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A USAF medal with an attached remote "R" device sits in front of an MQ-9 Reaper on July 9 at Creech AFB, Nev. Air Force photo by SrA James Thompson​​​​​​

​Air Force Awards First Remote Devices

The Air Force on Wednesday awarded the first “R” devices at Creech AFB, Nev., to 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing aircrews. The device was authorized in 2016 as an award for hands-on employment of a weapons system that directly and immediately affects military operations without exposing the individual to personal hostile action. The actions of the recipients, whose full names were not given, eliminated threats and saved the lives of US and coalition ground forces, according to the Air Force. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.

Mattis Touts US Commitment to NATO After Rocky Summit

The American commitment to NATO is stronger following this week’s tumultuous summit in Brussels, with the US remaining “100 percent” with the group, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday. Mattis told reporters as he left Brussels that NATO is “stronger today than it was yesterday, stronger today than it was a month ago, stronger today than it was a year ago,” according to Reuters​. The summit was marked by President Trump’s criticism of NATO member nations’ inability to raise their defense spending. On Thursday, Trump said he would be “very unhappy” if other nations didn’t increase their spending, and said “everyone’s agreed” to increase their commitment. In 2014, NATO member nations agreed to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense spending by 2024. Mattis told reporters that now the US and other nations will “roll up our sleeves” and get to work on initiatives in the Baltics to the Mediterranean. —Brian Everstine

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Pennsylvania Guard Tests New KC-135 Missile Defense System

The 171st Air Refueling Wing in May successfully tested a new, built-in missile defense system to protect the KC-135. The Large Aircraft Infrared Counter Measures Gen 3 system is designed to protect the Stratotanker from surface-launched infrared guided missiles by jamming the missile’s seekers automatically when a launch is detected, according to a 171st RW release.  The aircraft does not have a built-in missile defense system because the tanker would not fly in high-threat areas. The 171st was picked for the testing because they have a majority of the KC-135T models in Air Force and they had aircraft available, according to the release. The system, developed by Northrop Grumman, is scheduled to begin production early next year.

Joint Space Operations Center Conversion to Combined Center Set for July 18

The transition of the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., to the Combined Space Operations Center, a move aimed at improving US cooperation with allies in national security space operations, is set for July 18. Gen. John Raymond, commander of the Joint Force Space Component Command and Air Force Space Command, will preside over the ceremony, according to an AFSPC release. Operations the combined center will direct are to include missile warning; positioning, navigation and timing; navigation warfare; optimization and restoration of military satellite communications; electromagnetic spectrum awareness and resolution; theater battlespace awareness using overhead persistent infrared; environmental monitoring; theater support fires; space intelligence; defensive space situational awareness; and space defense. —Steve Hirsch

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RADAR SWEEP


​— A US Army Special Forces soldier was killed July 12 during a raid in Afghanistan's Paktia Province, the second US soldier killed within a week in the country: New York Times.

—Researchers say a hacker tried to sell MQ-9 Reaper documents on the dark web, having gained access to the files from an Air Force captain's computer using a vulnerability in Netgear routers: The Hill.

—President Trump wants to change the appearance of the next Air Force One, exchanging the current robin’s-egg blue — a “Jackie Kennedy color” in Trump’s words — to a “more American” appearance: Axios.

—The US and Vanuatu will conduct a joint combined humanitarian assistance exercise during Pacific Angel, July 16-21, the second of four such engagements set for this year: Pacific Air Forces release.

—Space Launch Complex 17 at Cape Canaveral, Fla., which had been in operation since 1957, was demolished Thursday to make way for use by Moon Express: SpaceFlight Insider.

—The Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron spent part of last month in Sri Lanka helping in monsoon research in the Bay of Bengal, working with the University of Notre Dame and the government of Sri Lanka on a study funded by the US Office of Naval Research: Air Force release.