Scott quietly sought to push back against F-35 foes

By: Jasper Craven for VTDigger, August 13, 2018

When Gov. Phil Scott traveled to Washington on April 9 for a meeting at the Pentagon with Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, the trip was not included on his public schedule, nor were there any indications his office had taken steps to publicize it.

However, the following Monday his participation in an Aerospace Innovation Forum in Montreal was noted on the calendar and followed up by an afternoon press release.

The subject of Scott’s Washington meeting was the Air Force’s plans to base F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport beginning in 2019 once the current squadron of F-16s are phased out. The governor has been a long-time supporter of the basing plan.

Scott flew to the nation’s capital explicitly for the meeting, traveling on a military plane provided by the Army National Guard. Those who accompanied him included Steven Cray, the Vermont Air National Guard’s adjutant general, and Frank Cioffi, a Chittenden County businessman who has long supported the basing and is part of the Air Force’s civic leaders program.

According to emails obtained through a public records request, the meeting was described as “positive and productive.” Scott reiterated his backing for the impending basing of the 18 F-35s and provided a “statewide perspective of the support for the VT Air Guard.”

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7/27/18 Letter from Leahy’s Office to SOS VT

A letter dated July 27, 2018 and addressed to Lt Col. Roger Bourassa (Ret.)

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Eather: The Quietest Place in America is Becoming a Warzone

By: Brian Khan 7/30/18

N 47.51575°, W 123.52133°—Amid the panoply of greenery that makes up the Hoh Rainforest, a gap in the old growth forest arises. Well, more accurately it’s a gap in a tree—a hollow inside a towering sitka spruce that stands like an open door. Beyond it, a short game trail through ankle deep mud and pools of water accumulated from the week’s rains ends in a clearing lined with ferns.

Gordon Hempton guides a group to the clearing where, on a log dotted with the tiniest plants and mosses sits a red stone, roughly one square inch. Hempton walks up to it, opens his satchel, grabs another similar red stone and places it on the log while grabbing the original one. It’s like the opening scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Hempton looks the part, except in a Northwest twist this Indiana Jones has swapped a leather jacket for a thick wool sweater and a whip for an umbrella. He turns and presses his meaty palm into mine, closing my hand around the burnt red stone slick with rainwater without saying a word.

Our group of nine clad in Gore-tex and soggy socks instinctively gathers in a circle around the rock, the new altar of the rainforest, a monument to One Square Inch of Silence. We had come to hear a sermon. Hands crossed, heads bowed, bodies stilled, we listen.

Seconds pass, then minutes as time starts to warp. One by one, the group of locals and the regional head of a nonprofit working with Hempton to protect the site peels back into the wall of greenery toward the trail. Eventually, I’m standing alone at One Square Inch.

After years of painstaking acoustic measurements, Hempton identified this spot on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula as the quietest place in the U.S.—the spot most free of our man-made noise pollution. He has nurtured this square inch, guided people to it, and protected it from encroaching cacophony of our modern world. But now it faces its biggest threat yet.

[FULL ARTICLE]

A-10 vs. F-35 close-air support ‘fly off’ shrouded in secrecy

By: Victoria Leoni and Kyle Rempfer for Air Force Times

The much-anticipated A-10 vs. F-35 close-air support fly-off has wrapped up before many people even realized the tests were happening, but a government watchdog group claims the tests were rigged in favor the Lightning II, a fifth-generation multirole fighter.

The Project On Government Oversight revealed Tuesday that the tests were underway at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. According to a testing schedule POGO reviewed, the one-week fly-off began July 5 and concluded Thursday.

Citing sources “closely associated with the fly-off,” POGO reported that large-scale Army and Marine ground units did not participate in the fly-off. Given those services’ significant stake in receiving effective close-air support, their absence was conspicuous.

“A close-air support test should involve large numbers of ground troops in a highly fluid combat simulation in varied terrain, across many days,” wrote POGO’s Dan Grazier. “It should test the pilot’s ability to spot targets from the air in a chaotic and ever-changing situation. The test should also include a means of testing the program’s ability to fly several sorties a day, because combat doesn’t pause to wait for airplanes to become available.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

U.S. Air Force Is Hiding Its Controversial Flyoff Between the A-10 and F-35

By Joseph Trevithick
July 10, 2018

The U.S. Air Force has, without any apparent public announcement, begun a much-awaited comparative evaluation of the close air support capabilities of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter versus the venerable A-10 Warthog. The event was already controversial before it even began and there is now evidence to suggest the service maybe be manipulating the test parameters to favor the stealthy fifth-generation fighter jet.

The Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) was the first to reveal the tests have already started, according to a copy of the schedule that it got a chance to review. The evaluation began on July 5, 2018, and will last just one week, ending on July 12, 2018. Only four of those days involve actual flying. The Air Force had previously said the event would occur sometime in 2018, but did not offer a fixed timeline.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Response from Secretary of the Air Force

June 26, 2018
By John W. Henderson, P.E. Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Installations, Environment, and Energy)

Dear Mr. Dorn:

Thank you for your April 17, 2018 letter addressing the Air Force decision to base the F-35 at Burlington Air National Guard Base and sharing the South Burlington City Council resolution. The Secretary of the Air Force has asked me to respond on her behalf.

The Air Force Finalized the decision to base the F-35 in Burlington in 2013 after a throrough 48-month review of the 205 locations. We expect the first aircraft to arrive in 2019. If the Air Force were to honor the Council’s request to cancel basing the F-35 at the National Guard Base, the Vermont Air National Guard would likely lose their flying mission upon the retirement of the F-16s.

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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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