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USAF Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapon Systems Recognized for System Security Engineering Cyber Guidebook

Thursday, April 15th, 2021


A newly published Government Accountability Office report on Weapon Systems Cybersecurity identified the U.S. Air Force as the only service that has issued service-wide guidance detailing how acquisition programs should define cybersecurity requirements and incorporate those requirements in contracts.

The report, which was a follow-up to a 2018 report on weapon system cybersecurity, called out the U.S. Air Force’s Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapon Systems, or CROWS. It specifically cited the office for developing the System Security Engineering Cyber Guidebook to “consolidate references to different DoD and Air Force instructions and guidance into a single document and provide more detailed explanations and suggestions for implementation.”

The 40-page report, which was addressed to congressional committees, underscored the importance of DoD’s plan for implementing cybersecurity protections early and often throughout a program’s lifecycle. Report authors noted that it is easier, less costly and more effective than attempting to add, or bolt-on, cybersecurity protections late in the development cycle once a system is fielded. It also reminded committees that, due to contractors playing a pivotal role in designing and building DoD weapon systems, DoD must communicate its cybersecurity requirements in its acquisition program contracts.

“This is a significant milestone for the Air Force and our broader cyber resiliency mission,” said Joe Bradley, CROWS director. “Singling out the Air Force and CROWS approach, and noting other services could benefit from it, is a remarkable affirmation of the work our team is doing to bake cyber resiliency into new weapons systems.”

Bradley added that it also helps advance his team’s long-term vision of changing the Air Force culture on cyber.

Katie Whatmore, a CROWS systems security engineering lead who oversaw the development of the guidebook, noted that the Air Force’s approach can assist in program development.

“The Air Force’s SSE Cyber Guidebook serves as a single source reference that enables program offices to address system security engineering as an integrated part of systems engineering,” she said. “By following the approach within the guidebook, programs will ensure appropriate requirements are included on contract and necessary analyses are accomplished in order to minimize cyber risks to our weapon systems.”

The CROWS team has worked across the enterprise to ensure all stakeholder organizations are in full support of its approach in creating a common starting point to reference when considering cyber resiliency best practices for their programs.

To reach out to the CROWS office, contact [email protected].

Story by Raoul Fischer, Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapon Systems

Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft

Air Force Unveils New Mission Statement

Monday, April 12th, 2021

The Air Force released its new mission statement: To fly, fight, and win…airpower anytime, anywhere. This change emphasizes the primary competitive advantage and capabilities airpower provides to the nation and joint operations.

The ability to fight and win with airpower is key to facing emerging competitors and near-peer adversaries, according to service leaders.

“As we developed this new mission statement, we consulted Airmen from across the entire spectrum – enlisted, officers, reservists, guardsmen and civilians,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.

Since the domain of space falls under the Space Force, the Air Force can now focus solely on airpower and maintain a sustained focus on core air domain missions.

With a Total Force of more than 689,000 personnel, Airmen work to support all aspects of airpower, which includes five core missions: air superiority; global strike; rapid global mobility; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and command and control. Airpower also requires people and resources dedicated to unit readiness, base infrastructure and talent management.

The chief master sergeant of the Air Force emphasized that all Airmen, no matter what Air Force specialty code they serve in, play an important role in generating military airpower for the nation.

“As the new mission statement was formulated, it was important to us that all Airmen see where they fit in,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. “Every Airman, from every career field, is directly responsible for delivering, supporting, launching and driving airpower, which is the culmination of our diverse specialties, expertise and capabilities that make up our great Air Force.”

Brown also underscored the importance of the Total Force in making American airpower a reality.

“Delivering airpower for our nation requires more than just aircraft,” Brown added. “It requires Total Force Airmen – active duty, Guard, Reserve, civilians – in all Air Force specialties working together as a seamless team to operate, maintain and enable our mission and bring the unique capabilities and effects of airpower to bear.”

In order to accomplish the mission of airpower, Air Force leaders call on Airmen to accelerate change and to think about future challenges before they are in front of them.

“Our national security is not just on the shoulders of the chief of staff of the Air Force or other service chiefs,” Brown said during his 2021 Air Force Association Aerospace Warfare Symposium fireside chat. “It’s all of us together that have an interest in this; and the way we work together on this, and make progress together and understand what’s out there in the future, and really appreciate that, will help all of us move faster.”

The mission of the U.S. Air Force is to fly, fight, and win…airpower anytime, anywhere.

By TSgt Joshua Dewberry, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Royal Australian Air Force Transitions from ‘Airmen’ to ‘Aviators’

Monday, April 12th, 2021

The Royal Australian Air Force has replaced the term ‘airmen’ with ‘aviators’ as it enters its second century.

Warrant Officer Ivan Petrovic (centre front) places the Memorial Book on a plinth during the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park, Sydney as part of the RAAF Centenary commemorations. Photo by LS David Cox

Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, AO, DSC revealed this change on 31 March, at a centenary dinner which hosted past and present aviators.

Air Marshal Hupfeld said that as Air Force charts its path forward, he wants to instil a stronger sense of identity.

“Of all the work that has been done in developing our Air Force culture, the most challenging dilemma has been fully explaining who we are,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.

“We understand well enough what we are and what we do – but have never quite managed to successfully articulate WHO we are.

“We are ALL aviators.

“As an Air Force, we are born of the air and space.It is our home, and the place from which we serve our nation. Our trade is Aviation.

“In everything that we do, we are aviators first and foremost. All of us, by virtue of what we do and what we believe. It is what binds us together.”

Air Marshal Hupfeld cautioned against confusing the role of pilots with Air Force personnel’s common and collective purpose to the nation – “to think, act and imagine from the perspective of the skies and space above us.”

The change was timed with the announcement to revamp Air Force culture through the Our Air Force, Our Culture program.

The new program builds on the foundation of previous measures, and closely aligns with the update to the Air Force Strategy launched in 2020.

Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication, Department of Defence, Canberra, ACT

COMACC visits Hurlburt’s 505th Command and Control Wing

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. — Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, visited the 505th Command and Control Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, April 6. The 505th CCW is the U.S Air Force’s only wing dedicated to the Air Force’s core mission of command and control.

During his visit, Kelly toured the 505th CCW along with Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, command chief of ACC, to familiarize themselves with the wing’s C2 mission and the enlisted, officers, and civilians who execute its complex mission.

Gen. Kelly received an immersion brief, given by U.S. Air Force Col. Richard Dickens, commander of 505th CCW, leadership team, and honorary commanders.

Mr. Paul Lux, honorary commander of 505th CCW, and Ms. Cindy Frakes, honorary commander of 505th Test & Training Group shared how the ties they built during the wing’s last tour as part of 70 members from five Military Affairs Committees in the local area, prior to COVID-19, increased the proactive community voice for the 505th CCW and its mission.

U.S. Air Force Col. Francisco Gallei, commander of 505th TTG, discussed the group’s mission of premier testing, evaluation, training, and tactics development across C2, sensors, and battle management weapon systems.

Wade and Kelly learned that the 705th Training Squadron is the focal point for advanced Air Operations Center and Air Force Forces education and C2 process improvement. The squadron is launching the first Multi-domain Warfare Officer Instructor Upgrade Training course, which will begin in the next few months.

The leaders learned more about the unique C2 mission contributions of the wing’s units at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and the rest of its 13 geographically-separated units.

The 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, monitors, evaluates, optimizes, and integrates fixed and mobile long-range radars for both the operational and federal communities. The 84th RADES also sets the standard for sensor coverage prediction and depiction, providing data analysis and unique radar forensics to support search and rescue missions and aircraft mishap investigations.

The 505th Combat Training Group, headquartered at Nellis AFB, Nevada, expertly and professionally conducts operational assessments/experimentation, develops advanced tactics, and trains warfighters for multi-domain integration, said Dickens.

Dickens continued, the 505th CCW, Detachment 1, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, provides airpower expertise and exercise support to the U.S. Army Mission Command Training Program and liaisons to the Combined Arms Center.

After the briefing, Kelly toured the battlespace as personnel from the 505th Combat Training Squadron, 505th Communications Squadron, U.S. Army Joint Support Team, and 505th CCW, Det 1 were supporting U.S. Army Warfighter Exercise 21-4, a multi-national exercise.

COMACC learned how the 605th Test & Evaluation Squadron conducts operational test & evaluation of C2, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, including Airborne Warning and Control System, Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, AOC, tactical air control party, Control and Reporting Centers, Air Defense Sectors, National Capital Region – Integrated Air Defense System, Distributed Common Ground Station, nuclear command, control, and communications, Common Mission Control Center, and other systems for the joint warfighter.

At the next stop, Wade and Kelly learned about the Advanced Programs’ building modernization efforts to enable the wing’s expanding missions. Despite these modernization efforts, they were briefed the current facility has been operating beyond capacity, which is why a consolidated Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility/Special Access Program Facility is the wing’s number one priority in the Area Development Plan.

Throughout the tour, Kelly seized several opportunities to recognize several of the 505th CCW’s best and brightest innovators for their exceptional performance.

• Senior Airman David Alvarado, 505th CTS
• Senior Airman Conner Kincaid, 505th CS
• Mr. Timothy Rincon, 605th TES
• Ms. Rhonda Berry, 505th CCW
• Capt. Stephen Perkins, 705th TRS
• Technical Sgt. Shanda Boyle, 505th Training Squadron

The tour’s final stop was the 505th TRS, the gateway for initial qualification training for all geographic and global Air Operations Centers. The squadron demonstrated how they train an operations team to oversee and ensure the general’s intent/directive is carried out from decision to action. While in the combat operations center, the leaders witnessed the team concept as each member carried out his/her responsibilities as dictated by the chief of combat operations during a training scenario that included a mock missile attack on Luke AFB, Arizona.

“It was great to host COMACC and Chief Wade,” said Col. Richard Dickens, commander of 505th CCW.  “We have a lot of high-performing Airmen that are valued members of our team, so seeing them get an opportunity to brief our senior leaders and demonstrate to them how they’re accelerating change was very rewarding.”

Headquartered at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, ACC is the primary provider of air combat forces to the U.S. warfighting commanders. The command provides command, control, communications, and intelligence systems; operates fighter, reconnaissance, battle-management, and electronic-combat aircraft; and conducts global information operations.

Story by 505th Command and Control Wing (ACC) Public Affairs

Photos by Mr. Keith Keel

The 355th Wing Flies Toward the Future

Thursday, April 8th, 2021


The needs of tomorrow’s Air Force must be met today, and the 355th Wing remains on the leading edge of this effort to ensure its continued ability to wield lethal, ready combat airpower anywhere, anytime.

Airmen from the 355th Wing, 621st Contingency Response Wing and AFWERX Agility Prime teamed up to move a LIFT Aircraft electronic vertical takeoff and landing aircraft using a military aircraft for the first time. The eVTOL vehicle was transported from Springfield, Ohio to Austin, Texas, March 23 – 24.

This effort was a proof of concept for the Air Force as the 355th Wing, the 621st CRW and other units across the force look to integrate the eVTOL technology into upcoming training. AFWERX and industry partners are working together to aggressively develop this to support the Department of Defense as it pursues further agile combat employment capabilities.

“We are working with industry and Air Force partners to continue developing this next-generation technology to eventually be able to do anything that a traditional aircraft can do,” said Maj. Brendan Gallagher, 563rd Rescue Group chief of weapons and tactics. “Due to the hard work and preparation of our loadmasters and the 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron, we were able to safely and effectively load the equipment onto the HC-130J.”

Loading this equipment onto the HC-130J Combat King II for the first time was no simple task, however. Air Force cargo specialists and flight engineers at LIFT Aircraft worked together to figure out configuration the eVTOL would need to be placed in for safe travel, proving that they can be transported using relatively small military aircraft with minimal equipment.

“With it being new, unfamiliar equipment, we had to come with a lot of variants and contingencies,” said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Wruck, 571st MSAS air transportation team sergeant. “Alongside the 79th Rescue Squadron, AFWERX and LIFT, we came up with a simple, safe and expedited way to load the aircraft with minimal specialized equipment by using the ramp system. The load took roughly 40 minutes, but we can get that down to 15 minutes in the future.”

The further integration and testing of this technology will ensure its employability in austere environments. In the future, operators expect this aircraft will be able to support a variety of missions, including personnel recovery and initial airfield assessment.

“The idea and execution of moving (the aircraft) in a more deployable state is a great validation of the design and how it was built,” said Jace McGowan, LIFT Aircraft flight development engineer and chief pilot. “We took the aircraft from just over 15 feet to just under eight. We are also working to get the time from unloading it off the aircraft to ready to fly down under two hours.”

As Airmen and industry partners look toward the future of innovation with this technology, AFWERX continues pushing it into new environments to test its capabilities.

“This load exercise came on the heels of major flight testing in Springfield, and we have more testing coming up in Austin and the Bushwhacker exercise (the 355th Wing’s agile combat employment exercise) in May,” said James Bieryla, AFWERX Prime division chief.

Bushwhacker is the 355th Wing’s ongoing series of agile combat employment exercises. The next iteration is scheduled this summer and will be the first time AFWERX eVTOL vehicles are integrated into dynamic military exercise scenarios.

“Our goal within Prime is to find emerging technology with dual capabilities and transition to deploy them rapidly after working with many mission partners to meet the needs of our operators and warfighters,” Bieryla said. “This movement with LIFT exemplifies how we aren’t content to sit around and wait on anything. We are getting after the chief of staff’s call to ‘Accelerate Change or Lose’.”

The eVTOL aircraft’s use in the upcoming Bushwhacker exercise is expected to demonstrate capabilities including personnel recovery and resupply. The 355th Wing also looks to test other more in-depth use cases in the future. This will improve dynamic forward adaptive basing concepts by pushing capabilities closer to the fight.

“This is the first milestone in developmental operations of eVTOL in rescue and attack, which highlights how the wing continues to actively engage on the front end of these efforts to continue building our readiness for tomorrow’s fight,” Gallagher said. “By doing this, we are furthering the rescue and attack capabilities as we look toward the future, because these are the next generation of flying platforms.”

The future is now and the Air Force is adapting and innovating the way it operates to ensure its ability to deter and defeat any near-peer adversary that may arise.

“Innovation is critical and under AFWERX Agility Prime, we have a unique opportunity to leverage their capabilities and resources by working with technology developers and flight engineers earlier in the process to rapidly make changes and develop these technologies to meet mission requirements,” Gallagher said. “Instead of waiting to receive a product, we are getting engaged early to help shape it to meet our needs, which will pay large dividends once the product is mission ready.”

The eVTOL is in the beginning stages of its growth, but the potential of this technology cannot be overvalued. As it develops further, the effects of these aircraft will be seen around the globe.

“We are currently working with AFWERX to explore the next level of what is possible with this technology to meet the longer-term goals operators have,” McGowan said. “Getting this feedback from the operators is a great opportunity to shape things going forward. We are very happy to be able to work alongside the Air Force and meet the needs of the service.”

The ever-changing climate of conflict requires the Air Force and DoD to constantly adapt and innovate. The efforts of AFWERX Agility Prime, the 355th Wing and 621st Contingency Response Wing exemplify the Air Force’s commitment to increase capabilities and testing new equipment, ensuring the force remains ready for tomorrow’s fight.

By SrA Jacob T. Stephens, 355th Wing Public Affairs

ACC to Align Fighter Squadron Operations, Maintenance

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

Editor’s Comment: One day, the Air Force will acknowledge that it’s actually just a big logistics organization and put logisticians in charge. Like it or not, the aircrew are the service’s “delivery drivers” ensuring that the right thing gets to the right place at the right time. That’s just part of the equation. Making sure the means of delivery and the “thing” to be delivered are ready for that in time delivery takes a lot of work and aircrew aren’t involved at all.

Sorties are generated by maintenance. This realignment and renaming of MX happens every few years based in the whims of ever-changing Ops leadership. It’s all been tried before, over and over. It never really changes anything except causing turmoil for MX leaders. Wrenches still get turned and sorties generated.


Air Combat Command is changing the aircraft maintenance organizational structure to improve synchronization between maintenance and fighter squadrons.

This new structure, called Combat Oriented Maintenance Organization, or COMO, flattens the maintenance organizational structure and transitions aircraft maintenance units into fighter generation squadrons.

The fighter generation squadron is a new squadron comprised of maintainers responsible for airpower health and generation. The fighter generation squadron will be paired with a complementary fighter squadron and the two units will work collaboratively both in garrison and during deployments.

“We’ve already seen success with this new organizational model at Shaw Air Force Base (South Carolina),” said Maj. Gen. Mark Slocum, ACC director of air and space operations. “The benefit of this new organizational construct is it enhances the fighter force’s agility and better prepares them for a future dynamic force employment in a high-end fight.”

Pairing fighter squadrons with a dedicated fighter generation squadron will foster unity of effort between maintenance and operations as well as provide a better view of readiness.

For the last few years, ACC has been on a wing reorganization experimentation journey and allowed commanders to experiment with various types of wing organizational constructs in order to build more agile and cohesive units.

“After gathering what we’ve learned from this season of experimentation, we are now moving forward into a season of standardization,” said Maj. Gen. Tom Miller, ACC director of logistics, engineering and force protection. “The COMO structure allows fighter wings to prepare for rapid deployments and to disaggregate and reaggregate as needed by the CFACC.”

This pairing of the fighter and a fighter generation squadron is just the first phase of a broader force presentation model ACC is building to better organize, train and equip combat air forces. Phase two will focus on evaluation of air base squadrons that can rapidly deploy and provide base operating support. Phase three examines wing command and control capabilities.

The 20 FW at Shaw AFB and 388 FW at Hill AFB, Utah are the first wings to transition to the COMO model, with the remaining ACC fighter wings transitioning by the summer of 2022.

By Headquarters Air Combat Command

Photos by SSgt Destinee Sweeney

Stolen Valor in AETC?

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

This photo by Kemberly Groue was posted last week to the US Air Force Facebook page under the heading Freestyle Friday!

The caption:

335th Training Squadron freestyle drill team members performed during the 81st Training Group drill down on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. Airmen competed in a quarterly open ranks inspection, regulation drill routine and freestyle drill routine. Keesler trains more than 30,000 students each year. While in training, Airmen are given the opportunity to volunteer to learn and execute drill down routines.

Here is a screenshot of the full post:

Just take the dubious activity depicted in the top photo out of the equation for a moment and concentrate on the headgear of the participants. This is where the question of stolen valor originates.

The Gray berets worn in the photo have long been solely authorized for wear by Weather Parachutists and the new Special Reconnaissance Air Force specialty.

It’s difficult to tell from the photo but the darker berets are either Blue or Black which belong to the Security Forces and Tactical Air Control Party AFSCs respectively.

Here are the appropriate passages from Air Force Instruction 36-2903 “Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel” which governs who wears what.

Either way, it is highly unlikely that any, let alone all of the Airmen depicted in these photos are from the AFSCs in question.

This begs the question of how long this has been going on and who authorized the behavior. It’s an Air Education Training Command base and unit, a command which is generally hypersensitive to following Air Force Instructions and yet, here we are, AFI 36-2903 out the window.

I’ve got a lot of friends in all three of those communities who are proud of their careerfield heritage. Naturally, they don’t want their beret worn as an ornament for someone who isn’t in their AFSC. I can respect that. Apparently, AETC doesn’t.

Some will say it doesn’t matter. If it doesn’t, then I suppose it would be okay for troops to just put on any old doodad they think would look great in uniform. Imagine A1Cs putting stars on their caps and Master Pilot Wings on their chests.

But, it does matter, and AETC needs to put a stop to this buffoonery.

Robot Dogs Arrive at Tyndall AFB

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021


The first official semi-autonomous robot dogs were delivered to Tyndall Air Force Base March 22 for integration into the 325th Security Forces Squadron.

The purpose of the Quad-legged Unmanned Ground Vehicles, or Q-UGVs, is to add an extra level of protection to the base. The robot dogs, designed by Ghost Robotics and Immersive Wisdom, are the first of their kind to be integrated onto a military installation and one of many innovation-based initiatives to begin at Tyndall AFB, coined the “Installation of the Future.”

“As a mobile sensor platform, the Q-UGVs will significantly increase situational awareness for defenders,” said Mark Shackley, Tyndall AFB Program Management Office security forces program manager. “They can patrol the remote areas of a base while defenders can continue to patrol and monitor other critical areas of an installation.”

Features applied to the robot dogs allow for easy navigation on difficult terrains. The robot dogs can operate in minus 40-degree to 131-degree conditions and have 14 sensors to create 360-degree awareness. They are also equipped with a crouch mode that lowers their center-of-gravity and a high-step mode that alters leg mobility, among other features.

Tyndall AFB’s Program Management Office, the 325th SFS, the 325th Civil Engineer Squadron, Air Force Research Laboratory, communications and other organizations have been working since July 2020 to ensure the Q-UGVs are assembled properly before reaching Tyndall AFB. The installation is considered an ideal base to host the new robot dogs with its ongoing rebuild.

“Tyndall (AFB) is a perfect test base as it was deemed ‘The Installation of the Future,’” said Master Sgt. Krystoffer Miller, 325th SFS operations support superintendent. “Across the base, every squadron has been pushing the envelope of how we do things and expanding our optics of what is possible. One huge attraction piece of the robot dogs is that it’s highly mobile and with the amount of construction we will face over the next few years, it helps us maintain and increase our security posture.”

This new technology has the capability to revolutionize the way base security operates. Tyndall AFB is expected to set the benchmark for the rest of the Defense Department when it comes to Q-UGV usage.

“I can say that there is definitely a lot of interest in the capabilities of the technology,” Miller said. “I’m hopeful that other units will see some of the successes at Tyndall (AFB) and will continue to explore the use of non-conventional tactics.”

By Airman 1st Class Anabel Del Valle, 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs