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​​​The first F-35A produced for Turkey is unveiled during a June 2018 ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility. The aircraft, which is currently conducting training at Luke AFB, Ariz., will not be delivered to Turkey this summer as expected, unless the country opts not to buy the Russian S-400 air defense system. Lockheed Martin photo.

Cold Turkey: Shanahan Pushes Ankara Out of the F-35 Program

The US notified Turkey June 7 that it has begun the process of excising that country from the multinational F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, unless Ankara moves immediately to cancel its plans to buy and deploy the Russian S-400 air defense system. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, in a letter to his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, said Turkey has been disinvited to an upcoming meeting of F-35 company CEOs, and all Turkish pilots learning to fly the F-35 in the US must leave the country by July 31. Also by that date, all Turkish attaches to the F-35 program office have to surrender their access cards and will be barred from the program. Pentagon acquisition and sustainment chief Ellen Lord told reporters the US is well along in its search for alternative suppliers for Turkish-made parts for the F-35, a good number of which are made solely in that country. She expects little effect on the F-35 cost or production schedule, even though she recently predicted those impacts could be substantial. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak and Brian Everstine.

B-52s, Guard F-15s Train in Australia

USAF B-52s joined California Air National Guard F-15s for almost three weeks of training alongside the Royal Australian Air Force down under recently. The B-52s from the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, from Minot AFB, N.D., to simulate bomb strikes for exercises as part of RAAF’s exercise Diamond Storm, according to a Pacific Air Forces release. The exercise is an advanced training event for RAAF pilots, who flew F-18s and Growlers, according to the release. During the exercise, California F-15Cs flew offensive counter-air training. “We have about 40 to 50 aircraft on the blue side [main force] and a really large number of red air [opposition] replicating a very advanced threat, which is great training for us,” said USAF Lt. Col. Christopher Ridlon, 194th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander, in the release. (Editor's note: This entry was corrected on June 10 to reflect the correct base from which the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron was deployed.)

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Sikh Airman Becomes First to Wear Turban and Unshorn Hair in Service

A crew chief at McChord AFB, Wash., is now the first airman to receive a waiver to wear a turban, beard, and unshorn hair in accordance with his Sikh religious beliefs. A1C Harpreetinder Singh Bajwa, who enlisted in the Air Force in 2017, was not permitted to follow certain beliefs because of Air Force grooming standards and dress rules. In 2018, Bajwa reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and after about six months of pressure, the Air Force granted an accommodation. “I’m overjoyed that the Air Force has granted my religious accommodation,” Bajwa said in a SALDEF release. “Today, I feel that my country has embraced my Sikh heritage, and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity.” The Air Force’s decision comes about a year after the service granted a waiver to the first USAF officer allowed to wear a hijab in service, and later in 2018 the service also granted a waiver to allow a Muslim airman to wear a beard, according to the ACLU. —Brian Everstine

Thunderbirds Name 2020 Class

Air Combat Command on June 4 announced the new Thunderbirds team for the 2020 season. Thunderbird No. 2 will be Maj. Trevor Aldridge, currently with the 493rd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, England; No. 4 will be Capt. Zane Taylor, from the 8th Fighter Squadron at Holloman AFB, N.M.; Capt. Kyle Oliver, from the 27th Fighter Squadron at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., will be No. 6; Maj. Kevin DiFalco, from the 31st Operational Support Squadron at Aviano AB, Italy, will be No. 7; Capt. Katherine Moorkamp, from Headquarters Air Combat Command at Langley, will be the team’s executive officer (No. 10); Capt. Remoshay Nelson, from the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan AB, South Korea, will be No. 12, the team’s public affairs officer. The Thunderbirds are on two-year tours of duty, with openings staggered. The team is in the middle of its 2019 season, with the 2020 season scheduled to start in March at Laughlin AFB, Texas.

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RADAR SWEEP


Trump is Still Pushing for a Red, White, and Blue Air Force One
The White House is pressing ahead with President Donald Trump’s demand that Boeing Co. paint new Air Force One jets red, white, and blue, replacing the blue-and-white pattern used since the early 1960s. Bloomberg

Tanker Directorate Gets New PEO
Brig. Gen. John Newberry assumed leadership as program executive officer for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Tanker Directorate, during a May 31 ceremony presided over by Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. Newberry replaces Brig. Gen. Donna Shipton, who is leaving to become vice commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. USAF release

Lt. Gen. David H. Berger Confirmed as Next Marine Corps Commandant
Lt. Gen. David H. Berger was confirmed by the Senate on June 5 to be the next commandant of the Marine Corps. Marine Corps Times

Air Force Reports Progress in Missile Defense Satellite Programs
SBIRS-4 has been declared fully operational. Next-gen OPIR has passed several design reviews. Space News

This Soldier is About to Be the Iraq War’s First Living Medal of Honor Recipient
On his 29th birthday, back in 2004, Staff Sgt. David Bellavia almost single-handedly fought off a nest of insurgents during the second Battle of Fallujah, in Iraq. Later this month, he’s set to see the Silver Star he received for that action upgraded to a Medal of Honor, which would make him one of now seven Operation Iraqi Freedom Medals of Honor, all which have been awarded posthumously to date. Military Times

Raytheon and United Technologies Agree to All-Stock Merger That Would Create Aerospace Behemoth
The combination would bring together United Technologies booming aerospace business that makes everything from jet engines, cockpit controls and airplane seats with Tomahawk missile maker Raytheon. CNBC

One More Thing…

Thule Air Base: Inside the US’s northernmost military base in Greenland
The US’s northernmost military base is the Thule Air Base in Greenland, which was strategically, yet illicitly, established to offer the Danish colonies protection from Germany in World War II. Today, the base is used for monitoring space for defence purposes. Air Force Technology