Latest North Korean Missile Was Highest Flying Yet
North Korea’s successful test of a ballistic missile on Tuesday was the highest launch Pyongyang has yet achieved, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said. North Korea claimed the Hwasong-15 missile was capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead to any location within the mainland US, and South Korea fired pinpoint missiles into the sea in response to Pyongyang’s provocations. President Trump promised to “take care of that situation” and said “major new sanctions” were coming against the North. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
Relatives of Family Killed in Texas Shooting File Wrongful Death Claim Against USAF
The relatives of eight people killed in the Nov. 5 mass shooting at a Texas church have filed a wrongful death claim against the Air Force because the service failed to report former airman Devin Kelley’s name to a crime database that could have blocked him from acquiring a gun. Kelley, who served at Holloman AFB, N.M., was convicted in a general court martial of domestic violence and received a bad conduct discharge. The Air Force should have reported his name to the FBI’s National Criminal Information Center database, which would have made him ineligible to purchase firearms. Joe and Claryce Holcombe claim the Air Force’s negligence “directly caused this horrific tragedy,” according to CNN. The Air Force announced Tuesday it identified dozens of cases where the service did not report names to the database, and that it was taking steps to improve the reporting process. —Brian Everstine
Thunderbirds Commander Relieved of Duty
The commander of the premiere Air Force demonstration team was relieved of command earlier this month because of a loss of confidence in his “leadership and risk management style,” Air Combat Command announced Wednesday. Lt. Col. Jason Heard was relieved following the 2017 season shortly after the Air Force released an investigation finding a Thunderbird was destroyed because the pilot landed too quickly for rainy conditions. Air Combat Command said the decision was not related to the mishap but “concerns arose that his approach to leading the team was resulting in increased risk” and that “eroded the team dynamic.” Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Air Force Picks Tyndall for New Reaper Wing
The Air Force selected Tyndall AFB, Fla., for the preferred location to host a new MQ-9 Reaper wing, including 24 aircraft. The new wing will include an operations group, mission control elements, a maintenance group, and a launch and recovery capability, according to a news release. The Air Force picked Tyndall because the area has fewer aircraft competing for airspace, nearby training ranges, good weather, and lower up-front costs, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in the release. The selection also will help Air Combat Command’s broader plan to improve the morale in the remotely piloted aircraft community by providing an additional base location to diversify assignment opportunities, according to the Air Force. The current schedule calls for airmen to begin arriving as early as 2020, with the first Reapers arriving in 2022. Vandenberg AFB, Calif., is considered a reasonable alternative.
New Air Force EW Study Could Deliver Report Next Year
The Air Force is standing up a new electronic warfare effort that could produce results as early as next year, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson said Tuesday. Speaking in Washington, D.C., at the Association of Old Crows annual conference, Wilson said the service is starting an Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team (ECCT) focused on EW. “He that dominates the spectrum wins,” Wilson told the audience, according to a Breaking Defense report. The ECCT’s exact mission—as well as its leadership—should be set before the end of the year, Wilson said, and it is expected to produce a report for Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein within 12-18 months.
Orbital ATK Shareholders Approve Sale to Northrop Grumman
The shareholders of ATK Orbital have approved the sale of the company to Northrop Grumman, a transaction first announced in September. “Bringing together these two great companies will benefit our customers, shareholders, and employees,” said Northrop CEO Wes Bush in a press release. “The combination will provide increased competition, greater innovation and a broader set of capabilities, to help our customers solve their toughest challenges.” The deal is still waiting on regulatory approvals, and Northrop expects the acquisition to be complete sometime in the first half of 2018. —Wilson Brissett
State Approves Possible AIM-120C, Artillery Sale to Poland
The State Department on Tuesday approved the possible sale of AIM-120C-7 advanced air-to-air missiles, along with artillery systems, in a move it says will support the NATO ally’s security in Eastern Europe. The estimated $250 million foreign military sale includes up to 150 AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles as well as support and test equipment, and training and logistics support. The missiles would be used on Poland’s F-16s and “enhances Poland’s ability to provide for its own territorial defense and support coalition operations,” according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency release. DSCA also announced an accompanying possible $250 million sale of a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, including launch systems, rockets, other equipment, and training support. —Brian Everstine
—The last F-16 built at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility recently rolled off the assembly line. The aircraft will be delivered to the Iraqi air force: Flight Global.
—Active Duty airmen who have served for 12 years, convert to the new blended retirement system, and commit to another 48 months of service will receive a one-time bonus worth two and a half times their monthly basic pay: Stars and Stripes.
—Airmen assigned to the Air Force Reserve’s 514th Air Mobility Wing recently delivered 76,410 pounds of food to Haiti: DOD release.