F-22s, B-52s Lead New Wave of Strikes Targeting Taliban Finances in Afghanistan
The Air Force’s most advanced fighter and its heaviest bomber flew a series of airstrikes in the mountains of Afghanistan, targeting Taliban opium-producing facilities. The strikes were a part of new authorities for US forces in Afghanistan to target Taliban funding, and are likely just the beginning as part of the new US surge in that country. Read the full story by Brian Everstine and watch video of the strike.
ACC Chief: JSTARS Recap Wrong for Contested Battlespace
The JSTARS Recap program won’t meet the Air Force’s needs in a “contested” environment, but the service hasn’t decided whether to cancel the program and start over or take some other approach, said Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, at an AFA Mitchell Institute event Monday. “We don’t think that a JSTARS Recap will give us the capability we need” within a high-end enemy air defense system, but the service is still mulling whether to go through with the program—now on the verge of a contract award—for use in the “uncontested environment” while the service seeks “a global capability that could do that [mission] on any battlefield,” Holmes said. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
In Next War, No Boundaries, No Sanctuaries
The US must make speed and reliable information its priorities because the advent of social media and very good, rapid-revisit commercial satellite imagery means there are “no sanctuaries” allowing the US to conceal its activities. “There’s nowhere to hide,” Holmes said at an AFA Mitchell Institute event on Monday. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
Trump: North Korea Sponsors Terrorism
In a Monday announcement, President Donald Trump re-designated North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism. Such designation allows the US to sanction the country in news ways, details of which Trump said would come from the Treasury Department Tuesday. “It’ll be the highest level of sanctions by the time it’s finished over a two-week period,” Trump said, adding North Korea “must end its unlawful, nuclear ballistic missile development.” Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.
C-17s, C-5s Support Argentine Submarine Search Effort
Six C-17s and three C-5Ms joined the US military’s assistance effort to help the Argentine Navy locate a submarine that went missing in the Southern Atlantic over the weekend with 44 submariners on board. Two Globemasters from the 437th Airlift Wing at JB Charleston, S.C., and a C-5M from Travis AFB, Calif., on Saturday flew to MCAS Miramar, Calif., where they picked up a submarine rescue chamber and underwater intervention remotely piloted operated vehicle, according to an Air Mobility Command release. The aircraft delivered the equipment and personnel to Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina, on Sunday. A second rescue system and supporting equipment was scheduled to arrive on Nov. 20. The 436th Airlift Wing at Dover AFB, Del.; the 62nd AW at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash.; and the 176th Wing at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, also deployed aircraft. Three members of the 437th Aerial Port Squadron conducted runway assessments in Argentina before the equipment arrived. Air Mobility Command aircraft have flown 17 sorties, transported 76 sailors and 764,000 pounds of equipment in support of the mission. “Helping others is in Air Mobility Command’s DNA,” said AMC boss Gen. Carlton Everhart. “Our airmen recognized the critical nature of the mission and as requirements expanded we moved to expedite delivery of increased capability to the US Navy and our Argentine friends.” —Brian Everstine and Amy McCullough
Predator’s Left Tail Broke Off, Causing 2015 Crash
A mechanical failure of the left tail clamp on an MQ-1B Predator caused the remotely piloted aircraft to crash during a mission in an undisclosed area in the Middle East, the Air Force announced Monday. On. Nov. 8, 2015, an MQ-1B assigned to the 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., which was operated by a deployed launch and recovery element from the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, crashed as it was approaching to land. An Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board found that the failure of the left tail clamp or tail clamp bolts resulted in the airborne loss of the left tail. This caused an “unrecoverable departure from controlled flight.” This happened as the pilot was conducting an arrival checklist. As the pilot alternated left and right inputs, mechanical and aerodynamic loads broke the weakened left tail clamp. The pilot, for 27 seconds, tried to regain control before the Predator crashed. It was destroyed on impact, at a loss of $5.3 million. Read the full AIB report. —Brian Everstine
Mattis Visits NORAD with Focus on Space
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visited the headquarters of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command at Peterson AFB, Colo., on Nov. 16. Mattis met with command leaders, including Gen. Jay Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command, to better understand the role of space-based assets in homeland defense. “I have a deep sense of gratitude for you because I cannot over emphasize the importance of your mission,” Mattis said, speaking to personnel working on NORAD’s missile warning and NORTHCOM’s ballistic missile defense missions, according to a press release. Mattis also visited the National Space Defense Center at Schriever AFB, Colo., to discuss the evolution of space as a combat domain. “I think the best way to look at it, is we don’t look at war as being space war or cyber war. War is war,” Mattis told reporters, according to the Defense Department. “And any kind of conflict in the future could well include cyber or space assets.” On the North Korean threat to the US homeland, Mattis said, “I believe that we have to have good strong defenses with our allies in order to buy time for the diplomats to resolve this situation.” —Wilson Brissett
DOT&E, Seven Other DOD Nominees Confirmed by Senate
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Behler was confirmed by the Senate on Nov. 16 to be director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E). At his confirmation hearing, Behler promised to help speed up Department of Defense acquisition efforts, including an emphasis on software development, and to extend the Pentagon’s recent focus on prototyping new weapons systems. Also confirmed by the Senate on Nov. 16 were Joseph Kernan, to be under secretary of defense for intelligence; Robert McMahon, to be an assistant secretary of defense for logistics and materiel readiness; Guy Roberts, to be an assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs; Robert Wilkie, to be under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness; Shon Manasco, to be an assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs; Thomas Modly, to be under secretary of the Navy; James Geurts, to be an assistant secretary of the Navy. —Wilson Brissett
Air Force Buys 12 More QF-16 Aerial Targets
The Air Force recently announced an $11 million contract with Boeing for Lot 5B production of the QF-16 full-scale aerial target. The service will purchase 12 aircraft in this lot, which is the final lot under the current contract, Jodi Ames, spokesperson for the 96th Test Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., told Air Force Magazine. QF-16s are retired F-16s modified to fly unmanned missions as targets for US and international partner aircraft, including the F-35. The QF-16 reached initial operating capability in September 2016 and debuted at Holloman AFB, N.M., in February 2017. —Wilson Brissett
An entry in the Nov. 20 Daily Report incorrectly reported expected users of the FAA’s low altitude authorization and notification (LAANC) system. LAANC will be used by recreational and commercial users. We have corrected the original entry.
—A T-38 Talon assigned to Laughlin AFB, Texas, crashed around 4 p.m. Monday afternoon, according to an Air Force release, which noted that “Laughlin emergency response personnel and local responders were on scene to assist in recovery efforts.” Local news cited witnesses who saw someone parachute from the aircraft, but the Air Force has not said as of Monday evening whether there were any injuries or fatalities.
—The 366th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, recently completed the first-ever F-35 lift operation by successfully moving the damaged Lightning II from Mountain Home to the F-35 Depot at Hill AFB, Utah. The aircraft had been grounded for a year after sustaining damage? in an accident in September of 2016: Mountain Home release.e
—RAF Lakenheath, England, recently held a demolition ceremony marking the first work on infrastructure for the two new F-35A squadrons coming to the 48th Fighter Wing. In the spring of 2018, crews will begin demolition work in earnest to make way for new buildings that will house about 1,200 airmen and 54 F-35s. The new aircraft should start arriving in November of 2021, with the full complement expected by fall 2023: Lakenheath release.
—The 353rd Special Operations Group recently deployed an Air Rapid Response Kit, which provides a forward-deployed command and control node in support of Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130s, to the Pacific region for the first time: AFSOC release.
—Two cadets and a professor from the Air Force Academy are working on research intended to make the A-10 more efficient and more lethal. They are redesigning the aircraft’s slat system to reduce the likelihood of stalls and are studying how adding munitions pods to the A-10’s payload will affect the aircraft’s aerodynamics and performance: USAFA release.
—Russia’s upgraded A-100 AWACS, which reportedly uses an active electronically scanned array radar, has completed its first flight, from the Taganrog Aviation Scientific and Technical Complex near the Sea of Azov. Plans for the new configuration were first announced in 2011, and work has been ongoing since 2014: IHS Jane’s story.
—C1C Jaspreet Singh, a fourth-year cadet at the Air Force Academy, was named USAFA’s 39th Rhodes scholar on Nov. 18. Singh is a mechanical engineering major who is also seeking minors in French and philosophy: USAFA press release.