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US Army and Republic of Korea forces test exercise missile systems in response to the July 4 test launch of an ICBM by North Korea . US Forces-Korea photo.

​North Korea Reaches ICBM Milestone With July 4 Test

North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test on Tuesday was of a type unseen before by the Pentagon, and traveled further than any previous test in a dramatic escalation of that country’s nuclear ambitions. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.


US Strikes al Shabaab in Somalia

US aircraft on Tuesday hit an al Shabaab “troop concentration” in Somalia, the second strike against the group in as many months. The strike, at about 6:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, stemmed from “actionable intelligence” and was conducted as  “collective self-defense,” US Africa Command said in a statement. The strike was being assessed on Wednesday, with no description provided about the size of the camp. It was about 300 miles southwest of the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The US maintains a contingent of about 50 troops in Somalia at the request of the government to help train and advise its troops, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Wednesday. On June 11, US forces struck an al Shabaab “command and logistics node” about 185 miles southwest of Mogadishu. That strike killed eight militants. —Brian Everstine


Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

A US soldier was killed Monday during joint operations with Afghan forces against the Taliban in Helmand Province. Pfc. Hansen B. Kirkpatrick, 19, of Wasilla, Alaska, was killed from wounds received due to indirect fire. Two other soldiers were wounded in the attack, and they were being treated at a coalition medical facility, US Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement. Kirkpatrick was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas. —Brian Everstine

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Pentagon to Conceal Results of Nuclear Inspections

The Defense Department will now conceal the results of safety inspections at nuclear weapons bases. The Associated Press reported the change came from an instruction issued by the office of Gen. Joseph Dunford (USMC), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The instruction, which is not released, calls for the results to be secret to “prevent adversaries from learning too much about US nuclear weapons vulnerabilities,” Joint Chiefs spokesman Navy Capt. Greg Hicks told the AP. The recommendation to conceal the results of the inspections came as part of the ongoing Defense Department, and Air Force, review of issues in the nuclear community.  


Air Force Completes New START ICBM Reductions

The Air Force announced it has fulfilled its requirements for intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) reduction under the New START treaty well ahead of the February 2018 deadline. New START was signed by the US and Russia in 2010 and requires the US to reduce its stockpile of deployed nuclear delivery vehicles to a total of 700 bombers, ICBMs, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). To meet the requirements, the Department of Defense directed the services to drawdown to 400 ICBMs, 60 bombers, and 240 SLBMs. The Air Force began removing ICBMs from its three missile bases in Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota in 2012. The 50th and final ICBM for New START was decommissioned at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., at the beginning of June. The total cost of removing the ICBMs, including storage and shipping, was $24 million, according to an Air Force Global Strike Command press release.


Donald L. Peterson, 1944-2017

Retired Lt. Gen. Donald L. Peterson, head of the Air Force Association from 2002-2007, died July 3, at the age of 76, after a long illness. Peterson concluded his 35-year Air Force career in 2001, as deputy chief of staff for personnel, having previously been the assistant deputy chief for air and space operations, director of NORAD and commander of the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center. A 1966 graduate of Texas A&M, he received his commission through the ROTC and completed pilot training in 1967. His flight experience was highly varied, having logged over 4,000 hours in trainers, tankers, intelligence platforms, fighters and strike aircraft.  He flew the F-4E in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, amassing 597 combat hours. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for action in 1972-1973 as an F-4E flight lead, and he was an F-15 pilot in Germany during the height of the Cold War. He commanded a tactical fighter squadron, tactical fighter wing and flying training wing. Peterson became Executive Director of AFA in August, 2002; four years later, that position’s title was changed to President. Peterson directed AFA’s professional staff and managed the operations of AFA and its then-affiliate, the Aerospace Education Foundation. As AFA President, he was also Publisher of Air Force Magazine. Retired Gen. Larry O. Spencer, current president of AFA, said “to many in AFA he was both a friend and mentor. He will be sorely missed by the AFA family he served so well.” —John A. Tirpak
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An A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft performs an aerial refueling. NATO photo.


Two More NATO Nations Join European Tanker Fleet

Germany and Norway have joined a NATO initiative to build a European, multinational tanker fleet to reduce over-reliance on US air refueling capability. Netherlands kicked off the effort, first announced in 2014, and Luxembourg also signed the Memorandum of Agreement soon after. Those nations ordered a total of two Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft. With Germany and Norway now signing on, the number of tankers in the NATO fleet is expected to grow to seven, with first deliveries due in 2020. At a signing ceremony last week, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defense Investment Camille Grand said that the program “provides cost-effective and flexible solutions” for allied nations, according to a press release. In 2018, Belgium is also planning to join the program, which is still open to additional entrants.

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RADAR SWEEP


—Twenty-two aircraft, eight units, and more than 100 service members participated in Combat Raider 17-3, which concluded on June 30. The large force exercise—held at the Powder River Training Complex and ranging over South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming—featured scenarios involving counter-air​, strategic strikes, strike coordination and reconnaissance, close air support, and personnel recovery: AFGSC release.

—US forces will join Kyrgyz, Mongolian, Pakistani, and Tajik forces, along with observers from Kazakhstan, for an annual Regional Cooperation command-post exercise in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, from July 10 to 23, 2017. The exercise will be led by Tajikistan’s defense ministry and will involve more than 200 personnel: CENTCOM release.

—A corporate reorganization at Airbus has placed the defense and space sector, along with the helicopter sector, under the commercial portion of the business. This move completes a series of changes that began in 2013 and included the rebranding of the defense segments, previously called EADS, under the Airbus name: IHS Jane’s has the story.