163rd Attack Wing Navigates a DOMOPS Perfect Storm

How California Guard MQ-9s Are Helping With Fire Response

California Air National MQ-9s have flown the length of the entire state, helping to coordinate responses to more than 24 fires that have been burning in the past two months. As of Sept. 28, there have been 7,982 total wildfires, burning more than 3.6 million acres and damaging or destroying 7,630 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. To help with the response, the 163rd Attack Wing at times had three Reapers in the air, flying more than 70 sorties and more than 1,000 mission hours, according to a release.
31st FW supports NATO enhanced Air Policing mission

USAF F-16s to Police Bulgaria’s Skies for NATO

For the next four weeks, USAF Airmen and F-16s and Bulgarian air force fighter aircraft will fly NATO air patrols over Bulgaria to protect the nation’s airspace, improve the Air Force’s interoperability with its counterparts there, and serve as a show “of Allied solidarity,” NATO and USAF announced Sept. 28. “Approximately 140 personnel and six F-16s from the 555th Fighter Squadron deployed in support of the Allied mission along with various units from Aviano Air Base, Italy, and Airmen assigned to the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany,” a 31st Fighter Wing release stated. The participating F-16s will serve as a quick-response force for aircraft who fall into distress or defy international flying rules and advance toward NATO nations’ sovereign airspace, a NATO Allied Air Command release about the mission explained. This tasking is part of the alliance’s increased “air policing measures in the region,” which it implemented in reaction to Russian activity in Ukraine, including the annexation of Crimea, NATO noted.
ROBOpilot

AFRL’s ‘ROBOpilot’ Returns to Flight After Mishap

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s robotic pilot has returned to the sky, following a mishap that grounded the system last year. The AFRL Center for Rapid Innovation and DZYNE Technologies Incorporated’s ROBOPilot flew for about 2.2 hours on Sept. 24 at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. The ROBOpilot system is added to the cockpit of a regular plane, with the system grabbing the yoke, flipping switches, and pushing rudders and brakes like a human pilot while also using sensors such as GPS and an Inertial Measurement Unit for situational awareness. ROBOPilot first flew in August 2019 on a Cessna 206, but was damaged during a rough landing on a later flight. A Safety Investigation Board convened to look at the incident, briefing AFRL and DZYNE, who then “analyzed the findings and incorporated the recommendations to ensure the success of the latest test,” said Marc Owens, the AFRL Center for Rapid Innovation’s program manager for ROBOpilot, in a release.
Whiteman AFB celebrates the 73rd anniversary of the AF with drive-in ball

Whiteman Hosts Drive-In Air Force Ball During Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic inspired the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., to pioneer a new kind of USAF birthday celebration: a drive-in Air Force ball. The idea to transition the ball from an in-person party to a drive-in celebration stemmed from unique challenges presented by the ongoing coronavirus crisis, said Master Sgt. Joshua Braswell, 509th Security Forces Squadron Antiterrorism & Force Protection Planner who served on the event’s planning committee. The event also featured a family-friendly atmosphere, relaxed dress code, and free admission.

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.

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Carrier-Launched Airstrikes Hit ISIS Targets in Iraq as USS Nimitz Patrols Persian Gulf

Stars and Stripes

For the first time in over two years, carrier-launched U.S. aircraft conducted an airstrike against Islamic State group targets in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the global coalition battling the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. A pair of Navy F/A-18F Super Hornets from Carrier Air Wing 17, embarked on the USS Nimitz, conducted the strikes on Sept. 23, Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, confirmed via email on Sept. 28.

DOD Seeks Legislative Help for ICBM Replacement Construction Costs

Defense News

The Defense Department hopes Congress will approve a change in how it funds the next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile in order to avoid what the department views as unnecessary contract bureaucracy. Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, Pentagon acquisition head Ellen M. Lord said the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program was moving along as planned, but she indicated that a military construction issue remains unsolved.

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X-Chimera VTOL UAV Seen in PLAAF Airborne Corps Exercise

Janes

Chinese state-owned television has released video footage showing what appears to be the X-Chimera vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicle being used by a brigade of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force Airborne Corps: an indication that the twin-tailboom UAV is either being tested or is already in service with the corps.

Swiss Voters Approve $6.5 Billion Purchase of Fighter Jets

Reuters

Swiss voters backed the government’s plan to spend up to 6 billion Swiss francs ($6.46 billion) on new fighter jets in a surprisingly close referendum that was won with a 50.2 percent majority, official results showed on Sept. 27. Opinion polls had shown the plan would easily win approval in a country where armed neutrality is a tradition.

The JADC2 Revolution

Air Force Magazine

U.S. forces are redefining joint operations to be more tightly integrated. Joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) accelerates the speed and complexity of warfare by tying forces together across the air, land, sea, space, and cyber domains. For the latest on what this means to operators and the industry, check out our JADC2 landing page.