A few thousand blue-suited representatives of the world's largest air force have gathered in a resort hotel on the Potomac River just southeast of Washington DC for the Air Force Association's annual Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition.
It is the best opportunity every year for industry and (not least!) reporters to connect with the US Air Force's senior leadership to ask questions in the usually vain hope of receiving a responsive answer.
The fate of the KC-X tanker competition is obviously first on everyone's mind this year, as it has been so many times in the past decade. We'll also be searching for updates on the big contract opportunities coming up for grabs next year. These include potential deals for new rescue and utility helicopters, advanced jet trainers, and light attack fighters.
It's meanwhile a year of transition within senior USAF ranks. Chief of Staff Gen Schwartz is reportedly in line for a promotion to the Joint Chiefs. And deputy chief of staff Lt Gen David Deptula, architect of the ISR surge in Afghanistan, is matriculating to the private sector. Their successors will inherit a stronger and more confident air force than the one Schwartz inherited only two years ago after Secretary of Defense Robert Gates fired his predecessors.
Photo courtesy of US Air Force