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F-22 Demonstration Team members inspect an aircraft Oct. 31, 2019, at Moody AFB, Ga. Air Force photo by Amn. Azaria Foster.​

​F-22’s Agile Developers to Deliver First Link 16 Capability Next Year

Lockheed Martin is rolling out a set of new software and hardware improvements to the F-22 Raptor using agile development, an iterative approach that the Air Force is applying to a growing number of programs. A first release that includes Link 16 updates, with a handful of data messages and new hardware to transmit them, is expected to begin flight testing at the beginning of 2020. Read the full story by Shaun Waterman.

Barrett Ceremonially Sworn in at USAFA

Newly arrived Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett reaffirmed her commitment to the service, its core values, and its airmen Nov. 2 at a ceremonial swearing in at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. “The airmen who wear our nation’s uniform are our greatest asset and treasure, and we have no greater charge than to develop and care for them and their families,” Barrett said. Read the full story by Jennifer Hlad.

ISR Operations Begin at Nigerien Air Base 201

Air operations, armed and unarmed, are now underway from the Air Force’s newest operating location in Africa. Nigerien Air Base 201 started intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance flights after the US and Niger finished the long process of reaching an agreement that allows armed and unarmed assets to fly in the country, US Africa Command said in a Nov. 1 statement. The pact aims to strengthen a partnership to fight violent extremist groups in the region. “We are working with our African and international partners to counter security threats in West Africa,” US Africa Command boss Army Gen. Stephen Townsend said. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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Senate Confirms New STRATCOM Boss

The Senate on Oct. 31 confirmed Navy Vice Adm. Chas Richard by voice vote to be the next commander of US Strategic Command. Richard, who will become a full admiral as part of the promotion, will replace Air Force Gen. John Hyten in the position. Hyten is slated to take over as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Richard will oversee STRATCOM at a time of change within the command, as the space portfolio shifts to the newly created US Space Command and as the nature of strategic combat assets evolves. Richard will also oversee large-scale modernization programs such as the B-21 Raider bomber and Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent nuclear missiles. —Brian Everstine

Spangdahlem F-16s to Train Alongside Israeli F-35s

US aircraft are flying alongside Israeli F-35s in exercise Blue Flag 2019, marking the first time the fifth-generation aircraft have participated in Israel’s premiere training exercise. F-16s and airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, deployed to the country for the five-day exercise that runs through Nov. 7. About 1,000 personnel from Israel, the US, Germany, Italy, and Greece, are taking part, according to The Jerusalem Post. The exercise will include blue-on-red dogfights, along with simulated ground-to-air scenarios. Israel has 14 Lockheed Martin-built Joint Strike Fighters, called the F-35I Adir, and plans to purchase a total of 50. —Brian Everstine

B-52 Flies With Saudi F-15s at Prince Sultan AB

US aircraft continued their high-profile operations in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 1, when a B-52 flew alongside four F-15Cs from host country. The B-52—deployed to Europe from Barksdale AFB, La., for a bomber task force—flew alongside the four Saudi jets over Prince Sultan Air Base. Last week, four Air Force B-1s flew directly to that base for a short-term deployment. USAF F-22s and Navy E/A-18G Growlers recently arrived there as well. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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RADAR SWEEP


Two More Women Attempt Air Force Special Warfare Training Courses
Two more women are attempting to enter the US Air Force's combat controller and pararescue (PJ) battlefield airman career fields. The women, who were not identified for privacy reasons, are the first to enter the official training pipelines of those career fields, according to 1st Lt. Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman for the Special Warfare Training Wing. Military.com

ISIS Names Successor to Slain Leader Al-Baghdadi
ISIS named Abu Ibrahim Hashimi al-Quraishi in a message posted by its official media wing, according to the security consulting firm and NBC News partner Flashpoint. NBC News

North Korea Says it Test-Fired New Multiple Rocket Launcher
North Korea confirmed Nov. 1 it conducted its third test-firing of a new "super-large" multiple rocket launcher that it says expands its ability to destroy enemy targets in surprise attacks. The latest launches extended a monthslong streak of weapons displays by the North, which continues to use a standstill in nuclear negotiations to advance its military capabilities while pressuring Washington for concessions. Associated Press via ABC News

Options Abound for New Intermediate-Range Missiles
The Pentagon’s plan to develop a new class of missiles could provide important capabilities, but they will come with a hefty price tag, analysts say. National Defense Magazine

Houthi Rebels Claim They Shot Down a US Drone
Houthi rebels said they shot down a US drone that was spying on them in Yemen on Nov. 1. Group spokesman Yehia Serie said the drone was a ScanEagle unmanned aircraft. UPI

AFIMSC Seeks Ideas for Innovation Rodeo
The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center kicks off its second annual Innovation Rodeo with a call-for-topics campaign Nov. 1. The campaign, open through Dec. 15, gives military and civilian members of mission support groups worldwide a chance to win part of $1 million in funding and resources to implement their ideas. USAF release

Defense Innovation Board Lays Out 5 Key Principles for Ethical AI
The guidance is intended to steer the department’s expanding AI portfolio and reassure the public that military leaders take concerns about bias, transparency, and accountability seriously. Nextgov

One More Thing …

DeepMind’s AI Has Now Outcompeted Nearly All Human Players at StarCraft II
This was quite a feat. StarCraft II is highly complex, with 1026 choices for every move. It’s also a game of imperfect information—and there are no definitive strategies for winning. The achievement marked a new level of machine intelligence. The results, published in Nature on Oct. 30, could have important implications for applications ranging from machine translation to digital assistants or even military planning. MIT Technology Review(subscription required)