US Air Force orders freeze on public outreach

By Valerie Insinna , David B. Larter , and Aaron Mehta
March 12, 2018

The U.S. Air Force is slashing access to media embeds, base visits and interviews as it seeks to put the entire public affairs apparatus through retraining — a move it says is necessary for operational security, but one which could lead to a broader freeze in how the service interacts with the public.

According to March 1 guidance obtained by Defense News, public affairs officials and commanders down to the wing level must go through new training on how to avoid divulging sensitive information before being allowed to interact with the press.

The effort, which represents the third major Defense Department entity to push out guidance restricting public communication over the past 18 months, creates a massive information bureaucracy in which even the most benign human-interest stories must be cleared at the four-star command level.

Before settling on retraining its public affairs corps and commanders, the service considered an even more drastic step: shutting down all engagement with the press for a 120-day period, a source with knowledge of the discussions said.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Unmanned flights are the future of the F-35?

By Alex Lockie
June 5, 2018

China released images of a new, unmanned, stealth-fighter-style jet, and they present a shocking look into how close Beijing has come to unseating the US as the dominant military air power.
An expert who examined the pictures said the drone, called the “Dark Sword,” could give China a big advantage in a fight with the US.
The Dark Sword looks like an unmanned stealth fighter jet that could overwhelm the US with quantity and supersonic speed.
The US thought about making a jet like this, but instead turned it into a tanker, and now it could be falling behind.
China released images of a new, unmanned, stealth fighter-style jet, and they present a shocking look into how close Beijing has come to unseating the US as the dominant military air power.

China has already built stealth fighter jets that give US military planners pause, but the images of its new unmanned plane, named the “Dark Sword,” suggest a whole new warfighting concept that could prove an absolute nightmare for the US.

Justin Bronk, an air-combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute, said the Dark Sword “represents a very different design philosophy” than US unmanned combat jet plans.

Bronk examined the photos available of the Dark Sword and concluded it appeared optimized for fast, supersonic flight as opposed to maximized stealth.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Air Force, state officials stand firm on F-35 basing

By Jasper Craven
June 4, 2018

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has told federal and local leaders that the Vermont Air National Guard has essentially one viable flying mission — the F-35 fighter jet.

Wilson told Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in an interview last month at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that it was “highly likely” Vermont would lose the Guard base if Burlington doesn’t host the F-35.

Shortly after, Wilson reiterated her position in a letter to Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.

“If that decision were to be reversed, the Vermont Air National Guard would likely lose their flying mission upon the retirement of the F-16s,” Wilson wrote to Weinberger. “The Air Force is much smaller than it was at the end of the Cold War.

[FULL ARTICLE]

VTANG pilots look forward to new F-35 fighter jets

This story is produced and presented by Pomerleau Real Estate

Following his dreams has taken Captain Clay Shaner to unimaginable heights.

Shaner, 36, already had a successful career in finance on Wall Street in 2008. But when he daydreamed at his desk at Morgan Stanley or drifted off to sleep at night, his imagination didn’t conjure blue-chip stocks and financial windfalls.

He dreamed, like so many of us, of flying.

“It’s something I’ve always been fascinated with, and wanted to do,” he said. “I’ve always been the guy in the window seat on the plane, watching the earthbound world fade away. There’s a sense of freedom to it.”

Now a member of the Vermont Air National Guard, Shaner’s dreams have taken him to the absolute height of military aviation, to a point where he has a clear view of its future. Shaner is on exchange assignment to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida’s panhandle, in a replacement training unit geared toward integrating the very latest in military aircraft technology — the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — into the U.S. arsenal.

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MG Cray says “a vote of no” shows support for the Guard

By Elizabeth Gribkoff and Mike Dougherty
February 9, 2018

Vermont National Guard officials spoke out on Friday against a ballot measure that will allow Burlington voters to signal opposition to basing F-35 fighter jets at the Burlington International Airport.

Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, Vermont’s adjutant general, said at a press conference that the question “misleads the voter into thinking they are supporting the Air Guard.”

The ballot item, which asks voters if they want the City Council to request the cancellation of the planned basing, has been a point of contention.

[FULL ARTICLE]

MG Cray claims ballot item misleads the voters

February 12, 2018

The City of Burlington has added a citizens, non-binding question on the Town Meeting Day ballot regarding whether Burlington voters support, or not, the basing of the F-35 at the Air Guard base at the Burlington Internation Airport. There was much debate about the wording of the ballot question, which eventually was left intact from the original petition (link is external). On Friday afternoon Vermont National Guard Major General Steven Cray held a press conference at the base to discuss the F-35. His opening comments and video are below, as well as the ballot resolution.

Major General Steven Cray: “My condolences to the Pomerleau family. Mr. Pomerleau was a staunch supporter of the VT National Guard and was outspoken about his respect for the men and women in uniform. He is an honorary Green Mountain Boy and will be sorely missed in our communities.

[FULL ARTICLE]

BG Clark says their press conference was held because of upcoming vote on ballot measure

By Mike Dougherty
Mar 1 2018

Vermont Air National Guard officials on Wednesday explained how they are preparing for the arrival of 18 F-35 fighter jets at the base in South Burlington next year.

Training operations and construction projects for F-35 operations at the Guard base adjacent to Burlington International Airport have been underway since 2016, guard officials said. They expect the first of the new fleet planes to arrive within 18 months.

The press event came six days before Burlington voters will weigh in on the basing in a Town Meeting Day ballot measure. Opponents are campaigning for residents to vote “yes” on a question that asks whether the City Council should request the cancellation of the F-35 basing in favor of “low-noise-level equipment with a proven high safety record appropriate for a densely populated area.”

Air Guard officials have maintained that the F-35 decision, which the U.S. Air Force handed down in 2013, is beyond the point of no return.

[FULL ARTICLE]

BG Clark says a vote of ‘no’ supports the Vermont Air National Guard

By Todd Shepherd
March 3, 2018

Residents of Burlington, Vt., go to the polls on Tuesday to vote on a non-binding resolution which, if passed, would direct the city council to ask the Air National Guard to find somewhere else to house an F-35 fighter jet base.

The primary objection from opponents of the base is jet noise, although numerous other issues play a role as well, in a struggle that stretches at least as far back as 2013. The vote comes despite the fact the Vermont Air National Guard has already invested $83 million in preparation for the jets.

“It has been ongoing for 10 years, and we’ve taken it very seriously,” Lt. Col. Daniel Finnegan told Vermont Public Radio. “When the first F-35 lands here in 18 months we intend to be fully trained and equipped to receive it.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Vermont Air National Guard gives reporters a tour of base a week before Burlington vote stepping up their outreach efforts. BG Clark called ballot item “inaccurate”

By Liam Elder-Connors
March 1, 2018

A non-binding ballot item in Burlington this Town Meeting Day would advise the City Council to request that F-35 fighter jets not be based at Burlington International Airport — but the Vermont Air National Guard says they’re still getting ready for the arrival of the aircraft.

The fight over the basing of F-35s in Burlington has been going on for years.

Charles Simpson is an activist with Save Our Skies — the group that worked to get the item on the ballot. He’s also running for Burlington City Council.

Simpson said among the concerns is the noise from the new jets.

“The old plane was the F-16. We’re bringing in the F-35 — four times louder, much bigger noise impact zone, which is going to put in jeopardy 3,000 homes,” he said.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Col Harder, Wing Vice Commander talks about voting on ballot item during Burlington Neighborhood Planning Assembly

February 28,2018

Col Harder, Wing Vice Commander talks about voting on ballot item during Burlington Neighborhood Planning Assembly in Wards 4/7.
Harder speaks 28 minutes into recording.

[FULL ARTICLE]

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