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​​​An MQ-9 from the 163d Attack Wing takes off from March ARB, Calif., on Aug. 1 to provide visualization and mapping data to firefighters battling deadly fires in Northern California. Air National Guard photo by TSgt. Gregory Solman.

Guard MQ-9 Helps Map Fire Response in California

An MQ-9 Reaper and other military assets have been key to California National Guard efforts to help combat raging fires in California, including one that is now the state’s largest ever, Guard officials said Wednesday. SSgt. James Brown, an incident and assessment awareness coordinator with the California Air National Guard and a former airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operator, said the MQ-9  is used to record videos that imagery analysts can relay to incident commanders. Using the videos, he said, analysts can see where the fires are in relation to burned out infrastructure, damaged homes or surrounding trees, and view it quickly. “With the Reaper, we are able to view the video feed in near-real time, so there’s a little bit of a delay, but not much,” said Brown, who was one of three Guardsmen who spoke with reporters by teleconference from California. “We are in direct contact with those imagery analysts that we have watching the video feed in near real time, so with that, they’re able to communicate via the video feed that they’re watching” where the fire is moving, he said. In addition to the MQ-9 and an RC-26 from New Mexico, specially equipped Guard and Reserve C-130s are dropping retardant on the fires, along with Army National Guard rotary wing assets. As of Wednesday, the Mendocino Complex Fire had burned almost 315,000 acres and was 65 percent contained. Fires across California have burned more than 760,000 acres this summer. —Steve Hirsch

F-22s Train Alongside Norwegian F-35s During Europe Deployment

US F-22s on Wednesday flew alongside Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35s for the first time in airspace over Norway, part of a Raptor deployment intended to increase the fifth generation presence in Europe. US Air Forces in Europe posted photographs of two 95th Fighter Squadron F-22s flying alongside two Norway F-35s behind an RAF Mildenhall KC-135 tanker during training operations in Norwegian air space. The 95th Fighter Squadron F-22s deployed to Spangdahlem AB, Germany, earlier this month and are forward deploying throughout Europe to demonstrate the Air Force’s “commitment to field and operate a fifth-generation aircraft” in Europe, according to USAFE. The command announced Wednesday that five F-22s from the contingent forward deployed to Powidz AB, Poland, for theater familiarization and training. During the visit, the Raptors conducted a flyover in in Warsaw in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Polish independence, USAFE said in a release. Last week, two F-22s from the squadron deployed to Greece for training. —Brian Everstine

Mattis: Increased Military Focus on Space a Reaction to China, Russia

The creation of a US Space Force and the increase focus on military assets in orbit is not an American aggression, instead a reaction to increasing threats from Russia and China, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday. During a question-and-answer session following a speech at Brazil’s Escola Superior de Guerra, Mattis said the push for a Space for is now a “reality” as Russia has developed a space attack capability, and China is sending a message that it can take out a satellite in space. “We are not initiating this,” Mattis said following his prepared remarks, according to The Associated Press. “At the same time, if someone is going to try to engage in space with military means, we will not stand idly by. We don’t intend to militarize space. However, we will defend ourselves in space if necessary.” Vice President Mike Pence, last week, announced the administration’s push to create a separate military service for space operations by 2020, with the creation of a unified US Space Command earlier. —Brian Everstine

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Lockheed Awarded $2.9 Billion Missile Warning Satellite Contract

Lockheed Martin Space Systems has received a $2.9 billion contract for three missile-warning satellites, the Pentagon said Tuesday. The Air Force had said in May it planned to award two sole-source contracts — one to Lockheed and one to Northrop Grumman — for the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program, the successor to the current Space Based Infrared System missile warning satellites. The service is putting rapid procurement authorities into place so that it can have the first Next-Gen OPIR launch in 2023 and cut four years off the current procurement process. The new contract covers “requirements analysis, design/development, critical path flight hardware procurement, early manufacturing, and risk reduction efforts leading to a system critical design review,” and the work is to be completed by April 30, 2021. Lockheed spokesman Chip Eschenfelder said by email the firm is “proud to be working closely with the Air Force on the rapid development of Next Gen OPIR’s more advanced, resilient missile warning capability.” The company, he said, understands “the need to ‘Go Fast’ while improving our national security posture against emerging threats around the world.” —Steve Hirsch

USAF Looking to Quickly Put Electronic Warfare System on Mobility Aircraft

The Air Force is exploring the possibility of quickly integrating an advanced radio frequency electronic warfare system into a heavy aircraft, starting with a C-130. The service on Aug. 6 released a sources sought notice, with a deadline of the end of the month, looking for a currently available or in-development electronic warfare system that can be integrated into mobility aircraft within the next three to nine months. The Air Force is first looking to integrate the system onto a C-130J aircraft, including MC-130J, AC-130J, and HC-130Js, or other large aircraft including KC-135s, C-17s, and C-5s, according to the notice. —Brian Everstine

Boeing Gets Contract to Spruce Up Air Force Two

The Air Force on Tuesday awarded Boeing a $16 million contract to “refresh” the interior of C-32A aircraft to make it more like Air Force One. The contract covers engineering support services for the C-32’s interior, including painting and cleaning along with changing the seating arrangements. The work in the contract is expected to be done quickly, with a target end day of Aug. 8, 2019. The Air Force has a fleet of four C-32s, which regularly transports the vice president along with the first lady, members of Congress, and sometimes the president. —Brian Everstine

Second Group of Contracts for Information Analysis Center Research Awarded

Fifteen firms on Tuesday received the go-ahead from the Pentagon to let them compete for research and development work for the Defense Technical Information Center worth, in total, up to $28 billion. The award is the second of three groups of contracts for the DTIC's Information Analysis Centers program, focused on research and development services in such areas as cyber security, reliability, and survivability and vulnerability, according to a Pentagon release. The firms are Adams Communications & Engineering Technology, Alion Science & Technology Corp., BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc., Battelle Memorial Institute, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., CSRA LLC, Engility Corp., Georgia Tech Applied Research Institute, Leidos, MacAulay-Brown Inc., ManTech International Corp., Raytheon Co., Southwest Research Institute, URS Federal Services Inc., and Wyle Laboratories Inc. The Air Force handles such contracts, even though this is a Defense Department-wide effort and the contracting agency for the contract is the Air Force Installation Contracting Agency at Offutt AFB, Neb. The 15 firms can compete for task orders worth more than $15 million. The earlier contract award, in July, was reserved for companies with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear capabilities and was aimed at providing a venue for Pentagon laboratories, acquisition offices, and combatant commands to conduct research and development in those areas. Thomas Gillespie, the director of Information Analysis Centers, said Wednesday a third group of contracts, for small businesses interested at task orders of less than $15 million is expected in coming months. —Steve Hirsch

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RADAR SWEEP​


—The Defense Department POW/MIA Accounting Agency is “guardedly optimistic” that the repatriation of remains from North Korea will be the first “tangible actions” of others and more Korean War missing will be accounted for: DOD release.

— The Pentagon needs to consider the cyber defenses of possible contractors when awarding contracts, in addition to cost and performance measures, the Mitre Corp. said in a report released Monday: Roll Call.

—Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday that Moscow is ready to talk with the US about its newest strategic weapons that, the Kremlin claims, are not a part of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty: Reuters.

—The Air Force’s biggest hangar is undergoing a more than $100 million renovation. Building 125 at Robins AFB, Ga., is getting a facelift from the US Army Corps of Engineers: Robins release.

—US airmen have deployed to Sri Lanka for Pacific Angel 18-4 health services outreach, where they expect to treat at least 1,000 patients daily. The US service members are providing services such as medical, dental, physical therapy, optometry, and pharmaceutical services: PACAF release.

—The Defense Department’s chief spokeswoman Dana White is under investigation by the Pentagon Inspector General for allegations of retaliation and using professional and military staff to run personal errands: New York Times.