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  • Chinese Fighter Conducts Dangerously Close Intercept of US Navy Jet

    A US Navy P-8 Poseidon in flight. Navy photo.

  • US Protests Russian Convoy Entering Ukraine

    ​Defense Department and White House officials sharply rebuked Russia for sending an alleged aid convoy into Eastern Ukraine without obtaining clearance from Ukrainian authorities. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby called the convoy of some 280 trucks a "violation of [Ukraine's] territorial integrity" and urged the Russian government to pull the trucks back or face "additional cost and isolation." Kirby said he was not "prepared to speak" to whether the trucks were in fact carrying aid, but said Russia should avoid using the convoy as an excuse to cross the border. Early Friday, the Russian foreign ministry argued Kiev was delaying the convoy even though it was acting within "international humanitarian law," reported the state-run Ria Novosti. However, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in statement that Russia is not abiding by previously agreed upon terms, that said the convoy "would constitute a humanitarian mission only" if the cargo was inspected, Ukraine granted permission, and the convoy was escorted by aid workers. Both Hayden and Kirby noted the build-up of highly capable Russian forces along Ukraine's border. "As a result, the international community has been profoundly concerned that Russia's actions today are nothing but a pretext for further Russian escalation of the conflict," she said. (Kirby transcript.)

  • AFSPC Seeks Info on New Rocket Engine

    Air Force Space Command is asking industry to provide information on a potential new booster propulsion and launch system for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-class spacelifts. In light of ongoing conflicts with Russia, USAF is seeking a domestic alternative to the RD-180 engine to ensure continued access to space. According to the request for information notice, the new domestic solution may be a near carbon copy with “similar performance characteristics to currently used engines,” or it can consist of different configurations (such as a multiple engine configuration) that provide similar functionality. Use of completely different launch vehicles also is a possibility. “The Air Force is particularly interested in exploiting any available synergies with commercial space launch systems” and making sure the new engine also has both military and non-military utility, the solicitation said. Jessica Rye, a United Launch Alliance spokeswoman, said via email Thursday the company is looking forward to being a part of the new engine solution. "The US government also recently made clear that it supports investment in a domestic engine and we look forward to participating in the development of that public-private partnership," she said. Responses are due by Sept. 19.

  • ACC Loans Global Hawk Block 40 to Edwards

    8/25/2014

    Air Combat Command loaned one of its newer Block 40 Global Hawks to the flight test community at Edwards AFB, Calif., to help with configuration-constrained testing. The Block 40 from Grand Forks AFB, N.D., will join the existing Global Hawks at the 412th Test Wing’s Global Vigilance Combined Test Force at Edwards and will be used to test upgrades for the diminishing manufacturing source program, which addresses the loss or likely loss of manufacturers or suppliers of needed systems or raw material, according to an Air Force release. The high-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft also will be used to test additional systems, including Inmarsat and multi-platform mission control segment hardware and software integration. “The importance of Inmarsat testing is that in the end of calendar year 2016, if we don’t make these modernizations across the fleet our fleet faces potential grounding,” said Teresa Bennett, the GVCTF Global Hawk program manager. The block 40 Global Hawk is expected to be ready for use by September and is on loan through January. It will allow the test force to advance its current developmental testing and focus on modifications that will benefit ACC in the long run.

  • Bird Bath

    8/25/2014

    Air Frame: A KC-135 Stratotanker taxis through the wash rack, also known as a bird bath, after a mission Aug. 18, 2014. The KC-135 is assigned to the Tennessee Air National Guard’s 134th Air Refueling Wing. (Air National Guard photo by TSgt. Jonathan Young) (Click on image above to reach wallpaper version.)

  • Lockheed Completes Design Review of F-16V Radar

    Lockheed Martin has completed a critical design review on an upgraded Active Electronically Scanned Array radar for its newest configuration of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which the Air Force initially wanted. Completion of the CDR proves that Northrop Grumman’s Scalable Agile Beam Radar “meets all specified US Air Force and Lockheed Martin requirements,” according to a company release. The SABR had been planned to be part of the Air Force’s F-16 avionics upgrade program, called CAPES. But funding for CAPES was removed from the proposed Fiscal 2015 budget. “While Lockheed Martin is confident USAF requirements for upgrades to its F-16 fleet have not changed, the issue is funding,” Mark Johnson, director of Lockheed’s F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group communications, said in an e-mail. The radar is to be part of the F-16V configuration, which now is expected to go to Taiwan. Lockheed said it will continue with “follow-on activities such as development, integration, and flight test for Taiwan’s fleet of 144 Block 20 F-16A/B.”

  • Hickam C-17 Dubbed “Spirit of Daniel Inouye”

    8/25/2014

    A C-17 assigned to JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, was formally dedicated as the “Spirit of Daniel Inouye,” the late veteran Hawaii senator and Medal of Honor recipient, during a ceremony at the base last week. Of the Air Force’s 223 C-17s only five are named in honor of specific individuals, said Col. Randall Huiss, the 15th Wing commander, in a release. Tail number 5147 was renamed in an Aug. 19 ceremony to honor Inouye’s contributions to Hawaii, and his work to support the US military during his tenure in the Senate. Inouye served in the US Army during WWII with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe, and was nearly fatally wounded. He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery and heroism, which was upgraded to a Medal of Honor in 2000. Elected as Hawaii’s first representative, he went on to serve nine terms in the Senate before his death in 2012. “We are a nation bound by principles and ideas and Sen. Inouye dedicated his life to those principles,” said Maj. Gen. Paul McGillicuddy, Pacific Air Forces vice commander, during the renaming ceremony.

  • Cowboy Airmen

    8/25/2014

    ​Horseback riders greet children at the base youth center during the 16th Annual Altus AFB Cattle Drive, Aug 21, 2014. Air Force photo by SrA. Franklin R. Ramos.

    Airmen are not usually associated with cattle drives. But, to the delight of service personnel, family members, and others, airmen from the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus AFB, Okla., joined citizens from the surrounding communities in riding horses to guide more than 20 longhorn cattle around the base in the 16th Annual Altus Air Force Base Cattle Drive on Aug. 21. “Today is a day when the community and base can get together and show the ties that we have,” CMSgt. Bryan Creager, 97th AMW command chief, said in an Air Education and Training Command release. “It’s been a great day and the partnership has been outstanding.” The cattle drive, which started in 1999 with 30 longhorns driven through the base, is part of the Great Plains Stampede Rodeo Military Appreciation Night at the City of Altus rodeo grounds, which included a free dinner for the service members and their families.

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