NATO Exercise Demonstrates Allied Missile Defense
US and NATO allies recently demonstrated their ability to operate collaborative missile defense during an exercise, Formidable Shield 17, held off the coast of Scotland. The exercise brought together eight nations, 14 naval ships, and 3,300 personnel, RAdm. Jon Hill, deputy director of the Missile Defense Agency, said Wednesday. The exercise demonstrated that the US and its allies can respond to today’s threats, but it also suggested what MDA needs to do to keep up in the near future. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
Thunderbirds Name New Commander
Air Combat Command on Wednesday named Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh the new commander of the Thunderbirds, and the team’s No. 1 pilot. Walsh was named the acting commander of the demonstration team late last month after then-commander Lt. Col. Jason Heard was relieved. As commander, Walsh is responsible for leading 130 personnel and 11 commissioned officers, along with leading all demonstration flights. He previously was the team’s No. 7 pilot and operations officer. Walsh, a graduate of both the US Air Force Academy and the USAF Weapons School, has more than 2,600 hours of flight time and more than 500 hours of combat experience, according to an ACC release. —Brian Everstine
OCX Demonstrates Command of First GPS III Satellite
The next-generation OCX ground control system demonstrated for the first time the ability to control the initial GPS III satellite in recent testing, Lockheed Martin announced Wednesday, further indicating the satellite’s readiness for launch. The Nov. 2 test “validated the command and control interaction” between OCX and the satellite through “a simulated full launch and early orbit mission event sequence,” according to a company press release. In what Lockheed called an “end-to-end system demonstration,” the OCX launch and checkout system installed at the company’s facility in Denver sent signals to Schriever AFB, in Colorado Springs, Colo., which “uplinked” them to the GPS III SV01 satellite. SV01, the first of 10 initial GPS III satellites being produced by Lockheed, is scheduled to launch in 2018. —Wilson Brissett
Afghan Air Force Increasing Its Operations Tempo
The Afghan Air Force is continuing its increase in operations as it receives additional aircraft and aircrew, so far flying 500 more sorties in 2017 than it did last year. Brig. Gen. Lance Bunch, director of future operations with Operation Resolute Support, said Tuesday that the Afghan Air Force is “one of the more lethal organizations” in Afghanistan and are helping ground forces “conduct successful combat operations on the battlefield.” In 2016, the Afghan Air Force flew 13,741 missions and conducted 1,689 air strikes, according to statistics from the USAF 438th Air Expeditionary Wing in Kabul. The increase comes as the Afghan Air Force has received additional A-29 Super Tucano strike aircraft and, last month, finished training the first aircrews on the HH-60 Black Hawk. The Afghan Air Force plans to have eight aircrews trained by the spring, and the force will eventually have up to 159 of the aircraft to replace their aging, Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters. “As we continue to build up the Afghan Air Force, we’ve had some near-term successes and we have some plans going forward,” Bunch said. —Brian Everstine
SOCOM Boss Calls for More Cyber Intel Sharing With Allies
The US needs to consider changing its classification system for cyber intelligence to better reflect the need for allies to help in this new domain, the military’s top special operations officer said. Gen. Raymond Thomas, commander of US Special Operations Command, said Wednesday that the military’s current method of classification “doesn’t facilitate sharing” with allies. “We cannot succeed in this global domain without international partners,” Thomas said at an Association of the United States Army event in Arlington, Va. The Pentagon’s default has been not sharing, but that cannot be maintained. Current operations, such as the wars in Afghanistan and targeting ISIS, have shown how important it is to maintain a strong international coalition. Going forward, the military needs to “crush through this bias” and move for more intelligence sharing to effectively combat enemies in the cyber world. —Brian Everstine
Air Force Academy Questioned for Response to Sexual Assault
The US Air Force Academy has been accused of under reporting sexual assault allegations, using intimidation to discourage cadet reporting of sexual assaults, and removing a sexual assault response officer who attempted to raise awareness of these problems, according to a series of CBS reports. “The Air Force Academy is deeply concerned by the allegations regarding the treatment of sexual assault victims at the academy,” a spokesperson said, and both current and former superintendents say the academy is acting in the best interest of its cadets. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
Teaming Up to Fight in Space
Space is without a doubt a contested domain, and the US military and the intelligence community are teaming up to face the challenge, Maj. Gen. Catherine Chilton, mobilization assistant to the commander of Air Force Space Command, said recently at the West Coast Aerospace Forum. “This is a conversation we have needed to have for a long time.” Read the full report by Doug Birkey.
USAF Completes Major C2 Upgrade at Rota
The Air Force recently completed an overhaul of the command and control system at Naval Station Rota, Spain. US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa joined with Air Force Space Command, Air Force Materiel Command, and Air Force Mobility Command to upgrade the circuit connecting Rota to Ramstein AB, Germany, as well as a host of switches and routers along the way. “The mission here moves as fast as our technology and resources allow,” said TSgt. Brandon Shirley, who leads cyber security and operations for the 725th Air Mobility Squadron at Rota, in a press release. “A stronger, more current network backbone enables faster, more secure, and more reliable communication….We are now better able to support current missions, as well as future build up if the global situation ever demands such action at our location.” The US Navy, Spanish navy, and the Defense Information Systems Agency also assisted with the modernization effort.
—The last six regenerated USAF F-16s will be delivered to Indonesia soon, the Air Force announced. The final delivery will complete the order of 24 aircraft: IHS Jane’s story.
—The 327th Airlift Squadron, Little Rock AFB, Ark., reached full operational capability on Dec. 2 after completing its transition to the C-130J aircraft. The 327th AS can now fly Air Force Reserve Command and Air Mobility Command missions: Little Rock AFB release.
—Jens Stoltenberg has been appointed to a second term as Secretary General of NATO. Stoltenberg, who will serve for two more years in the position, has been Secretary General since 2014: DOD release.
—Air Force Special Operations Command recently announced the winners of its first Spark Tank innovation competition. First place went to the 18th Flight Test Squadron for its concept of creating “benign malware” as an aircraft cyber security measure. Second place went to the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron for a parts labeling proposal: AFSOC release.
—The Air Force has awarded a $22.8 million contract to Lockheed Martin to produce Paveway II Plus Laser Guided Bombs, including guidance kits and tail kits, for the US Navy. The contract is for GBU-12 (500 pound) configuration bombs, which are scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2019: Lockheed Martin release.
—Raytheon announced it has completed Lot 1 production of the Small Diameter Bomb II, which offers improved ability to hit moving targets accurately in bad weather from standoff distances. The company has a contract with the Air Force to produce Lots 2 and 3 of SDB II as well: Raytheon release.
An entry in the Nov. 8 Daily Report incorrectly stated the launch services provider for the first Phase 1A launch in the EELV program. United Launch Alliance will be the provider. The original entry has been updated.