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Pardo's Push | Van's Aircraft Bankrupt | DoD Grounds All Ospreys | Franken F-35

Your insider view into the latest in aviation, defense, and geopolitics

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I'm gonna try to give you a push. Fly that thing as smooth as you've ever flown.
-Lt Col Bob Pardo

Lt Col Bob Pardo pushing his battle damaged wingman to safety. Lt Col Pardo flew west on 5 Dec. “Here’s a toast.”


March 10th, 1967 - F-4Ds of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, were tasked to strike a steel mill north of Hanoi in North Vietnam. Captain Bob Pardo, led the formation, with his Weapon Systems Officer 1st Lt Steve Wayne, and their wingmen Captain Earl Aman and 1st Lt Robert Houghton. Both aircraft were struck by heavy enemy anit-aircraft fire.

Aman's jet suffered a critical hit to its fuel tank, leading to a rapid loss of fuel. Confronted with the grim prospect of Aman and Houghton bailing out over hostile territory, Pardo made a split-second decision that would etch his name into the annals of aerial combat heroism.

Pardo's initial attempt to push Aman's aircraft using the drag chute compartment was thwarted by turbulence. He then resorted to a more daring method: using Aman's tailhook, a feature designed for naval operations, to push the damaged aircraft. Positioning his jet so that Aman's tailhook rested against his own windscreen, Pardo endeavored to control the descent of both jets, despite the tailhook slipping off every 15 to 30 seconds and a fire in one of his engines that necessitated its shutdown.

After a harrowing 88-mile push, both aircraft reached Laotian airspace. With their fuel depleted and at a mere 6,000 feet altitude, the decision was made to eject. Remarkably, all crew members evaded capture and were rescued.

Initially, Pardo faced criticism for the loss of his aircraft. However, the full measure of his bravery and resourcefulness was officially acknowledged in 1989 when both he and Wayne were awarded the Silver Star. Pardo's Push remains a defining moment in military aviation, demonstrating extraordinary courage and quick thinking in the face of overwhelming adversity.

🎙️ Listen to The Lowdown on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. We dive a bit deeper and share some “bonus” thoughts.  

Lowdown: 3-1 Brevity communication for a request for the tactical ground picture in an area of interest.


✈️ Reckless Stunt | YouTuber Imprisoned Tevor Jacob, a former U.S. Olympic snowboarder turned YouTuber, known for his extreme sports and aviation content, has been sentenced to six months in federal prison. In December 2021, Jacob uploaded a video titled "I Crashed My Airplane," showcasing him crashing his plane in Southern California under the guise of spreading a friend's ashes. The staged crash raised suspicions due to his wearing a skydiving parachute and lack of standard emergency procedures. The FAA revoked his license, and he was charged with obstructing a federal investigation. Jacob confessed to planning the crash for YouTube views and sponsor commissions.

Trevor Jacob

✈️ Financial Turbulence | Van's Bankruptcy - Van's Aircraft, the world's largest producer of experimental aircraft kits, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Facing challenges from quality control issues and a cash crunch, the 51-year-old company plans to reorganize, continuing operations with increased kit and parts prices. Customers can choose to pay higher prices or seek partial refunds as unsecured creditors.

✈️ 2024 Air Show Season - This week the International Council of Airshows hosted their annual conference in Las Vegas. This week long event is where airshow performers, support personnel, and airshow organizers come together. Many performers finalize their upcoming season schedule and the military jet teams release their 2024 and in the case of the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, and Snowbirds their 2025 schedule.

✈️ Self-Service Training | Air Force Adaptation - The Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Air Refueling Group is pioneering a unique training program for KC-135 tanker crews. This program teaches specialized fueling operations (SFO), including hot refueling and wet wing defueling, to enable operations from small, less-equipped airfields. This initiative aligns with the Air Force's Agile Combat Employment strategy, aiming to enhance flexibility and complicate enemy targeting.

In Partnership with Bogidope.com


🎯 Tragedy at Sea | Osprey Crash Aftermath - The wreckage of a U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey, which crashed off the coast of southern Japan on November 29, 2023, has been located along with the remains of five of its crew members. The aircraft, assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Wing and based at Yokota Air Base, Japan, was on a routine training mission. The recovery efforts involved U.S. and Japanese teams and are part of an ongoing effort to retrieve the remaining crew members.

Fleet Grounding | Osprey Safety Concerns - The U.S. military has grounded its entire fleet of Osprey V-22 aircraft following a fatal crash off the coast of Japan that claimed the lives of eight Air Force Special Operations Command service members. The decision, affecting the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, comes after preliminary investigations suggested a material failure in the aircraft.

🎯 Doomsday Plane| Boeing Excluded - Boeing has been excluded from the U.S. Air Force's competition to develop a new "Doomsday Plane," a successor to the E-4B Nightwatch. This decision leaves Sierra Nevada Corp as the sole public contender for the Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) contract. The exclusion arose due to disagreements over data rights and contract terms, specifically, Boeing's refusal to agree to a fixed-price contract. This development is a setback for Boeing, which has faced significant losses in fixed-price development programs. The Air Force plans to award the SAOC contract in 2024​​.

E-4B the “Doomsday” plane

🎯 Korean Air Force F-35 Out - The South Korean Air Force (ROKAF) has decided to retire an F-35A stealth fighter after a bird strike incident in January 2022. The collision caused significant damage, necessitating a belly landing due to an avionics system malfunction. A detailed assessment revealed damage to nearly 300 components, with repair costs estimated at about 140 billion won (US$107.6 million), exceeding the jet's original purchase price. The decision, pending defense ministry approval. ROKAF operates a fleet of 40 F-35As and plans to acquire more, including the F-35B variant for a future aircraft carrier

'Frankenplane' F-35A - The U.S. Air Force is working on an innovative project at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to create a new F-35A Lightning II from the parts of two damaged aircraft. This 'Frankenplane,' involving a jet damaged in 2020 and another from a 2014 incident. The project is set to complete in March 2025.

“Franken” F-35A

🎯 Policy Protest | Military Nominees Unblocked - Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) has lifted his hold on over 400 military promotions, affecting three-star ranks and below. This decision concludes a months long campaign protesting the Defense Department's abortion-related travel cost reimbursement policy. The Senate swiftly confirmed all 425 nominees. Tuberville maintains his hold on 11 four-star generals.

🎯 Su-24 Downed - Ukrainian forces successfully downed a Russian Su-24M attack aircraft over the Black Sea near Snake Island. The Soviet-era supersonic bomber, escorted by a Su-30SM fighter, was reportedly on a strike mission. Its destruction, potentially by advanced surface-to-air missiles like American-made Patriot batteries, marks a significant event in the ongoing conflict. The Su-24M, first introduced in 1984, is an older but still active platform in the war, with both Russian and Ukrainian forces deploying it​​​.


🎯 Strategic Expansion | Pacific Presence - The U.S. military is constructing a new facility at Tinian International Airport in the Northern Mariana Islands, expanding its presence on the island, which was last heavily utilized by B-29 bombers during WWII. This development aims to provide an alternative operating location for the U.S. Air Force, especially considering the vulnerability of Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to potential missile attacks. The project includes constructing a new taxiway, aircraft parking apron, fuel storage facilities, and a connecting pipeline, enhancing crisis response capabilities in the region​​​​.

 🎯 Military Budget Constraints | Critical Impact - Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has expressed urgent concerns to Congress about the impact of a yearlong continuing resolution (CR) on the U.S. military. A CR extends funding at the previous year's level, preventing new programs from starting. If Congress fails to pass a full-year budget, a $5.8 billion shortfall in military personnel funding is expected, hindering recruitment and delaying service member relocations. Additionally, key modernization efforts, like the procurement of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber and delays in Navy shipbuilding, would be severely affected. The Pentagon's ability to address critical security projects, such as nuclear modernization and infrastructure development in the Pacific, would also be compromised. This situation emerges as the military already faces challenges in meeting its recruiting targets, underscoring the potential severity of prolonged stopgap funding​.

CRs extend funding at the previous year's level, creating uncertainty in budget planning. This uncertainty complicates long-term strategic planning, as the military cannot be sure of the funds available for new programs or initiatives.

Overall, the repeated use of CRs instead of passing full-year budgets can lead to inefficiencies, higher long-term costs, and reduced military readiness and effectiveness.


🌎 China Appoints New Afghan Ambassador | Diplomatic Milestone - China, in a notable diplomatic move, has appointed Zhao Xing as the first ambassador to Afghanistan since the Taliban's 2021 takeover. This development, while not indicating formal recognition of the Taliban, signifies China's intent to foster dialogue and cooperation with Afghanistan. This appointment diverges from the approach of other nations, who have opted for 'charge d'affaires' instead of formal ambassadors post-Taliban regime.' instead of formal ambassadors post-Taliban regime.

🌎 Espionage Allegations | Ex-Ambassador Charged - Victor Manuel Rocha, a former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegedly acting as a covert agent for Cuban intelligence services over several decades. The 73-year-old, who served in the U.S. Foreign Service for 25 years, is accused of engaging in clandestine activities with Cuba since 1981, including sharing false information with the U.S. and meeting with Cuban operatives. Arrested at his Miami home, Rocha faces charges of acting as an illegal agent of a foreign government. During his tenure, he held influential positions in South American nations, giving him access to non-public information and the ability to affect U.S. foreign policy. Notably, Rocha admitted his long-term collaboration with Cuba in meetings with an undercover FBI agent posing as a Cuban intelligence representative


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