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Holmes Fights for NGAD as USAF Mulls Tough Budget Choices

Air Force Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes argues the service can spend $1 billion researching and developing Next-Generation Air Dominance solutions despite some lawmakers? doubts the money can be used in a timely and effective way.

Holmes, one of the most senior officials with a stake in NGAD, said he is meeting with congressional staffers during August recess to convince them to pass legislation with full funding for the forward-looking combat technology program. House lawmakers propose slashing fiscal 2020 funding for NGAD from $1 billion to $500 million due to ?cost risk associated with development,? according to the House-passed version of the 2020 defense policy bill.

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RC-135 Training ‘Bottlenecks’ After Flooding Destroys Simulators

The recent flooding at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, has slowed down mission crew training on the RC-135 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, leading the Air Force to send airmen as far away as the United Kingdom to train, according to a top general.

Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, said Tuesday that the loss of the aircraft simulator complex at Offutt due to flooding has caused a “problem” for the RC-135 force.

“Fortunately, we’re able to take advantage of some allied capabilities, the [Royal Air Force’s] simulator capabilities,” Holmes told reporters during a Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington, D.C. “We’re able to train on the airplane; it’ll have an impact, though, on our capacity to train.”

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?Strictly Trainer? T-X Now a Candidate for Lead-in Fighter, Aggressor, Light Strike

After years of insisting the T-X competition was only meant to yield an advanced T-38 trainer replacement?and very explicitly not a future Aggressor or in other roles also filled by the T-38?the Air Force is now considering it for precisely those and other missions. The announcement comes just a few months after the T-X competition was won by the team of Boeing and Saab of Sweden.

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Air Combat Command plans to be ?training more, then training better?

With the Air Force?s shift toward preparing for a potential fight against a ?great power? nation such as Russia or China, Air Combat Command will have to continue making adjustments.

Among the biggest will be overhauling how its pilots and other airmen train, said Gen. Mike Holmes, the ACC commander, in an Aug. 28 interview.

In January 2017, ACC leaders reconsidered how the command measures the potential threats it could face, and whether its airmen are ready. For two decades, ACC ? like much of the rest of the military ? has focused on foes such as the Islamic State and Taliban. Now, the command has expanded its ?threat matrix process? to take into account the threats that North Korea, Iran, Russia or China present.

AirForceTimes.com