US: North Korea ‘Begging for War’ With Latest Test
North Korea’s reported underground nuclear test on Sunday, its largest ever, shows that the regime of Kim Jong Un is “begging for war,” US officials said. The warning comes as South Korean leaders on Monday say the country is leaning toward military responses to the threats from the North. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council Monday he North Korean regime is “begging for war” and pressed for stronger sanctions in North Korea. Haley’s comments come a day after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, following a meeting at the White House, said there are “many military options” to dealing with provocation from North Korea. “Any threat to the United States, or its territories—including Guam—or our allies will be met with a massive military response.” Mattis said. “A response both effective and overwhelming.” South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo told a parliamentary session in Seoul that the country is leaning toward “a direction that strengthens the military standoff” for now, according to the Yonhap news agency. North Korea’s underground test on Sunday was a device with a power range from 50 kilotonnes to 120 kilotonnes, according to the BBC. Following the test, South Korea staged live-fire drills using air-launched cruise missiles on F-15K jets that could hit “key nuclear and missile facilities” in the North, Yonhap reported. –Brian Everstine
Air Force Investigating KC-46 Air Refueling ‘Scrapes’
The Air Force is investigating “minor” damage caused to the coatings of fighter aircraft by the service’s new KC-46 tanker, which reportedly could cause structural damage and limit the stealth capabilities of the F-22, F-35, and B-2. Bloomberg News first reported Sept. 1 that the KC-46 caused scrapes on aircraft in mid-air refueling when the fuel probe connected outside the receiving aircraft’s receptacle. The Air Force issued a “Category One” deficiency report in May after discovering the damage after flight, according to Bloomberg. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek, in a statement to Air Force Magazine, said the Air Force and Boeing are performing “the necessary systems engineering analyses to determine the root cause.” The Air Force on Sept. 1 could not detail the number of incidents, or what type of receiving aircraft was involved in the incidents. The scrapes are the latest in a series of setbacks on the KC-46 program. The Air Force expects Boeing to miss the December 2017 delivery deadline, following an annual schedule risk assessment on the program earlier this summer. —Brian Everstine
Missileer Crews Prepare for Global Strike’s First Flag Exercise
Three missileer crews from the Air Force’s nuclear missile wings are coming together for the first-ever Red Flag-type exercise focused on testing the skills of ICBM crews. Exercise Olympic Flag kicks off Sept. 10 at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and includes missileers and instructors from the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren; the 91st Missile Wing from Minot AFB, N.D.; and the 341st Missile Wing from Malmstrom AFB, Mont. The five-day exercise is not a competition like the Global Strike Challenge, but is instead about “witnessing the readiness of our line missile combat crew members” from mission planning to simulated operations, said Maj. Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander of 20th Air Force, in a release. The crews were randomly selected for the exercise, though the criteria focused on younger operators. For the first exercise, only operations groups will participate though future exercises will include mission support groups, maintenance groups, and security forces groups. —
Spotlight: MSgt. Joshua D. Malyemezian
MSgt. Joshua D. Malyemezian, a contingency support section chief with the 55th Contracting Squadron at Offutt AFB, Neb., is one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2017. Malyemezian’s innovative efforts to improve the 55th Wing’s contracting process secured a $90 million multiple-award construction contract that increased mission capabilities and directly contributed to his unit’s selection as Air Combat Command’s large contracting squadron of the year for 2016. Malyemezian partnered with the 55th Medical Group on a 68-personnel contract merger, consolidating 29 contracts to four, reducing the administrative burden by 87 percent, and saving $11 million over three years. Air Force Magazine is shining the spotlight on each OAY in the days leading up to AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference, which starts Sept. 18 in National Harbor, Md.
Trump Maintains Military Pay Raise, Reverses Federal Employees’ Raises
Military service members’ will still see the planned 2.1 percent pay increase in 2018, even though President Donald Trump reduced the expected pay raise for civilian government employees to 1.4 percent, according to the Washington Post. Trump said the original raise, set at 1.9 percent, was “not warranted” in an Aug. 31 letter sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), according to The Hill. Trump told Ryan he was exercising his Presidential powers to adjust the upcoming pay schedule for civilians in order to ensure “a sustainable fiscal course” for the US. “As our country continues to recover from serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare, we must work to rebuild our military’s readiness and capabilities,” he wrote. —
Roundup of Civilian Casualty Data Includes 61 Inadvertent Deaths
The most recent roundup of allegations of civilian casualties by the US-led coalition found that 61 civilians were likely killed in 13 different airstrikes, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve announced Friday. The US-led coalition regularly investigates allegations of civilian casualties in airstrikes that have targeted ISIS. The most recent release focused on 13 “credible assessments” dating back to December in Iraq and Syria, resulting in “the unintentional death of 61 civilians.” The allegations come from social media reports, open source media reports, and reports from the military itself. The strikes included bombings of ISIS mortar positions, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, and other targets. Civilians were either not observed before the decision to strike, entered the target area after the bomb was released, or were in a building nearby the target. The deadliest strike happened March 14 near Mosul, where 27 civilians were killed in an adjacent structure during a strike on ISIS fighters who were firing on partner forces, according to the coalition. The latest roundup amounts to a total of at least 685 killed since 2014. —Brian Everstine
The Dream Chaser prepares for a captive carry test Aug. 30, 2017, at Edwards AFB, Calif. The test was part of the spacecraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight. USAF photo by Kenji Thuloweit.
Sierra Nevada Spacecraft Undergoes Tests at Edwards
Sierra Nevada Corp.’s manned, reusable space craft is getting closer to flight after testing at Edwards AFB, Calif. The Dream Chaser underwent a “captive carry test,” wherein a helicopter carried the craft over Edwards for about an hour to test the aircraft at altitude and in flight conditions it would experience before being released on a free flight test, according to an Air Force release. The Dream Chaser arrived at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards in January for a developmental space act agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, according to the company. The Aug. 30 test is one of two planned for this year. Sierra Nevada is planning for the Dream Chaser to deliver cargo to the International Space Station under a NASA contract beginning in 2019, and will fly at least six missions by 2024, the release states. —Brian Everstine
AFRL Pushes Unmanned Aircraft Management Software to Industry
The 711th Performance Wing’s Airman Systems Directorate is making available to commercial companies its UAV-management software, known as Vigilant Spirit Control Station (VSCS). Manufacturers provide similar software with UAVs they sell—which operators need to be able to pilot the vehicles remotely—but it’s often proprietary and can’t be modified. When such changes are needed to customize for specific capabilities, which could range from managing farms to monitoring landfills, small businesses might find themselves at a loss. The 711 HPW’s software, specifically focused on improving the interface allowing for multi-vehicle and sensor control, includes both high-level human/machine teaming and training capabilities and is actively used in the Air Force. AFRL has an information transfer agreement with five companies so far, but more agreements are in the works. James Kearns, a program manager at 711 HPW, said these types of arrangements and information sharing increases the chances of industry adopting USAF systems to run its UAVs. —Gideon Grudo
—The National Marine Fisheries Service approved a five-year plan allowing the Air Force to conduct bombing practice at Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range in Hawaii. The service has agreed to conduct no more than five such tests a year, noting it would drop about 110 bombs each time: Associated Press, via Air Force Times.
—The Defense Department has requested more than $30 million in its Fiscal 2018 budget request to upgrade facilities at Incirlik AB, Turkey?, including $26 million to build new dormitories for airmen: Stars and Stripes.