Forces aligned with the Libyan Government of National Accord have reduced the territory controlled by ISIS in the city of Sirte by about one-third with the support of US airstrikes, Pentagon spokesman Gordon Trowbridge said Friday. Some of the buildings taken had served as key ISIS operating centers, he said. The military’s new offensive against ISIS fighters in Libya has totaled 41 airstrikes in 10 days, with the latest wave hitting ISIS vehicles and fighting positions in the city of Sirte, US Africa Command announced on Friday. The operation, Odyssey Lightning, kicked off Aug. 1 after the government of national accord requested US assistance in targeting ISIS. Pentagon Spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Friday manned and unmanned systems have carried out the strikes, with the manned strikes conducted by Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers from the USS Wasp. He would not confirm reports that the remotely piloted aircraft were coming from US units in Jordan. Trowbridge said the US actions in Libya were in keeping with the policy that “the way to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat, one that sticks, is by supporting capable and motivated local forces that can not only defeat ISIL today, but keep it from rearing its ugly head tomorrow.”
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.