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​A KC-10 Extender prepares to refuel an F-35A Lightning II above an undisclosed location, April 30, 2019. It was first air interdiction for USAF’s F-35 fleet during the type’s inaugural deployment to the Air Forces Central Command. Air Force photo by SSgt. Chris Drzazgowski.

USAF F-35A Makes Combat Debut, Drops JDAM on ISIS Network in Iraq

An F-35A from the 4th Fighter Squadron out of Hill AFB, Utah, made the first combat release of ordnance for the Air Force variant of the Joint Strike Fighter on April 30, according to a US Air Forces Central press release. The target was a Daesh/Islamic State tunnel network and weapons depot in Wadi Ashai, Iraq. The mission occurred just two weeks after the unit arrived for its first Middle East deployment and 32 months after the Air Force declared initial operational capability with the F-35A at Hill. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

A Tyndall Plan Is Ready, But Will Funding Follow?

A master plan that dictates how the Air Force will rebuild Tyndall AFB, Fla., is complete, but starting Wednesday, the service won’t be able to carry out most of the blueprint unless it receives additional money from Congress. As of May 1, the Air Force will stop signing new contracts for Tyndall recovery efforts until supplemental funding comes through, which threatens to put the nearly $5 billion restoration behind schedule. The service’s top official for installations will press lawmakers for funds on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

GAO Finds Poor Conditions, Delayed Maintenance Timelines at Depots

The Air Force’s three depots are plagued with expired equipment and have shown steadily decreasing on-time performance, prompting two of them to be listed in overall “poor” condition, the Government Accountability Office states in a new report. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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Senate Confirms EUCOM, USAFE, AFRICOM Nominees

The Senate on Monday confirmed a series of senior nominations, including the heads of US European Command, US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, and US Africa Command. Former USAFE boss Gen. Tod Wolters has been confirmed as the new EUCOM boss and NATO Supreme Allied Commander. USAF Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, previously the head of Air Forces Central Command, will receive his fourth star and replace him at USAFE. The Senate also confirmed Army Gen. Stephen Townsend to lead AFRICOM. Townsend previously commanded Army Training and Doctrine Command, and was a previous commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The USAFE change of command is scheduled for Wednesday, and the other two will be held later this week. —Brian Everstine

Boeing Gets $5.7 Billion for KC-46 Work

The Air Force on Monday awarded Boeing another $5.7 billion for 10 years of work on the KC-46 tanker. The contract for KC-46 Pegasus combat capability covers a “broad range” of post-production, non-recurring and recurring requirements focused on user-directed and Federal Aviation Administration-mandated needs, according to a Pentagon release. Work is expected to last until April 28, 2029, and will cover currently undisclosed enhanced capabilities for the aircraft. The contract comes as the service and Boeing are still working through deficiencies related to the aircraft’s remote vision system and refueling boom. The Air Force on April 20 began receiving KC-46s again after the second delivery pause due to debris found inside the aircraft. As part of the pause, the Air Force and Boeing agreed to a new inspection process to ensure foreign object debris is not left in the aircraft. —Brian Everstine

US Throws Support Behind Venezuelan Opposition Leader as Clashes Flare

The US military and diplomatic leaders came out in support of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s uprising on Tuesday, calling for new leadership to take over. Guaido, who declared himself the interim president of Venezuela more than three months ago after a contested election, called for the military to join him, prompting clashes between pro-government forces and those who defected to Guaido’s side. The US has long supported Guaido, and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a Twitter statement the American government is behind him and “the people of Venezuela in their quest for freedom and democracy as they take back their country.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added the US government fully supports the people, and “democracy cannot be defeated.” White House National Security Adviser John Bolton would not rule out military options on Tuesday, telling reporters that “all options are on the table” and would not be more specific. The US military and State Department have provided aid to Venezuelan people during the unrest, flying C-17s and C-130s to Colombia in February. —Brian Everstine

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RADAR SWEEP


AFRL, Ohio UAS Center to Test Defence Drone Technology
The Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory are set to start testing ground-breaking aviation technology after receiving regulatory approval earlier this month. Air Force Technology

Senators Urge Regulators to Quickly Approve Drone Identification Rules
Two U.S. senators on Monday urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to finalize a long-delayed rule that would require the remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems, or drones. Reuters

Here’s How B-2 Bomber Pilots Pull Off Grueling 33-Hour Flights
Being a B-2 pilot means experiencing the rush of takeoff and the pressure of weapons drops while flying in the nation’s only stealth bomber. But it also involves having to manage nap times with your co-pilot during daylong-plus flights. Defense News

Victims of Military Medical Malpractice to Testify Before Congress
Victims of malpractice by military doctors will testify Tuesday in Washington, D.C., on the devastating impact of medical errors and the legal barriers they faced in suing the federal government for the mistakes. Military.com

Boeing Awarded $127.6M Contract for Nuclear Bomb Life Extension
Boeing has been awarded a $127.6 million contract for the Air Force's B61-12 nuclear bomb life extension program. UPI

Air Force Taps Academia to Expand Hypersonic Testing Facilities
The U.S. Air Force is partnering with Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana to expand its testing facilities for future hypersonic technologies. ExecutiveGov

One More Thing …

Harness-Wearing Whale Was “Trained by Russian Military,” Researchers Say
Fishermen off Norway's northern coast were astonished last week when they spotted a beluga whale wearing a harness, complete with mounts for a camera. CNN