In March 2014, I had to good fortune to take advantage of a leg of the Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour and visited a three-aircraft flight that included a Consolidated B-24J Liberator (SN 44-44052, “Witchcraft”) a TP-51C Mustang fighter (42-103293, “Betty Jane”) and a late block 85 Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress (44-83575, painted as 42-31909, “Nine O Nine”).
It was a beautiful day and they were beautiful, and increasingly machines.
Sadly, yesterday at Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport, Nine O Nine was destroyed in the crash, and seven of the thirteen people on board were killed.
The Boeing/Saab T-X was selected on 27 September 2018 by the Air Force as the winner of the Advanced Pilot Training System program to replace the aging Cold War-era Northrop T-38 Talon. The downright cute little twin tail trainer will, in all likelihood, be around for decades provided it is successful.
The USAF currently has some 500~ T-38A/B/C models in inventory, with the newest example coming off the lines in 1972. It is envisioned that some 351 new T-X aircraft and 46 simulators are to be supplied by Boeing as part of the $9 billion program to put the venerable Talon to bed.
The T-X could also go on to be a sweet little scooter for budget air defense/COIN if given underwing hardpoints, after all, Saab runs the Gripen and in the past developed the Viggen, Draken, Lansen, and Tunnan, which all had a solid pedigree.
The T-X does look pretty sweet though.
While I suggested “T-60 Peashooter II” as a name update, in honor of Boeing’s last cute little combat-ish trainer, I have been overruled and the U.S. Air Force has named it the T-7A Red Hawk to honor the Tuskegee Airmen who famously flew the red-tailed North American P-51 Mustang in World War II (after working their way through P-39s, P-40s, and P-47s). The “Red Tails” of the 332nd Fighter Group were renowned for their work plastering Axis ground targets and successfully escorting B-17s and B-24s in the ETO in 1944 and 1945.
Which is better than the Peashooter II anyway.
“Bomber gas station,” diagonal view, Route 99 E., Milwaukie, Oregon, 1980 by John Margolies:
Built at Vega Burbank as a B-17G, the plane is SN 44-85790. Flown to Rome 14 July 1945, it saw no combat and was soon sold as surplus post-VJ-Day. Purchased by Art Lacey or Portland, Oregon, 5 March 1947, it was named the Lacey Lady and used as gas station canopy at Lacey’s Bomber Gas Station in Milwaukie, Oregon until 1995. It is now under restoration to airworthy status by the B-17 Alliance Museum in Seattle, Washington.
The image is from the Library of Congress’ John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive which includes more than 11,710 color slides the roadside photographer snapped around the country from 1969 to 2008. You should check out the other images and explore the real Americana.
United States Space Command (USSPACECOM) was formed originally back in 1985 during the height of the Reagan-era Star Wars flex that sent tremors through the hardworking proletariat missile troop commanders east of the Fulda Gap. Put to pasture in 2002, a decade after the Cold War thawed and Moscow became our new best friend, SPACECOM is back!
SECDEF Dr. Mark T. Esper signed documents formally establishing U.S. Space Command as the nation’s 11th combatant command during a White House ceremony, 29 August.
Led by Air Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, the command “integrates the space capabilities of all services in maintaining the U.S. edge in space in an area of great power competition.”
The presser from SPACECOM itself:
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Aug. 30, 2019 —
Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Commander, U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM), ordered the establishment of two subordinate commands to support the warfighting efforts of the command — Combined Force Space Component Command (CFSCC), and Joint Task Force Space Defense (JTF-SD), immediately following the establishment of USSPACECOM Aug. 29, 2019.
Raymond appointed Maj. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting as CFSCC Commander, and Brig. Gen. Matthew W. Davidson as the Deputy Commander; with a mission to plan, integrate, conduct, and assess global space operations to deliver combat relevant space capabilities to Combatant Commanders, Coalition partners, the Joint Force, and the Nation.
Upon establishment, Whiting appointed Chief Master Sgt. John F. Bentivegna as the CFSCC Senior Enlisted Leader. Bentivegna will advise the Commander on matters influencing the health, welfare, morale and effective utilization of more than 17,000 CFSCC personnel.
CFSCC will plan and execute space operations through four distinct and geographically dispersed operations centers, including the Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC) at Vandenberg AFB, Calif.; Missile Warning Center (MWC) at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo.; Joint Overhead Persistent Infrared Center (JOPC) at Buckley AFB, Colo.; and Joint Navigation Warfare Center (JNWC) at Kirtland AFB, N.M. Additionally, the CFSCC will execute tactical control over globally dispersed Air Force, Army, and Navy space units that command satellites in every orbital regime.
“It is an honor and privilege to take command of CFSCC. We are at the dawning of a new, exciting, and challenging era for space; and CFSCC will lead USSPACECOM’s efforts to better integrate space warfighting effects into the operations of terrestrial warfighters,” said Whiting. “Through our tactical units and operations centers, CFSCC will provide space capabilities such as space situational awareness, space electronic warfare, satellite communications, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, environmental monitoring, military ISR, navigation warfare, command and control, and PNT in support of USSPACECOM and the other Combatant Commands.”
As one of its primary roles, CFSCC will plan, task, direct, monitor, and assess the execution of combined and joint space operations for theater effects on behalf of the Commander of USSPACECOM to directly support ongoing operations in other Combatant Commands.
CFSCC will also provide support to, and receive support from, partner Coalition operations centers including the Australian Space Operations Center, Canadian Space Operations Center, and the United Kingdom Space Operations Center. Additionally, CFSCC will build capacity through Coalition, Commercial, and Civil partnerships to achieve combined force objectives.
Furthermore, CFSCC will execute command and control of assigned multinational forces in support of Operation Olympic Defender (OOD), as directed by USSPACECOM.
“Through the standup of the CFSCC and multinational force agreements in OOD, we will out-pace competitor nations in developing our space capabilities, generate greater space force capacity than our competitors, and integrate highly advanced multinational space capabilities with terrestrial coalition warfighting capabilities,” said Davidson. “Last month the United Kingdom formally announced their decision to join Operation Olympic Defender, our named operation for space; and we are excited the Royal Air Force is now providing an officer to serve as the Deputy Director of the CSpOC. The U.K. is a close ally and trusted partner in space, and we are looking forward to additional allies and partners joining OOD shortly. We are unequivocally stronger together.”
On 18 July the former U.K. Defense Secretary announced the U.K. formally accepted the U.S. invitation to join OOD; and the U.K.’s intentions to send additional U.K. personnel to join other international space operators at the CSpOC at Vandenberg AFB.
Space operators from Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom are currently stationed at Vandenberg AFB, working alongside U.S. space operators in CFSCC’s CSpOC. Additionally, national liaisons from France, Germany, and the United Kingdom are stationed at Vandenberg AFB in USSPACECOM’s Multinational Space Collaboration office.
“Space has become exponentially more congested, contested, and degraded domain during the past several decades. Due to emerging threats, and advances in technology, we must partner with allies and like-minded nations to preserve access to space, and leverage coalition space capabilities to ensure warfighters downrange have the systems they need to defeat the threats they’re facing,” said Bentivegna. “The establishment of the CFSCC is the result of years of working alongside allies and partners in and through space. As a coalition, we will continue to defend our nations’ interests throughout the space domain.”
On the downside, their crest looks like it cost about $19.