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​​​​F-22 Raptors from JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, fly in formation over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, July 18, 2019. Air Force photo by SSgt. James Richardson.

​​USAF Logs Fewer Severe Aviation Mishaps in Fiscal 2019

Fiscal 2019 proved to be safer for the Air Force than the year before, with nine fewer of the most destructive mishaps compared to fiscal 2018, according to Air Force Safety Center data. The service logged 14 Class A mishaps between Oct. 1, 2018 and Sept. 30, 2019, compared to 23 Class A incidents during the same time the year before. Of those 14 Class A events, the majority involved fighter jets: six F-22s, two F-15s, and two F-16s. AFSC noted one fatality in fiscal 2019. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

USAF Ends Rescue Effort, Looks to Recover Lost Combat Controller

Air Force Special Operations Command has changed its search for a missing special tactics airman into a mission to recover his body. SSgt. Cole Condiff, 29, was a special tactics combat controller with AFSOC's 24th Special Operations Wing. He served in the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron. Military personnel have been searching for Condiff since he fell from a C-130 over the Gulf of Mexico during a static line jump in training Nov. 5. The Air Force and Navy are still conducting recovery efforts and USAF is investigating the incident. The Coast Guard suspended its search effort Nov. 8. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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Lockheed Completes First ATHENA Laser Demo for USAF
Lockheed Martin for the first time demonstrated a high-energy laser weapon’s ability to take out multiple small drones for the Air Force at the Army-hosted Maneuver and Fires Integrated Experiment last month. The Advanced Test High Energy Asset, or ATHENA system, shot down multiple fixed-wing and rotary drones during the test, according to a Nov. 7 company release. Lockheed spokesman Mark Lewis said the exact number cannot be made public. “The Air Force has strong interest in systems with ATHENA’s demonstrated success,” he said. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

USAF Buys 522 Laser Small Diameter Bombs from Boeing

Boeing on Nov. 7 received a $22.5 million Air Force contract to build 522 Laser Small Diameter Bombs for special operations forces, according to a Defense Department contract announcement. The funds also cover 131 warhead shipping containers. Work will run through Feb. 8, 2021. The LSDB is designed to hit moving ground and maritime targets. Air Force Special Operations Command had planned to integrate it onto the MQ-9 and reach full fielding in fiscal 2020, as a stepping stone to later put Raytheon’s more advanced Small Diameter Bomb II on the unmanned aircraft, Inside Defense reported in 2017 (subscription required). —Rachel S. Cohen

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Watch: SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 Rocket, Looks to Deepen Ties With DOD
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk spoke at a recent Air Force Pitch Day, a new type of event in which small-budget investments are made in various startups in the hopes of speeding up military access to new technologies. Musk spent a half hour on stage with Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, in a discussion that was mostly geared for Musk to give advice to the roughly 60 companies in attendance. CNN Wire via

The Air Force's New AC-130J Ghostrider Gunship is Working Overtime in Afghanistan
It's been just over four months since the Air Force's AC-130J Ghostrider kicked off combat missions in the skies above Afghanistan, and the aircraft that the service once described as "the ultimate battle plane" and "a bomb truck with guns on it" is already bringing the pain on a daily basis. Task & Purpose

New York Tech Firm Sold Chinese Equipment to US Military, Feds Say
A New York tech company made millions by selling Chinese-made equipment to the US military that it falsely claimed were built in the US, the Justice Department charged Nov. 7. NBC News

Stopgap Spending Bill Will Harm Military Readiness, Modernization Efforts: Pentagon
To avert a shutdown, President Donald Trump's director of legislative affairs signaled that the White House is inclined to support another stopgap spending bill, called a continuing resolution, or CR. But the Pentagon is sounding the alarm for how dangerous that temporary spending bill would be for military readiness. ABC News

Defense Intelligence Chief Paints Bleak Picture of the Space Battlefield
In a Nov. 7 keynote speech to a large crowd of space industry executives at the CyberSat 2019 conference, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley ran through a list of capabilities—including surface-to-air missiles, lasers, electronic jammers, co-orbital maneuvering satellites, and malware—that Russia and China have developed and continue to advance in order to target US satellites and ground control systems in a future conflict. China and Russia are also working on more complex “counter-space” capabilities designed to deny the US military access to its satellites, said Ashley. Space News

Department of Energy Not Studying Nuclear-Armed Hypersonic Weapons
Although hypersonic missiles are a top modernization priority for the Pentagon, there are no efforts underway to arm such weapons with nuclear warheads, according to an Energy Department leader. National Defense Magazine

Mitchell Dean on Hugh Hewitt National Radio
Retired Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute, spoke with Hugh Hewitt about the need to recapitalize USAF’s geriatric aircraft fleet, nuclear deterrence, and national security strategy.

DISA Previews Big Tech Opportunities for 2020
The Pentagon’s IT shop released a list of next year’s contracting opportunities, including 12 worth more than $100 million. Nextgov

One More Thing …

Check Out This Timelapse Video of the F-117 Being Restored for Public Display at the Ronald Reagan Library
The aircraft is currently being prepared for display at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., and Lockheed Martin has just shared an interesting clip showing the preparation of the stealth jet for the exhibition. The Aviationist