Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. State Department has officially loosened restrictions on exporting military unmanned aerial vehicles to foreign nations, a move long sought by the defense industry. Under a new policy announced Friday, unmanned aerial systems that fly at speeds below 800 kph will no longer be subject to the “presumption of denial” that, in effect, blocked most international sales of drones like the MQ-9 Reaper and the RQ-4 Global Hawk.
Kuwait's 91-year-old ruling emir landed on Thursday in the United States after being flown across the world in a U.S. Air Force C-17 flying hospital, and just days after undergoing an unspecified surgery at home. The dramatic airlift reflected the close ties between the two nations but also raised concerns over the ruler's medical condition.
The Air Force said July 24 that a surveillance plane that flew secret missions from an airport in Portland, Ore., amid protests there this week did not gather information about the demonstrations. The branch said in a statement that the flight had been in the works for months and that the plane was on assignment for a program that tests equipment for U.S. Special Operations.
Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, will be home to the U.S. Air Force’s second operational active-duty F-35 wing, the first being the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. This emphasizes the strategic importance of Alaska.
Air University leadership made the decision to go ahead with in-residence instruction after lengthy consultation with school commandants, the medical community, and with approval from Air Education and Training Command. “Based on Secretary of Defense travel guidance, AETC guidance with regard to mission essential functions, and a continuing assessment of local, state, and federal COVID-19 guidance and mitigation protocols, the Air University commander made the decision for in-residence attendance,” said Col. Eugene Moore, Air University director of staff.
The Hanscom Heroes Homecoming is taking on a virtual makeover for the 2020 celebration here as part of a livestream production called “Above and Beyond Six Feet,” July 29. For the last ten years, base officials have celebrated Air Force deployers who have returned home during the year with a parade, barbeque and community celebration. Keeping social distancing guidelines in mind, organizers have reformatted the occasion into a virtual event.
The Space Force introduced its newest Military Working Horse, Ghost, via Twitter on July 23. The five-year-old Bureau of Land Management Mustang helps patrol Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and other areas that aren’t easily reachable by vehicle.