Trump Lifts Turkey Sanctions Following Ceasefire Announcement

The White House is lifting sanctions it imposed on Turkey about one week ago, after Turkey agreed to a “permanent” ceasefire in Syria but can now reach deeper into areas previously held by Syrian Kurdish fighters, President Donald Trump announced Oct. 23. The limited sanctions, which Trump enacted in an Oct. 14 executive order, targeted Turkish steel and assets held by some of the country’s leaders. Trump said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan informed him that Turkey was stopping its military incursion into northeast Syria, the day after Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached a decision to jointly patrol the area along the Turkish-Syrian border—which, until recently, the US and Turkey did together. “The sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we’re not happy with,” Trump said. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

New F-35 Block Buy is Close, Lockheed Says

The $34 billion contract covering production Lots 12-14 of the F-35 fighter—encompassing some 478 aircraft—should be announced in the next two weeks, Lockheed Martin officials reported in a quarterly earnings call Oct. 22. “We’re now going through some housekeeping on the ‘block buy’ and hopefully we have that definitized in the next week or two,” said Kenneth Possenriede, Lockheed’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. Non-US partners are combining their purchases across several years in a “block buy” to raise production rates in order to achieve volume efficiencies and lower costs. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

KC-46 Officially Begins Initial Operational Test and Evaluation

The Air Force’s KC-46 program has officially moved the new tanker into its initial operational test and evaluation phase, a delayed step that will certify whether the plane can handle its key missions. “IOT&E will test the KC-46’s effectiveness, suitability, and mission capability toward accomplishing its three primary mission sets: aerial refueling, cargo/passenger operations, and aeromedical evacuation,” the service said in an Oct. 23 statement. Read the full story by Brian Everstine and John A. Tirpak.

image of advertisement

DOD Launching 5G Experiments to Improve Training, Logistics

The Pentagon is rolling out an experimentation and prototyping campaign that will look at using 5G networks to provide augmented and virtual reality tools for mission planning and training, to manage warehouses and military logistics, and to learn more about sharing parts of the wireless spectrum with other users. A draft request for proposals that use new commercial technologies to further military network objectives is due out in November, with the final version expected in December—though that could be derailed if Congress does not pass a 2020 defense spending bill. Officials are choosing projects that will also benefit commercial industry, which is leading the push toward 5G networks that are expected to be faster and more secure. The initiative comes as the Air Force is taking its own steps to spread 5G to bases one region at a time. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

First GPS III Satellite Connects to Control Software

Lockheed Martin’s first in-orbit GPS III satellite on Oct. 21 successfully connected to its operational control system, known as the Contingency Operations Program (COps), according to the Air Force and the company. The initial GPS III satellite launched into space in December 2018, after which Lockheed continued work to mature COps and begin testing it in real-life circumstances. COps will command and control the improved GPS III satellites and their older counterparts until Raytheon’s Next-Generation Operational Control System comes online in the next few years. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Air Force Adds Sickle Cell to PT Test Questionnaire Following Deaths

The Air Force has changed the questionnaire airmen must complete before a physical fitness exam to ensure the service knows whether an airman has the condition known as “sickle cell trait,” after multiple airmen recently died during physical training. Three PT-related deaths have occurred in about six months, and SCT is linked to some of those cases, according to, which first reported the changes. Airmen are required to complete the Fitness Screening Questionnaire at least seven days before a fitness assessment “to ensure airmen who have medical conditions receive proper medical review/clearance prior to conducting their fitness assessment,” USAF spokeswoman Capt. Carrie Volpe said. The FSQ is a two-page survey that lists questions about how an airman felt before the test, including chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and blackouts. It now includes other medical problems like sickle cell trait, asthma, and heart disease. Airmen must now verify that they know whether they have SCT, and if so, that they completed at least two counseling sessions with a health care provider and watched an educational video. The Air Force is also considering two additional changes to “increase safety and reduce anxiety” around the PT test, but those changes have not yet been released, Volpe said. —Brian Everstine

image of advertisement

PACAF Boss Visits Korea Bases

Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. C.Q. Brown recently visited Osan and Kunsan ABs and Camp Humphreys, South Korea, as part of a three-day tour of the country that also included bilateral engagements with defense and military leaders and a visit to the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition, according to Air Force press releases. At Kunsan and Osan, Brown told airmen that the Indo-Pacific “is the priority theater,” adding that he likes to emphasize that fact when speaking to lawmakers and other leaders about what’s happening on the Korean Peninsula and throughout the entire region. “We need to focus on what’s going on here so we’re prepared to fight tonight, next week, and next decade,” said Brown, who served at Kunsan as a first lieutenant and later as the commander of the 8th Fighter Wing. At an Osan all-call, he said all Air Force major commands must be better organized, trained, and equipped. “We need multi-functional airmen that can get the job done,” he said, according to a press release. “The goal I want to accomplish is that we can operate from any airfield, anywhere, and anytime, to create challenges for our adversaries.” —Jennifer Hlad



Pentagon Space Reforms Leading to Better Relations with Industry

While US Space Command was officially launched in August, the process of firmly establishing the Pentagon’s newest combatant command will take years to complete. But according to a key industry official, the command’s creation is already impacting how the Defense Department communicates with industrial partners. Defense News

Military Pay Raise at Risk in Budget Impasse, Key Lawmaker Says

The 3.1% pay raise promised for the military could be at risk in the ongoing impasse over the defense budget and the political turmoil surrounding the impeachment inquiry, a top House Republican said Oct. 23.

White House Responsible for Delayed Decision on New Agent Orange Diseases, Documents Show

Two years ago, then Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin decided to add three health conditions to the list of diseases eligible for Agent Orange benefits, but White House officials challenged his authority and impeded enactment, according to internal documents obtained by a veteran through the Freedom of Information Act. Now tens of thousands of veterans are still waiting. Military Times

As Secret Pentagon Spending Rises, Defense Firms Cash In

The share of Pentagon spending hidden from public view is rising, as are defense contractors’ revenues from it. The US Defense Department’s overall budget request increased nearly 5 percent from 2019 to 2020, but classified spending rose 6 percent, according to the consulting firm Avascent. Defense One

Space Collisions a Growing Concern as Earth Orbit Gets More Crowded

Defunct satellites account for the majority of space junk, but even small pieces of debris can do serious damage. The issue is getting worse as more and more satellites are launched into Earth orbit. UPI

ACC Recognizes Innovation, Announces Spark Tank Finalists

The finalists competed against four other teams of contestants from a multitude of career fields and experience levels. They will move on to the finals at AFWERX, where they’ll compete against winners from other major commands at the Air Force level. From there, the judge’s panel will choose six finalists from a pool of more than 20 semi-finalists—two from each MAJCOM, plus two AFWERX wildcards. USAF release

First Anti-Drone Laser Delivered to Air Force for Year-Long Test Deployment

Raytheon Co. announced the delivery, to the US Air Force, of the first high-energy laser system to counter drone threats. UPI

Russia Flies Nuclear Bombers to Africa as Putin Hosts Continent’s Leaders

Russia dispatched two nuclear-capable bombers to South Africa on a training mission on Wednesday, a flight that appeared timed to coincide with President Vladimir Putin’s opening of a flagship Russia-Africa summit designed to boost Russian influence. Reuters

One More Thing

I Just Took the World’s First 20-Hour Flight. Here’s What It Did to Me

Our plane became a flying laboratory. Bloomberg