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​Having watched and learned from the US over the last three decades, Russia is now using Syria as a "testing ground" for its aircraft and munitions, USAF officials said on Wednesday. Here, an F-16C drops flares during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on Nov. 30, 2017. Air Force Photo by TSgt. Gregory Brook.


Russia Using Syria as “Testing Ground” for Aircraft, Munitions

Russia wants to “test the mettle” of its aircraft and pilots, and it’s using Syria “as a testing ground” to do so, said Lt. Gen. VeraLinn Jamieson, USAF deputy chief of staff for ISR. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.


The Fight for Air Superiority

The Air Force maintains air superiority today, but will it in the future? “Over the next decade and a half the US is at risk of losing its ability to control the air domain in combat,” said retired Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute, at a forum on Capitol Hill Thursday. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.


USAF to Release ISR Flight Plan this Spring

The Air Force expects to roll out an “ISR Flight Plan” in “early spring” that will focus on what the next generation intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance should look like, said Lt. Gen. VeraLinn Jamieson on Thursday. The flight plan will look out to 2035, though there will be a particular emphasis on what USAF can do to “transform” ISR in the next five years. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

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USAF Throws Out EPR Requirements for A1Cs and Below

In an effort to free up some time for airmen, the Air Force will no longer require evaluation performance reviews for airmen first class and below. Effective immediately, EPRs won’t be required for enlisted personnel until they become senior airmen or have served for 36 months in service, regardless of grade. The same applies to enlisted airmen in the reserve component, without the 36-month caveat. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.

Joint US-South Korean Exercises Delayed

President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed Thursday to delay planned joint military exercises during next month’s Winter Olympics, which will be held in the Asian country. The South Korean Yonhap news agency reported the two leaders reached agreement by phone Thursday following a request by Moon, and quoted the White House as confirming the two agreed to "de-conflict the Olympics and our military exercises so that United States and Republic of Korea forces can focus on ensuring the security of the Games."  The Feb. 9-25 Olympics are followed by March 8-18 Paralympic Games. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters Thursday the administration worked with South Korea and that the exercises “will start sometime … after the Paralympics.” —Steve Hirsch


Senate Confirms Rood for Policy Position

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed John Rood to be under secretary of defense for policy with a vote of 81-7, despite a rocky nomination process. During his confirmation hearing, both Republican and Democratic senators hammered Rood, a former senior vice president at Lockheed Martin, about potential conflicts of interests, asking if he would recuse himself from policy discussions regarding foreign military sales of Lockheed products. Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), were frustrated with his answer to the question and McCain said he would require detailed written responses on the issue before moving the nomination forward. Prior to working at Lockheed, Rood served for more than two decades in the federal government, including as acting under secretary of state for arms control and international security and assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation. He also served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for forces policy and as an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency.  —Amy McCullough

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RADAR SWEEP


—Now that U-2s will remain in the fleet for the foreseeable future, operators hope the service will invest in improving the aircraft instead of simply maintaining it: Defense News.

—Coalition members worked with Syria in late December to quickly erect a steel bridge west of Raqqa province, allowing for additional security and humanitarian assistance there: DOD release.