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An F-35A Lightning II takes off at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 1, 2019. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw.


USAF to Stand Up F-35 Aggressor Squadron at Nellis

The Air Force announced it is bringing back the 65th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., with F-35s to provide enhanced training for other fifth-generation aircraft. The squadron inactivated in 2014 due to budget cuts, and will once again begin receiving aircraft in 2022. The service also announced it will stand up another F-35A training squadron at Eglin AFB, Fla. Read the full story by Brian Everstine and Amy McCullough.

Offutt Flood Recovery Cost Tops $650 Million

Twenty facilities at Offutt AFB, Neb., can’t be saved in the aftermath of a blizzard whose floodwaters covered one-third of the base in March, while another 10 can still be repaired, according to an Air Force spokesman. All told, the service currently needs $420 million for operations, maintenance, and construction—split between $120 million for O&M and facilities sustainment and $300 million for military construction—plus another $234 million for training devices. A new Program Management Office will oversee the base’s recovery. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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Mad Hatter Begins Delivering Apps to F-35 Flightline

Mad Hatter, the Air Force-led software coding effort tackling the F-35’s troubled Autonomic Logistics Information System, delivered its initial applications to the flightline at Nellis AFB, Nev., last week, a service official said May 9. While the first two apps don’t directly interact with ALIS, future projects will. Steve Wert, the Air Force’s digital program executive officer, also pointed to new blue suit agile software development groups launching around the country, and said his office will hold two Pitch Days for Kessel Run and unmanned aircraft in July. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Lord: F-35 Will Take a Hit on Schedule, Cost if Turkey is Out

The F-35 program is expected to suffer both cost increases and schedule delays if Turkey is ousted from the 11-nation development and production partnership, but the Defense Department is taking steps to replace Turkey’s contribution should that happen, Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord told reporters May 10. She also said the partner nations support the US position that Turkey can’t have the F-35 if it insists on going ahead with buying the Russian S400 air defense system. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

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F-15s Forward Deploy in CENTCOM as B-52s Arrive

Air Forces Central Command forward deployed F-15Cs in the Middle East as part of the surge of forces to the region, which also includes a deployment of B-52s and a Carrier Strike Group. The F-15Cs, deployed from RAF Lakenheath, England, moved to an undisclosed location to “stand ready to provide defense from any threat,” according to AFCENT photographs. The Eagles, from the 493rd Fighter Squadron, touched down at the new operating base on May 8, the same day the first two B-52s from Barksdale AFB, La., deployed to CENTCOM. Two more B-52s touched down on May 9. The deployments are in response to “credible” threats from Iran toward US forces and interests in the region, senior Pentagon and White House officials have said. —Brian Everstine

US Aircraft Strike ISIS in Somalia Twice in Two Days

US aircraft targeted ISIS affiliates inside Somalia twice within two days, reportedly killing 17 fighters. The first strike, conducted May 8 on an encampment in the Golis Mountains, killed 13 ISIS members, although post-strike analysis is continuing. On May 9, a strike targeting ISIS training and recruitment in Puntland killed four. Since April 14, US Africa Command has conducted four strikes on ISIS in Somalia, according to an AFRICOM release. "There is a deliberate campaign underway, that is intelligence-driven, that capitalizes on what we learn during each operation, and rapidly [leverages] that information to drive the next operation, including discovering where terrorists may be training, massing, and preparing to commit atrocities,” AFRICOM Director of Intelligence Rear Adm. Heidi Berg said in a release. AFRICOM has increased its rate of strikes on both ISIS and Al Shabaab inside the country, supporting African Union Mission in Somalia and the Federal Government of Somalia. —Brian Everstine
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RADAR SWEEP


Experts See Russia Fingerprints on North Korea’s New Missile
The three new missiles North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has tested over the past week are eerily familiar to military experts: They look just like a controversial and widely copied missile the Russian military has deployed to Syria and has been actively trying to sell abroad for years. Associated Press

New Mexico Wants Lake on Air Force Base Closed
New Mexico’s top prosecutor is demanding that the U.S. Air Force close a publicly accessible lake at Holloman Air Force Base, saying Thursday the concentration of hazardous chemicals at the site poses a risk to public health and the environment. AP

How a New Plan Aims to Keep Military Spouses Working
In an effort to help military spouses hold onto their jobs, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced new legislation Thursday to create universal licensing standards for a host of professions and to modify state residency rules to ease barriers for frequently moving families. Military Times

After US Complaint, Canada to Soften Rules for Jet Competition to Allow Lockheed Martin Bid
Canada is softening the rules of its multibillion-dollar competition for 88 new fighter jets to allow Lockheed Martin Corp to submit a bid, following a complaint by Washington, a Canadian government source said on Thursday. Reuters

One More Thing …

A 100-year-old Army Vet Who Fought Nazis From a Tank Named for His Wife Was Just Knighted by France
Vernon Foster, a centenarian, World War II tank commander and retired Baltimore County dairy farmer is now a French knight. Foster, 100, fought the Nazis in France and Germany during the war from his Sherman tank "Dottie," named after his wife. The Baltimore Sun via Task and Purpose