National Guard Chief Says Service Better Disciplined, Able to Face Modern Constraints
A day following its 381st birthday, Gen. Joseph Lengyel said the Guard has changed drastically since he joined in the early 1980s. Describing the Guard’s full spectrum readiness, Lengyel—who took over as the Guard’s chief in August 2016—said “we’ve become very good” at counterinsurgency. Therefore, the Guard is better equipped to play a major role in “enabling” readiness for the active components, Lengyel said, speaking Thursday at one of AFA’s Mitchell Institute Hour events in Arlington, Va. Guardsmen show up today with “all the same tools and the same skills” as any airman, he said. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.
F-22s Warn, Chase Off Russian Jets in Syria
Two F-22s fired chaff and flares on Wednesday in an attempt to chase away Russian Su-25 jets that were flying in an established de-confliction area in Syria, Air Forces Central Command said. It is the latest in a series of incidents between US and Russian aircraft in the area. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Aerospace Exports Doing Well, Could Do Even Better
Although aerospace-related military exports will post big numbers for the end of 2017—“over $110 billion in direct commercial sales and more than $32 billion in foreign military sales”—the industry could be doing much better if Congress would take constraints off the Export-Import Bank. So said Aerospace Industries Association president David Melcher, delivering AIA’s year-end report Thursday on the health of the industry. Read the full report by John A. Tirpak.
US Accuses Iran of Supporting Missile Attacks on Saudi Arabia, Violating International Sanctions
The US on Thursday accused Iran of violating its “international obligations” and arming Houthi rebels in Yemen who then attacked Saudi Arabia. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, speaking at the Defense Intelligence Agency at JB Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., stood before recovered pieces of a short-range ballistic missile launched in Houthi territory in November aimed at the Riyadh airport. The missiles have “fingerprints” of Iran and are evidence that the Iranian regime is violating UN-imposed sanctions. “The fight against Iranian aggression is the world’s fight,” Haley said Thursday. Haley says the evidence that the missile was built in Iran and provided to rebels shows that country is in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the “Iran deal” signed in 2015 aimed at halting Iran’s development of a nuclear program. Saudi Arabian officials have already publicly blamed Iran for the Houthi missile attacks. That country is in the midst of a prolonged air campaign, bolstered by USAF air refueling, against Houthi rebels in Yemen. —Brian Everstine
US Troops With Light Footprint Needed Long-Term in Iraq and Syria
US strategy in the Middle East is facing a critical moment after the defeat of ISIS, and a continued military presence in both Iraq and Syria will be crucial to achieving the US goal of stable governance in the region, US ambassadors formerly serving in the region told Congress Thursday. But they emphasized that a “light footprint” will be crucial to success, and that “there’s nothing easy about this.” Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
Coalition Aircraft Have Lowest Monthly Strike Total Since Early Months of Anti-ISIS Campaign
US and coalition aircraft in November had the slowest month for airstrikes since early in Operation Inherent Resolve, releasing 1,000 weapons during the whole month. That total is the lowest since coalition aircraft released 931 weapons in September 2014 – the second month of the air war against ISIS. November’s amount, however, brings 2017’s total to 38,993 – by far the highest yearly total in the operation, according to statistics released Thursday by Air Forces Central Command. Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance totals in 2017 so far have also eclipsed 2016’s total, with 13,238 sorties flown so far this year compared to 12,270 in all of 2016. Airstrikes in Afghanistan are up as well in November compared to this time last year. Last month, US aircraft conducted 352 strikes to bring the yearly total to 3,906. That total is the highest since 2012, when 4,083 airstrikes were conducted. —Brian Everstine
Legacy Satellite Performance Gives GPS III Some Breathing Room
The GPS III program likely has a little more time to work out its problems because the legacy GPS II satellites on orbit are expected to outlast original end-of-service estimates, the Government Accountability Office found in a new report on the program. “Recent data show that the current satellites in the GPS constellation are expected to remain operational longer than previously projected,” GAO found, “creating an additional, nearly two-year schedule buffer before the first GPS III satellite needs to be operational.” Whereas the Air Force initially projected the first GPS III satellite needed to be ready by September 2019 to avoid loss of capability, the better-than-expected performance of the GPS II satellites has pushed that date out to June 2021. The report also flagged the military’s transition to new M-code receivers necessary to take advantage of the enhanced security features of the GPS III M-code broadcast. GAO found that the cost to field receivers on “over 700 different weapons systems” that “require almost a million M-code receiver cards” will exceed the Department of Defense’s $2.5 billion estimate by “many billions of dollars.” The DOD concurred with the report’s findings.
Northrop Gets $444.6 Million Countermeasures Contract
The Air Force on Wednesday awarded Northrop Grumman a $444.6 million contract to provide infrared countermeasures for USAF aircraft. The contract, which covers work until 2022, is for support of the AAQ-24 large aircraft countermeasure, which is in use by aircraft such as KC-135s, KC-10s, and C-17s. The sole-source contract also includes $17.2 million for foreign military sales to Canada and Bahrain, according to a Pentagon announcement.
—The House on Wednesday introduced legislation that would fund the Pentagon through the end of Fiscal Year 2018, but would only extend funding for domestic programs until Jan. 19, 2018. Under the current continuing resolution, the entire federal government is funded only until Dec. 22: the House bill.
—When a sailor recently sustained life-threatening injuries during a mission in Syria, a USAF aeromedical evacuation team arrived on the scene and was shocked he survived his initial injuries: Scott AFB release.
—Two weeks after US Africa Command released a statement refuting reports that civilians had been killed during an August raid carried out by US and Somali forces, Africa Command has ordered a new investigation into claims of civilian casualties in the same incident: AP story.
—The US military has lifted a ban on the consumption of alcohol, as well as a midnight curfew, imposed on US forces based in Japan after a Marine with a blood-alcohol content three times the legal limit was involved in a November car accident that killed a Okinawan man: Stars and Stripes story.
—An Air Force military recruiter who was sentenced to 27 years in prison for sexual misconduct toward high school girls was released Wednesday after an appeals ruling reversed some of the charges against him and reduced his sentence to six years: mySA.com story.