Lockheed Martin Gets $7 Billion for 114 More F-35s

Lockheed Martin on Oct. 28 received an approximately $7 billion award to build another 114 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, including aircraft under the program’s 13th lot. The deal, which updates an earlier procurement contract, covers aircraft and other considerations for the Defense Department as well as F-35 partner nations and other foreign customers. Of the 114 aircraft in the agreement, 48 are F-35As for the Air Force; 20 are Marine Corps F-35Bs; and nine are Navy F-35Cs. The US will receive 77 total aircraft under the contract. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

KC-46 Won’t Finish IOT&E Until Remote Vision System Fixed, Cargo Fix Coming Soon

The first major test phase for the Air Force’s next-generation tanker will likely last years, holding the KC-46 back from its initial operational capability milestone until after the aircraft’s biggest problem—the remote vision system—is fixed. Air Mobility Command boss Gen. Maryanne Miller told Air Force Magazine that moving the KC-46 into IOT&E is a positive step, that the tanker will “not come out of IOT&E until RVS is fixed.” Miller said last month the issue means the KC-46 won’t be able to deploy for three to four years. RVS may also force the tanker to remain in IOT&E for years. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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JASSMs Used to Level Baghdadi’s Compound in Syria

US aircraft fired a heavy onslaught of ordnance from the air, including multiple AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, to destroy the Islamic State group leader’s hideout in Syria following the raid that resulted in his death, the Pentagon said Oct. 28.The airstrikes came at the end of the raid on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s hideout just 4 miles away from Turkey and leveled the structure, after US forces retrieved large amounts of intelligence and took two fighters into custody. In addition to JASSMs, US forces used guided bombs, Hellfire missiles, miniguns, and other small-arms fire on the compound. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

B-1s Return Home Following Brief Deployment to Saudi Arabia

The B-1B Lancers that deployed to Saudi Arabia on Oct. 24 have already returned home to Ellsworth AFB, S.D. The unannounced, short-term deployment was the first time Lancers were sent to the Middle East since returning from a combat deployment in March. The four B-1Bs from the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons flew alongside F-22s and E/A-18G Growlers before touching down at Prince Sultan Air Base. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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Tournear to Stay as Space Development Agency Director

Derek Tournear, the Space Development Agency’s acting director since June, will remain with the organization as its permanent leader, the Defense Department said in an Oct. 28 release. Tournear is overseeing the new agency’s effort to design new satellite and ground station layers that bridge the Pentagon’s various space capabilities as well as improve on them. He previously served as assistant director for space in the Defense Department’s research and engineering branch, and came to SDA when its inaugural director abruptly left earlier this year. “Our strategy is to unify efforts across the military services and government agencies to rapidly develop capabilities that are responsive to the threat, are cost-effective, and increase our technological advantage,” said Michael Griffin, under secretary of defense for research and engineering, in the release. “Derek will lead our effort to achieve those goals.” —Rachel S. Cohen



US Airstrike Targets Islamic State Group-Somalia in Support of the Federal Government of Somalia

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, US Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting Islamic State group terrorists in the Golis Mountain region of Somalia on Oct. 25. AFRICOM release

Senate Dems Likely to Block Defense Spending in Border Wall Dispute

Key Senate Democrats signaled Oct. 28 their caucus is likely to filibuster a proposed 2020 defense spending bill, which Senate Republican leaders plan to offer for a vote this week. Defense News

How an FAA Committee Aims to Accelerate Drone Integration

The Drone Advisory Committee recently offered recommendations around Remote Identification, or virtual license plates for drones. Nextgov

UK Discloses Reaper Accidents

The UK Ministry of Defence has disclosed that two of its 10 General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-9 Reaper medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles have been involved in serious accidents since the beginning of 2015, with one aircraft being decommissioned and the other being placed in long-term repair as a result. Defence Equipment & Support made the disclosure in a freedom of information request that was submitted by Drone Wars UK, and was supplied to Jane’s on 24 October. Jane’s Defence Weekly (subscription required)

Islamic State Group Still Poses a Threat after Al-Baghdadi’s Death

The killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by US forces leaves the Islamic State group without an obvious leader, a major setback for an organization that in March was forced by American troops and Kurdish forces out of the last portion of its self-declared “caliphate,” which once spanned a swath of Iraq and Syria. But the militant group, which arose from the remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq after that group’s defeat by US-led forces in 2008, has ambitions to regenerate again. Associated Press

Verizon Military Customers: Add a Line and Enjoy One Year of Amazon Prime

Active military members, Reservists, cadets, Gold Star families and veterans with valid ID can receive a one-year membership of Amazon Prime, an $119 value, from Verizon with a qualifying plan and new phone purchase. These customers are also eligible for select Verizon Wireless and Fios discounts. Verizon press release

One More Thing

Here’s the US Military Dog That Helped Take Down Islamic State Group Leader Baghdadi

One of the most discussed details of the US military raid to kill Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is that a dog—yes, a dog—played a vital part in the whole operation. As the notorious terrorist tried to escape capture by fleeing into underground tunnels, a trained military canine followed to keep tabs on him. It allowed US forces to close in on Baghdadi, leading him to explode the vest he was wearing, killing himself and three children he had with him. Vox