Daily Report

Oct. 22, 2018

US, South Korea Suspend Vigilant Ace Exercise

The US and South Korea on Friday suspended another major exercise, this time Vigilant Ace, following President Trump’s June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The move comes amid continued diplomatic efforts with North Korea. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his South Korean counterpart made the decision Friday. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Contingency Response Airmen, Used to Austere Bases in War, Take Over Tyndall Operations

The special tactics airmen who stood up the flight line after Hurricane Michael destroyed most of Tyndall AFB, Fla., have handed off operations to a contingency response group, mirroring operations at deployed contingency locations. The 23rd Special Tactics Squadron from Hurlburt Field deployed to Tyndall after Hurricane Michael hit on Oct. 10, clearing the runway and controlling the first aircraft to arrive with relief. Over three days, the special tactics airmen controlled more than 30 aircraft ferrying in personnel and supplies, according to a 24th Special Operations Wing release. These flights included the 821st Contingency Response Group, which has set up temporary equipment and buildings and as of Friday has taken over controlling flight operations. “This was a textbook [ST-CRG] turnover, exactly how it should be,” said Maj. Steven Cooper, commander of the 23rd STS, in the release. Previously, the 821st CRG has stood up austere operating locations such as Qayyarah West in Iraq and Kobani in Syria, and has now taken over the flightline of the Air Force’s main F-22 training base in Florida. The Air Force also has opened the gates of Tyndall for families to come back and retrieve valuables, and has begun to survey the extensive damage to both the base and to numerous F-22s that were left behind. —Brian Everstine

Mattis: US, Allies Work Need to Work Together on South China Sea Tensions

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday urged regional partners to keep pressure on China and to counter the militarization of the South China Sea by flying and operating wherever they are able to under international law. Mattis, speaking Friday in Singapore, said the US will fly wherever “our national interests demand” and that the US, Japan, and South Korea will not be intimidated. Proving his point, two USAF B-52s deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, on Tuesday flew to the South China Sea, the latest in a series of flights by the deployed bombers to show their presence in the region. Mattis was attending a conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. His comments came one day after Mattis had an extended meeting with his Chinese counterpart at the conference, where he worked to ease tensions by inviting the Chinese defense minister to Washington to talk through differences, according to The New York Times. —Brian Everstine

USAF Extends Humanitarian Response Mission in Indonesia

USAF airmen and C-130s have extended their operations to provide relief to Indonesia following the Sept. 28 earthquake and tsunami in North Sulawesi that has so far killed more than 2,100 people. Three C-130s from Yokota AB, Japan, and airmen with the 36th Contingency Response Group out of Andersen AFB, Guam, have extended their “airbridge” operations between the areas of Balikpapan and Palu through Oct. 25 so they can continue to provide critical cargo and personnel, according to the US Agency for International Development. The 36th CRG began operations Oct. 5, deploying as part of a broad US effort to provide humanitarian assistance, according to Pacific Air Forces. The continuation of operations comes as US AID announced $3 million in additional aid for relief efforts, which includes food and water, medical supplies, and other assistance. —Brian Everstine

Spangdahlem F-16s Deploy for NATO’s Largest Exercise

USAF F-16s and airmen have deployed to Sweden to help kick off NATO’s largest exercise. The aircraft and airmen from the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, arrived at Kallax AB, Sweden, for Trident Juncture 2018, US Air Forces in Europe announced Friday. The exercise will include more than 50,000 personnel from 31 nations, and will include more USAF units as it progresses. In addition to the air operations for the exercise, Trident Juncture will include 60 ships and 10,000 vehicles and is headquartered in Norway. “It is a big exercise,” which “reflects that NATO has implemented the biggest adaptation of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this month. During the last iteration of the exercise, in 2015, the Air Force also sent KC-10s, B-52s, and C-17s to participate. —Brian Everstine

Singapore Company Announces Plans for Hydrogen Passenger Aircraft

A Singapore company that has developed alternative energy sources for small unmanned aerial vehicles now plans a large passenger aircraft powered entirely by hydrogen and electricity. HES Systems earlier this month announced plans to develop Element One, a zero-emission aircraft for four passengers with a range of up to 5,000 kilometers. The system is based on current small-scale hydrogen fuel cells used in drones, including ones developed for programs under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and NASA. HES expects a flying prototype before 2025. The Air Force has previously explored hydrogen fuel cells for small UAVs, with the goal of increased stealth from the hydrogen propulsion systems. JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, also is looking at hydrogen as an alternative source of fuel for the Defense Department through a cooperative agreement between the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies. The Air Force, which has spent upwards of $10 billion annually on fuel, has experimented with hydrogen power for years, because hydrogen is easily combustible and lightweight, which could allow aircraft and other vehicles to fly or drive faster and longer.

Cyber Defense Urgent In the Wake of Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can make affected regions more prone to cyber attack, Army National Guard Col. Keith Donnelly said during a Friday cyber threats panel at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington. “Cyber criminals are gonna take advantage at your weakest moment,” he said, likening the risk of post-disaster cyber attacks to that of theft. “Just like looting, when you go into a situation where you don’t have any security, people are gonna go in and take things that don’t belong to them,” he said, saying that a parallel scenario plays out in the realm of cybersecurity. Donnelly, the Louisiana National Guard’s chief information officer and the senior coordinating official for the state governor’s cybersecurity commission, illustrated this risk by discussing how, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005, hackers attacked the websites of the Louisiana state government and local parishes. “The recovery from a cyber incident could have lasting effects,” he told Air Force Magazine after the event. “It’s all about consequence management.” While protecting network security is a crucial deterrent, he said, the keys to tackling issues when they do arise are to identify threats quickly, contain them to make sure the problem doesn’t get bigger, and to share best practices and lessons learned with the community. In this way, he said, impacted communities can emerge from cyber struggles even stronger than they were before.—Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory


—President Donald Trump on Friday visited Luke AFB, Ariz., where he conducted a roundtable discussion with military and industry leaders on issues such as cybersecurity, stealth technology, and F-35 development: USAF release.

—Details of the Air Force’s plan to expand the Nevada Test and Training Range to better enable more realistic exercises were posted online: Las Vegas Review-Journal.