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​An F-15E Strike Eagle shot down an Iranian-made drone over Syria on June 20, 2017. Here, a Strike Eagle waits to launch prior to strike operations in Syria on Sept. 23, 2014—the first day of anti-ISIS operations in Syria. Air Force photo by TSgt. Russ Scalf.

F-15E Takes Down Another Drone as Tensions Escalate in Syria

An Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle shot down an Iranian-made drone flying near US-backed fighters inside Syria, marking another dramatic escalation in the air war and increasing tensions with​​​ Russia. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.

Russian Fighter Comes Within Feet of RC-135

A Russian Su-27 Flanker on Monday intercepted an Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint in an unsafe manner over the Baltic Sea. The RC-135’s aircraft commander reported the intercept as “unsafe” because of the jet’s high rate of speed, poor control, and extremely close proximity, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Tuesday. The Su-27 came within “a few feet” during the intercept, reported NBC News. While the “vast majority” of Russian intercepts in international airspace have been professional, Monday’s incident was an exception to that trend, Davis said. — Brian Everstine

Hyten Says Nuclear Modernization Cannot be Delayed

Gen. John Hyten, commander of US Strategic Command, said he would “strongly urge Congress not to slow down any element of the triad” Tuesday at an AFA Mitchell event in Washington, D.C. “When I look at each element, we cannot slow them down,” he told the audience. “We actually need to accelerate them, not decelerate them.” Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

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McCain Grills Deputy Defense Nominee Shanahan

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) sharply questioned Deputy Defense Secretary nominee Patrick Shanahan over his answers to senator’s questions and his background as a Boeing executive at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday. McCain said some of Shanahan’s answers to the committee were “almost insulting” and that his experience at a top-five defense contractor did not prepare him to implement solutions to the Department of Defense’s acquisition woes. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.

F-35 Air Demo Debut Highlighted Combat Maneuvering

The F-35A’s airshow debut was impressive to watch, but also showcased the aircraft’s performance and capabilities. Read Adam J. Hebert’s full report from the Paris Air Show.

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Two B-1B Lancers, assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, flew a 10-hour mission from Andersen AFB, Guam. The bombers are escorted here by two Republic of Korea Air Force F-15s in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula, June 20, 2017. Courtesy photo.

B-1s Fly to Japan, South Korea

Two B-1B Lancers on Tuesday flew a 10-hour round trip mission to Japan and the Korean Peninsula from Andersen AFB, Guam. The mission was a regular bomber reassurance mission and not specifically in response to any activity in the Pacific or on the Korean Peninsula, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Tuesday. The B-1Bs, assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and deployed from Dyess AFB, Texas, flew to the vicinity of Kyushu, Japan, the East China Sea, and Korea, according to a Pacific Air Forces release. The B-1s were escorted by Japan Air Self Defense Force and Republic of Korea F-15s.

Sierra Nevada Joins Lockheed for JSTARS Recap

Sierra Nevada Corp. on Tuesday dropped its bid to be a prime contractor for the recapitalization of the Air Force’s JSTARS fleet, and joined Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works in its partnership for the contract. Bombardier and Raytheon are also part of Lockheed’s team, which plans to submit a modified Bombardier Global 6000 as its entrant in the competition. The move means three companies are bidding to be the prime contractor for the battle management aircraft program—Lockheed, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman. The Air Force is planning to award a contract for the program in Fiscal 2018, with initial operational capability expected in 2024. (See also: Moving Forward with JSTARS Recap)

DOD Report: Afghan Forces at a Critical Point in Fight Against Insurgents

Afghan forces are at a “critical point” in their fight against insurgency, as Taliban gains in rural areas have prompted US officials to recently say the US, NATO, and Afghan forces are “losing” the war. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.

Coalition Airstrike Kills ISIS Religious Leader

The US-led coalition on May 31 killed ISIS’s main religious leader, the Pentagon announced Tuesday. An airstrike in Mayadin, Syria, killed Turki al-Bin’ali, the self-proclaimed “Grand Mufti”—chief cleric—of ISIS, the Defense Department confirmed in a statement. Al-Bin’ali was in charge of recruiting foreign terrorist fighters and provoked global attacks, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said during a Tuesday briefing. Since 2014, he provided propaganda “to incite murder and other atrocities,” and was a confidant of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

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RADAR SWEEP


—The House subcommittee on tactical air and land forces released its proposals for the 2018 National Defense Authorization Tuesday. The subcommittee’s portion of the bill would provide authority for the Department of Defense to begin buying F-35s in economic order quantities to produce cost savings long-envisioned by the program. It also includes provisions to improve intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance for combatant commanders, and it supports a faster timeline for recapitalization of the E-8C JSTARS aircraft.

—As many as 135 patients at al Udeid AB, Qatar, may have been exposed to blood-borne diseases, such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C, over an eight year period due to poorly cleaned medical equipment at the clinic: Air Force Times

—Lockheed Martin debuted the C-130J-SOF, which is specially configured for the international special operations community: Lockheed Martin release

—Red Flag Alaska 17-2 kicked off on June 12: USAF release

—The Air Force Reserve's 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, known as the “Hurricane Hunters,” deployed from Keesler AFB, Miss., to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands over the weekend and was scheduled to fly its first mission of the season on Tuesday: USAF release

—A 47-year-old airma​n assigned to the Air Force Reserve Personnel Center Headquarters at Buckley AFB, Colo., died on Friday after becoming unresponsive during a phystical training test the day before: Fox 31 Denver