Ballistic missile attack brings an unprecedented amount of media to al-Asad AB

USAF Colonel on Night of Al-Asad Attack: ‘I Didn’t Believe Anyone Would Survive’

The 80 Airmen hovered in bunkers on Jan. 7, 2020, weren't sure they would live through the night. The sky glowed and the ground “shook with a force impossible to put into words," as Iranian ballistic missiles rained down on al-Asad Air Base, Iraq. Air Forces Central Command on April 7 published detailed recollections from more than 20 Airmen who survived the attack, launched to revenge the death of Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani. “I was being forced to gamble with my members’ lives by something I couldn’t control,” Lt. Col. Staci Coleman, commander of the 443th Air Expeditionary Squadron at the base. “I was deciding who would live and who would die. I honestly thought anyone remaining behind would perish. I didn’t believe anyone would survive a ballistic missile attack, and it made me feel sick and helpless."
Eielson F-35s

Eielson Receives PACAF’s First Two F-35s

The first F-35 Joint Strike Fighters landed at Eielson Air Force, Alaska, on April 21, marking a historic shift for the 354th Fighter Wing, which will now take on a combat mission in addition to its role training U.S. and partner forces through major exercises like Red Flag-Alaska. “They are on their way and we are ecstatic,” 354th FW Commander Col. Ben Bishop told Air Force Magazine shortly after the jets embarked on the six-hour flight from Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility to their new home base. The wing is slated to receive three F-35s in April, and it will ramp up to two squadrons of strike fighters by the end of 2021, increasing Eielson’s total fleet from 30 aircraft to 84. “Once the beddown is complete, with 54 aircraft, the state of Alaska will have the highest concentration of combat-coded fifth generation aircraft than anywhere else in the Department of Defense,” said Bishop, referencing the F-22 Raptors based at nearby Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
Far Side of the Moon

Emerging Lunar Intelligence Field to Shape Space Ops

The Space Force has ambitious plans to support American companies and astronauts as they try to return to—and set up shop on—the moon. But to succeed, the military first needs to understand more about what's near Earth’s only natural satellite. Rhea Space Activity, a Washington-based space technology and policy startup, will lead a project to create the field of “lunaspatial intelligence” (LUNINT), the collection of intelligence data on activity in cislunar orbit and on the moon’s surface, for the Department of the Air Force. The $50,000 contract is small in the scheme of DOD funding, but could have an outsize impact in utility for the new space age.
Operation NOBLE EAGLE

NORTHCOM Strives for Zero Risk in ‘No Fail’ Missions During Pandemic

U.S. Northern Command is protecting its critical, “no fail” crews by having them live in isolation so it can focus on protecting them and the nation amid the new coronavirus outbreak, the head of the command said April 21. NORTHCOM is working to “drive our risk down to zero” for service members, including fighter pilots on alert for the homeland defense mission and personnel who operate ballistic missile defense radars, USAF Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy told reporters during a teleconference. “Some areas where we have very little redundancy in, we don’t have multiple different options to perform a mission, then we are literally driving that so there is no chance of a COVID-19 impact to them,” O’Shaughnessy said.
RED HORSE Guam

USAF Helps Navy Gear Up to Treat Evacuated Sailors in Guam

The Air Force’s 36th Wing recently teamed up with Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to set up an expeditionary medical facility at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam to treat U.S. Navy sailors evacuated from their COVID-19-ravaged aircraft carrier, according to a USAF release. The system being set up on the naval hospital’s grounds contains medical and warehouse units. It will provide 25 more beds for COVID-19 patients and storage space for medical equipment used to treat them. USAF is also providing 77 personnel to staff the expeditionary medical facility.
AGM-129

Lockheed May Still Play a Role in Upgrading Raytheon LRSO, Once it’s Operational

Once the Raytheon AGM-181 Long-Range Standoff missile is operational, Lockheed Martin may play a role in upgrading its sensors or contributing other expertise even though the company was passed over to build the weapon, the Air Force said. The decision to focus on Raytheon for further design work followed program design reviews of both candidate systems, USAF reported. Money that was not used on Lockheed's design may help accelerate the program.

Radar Sweep

Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19

Air Force Magazine

Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air Force’s 'Fired Up Chief' Survives a Serious Bout with Coronavirus

Stars and Stripes

Retired Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Juan Lewis is usually the one encouraging his tens of thousands of followers on social media and others in person to be positive and resilient in the face of life’s challenges. But over the past few weeks, Lewis—who’s widely known as the “Fired Up Chief” for the uplifting talks he gave to Airmen, starting when he was a command chief at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas—was the one in need of support and motivation as he fought for his life after contracting the new coronavirus.

VA and DOD Now Default to Sharing Patient Data with Private-Sector Providers

Nextgov

While many of the central projects under the Veterans Affairs and Defense Departments’ concurrent electronic health records rollouts are being delayed to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, the joint program office reached a major data-sharing milestone on April 18. The joint Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization, or FEHRM, program office stood up the DOD and VA Health Information Exchange, which will allow medical providers at both agencies to share patient data with private-sector health care organizations, such as specialists and urgent care clinics.

Defense Department Study Calls for Cutting 2 of the U.S. Navy’s Aircraft Carriers

Defense News

An internal Office of the Secretary of Defense assessment calls for the Navy to cut two aircraft carriers from its fleet, freeze the large surface combatant fleet of destroyers and cruisers around current levels, and add dozens of unmanned or lightly manned ships to the inventory, according to documents obtained by Defense News.

Iran’s Guard Says It Has Higher Range Anti-Warship Missiles

Associated Press

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Guard Corps. announced on April 20 it has significantly upgraded the range of its anti-warship missiles, the state-run news agency reported. The IRGC says it now possesses surface-to-surface and subsurface anti-warship missiles with a range as high as 700 kilometers (430 miles), according to its top naval officer, Adm. Ali Reza Tangsiri.

OPINION: The Defense Department Needs a Real Technology Strategy

Defense One

“To succeed in a long-term competition with China, the Defense Department needs a transparent process to set spending priorities—not conflicting guidance and a shifting range of interests,” writes Paul Scharre, a senior fellow and director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, and Ainikki Riikonen, research assistant with CNAS’ Technology and National Security Program.

One More Thing

Watch Belgian Air Force F-16s Intercept Russian Fighters Flying Over the USS Donald Cook Destroyer in the Baltic Sea

The Aviationist

According to the Allied Air Command, “the Russian fighters were maneuvering in international airspace overflying the USS Donald Cook, a U.S. Navy 6th Fleet destroyer currently operating in the Baltic Sea off the Lithuanian coast. The Belgian F-16 conducted a professional intercept and left the scene, demonstrating that NATO remains ready, vigilant, and prepared to respond to any potential threat.”