Tornado Strikes Tyndall Months After Devastating Hurricane

A tornado with “estimated peak wind of 90 mph” struck Tyndall AFB, Fla., Saturday evening, just a few months after the base was nearly destroyed by a hurricane. No one was injured, but the high winds destroyed some of the new construction on base, according to officials. “The tornado moved a car, broke car windows, tore a portion of a new roof off of barracks, and flipped dumpsters and garbage cans on their sides,” according to a National Weather Service report. It also “caused some additional damage to a few structures” in addition to the barracks, 325th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Brian Laidlaw wrote in a Jan. 20 Facebook post. The tornado’s path started and ended at Tyndall. The National Weather Service estimated it to be 0.81 miles long and 50 yards wide, but the damage is not expected to affect any of the base’s ongoing missions, Laidlaw wrote. Emergency responders performed preliminary inspections of the buildings hit by the tornado, and damage assessments were slated to “continue through the weekend,” according to a Jan. 19 post on Tyndall’s Facebook page. “We will continue to rebuild from the damage of Hurricane Michael and the additional damage caused by this weather event,” Laidlaw wrote. “Together, we are building a stronger Tyndall.” The tornado’s arrival at the base came just three days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Tyndall to observe recovery and rebuilding efforts in the wake of Hurricane Michael. —Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

Think of F-15X In Context Of Fighter Recap, Donovan Says

The Air Force has to accelerate its buy of fighters, and the possibility of the service reversing long-standing policy and buying new F-15s in an air-to-air role should be viewed in that context, service Undersecretary Matt Donovan told an AFA Mitchell Institute audience Friday. Donovan said the service is “very happy” with the F-35 but is in danger of falling below congressionally mandated fighter inventories as older jets retire. He declined to confirm or deny whether the F-15X is in the defense budget, expected to be released next month. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Donovan: No Buy of Light Attack Yet; More Experiments, More Types to Consider

A request for proposals on a new light attack airplane for the Air Force, expected by now, has been tabled pending more experiments that will look at more powerful types of aircraft, potentially including jets, service Undersecretary Matt Donovan said Friday. He told reporters at an AFA Mitchell Institute event there are still questions about the light strike approach that need to be answered, and suggested that either potential partners were cool to the two finalists or that cost savings versus fast jets didn’t meet expectations. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Pentagon Climate Report: 32 USAF Installations Face Wildfire Risk

Thirty-two of the Air Force’s 35 “mission assurance priority installations” located across 22 states are vulnerable to wildfires, according to a Pentagon report on climate change’s implications for the Defense Department, released Jan. 18. The report, which was mandated by the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, evaluated “significant vulnerabilities from climate-related events in order to identify high risks to mission effectiveness on installations and to operations.” It broke these threats down into five categories: wildfires, recurrent flooding, drought, desertification, and thawing permafrost—the last of which, it said, wasn’t applicable to any USAF installations observed as part of the report. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

Air Force Applying Rapid-Acquisition Authorities to Nine Programs

The Air Force chose nine development programs to try out the rapid prototyping and fielding authorities granted by Congress in the fiscal 2016 defense policy bill, the service’s top acquisition official told Senate lawmakers in a December report. Programs range from two hypersonic missiles to legacy aircraft upgrades to nuclear, cyber, and space systems. All are expected to result in either an operational prototype or a fully fielded system within five years. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Northrop Grumman Receives Another Contract to Preserve Old Nuclear Missile Motors

Northrop Grumman recently announced it received an eight-year Air Force contract worth up to $86 million to continue ground tests and other work that ensures aging intercontinental ballistic missile motors can still fly. In a Jan. 17 press release, the company said it has supported aging surveillance efforts like “component dissection, motor plugging, propellant properties testing, and hazards analysis” for deactivated Minuteman and Peacekeeper solid rocket motors since 1997. “Retired Minuteman and Peacekeeper motors are used for a variety of purposes, including government launches for the Minotaur series of rockets, Missile Defense Agency missions, test launches such as next year’s Ascent Abort-2 NASA Orion and Launch Abort System test flight, and sounding rockets,” Northrop said. —Rachel S. Cohen


Al-Shabaab Degraded by US, Federal Government of Somalia

To support the Federal Government of Somalia’s continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike targeting militants near Jilib, Middle Juba Region, Somalia, on January 19, 2019. AFRICOM

Japan to Cease In-Country Assembly of F-35 Jets

Japan has confirmed it will not use in-country final assembly facilities for its next lot of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets. Defense News

Russian Su-34s Collide, One Aircraft Lost

A pair of Russian Aerospace Force (VKS) Sukhoi Su-34 ‘Fullback’ strike aircraft collided during a training flight off the Far East coast of the country on 18 January, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed to national media. Janes

Operation Deep Freeze 2018

When December rolls around all eyes are traditionally focused on the North Pole. That was not the case this year however, for four members of the 263rd Combat Communications Squadron, who spent the last month of 2018 focused on the South Pole of Antarctica and Operation Deep Freeze. DVIDS

First Metallic 3D Printed Part Installed on F-22

In December, 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintainers installed a metallic 3D printed part on an operational F-22 Raptor during depot maintenance at Hill Air Force Base. Air Force News

One More Thing …

Amid Government Shutdown, Here’s What Companies Are Doing To Support Federal Employees

Approximately 800,000 government employees, either furloughed or working without pay, are facing missed paychecks this week. Here’s a list of businesses that are offering help. Forbes