AFRICOM Increasing ISR Support, Limiting Missions in Wake of October 2017 Ambush
US special operations forces in Africa are paring down their operations, and will be supported by an increase in Air Force-provided surveillance from a large USAF operating location in Niger, following the Oct. 4, 2017, ambush in that country that killed four Green Berets. Failures in training, both before deployment and in theater, contributed to the incident, and ground commanders misled AFRICOM officials on paperwork before the mission, according to the investigation. The ambush killed SSgt. Bryan Black, SSgt. Jeremiah Johnson, SSgt. Dustin Wright, and Sgt. La David Johnson. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
HASC Pushes Fiscal 2019 Authorization Bill to House for Consideration
The House Armed Services Committee voted 60 to 1 to approve its version of the $717 billion Fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill, sending the legislation to the full House for consideration after a marathon markup session that lasted more than 14 hours. The committee’s version of the bill headed off an attempt to weaken language directing reestablishment of the US Space Command as a subordinate unified command under US Strategic Command, looked to create a military commission to study aviation mishaps and safety issues, and increased the focus on cybersecurity efforts. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.
US Must Act Quickly to Counter China’s Advanced Weapons, Report Says
The United States has a limited opportunity, no more than a decade, to develop new ways to counter China’s advanced weapons programs, a report released Thursday by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission claims. China’s Advanced Weapons Systems, prepared for the commission by defense analysis firm Jane’s by HIS Markit, examines Chinese counterspace, unmanned systems, maneuverable reentry vehicles, directed-energy, and electronic rail gun weapons systems, as well as its use of artificial intelligence for defense. The report concludes that of the areas covered, counterspace is China’s highest priority and that its efforts in this area could hurt the effectiveness of US space architecture or limit access to the architecture needed for most US military capabilities. It also finds that in the more immediate future, China will concentrate on developing counterspace, unmanned systems, maneuverable reentry and hypersonic glide vehicles, directed-energy weapons, and electromagnetic railguns. In the longer term, though, China will switch its emphasis to autonomous unmanned systems and AI, the report says. While the US has an overall advantage over China, Chinese industrial abilities pose credible threats to that superiority unless sufficient, and often expensive, responses are undertaken, the report says. —Steve Hirsch
DARPA Expects First Gremlins Demonstration in Late 2019
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency expects to demonstrate its Gremlins project—a swarm of drones that can be launched and recovered from a C-130—in late 2019. DARPA recently conducted a flight test at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., where it tested safe separation and captive flight tests of the system, according to a release. While the C-130 is the demonstration platform for the project, it could also be used for other aircraft, including F-22s and F-35s, according to DARPA. The agency last month awarded a $38.6 million contract to Dynetics for the final phase of the program, and on Wednesday Sierra Nevada Corp. announced it will provide the autonomous docking navigation systems for the project. —Brian Everstine
Sheppard Training Wing Makes App for Pilots in Training
The 80th Flying Training Wing recently unveiled a new app for undergraduate pilot training that provides more than 1,500 pages of documents on a handheld device. The wing entered Air Education and Training Command’s Innovation Challenge to highlight the app, which provides a “mobility factor” that “can’t be undervalued,” said Lt. Col. Jason Colborn, 80th FTW director of staff, in a release. Because Sheppard also hosts NATO and European pilots, the app can be used by partner nation pilots as well.
—Three Americans held in North Korea, now freed, arrived at JB Andrews, outside of Washington, on Thursday where they were greeted by President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and service members: Air Force release.
—Col. Jason Costello, an F-22 pilot with NORAD and US Northern Command, is facing court-martial on sexual assault charges for incidents in 2012 and 2014. He is also charged with hitting someone in 2013 and unlawfully grabbing someone last year: Stars and Stripes.
—The Air Force has been testing water and soil at the former K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Michigan for possible contamination from chemicals in aqueous film-forming foam, used for smothering flames in aircraft crashes: WJMN-TV.