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​Two USAF F-35A Lightning IIs, assigned to the 4th Fighter Squadron at Hill AFB, Utah, conduct flight training operations over the Utah Test and Training Range on Feb 14, 2018. Air Force photo by SSgt. Andrew Lee.

​F-35 JPO Working to Help USAF Meet Readiness Directive

Parts are the key ingredient in meeting F-35 readiness level mandates set by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. The Joint Strike Fighter program office is working to streamline the process to fix “repairable” parts at depots in order to free up industry to make more brand-new parts, program executive officer Vice Adm. Mat Winter told Air Force Magazine recently. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Does Chang’e 4 Presage “One Small Step” In Mandarin?

China landed a new robot rover on the moon’s far side on Jan. 2, marking yet another milestone in that country’s long march to become a major space exploration power alongside the US, Russia, and Europe. If all goes well, the mission is likely to be followed up by more ambitious robotic missions to asteroids, Mars, and, with human crew, to the Moon before the next decade is out. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Acting SecDef Blocked from KC-46 Delivery Decision, Involvement in All Boeing-Related Programs

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is bound by an ethics agreement to recuse himself from all Boeing-related matters, including signing off on delivery of the first KC-46 tanker. Shanahan, who spent more than 30 years at the company, including in multiple senior-level positions, will hand off these authorities to other senior DOD officials, his spokesman said. For the KC-46, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Ellen Lord will reportedly sign off on the delivery. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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Obama-Era Law Brings Big Changes to UCMJ

As the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, the Military Justice Act of 2016 went into effect, bringing major changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Manual for Courts-Martial. The Obama-era legislation, among other things, criminalizes “sexual activity between” recruits or trainees and people in trusted positions, gives convicted service members more chances to file appeals, and increases transparency within the military-justice system by mandating the placement of “most court-martial documents” into the public domain. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

Another High-Level DOD Spokesperson Steps Down

A Marine Corps two-star general tapped to be a chief spokesman for the Pentagon reportedly asked to not take the job, the second high-profile Defense Department spokesperson to leave within a week. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Burke Whitman told Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan he did not want the job, which was originally offered in November, the Washington Examiner reported. Whitman was selected for the position because then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wanted a military member to provide on-camera briefings, which had not happened since former spokesman retired Rear Adm. John Kirby left the DOD in 2015. The move comes shortly after chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White abruptly resigned on Dec. 31. White was under investigation by the Defense Department Inspector General for unprofessional conduct, and had not briefed since May. Whitman had not yet appeared in a public briefing. On Tuesday, Navy Reserve Capt. Charles Summers took over as acting assistant to the Secretary of Defense for public affairs and chief spokesperson. Summers’ permanent job is as principal deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for public affairs. —Brian Everstine

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RADAR SWEEP


The Roll-Out of the Air Force’s New Combat Uniform Gains Steam
The Air Force will ramp up its effort to adopt the new Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform across the entire service in 2019. Air Force Times

Air Force Looks for New Bomb Designs to Fight Russia and China
A growing cohort of Air Force researchers are arguing that the service needs to undergo a munitions revolution if it is to take on a peer-level adversary in open conflict. Air Force Times

Services Declare Breakthrough in LVC Training
Air Force and Navy officials are declaring success for a joint technology demonstration that tied jet fighters in the air with pilots operating simulators on the ground, who could all fly against computer-generated adversaries. National Defense Magazine

Russian Air Force Ready to Land in New Arctic Bases
In the course of 2018, pilots and crews of anti-submarine aircrafts Tu-142 and Il-38, as well as reconnaissance and attack aircraft Su-24MR, conducted more than 100 patrols over the Arctic Ocean. The Barents Observer

Dirty Waters: Civilian-Military Relations Are Growing Toxic
With his New Year’s tweet attacking retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal — “fired like a dog by President Obama . . . a total bust. Known for big, dumb mouth” and, worst of all, “Hillary lover!” — Donald Trump is close to completing the alienation of the “Deck of Cards,” the military leaders who achieved the greatest successes of the post-9/11 Middle East wars. American Enterprise Institute

One More Thing …

Virtual Reality Presentation Ends with Real-Life Proposal
Everyone in the room knew what was about to happen except Staff Sgt. Nori Sannoh. USAF release