ICYMI, check out these amazing images of the Canadian Forces 431 Air Demonstration Squadron (Snowbirds) along with the USAF’s Thunderbirds and the Navy’s Blue Angels. Some 151 years of friendship in one photo: three military jet teams from two countries sharing the skies over one common border. According to RCAF, it is the first time all three demonstration teams have flown together.
The oldest unit, the Pensacola-based Blues, formed in 1946 with F6F-5 Hellcats, are seen in their F-18C/Ds. Now the last Navy unit flying the older version of the Hornet (although the Marines will continue on) the Blues are expected to upgrade to the F-18E/F next year. They recently rocked Biloxi last month. I watched them from a kayak off Deer Island and they were great as usual.
The second oldest unit, the Nellis-based Thunderbirds, was formed in 1953 and have been rocking F-16C/Ds since 1993.
The Snowbirds, formed in 1971 as an evolution of the RCAF’s special Golden Centennaires group, has always flown the Canadair CT-114 Tutor, a downright cute two-place lead-in trainer produced in the 1960s. To put that into perspective, at the time the Snowbirds were formed, the Blues were flying the smoky Vietnam-era F-4J Phantom while the Thunderbirds were using the F-4E.
North Dakota Air Guard F-16 of the 119th Fighter Wing on a combat air patrol over the burning Pentagon on September 11, 2001, after the hijacked Flight 77 crashed into it.
“Barksdale Air Force Base – A Colombian Air Force A-29B Super Tucano flies alongside two U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 75th Fighter Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga., during Exercise Green Flag East Aug. 21, 2016. Colombia and U.S. share a special relationship, and the joint training exercise provides a platform to strengthen those ties. Four Colombian A-29s and 45 Colombian Airmen are at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., through Aug. 29. (Photo courtesy Colombian Air Force)”
However, with the Air Force moving forward with the planned OA-X light-attack aircraft downselection (which laughably says is worth as many as 300 aircraft) Big Blue could actually get a handful of A-29s one day to augment their A-10s.
Of course, the Afghanistan Security Forces will be set with the announcement this week of a $1.8 billion contract by Colorado-based Sierra Nevada Corp. to supply potential “procurement, sustainment, modifications, ferry, and related equipment for the A-29” through 2024 in a contract run by the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. So there is that.
You would be surprised by how much the U.S. military still uses horses these days. In the past few weeks, all of these pieces came out over the PAO wire for the Pentagon.
“Marines located in Barstow, California are part of the only mounted color guard in the Corps. They travel the country participating in ceremonies, continuing one of the oldest traditions of Marine Corps.”
The 30th Space Wing, Vandenberg AFB, has the only working horse patrol in the U.S. Air Force, used for law enforcement work across the huge base.
And, “Marines and soldiers attend a 15-day special operational forces horsemanship course from June 06, 2018 to June 21, 2018, at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California. This course teaches its students the benefits of navigating through rough terrain with the aid of animals.”
Pulaski, Sheridan, Grierson, and Patton would surely be tickled.
And the U.S. aren’t the only ones. Behold, the Auftrag für den Reitzug der Bundeswehr.
ICYMI, get ready to sign up as Space Shuttle Door Gunners:
Centered around 140 current military satellites and the hardware to support them, the U.S. Space Force is set to become 6th branch of Armed Forces, pending Congressional approval of course.
The Pentagon says about 80 percent of “space-qualified personnel” would come from the Air Force, who are sure to love the proposal, but all services have personnel with space expertise. There are roughly 18,000 people in the services with a space qualifier badge, in addition to civilian personnel “and thousands of contractors” who could be drawn into the new command.
You have to wonder how much of NASA and the Army’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program would be absorbed into the mix. Then there are SM-3 Aegis ships with a BMD tasking, would they become part of USSF? Further, would Project Blue Book be reborn and SETI get pulled in as a contractor for good measure, just in case “They” arrive?
Anyway, the Presser from DOD as follows:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 2018 — The Defense Department will establish a sixth branch of the armed forces, the U.S. Department of the Space Force, by 2020, Vice President Mike Pence announced today.
In a speech at the Pentagon, the vice president also announced plans to establish a new combatant command — U.S. Space Command — as well as a Space Operations Force and a new joint organization called the Space Development Agency.
The announcement follows a seven-week review by DoD, directed by President Donald J. Trump, of “the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”
A report outlining the results of the study will be released later today.
“In his inaugural address to the nation, President Trump declared that the United States stands ‘at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space,’” Pence said.
Just as advances in aviation technology drove the emergence of air as a new battlefield in the 20th century, advances in space technology have made it clear that space is the new battlefield for the 21st century, the vice president said. The U.S. will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield, he said, and carry on the cause of liberty and peace into the next great frontier.
“The time has come to establish the United States Space Force,” Pence said.
The new branch will be separate from, but equal to, the five other branches, he said.
“To be clear: the Space Force will not be built from scratch, because the men and women who run and protect our nation’s space programs today are already the best in the world,” the vice president said.
“Across this department and our intelligence agencies, there are literally tens of thousands of military personnel, civilians and contractors operating and supporting our space systems — and together, they are the eyes and ears of America’s warfighters around the globe,” Pence said.
Peace Through Strength
Actions by U.S. adversaries make it clear that space is already a warfighting domain, the vice president said.
“For many years, nations from Russia and China to North Korea and Iran have pursued weapons to jam, blind and disable our navigation and communications satellites via electronic attacks from the ground,” Pence said. “But recently, our adversaries have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself.”
In 2007, China launched a missile that tracked and destroyed one of its own satellites, the vice president said. And Russia is working on an airborne laser to disrupt space-based systems, he added.
“Both nations are also investing heavily in what are known as hypersonic missiles designed to fly up to 5 miles per second at such low altitudes that they could potentially evade detection by our missile defense radars,” Pence said. “In fact, China claimed to have made its first successful test of a hypersonic vehicle just last week.”
In every domain, America will always seek peace, the vice president said. “But history proves that peace only comes through strength,” he added. “And in the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will be that strength.”
The report to be released today represents a critical step toward establishing the Space Force, he said. It identifies several actions that DoD will take as the nation evolves its space capabilities, “and they are built on the lessons of the past,” Pence said.
First, the report calls for the creation of the U.S. Space Command, a new unified combatant command for space. “This new command … will establish unified command and control for our Space Force operations, ensure integration across the military, and develop the space warfighting doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures of the future,” he said.
Second, the report calls for the establishment of a Space Operations Force — an elite group of joint warfighters, specializing in the domain of space, who will form the backbone of the nation’s newest armed service. This force will draw from across the military to provide space expertise in times of crisis and conflict, Pence said.
“Third, the report calls for a new joint organization — the Space Development Agency — that will ensure the men and women of the Space Force have the cutting-edge warfighting capabilities that they need and deserve,” he said.
Finally, the report calls for clear lines of responsibility and accountability to manage the process of establishing and growing the Space Force, including the appointment of an assistant secretary of defense for space, the vice president said.
“Creating a new branch of the military is not a simple process,” Pence noted. “It will require collaboration, diligence and, above all, leadership. As challenges arise and deadlines approach, there must be someone in charge who can execute, hold others accountable, and be responsible for the results.”
Ultimately, Congress must establish the new department, the vice president said. “Next February, in the president’s budget, we will call on the Congress to marshal the resources we need to stand up the Space Force, and before the end of next year, our administration will work with the congress to enact the statutory authority for the space force in the National Defense Authorization Act,” he said.
I have to confess, when I first heard of the concept, I thought of this
This is a great ~9 min video from the Wisc. Air Guard on the Deuces Wild. You know about them, yes?
They were the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s Cold War-era precision flying team, taking a break from their normal mission of North American Air Defense to wow the crowds, part-time.
Between 1969 and 1974, Airmen with the 176th Fighter Squadron at Truax Field, Wisconsin used their primary aircraft, the Corvair F-102 Delta Dagger to form a five-ship flying demonstration team. The Deuces Wild allowed the Madison-based unit to honor flyby requests while increasing recognition of the mission of the Wisconsin Air National Guard.
They should charge admisson to ride this bad boy.