US Raid in Syria Leads to Death of IS Leader

A US special operations raid late Oct. 26 killed Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria, President Donald Trump announced Oct. 27. The “dangerous and daring” nighttime raid included special operators flying more than an hour, likely from the US base in Erbil, Iraq, to Idlib Province. During the raid, Baghdadi fled into a tunnel and detonated his own suicide vest, killing himself and three children he took with him. “The United States has been searching for Baghdadi for many years,” Trump said in a weekend address from the White House. “Capturing or killing Baghdadi has been the top national security priority of my administration.” Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

AMC Review Finds No Wrongdoing in Crew Stays at Trump Resort, Scotland Stops

A month-long Air Force review of its travel policies and accommodations regulations found that aircrews did not break the rules by staying at President Donald Trump’s resort in Scotland, and that the service’s current standards for such stopovers are strong. In early September, reports emerged of mobility aircrews staying at the luxury Turnberry Resort about 40 minutes away from the struggling Prestwick Airport outside Glasgow. “The data collected during this review convincingly confirmed that patterns across the 2015-2019 timeframe conform to use on the basis of operational military necessity,” the report states. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

X-37B Space Plane Returns as USAF Collects Data for Possible Replacement

The Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida on Oct. 27, after spending a record-breaking 780 days on orbit. The Orbital Test Vehicle, a reusable and unmanned spacecraft, was completing its fifth mission. Mission four lasted 718 days in space, though the spacecraft was designed to last only 270 days aloft. A sixth mission will launch in 2020. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen, Jennifer Hlad, and John A. Tirpak.

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Air Force Releases Light-Attack RFP for Small Numbers of AT-6s, A-29s

The Air Force plans to buy a small number of AT-6 and A-29 aircraft, to be split between Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operations Command, as its light-attack experiment shifts into an acquisition program. The service on Oct. 24 released its final request for proposals, which states it plans to purchase two to three light-attack aircraft each from Textron Aviation, which produces the AT-6, and the Sierra Nevada Corp.-Embraer team that offers the A-29. The Air Force expects to issue a contract for the A-29 by end of the year, and for the AT-6 in early 2020. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

USAF Investigating Whether Fallen MC-130 Part Signals Broader Issue

The Air Force’s C-130 program office is looking into what caused a torque tube and spring to recently fall off of a special operations plane in Japan, a service spokesman said Oct. 25. “It is not an issue we have seen before,” Air Force Life Cycle Management Center spokesman Brian Brackens said in an email. “Therefore, we will be sending the part to the lab for failure analysis. The findings of this analysis will help us to determine whether this was an isolated incident or if it will impact the C-130 fleet.” Airmen discovered the torque tube and spring missing from the MC-130J during an post-flight inspection Oct. 18, Kadena AB, Japan, officials told Air Force Magazine. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen and Jennifer Hlad.

B-1s Deploy to Saudi Arabia

An undisclosed number of B-1B Lancer bombers touched down at Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia, their first deployment to the Middle East since they left the region in March. Their arrival marks a major addition of combat power to the newly opened location. The Lancers join a growing US presence at the Saudi base, including F-22s, Navy E/A-18Gs, and Patriot air defense systems. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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NY Guard Heads to Antarctica for Deep Freeze

The New York Air National Guard on Oct. 28 will start the 32nd year of its trademark operations in Antarctica as part of the Operation Deep Freeze mission, sending the first of five ski-equipped LC-130s to the ice of McMurdo Station. The 109th Airlift Wing will work in Antarctica through February 2020, with about 500 airmen expected to deploy in support of the National Science Foundation. The wing expects to complete about 160 missions during the deployment, according to an Oct. 24 National Guard release. Last year, the wing’s aircraft flew 242 missions within Antarctica, including transporting 2,100 researchers and support staff along with about 2.8 million pounds of cargo, according to the release. Last year also marked the first time the unit deployed with a full fleet of aircraft with upgraded NP-2000 eight-bladed propellers on LC-130s, a change that made maintenance easier and improved the aircraft’s takeoff ability on the ice, airmen with the unit told Air Force Magazine. —Brian Everstine



Microsoft Beats Amazon for Pentagon’s $10 Billion Cloud Computing Contract

Microsoft Corp. has won the Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud computing contract, the Defense Department said Oct. 25, beating out favorite Amazon. Reuters

$85B Nuclear Missile Competition Gets Messier as Feds Investigate Northrop

Boeing is breaking up its ICBM team—just as the Federal Trade Commission begins looking into the company’s allegations that Northrop wasn’t playing fair. Defense One

Stopgap Funding Bill Could Impair NASA’s Lunar Ambitions

The prospect of another stopgap funding bill, one that could stretch well into next year, is raising concerns in industry it could slow down work on NASA’s Artemis program to return humans to the moon by 2024. SpaceNews

Merkley Leads 11 Senators to Keep Aflight a Treaty Key to Euro-Atlantic Security

The Trump administration’s anticipated withdrawal would be giveaway to Russia and America’s adversaries. Office of Sen. Jeff Merkley Release

Indefinite Enlistment Takes Effect Nov. 18

The Air Force will move to a new system of “indefinite enlistment” for airmen with at least 12 years of service on Nov. 18, service officials confirmed Oct. 25 after a leaked memo appeared online. Air Force Times

House Armed Services Chairman Takes Aim at Air Force’s Handling of ICBM Replacement Program

House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith on Oct. 24 said he plans to take on what he called the Air Force’s “troubling” procurement process for its Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, and that he favors a lower number of modernized ICBMs instead of the new program. Defense News

One More Thing

Edward Snowden Searched the CIA’s Networks for Proof That Aliens Exist. Here’s What He Found.

PSA for all the Area 51 stormers, chemtrail believers and climate change deniers: Edward Snowden has searched the depths of the US intelligence networks and can report the conspiracy theories are not true. CNN