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​Six F-35s—two of each variants—deployed to Eielson AFB, Alaska, for pre-initial operational test and evaluation testing. Air Force photo by A1C Eric M. Fisher.


F-35 “Pre-IOT&E” Underway, Aimed At Expediting Testing

While the F-35 can’t start all-up initial operational test and evaluation on time because not enough of the jets are available in the all-up 3F configuration, Air Force and Pentagon operational testers have begun “pre-IOT&E” activities to accomplish some evaluations now that don’t require all the jet’s systems and software. The tests, which involve cold weather testing and employment of the F-35 in ground-supporting tactical activities, will be “scored” for the overall rating of whether the F-35 is operationally suitable. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

ISIS UAS Capabilities Choked, Posing Little Threat in 2018

Unmanned aerials systems have a years-long history of attacking Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve forces, but their presence has diminished greatly in recent months. The coalition said it has engaged with “hundreds” of UASs, and has “had an overwhelming success rate in either repelling, shooting down, or chasing away the majority of ISIS UASs in Iraq and Syria over the past two years before they could harm our personnel or do any damage to equipment or infrastructure,” CJTF​​-OIR wrote in an email to Air Force Magazine. In an interview Friday, coalition spokesperson Army Col. Ryan Dillon said ISIS’s diminished power—having lost 98 percent of the land it once controlled in Iraq and Syria—means it’s less able to acquire, launch, and operate the systems. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.

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Russia Buying More Supersonic, Nuclear-Capable Bombers

Russia is set to receive 10 more of its most advanced supersonic bombers, the country’s leadership announced during a Thursday ceremony. The Russian military on Thursday signed a $269 million contract for the modernized Tu-160M “Blackjack” bombers, according to Reuters. “This is a serious step towards developing our hi-tech sphere and strengthening the country’s ability to defend itself,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said, according to the news agency. The upgraded M-model of the Tu-160 includes new radar, navigation, and communication systems. The bombers have a max speed of 1,243 mph with a range of 7,643 miles. They can carry a maximum of 12 conventional or nuclear cruise missiles internally. —Brian Everstine


Report Calls for New Steps for Integrated Air and Missile Defense

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has issued a report calling for measures to improve US air and missile defense, saying AMD forces have been “all too absent” from discussions of how the US military should deal with possible conflicts with near-peer adversaries schooled in the US approach to war. “Our adversaries have gone to school on us, perhaps it’s time to go to school on them,” said one of the report’s authors, CSIS senior fellow and director of the Missile Defense Project, Thomas Karako.  Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.

Air Force F-16, A-10s, and a P-51 Will Fly Over Super Bowl LII

The Air Force will take center stage at Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, with an F-16, two A-10s, and a P-51 Mustang performing a flyover of the game at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Air Force’s F-16 Viper demonstration team announced on Facebook this week that the F-16 will lead the flyover, along with A-10s and the P-51 from the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation. The Air Force Thunderbirds flew over NRG Stadium in Houston for last year’s Super Bowl. Before this year’s game, the Civil Air Patrol is going to help the Minnesota Air National Guard train for aircraft entering restricted airspace around the stadium. On Jan. 30, a CAP plane will fly into a simulated no-fly zone as a demonstration of what would happen if an incursion did occur. F-16s from the 148th Fighter Wing at Duluth Air National Guard Base will respond, flying alongside the aircraft, making radio contact, and guiding it out of the restricted airspace, according to a CAP release. —Brian Everstine

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RADAR SWEEP


—As the US rebuilds its presence in Afghanistan, Kandahar Airfield now hosts the largest single operational deployment of USAF MQ-9 Reapers: Stars and Stripes.

—Boeing has received a nearly $24 million contract to design, manufacture, and install a refrigeration system on Air Force One: Fox News.

—The KC-46A tanker has completed 94 percent of the tests needed for military certification: Military.com.

—The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center has outlined five lines of efforts that will help it become more efficient. They are, responsive human capital, recognized expertise, innovative execution, adaptive base and infrastructure, and purposeful engagement: Dayton Daily News.

—The Air Force Academy has rescheduled the men’s and women’s basketball games that were cancel​ed because of the government shutdown: ESPN.