US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the offensive to reclaim Mosul is a “decisive moment” in the campaign against ISIS, and the US-led coalition is confident Iraqi troops will prevail. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said during a Monday briefing that “this is the Iraqi’s fight” and that the Defense Department will largely defer to the Iraqi government for operational updates on the campaign. More than 5,000 US troops are in Iraq, including those building up the Qayyarah West airfield that was expected to be a launching point for the offensive. While US and coalition aircraft is supporting the operation, close air support attack aircraft, such as US Army AH-64 Apaches, have yet to be? used in the fight but they are available, Cook said. It is “safe to say” that there are Americans on the ground in and around Mosul, but they are advising the Iraqis in the lead for the fight, he said.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.