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​A C-130 deployed from the 120th Airlift Wing, Montana ANG, sits on the ramp as the sun sets at Ali Al Salem AB Kuwait on July 29, 2019. Air Force photo by TSgt. Michael Mason.

​USAF Pulls One-Fourth of C-130s to Inspect for Cracks

Air Mobility Command on Aug. 7 announced it is temporarily removing about 123 of the Air Force’s 450 C-130s from service upon discovering "atypical cracks" on the wing joint of one H-model plane. "Atypical cracks were discovered on the lower center wing joint, or 'rainbow fitting,' during programmed depot maintenance," the Air Force said in a release. "In-depth visual and modified non-destructive inspections of the wing box will be conducted on affected C-130H and J-model aircraft that have not received the extended service life center wing box and have greater than 15,000 equivalent flight hours." C-130 rainbow fittings with cracks will be replaced. Aircraft found to have no defects will immediately resume flight. AMC spokeswoman Alexandra Soika said that as of the evening of Aug. 8, 12 C-130s had been inspected and returned to service. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

F-22s, Canadian F-18s Intercept Russian Bombers Near Alaska

North American Aerospace Defense Command launched two F-22s and two Canadian CF-18s, along with an E-3 Sentry, a KC-135 tanker, and a C-130 tanker to intercept two Russian Tu-95 Bear H bombers near Alaska on Aug. 8. The two bombers remained in international airspace in the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska, NORAD said in an Aug. 8 release. “NORAD’s top priority is defending Canada and the United States. NORAD operators identified and intercepted the Russian aircraft flying near our nations,” NORAD and US Northern Command boss Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said in the release. US and Canadian aircraft routinely intercept Russian planes in the region, most recently conducting two separate missions in two days in May. NORAD previously said it has intercepted about six to seven Russian sorties per year since 2007. —Brian Everstine

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Air Force Successfully Launches Fifth AEHF Satellite

The Air Force’s fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications satellite successfully blasted off from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., early Aug. 8. A nearly 200-foot United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carried AEHF-5 into space after more than a month’s delay. AEHF, built by Lockheed Martin, replaces the aging Milstar constellation to offer secure, jam-resistant military communications. “Individual data rates increase five-fold compared to Milstar, permitting transmission of tactical military communications, such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data,” Mike Cacheiro, vice president for protected communications at Lockheed Martin Space, said in a release. The satellite will take about 100 days to get into its final position on orbit, followed by about a month of tests, according to the Air Force. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

USAF Receives First Refurbished Army Helicopter

The Air Force’s first operational loss replacement HH-60G Pave Hawk touched down at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, this week. The helicopter, assigned to the 210th Rescue Squadron, arrived Aug. 5 after a four-day trip from Nellis AFB, Nev. OLR helicopters are refurbished Army UH-60L Black Hawks, which are newer than the Air Force’s Pave Hawk fleet and are supplementing USAF helos as HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters are delivered. “It's a nice aircraft,” Maj. Paul Rauenhorst, an instructor pilot with the squadron, said in a release. “It flies very smooth. You can definitely tell it's a lot newer just by the way it flies and handles.” The Air Force is reconfiguring 19 UH-60Ls to reach a total fleet of 112 HH-60Gs, replacing helicopters that were lost during 18 years of continuous combat operations. The service originally expected deliveries of OLR aircraft in fiscal 2018, but delayed that schedule because of testing deficiencies. In a draft 2020 defense policy bill, the Senate Armed Services Committee called on the Air National Guard to keep its older G models until the Ws are delivered. —Brian Everstine

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Experimental, Classified Space Missions on Tap

The Air Force is preparing for two programs that will test new technologies in orbit, as well as a classified launch. Pearl White, a demonstration program with two cubesats, is slated for launch to low Earth orbit by Aug. 16 on a Rocket Lab rocket in New Zealand. Also on Aug. 7, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center announced it would pay Arizona-based Vector Launch $3.4 million for launch services in an effort intended to improve real-time threat warnings. DOD likewise announced a $156.8 million contract to the United Launch Alliance to handle the last in a set of three classified National Reconnaissance Office mission launches on its Delta IV Heavy rocket. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.
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RADAR SWEEP


Air Force Cross-Functional Teams to Spearhead Modernization Priorities
Last year, the Army established a new Futures Command and it has eight cross-functional teams spearheading the service’s top acquisition priorities. Now the Air Force is in the process of creating about 10 of its own CFTs, said Maj. Gen. Michael Fantini, director of the Air Force warfighting integration capability office. National Defense Magazine

AFSPC Rolls Out New Enterprise Data Strategy
Air Force Space Command unveiled its new enterprise data strategy during the AFSPC Chief Data Office Innovation Summit at Peterson AFB, Colo., July 30-31. The command’s enterprise data strategy will provide the means to ensure greater mission success. It is a framework that integrates space enterprise data sources into a common, resilient, and agile architecture optimized for space domain awareness and responsive multi-domain operations at speed and scale. USAF release

Air Force General’s Supporters Mount Campaign to Make Him Leader of Space Force
Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, who recently left his post as commander of Air Education and Training Command at JB San Antonio-Lackland, is expected to hang up his uniform soon. But former associates and others close to Kwast, a decorated fighter pilot, say he deserves one more assignment: four-star head of the US Space Force, a new branch of the military that Congress is poised to create in coming months. Military.com 

Lockheed Space Exec Talks Future Space Endeavors
Rick Ambrose heads the company’s space division. He spoke with Mike Gruss, editor of Defense News sister publications C4ISRNET and Fifth Domain, about where the Pentagon is headed and how to make sense of the new realities in space. C4ISRNET

Hypersonics by the Dozens: US industry Faces Manufacturing Challenge
The US military is just a few years from launching offensive hypersonic weapons under development. But building those initial missiles is one thing—manufacturing the weapons in multitude is another issue entirely. Defense News

Air Force Reveals Tests of Supposed Record-Setting Scramjet Engine from Northrop Grumman
The new design produced more thrust than any other air-breathing hypersonic engine the Air Force has ever tested, at least publicly. The Drive

Navy Drops Charges Against Four SEALs Charged with Afghanistan War Crimes
The Navy dropped charges on Aug. 6 against four SEALs accused of abusing detainees in Afghanistan in 2012, the Navy said. The four SEALS—Lt. Jason Webb, Chief Petty Officers David Swarts and Xavier Silva and Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel D’Ambrosio—were accused of abusing bound prisoners alongside Afghan Local Police. The San Diego Union-Tribune

Jim Mattis Rejoining General Dynamics Board of Directors
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is rejoining the General Dynamics board of directors, the contractor announced Aug. 7, the latest in the retired Marine general’s moves to re-enter the world he left when he became the head of the Pentagon more than two years ago. Politico

With an Eye on Russia, China, and a Horse, Pentagon Chief visits Mongolia
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper met senior Mongolian leaders on Aug. 8 in a rare visit to the strategically important nation as the Pentagon seeks to implement its strategy of focusing on countering China and Russia. Reuters

One More Thing …

“Storm Area 51” Facebook Event Page Disappears, But It Isn’t Alien Abduction.
The humorous “Storm Area 51” event page on Facebook that went viral several weeks ago was removed by Facebook on Aug. 3 for “violating community standards.” The spoof event page had attracted massive media attention and was featured in news outlets around the world. Before the page was removed, approximately 2 million people had clicked on the page tab saying they would “attend.” The Aviationist