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​The Air Force temporarily grounded 55 F-35As at Luke AFB, Ariz., on June 9, 2017, after several pilots experienced hypoxia-like symptoms. Here, Lt. Col. Matthew Vedder, 63rd Fighter Squadron commander, sits in the cockpit of an F-35 Lightning II after landing March 20, 2017, at Luke. Air Force photo by SrA James Hensley.

USAF Temporarily Grounds F-35As at Luke After Hypoxia-Like Incidents

The Air Force on Friday grounded all F-35As at Luke AFB, Ariz., after five separate incidents where pilots reported hypoxia-like incidents. The aircraft are expected to resume flying operations on Monday. Until then, wing officials “will educate US and international pilots” on the situation and brief pilots on the incidents that have occurred, the release states. Flight medicine is also briefing pilots on physiological event symptoms and what to do if they experience those symptoms while flying. The 56th Operations Group at Luke will hold an “open forum” to discuss any concerns from pilots. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.

Russian Fighter Intercepts B-52 for the Second Time in a Week

A Russian Su-27 Flanker intercepted a B-52 during a flight over the Baltic Sea, marking the second time in a week a Russian fighter intercepted a Stratofortress. The Friday intercept, which happened as reporters and photographers were flying on board a KC-135 over the B-52 as part of Exercise Baltic Operations, was completely safe and relatively ordinary, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis. On June 6 a Su-27 intercepted another B-52 and escorted it away from the Russian border, the Russian ministry of defense said. Both intercepts happened over international waters. B-52H and B-1B bombers are in Europe to participate in joint exercises with NATO partner nations. Three Stratofortresses and 800 airmen from Air Force Global Strike Command arrived at RAF Fairford, U.K., on June 5 to participate in several exercises in the region. On June 8, an unspecified number of US Strategic Command B-1Bs from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., joined the B-52s for Saber Strike—a month-long US Army-Europe-led exercise held at locations in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. The B-1s will also participate iBALTOPS, which demonstrates NATO’s ability to defend the Baltic Sea region. Participating partners include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. —Brian Everstine and Wilson Brissett

Building a Pacific Space Force

Space operators need to be ready to fight in the Pacific, but they are not prepared to do so currently, commanders of three of the Air Force’s space wings said Friday at an AFA Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill. Air Force Space Command has been so focused on supporting US Central Command that they have work to do—in technology, training, and manpower—to be ready for potential operations in the US Pacific Command area of responsibility. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

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DOD Officials Defend Missile Capability on Capitol Hill

The current missile defense system protecting the United States will hold ahead of threats at least through 2020, Defense Department officials told members of the House Armed Services strategic forces panel on June 7. Thomas Harvey, acting assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities, and Missile Defense Agency Director Navy Vice Adm. James Syring said DOD is working both at home and abroad to provide proficient missile defense to the US and its allies, now and into the future. Read the full story by Gideon Grudo.

SMC Announces Space Enterprise Consortium

The Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) released a solicitation on June 7 for industry participation in a Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC) that would aim to quickly develop prototype projects to fulfill the Space Enterprise Vision. The SpEC would establish an Other Transaction Agreement with a goal of involving “small businesses and non-traditional vendors” in new program development in order to reduce prototyping costs. The initial agreement would last five years and invest up to $100 million. SMC wants to use the consortium to eliminate “stove-piped programs and platforms” and move toward “flexibility and agility” in bringing along new space technologies. The first round of SpEC proposals are due July 7, and the program expects to award a first prototype in November. SMC expects to award $5 million for one prototype project in FY17, with the number of projects and dollar values increasing after that. —Wilson Brissett

USAF Bolstering Ground-Based Radar Sites

As part of its transition to a new concept of the space situational awareness mission, the Air Force is in the process of adding sensitive compartmented information facilities (SCIFs) to its installations with ground-based space surveillance radars to allow operators to share certain types of classified information. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.



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RADAR SWEEP


—Air Force names Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award ​recipients.

—The Defense Intelligence Agency must change and adapt to meeting the warfighter's evolving needs, said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart at the Geospatial Intelligence Symposium in San Antonio: DOD release

—Nearly 400 New York National Guard airmen and soldiers filled more than 405,460 sandbags between May 3 and June 4 in response to Lake Ontario flooding: National Guard release