The Air Force announced that it has removed the minimum height requirement for officer applicants who wish to fly. According to service, the change, which took effect May 13, is part of an effort to encourage a more diverse pool of applicants to pursue careers in aviation. “We’re really focused on identifying and eliminating barriers to serve in the Air Force,” said Gwendolyn DeFilippi, assistant deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. DeFilippi, who chairs the Department of the Air Force Barrier Analysis Working Group, explained, “This is a huge win, especially for women and minorities of smaller stature who previously may have assumed they weren’t qualified to join our team.” Under the pervious Medical Standards Directory requirement, an individual who wanted to become a pilot had to have a standing height between 5’4″ and 6’5″ and have a sitting height between 34 and 40 inches. The previous height screening criteria eliminated about 44 percent of American women between the age of 20 and 29, the Air Force said.
The US Space Force requested flexibility from Congress to purchase and use satellites, saying it needs more agility to keep pace with adversaries. A 23-page report to Congress from the US Air Force, the current parent of the Space Force, explains an “alternative acquisition system” for the Space Force. The report, released this week, envisions an overhaul of the tools needed to acquire new space hardware, with less reporting to Congress, allowing it to operate with more agility in the face of completion from other countries. Congress mandated a retooling of the Space Force acquisition system when it created the new branch of the military in December.
Middle East & Africa
US Africa Command issued a statement on the recent deployment of Russian fighters to Libya. It has also made available images of those Russian aircraft, which had their markings removed to hide their Russian origin. The press release disclosed that the jets had transited in Syria. Besides MiG-29s, there were also photos of Su-24, Su-34 and Su-35 fighters available for download. “Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya. Just like I saw them doing in Syria, they are expanding their military footprint in Africa using government-supported mercenary groups like Wagner,” said US Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, US Africa Command. “For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict. Well, there is no denying it now. We watched as Russia flew fourth generation jet fighters to Libya, every step of the way. Neither the LNA nor private military companies can arm, operate and sustain these fighters without state support – support they are getting from Russia.”
The UK Royal Navy completed a series of live firing trials of the new Martlet lightweight precision strike missile from a Wildcat HMA2 helicopter. Undertaken at the UK Ministry of Defense Aberporth Range on the west coast of Wales, the firings, which were conducted as part of the UK’s Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon program, demonstrated the integration of the Martlet system onto the Wildcat platform ahead of service entry. The system is due to enter service with the RN in January 2021, according to the Defense Equipment Plan 2019 financial summary released in February 2020.
South Korea’s Maritime Operation Helicopter (MOH) batch-2 competition has run into a roadblock as the current pandemic prevents South Korean military officials from traveling to Italy and United States to evaluate the bids. Italy’s Leonardo is hoping to secure another order for its Wildcat helicopter while Lockheed Martin entered the race late by offering the MH-60R. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration, the South Korean agency handling the tender, said negotiations were continuing.
China’s AVIC says its AG600 amphibious airplane will be making its first amphibious take off from sea surface in the second half of this year. The milestone flight is expected to take place off Qingdao. The aircraft first flew in December 2017 and made a water take off and landing on October 20, 2018 from a reservoir. The AVIC develops the AG600 to meet the needs of China’s emergency rescue and natural disaster prevention and control.
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