North Korea Delays Planned Missile Launches as South Korea Pushes for Control
North Korea’s leader on Tuesday announced the delay of planned test launches toward Guam, as South Korea’s president says any military action on the Korean Peninsula requires his country’s approval. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
Guard Pilot Successfully Lands A-10 on its Belly
An A-10 pilot with the 107th Fighter Squadron at Selfridge ANGB, Mich., successfully landed his Warthog on its belly with the landing gear retracted under emergency circumstances on July 20. Read the full story.
Iraqi, Coalition Aircraft Step Up Strikes on ISIS in its Iraqi Holdout
Aircraft from both the US-led coalition and the Iraqi Air Force have their sights set on one of ISIS’s last holdouts in that country in preparation for an advance in the coming weeks. A senior Iraqi Air Force official told The Associated Press that his service is intensifying attacks on Tal Afar with a planned offensive in a few weeks. Thousands of civilians are fleeing the city as Iraqi forces target ISIS headquarters, tunnels, and weapons stores. In the past few days, aircraft with the US-led coalition have targeted ISIS roadblocks, loaders, mortar teams, and tunnels, according to US Central Command. ISIS fighters fled to Tal Afar, west of Mosul, after Iraqi forces liberated that city. The coalition said last week it expects a tough fight in that city. —Brian Everstine
Taliban Calls on US to Withdraw from Afghanistan in Open Letter to Trump
The Taliban wrote an open letter to President Donald Trump on Tuesday urging him to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, Reuters reported. “The war situation in Afghanistan is far worse than you realize!” the letter states. In February, US Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US Forces-Afghanistan, told Congress the war there was at a “stalemate” and that the US and coalition mission needed “thousands” more troops to turn the situation around. The Trump administration is currently conducting a review of the war in Afghanistan and has said it will release a new strategy, including any possible change in troops levels, soon. Sen. John McCain has led congressional criticism of the administration’s delay and released his own strategy for Afghanistan last week, including a call for more troops there. The Taliban letter acknowledges the controversy, saying that “a number of warmongering congressmen and generals in Afghanistan are pressing you to protract the war,” but it also seeks to capitalize on Trump’s silence, saying “you have understood the errors of your predecessors and have resolved to thoroughly rethink your new strategy in Afghanistan.” The letter encourages Trump’s new strategy to be one of ending what it calls a “foreign occupation” of the country.
Taiwan’s Military on High Alert After Chinese Exercises
Taiwan’s military is on high alert following three consecutive days of training sorties conducted by the Chinese air force over waters near the self-ruling island, Reuters reported on Tuesday. The Chinese flights included bombers and advanced fighters taking a path through the Bashi Channel that runs between Taiwan and the Philippines. Some of the exercises have encroached upon the Taiwanese air defense identification zone, according to the Taiwanese ministry of defense. “Our air force and navy will stay on high alert to prevent them from intruding upon our territorial waters or airspace or even engaging in hostility,” said ministry spokesman Chen Chung-ji, according to Reuters. The Chinese air force has also taken more aggressive actions toward US assets in the region recently, conducting unsafe intercepts of a USAF WC-135 in May and a US Navy EP-3 in July.
Moody, Tyndall Crews Integrate F-22s, Rapid Deployment, and Rescue
Combat search and rescue airmen worked alongside F-22 crews earlier this month in a jointly planned exercise to combine fifth generation platforms with rescue support. F-22s and airmen from Tyndall AFB, Fla., trained with rescue airmen from Moody AFB, Ga., in Exercise Stealth Guardian from Aug. 7-11. During the exercise, F-22’s employed the Rapid Raptor capability—forward deploying with a small footprint to Moody for operations. At Moody, the F-22s forward refueled with an HC-130J Combat King II for the first time, according to an Air Combat Command release. This first is a building block for Tyndall airmen to build equipment to let Raptors refuel with any C-130J. “It’s a big deal because it’s different than anything we have ever done before,” Maj. Ryan, an F-22 pilot with the 95th Fighter Squadron, said in a release. His last name was not released. “It has helped us refine our tactics, techniques, and procedures and identify creative solutions to help handle those friction points.” During the exercise, rescue crews with the 347th Rescue Group integrated with the Rapid Raptor package to set up a personnel recovery task force with a minimal footprint. —Brian Everstine
Two Japan Air Self-Defense Force pararescuemen from Akita AB, Japan, respond to a simulated downed USAF pilot as a UH-60J Black Hawk flies overhead during exercise Cope Angel 17 at Draughon Range near Misawa AB, Japan, Aug. 9, 2017. USAF photo by A1C Sadie Colbert.
Rescue Exercise Moves to Mainland Japan
The annual combat rescue exercise conducted by USAF airmen and the Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces moved from Okinawa to mainland Japan this year. In past years, Okinawa-based airmen from Kadena AB, Japan, have trained with members of the JASDF to demonstrate interoperability in rescue operations. Last week, airmen from Misawa AB, Japan, participated instead. Cope Angel 17 staged a rescue scenario involving a simulated ejection from a USAF F-16, according to a Misawa press release. JASDF pararescuemen completed the recovery of the stranded personnel by hoisting an airman into an HH-60 Pave Hawk and then transporting him to the 35th Medical Support Squadron at Misawa. “It’s really important we perform trainings like Cope Angel 17 to assess our capabilities to work with the JASDF,” said Capt. Phillip McCoy, an F-16 pilot from the 13th Fighter Squadron, in the release. “It’s very possible they could be the rescue asset for our pilots because if something were to happen and there is a life-threatening situation, time is critical, especially with the extreme weather we can get here in Misawa.”
Pentagon Still Studying Transgender Ban Weeks After Trump’s Tweets
Despite President Trump’s Twitter statement that the government would not allow transgender individuals to serve “in any capacity,” the Pentagon still has not received guidance and the issue is still being studied, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said. Speaking with reporters on Monday, Mattis said White House staff is still working on the issue, with military representatives providing background, though he noted “they write their own policy.” Trump on July 26 tweeted that the military would not accept transgender individuals in any capacity because of “tremendous” medical costs and disruption they would cause. Mattis said Monday there is still no policy, and there is still a study on whether or not “transgenders can serve, under what conditions, what medical support they require, how much time they would be perhaps non deployable, leaving others to pick up their share of everything. There’s a whole host of issues.” Mattis did not provide any timeline for forthcoming guidance. The comments come as a new report from the Palm Center estimates that discharging transgender troops would cost $960 million, with an estimated 12,800 transgender service members. Five US service members, including one airman, filed a federal lawsuit on Aug. 9 seeking an injunction against the perceived ban. —Brian Everstine
—The 57th Rescue Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, England, recently completed a personnel recovery exercise with members of the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein AB, Germany, the 352nd Special Operations Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England, and allies from the Italian armed services at Aviano AB, Italy: Aviano press release.
—Nearly 600 Reserve airmen are participating in the Patriot Warrior 2017 exercise based at Fort McCoy, Wis., from August 7-24. The exercise demonstrates deployment readiness and involves a scenario requiring the standing-up of an operational base including mobile hospitals. More than 10,000 joint and international personnel will be involved in the exercise during its course: USAF release.