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​An MQ-1B Predator, like the one shown here in Southwest Asia, crashed on Aug. 17, 2017 at an undisclosed location in the US Central Command area of operations. Air Force photo by SrA. Damon Kasberg.

​Electrical Failure Caused August 2017 MQ-1 Crash

An electrical failure caused an MQ-1B Predator to fall from the sky and crash at an undisclosed location in US Central Command on Aug. 17, 2017, according to an accident investigation board report released on Wednesday. The remotely piloted aircraft, which was being flown by a crew at Creech AFB, Nev., had just been handed over to the launch crew when an electrical cable failed. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Tyndall AFB to Hold First Industry Day for $3 Billion Rebuild

Tyndall AFB, Fla., on Jan. 31 will convene its contractor community for its first industry day focused on rebuilding the base since the site was decimated by Hurricane Michael in October 2018. The sold-out event is expected to cover the current state of the installation, discuss future plans, and offer timelines for restoring the base. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Air Force Assistant Secretary for Installations, Environment, and Energy John Henderson, 325th Fighter Wing commander Col. Brian Laidlaw, Tyndall Program Management Office Director Col. Scott Matthews, Air Force installation-planning expert Amy Vandeveer, Air Force Civil Engineer Center Director Terry Edwards, and unnamed other service leaders will speak, a service spokeswoman told Air Force Magazine. —Rachel S. Cohen

Data Evolution, Cyber Threats Under Scrutiny on Capitol Hill

Faced with mounting cyber threats from China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, defense and intelligence community officials testifying before two Senate committees this week stressed the importance of developing algorithms to help root out disinformation and to secure the military’s supply chain. The US intelligence community’s unclassified 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment report raises cyber and data issues as top concerns, and notes China and Russia’s strategic interests are growing more closely aligned. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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AETC Creates New Directorates to Further Force Development

Air Education and Training Command will stand up three new directorates to “refocus the headquarters on force-development efforts,” including an intelligence, analysis, and innovation group, an operations and communications group, and a plans, programs, and requirements group, the service said in a Jan. 28 press release. Gen. Stephen Wilson, the service’s vice chief of staff, approved the reorganization Dec. 13, 2018. “This reorganization allows the Headquarters AETC staff to focus on broader force-development responsibilities, ensuring policy and strategy are aligned within the command and across the entire Air Force developmental enterprise,” according to the service. “This change empowers the commanders of 2nd Air Force and 19th AF to lead and accomplish their operational, technical, and flying training missions.” AETC is exploring a broad revamp of Air Force education through its software-driven “Pilot Training Next” initiative, which aims to help graduate more pilots faster and is eventually expected to encompass other career fields. See also: The Future of Pilot Training from the January/February issue of Air Force Magazine. —Rachel S. Cohen

Pentagon IG to Probe USAF Aerial Refueling of Saudi-Led Coalition

The Defense Department Inspector General announced this week it is reviewing the military’s billing to partner nations for aerial refueling, including the US tanker support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, after repeated concerns have been raised on Capitol Hill about the issue. The DOD IG, in a letter to Pentagon leadership, the Air Force, US Central Command, and US Africa Command, said the audit began in January and its objective is to determine if the military is “billing and obtaining full reimbursement from partner nations for refueling missions” in CENTCOM and AFRICOM. The Pentagon has said accounting errors caused the military to lowball its cost for refueling Saudi and United Arab Emirates jets. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said in December that the Saudi-led coalition owes US taxpayers $331 million for aerial refueling. The US military in December 2015 began refueling jets for the Saudi-led coalition, with support ending late last year. —Brian Everstine

Stakeholders: Recent Space Industry Layoffs Don’t Spark Wider Concerns

Commercial space industry members and a top Air Force Space Command official this month downplayed the idea that a recent spate of layoffs—including about 600 SpaceX employees—may indicate deeper sustainability problems in the nearly $400 billion sector. Panelists at the Space Foundation’s annual “State of Space” event also suggested a Space Development Agency should create opportunities for large and small companies alike and remove burdensome requirements from contract agreements. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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Royal Netherlands Air Force Rolls Out First Operational F-35A

The Royal Netherlands Air Force and Lockheed Martin rolled out the first Dutch operational F-35A during a Wednesday ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas, that switched between a formal business event and a rave with DJs and laser lights. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
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RADAR SWEEP


Pentagon Chief Backs Space Force—But As Part of the Air Force
Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan has recommended that a new Space Force be established within the Air Force, making it a separate branch akin to the Marine Corps, which is part of the Navy but not a fully fledged military department. Politico

Lockheed Martin Defends F-35 Joint Strike Fighter After Criticism From Defense Chief
Executives from Bethesda, Md., defense giant Lockheed Martin sought to reassure investors after a top Defense Department official criticized the cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a nearly $90-million jet that is the crown jewel of Lockheed’s business, in a news conference Tuesday morning. LA Times

DOD Official Describes Missile Defense Strategy
James H. Anderson, the assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities, spoke about the 2019 Missile Defense Review at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Jan. 29. He noted that the strategy covers the Defense Department’s three lines of effort: lethality, partnership and reform. DOD

Air Force Announces 2019 Spark Tank Finalists
The Air Force recently announced the 2019 Spark Tank finalists who will showcase their innovative ideas to Air Force senior leaders Feb. 28, in Orlando, Florida, at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium. AFSPC News