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​Airmen from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings return home on Nov. 1, 2019, following a six-month deployment to Al-Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The 4th Fighter Squadron's deployment was the first F-35A Lightning II combat deployment. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw.

​Hill AFB F-35 Crews Return Home After First Combat Deployment

Airmen from Hill AFB, Utah, recently completed their first six-month combat deployment with the F-35. On Nov. 1, airmen from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings returned home to Hill after moving to Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates. Joint Strike Fighters and airmen deployed in April for close air support missions to counter the Islamic State group as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, along with “regional deterrence against aggressors,” according to a Nov. 4 Hill release. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

SASC Warns Impeachment Could Stymie Defense Policy Bill

Lawmakers are running low on time to agree on a 2020 defense policy bill by the end of the calendar year, an issue that could be made worse if Congress goes forward with presidential impeachment proceedings. The Senate only has about three weeks of scheduled legislative days left in 2020, and the House has about two weeks.“Congress has a lot on its plate,” a staffer assigned to the Senate Armed Services Committee said in a Nov. 3 email. “The Senate’s time could be devoted entirely to impeachment in December and likely well into January, leaving no room for legislating.” The timing is key because earlier authorizations are set to expire. Congress is usually able to renew them by the end of the year. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

USAF Leaders Considering Arsenal Plane Options

The Air Force is planning experiments and briefing senior leaders on progress toward its “arsenal plane” idea, looking at multiple aircraft options to fly with a large weapons cache to back up strike assets. An arsenal plane would be a multi-engine platform that accompanies remotely piloted aircraft and fighter jets in combat and totes “network-enabled, semi-autonomous weapons,” according to a 2016 Air Force video. Senior leaders are still discussing the concept, which has been around for years under the Defense Department’s Strategic Capabilities Office. But while the possibility of using a mobility platform to perform that role may be on the table, some experts say the Air Force should look elsewhere. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to Display F-117

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., will display an F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter starting in December. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute on Nov. 4 announced the F-117—Tail No. 803, nicknamed “Unexpected Guest”—will be unveiled Dec. 7 at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum. The jet is on loan from the National Museum of the US Air Force and will be on permanent display at the library. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

SMC Launch Team Wins DOD’s Top Acquisition Award

The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s launch enterprise has won the Defense Department’s highest award for acquisition teams, the 2019 David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award, the service said Nov. 1. “SMC’s launch enterprise team crafted an acquisition strategy of innovative public-private investments in launch vehicle development, resulting in the continuous delivery of acquisition performance with both affordability and speed,” the center said in a release. The award is named for David Packard, a former deputy defense secretary from 1968-1971 and a co-founder of technology giant Hewlett-Packard. It was instituted in 1997 and went to another SMC team in 2018. —Rachel S. Cohen

USAF Pilots Fly F-35Bs From Amphibious Assault Ship

Two Air Force pilots on Sep. 27 flew F-35Bs from the amphibious assault ship USS America in the Eastern Pacific, marking the first time airmen flew the Marine Corps variant of the Joint Strike Fighter at sea. Capts. Spencer Weide and Justin Newman, both assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 at MCAS Yuma, Ariz., flew the aircraft as part of an integrated training exercise, according to a Nov. 1 Air Force release. “Integrated training like this is important because we operate off of a ship, and we get to learn the naval and Marine warfare functions,” Newman said in the release. “This will allow us to return the knowledge back to the Air Force for better future integration.” —Brian Everstine

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Air Force Looking for Ideas on How to Turn Launch Ranges into “National Spaceports”
The Air Force Space Command will hold a tabletop exercise this week focused on the future of military launch facilities and how they can support growth in commercial space. The exercise, to be held Nov. 5-7 in Chantilly, Va., is an effort by Air Force Space Command to gather ideas on how to transform the military’s launch ranges into multi-use national spaceports that can better accommodate national security, civil, and commercial launch demands. Space News

What the Air Force Can Learn from These Experimental Satellites
The Air Force launched two experimental cubesats Nov. 2 that could provide key insights on the viability of fielding a proliferated constellation of satellites in low earth orbit in the next few years. C4ISRNET

Pentagon's Draft AI Ethics Guidelines Fight Bias and Rogue Machines
The Defense Innovation Board just published draft guidelines for artificial intelligence ethics at the Defense Department that aim to keep the emerging technology in check. Some of them are more practical (such as demanding reliability) or have roots in years-old policies (demanding human responsibility at every stage), but others are relatively novel for both the public and private spheres. Engadget

GAO: Comprehensive Planning and Oversight Could Help DOD Acquire Space Command and Control Capabilities
“The Air Force has been working to develop a single modernized computer system to enable more effective operations of military and other government satellites and space systems. Such a system could better respond to threats ranging from jamming attacks to space debris,” the US Government Accountability Office writes. “The past three programs to attempt this have ended up significantly behind schedule and over budget. The programs also deferred more difficult work.” GAO report

CISA, DARPA Offer Look into Their Dealings with Deepfakes
Agency and industry officials this week detailed their efforts to improve public resiliency, streamline communication, and accelerate technical solutions to counter the threats posed by deepfakes and other disinformation techniques ahead of next year’s election. Nextgov

Dutch Receive First Operationally-Assigned F-35A
The first operationally-assigned Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter for the Royal Netherlands Air Force arrived in country on Oct. 31. Jane’s Defence Weekly(subscription required)

Luke AFB Selected as Candidate for Belgium F-35 Training
Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett selected Luke AFB, Ariz., as a candidate to host a Belgium F-35A Foreign Military Sales Formal Training Unit for up to seven years, starting in 2023. USAF release

OPINION: Through a Gender Lens: The Need for Robust Research into Diversity and Military Effectiveness
“Conflicts will continue to develop and evolve in the future, and the complexity of warfighting will continue to confound its wisest scholars,” writes Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jeanette Gaudry Haynie, founder and executive director of the Athena Leadership Project. “By building a fuller understanding of the tools at our disposal, particularly diversity of perspective and thought within the military, we can increase the effectiveness of leaders, improve the development and implementation of policy, and better understand security as a whole.” Council on Foreign Relations

One More Thing …

Breaking Bad at Kirtland: OSI Investigates Suspected Fake Meth Handed Out to Trick-or-Treaters
It seems someone at Kirtland AFB, N.M., may have gone as Walter White for Halloween. Some trick-or-treaters going door to door in Kirtland’s on-base residential area last night ended up with small plastic pill baggies containing a crystalline blue substance, Kirtland spokeswoman Eva Blaylock confirmed to Air Force Times on Nov. 1. Although the substance resembles the “blue sky” crystal methamphetamine cooked up by the antihero of the show “Breaking Bad”—which was set in nearby Albuquerque—Blaylock said it was believed to be rock candy. But the Office of Special Investigations at Kirtland isn’t laughing. Air Force Times