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Crew chiefs with the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron conduct preflight checks on an A-10 before takeoff from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, on Aug. 2. Air Force photo by SSgt. Kristin High​​​

Pace of Airstrikes in Afghanistan Reaches New High

US aircraft so far this year have conducted more airstrikes in Afghanistan than any year since at least 2009, according to statistics released Thursday by Air Forces Central Command. So far in 2018, US manned and remotely piloted aircraft have conducted 5,982 airstrikes, meaning the Trump administration this year has conducted more strikes in that war than any year under the Obama administration. Also in Afghanistan, US aircraft have airdropped 546,980 pounds of supplies, a dramatic jump from the 2017 total of 33,423. Meanwhile, air operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria have dramatically slowed. So far this year, US and coalition aircraft have conducted 5,075 strikes, compared to a total of 39,577 strikes in all of 2017. —Brian Everstine

Point Blank Provides European-Based Fighters an Affordable Alternative to Red Flag

F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, England, are training alongside United Kingdom F-35B strike fighters from nearby RAF Marham, as well as Typhoons and French Rafales in a large force exercise known as Point Blank. Though this isn’t the first time strike fighters have participated in the exercise, which is co-hosted by the 48th FW and the Royal Air Force, it is the first time the United Kingdom’s F-35Bs have participated. Point Blank looks to provide realistic Red Flag-type training for combat air forces based mostly in the United Kingdom at a fraction of the cost of sending the airmen and jets back to the States. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

DOD: Turkish S-400 Purchase Could Risk the Country’s Involvement in F-35 Program

The Pentagon is considering kicking Turkey out of the F-35 program, despite its large investment in the development of the jet, if the country​ takes delivery of Russian-made anti-aircraft systems, the Defense Department told Congress. A Pentagon report, obtained by Bloomberg, states that though Turkey has invested more than $1.25 billion in the F-35 program, the administration “will reassess Turkey’s continued participation” should they buy the S-400 system. Turkey has said it plans to take delivery of the advanced Russian system as early as July 2019, a move that has received strong rebukes by both the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said earlier this year that the US military opposes Turkey’s planned purchase of the system because it wants to protect the F-35, and “we would not want to have that aircraft close to the S-400.” —Brian Everstine

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LeMay Center Hosts Massive War Game Focused on Space, Cyber in the Pacific

The LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education in October hosted its largest war game ever, bringing in about 350 personnel to focus on space and cyber issues that could develop in 10 years. The center, based at Maxwell AFB, Ala., hosted Air Force Space Command’s Schriever Wargame 2018, which included general officers and dignitaries from more than 27 agencies, along with representatives from eight other countries, according to a Maxwell release. The war game focused on a potential peer adversary exploiting cyber and space, focused on the Pacific.

USAF Rotary Wing Aircrews Get New Protective Masks

The Air Force’s rotary wing aircrews will get new masks to better protect them from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats while also improving night-vision integration. The new Joint Service Aircrew Mask — Rotary Wing replaces the Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protection system currently used on HH-60G and UH-1N aircraft, according to an Air Force Life Cycle Management Center release. The new mask is designed to better protect from CBRN threats while also improving vision, fitting better, and improving battery life. “With recent and continuing world events, our nation’s ability to effectively fight and win in an environment that involves weapons of mass destruction has become more and more important,” Mohamed Mughal, the chief engineer of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s CBRN Defense Systems Branch, said in the release. So far, about 100 aircrew flight personnel and about 75 personnel have been trained on the new system, according to the AFLCMC.
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RADAR SWEEP


His F-16 Lost Its Engine, Then Caught Fire Over Washington Before Crashing. And He Lived to Tell About It
Capt. Jonathan “Holster” Morgan was on a routine training mission slicing through clear blue sky over Washington. He had lifted off from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland at 9:13 a.m. on a spring day in 2017, heading to a Pennsylvania shooting range with three other F-16s to practice bombing runs. The Washington Post

US Defense Chief Says Moscow Cannot be Trusted to Keep Its Word
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday that Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian navy ships violated a treaty between the two countries and showed that Moscow cannot be trusted. Reuters

Is This What Your New PT Uniform Will Look Like?
Slides depicting mockups of the possible new physical training uniform now under development surfaced online Tuesday. Air Force Times

Policy Changes for Post-9/11 GI Bill Transfers
Additional changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill Transfer of Benefits policy were announced Nov. 14, 2018. Air Force News

High Winds Hamper Search Efforts for Missing Air Force Cadet Candidate in Longs Peak Area
Search efforts continued Wednesday in the Longs Peak area for a U.S. Air Force Academy cadet candidate who went missing over the weekend. Coloradoan

Japan Prepares to Stand Up First F-35 Operational Unit
Japan has graduated its first locally trained class of five F-35 pilots and is on track to make its first unit operational, according to a senior official with Japan’s F-35 program. Defense News

One More Thing:

This Startup Is Taking The Ashes Of 100 People Into Space
A satellite carrying the ashes of about 100 people is about to be launched into space, the first-ever dedicated memorial spacecraft. Forbes