DIA: China Building Stealth Bombers, Improving Jointness, Has a Cyber Service

The Defense Intelligence Agency has issued a new report on Chinese military capabilities—its first comprehensive unclassified assessment—which says that China is rapidly advancing the quality and professionalism of its military forces, and getting good enough that it may more seriously consider resorting to force in conflicts with the US and other regional neighbors. The DIA said it patterned the report on the 1980s “Soviet Military Power” series, with the aim of calling attention to China’s growing prowess among US leaders and members of Congress. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

US Forces Killed in Explosion in Syria

Two US service members, a Defense Department civilian, and a DOD contractor were killed Wednesday in an explosion in the Syrian city of Manbij, an attack reportedly claimed by ISIS. Three more US service members were injured, US Central Command said in a statement. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Creech to Gain Independence from Nellis After More than Five Decades

Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Holmes visited Creech AFB, Nev., last week as the base continues working to become its own installation independent of nearby Nellis AFB, Nev. The move to give Creech base operating authority is the latest in a series of changes the Air Force is making to its remotely piloted aircraft community and is intended to make it a “more sustainable lifestyle for airmen and their families,” Holmes said during the Jan. 10 visit, which he made alongside CMSgt. Frank Batten, the command chief of ACC, according to a release. Creech’s 432d Wing will take over installation command of the base, which has been operating under Nellis since 1964, according to a history of the base. The base is in the process of building up its infrastructure to include recreation facilities. Creech airmen predominantly fly the MQ-9 Reaper, after transitioning away from the now-retired MQ-1 Predator. Holmes said the MQ-9 aircrew is advancing and trying new tactics, to include more operations as two-ships during combat missions. “There are a lot of exciting things, and we’re going to learn how to maximize the capability of the airplane by trying new tactics,” Holmes said. —Brian Everstine

Airbus Receives DARPA Blackjack Contract

Airbus will develop a bus to power and control satellites in low-earth orbit under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Blackjack program, the company said in a Jan. 14 release. Blackjack is leveraging the commercial satellite industry’s efforts to create LEO constellations so the military can build resilient sensor and communications networks in space. DARPA plans to spend $117.5 million on as many as eight bus and payload contractors over the course of the three-phase program, and will transition the effort to the Air Force. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Minot B-52s Deploy to Guam

B-52s from the 5th Bomb Wing deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, this week to take over the Continuous Bomber Presence mission. Minot’s Stratofortresses will replace B-52s from Barksdale AFB, La., which have been in the Pacific for more than a year. The 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron replaced the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, also from Barksdale, which had deployed to Guam in January 2018. Most recently, Barksdale’s 96th flew CBP missions, which included local training at Andersen, flights with regional allies, deployments to Australia, and deterrence missions throughout the Pacific region. In addition to the B-52 rotation, the Air Force this month also deployed B-2 stealth bombers to JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. For more on the mission, see “Bombers Watching Over the Pacific” from the October 2018 issue of Air Force Magazine. —Brian Everstine



Trump to Use Federal Funds to Prop Up US Bomb Makers

U.S. President Donald Trump has approved direct federal investment for suppliers of American bomb parts and chemicals, part of as much as $250 million in direct investments by the Pentagon to fix supply chain vulnerabilities, Defense News has learned. Defense News

Eglin Could Host F-22s For 3 Years

The F-22s and T-38s will bring an additional 31,000 annual operations to the main airfield. Northwest Florida Daily News

Report: Airman Testifies He Killed Guam Roommate After Fight Broke Out

Airman 1st Class Isaiah Edwards testified at his court-martial Monday that he killed his roommate, A1C Bradley Hale, after Hale grabbed a knife during a fight, the Shreveport Times reported. Air Force Times

Taliban Threatens to Pull Out of Peace Talks With US

The Taliban on Tuesday threatened to stall peace talks with the United States if they deflect from the issue of foreign force withdrawal from Afghanistan, a key demand of the hardline Islamic militants to end the 17-year war. Reuters

Who is China Targeting With its Armed Drones Sales

China is cashing in on the demand for armed drones, according to a new Department of Defense report. C4ISRNET

One More Thing …

‘Space Force’ Comedy Series From Steve Carell, Greg Daniels Set at Netflix

President Donald Trump’s proposed space force may debut on Netflix before it actually makes it to space. Variety has learned that the streaming giant has ordered a comedy series from “The Office” alums Steve Carell and Greg Daniels titled “Space Force.” It is described as a workplace comedy centered around the people tasked with creating a sixth branch of the armed services. Variety