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​The B-21 Raider, which might look like the illustration above, is expected to make its first flight in December 2021. Staff illustration by Mike Tsukamoto.

​Northrop Grumman Expands Plant 42 as B-21 Continues Development

PALMDALE, Calif.—Northrop Grumman is expanding its secretive Plant 42 site and is in the middle of a hiring spree, but company officials won’t explicitly say whether the moves are ramping up for the new B-21 Raider bomber. The company has spent “hundreds of millions” of dollars to expand its presence to facilitate “other programs,” said Janis Pamiljans, the president of Northrop’s aerospace sector. As the Air Force prepares to replace its legacy B-2 with the B-21, the company says it is leveraging lessons learned from B-2 production and sustainment for the undisclosed “other programs.” The Air Force maintains the development program is on schedule and faring well. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

AMC Finishes Most C-130 Wing Joint Checks

The Air Force has finished inspecting certain wing joints on all 113 operational C-130s that were at risk for unusual cracks, the service said in an Aug. 21 release. Another 18 airplanes that are undergoing depot maintenance will also be checked in the course of that sustainment work, which could take weeks to months, Air Force Magazine previously reported. About half of those 18 C-130s were already slated for “rainbow fitting” inspections during their heavy maintenance routine, while the inspection was added to the schedule for others as a result of Air Mobility Command’s deep-dive into the problem on nearly one-quarter of the Lockheed Martin-built C-130 fleet. Airmen discovered the defect on two aircraft: one that prompted the broader investigation and one that was looked at within the past two weeks. Those cracks are being repaired. —Rachel S. Cohen

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Boeing Gets New Contract for A-10 Wings

The Air Force this week awarded Boeing a contract worth up to almost $1 billion to expand its effort to add new wings to A-10s, shortly after wrapping up a previous initiative that replaced wings on most of the fleet. “The Air Force currently has a fleet of 281 A-10s and recently announced the completion of wing replacements for 173 A-10 aircraft, by Boeing, from an earlier contract award,” the service said in an Aug. 21 release. The Aug. 21 contract allows the Air Force to re-wing up to 109 aircraft, plus three spares, “depending on how many aircraft are needed for the future,” the service said. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.


Gilday Outlines Top Priorities as New CNO

Navy Adm. Mike Gilday promised to prioritize readiness, modernization, and people as the service's 32nd Chief of Naval Operations during his Aug. 22 swearing-in ceremony in Washington, D.C. “My focus in the coming years is to move forward … with a sense of urgency, in sustaining our readiness and modernizing our force and taking care of our most important weapon system: our sailors and their families,” he said. “We will question our assumptions, we will think differently about the competition that we are now in, we will be the Navy the nation needs now, and we will build the Navy the nation needs to fight and win in the future.” Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

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RADAR SWEEP


Space Command’s Initial Home Will Be in Colorado Springs, Congressman Says
A Colorado congressman says the initial headquarters for the Pentagon’s new Space Command will be in his home state. Republican US Rep. Doug Lamborn said Aug. 21 the command will officially start operations at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., in September. Associated Press via The Colorado Sun

Second GPS III Launch Validates (at Long Last) Program Progress
The Aug. 22 launch of the second Air Force GPS III satellite, called Magellan, represents welcome validation for prime contractor Lockheed Martin and ground-based control system provider Raytheon after years of delays and cost overruns—proving that the high-priority, but long troubled, GPS III program is now moving ahead relatively smoothly. Breaking Defense

RC-135 Training “Bottlenecks” After Flooding Destroys Simulators
The recent flooding at Offutt AFB, Neb., has slowed down mission crew training on the RC-135 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft, leading the Air Force to send airmen as far away as the United Kingdom to train, according to a top general. Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, said Aug. 20 that the loss of the aircraft simulator complex at Offutt due to flooding has caused a "problem" for the RC-135 force. Military.com

Putin Pledges Russian Response to US Cruise Missile Test
Russia pledged a response to an Aug. 18 test of a US ground-based cruise missile the Pentagon conducted two weeks after the expiration of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty in early August. Russian President Vladimir Putin said, following a Helsinki meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, the speed with which the US tested a modified Tomahawk Land Attack Missile indicated the Defense Department had been working on the system long before the US declared it would withdraw from the INF treaty. USNI News

US Says It's Ready to Resume Nuclear Talks with North Korea
The United States is ready to restart nuclear negotiations with North Korea, a senior US diplomat said Aug. 21, a day after US and South Korean militaries ended their regular drills that North Korea calls an invasion rehearsal. Associated Press via Yahoo! News

Wright-Patt Tops 30K Employees for First Time in 30 years
The increase in employment is the result of the base having better “local hiring authority” from the Air Force to fill new positions and vacancies that remained from a hiring freeze, said Col. Tom Sherman, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander. Dayton Daily News

Eglin Captain Dies Shortly after PT Test
An Air Force officer at Eglin AFB, Fla., died early on the morning of Aug. 17 from health complications following an Aug. 16 fitness test. Air Force Times

She Recorded Her Rapist's Confession. Now, the Supreme Court Could Hear It.
The Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to review and reverse a top military appeals court's view that older rape convictions can be vacated because a five-year statute of limitations on rape existed before 2006, according to CNN. It has prevented at least 10 new cases from being heard, the Justice Department says. CNN

Pentagon Aims to Sync Counter-Drone Efforts
Concerned about the threat posed by unmanned aerial systems, the Defense Department is taking steps to synchronize its counter-drone initiatives, according to a department official. National Defense Magazine

DOD Identifies Army Casualties
The Defense Department on Aug. 22 announced the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel. Both soldiers died Aug. 21 in Faryab Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations. DOD release

One More Thing …

Video: 1980 Air Force F-16 Fighter Jet Listed for Sale Online in Florida
Jet Lease, a Palm Beach, Fla.-based aircraft leasing and purchasing company, is offering the jet at an $8.5 million price tag. One of the most sought-after fighter jets, the US Air Force sometimes sells older F-16s as it upgrades its inventory. Fox News