NORAD intercept Tu-142 June 27

NORAD Intercepts 4 Russian Reconnaissance Planes Near Alaska

F-22s from the North American Aerospace Defense Command, with help from KC-135 tankers and an E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System, intercepted Russian aircraft near Alaska for the second time in a week and the sixth time this month. On June 27, the NORAD fighters intercepted four Russian Tu-142 reconnaissance planes as they encroached upon the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone, according to a command release. The June 27 intercept was the second interaction between U.S. and Russian aircraft in two days. On June 26, a Russian fighter intercepted a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon, USAF RC-135, and USAF KC-135 over the Black Sea.
California Fires: MQ-9 supports Mendocino Complex Fire

GAO: USAF Doesn’t Have Enough RPA Pilots, Sensor Operators for New Squadron

The Air Force may not have enough remotely piloted aircraft pilots and sensor operators to stand up a new wing in 2024, as it struggles to retain personnel and increase the size of its instructor pilot cadre, the Government Accountability Office says in a new report. The service is planning to open a new RPA wing so it can have enough dwell time within the RPA community to take a squadron off combat operations to focus on training. The GAO, in the June 25 report, states “the Air Force does not have enough pilots and sensor operators to meet its staffing targets for its unmanned aircraft.” The GAO also said the Air Force does not track its overall progress in accessing and retaining enough RPA personnel to meet the dwell goal, though USAF partially disagreed with that finding.

HASC Funds Nuclear Modernization, With a Few Questions

Nuclear modernization concerns are again on the table for fiscal 2021 defense policy negotiations, as House lawmakers raise issues about staffing, program delays, and how to use the weapons themselves. The Air Force’s three major nuclear weapon upgrade programs—the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, the Long-Range Standoff Weapon, and the B61-12 bomb—all received the funding they requested in the House Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2021 defense policy bill. Those programs total $2.9 billion for the upcoming year, split between the Defense and Energy Departments. That contrasts with last year’s process, when Democrats tried to shrink GBSD funding in a move that irked Republicans and contributed to a broader clash over nuclear issues.
GPS Ligado

Space Force Preps for Third GPS III Launch

The Space Force’s third GPS III satellite will head to space June 30, after its launch was rescheduled from late April due to the coronavirus pandemic. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will carry the Lockheed Martin-built satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Once on orbit, it will replace an older satellite in the 31-piece GPS constellation. New GPS III systems boost the accuracy of navigation and timing software and are harder to attack by jamming signals. This is also the first national security space launch in which SpaceX will try to recover and reuse its rocket booster, said Col. Edward Byrne, senior materiel leader in the Space and Missile Systems Center’s medium Earth orbit space systems division.
Lackland AFB COVID-19 drive through screening

Some USAF Bases Increase Restrictions as COVID-19 Cases Surge

As states across the country roll back reopening plans, some USAF bases are tightening their own restrictions following a surge in COVID-19 cases. As of June 26, there are 1,128 total cases of COVID-19 in the Air Force, with 10,606 across all services including contractors, civilians, and dependents. Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, on June 26 raised its health protection condition to Charlie, the second highest, as its host state has become a hot spot for COVID-19, according to a base news release. The base complex, which includes Air Force basic military training, had lowered its health protection condition to Bravo in May. Laughlin Air Force Base in the state confirmed its first case of the virus on June 24. The base is requiring facial coverings when six feet of distance is not possible, but has not announced closures or other restrictions. Goodfellow Air Force Base is following the same guidelines, and encouraging Airmen to be open about how they feel.
Violence Prevention Awareness event informs Airmen

New Bill Would Let Service Members Anonymously Seek Mental Help

Service members will be able to anonymously seek mental health treatment, without their chain of command being notified, under new proposed legislation. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) introduced the “Brandon Act,” which aims to protect service members from hazing, bullying, and any other issue if they feel they need to seek help. The bill is named for U.S. Navy Petty Officer Third Class Brandon Caserta, who took his own life in 2018 on the flight line at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va., after hazing from other members of his squadron. “This bill will ensure our service members can [get] help and have no fear of retaliation for doing so, as it’s the right thing to do,” Moulton said in a statement.
Documenting reconstruction

VA Ramps Up Online Women’s Health Transition Trainings Amid COVID-19

The Women’s Health Transition Training Program, a joint venture with the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, has shifted its trainings completely online through the end of July in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program teaches woman Active-duty troops about Veterans Health Administration support services at their disposal before they transition out into civilian life or a reserve component.

Virtual Events: Scowcroft Group’s Miller on Mitchell’s Nuclear Deterrence Series, and More

On March 23, the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies will host a virtual Nuclear Deterrence Series event featuring Scowcroft Group Principal Frank Miller. At a time when nuclear modernization programs are accelerating around the world, proposals to recapitalize the U.S. nuclear arsenal are at the forefront of debates over defense spending. Miller will share his insights into the prospects for U.S. nuclear modernization programs and the value of nuclear deterrence in today's competitive security environment. The think tank will post event video on its website and YouTube page after the live event.

Radar Sweep

Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19

Air Force Magazine

Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill Troops, U.S. Intelligence Says

The New York Times

The United States concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year. Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings were under suspicion.

Coalition Denies Iraqi Militia’s Claim That It Caused C-130 Crash in Iraq

Air Force Times

Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve said June 8 that the Hercules overran the runway at the base north of Baghdad and crashed into a wall, sparking a fire and injuring four service members. But the Long War Journal, a news site that tracks developments in the war on terror, reported June 19 that a group called the League of the Revolutionaries—an Iranian proxy operating in Iraq—released a statement that said it carried out a rocket attack on Camp Taji that evening, and claiming responsibility for the crash.

OPINION: A-10: Hey Air Force, There’s More to Survival than Hiding

Breaking Defense

“Anyone who's been around ground combat knows F-35s, F-22s, and legacy fast jets are far too fast and lack the close in maneuverability to be able detect camouflaged threats to our troops or to separate friend from foe in a highly fluid firefight,” writes retired USAF Lt. Col. Brian Boeding, the first Hog driver to have flown all three A-10 variants in combat.

Ohio Congressman Speaks on Space Force HQ Search

Dayton 24/7 Now

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said that the search has involved up to 70 locations, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has thrown his support behind Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. This comes after Ohio's senators expressed support for the base.

Trump Violated Constitution by Diverting Pentagon Funds to Build Border Wall, Federal Appeals Court Rules

The Dallas Morning News

A federal appeals court struck a blow June 26 against President Donald Trump’s signature domestic achievement, ruling that he acted unlawfully by shifting Defense Department funds to pay for his much touted wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The 2-1 ruling from the California-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals could slow construction, days after Trump toured a segment in Yuma, Ariz., to mark completion of more than 200 miles of new barrier.