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​​Twenty-one Distinguished Flying Crosses lay on a table before a ceremony, May 11, 2018, at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Air Force photo by SSgt. Ryan Conroy.


Twenty-Four Airmen Awarded DFCs for AC-130 Missions

Twenty-four airmen from the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., were awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses for four separate engagements, all of which included an AC-130 protecting friendly forces in Afghanistan. The engagements took place from mid-2016 through spring of 2017, and involved protecting hundreds of US and Afghan special operations forces in Nangarhar Province. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

USAF Summit Answers Chinese Manhattan Project on AI, Holmes Says

Senior Air Force leaders will gather at JB Andrews, Md. this week to hash out a corporate approach to artificial intelligence and quantum computing, Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes reported Monday. Speaking to employees at the MITRE Corp. outside Washington, D.C., Holmes acknowledged that, “We’re certainly not the only ones” pursuing a vigorous AI and quantum research effort, asserting that China’s efforts in this area amount to a national “Manhattan Project.” Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

USAF Officially Transitioning to OCP Uniform

The Air Force is officially making another uniform change, transitioning to the US Army’s Operational Camouflage Pattern in a phased approach with the goal to fully transition by April 1, 2021. Airmen at select bases can begin buying the uniforms in October, with plans for more bases and online stores to start carrying them next year. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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USAF Opens Software Collaboration Lab in Boston

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center on May 7 opened a new experimentation lab in Boston aimed at building combat software, with a Star Wars twist. The Kessel Run Experimentation Lab includes 30 Active Duty airmen, civilians, and contractors in a 90-seat shared workspace in Boston’s North End. The office is focused on coding the next generation of combat software, including analysis of kill chain integration and battle damage assessment, according to an AFLCMC release. “It’s one thing to say you’re going to do business differently,” said Maj. Gen. Sarah Zabel, the Air Force’s director of information technology acquisition process development, in the release. “But look around and you can see that these airmen are learning. They’re building actual products, and they’re writing the book on how to be combat engineers for the information age.” Many of the airmen assigned to the lab have worked in air operations centers, or have a technology background. The name of the center is a Star Wars reference, with Han Solo proudly boasting that his Millennium Falcon made the “Kessel Run” hyperspace route in 12 parsecs. —Brian Everstine

Vandenberg Test Launches Minuteman III

Vandenberg AFB, Calif., successfully test launched an unarmed Minuteman III early Monday morning. The launch occurred at 1:23 a.m. Monday, and landed near the Kwajalein Atoll. The Air Force conducts regular test launches to test the Minuteman III fleet’s availability and to train missile launch crews. Airmen from the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., conducted this test. Air Force Global Strike Command plans launches three to five years in advance, with preparation for an individual launch beginning up to a year prior. There are typically four tests per year, with the most recent test held on April 25. “Operational test launches of the Minuteman III provide valuable data to planners and holistically test the system, procedures, and airmen from the initial mission planning to the final weapons employment phases,” AFGSC said in a statement. “These tests are not related to any real world events.”(Watch video of the launch.) —Brian Everstine

Thunderbirds To Resume Public Performances

The Air Force’s Thunderbirds demonstration team will resume public performances beginning May 19-20 at JB Langley-Eustis, Va. The Air Power over Hampton Roads performances mark the first public display by the team since the April 4 crash that killed No. 4 pilot Maj. Stephen Del Bagno near Nellis AFB, Nev. Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Holmes authorized the resumption of performances based on input from the leadership of the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, 57th Wing, and US Air Force Warfare Center, along with a review of the team’s safety, training, and operational practices, according to a USAF release. “The Thunderbirds look forward to safely resuming public shows at Air Power over Hampton Roads,” Thunderbirds Commander Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh said in a statement. “It’s been challenging to get us to this point, but the team is resilient, focused, and ready to get back to our mission of recruiting, retaining, and inspiring.” —Brian Everstine

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RADAR SWEEP


—Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Brussels on Monday for the NATO Military Committee, where the defense chiefs are expected to discuss Russia, threats in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as alliance modernization efforts: DOD release.

—A 91st Missile Wing Security Forces team from the Minot AFB, N.D., lost a box of grenade rounds after they fell out the back of a Humvee, and the service has asked the public’s help in locating them: Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

—Some 800 cyber warriors participated in the National Guard’s seventh annual Cyber Shield 2018 cybersecurity exercise at Camp Atterbury, Ind., on May 13: DOD release.

—The 509th Bomb Wing and the 131st Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo., were awarded the Omaha Trophy on May 8 for “executing the best strategic bomber operations of 2017:” USAF release.

—After more than five years of planning, the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB. Fla., completed its reorganization last month, holding 13 formal ceremonies, including 11 activations, five inactivations, and 10 assumptions of command: ACC release.