B-1 Crash Site Yet to Be Cleared, Keeping Flight Ops on Pause at Ellsworth

B-1B Lancer flight operations from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., are still paused following a Jan. 4 crash of the bomber at the base, and the runway remains closed, the Air Force said. The scene has not been cleared and the runway is expected to remain closed past Jan. 19 as the crash evidence continues to be processed and investigated, a service official told Air & Space Forces Magazine. “The Ellsworth AFB runway will remain closed while investigators continue to look into the cause of the B-1B crash Jan. 4, 2024,” Col. Derek Oakley, 28th Bomb Wing commander, added in an emailed statement.
F-35 engine mishap

New Report: Misplaced Flashlight Sucked into F-35 Engine Caused $4 Million in Damage

A handheld flashlight left inside an engine inlet of an F-35 fighter was sucked into the engine during a maintenance ground run at Luke Air Force Base in March 2023, causing nearly $4 million worth of damage, according to a new accident investigation report. The investigation, released Jan. 18, faulted the maintainer for failing to follow Air Force and joint directives as the main cause of the mishap, which damaged the $14 million engine badly enough that it could not be repaired locally.

Radar Sweep

Inside Boeing’s Plans to Fix Its Troubled KC-46A Tanker

Breaking Defense

In the wake of Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus topping $7 billion in losses, company officials have been eager to stem the tide of the tanker’s long-running woes—and resolve several critical issues that pose risks to its operations. ... Work to address the tanker’s predicaments starts in the Seattle suburb of Everett, Wash., where Boeing builds the commercial 767 and converts it into the KC-46A tanker. In a recent tour of these facilities, Breaking Defense spoke with company officials about how they plan to fix several of the tanker’s pressing issues, as well as how the aircraft can evolve for future missions.

NATO to Start Biggest Wargames in Decades Next Week, Involving Around 90,000 Personnel

The Associated Press

NATO will launch next week its biggest military exercises in decades with around 90,000 personnel set to take part in months-long wargames aimed at showing that the alliance can defend all of its territory up to its border with Russia, top officers said Jan. 18. The exercises come as Russia’s war on Ukraine bogs down. NATO as an organization is not directly involved in the conflict, except to supply Kyiv with non-lethal support, although many member countries send weapons and ammunition individually or in groups, and provide military training.

AI-Enabled Valkyrie Drone Teases Future of US Air Force Fleet


The testing of sophisticated software aboard an XQ-58A Valkyrie drone will influence how the U.S. Air Force develops and deploys autonomous technology in the near future, according to a service official. The Kratos-made UAV flew a three-hour sortie in July near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., relying for the first time on artificial intelligence algorithms. Its programming was matured over millions of hours in simulation and digital environments; in flights with an experimental F-16 jet known as the X-62 VISTA; and other events, according to the service.

Shark Tank Kyiv? Investors Hunt ‘War-Winning’ Tech in Ukraine

Defense One

Not far from the Ukrainian front line, Finnish investor Jan-Erik Saarinen watched as a Ukrainian company demoed their latest drone—by bombing a Russian position. ... Western investors like Saarinen are increasingly flocking to Ukraine, motivated by a desire to help the war-torn country, the chance to invest in battle-tested technologies, and a belief that peers are sleeping on an opportunity for profit.

US Carries Out Fifth Strike Against Houthis as Biden Admits Bombing Isn’t Stopping Attacks

The Guardian

The U.S. has carried out a fifth strike against Houthi rebel targets in Yemen, even as Joe Biden acknowledged that bombing the rebels has yet to stop their attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Late on Jan. 18 U.S. warplanes targeted anti-ship missiles that “were aimed into the southern Red Sea and prepared to launch,” according to U.S. Central Command. But in an exchange with reporters in Washington D.C., the U.S. president was frank about the efficacy of the U.S. airstrikes. “When you say working, are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes.”

Air Force 2-Star Requests Retirement in Lieu of Court-Martial

Stars and Stripes

Air Force Maj. Gen. Phillip Stewart has requested retirement from military service in lieu of a court-martial for charges that he sexually assaulted a subordinate officer during a business trip in April. Military judge Col. Matthew Stoffel on Jan. 18 during an arraignment hearing at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas allowed Stewart to defer entering a plea in the case until his request, which was filed Tuesday, and other motions can be heard at a March hearing, according to Air Education Training Command, where Stewart was assigned at the time the allegations occurred.

Pakistan’s Air Force Says It Has a Hypersonic-Capable Missile

Defense News

The Pakistan Air Force has revealed the existence of a hypersonic missile capability, noting on social media and in a news release that the weapon is part of a wider modernization effort “to counter evolving threats.” The service said the capability is meant to help create a “potent force and to rebalance the power dynamics in the region” under the leadership of Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu.

House Committee Calls on Austin to Testify on Secret Hospitalization


House Armed Services Chair Mike Rogers is pressing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testify publicly next month on his recent hospitalization that the Pentagon chief kept from the White House, Congress and senior Defense Department officials. Rogers requested Austin to appear at a Feb. 14 hearing in a letter sent Jan. 18 that argues the public airing is needed because of the secretary’s “unwillingness to provide candid and complete answers” on the episode.

Russia’s Nyet to White House Offer Bodes Ill for Nuclear Arms Treaty

Breaking Defense

Russia today formally rejected a U.S. proposal to re-open bilateral nuclear arms control talks due to Washington’s support of Ukraine—dashing the Biden administration’s hopes to begin dialogue to lay the foundation for a follow-on accord to the 2010 New START Treaty. “I think this demonstrates Russia’s willingness to set aside arms control policy and their own arms control priorities and the cooperation that could benefit their security,” Pranay Vaddi, senior director for arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation at the White House National Security Council told the Center for Strategic and International Security (CSIS).

One More Thing

Military Issues New Details on Reimbursing Pet Travel Costs

Military Times

Planning to move to a new base? The U.S. military has started rolling out new details about what troops need to be reimbursed for the cost of bringing pets along for the ride. Service members can be reimbursed up to $2,000 for one dog or cat for each permanent change of station move to or from the continental United States, or $550 if moving within the lower 48 states. PCS orders must be effective on or after Jan. 1, 2024.