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  • GSSAP Delays Could Impact GPS Launch

    Delays in the launch of the Air Force’s first two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program satellites, originally scheduled for July 23, may impact United Launch Alliance’s ability to launch the GPS IIF-7 satellite on July 31, Air Force Space Command officials said Friday. “If the Delta IV rocket carrying the GSSAP satellites does not get off the ground tonight, then we are … prepared to launch tomorrow, if necessary,” said Walter Lauderdale, Air Force Space Command GPS IIF-7 mission director. “If we have an attempt tomorrow, the team will have to re-evaluate whether Thursday is supportable.” Col. Bill Cooley, director of the Global Positioning System Directorate, said balancing the Air Force priorities with launch sustainability is key. “It’s always a compromise in discussion between the constellation sustainment and the launch manifest, and so those decisions have yet to be made,” Cooley said. The GPS IIF-7 is scheduled to leave from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., July 31 with a launch window beginning at 11:27 p.m.

  • First Two RAAF F-35s Roll Off the Line

    7/28/2014

    Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, speaks at a roll-out ceremony for the first two F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, July 24, 2014. Courtesy photo.

    The first two F-35 strike fighters for the Royal Australian Air Force officially rolled off the line at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility on July 24. The aircraft, dubbed AU-1 and AU-2, will undergo functional fuel system checks and flight tests over the next few months, before they are delivered to RAAF later this year, according to a July 24 company release. Both aircraft will be based at Luke AFB, Ariz., where they will be used for pilot training. “For both our nations, this program represents an exponential leap in capability on the cutting edge of technology, and an integral component of our ongoing joint commitment to stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific,” said Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. Australia already has contracted $412 million dollar to its F-35 program and is expected to spend up to $6 billion in “expected manufacturing orders over the life of the program, “states the release. “It’s fitting that in the year Australia commemorates 100 years of military aviation, we also mark the arrival of the most advanced fighter ever developed,” said Lockheed Martin President Marillyn Hewson.

  • Senate Confirms Four Military Nominees

    7/28/2014

    The Senate confirmed four of President Barack Obama’s nominees for top military commands, according to a July 25 release. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, who previously led US and coalition troops in Afghanistan, will succeed Gen. James Amos to be the next commandant of the Marine Corps. Amos has served in the top Marine since October 2010. Army Gen. John Campbell also was confirmed to replace Dunford as commander of International Security Assistance Force and US Forces in Afghanistan. Navy Adm. Bill Gortney, who currently serves as commander of US Fleet Forces Command, was confirmed to be commander of US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. And, Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Votel also was confirmed to receive his fourth star and to serve as commander of US Special Operations Command. Votel, who previously led Joint Special Operations Command, will replace Adm. William McRaven, who is slated to retire.

  • Russia to Expand Defense Cooperation with Iraq

    ​Russia declared it will expand military cooperation with the Iraqi government, after working to provide Baghdad with attack jets earlier this year. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told the ITAR-Tass state news wire on July 24 that expanding military cooperation with the Iraqis is a "strategic priority" for the Russians. Shoigu and his Iraqi counterpart, Defense Minister Saadun al-Dulaimi, reportedly discussed future prospects for cooperation, future military sales contracts, and potential training for officers during a recent meeting. Al-Duliami said Iraq is seeking to further Russian cooperation because the country is facing "difficulties" in its fight with Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL) militants. In late June, Iraq received a shipment of Su-25 ground attack aircraft in a deal brokered by the Russians. At the same time, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki criticized the US effort to provide the Iraqis with F-16s, declaring the process was "long winded." Pentagon officials have since maintained the original delivery and training schedule for F-16 deliveries holds firm, and the Defense Department has said the Iraqis have given no indication they do not want to fulfill the terms of the F-16 agreement.

  • China Announces New Anti-Missile Test

    ​China's state run Xinhua news service announced the completion of a new "land-based anti-missile technology experiment," citing sources at the Ministry of Defense, but offering few details as to the target and parameters of the test. The test "achieved the desired objectives" the Chinese officials declared, adding the system could aid development of an anti-missile shield which could intercept incoming ballistic missile warheads. It is the third publicly acknowledged anti-missile test by the Chinese since 2010, with the last one occurring in January 2013. The launch comes as China is building up both its traditional defense capabilities, and increasing anti-missile and anti-satellite technology tests, such as the launch of a rocket in May 2013 believed to be related to a new ASAT weapon.

  • James Tells Airmen Operations Tempo Will Remain High

    7/28/2014

    During a recent visit to RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth, United Kingdom, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James emphasized the importance of the European theater moving forward.  "I have full confidence that the airmen of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa are well positioned to be forward, ready, now," James said. "I expect the operations tempo of the Air Force to remain high for what I consider to be the foreseeable future," she said. "Of course we are winding down combat operations in Afghanistan as we enter a new phase, but it's a very busy rest of the world." James said Air Force readiness “is not where I’d like it to be,” but even in spite of budget cuts and force reduction plans already in place, the Air Force is “making a big push to get those readiness levels up.” (USAF release.)

  • Singapore F-15SGs Debut at Nellis Red Flag

    ​Republic of Singapore air force crew chief assigned to the 428th Fighter Squadron at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, waits for the arrival of an F-15SG aircraft prior to the start Red Flag 14-3, July 11, 2014 at Nellis AFB, Nev. Air Force photo by A1C Thomas Spangler.

    The recently completed Red Flag 14-3 at Nellis AFB, Nev., marked a new first for relations between USAF and Singapore’s Air Force, with the debut of Singapore's top fighter. The Republic of Singapore Air Force’s 428th Fighter Squadron sent 8 F-15SGs to Nellis in early July, along with 8 F-16s, CH-47s, and some 290 personnel from Singaporean detachments co-located at US bases. The US has been working to expand defense cooperation with Singapore, particularly through multilateral events. The Singaporeans joined 83 other aircraft at the exercise, as well as a French C-130. “This high-end exercise provides the RSAF with an opportunity to benchmark itself against other leading air forces,” said Lt. Col. Tham Yeow Min, the RSAF detachment commander. Red Flag 14-3 also marked the first time RSAF’s top of the line F-15SG fighters participated in Nellis’ Red Flag franchise. Tham noted the RSAF has always done well at the Nellis event, and the F-15SG crews “will continue to uphold the high standards.” The RSAF’s 428th FS is based at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, home of the “Peace Carvin V” program between the US and Singapore. The base also serves as the schoolhouse for all RSAF F-15SG training.

  • Future Launches to Include GPS Satellite Tracking

    Air Force Space Command is planning to start using GPS satellite tracking, as opposed to radar tracking, to determine the positions of satellites in orbit, officials told reporters during a teleconference Friday. The July 31 launch of the seventh GPS IIF satellite will be the last one that uses the C-Band radar tracking, said Walter Lauderdale, Air Force Space Command GPS IIF-7 mission director. “The Delta IV launch vehicles have been, for several missions, since last year, flying with GPS metric tracking, and starting with the Worldview on the West Coast in the first part of August, Atlas V will also be solely on GPS metric tracking,” he said. AFSPC began pushing for the change in 2008, and United Launch Alliance and the Air Force began transitioning to the GPS system earlier this year. The move is said to help cut costs and provide enhanced range safety information, officials said.

  • Air Reserve Components Help Battle Forest Fires

    7/28/2014

    Over a period of a few days, Air National Guardsmen and Air Force Reservists from around the US helped battle forest fires in northern Utah. They brought along eight Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems-equipped C-130s and launched six sorties from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, according to a July 24 release. Firefighters can request these C-130s when they need a “surge capability,” said Col. Charles Davis III, commander of Air Expeditionary Wing Wildland Firefighting. Each C-130 carries a 3,000-gallon tank filled with fire retardant but airmen don’t put out the fire. “We’re more [about] containment,” said Davis. “We do not put [the retardant] on the flames. We put it around the fire to stop it from expanding.” Airmen hailed from the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing, North Carolina ANG’s 145th AW, Wyoming ANG’s 153rd AW, and the Air Force Reserve’s 302nd AW in Colorado.