Oklahoma National Guard returns from support for 59th Presidential Inauguration

USAF, Boeing Make Progress on KC-46 Fixes

The Air Force recently resolved two Category 1 deficiencies on the troubled KC-46 tanker, both problems with the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit that could impact the safety of flight. However, the four remaining issues are still years away from being solved. The KC-46’s APU, located in its tail, developed two serious problems, one with a duct clamp that was moving excessively and another with a drain mast on the outside of the tail that could potentially break loose. As of the end of January, both problems have been addressed, with one closed and the other downgraded to a Category 2, or less serious, deficiency, AMC boss Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost told reporters Feb. 1.

SPACECOM Warns Adversaries in New Strategy Overview

U.S. Space Command in its new strategy paper warns of a future with “increasingly capable competitors” and a “long-term security threat” posed by Russia and China, claiming the right of self-defense as America and its allies expand their space economies and look to permanently return to the moon. This is the latest document to warn that the United States will hit back if its satellites, radars, and other space systems are endangered. It also broadly outlines goals for training, partnerships, and cybersecurity.
B-52s in Guam

B-52s Return to Guam for Task Force Deployment

Four B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in late January, as part of a Bomber Task Force deployment to Pacific Air Forces, where they will train with allied and partner forces. “Deploying as a Bomber Task Force exercises our ability to produce agile combat power in any location we are needed,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Duff, 96th Bomb Squadron commander, in a PACAF release. It's the first time Barksdale BUFFs have deployed to Guam since December 2018.
F-35 survivable

Watchdog: Airstrikes Increase in Afghanistan Despite Drawdown, Taliban Agreement

U.S. airstrikes are increasing in Afghanistan as the Taliban continues its attacks, despite ongoing peace negotiations and the drawdown of American forces in the country, a watchdog report finds. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, in its quarterly report to Congress released Feb. 1, said American strikes in the country rose for the second straight quarter, even though U.S. aircraft are no longer conducting offensive strikes and are only doing defensive operations in support of Afghan forces.
Perry and Bass

CMSAF: COVID-19 Will Dictate When Air Force PT Tests Resume

It’s too soon to tell whether the Air Force will delay mandatory physical fitness testing past April, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass told Airmen during a Feb. 1 Facebook town hall. Bass said she expects the service will examine the COVID-19 situation “at least” 30 days ahead of the tentative restart date before deciding whether to postpone the assessments for the fourth time since the pandemic began.

30 Years After Desert Storm: Feb. 2

In commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, Air Force Magazine is posting daily recollections from the six-week war, which expelled Iraq from occupied Kuwait.

Virtual Events: Scowcroft Group’s Miller on Mitchell’s Nuclear Deterrence Series, and More

On March 23, the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies will host a virtual Nuclear Deterrence Series event featuring Scowcroft Group Principal Frank Miller. At a time when nuclear modernization programs are accelerating around the world, proposals to recapitalize the U.S. nuclear arsenal are at the forefront of debates over defense spending. Miller will share his insights into the prospects for U.S. nuclear modernization programs and the value of nuclear deterrence in today's competitive security environment. The think tank will post event video on its website and YouTube page after the live event.

Radar Sweep

A Long To-Do List Awaits Biden’s Deputy Defense Secretary Nominee

Defense News

Kathleen H. Hicks, President Joe Biden’s pick for deputy defense secretary, is expected to cruise through her Senate confirmation hearing on Feb. 2, paving her way into the Pentagon in the coming weeks. And when she gets there, experts said, she will have plenty to do.

Pentagon’s Hypersonics Director Rebuts the Critics

Breaking Defense

Independent experts and the Pentagon’s hypersonics research and development director tell us a study of hypersonics by the Union of Concerned Scientists overlooks the very real advantages the new weapons offer the U.S.—and its adversaries.

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Russian Jet Flies Low Past USS Donald Cook in Black Sea

Stars and Stripes

A Russian warplane conducted a low pass near the USS Donald Cook on Jan. 31 in the Black Sea, where the Navy has dispatched three ships for exercises. The Sukhoi Su-24 fighter-bomber screeched past the U.S. destroyer while it was operating in international waters, the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet said in a statement.

New Legislation Means New Benefits for National Guard Members

Federal News Network’s “Federal Drive with Tom Temin” podcast

Satisfied that the National Guard had secured the inauguration, Congress sent Guard members down into the parking garage to rest. But that slight belies passage of legislation that secured new benefits for the Guard. JC Cardinale is the Legislative Affairs manager at the National Guard Association of the United States, and he joined “Federal Drive with Tom Temin” for details.

DOD Makes Rare Earth Award

Inside Defense

The Defense Department has awarded a Defense Production Act Title III technology investment agreement to Lynas Rare Earths Ltd., the largest rare earth element mining and processing company outside of China, according to a recent Pentagon announcement.

One More Thing

The Adorable Story of Scoff, the Plushy Ducky Who Flies in an F-15

Task & Purpose

Here’s an adorable story to start your week: A pilot says goodbye to his young daughter as he deploys abroad, but, not wanting to feel too far from her, the pilot borrows one of her toys, a plush green duck. The pilot takes the duck on sorties and on video calls with his daughter. People notice the duck in the cockpit, and he becomes an unofficial mascot for the pilot’s fighter wing, with his orange-billed face shared across social media and on a morale patch.