Laughlin Resumes Flying Following Fatal T-38 Crash
Laughlin AFB, Texas, resumed flight operations on Monday following a stand down after the Nov. 20 crash of a T-38 near Del Rio, Texas. The crash killed Capt. Paul Barbour, an instructor pilot with the 87th Flying Training Squadron and aircrew flight equipment flight commander with the 47th Operations Squadron. Barbour, 32, was from Van Nuys, Calif., and is survived by his spouse, mother, father, and sister, according to a Laughlin news release. The crash also injured Capt. Joshua Hammervold, an instructor pilot for the 87th FTS. Hammervold was released from the Val Verde Regional Medical Center on Tuesday and is in good condition, according to Laughlin. The base is home to the 47th Flying Training Wing, which temporarily grounded its T-6s and T-1s, in addition to the T-38s, following the crash. “Tragic events like this are difficult for everyone—family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, and our entire Air Force,” 47th FTW Commander Col. Charlie Velino said in a release. “Every day, our pilots take a risk as they step into the cockpit, and every day they operate with the utmost skill, professionalism, and dedication to train the next generation of flying airmen and to ensure the safety of this great nation.” —Brian Everstine
Review Finds Dozens of Convicted Airmen Were Not Reported to Gun Database
The Air Force’s failure to report the domestic violence conviction of former airman Devin Kelley was not an “isolated incident,” in fact the service’s ongoing investigation already has uncovered dozens of other cases where convictions were not reported. Because Kelley’s conviction was not reported to the FBI, he was able to legally buy firearms that were used in a mass shooting in Texas earlier this month. The Air Force on Tuesday announced it was taking “corrective measures” to ensure “100 percent compliance.” The full review is expected to be completed over the next several months. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
North Korea Launches Ballistic Missile, First in Two Months
North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Tuesday for the first time in two months. The Department of Defense detected a “single North Korea missile launch” at 1:17 p.m. EST, according to a statement from Army Col. Rob Manning, director of press operations. The missile originated from Sain Ni and flew about 1,000 km before splashing down in the Sea of Japan, “within Japan’s Economic Exclusion Zone,” Manning said. “Initial assessment indicates that this missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile,” he added. The launch was Pyongyang’s first since it tested ballistic missiles on Aug. 28 and Sept. 14 this year. Those launches were responded to with joint show of force missions flown by US B-1 bombers, F-35B fighters, and F-15s from South Korea and Japan. Tuesday’s launch came as the US and South Korea prepared for Vigilant Ace, an annual joint air forces exercise to be held Dec. 4-8, involving 12,000 personnel and 230 aircraft across eight military installations. Vigilant Ace is “a realistic air combat exercise” that is “part of a continuous exercise program designed to enhance readiness and operational capability of US and [South Korean] forces,” according to a US Pacific Air Forces press release. —Wilson Brissett
Nicholson: Taliban Transitioning to a Criminal, Drug-Focused Insurgency
The Taliban is moving away from an ideological group to one focused on preserving its finances in the drug market and criminal activity, the head of US forces in Afghanistan said. To counter this, US forces are taking advantage of new authorities to hit its drug and financial infrastructure. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
US Airstrike Hits ISIS in Somalia
The increasing pace of airstrikes inside Somalia continued on Nov. 27 as US forces struck an ISIS target, killing one reported terrorist. The strike, which took place at about 3 p.m. local time in northeastern Somalia, was conducted in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, US Africa Command said in a statement. US aircraft have repeatedly hit both ISIS and al Shabaab targets in Somalia, with one Nov. 21 killing more than 100 reported militants. AFRICOM has disclosed nine air strikes inside Somalia so far this month. —Brian Everstine
B-1 Bombers Train with RAAF
Two B-1 bombers on Monday participated in exercise Lightning Focus, the largest international air forces exercise in Australia. The B-1s took off from Andersen AFB, Guam, and flew over the South Pacific, maintaining contact with Australian joint terminal attack controllers, before landing at RAAF Base Amberley, Australia. The bombers are deployed from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., as part of USAF’s continuous bomber presence in the Pacific area of responsibility. The Royal Australian Air Force-led exercise provides “air-to-air training for pilots, weapons system officers, and air battle managers, strengthening military-to-military relationships with our allies and partners,” according to a Pacific Air Forces press release. Lightning Focus will conclude on Dec. 2.
Third GPS III Satellite Completes Assembly
The third satellite (SV03) in the GPS III constellation is completely assembled and ready to enter environmental testing, Lockheed Martin announced Monday. The space vehicle’s system module, navigation payload, and propulsion core were integrated at Lockheed’s cleanroom facility near Denver. Lockheed completed integration on SV02 in May and expects to deliver that satellite to the Air Force in 2018. The service received SV01 in September and declared it ready for launch, which is expected in 2018. Lockheed received the navigation payload for SV04 in October and expects to have that satellite fully integrated by January 2018. In August, the company began assembling SV05. Lockheed is under contract to produce all of the first 10 GPS III satellites, which will replace the current constellation and provide a stronger and more secure signal. The 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colo., operates the GPS constellation. —Wilson Brissett
SMC Wants Infrared Weather Satellite by 2024
The Air Force is looking to procure an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) space-based sensor for its Weather System Follow-on program (WSF-E), and it wants a capability that can be launched by 2024. WSF-E will provide cloud characterization and theater weather imagery within a family of systems that fulfill the Department of Defense’s weather data requirements, according to a request for information released by the Space and Missile Systems Center on Monday. SMC wants a low earth orbiting (LEO) satellite with “real-time data broadcast capabilities” that can work together with a “DOD, civil, or commercial ground segment.” The new space vehicle would help “to mitigate a potential gap in LEO EO/IR coverage in the early morning orbit,” according to SMC. The service expects to have contract authority to proceed in fiscal year 2020. WSF is the Air Force’s effort to replace the aging Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), which launched its first weather satellite in 1962. Cloud characterization and theater weather imagery provide meteorological data that helps to optimize a broad range of DOD missions, including ISR collection, combat search and rescue efforts, aerial refueling, and air sovereignty alert missions. —Wilson Brissett
—USAF F-15s based at RAF Lakenheath, England, have been involved in “19 near-misses with UK aircraft in the past five years,” so USAF is advising its pilots to “keep [their] windscreens clean” and to “consciously note how much time you spend looking outside the cockpit:” BBC.
—The Space and Missile Systems Center expects to release a request for proposal in fiscal year 2019 for the 15th and final competitive launch in the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, SMC spokesperson Alicia Garges told Air Force Magazine. The mission will be the seventh GPS III satellite and has an initial launch capability in the second quarter of 2021.
—The Air Force is conducting icy runway ground testing at Eielson AFB, Alaska, for the next few weeks, as part of the process to certify the Norwegian drag chute: Lockheed Martin release.
—A person, who was not identified, was injured on Tuesday when construction crews hit a gasline at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado: The Gazette.