USAF Deploys All Three Bomber Variants to Guam
Six B-52s and about 300 airmen are deploying to Andersen AFB, Guam, to take over the continuous bomber presence mission in the Pacific. The B-52s, from Barksdale AFB, La., will replace six B-1B Lancers from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., as they wrap up their deployment later this month, according to a Pacific Air Forces release. Additionally, three B-2 Spirits deployed to Guam last week to support the Pacific deterrence mission. With a B-52 touching down at Andersen on Jan. 16, according to a PACAF photograph accompanying the announcement, all three bomber variants are at the base for the first time since August 2016 and for just the second time in USAF history. While at Andersen, the B-52s will provide a “credible, strategic power projection platform,” according to a Pacific Air Forces release. During their deployment, the Ellsworth B-1s flew multiple deterrence flights to the Korean Peninsula, along with participating in training exercises with Australia, South Korea, and Japan. Since 2004, the Air Force has kept a constant deployment of strategic bombers at Andersen. —Brian Everstine
Thornberry Urges Congress to Pass a Defense Budget Not Weighed Down by Other Issues
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) Tuesday criticized members of Congress “on both sides of the aisle” who acknowledge the need for more defense spending, but tie it to other issues, such as continuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program. “If your sister or brother is a pilot who needs to be trained for a major military engagement on the Korean Peninsula, you are telling that person, you can’t have the training you need, you can’t have the planes fixed until we get a DACA deal,” he said. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.
Ohio Guard F-16s Deploy to Estonia
Twelve F-16s and about 300 airmen from the Ohio National Guard, along with 75 airmen from Shangdahlem AB, Germany, deployed to Estonia as a theater security package. While at Amari AB, the F-16s will fly about 60 missions per week training with regional allied nations, according to US Air Forces in Europe. “Deploying our F-16s to Estonia shows our ability to fly missions out of different locations around the world,” Lt. Col. Greg Barasch, commander of the 112th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, said in the release. “It also increases our capabilities and readiness by flying air-to-air and air-to-ground missions with our local and regional partners.” The Air Force has sent “theater security packages” of fighter aircraft to Europe under Operation Atlantic Resolve for about two years, according to USAFE. Recent rotations to Estonia have included visits by A-10s, F-22s and F-35s. —Brian Everstine
USAF Wants to Own and Make Upgradeable Ground-Based SBIRS Segment
This week, USAF will chat one-on-one with vendors about undoing the closed system it relies on for ground-based detection of space-faring missiles, part of its larger Space Based Infrared Surveillance (SBIRS) upgrade, reported SpaceNews. The discussions will focus on the future operationally resilient ground evolution (FORGE) effort, supporting the “space warfighting construct,” according to the event site. The aim is to place the ground control part of SBIRS—comprising mission management, telemetry, tracking, and command—onto one common platform instead of the stovepiped and closed system it exists in now. Built in an open architecture and without the traditional proprietary model leaving upgrades solely possible by initial industry partners, SpaceNews reported the plan is to allow for future upgrades the service can solicit freely. The Tuesday meetings in El Segundo, Calif., are part of an official Space Enterprise Consortium Industry Day, led by USAF’s Space and Missile Systems Center. Later this week, the Air Force plans to launch its SBIRS GEO-4 satellite from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. —Gideon Grudo
RAF Intercepts Russian Bombers Over North Sea
The Royal Air Force confirmed it scrambled two Typhoon aircraft Monday to intercept Russian Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjacks, according to The Guardian. The Blackjacks, which flew over Norway and Denmark, were intercepted “about 30 miles” from British airspace, according to the article, in which an RAF spokesperson noted several “friendly” nations were watching the bombers as the intercept unfolded. “At no point did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign UK airspace,” stated the official. After unveiling its upgraded Tu-160M2 in late 2017, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the new bomber’s test flight would take place in February 2018, according to Russian government-run media outlet Tass. You can see the current Tu-160 fleet in this Air Force Magazine photo essay about the bomber. —Gideon Grudo
Coalition: Remaining ISIS Cells Fighting for “Some Recognition”
Remnants of ISIS in Iraq and Syria are largely separated from each other, and are faced with “dire choices” of either being captured or killed, the deputy commander of special operations for the anti-ISIS coalition said Tuesday. “The so-called caliphate has been dismantled,” said US Marine Corps Brig. Gen. James Glynn, the deputy commanding general of special operations for Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. “ISIS has no recognizable structure of the bureaucracy that they had previously sought to achieve.” US-backed forces, both in Iraq and Syria, are trying to locate these remaining ISIS factions. While Glynn said it is too early to say if ISIS has become an insurgency, he said they are moving forward with “desperate” acts, such as the Monday suicide bombing in Baghdad that killed 35 and injured 90. “Although ISIS has been militarily defeated, we recognize the post-conflict challenges they present,” he said. There is no evidence of coordination between remaining ISIS groups, but instead they are “disparate cellular structures trying to have some legitimacy, some recognition. And frankly, at this point, to be disruptive.” —Brian Everstine
NATO Military Leaders Reviewing Changes to Leadership, Force Structure
NATO military leaders are discussing ways to overhaul the organization’s command and force structure to improve flexibility and response in times of conflict. The NATO Military Committee, including US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, met in Brussels on Tuesday and said changes are possible in light of ongoing conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with tensions between NATO countries and Russia. NATO military leaders will recommend changes to the NATO military structure in advance of a meeting of member nations’ defense ministers next month. “A key component to NATO’s adaptation is a robust and agile command structure,” said Chairman of the Military Committee Czech Gen. Petr Pavel, according to a Pentagon news release on the meeting. US European Command head and NATO Supreme Allied Commander-Europe US Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti and Supreme Allied Command Transformation French Air Force Gen. Denis Mercier are putting forward changes to find the “right mix of force structure and command structure,” according to the release. Dunford said he wants this capability to include a permanent “warm start” to be able to build upon in the time of war. The military chiefs also discussed the way forward in Afghanistan and ways to improve stability across the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, Middle East, and Central Asia, Pavel said.
A headline to an entry in the Jan. 16 Daily Report misidentified the Guard unit that is receiving an upgraded C-130H. It is the Wyoming Air National Guard. We have updated the entry.
—The 365th Training Squadron at Sheppard AFB, Texas, is working Charles River Analytics, a Massachusetts-based technology company, to develop a “game-based virtual environment trainer” for F-15E Strike Eagle maintainers, which officials say will “enhance training” and be much more efficient: Sheppard release.
—Resiliency will be a key focus area for CMSAF Kaleth Wright this year: USAF release.
—Eight transgender individuals have applied to join the Air Force Active Duty. They are among the first known military applicants since the federal court required the Defense Department last year to accept applications from transgender volunteers: USA Today.