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John Henderson, left, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Energy, and Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, right, look at the aftermath of Hurricane Michael from a CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft assigned to the 8th Special Operations Squadron, Oct. 14, 2018. Aircrew members with the 8th SOS transported Air Force senior leaders from Hurlburt Field to Tyndall AFB, Fla., to assess the damage from the hurricane, one of the most intense storms to ever hit the US. Air Force photo by SrA. Joseph Pick.


USAF Still Assessing Hurricane Impact at Tyndall, But Leaders Say F-22 Damage “Less Than We Feared”

The number of F-22s left behind and potentially damaged or destroyed at Tyndall AFB, Fla., by Hurricane Michael won’t be disclosed this week, both because evaluations are ongoing and because of operational security, the Air Force said Monday. However, service leaders who personally looked over the situation Sunday said the F-22s were, overall, apparently “intact” and not as badly damaged as had been feared. They called the situation “promising.”  Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Majority of F-35s Returned to Flight Following Inspections

Eighty percent of operational F-35s have returned to flight following last week’s grounding for a fleet-wide engine inspection, the Joint Program Office announced Monday morning. On Oct. 11, the JPO grounded all F-35s worldwide to inspect fuel tubes in the aircraft’s engine following the Sept. 28 crash of a US Marine Corps F-35B in South Carolina. All US services and international partners have since resumed flight, the JPO said in a statement. The program office is prioritizing fuel tune replacements using its current spare inventory, and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney is “rapidly procuring more parts to minimize the overall repair timeline for the remaining jets,” the office said in a statement. The current inventory is enough to restore about half of the impacted jets to flight, with the rest expected to be cleared for flight “over the coming weeks.” Officials would not say how many of the jets were identified to have issues with the fuel tubes. The Air Force would say only that there are “some” that will still be grounded while the “majority” of the F-35As have been cleared for flight. The Joint Program Office said overall it still expects all 91 aircraft to be delivered this year as planned. The problem is an “isolated incident, which is being addressed and fixed,” the program office said. “Safety is our primary goal, and we will continue to take every measure to ensure safe operations while we execute our mission.” —Brian Everstine

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Harris and L3 Merger Would Create Sixth-Largest Defense Contractor

The announced merger of Harris Corp. and L3 Technologies into L3 Harris Technologies would create a $33 billion company ranked as the sixth-largest defense contractor, just behind General Dynamics. The move continues a wave of big-ticket consolidation within the defense industry. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.


Airmen, C-130J Conduct Airdrop at Belgian Base for First Time in More than 50 Years

The Air Force is testing its ability to project forces throughout Europe by dropping in to a historic base it hasn’t airdropped at in more than half a century. On Oct. 4, airmen from the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing and a C-130J from the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein AB, Germany, airdropped into the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe Airfield at Chievres AB, Belgium, according to a US Air Forces in Europe release. It was the first time the Air Force had conducted such an exercise at the base in 51 years, and comes as the Air Force is using increased funding from the European Deterrence Initiative to improve base infrastructure and positioning equipment around the region to support rapid operations if needed. This base has a newly certified assault landing zone, according to USAFE. “The objective of the exercise was to demonstrate the new capability of the airfield,” said Maj. Tim O’Rourke, director of operations for the 424th Air Base Squadron which operates out of the Belgian base. “In doing so, we were able to contribute to the readiness and training for tactical airlift crews and airborne units.

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RADAR SWEEP


—Defense Secretary Jim Mattis makes second trip to Vietnam this year, signaling US efforts to counter China’s influence in the region: Associated Press.

—A sailor assigned to the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Miss., was reportedly shot and killed inside of military housing at Keesler AFB, Miss.: Stars and Stripes.

—The 200th Airlift Squadron, a former geographically separated unit of the 140th Wing that was based at Peterson AFB, Colo., was inactivated on Oct. 14 in a ceremony at Buckley Air Force Base. The squadron was established in 1946 and has flown the C-47, C-57, C-131, Cessna 0-2 Skymaster, T-43A, C-26B, and most recently the C-21A Learjet: DOD release.

—US airmen and representatives from eight partner nations gathered at Fairchild AFB, Wash., to kick off planning for Air Mobility Command’s Mobility Guardian 2019: AMC release.

—A Wisconsin Air National Guard base was shut down for a few hours on Sunday after a vehicle breached the security gate. A member of the 128th Security Forces fired a shot, but no injuries were reported. The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department arrested three people in incident: The Journal Sentinel.