Archive for the ‘Air Force’ Category

AFWERX, NASA Collaborate to Develop Digital Advanced Air Mobility Operations Center

Sunday, December 3rd, 2023


AFWERX is partnering with NASA to develop a digital operations center for future Advanced Air Mobility efforts through the Civilian Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program awardee, ResilienX.   

With the fast-growing field of AAM technology, AFWERX’s Airspace Innovation and Prime Partnerships program has partnered with NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration to fill in technological and administrative gaps that present themselves. Earlier in 2023, AFWERX formalized these partnerships with a Memorandum of Understanding and participation in the AAM Interagency Working Group to plot the future of AAM. 

The CCRPP is a NASA Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program which takes mission-relevant technologies in development and infuses them with funding intended to foster commercialization. 

This system is intended to enhance base security, special forces efforts, emergency disaster response, and passenger and cargo transportation planning. It is further being developed to include other technologies necessary for air domain awareness. 

“CCRPP is a true example of public-private partnership where government stakeholders and an industry consortium are working together on the airspace efforts,” said Darshan Divakaran, AFWERX Airspace Innovation and Prime Partnerships program manager. 

ResilienX is a company focused on the holistic safety assurance of AAM ecosystems and is leading the way with an industry consortium to create a digital system for AAM operations. The project intends to define and perform initial integration of an AAM Operations Center that is scalable, tactical and enables verification and validation of the various systems and sensors involved in uncrewed aerial systems, electric vertical take-off and landing operations, and other advanced aviation technologies. The initial AAM Operations Center will be built out in collaboration with NUAIR at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport, with an aim to test and transition it to additional locations by 2025. 

Each company in the consortium contributes their industry expertise and technological advancements to create the most robust system possible. As additional requirements are included by military and other government stakeholders, AFWERX plans to bring in additional industry partners in the next phase. 

“We are thrilled with the trust AFWERX has put in us to lead this consortium,” said Ryan Pleskach, CEO of ResilienX. “Through a dedicated systems engineering approach, we intend to develop a dual-use solution to the core digital infrastructure needed for advanced air mobility that is inherently scalable and extensible. Through this pioneering effort and with support of all the federal stakeholders that AFWERX is bringing to the table, we believe this solution will be turnkey and available to government and commercial markets in late 2024.” 

Utilizing the research expertise of NASA and AFWERX’s subject matter experts, this collaborative project will attempt to meet the needs of the emerging field of AAM operations. It is informed by the U.S. Air Force AAM Operations Center requirements through testing and operator interactions. 

“Agility Prime helped pave the way for government and industry to work together on aircraft certification,” Divakaran said. “The Airspace Innovation team is taking it a step forward with airspace integration, management and security efforts focused on emerging aviation technologies.” 

The first phase of development will include a detailed need and task assessment, feature development with user interviews and observations, initial integration of baseline technologies, and testing. The second phase will see user testing of human factors, safety development, prototype testing, and a live demonstration of the system. 

For this project, ResilienX has received $4.8 million in AFWERX and NASA funding through the CCRPP. The program is planned to progress through October 2025.

By Kristen Dennis, AFWERX

Air Force, Coast Guard Partner for Rescue Exercise

Saturday, November 25th, 2023

By Senior Airman Courtney Sebastianelli

23rd Wing Public Affairs


The 347th Operations Support Squadron at Moody Air Force Base partnered with U.S. Coast Guard Station Mayport, Florida, Nov. 17, for a simulated water rescue of a downed pilot during exercise Mosaic Tiger 24-1.

Bad weather off the coast of Jacksonville and Saint Johns River stopped the actual exercise rescue from happening, but the relationship built during the planning process will help future joint operations between the two services.

“As we train, we can’t be singular in our approach,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Mendes, 347th OSS group weapons and tactics load master. “We have to work together to seamlessly merge, and since our HH-60Ws [Jolly Green II] don’t get maritime training as often, it was a valuable experience for our Airmen to integrate with another branch.

Training with the Coast Guard allowed us to test and improve our proficiency in how we communicate and respond to maritime rescues.”

Moody AFB rescue Airmen used the Mosaic Tiger readiness exercise as a way to get ready for future real-world deployment cycles. During the week, they worked with three different Coast Guard Stations: Mayport, St. Petersburg and Cape Canaveral each provided safety boats, simulated hoist operations and the personnel in the water.

When life or death is at stake, especially for an over-water rescue, understanding joint team concepts ensures service members at every level can seamlessly integrate to move quickly and efficiently. Joint commanders can then leverage the unique capabilities of each branch to choose the right rescue package and save lives.

According to the Air Force guide titled The Joint Team, or the Purple Book, joint integration requires effective coordination among the military branches. The guide outlines how U.S. forces are required by national command authorities to respond on short notice to unpredictable crises in a joint force capacity.

Despite weather interference, the Air Force and Coast Guard were able to train for just that purpose.

“This training opportunity benefits both sides by giving our respective crews new encounters with environments and capabilities,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Tim Mathis, USCG STA Mayport unit supervisor. “Complacency can be the divider between failure and success, and exposing search-and-rescue resources to fresh scenarios deepens the well to draw from when the call comes in real time.”

The search-and-rescue community is a tight-knit group of professionals, regardless of their branch of service. During the remainder of the day, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen worked to establish effective communication practices and demonstrate joint team integration when faced with real-time situations.

Mendes said mission success depends on how well integrated forces can merge to streamline communication and overcome differences in execution methods. There is overlap between the Air Force’s search and rescue mission and the Coast Guard’s commitment to ensuring maritime safety—both of which came together to produce an effective outcome during a rescue need.

“We benefit from working with the Air Force by working through a different set of scenarios that we may not usually see or expect,” Mathis said. “This promotes real-time risk assessment and evaluation that is essential to growing as first responders. The opportunity to develop a universal standard or response cannot be understated as more resources are available to respond in any given situation.”

Air Force Reserve Component Launches Direct Commission Program; Constructive Service Credit for Cyberspace Warfare Operations Career Field

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2023

By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs


The Department of the Air Force has announced that the Air Reserve component has initiated a direct commission and constructive service credit program memo for people interested in serving in the cyber security and cyberspace warfare operations career fields.

Brig. Gen. Terrence Adams, deputy principal cyber advisor to the Secretary of Defense and senior military advisor for Cyber Policy, made the announcement on behalf of the Air Force at the Aspen Institute Cyber Summit in New York.

“As our nation faces tough challenges in the cyberspace warfighting domain, the Air Force Reserve needs the best talent America has to offer,” Adams said. “The Cyber Direct Commission program is designed to attract highly skilled cyber professionals from industry and enlisted career fields who want to serve their nation in a part time capacity.”

Enlisted personnel and civilians qualified to serve as Air Force Warfighter Communications Operators (17D) and Cyberspace Effects Operators (17S) can earn a direct commission as an Air Force officer. Also eligible are personnel who are qualified to earn a cyberspace engineer/agile software developer – Cyberspace Engineering “Z” prefix as outlined in the Air Force Officer Classification Directory.

“This program will allow the service to access cutting edge talent and leverage private sector skills to make us more competitive in the changing world environment,” said Alex Wagner, assistance secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

A review board will determine if candidates are eligible for constructive service credit for prior commissioned service, advanced education, and special training or experience.

Constructive service credit is used to determine initial grade, rank and service for promotion eligibility and is usually granted in year-long increments.

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

·?? Be eligible for a commission in the Air Force, including physical standards for entrance

·?? Possess or be eligible for a top secret/sensitive compartmented information security clearance

·?? Have a quantifiable record of leadership, management or supervisory experience in academia, civilian and/or military organizations (preferred)

·?? Have qualifying advanced education, specialized training and/or experience in cyber-related fields as outlined in the memo

Candidates will incur an initial four-year Selective Reserve obligation from the date of appointment or commission and an additional four-year Inactive Ready Reserve obligation. They will also be required to complete the U.S. Air Force Officer Training School program. Their monthly reserve obligation will depend on the needs of their units, training requirements and mission requirements.

This program follows a regular Air Force pilot program for direct commissioning into cyber career fields and constructive service credit launched in 2020.

This is the first time the reserve component has opened direct commissions to career fields other than lawyers, chaplains and medical personnel. The service may consider expanding the direct commission program to other reserve and Guard career fields in the future.

Career fields that may be considered are operations analyst, intelligence, security forces, chemist, nuclear chemist, physicists, nuclear physicists, developmental engineer and acquisition manager.

Developing the Next Generation of Air Force Special Warfare Cadet Programs

Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

By Headquarters Air Force A3 Air Force Special Warfare Directorate

Air Force Special Warfare (AFSPECWAR) continues to refine its academic year and summer programs to help AFROTC and USAFA cadets prepare to be Special Tactics Officers (STOs), Tactical Air Control Party Officers (TACPOs), and Combat Rescue Officers (CROs).

Now in year three, USAFA’s formalized “Special Warfare Club” (SWC) academic year materials benefit two areas — first, they are available for AFROTC Detachments to download and develop or refine their own SWC; second, they are used in the 2, two-week Special Warfare Orientation Courses (SWOC) official summer programs.

The information and exposure will help cadets prepare physically and mentally prior to attending a selection for Special Warfare, called Phase II.  The 19Z Special Warfare Officers (STO/TACPO/CRO) are the only officer specialties which require successful selection at a pre-commissioning screener to begin their respective training pipelines, according to Col. John M. Graver, individual mobilization augmentee to the director of AF/A3S Air Force Special Warfare.

“With no previous experience, many cadets do poorly, negatively impacting unit readiness. Now, we provide them a safe introduction to the events and evaluation criteria,” said Graver. “Without a formalized method to prepare, cadets have proven to develop unsafe habits.”

Currently, filling commissioning slots for the 19Z AFSC is a challenge shared by both AFROTC and USAFA.

“We want cadets to be successful. Our program includes over 30 academic and physical lesson plans, risk management, and templates to organize their SWCs, along with opportunities to learn from contracted coaches, thereby mitigating risk for Detachment commanders,” added Graver.

The last SWOC was held in June and July 2023 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. where 80 AFROTC and USAFA cadets participated; with more than 20 cadets-in-charge and over 20 uniformed and civilian staff from USAFA, AFROTC, MAJCOMs, and Air Force and Army flying units assisting with the training.

SWOC involves over 40 events to prepare cadets for the “Phase II” pre-commissioning screener. These included land and water fitness sessions, troop leading procedures, small unit tactics, decision making, as well as planning and executing global access, precision strike, and personnel recovery missions.

Additionally, AFROTC cadets can participate in AFRS-led Special Warfare AFROTC Weekend (SWAW) events, which are conducted 8-10 times throughout the academic year at various detachments hosting these weekend events around the country.

“We want to provide interested cadets as many opportunities as possible to prepare,” said Maj. Eric Atchison, Air Force Recruiting Service. “Between these SWAW events, the 2-week SWOC opportunities in the summer, and an increased number of Special Warfare Clubs at Detachments, we can prepare as many cadets as possible to succeed as leaders in the Special Warfare community. It’s an extremely challenging and rewarding career like no other, and we are looking for the right young men and women who have what it takes to succeed, no matter the odds.”

AFROTC detachments with interest in developing or refining their cadet Special Warfare Club should expect to receive another message this fall on these opportunities, and may reach out to Maj. Atchison for additional information at [email protected]

Vigilant Defense 24: Accept Follow-On Forces

Thursday, November 9th, 2023

KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea —  

During the combined flying training event known as Vigilant Defense 24, more than 25 various types of fighters, cargo, tanker and reconnaissance aircraft from the U.S., South Korea and Royal Australian Air Force are conducting flight operations from South Korea and U.S. bases across the peninsula Oct. 30 – Nov. 3.

Vigilant Defense is designed to enhance combined training and to ensure Airmen remain safe in the sky and on the ground by air traffic controllers like U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Paul Gary, 8th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller senior watch supervisor.

“As air traffic controllers, we have to be proficient at coordinating all airframes from fighter to cargo, military or civilian,” Gary said. “We’re always prepared for whatever may come our way, including an increase in air traffic operations during a contingency operation because for us it would be nothing more than practicing how we play.”

The center component of Kunsan Air Base’s three-part mission is to “Accept Follow-on Forces” and during a contingency operation, ATC’s ability to coordinate increased flight operations is vital to ensuring efficient and safe reception of those forces.

“I think it is important for Airmen to step away from exercises like this with the ability to remain flexible in situations that take you outside of your comfort zone. You may have to adapt and follow someone else’s lead in a dynamic situation, and doing so could be the difference in saving or losing lives while coordinating aircraft.”

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Paul Gary, 8th Operations Support Squadron Air Traffic Controller Senior Watch Supervisor

Controllers provide pilots with their flight and landing information along with weather reports all while deconflicting landing and air space congestion within their zone of responsibility. Gary explains how working together is essential to performing ATC operations.

“Building teams is particularly important,” Gary said. “The person on your left and right needs to be on the same page as you.”

Combat flying training events are regularly scheduled training events designed to enhance the readiness of U.S. and South Korea forces and sustain capabilities, which strengthen the South Korea-U.S. alliance.

By TSgt Emili Koonce, 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Photos by SSgt Samuel Earick

Defender Flag Field Exercise Tests, Validates Ground Defense Operations

Wednesday, November 8th, 2023

FORT BLISS, Texas (AFNS) —  

U.S. Air Force Defenders tested and validated the career field’s operations for base defense in the New Mexico desert Oct. 23-27 during the inaugural Defender Flag field exercise.

More than 180 Defenders from every major command participated in the event, thanks to help from support agencies, Headquarters Air Force, the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center and the Air Force Security Forces Center.

The live-fire exercise provided realistic assessment and validation of base defense tactics, techniques and procedures during intense, realistic scenarios, said Lt. Col. Christopher Jackson, chief of the AFSFC’s Security Forces Training Support Division and event lead for both Defender Flag and Defender Challenge. It also tested and evaluated new concepts, TTPs and equipment, identifying potential gaps and needed changes to career field training curriculum.

The field exercise was conducted simultaneously with Defender Challenge, the security forces competition to determine the best-of-the-best in combat tactics, weapons proficiency and physical endurance. Both events, hosted by the Air Force Security Forces career field, were planned and executed by the AFSFC.

The team members who helped put together Defender Flag had a tremendous amount of pressure on their shoulders, Jackson said.

“The countless members of the team who helped put together Defender Flag knew how important the event would be to help us get ready for the next fight,” the lieutenant colonel said. “They knew the mission planning was absolutely critical and even more important was collecting data we can use for TTPs to inform training and equipment we’ll need for the future fight.”

“The fight of yesterday looks different than what is needed for the fight of tomorrow,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Sherman, Air Force director of security forces. “Strategic competition is our primary national security challenge and events like Defender Flag and Defender Challenge are paramount to our career field’s success.”

The security forces career field is in an evolutionary period, he added, so holding Defender Flag at this time was important.

“This exercise is helping the career field assess Defender skillsets in challenging environments and testing innovative tactics to solve difficult problems,” Sherman said, with lessons applied across the force.

“We realize that the threats we’re seeing in strategic competition and the way the world is around us calls for a change. It calls for us to relook at ourselves and who we are, how we look at base defense and how we see ourselves as being the greatest contribution to the U.S. Air Force. What Defenders did during both events displayed our potential,” Sherman said. “We’re setting the course for the future … identifying what we are incredible at, the areas where we have gaps and how we need to sharpen our sword to be prepared for what lies ahead.”

Much has changed with security forces operations and training since 2015, said Chief Master Sgt. Donnie Gallagher, security forces career field manager, and “Defender Flag is arguably the most important thing going on right now in Defender Nation.

“We’re getting after things from a different mindset, trying to really see where we’re at,” the chief said. “Are we as good as we think we are, or do we have a lot of work to do? What we did last week will lay the foundation for things to come on how we evolve as a career field to get after the base defense mission, which has become our primary purpose.”

For the chief, Defender Flag was an eye-opening experience.

“It really pointed out some things we need to get after, maybe in our training environment at home station versus what we do at some of our readiness training venues,” he said. “It validated the importance of physical fitness. The sheer weight of our weapons, armor and heavy equipment points to the importance of being at the peak point of fitness. Therefore, we are looking at different physical training program options to reinforce this fact.”

For tactics and other aspects of security forces operations, “we need to get out the honing stone and sharpen the sword … but we’re looking pretty good,” Gallagher said.

Both Defender Flag and Defender Challenge are helping to make sure Defenders are trained and ready for the future fight.

They validated everything the Air Force did after the former Defender Next-32 Initiative, which directed a more challenging and realistic training curriculum for Defenders, the chief explained.

“The strategy General Sherman is forming today will reshape what we’re getting after and how we support air power throughout the world,” Gallagher said. “We’re more than any law enforcement agency. Our biggest mission is getting after our peer-peer, near-peer global competitors. Change is coming.”

Story by Debbie Aragon, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs

Photos by Airman 1st Class Isaiah Pedrazzini

Cannon Service Member of the Year: Air Commandos Test Their Grit

Sunday, November 5th, 2023


The 27th Special Operations Wing hosted its annual Service Member of the Year Competition Oct. 10-13 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.  

Twelve Air Commandos tested their technical prowess, grit and leadership abilities during a week of competitions that included the Air Force Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification and assembly, a written academic test and a six-mile ruck/run.  

Senior Master Sgt. Adam Hardy, 6th Special Operations Squadron senior enlisted leader, stated that he believes the individual selected as the 27th SOW Service Member of the Year must exemplify pride in being an Air Commando, possess the physical fitness required to complete any mission, and demonstrate exceptional performance and superior leadership. 

During the events, Air Commandos from a range of career fields were pushed to their limits as they vied for the title of 27th SOW Service Member of the Year and the chance to represent the 27 SOW at the U.S. Special Operations Command level, where they will compete against other joint service members in similar events. 

“The point of this competition is to identify the individual from our Wing who most embodies the Warrior Ethos. Professional, credible and capable Airmen deserve to compete against the finest warriors in the DOD, and I’m incredibly excited to be able to put Cannon AFB’s Airmen on the radar of our sister services,” Hardy said. “Our nominees are not from Special Tactics; they are from career fields all over the base, and the Wing’s nominee will compete in an environment that is unfamiliar, against opponents who are incredible in their own right.” 

27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

LEAP: The Solution to Language, Culture Barriers in Large-Scale Military Exercises

Saturday, November 4th, 2023

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) — Large-scale military exercises across all branches focus heavily on integration with allies and partners as a cornerstone of the National Defense and National Security strategies. While seamless execution of this integration can pose a challenge when differences in language and culture are present, the Air Force Culture and Language Center offers a solution to overcome those barriers — the Language Enabled Airman Program.

A recent article in defense trade publication highlighted the cultural and language challenges U.S. Air Force leaders faced during exercise Northern Edge 2. U.S. Air Force pilots worked with their Japanese and French pilot counterparts during this exercise to demonstrate the concept of agile combat employment, which relies on working with allies and partners in the region for success. Exercise leaders emphasized the need to overcome language barriers before they could effectively accomplish the mission.

While focus is often placed on the tactical process of working side by side with ally and partner nations, many military leaders now recognize the critical importance of having cultural and language understanding along with technical expertise for true integration.

“The Department of the Air Force seeks to strengthen international relationships and work with our partners to build shared air and space capabilities and capacity, but we can’t stay connected and continue to strengthen relationships with our allies and partners if we don’t understand them,” Brig. Gen. William Freeman, Air War College commandant, said during a recent Facebook live event. “We need Airmen with language, regional expertise and culture skills to accomplish this.”

That’s where LEAP comes in. The program serves as a force multiplier throughout the Department of Defense with a bench of more than 3,400 multi-capable, language-enabled Airmen who have proficiencies in language, regional expertise and culture across 97 strategic languages.

LEAP scholars are ready to deploy, at a moment’s notice, with the language, culture and technical skills needed in diverse environments to strengthen strategic connections with partners and allies and enable agile combat employment, or ACE.

“Language, regional expertise and culture skills are an enabler of ACE because it’s the only path to the type of integration that produces dominance in operational tempo when we’re working with our partners and allies,” said Howard Ward AFCLC director. “To defeat the strategy of our adversaries, our operational output as a team must be greater than the sum of the parts. LREC skills, in the hands of a force integrated by design with partners and allies, are required to produce that level of winning capability.”

Recently, LEAP scholars have supported several large-scale missions in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command region across all branches of service to help advance a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” as instructed in the Department of Defense Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command, utilized LEAP scholars to enhance understanding and integration with partners and allies during the command’s largest-ever full-spectrum readiness exercise, Mobility Guardian 23.

“Mobility Guardian 23 focused heavily on enabling ACE with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific, which cannot happen if we don’t understand each other. Having LEAP scholars in the mix during the exercise helped us take integration and understanding to a new level to lay the groundwork for a fortified, integrated and agile joint team ready to fight and win against our adversaries,” he said.

Cope North is another large-scale annual exercise held in the Indo-Pacific region where LEAP scholars played a key role in facilitating partnership building for the Air Force. Cope North 23 was a multilateral field training exercise focused on integration of large-force employment, ACE and humanitarian and disaster relief training. During this event, two Japanese LEAP scholars worked alongside Air Force airfield experts to facilitate an exchange of skills with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force partners.

“Having support from language-enabled Airmen for this event is invaluable and vital for mission success. Cope North is historically the number one or two highest priorities in Pacific Air Forces out of roughly 47 annual exercises, and the linguist support enabled the Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force to further interoperability with our Japan Air Self-Defense Force allies,” Cope North lead planner Lt. Col. David Overstreet said.

During Kamandag 6, a large-scale Marine Corps exercise held in the Philippines, LEAP scholars provided critical culture and language support along with their technical expertise from their career fields to completely transform the way servicemembers connected by bridging language and cultural gaps to strengthen the strategic bond between the two nations.

Brig. Gen. Jimmy Larida, Philippine Marine Corps, 3rd Marine Brigade, commanding general, emphasized the positive impact LEAP scholar support had on this exercise.

 “In the 34 times that I have performed exercises with the U.S. Marine Corps, this is the first time that they’ve attached [LEAP] linguists — linguists who are truly one of us. And it has made a huge difference. My Marines trust them, and my Marines are drawn to them. This needs to happen, every single time from here on out,” he said.

 Marine Corps Col. Thomas Siverts, commander, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit/Marine Rotational Force-Southeast Asia, also highlighted the critical importance of LEAP support to the success of Kamandag 6.

 “The LEAP team enabled us to quickly establish trust with the 3rd Marine Brigade, and they facilitated an exceptional environment where both forces could learn from each other using our native languages,” he said. “The result was a great exercise that developed relationships, trust and interoperability at an unmatched pace. I will never do another bi-lateral exercise without requesting the language and cultural expertise that LEAP was able to provide.”

All DOD and intergovernmental agencies can utilize LEAP scholars for interpretation and translation support in exercises, conferences and other missions. To request LEAP scholar support, visit the Air Force Culture and Language Center website and select the Training Partnership Request option in the sidebar menu.

Story by Mikala McCurry

Air Force Culture and Language Center Outreach Team

Photo by Airman 1st Class Spencer Perkins