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Boneyard-Bound: USAF Retires First of 13 AWACS

The aging E-3 AWACS fleet got a little smaller last week, as the first of 13 E-3s tp be retired this year took off from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., for the last time.

E-3 Tail Number 0560 departed for the Boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., on April 6, a week after the 552nd Air Control Wing hosted a retirement celebration with retired and Active-Duty Airmen getting a chance to sign their names to the airframe, an Air Force tradition.

“It’s sad. It means a new way is coming, but it’s still sad because we have a lot of great memories,” a former Airman told local television station KOLO. “We had a great mission back 20, 25 years ago.”

With the retirement, the Air Force’s AWACS fleet shrunk to 30 aircraft, on its way to under 18. Based on the commercially defunct 707 airframe, E-3s are expensive to maintain, their mission-capable rates plunging below 65 percent in recent years.

Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mark D. Kelly called the E-3s “unsustainable without a Herculean effort” last year, praising “miracle worker” maintainers for getting the aircraft to fly at all. Averaging over 40 years old, the AWACS fleet is among the oldest in the Air Force.

The Air Force first announced plans to retire 15 E-3s from Tinker in April 2022, but Congress paused the push with a provision in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act approving retirements only if USAF demonstrated progress acquiring its replacement, the E-7 Wedgetail.

The Air Force had to submit an acquisition strategy for the Wedgetail before it could retire 10 E-3s, and must award a contract for the procurement of E-7s before it can retire three more.

The Air Force formally awarded a contract to Boeing for the E-7 Wedgetail in late February, clearing the way for the AWACS retirements to begin.

“While some may see the divestment as the end of an era, the retirement of this aircraft marks the beginning of modernization for the 552nd,” Col. Keven Coyle, 552nd ACW commander, said in a statement. “Despite a fleet reduction the mission will remain the same, providing worldwide management as well as command and control operations as required.”

In a release, the Air Force said divesting the 13 E-3s will allow it to focus on maintaining the remaining airplanes. And parts harvested from the retired aircraft at the Boneyard will be recirculated, “providing a temporary improvement for aircraft availability.”

The Air Force is hoping to have its first E-7 ready for operational duty by 2027 and is undertaking a rapid prototyping effort to make that happen, hoping to limit any gaps in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance/command and control. All told, the service wants to buy 25 Wedgetails by 2032.

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The Ashley Marie Collection – Natural Hair Care for Gen Z by Gen Z

As a new generation of beauty consumers emerges, the beauty industry is undergoing a significant transformation. Gen Z consumers, in particular, are highly conscious about the ingredients in their beauty products. With a population that accounts for almost 30% of the world, Gen Z (born roughly between 1996 and 2012) are a major focus for several brands.

The desire to be  environmentally and socially aware, has led to a change  in this generation’s values and spearheaded the movement, urging companies to take action on the climate crisis. This is not merely rhetoric. Based on a survey conducted by Capgemini, in 2021, approximately 69 percent of surveyed participants belonging to Generation Z stated that they were willing to spend more on health and beauty products that contain natural and clean ingredients.This trend has led to the rise of natural beauty products, and the Ashley Marie Collection is at the forefront of this movement.

Created by 17-year-old entrepreneur Ashley Marie Gibson, the Ashley Marie Collection features a range of natural hair care products that cater specifically to the evolving needs of Gen Z consumers. Don’t be fooled by her young age – Ashley is a total boss. As a Gen-Z entrepreneur, Ashley is passionate about creating products that use natural ingredients and prioritize health and well-being. The Ashley Marie Collection reflects Gen Z’s preference for natural and eco-friendly products with its commitment to using only the cleanest, ethically sourced ingredients. All products are cruelty-free, color-safe, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and formulated with natural ingredients.

If being clean wasn’t enough, this brand checks off another box – being diverse and inclusive!  The Ashley Marie Collection is an entire hair care line specifically for 4C hair, a hair type that is often overlooked in the beauty industry. The line features a range of uniquely formulated products, including a Clarifying Shampoo, Moisturizing Shampoo, Hydrating Conditioner, Protein Conditioner, Leave-in Conditioner, Coil Cream, and Curly Coil Styling Gel. All of which work wonders for kinky, thick coils and will leave strands feeling and looking even better!

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It’s your last day to apply to speak at TC Disrupt

Today’s your last chance to apply to speak at TechCrunch 2023
Why should you drop everything to get that application in by 11:59 p.m. PDT today? Not only will you help inform and educate the next generation of startups — and potential unicorns — but you’ll also establish or enhance your reputation as a valued thought leader and partner. Around here we call that a win-win situation.

How to apply to speak at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023
When you apply, you’ll choose one of the two formats below and submit a title and description of your topic:

Breakout Session: Up to two people (including moderator) lead a 30-minute presentation followed by a 20-minute Q&A from an audience of up to 100 attendees. You’ll be able to display a presentation and have limited AV capabilities. You’ll present one breakout during Disrupt.
Roundtable Discussion: One person leads a 30-minute interactive conversation for an audience of up to 25 attendees. There is no presentation or AV — it’s all about organic conversation. You may potentially repeat this roundtable twice during Disrupt.
TechCrunch vets every application and then selects the finalists who will participate in the Audience Choice voting round. We’ll post the topics, descriptions and speakers online, and then TechCrunch readers will vote for the sessions they would like to see at the event. The top vote-getters will present live at Disrupt.

These are the important dates you need to know:

Application deadline: Today, April 21, by 11:59 p.m. PDT
Finalists notified: April 27
Audience Choice voting: May 1–12
Winners notified: May 15
Once more — a little louder this time: It’s your last opportunity to submit your application to speak at TechCrunch Disrupt on September 19–21! The application window slams shut today, April 21, at 11:59 p.m. PDT. One more reminder: Save up to $825 with an early-bird ticket. Buy your Disrupt pass, and join us in San Francisco!

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TechCrunch+ roundup: Deep tech tips for SaaS VCs, toxic fundraising, student visa startup options

If someone said “startup” while we were playing a word association game, I’d respond with “fundraising.” (I bet you would, too.)

Asking people for money is a key aspect of every founder’s journey, but Techstars Managing Director Collin Wallace says it can also “accelerate your demise.”

For example, raising a round to rev up engineering, sales and marketing sounds positive — but what if the business itself has negative unit economics?.

“Most of the time, what stands between a company and its ability to achieve scale is not a lack of money,” writes Wallace in TC+.

“It’s better to ask: Do we have hustle problems? Product problems? Process problems? People problems? Is my business model fundamentally flawed?”

In this article, he examines four scenarios that often lead entrepreneurs to seek out new cash and explains why getting “a clear picture of what is fueling losses” is much more important.

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