proud of the extraordinary work our maintainers are doing to ensure our pilots have mission-ready and safe jets," Pleus said. “The F-35 is going to be the backbone of the Air Force's fighter fleet for decades to come and Luke will play a vital role in producing the world's greatest, most lethal F-35 pilots. With initial operational capability scheduled to occur late next year, it's important that we get our training program and process dialed in and as efficient and refined as our F-16 training program is, so we can help meet the Air Force's scheduled goal."

Pleus also reflected on the years of work that have gone into the F-35 program putting Luke in position to begin training in May.

“Getting to this point hasn’t just been accomplished over the past few months. It’s really been done over the last few years,” he said. “Lots of amazing Airmen who served before us here at Luke are the reason we are where we are with the F-35 program. What they did back then to set the base up is the reason why we will be so successful training the world’s greatest F-35 pilots.”

There are 20 F-35s assigned to Luke, two of which belong to the Royal Australian air force, an F-35 pilot training, partner nation.

Pilots, combat systems officers may be eligible for retention incentives



By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, / Published April 01, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Eligible active-duty pilots and combat systems officers have until Sept. 30 to apply for the fiscal year 2015 Aviator Retention Pay Program, Air Force officials said April 1.

“The Air Force continues to expand previous ARP programs to decisively and deliberately shape and retain the rated force. External factors such as new Congressional mandates and a stabilized economy make these incentives vital to sustaining a predictable inventory of rated officers for the future,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, the director of military force management policy.

This year, ARP provides specific eligible pilots and combat systems officers with monetary incentives in exchange for active-duty service commitments of five years for combat systems officers or until 20 years of aviation service for pilots. Additionally, pilots who entered into a fiscal 2014 agreement last year have the opportunity to extend their contracts from five years to until 20 years of aviation service and pilots who did not accept an agreement in their initial year of eligibility have the opportunity to enter into an fiscal 2015 agreement at a reduced rate.

“This year’s program provides amplified opportunities targeting specific rated officer categories and year groups to stabilize the rated inventory,” said Brig. Gen. Giovanni Tuck, the director of operations and readiness. “We encourage supervisors and commanders to inform and educate all eligible rated officers on the opportunities offered this year, so we continue reaping the benefits of these skilled aviators long into the future.”

The fiscal 2015 ARP program applies to lieutenant colonels and below who will not reach 16 years of total active federal military service by the end of the fiscal year that their undergraduate flying training (UFT) ADSC expires. Also, these officers must be qualified for operational flying duty and entitled to and receiving monthly flight pay.

Depending on the aviator category and length of the ARP contract, incentives will vary from $10,000 to $25,000 per year with some categories eligible to receive 50 percent of the ARP total payable up front.

Similar to the fiscal 2014 program, Airmen who will complete their undergraduate flying training UFT active-duty service commitment anytime in fiscal 2016 may submit an application to Air Force Personnel Center to lock in a contract for next year under the fiscal 2015 ARP terms and conditions.

“The Air Force modifies the ARP program annually in order to meet current and future rated force requirements,” Kelly said. “We continue to choose this viable, cost-effective method to retain experienced pilots and their expertise for command, staff and other rated requirements.”

For complete eligibility requirements and application instructions, visit the myPers website and select the compensation link in the left hand column and select the “Aviator Retention Pay Program” link.

Kendall: Workforce Development Needed to Sustain Tech Superiority



By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md., April 1, 2015 – The Defense Department's top acquisition official yesterday made his third visit to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, home to U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command, or NAVAIR.

Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Frank Kendall spoke to members of the base’s civilian and military workforce, many of whom conduct acquisition, testing and development work for several next-generation aircraft and weapons systems, including the Navy and Marine Corps variants of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter and the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle.

Kendall outlined the importance of developing the next generation of engineers, scientists and acquisition professionals to ensuring that the nation maintains its technological superiority.

Workforce Development

"Science, technology and math education ... I think is hugely important to the future of the country, not just the Department of Defense," he said. "I'm encouraging people to be engaged in that world and do whatever you can to encourage young people to go into science, engineering and math because of the service they can provide to society, and because it's fun."

Kendall said the single-most important decision in his career was one he made in junior high school, when he elected to take honors math and science instead of honors English and history. That decision put him on a technical track that he's stayed on ever since, the undersecretary said.

Mid-career professionals in the defense workforce are outnumbered on either side by the very capable senior professionals who are close to retirement and personnel just starting their careers, Kendall said.

"We've really got a challenge to transfer the knowledge from those senior people to those younger people and develop them as quickly as possible," he said. "I'm a big fan of exchanges with industry ... [and] developmental assignments for people. I think you get an awful lot out of that. You can learn a great deal in a year or even six months in a different environment."

To do this, the department is investigating adding flexibility to its hiring authorities, Kendall said. Defense Secretary Ash Carter also wants to attract young workers from fields that don't traditionally join the defense department, particularly tech workers, he said.

Technological Superiority

The quest to maintain American technological superiority is the driving force behind the third Better Buying Power initiative, the undersecretary said.

Kendall said that when he returned to government after a stint in private industry it became apparent that there were "some people out there who were challenging our technological superiority, and they're doing it very effectively." These challengers are making smart investments, particularly in anti-access/area-denial capabilities, he said.

The first Gulf War was a "dramatic demonstration of [U.S.] military power," the undersecretary said. No one was watching those events more carefully than the Chinese, Kendall noted, and the Russians weren't far behind. But, he said, "People have had over 20 years now to watch and learn from how the U.S. organizes, equips and fights."

Better Buying Power 3.0

The three versions of Better Buying Power should be considered three legs of the same stool, Kendall said. "The third edition of Better Buying Power ... is much more continuity than change," he added.

The emphasis of the first Better Buying Power was on efficiency and productivity, BBP 2.0 emphasized the importance of professionalism, the undersecretary said, and BBP 3.0 focuses on technical excellence and innovation.

"A lot of the things from the earlier versions we're still going to do, some of them I regard as core parts of Better Buying Power," Kendall said, noting that NAVAIR and other agencies have embraced these principles and are making significant progress toward achieving them.

Cybersecurity

One addition to BBP 3.0 is an emphasis on cybersecurity, the undersecretary said. "If we're giving away our designs we're giving up whatever advantage that they give to us. We're giving up money and we're giving up time and we're giving up capability," he said.

The nation's civilian and military networks are under cyberattack every day, Kendall said.

"We have lost, in particular, a lot of unclassified technical information through, basically, cyber espionage and we have paid a price for that," the undersecretary said. "We have paid a price in terms of technical lead and in terms of cost differentials that we were able to achieve. We have got to do a better job than this."

Cybersecurity is "a constant problem" in every phase of the acquisition and fielding process -- from design to production to deployment -- he said. Giving the problem the attention it needs will cost the nation some money, Kendall said, "but if we don't do it we're going to have new problems and we're going to find out about those problems at a very inconvenient time."