Talons taking to the skies

Two Airmen Killed in Vance T-38 Mishap

Two airmen at Vance AFB, Okla., were killed in a “mishap” during a routine training flight at the base. Two T-38 training aircraft, each with two airmen, were performing a mission when the incident occurred during the “landing phase” of the flight around 9:10 a.m., 71st Flying Training Wing Commander Col. Corey Simmons said during a press conference at the base. The base has halted flying operations, and the names of the airmen will be released Nov. 22 following next of kin notifications.
pentagon budget

Trump Signs Continuing Resolution

President Donald Trump on Nov. 21 signed another stopgap spending measure that will keep the federal government open through Dec. 20, as efforts to agree on a fiscal 2020 appropriations package are still stalled.
Air Tractor AT-802L Longsword

Air Tractor Wants Another Shot at a Light Attack Contract

Air Tractor is again protesting the Air Force’s effort to buy light attack aircraft, this time pushing back against the service’s decision to purchase a small number of Textron Aviation’s AT-6 Wolverine for work with a prototype radio system. “At issue is the sole-source nature of the award,” Air Tractor said in an emailed statement. “While the development of an exportable datalink architecture like AEROnet is certain to enhance the combat capability of our allied nations, Air Tractor submits that other aircraft warrant consideration for this project.” The Nov. 1 protest is the second light attack-related complaint Air Tractor has filed with the Government Accountability Office this year. An Air Force spokeswoman declined to comment.
Gen. Arnold Bunch

Bunch: USAF Can Build More B-21 Bombers Faster Without Renegotiating Contract

The B-21 bomber contract doesn’t need to be renegotiated if the Air Force opts to speed up the production rate or increase the number built, Air Force Materiel Command chief Gen. Arnold Bunch told defense reporters in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 21. Bunch acknowledged that the Air Force has “got to have” a larger bomber fleet, but declined to say how much extra capacity is being built into the B-21 production line.
UNOCHA Middle Juba Jilib Somalia map

AFRICOM: US Airstrike Kills Al-Shabaab Member in Somalia

A Nov. 19 US Africa Command airstrike in Somalia killed a member of the al-Shabaab terror group with “direct ties to the al-Qaeda terror organization” without harming any civilians, US Africa Command announced. It was the second US airstrike in Somalia targeting an al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab terrorist in seven days, and the second since AFRICOM boss Army Gen. Stephen Townsend met with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Nov. 5.

Radar Sweep

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Pentagon Spy Agency Finds Trump’s Syria Pullout Aided Islamic State Group


Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria following Donald Trump’s order for US forces to pull back aided the Islamic State group and damaged ties with Kurdish-led militias, according to a new assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency. The DIA’s assessment, part of a quarterly report, concluded that Islamic State “exploited the Turkish incursion and subsequent drawdown of U.S. troops to reconstitute capabilities and resources within Syria and strengthen its ability to plan attacks abroad.”

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Pentagon Denies US Is Considering Pulling Troops from South Korea


The Pentagon on Nov. 21 denied a South Korean news report saying that the United States was considering a significant cut to its troop numbers in South Korea if Seoul does not contribute more to the costs of the deployment.

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US Electronic Warfare: You’re Doing It Wrong

Breaking Defense

Despite rising budgets and high-level attention to electronic warfare, the Pentagon’s “efforts have been unfocused and are likely to fail,” warns a congressionally mandated study published Nov. 21. What the US needs, the Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments report says, is a radically new approach that can outfox Russia and China.

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Draken International’s First Regenerated Mirage F1 for US Air Force Makes First Flight

Jane's Defence Weekly

Draken International's first regenerated Dassault Mirage F1 multirole fighter that will be used in US Air Force adversary air training made its first flight in Lakeland, Fla., on Nov. 12, according to a company statement. The supersonic, radar-equipped Mirage F1 is one of 24 former military fighter aircraft being regenerated by Draken International and assisted by Paramount Group-subsidiary Paramount Aerospace Systems.

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US to Europe: Fix Open Skies Treaty or We Quit

Defense News

NATO allies worried US President Donald Trump will abandon the Open Skies Treaty have been told the administration views the arms control agreement as a danger to US national security, and that unless those nations can assuage such concerns, the US will likely pull out, Defense News has learned. At a meeting in Brussels last week, Trump administration officials laid out for the first time a full suite of concerns with the treaty and made clear they were seriously considering an exit.

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The List of Military Sites with Suspected “Forever Chemicals” Contamination Has Grown

Military Times

The number of places where the US military spilled or suspects it discharged perfluorinated compounds has grown, Pentagon officials said Nov. 20, but they did not say where or how many sites are under investigation for possible contamination. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment Robert McMahon said Nov. 20 that continued Department of Defense efforts to identify locations with potentially harmful levels of chemicals uncovered more sites, namely National Guard facilities.

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US Army Hires AI Firm to Predict When Aircraft, Vehicles & Weapons Will Break

Defense One

Taking a page from the Air Force, the US Army is expanding its use of artificial intelligence that can predict when its aircraft will break, according to a top service official. If successful in upcoming trials, the technology will be used more broadly to help manage maintenance and spare parts, said James McPherson, the Army’s No. 2 civilian.

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Senators Want Air Force Probe into Allegations Military Housing Provider Faked Records

The Hill

Senate Armed Services Committee leaders on Nov. 20 demanded the Air Force investigate reports that a major US military housing provider falsified maintenance records for years at a Texas base in order to gain millions of dollars in performance bonuses. Responding to a joint CBS News and Reuters report that Balfour Beatty employees routinely doctored its records at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) “urge the Air Force and appropriate federal law enforcement agencies to investigate this fully so we can truly understand what is going on and how pervasive this problem is,” according to a statement from the two lawmakers.

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NASA Soil Data Joins the Air Force


Getting stuck on a muddy road is a hassle for anyone, but for the US Army it could be far more serious—a matter of life and death in some parts of the world. That's one of the reasons the US Air Force HQ 557th Weather Wing is now using data about soil moisture from a NASA satellite in the weather forecasts, warnings and advisories that it issues for the Army and the Air Force.

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Japan and Australia to Hold Regular Air Force Training in Each Other’s Countries

Stars and Stripes

Two of America’s most important Pacific allies have agreed to participate in annual air force exercises in each other’s territory starting in 2020. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force will be a regular participant in the Pitch Black air drills, held every two years in Australia’s Northern Territory, the two countries’ defense ministers announced Nov. 20. The Royal Australian Air Force will also be a regular participant in Bushido-Guardian, a bilateral fighter exercise held in Japan for the first time this year.