MIGHTY TACTICAL
Oriana Pawlyk

US F-35 fighter jets are all still 'below service expectations'

Even though the F-35 program is making strides, each of the Joint Strike Fighter variants is still coming up short on combat readiness goals, according to the Pentagon's top weapons tester.

Based on collected data for fiscal 2019, the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy variants all remain "below service expectations" for aircraft availability, Robert Behler, director of the Pentagon's Operational Test and Evaluation Office, said Nov. 13, 2019.

"Operational suitability of the F-35 fleet remains below service expectations," he said before the House Subcommittee on Readiness and Tactical Air and Land Forces. "In particular, no F-35 variant meets the specified reliability or maintainability metrics."

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MIGHTY CULTURE
Jim Absher

Here's how California veterans can get free pets

Veterans in California will soon be able to adopt dogs and cats from public shelters for free.

The more than two million veterans living in that state will have adoption fees waived at public shelters beginning Jan. 1, 2020, if they show their driver's license or ID card with the veteran designation on it to shelter personnel. So those wanting a new puppy or kitten from Santa may have to wait a few weeks after the holiday if they want to get the discount.

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MIGHTY FIT
Gina Harkins

Here's who will face the new Marine Corps PFT rules first

Marines will soon get the option to swap crunches on their physical fitness test with a plank. Officer candidates reporting to training in January 2020 will be the first to see the change.

The Marine Corps updated its graduation requirements Nov. 8, 2019, for candidates reporting to Officer Candidates School in 2020. Members of Officer Candidate Course No. 233 will be the first to have the option to perform a plank on their PFT.

Candidates will have to hold a plank for at least a minute and three seconds to get the minimum score required on that portion of the PFT to be admitted to and graduate from OCS.

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MIGHTY CULTURE
Gina Harkins

Here are the new uniform changes for female Marines

Marines have been given the approval to let their hair down — at least some of it — while they work out.

Women with medium-length hair are now allowed to wear a "half ponytail" hairstyle during physical training. The style, which pulls the top portion of the hair away from the face and into a ponytail while the rest of the hair remains down — is one of several new uniform-related changes the commandant signed off on this week.

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MIGHTY CULTURE
Gina Harkins

Marines can now use umbrellas instead of just holding them for Presidents

The top Marine Corps general is officially putting an end to the long-standing tradition of toughing out the rain without an umbrella, which has become a point of pride for the amphibious service.

"Umbrellas are good to go," Gen. David Berger told reporters at the Pentagon — at least when Marines are wearing their service or dress uniforms.

Berger will make the move official in a new Marine Corps-wide administrative message to be released this week. Effective immediately, all Marines are authorized to use small, black umbrellas under certain conditions.

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MIGHTY CULTURE
Gina Harkins

Here's how the Marine Corps is changing its promotions policies

Corporals need the opportunity to be corporals before they become sergeants.

That's what Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black told Marines last week when introducing new enlisted promotion and retention policies.

Starting in January 2019, corporals won't be able to pick up sergeant until they've been in the Marine Corps for four years. That's twice as long as the current requirement.

And sergeants won't make staff noncommissioned officer status until they've served at least five years — a year longer than currently required. Sergeants will also need 36 months time-in-grade before they can make staff sergeant. That's up nine months from the 27 required now.

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MIGHTY TACTICAL
Oriana Pawlyk

Iconic aircraft is headed to the Reagan Presidential Library

An F-117 Nighthawk is headed to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library December 2019 and will call the Simi Valley, California, hillside its permanent home.

The Reagan Foundation and manufacturer Lockheed Martin announced Nov. 4, 2019, that the single-seat, twin-engine stealth aircraft will be on display just outside the library, next to an F-14 Tomcat.

The restored jet, tail number 803, will be unveiled during the annual Reagan National Defense Forum on Dec. 7, 2019.

"The Reagan Library will now be one of two places in the nation where the general public can visit an F-117 Stealth Fighter on permanent display," said John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.

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MIGHTY TACTICAL
Matthew Cox

Hollywood-style special effects convert Humvees into enemy tanks

The Army National Guard is using new Hollywood special effects to transform Humvees into T-72 tanks and other Russian combat vehicles to amp up the realism in training exercises.

In 2018, the National Guard Bureau hired WestEfx Military Services in Sun Valley, California, to help improve its Exportable Combat Training Capability program and its 21-day exercises designed to ensure units are ready for mobilization, according to an Army news release.

WestEfx has provided special effects for big-screen movies such as "Taken" and "Men in Black II," it added.

The firm's special VisMod kits convert M1097 Humvees into realistic mock-ups of Russian T-72 main battle tanks and BTR-90 personnel carriers.

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MIGHTY CULTURE
Oriana Pawlyk

2 more women attempt Air Force special warfare training

Two more women are attempting to enter the U.S. Air Force's combat controller and pararescue (PJ) battlefield airman career fields.

The women, who were not identified for privacy reasons, are the first to enter the official training pipelines of those career fields, according to 1st Lt. Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman for the Special Warfare Training Wing.

However, they are not the first two female candidates to attempt PJ or combat controller training overall, he said Nov. 1, 2019.

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