Fast-Tracked Laser Prototyping Effort Scrapped

An accelerated effort to develop a laser prototype for base and aircraft defense was scrapped as the Air Force determines the best way to achieve those goals, Air Force Magazine has learned. The High-Energy Laser Flexible Prototype program planned to award an Army-run other transaction agreement to up to two contractors by the end of March, and expected to reach ground tests by early 2020. Michael Jirjis, an Air Force Research Laboratory official, said Jan. 22 senior leaders are still deciding on the best way forward. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Supreme Court Paves Way for Transgender Military Ban to Take Effect

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an order paving the way for the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military to go into effect while lawsuits against the President’s order continue. But it’s still not clear whether the SCOTUS decision means the ban can immediately be implemented. A nationwide injunction from an ACLU case known as “Stone v. Trump” remains in place. The ACLU says “nothing changes” until a decision is rendered in that case, but some law scholars disagree. Read the full story by Brian Everstine and Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

US Service Member Killed in Afghanistan

A US service member was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday, the second US death there within a week. The Defense Department has not yet named the service member or the specific service involved, pending next of kin notification. The incident follows the Jan. 17 death of US Army Sgt. Cameron A. Meddock, 26, as a result of small arms fire during a Jan. 13 operation in the Jawand District of the country. Meddock was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash. And on Monday, the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on an Afghan military outpost in the province of Maidan Wardak, where 12 Afghan soldiers were killed and another 28 were injured, according to CNN. —Brian Everstine

Kadena Airman Found Dead in Home on Base

Air Force officials are investigating what caused the death of A1C Jimmy Casillas, who was found dead in his home Sunday at Kadena AB, Japan. Casillas, 27, of El Monte, Calif., was a client systems technician with the 353rd Special Operations Group, 1st Lt. Renee Douglas of the 353rd SOG told Air Force Magazine on Tuesday. Casillas’ death comes less than a week after a Japanese construction worker was killed in a collision near a construction site at Kadena. Japanese officials are investigating that incident. —Jennifer Hlad

First Vice Chief’s Challenge to Focus on Multidomain Operations

The Air Force wants new apps, algorithms, and more to help solve problems with multidomain operations as part of the inaugural Vice Chief’s Challenge, the service said in a Jan. 15 release. “This challenge spans all career fields, functional areas, business processes, and environments,” Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson said in the release. “It will execute in three phases, including crowd-sourced reviews of submitted ideas, down-selection from the initial submissions to a smaller group of finalists, and finally, hands-on support from the Air Force Research Laboratory and AFWERX, among other experts, for those selected finalists.” Ideas of how to share information across different platforms, sensors, and other systems, using concepts like human-machine teaming, are due Feb. 28. Projects will be judged on whether they can make a big impact within two years. Senior leaders will pick the winners at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference in September. —Rachel S. Cohen

Dyess C-130s Deploy to Africa, Europe

C-130s and airmen from the 317th Airlift Wing at Dyess AFB, Texas, deployed to an undisclosed location in Africa and Germany earlier this month and will fly resupply missions to remote airfields throughout the region, according to a Dyess release. “Mobility airlift becomes extremely important in those instances because that’s the only way they’re getting their beans, bullets, and bandages,” SMSgt. Jonathan Carco, the superintendent of the 40th Airlift Squadron, said in the release.

NRO Launches Classified Satellite From Vandenberg AFB

The National Reconnaissance Office on Jan. 19 launched a classified satellite into space from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., on a rocket provided by United Launch Alliance. The launch was called off multiple times since late last year for a range of reasons including a hydrogen leak, strong winds, communication issues between the control center and launch site, and countdown control problems. “This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Heavy configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle,” according to a Jan. 19 USAF release. “The EELV program was established by the US Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads.” ULA is a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing that provides launch services to the federal government. —Rachel S. Cohen



A Pentagon Campaign to Keep the Public in the Dark

Reports that were never classified before are suddenly considered top-secret. Bloomberg

Next Steps For the Pentagon’s New Space Sensors for Missile Defense

The Missile Defense Agency is evaluating nine proposals for space sensor architectures. With $73 million that Congress already appropriated, the agency will select three to continue on. Space News

US, Philippine AF Conduct Bilateral Air Contingency Exchange

US Air Force F-16s, aircrew, maintenance and support personnel deployed from Kunsan Air Base, Korea to Basa Air Base, Philippines Jan. 17 in order to fly and train with Philippine counterparts as part of a regularly reoccurring bilateral air contingent exchange (BACE-P). PACAF

North Korean Base Serves as Missile Headquarters: Think Tank

One of 20 undeclared ballistic missile operating bases in North Korea serves as a missile headquarters, according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published on Monday. Reuters

Landmark Air Force Chapel Suffering From Leaks, Corrosion

The landmark Cadet Chapel that towers over the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado is suffering from leaks and corrosion, so the school has drawn up the most ambitious restoration project in the building’s 55-year history. Air Force Times

One More Thing …

UFO Documents Index

A list of documents from the National Security Agency released to the public regarding unidentified flying objects in response to freedom of information requests. NSA