AFSOC

A laser experiment at the Air Force Research Laboratory

TYSON’S CORNER: All branches of the military really want laser weapons. But they don’t all want them for the same missions. What struck me after a recent conference here was how differently the US Air Force is approaching lasers. The USAF is pursing a two-pronged approach: They want to mount lasers on both the large… Keep reading →

US Navy photo

TYSON’S CORNER: New laser technology looks promising as a way to shoot down Chinese-style massed missiles. But laser projects have overpromised and underdelivered for decades, from Reagan’s Star Wars in the eighties to the Airborne Laser, canceled in 2011. Now proponents must convince the skeptics — particularly in Congress — that this time is different. “Right… Keep reading →

A sailor aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1) signals to the pilot of an F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter to land as it arrives for the first phase of operational testing, May 18, 2015.  The short take-off, vertical landing capabilities of the F-35B are crucial to the mission of the Marine Corps and necessary for operation aboard a Navy amphibious ship. The aircraft are stationed with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, Marine Aircraft Group 31, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Beaufort, South Carolina and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Yuma, Arizona. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Remington Hall/Released)

WASHINGTON: As the Marines started doing operational testing of the F-35B aboard the USS Wasp, the head of Marine Aviation is visibly and demonstrably confident the aircraft will meet the date for the plane’s Initial Operational Capabiility. “To me the F-35 program is right on track where it should be,” Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the head… Keep reading →

MARSOC guys on MEU

BALLSTON, VA: A soufflé is fluffy but a SOFLE – a brand new military acronym that stands for Special Operations Forces Liaison Element — is sinewy and powerful. Just ask Marine Lt. Col. Andrew Christian, who led the first such unit for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit during a seven month deployment to the Pacific… Keep reading →

Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold AFSOC Air Force Special Operations Command

Still in his first year as leader of Air Force Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold has lots of plans, but they no longer include replacing AFSOC’s U-28A manned surveillance aircraft with MC-12W Liberty spy planes. “There was discussion about moving to the Liberty birds,” Heithold told an audience at the Air Force Association… Keep reading →

AC-130J gunship

WASHINGTON: Sometimes smart bombs aren’t the smart choice. Sometimes you just need a big bad flying gun. That’s why the aging AC-130 gunship is still revered by ground troops for its ability to fire a 105mm cannon — a weapon normally mounted on light tanks. That’s why the head of Air Force Special Operations Command, Lt.… Keep reading →

AFSOC pilots Capt Brett Cassidy (l) and Maj. Taylor Fingarson, pilots of Rooster 75

WASHINGTON: Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Shea sensed no danger as he stood with his .50 caliber machine gun ready at the open ramp of “Rooster 73,” one of three CV-22 Ospreys coming in to land on a small, rutted airstrip in Bor, South Sudan. A crowd of up to 10,000 people milled about a United… Keep reading →

Time was, only a masochist could enjoy managing the V-22 Osprey program office. The Marines put the tiltrotor troop transport into service in 2007 after a quarter of a century of development that included design problems, a four-year battle pitting the Corps and their pro-Osprey allies in Congress and industry against a sitting defense secretary, repeated schedule delays and cost overruns, three fatal crashes that led the Pentagon to consider cancelling the helicopter-airplane hybrid in 2001 and an unrelenting drumbeat of media and other criticism.

How much have things changed? Today, the ninth Osprey program manager, Marine Col. Greg Masiello, can honestly say: “It’s a great time to be the joint program manager of the V-22.” Keep reading →


The Air Force plans to reinstate substantial formation flight training for CV-22 Osprey pilots that it eliminated four years ago, AOL Defense has learned. Reinstatement of the training four years after the service ended it is an implicit admission, V-22 aviators said, that better training might have prevented the June 13 crash of a CV-22B in Florida.

From now on, Air Force pilots going through initial Osprey flight training with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 (VMMT-204) at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., will take a classroom course in formation flight, fly two formation flights of two hours each in a V-22 simulator, and fly one actual two-hour formation flight in the tiltrotor troop transport. Keep reading →


This September, the controversial Osprey will reach the five-year mark in its operational deployment history. In September 2007, the Osprey was deployed for the first time to Iraq. The plane has not only done well, but in five short years has demonstrated its capability to have not only a significant impact on combat but to reshape thinking about concepts of operations.

In this piece, I would like to reflect back on these five years, not just to grasp lessons learned, but glimmers of where the plane, and the Navy-Marine Corps team might be able to move into the future. The story of the evolution of the con-ops surrounding the plane provides a solid foundation for innovation and transformation of concepts of operations, if boldness overcomes timidity. Keep reading →

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