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​A KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refuels an A-10 Thunderbolt II over Afghanistan, Jan. 21, 2019. Air Force Photo by SSgt. Clayton Cupit.

RAND Study Claims USAF Suffering from “Identity Crisis”

The Air Force is suffering from an “identity crisis,” is seen largely as an enabler for the other services to fight the fight, and prizes fighter pilots above all other specialties, according to a 267-page report from the RAND Corp., called Movement and Maneuver: Culture and the Competition for Influence Among the US Military Services. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Korea Experts: Denuclearization Pact Shouldn’t Jeopardize Military Presence

As President Trump heads to Vietnam this week for his second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, experts in Washington caution against undermining the US military presence in the region as part of a denuclearization agreement. A peace agreement could pose a slippery slope for military basing, some think-tank fellows say, and joint military exercises should no longer be a bargaining chip. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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Strike Pace Continues to Increase in Somalia

US aircraft have continued to ramp up the pace of operations in Somalia, conducting five airstrikes within two days targeting Al Shabaab. These strikes bring February’s total to 13 so far, up from nine last month and eight in December, according to US Africa Command. A strike on Sunday in the Hiran region killed 35 militants who were transitioning between locations in a rural area, AFRICOM said. On Saturday, four strikes targeted checkpoints and other facilities used by the group, and two militants were reportedly killed. AFRICOM said these strikes were conducted in consultation with the Federal Government of Somalia and the African Union Mission in Somalia. —Brian Everstine

Rolls-Royce Will Build F130 in Indianapolis if it wins B-52 Re-Engining

Rolls-Royce made it official Monday: it will enter its F130 military variant of its commercial BR700 in the Air Force’s B-52 re-engining contest, and will build the engines in its recently upgraded Indianapolis, Ind., facilities if it wins the contract. The company touted the facility’s upgrade as essential for the competition. Rolls said the F130 will be an “American” engine, but company officials declined to characterize the amount of US parts in the engine. Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper has said there will be a “digital flyoff” between power plants for the work. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

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Iraqi Air Force Graduates First Expert Maintainers

Ten Iraqis overcame language barriers and tricky schedules to become certified as their air force’s first F-16 craftsman-level maintainers, the US Air Force said in a Feb. 22 release. The maintainers began learning English in 2014 and started hands-on training with the aircraft in 2016. They received their “seven-level” patches in a ceremony last month. “The 10 pioneers had to overcome many difficulties prior to receiving the patches and certificates, including learning English, reading technical orders, and learning how to support the F-16 while working part time for the Iraq Air Force, which is on a schedule of one week on and one week off,” according to the release. “The schedule made it difficult for the technicians to retain the knowledge learned at work.” Iraq owns 36 F-16s, among other attack and utility platforms. The US and its coalition partners are helping Iraq rebuild a self-sufficient military to counter the resurgence of ISIS and other terror groups and to remove US assets from the area. —Rachel S. Cohen
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RADAR SWEEP


After Putin's Warning, Russian TV Lists Nuclear Targets in U.S.
Russian state television has listed U.S. military facilities that Moscow would target in the event of a nuclear strike, and said that a hypersonic missile Russia is developing would be able to hit them in less than five minutes. Reuters

DARPA’s Fred Kennedy Tapped to Lead Space Development Agency
In a memo to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin designated Kennedy as his choice to become the first director of the Space Development Agency. Space News

Pentagon Reviewing Potential Conflicts of Interests in Cloud Bid
An unexpected twist in an ongoing legal battle over a $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract has thrust a former Defense Department official’s connections to frontrunner Amazon.com Inc. into the spotlight. Bloomberg

US Bomber Grounded at Wings Over Wairarapa Following Mechanical Issues.
A USAF B-52 Stratofortress bomber, failed to show at a New Zealand airshow after it was grounded by mechanical problems. It would have been the first time the bomber flew in New Zealand airspace. TVNZ

One More Thing ...

Deptula vs. Harrison: A No-Holds-Barred Debate on Space Force
USAF Lt. Gen. David Deptula (Ret.), dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, and CSIS Director Todd Harrison get real on the Space Force and more. Listen to the podcast here: Defense and Aerospace Report