Daily Report

Oct. 9, 2019

Lawmaker: Trump Administration Mulling Leaving Open Skies Treaty

The Trump administration is reportedly considering pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, a move that has raised some alarm in Washington, D.C., despite years of concern that Russia is disobeying the pact. House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) raised the possibility of leaving the treaty, calling it a “reckless action” in an Oct. 7 letter to National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. “Observation flights under the treaty have generated additional information regarding Russian military action in Ukraine and provided a check on further Russian aggression there,” Engel wrote. A Pentagon spokesperson referred questions on treaty flights to the State Department, which did not respond by press time. The White House did not respond to a request for comment Oct. 8. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Spangdahlem F-16 Pilot Safe After Crash

A pilot from the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, successfully ejected from their F-16 when it crashed Oct. 8 in a rural area near the base. A problem occurred as the F-16 was flying a routine training mission, and the pilot attempted to return to base, according to a Spangdahlem release. The fighter jet crashed at about 3 p.m. local time near Zemmer, south of the base. The pilot sustained minor injuries, according to the wing. Local police said on Twitter that several roads around the crash site were closed and emergency services were on site. The aircraft was assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron at the base. An investigation board will release more information as it becomes available. —Brian Everstine

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Afghanistan Airstrike Count Keeps Climbing as Violence Continues

US aircraft in Afghanistan tallied the second highest number of airstrikes for a single month in at least the past 10 years, as the war there reaches its 18th anniversary. Manned and unmanned American aircraft in September conducted 948 airstrikes, the highest total since the tally reached 1,043 in October 2010, according to numbers released Oct. 8 by Air Forces Central Command. AFCENT’s public totals date back to the beginning of 2009 and include US and coalition aircraft. Overall, US operations in Afghanistan are running at a pace not seen in years. Seventeen US service members have been killed in that war so far in 2019. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Dedrone to Offer Consulting, Acquires Technology from Battelle

Dedrone, a company that designs technology to detect and defeat threatening unmanned aerial vehicles, is opening a consulting branch upon buying another system from its partner Battelle. Dedrone Defense, the new consultancy, will offer services to the federal government as well as “a proven, end-to-end solution that detects and classifies airspace activity, protects assets from drone threats, and defeats adversary drones,” according to an Oct. 8 release. “DroneDefender and all operations associated with the technology will be led from the company’s Washington, D.C.-area office, under the new entity, Dedrone Defense.” Battelle’s DroneDefender is a sort of electromagnetic gun that disrupts the radio frequencies that control a UAV when fired at the aircraft. Dedrone indicated that DroneDefender will integrate into its own DroneTracker software that finds nearby UAVs and triggers countermeasures. “We have a number of active contracts we will be fulfilling as part of the acquisition,” a company spokeswoman said Oct. 8, without disclosing the Defense Department customers. Battelle and Dedrone have collaborated since August 2017, and their combined capabilities won a military-sponsored counter-UAV prototyping competition in 2018. —Rachel S. Cohen

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RADAR SWEEP

Islamic State Will Benefit from US Withdrawal, Says Retired 3-Star Who Helped Train Syrian Rebels

Michael Nagata says the move will embolden the Islamic State, Russia, and Iran—and could end the extraction of intelligence from thousands of IS fighters held by Syrian rebels. Defense One

Major Al-Qaida Leader Killed in Joint US-Afghan Raid

Afghanistan’s intelligence agency says a September joint Afghan-U.S. raid in Musa Qala district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, bagged a major al-Qaida leader. The National Directorate of Security—the main intelligence arm of Afghanistan—tweeted Oct. 8 that a joint U.S.-Afghan raid on Sept. 23 killed Asim Omar, the leader of al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS. Military Times

OPINION: Six Competing Visions for a Space Force

“The manner in which a space force is organized will entrench certain visions of the future over others,” writes Russell Rumbaugh, a system director for the Center for Space and Strategy at The Aerospace Corporation. “As I discuss in a recent report, much of the current upheaval stems from the jousting of six different schools of thought capturing different visions of what future wars will look like and the role of space in those wars.” War on the Rocks

420th Flight Test Squadron Reactivated to Support B-21 Raider Testing at Edwards

The 420th Flight Test Squadron was reactivated following an assumption of command ceremony at Edwards AFB, Calif., on Oct. 4. The squadron will plan, test, analyze, and report on all flight and ground testing of the B-21 Raider. USAF release

Feds Could Ban Passengers on Vintage Aircraft Flights Following Deadly B-17 Crash

Federal investigators will take a hard look at the possibility of restricting or banning rides for the public aboard World War II-era aircraft following the fiery crash of a restored B-17 "Flying Fortress" bomber in Connecticut on Oct. 2 that killed seven and injured eight. Military.com

Army, Air Force, Arctic Anvil 2019

Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 815th Airlift Squadron, aka ‘Flying Jennies,’ with the 327th AS, provided airlift and airdrop support for the Army’s Joint Forces Exercise Arctic Anvil, Oct. 1-6. Arctic Anvil is a joint, multi-national, force-on-force culminating training exercise that is being held at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Miss., throughout the month of October. USAF release

Can AI Automate Damage Assessments After a Disaster

What if artificial intelligence and machine learning could automate and accelerate damage assessments taken from satellite imagery in the aftermath of a natural disaster? That’s the question the Defense Innovation Unit is asking experts with its xView2 Challenge. C4ISRNET

One More Thing …

Boeing Taking $20 Million Stake in Virgin Galactic, with a Vision of Commercial Hypersonic Travel

Boeing’s venture arm HorizonX announced on Oct. 8 it will invest $20 million in Sir Richard Branson’s space tourism company Virgin Galactic to help develop the technologies needed to make hypersonic air travel possible one day. The investment from the aerospace giant comes as Virgin Galactic prepares to become the first human spaceflight company to go public. CNBC