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​USAF 2nd Lt. Charles Keller and A1C Tyler Haselden, Pilot Training Next students, train on a virtual reality flight simulator at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Austin, Texas, on June 21, 2018. Air Force photo by Sean Worrell.

​AFWERX, AETC Look to Improve AI Capabilities in Second Pilot Training Next Class

The Air Force is hoping to improve the capabilities of the artificial intelligence coach in the second Pilot Training Next class, which will launch in the next few weeks. In October 2018, AFWERX launched an open challenge for the second phase of the program, promising to spend up to $300,000 “for the right set of upgrades and solution trials” and noting the program “has the potential to reach $100 million or more in contracts over time.” AFWERX received 150 different submissions in response to its challenge to help advance pilot training. From there, five business concepts were selected, and each submitter was awarded $50,000 to further refine their concept. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

Air Force Sets a Date, Location for Small Business Pitch Day

The Air Force has set a date and time for its planned “pitch day” to startups for fast contracts aimed at innovative ideas for “tough problems.” The first event is scheduled for March 6 and 7 in New York, where the Air Force will have $40 million ready to award in a one-day, one-page contract with the swipe of a government credit card for small businesses, startups, and universities with convincing proposals to address issues the Air Force faces, Will Roper, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, wrote in a Friday article in Fast Company. To get started, the Air Force this month is posting challenges on websites such as LinkedIn, and giving companies 30 days to submit a proposal and pitch deck. These companies will then be invited to the New York event. “If we’re impressed by a concept and company, we sign, swipe, and say ‘Congratulations! You’ve partnered with the United States Air Force!’” Roper wrote. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson previewed the event in November, saying the goal is to find “innovative ideas to solve tough problems.” —Brian Everstine


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DOD Extends Border Support Mission

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Monday approved an extension of the military’s US border support mission through Sept. 30, 2019, extending the deployment of military members for a mission that will now last at least 11 months. The Department of Homeland Security on Dec. 27, 2018 requested additional support form the Pentagon, according to a DOD release. “DOD is transitioning its support at the southwestern border from hardening ports of entry to mobile surveillance and detection, as well as concertina wire emplacement between ports of entry,” the release states. “DOD will continue to provide aviation support.” The mission, which briefly was called Operation Faithful Patriot before the name was rescinded, began in October with the deployment of more than 5,200 Active Duty troops to the border. Currently, there are approximately 2,350 Active Duty forces at the border, according to The Associated Press. —Brian Everstine

Air Force Reserve Unveils App for Maintainers Aimed at Saving Time and Stress

Air Force Reserve recently unveiled a mobile application for maintainers to reduce stress and time by giving airmen direct access to the maintenance database at the point of repair. The Battle Record Information Core Environment, or BRICE app, was designed by AFRC, Headquarters Air Force, and Monkton. AFRC expects about 100 users to be enrolled by next month, according to a release. Currently, airmen must leave the flight line and use a desktop computer to sign in and access the maintenance data system. By having this new system available on a handheld device, 81 percent of maintainers were able to save at least an hour per day during testing at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.

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Correction

A Radar Sweep item in the Jan. 15 Daily Report incorrectly identified the author of an opinion piece. It was former Republican Congressman Mike Rogers from Michigan, not former Republican Congressman Mike Rogers from Alabama, who was one of the first to suggest the idea of a separate service for space. We have corrected the original entry.

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RADAR SWEEP


Iran Is Preparing A Launch. But Is It For A Space Rocket Or A Missile?
About once a day, little satellites zip over northern Iran and snap a few pictures of the Imam Khomeini Space Center. The satellites, operated by a company in San Francisco called Planet, haven't recorded much — until recently. NPR

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal From Veterans in Burn Pit Lawsuit Against KBR, Halliburton
The US Supreme Court has rejected an appeal in which veterans sought to hold private companies responsible for their use of open-air burn pits that have been linked to scores of often fatal illnesses, from cancers to neurological damage. Military Times

Academy to Gain 40 More AMTs
The Air Force Academy’s cadet squadrons are scheduled to gain 40 noncommissioned officers by 2020. Each cadet squadron currently has one Academy Military Training NCO. The AMT serves in a leadership role while also performing key administrative and developmental duties. USAFA News

Dragon Back on Earth as Crew Revs Up Station Science
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is back on Earth after splashing down in the Pacific Ocean Sunday night loaded with critical space research and International Space Station hardware. Four spaceships remain parked at the orbital lab including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship from the United States. NASA

Japanese Worker Dies in Construction Accident at Kadena Air Base
A Japanese worker was killed in a collision at a construction site Tuesday morning at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, Japanese police said. Stars and Stripes

One More Thing…

Holy Cow! Mysterious Blast Studied with NASA Telescopes
A brief and unusual flash spotted in the night sky on June 16, 2018, puzzled astronomers and astrophysicists across the globe. The event—called AT2018cow and nicknamed "the Cow" after the coincidental final letters in its official name—is unlike any celestial outburst ever seen before, prompting multiple theories about its source. NASA