5 Things to Start Your Week: March 19, 2018

An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron, flies during training on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Feb. 22, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Kevin Tanenbaum)
An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron, flies during training on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Feb. 22, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Kevin Tanenbaum)

Here are five news stories and events to start your week, from the editors at Military.com.

 

1. PENTAGON IDs AIRMEN KILLED IN CRASH

From Oriana Pawlyk at Military.com:

"The Defense Department has identified all seven combat search and rescue airmen killed in the HH-60 Pave Hawk crash on Thursday in western Iraq.

Master Sgt. Christopher J. Raguso, 39, a special missions aviation flight engineer; Capt. Andreas B. O'Keeffe, 37, an HH-60G pilot; Capt. Christopher T. Zanetis, 37, an HH-60G pilot; and Staff Sgt Dashan J. Briggs, 30, a special missions aviation flight engineer, belonged to the 106th Rescue Wing, Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, according to a Saturday news release. The rescue wing is based on Long Island.

Master Sgt William R. Posch, 36, of Indialantic, Florida; and Staff Sgt Carl P. Enis, 31, of Tallahassee, Florida, belonged to the 308th Rescue Squadron, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. The squadron, known as an Air Force 'Guardian Angel' personnel and recovery unit, is part of the Air Force Reserve's 920th Rescue Wing.

Also killed was Capt Mark K. Weber, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Weber was assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.

… The HH-60 Pave Hawk is a variant of the Army's Black Hawk helicopter, used to conduct personnel recovery and medical recovery missions. The Pave Hawk is often associated with the Air Force's combat search-and-rescue missions, known as CSAR. The aircraft's crew is normally composed of two pilots, one flight engineer and one gunner.

The aging HH-60G Pave Hawk fleet is intended to be replaced within the next decade by the Sikorsky HH-60W, the latest combat rescue helicopter based on the UH-60M Black Hawk.

 

2. PIZZA MRES, COMING THIS MONTH

From Military.com's Matthew Cox:

After years of rumors, the Army now says it plans to begin fielding a shelf-stable pepperoni pizza MRE starting this month. The menu item, which promises to give troops a taste of home while they're in the field or downrange, presented a number of scientific challenges: it had to remain shelf-stable for three years at temperatures of up to 80 degrees without getting soggy from the sauce or drying out.

The Army announced in February that it planned to start fielding the MREs sometime in 2018, but last week it pushed up the timeline, saying fielding was imminent.

"This product is a great example of using food science to meet the challenging and unique requirements for military rations," Stephen Moody, head of the Combat Feeding Directorate at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, said in an announcement.

 

3. PACOM NEEDS MORE SPY PLANES

From Military.com’s Richard Sisk:

"The commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific told Congress he lacks the spy aircraft needed to verify any ‘denuclearization’ agreement that might come out of the proposed summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

'I don't have enough because there isn't enough to go around,' Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said of the available intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee last Thursday.

In response to questions from Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, Harris said Navy P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft, Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint signals intelligence and WC-135 Constant Phoenix ‘sniffer’ aircraft are vital to his mission monitoring North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

… Harris had a suggestion for Trump that is a wrinkle on President Ronald Reagan's 'trust but verify' axiom for arms reductions negotiations. In the case of talks with North Korea, 'I think it's distrust but verify,' he said."

 

4. ARMY WANTS NEW HYPERSONIC WEAPONS

From Military.com's Matt Cox:

"U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told Congress recently that he sees the Army fielding hypersonic weapons to counter similar, rapidly evolving threats from adversaries such as Russia, but conceded that such efforts are still in the early research phase.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's dramatic announcement earlier this month that his country has successfully launched the hypersonic Kinzhal(Dagger) missile from a MiG-31 interceptor has lawmakers concerned that the U.S. is already outmatched by high-speed weapons that travel at speeds of Mach 5 or above.

Putin boasted that the new missile has been deployed in the Southern Military District since Dec. 1.

'The concern that many of us has is about the frequency of hypersonic testing from Russia and China,' Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, said during a March 15 House Appropriations Committee defense subcommittee hearing on the Army's proposed fiscal 2019 budget."

 

5. NO NEW A-10 FROM LIGHT ATTACK SEARCH

From Military.com’s Oriana Pawlyk:

"Leaders have been working on light attack for nearly a year, and they're no closer to procuring a new aircraft than when the effort began. Despite the fact the service says the A-10 Thunderbolt II is not nearing retirement, some wonder some wonder if light attack may be a viable substitute.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain endorsed the Air Force's decision to pursue a future buy, but stressed the aircraft cannot replace the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the service's top close-air-support mission aircraft. The Arizona Republican last January released his white paper assessment on how the Defense Department should move forward in military spending.

The likelihood of light attack becoming a real program? Slim, according to defense analysts.

'You're talking about an enormous amount of money when there's so many other, higher priority candidates,' explained John "JV" Venable, a senior research fellow for defense policy at The Heritage Foundation. Venable flew F-16 Fighting Falcons throughout his 25-year Air Force career.

Venable said the service has billions invested into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber, and KC-46 Pegasus refueling tanker programs. The Air Force is also revitalizing its nuclear enterprise, with planned investments in nuclear command and control, communications, and new Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and nuclear-tipped cruise missiles."

-- Richard Sisk, Matthew Cox and Oriana Pawlyk contributed to this report.

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