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​A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth AFB, S.D., descends after conducting air refueling operations with a KC-135R assigned to the Utah Air National Guard’s 151st Air Refueling Wing on Sept. 30, 2019, over central Utah. ANG photo by TSgt. John Winn.

​CSIS Suggests Major Aircraft Retirements as Routes to USAF’s $30 Billion Shift

One way the Air Force could come up with the $30 billion it says it’s shifting from “legacy” systems to urgent new priorities would be to retire eight major aircraft, including two bomber fleets, according to Todd Harrison, writing for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  Harrison’s route isn’t the only one USAF could take, and he cautions it’s not a “recommendation,” but wholesale retirements save the most in the least amount of time, he said. The analysis was based on Harrison’s own work as well as hints dropped by senior USAF leaders in recent months. Read the whole story by John A. Tirpak.

Light Attack Effort Could Spur Armed Overwatch Experiment

The Air Force’s pursuit of a light attack aircraft may split into two separate tracks: one that continues down the road to procurement and another that looks into new options for armed overwatch, USAF acquisition boss Will Roper said Nov. 12. Special operations forces have been particularly vocal about the need for armed overwatch, which is currently provided by platforms like the MQ-9 Reaper and the AC-130J gunship. “There are systems right now that we don’t really think of as being in the [US Special Operations Command] portfolio, like MQ-9s, that we’d like to explore and see, can they do a better job?” Roper said. “Experimentation with systems we have now, I think is a great way to try to go after that role.” Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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October Airstrikes Ramp Up Against Islamic State, Drop in Afghanistan

US-managed airstrikes in Afghanistan dropped in October but rose in Iraq and Syria, according to new data published by Air Forces Central Command. In Afghanistan, the number of airstrikes by manned and unmanned platforms dipped from 948 in September to 777 in October. In Iraq and Syria, the airstrike tally rose slightly to 166 in October from 137 in September. The US began withdrawing the bulk of its forces from Syria in early October, though Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon could continue air support there. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

US Kills Al-Shabaab Member in Somalia Airstrike

American forces killed a terrorist affiliated with the al-Shabaab group in a Nov. 12 airstrike, US Africa Command announced. The strike was part of an ongoing partnership with the Somali government to “maintain pressure on al-Shabaab’s network and levels of leadership while countering violent extremist intentions and actions,” AFRICOM Operations Director Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler said in a release. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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RADAR SWEEP


The Pentagon’s Invisible Man Is Winning Washington’s Power Game
Defense Secretary Mark Esper is quiet, deferential—and on his way to becoming the Trump administration’s most influential player. Foreign Policy (subscription required)

SECDEF: Expect “Trimming, Reducing, Some Eliminations” in 2021 Budget
Pentagon officials are “making good progress” in their review of bureaucracy intended to cut fat and shift funds to high-priority efforts to counter Chinese and Russian military advancements, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Nov. 11. Defense One

Turkey’s S-400 Buy May Have Spoiled Gulf Nations’ Chances of Flying the F-35
Two years ago, the Dubai Airshow was abuzz with the news that the United States was preparing to open talks with the United Arab Emirates about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, signaling that US officials perhaps believed the time was right for an Arabian Gulf nation to get its hands on one of the most highly anticipated and sensitive pieces of American technology. But as this year’s Dubai Airshow kicks off, that buzz has quieted, and the status of those bilateral engagements are unclear. Defense News

Police: Four Afghan National Army Personnel “Mistakenly Killed in Airstrike” in Logar
At least four Afghan National Army personnel were killed by “friendly fire” in the eastern province of Logar on the night of Nov. 11, provincial police claim. According to Logar police spokesman Shahpoor Ahmadzai, a US airstrike “mistakenly” targeted an army outpost when it came under Taliban attack and Afghan forces called for air support. TOLOnews

Google Looks Past Project Maven to Work Anew with the Pentagon
More than a year after pulling out of a contract with the Pentagon that relied on technologies based on artificial intelligence to sort through drone videos, Google says it is ready to work with the Defense Department on a wide variety of applications that don’t involve weapons. CQ Roll Call

Air Force Testing Novel ISR Sensors for LEO Sats
The Air Force’s ground-breaking Rogue CubeSats will launch from the International Space Station in early 2020 to test new short-wave infrared (SWIR) sensors that can see through smoke and haze, as well as process the gathered imagery.  Breaking Defense

Court Rules VA Must Pay for Veterans' Emergency Room Care, a Decision That May Be Worth Billions
The Department of Veterans Affairs must reimburse veterans for emergency medical care at non-VA facilities, a federal appeals court ruled on Nov. 11—a decision that could be worth billions of dollars to veterans. NBC News

One More Thing …

How a Former British Paratrooper Prepared Actors in “1917” to Fight World War I's Devastating Battles
Creating a realistic battle scene—whether it's from World War II or the Napoleonic Wars—demands technical know-how and precise attention to detail. Paul Biddiss, the military technical adviser on the upcoming World War I movie "1917," taught the actors everything they needed to know, from proper foot care to how to hold a weapon, "which allows the actor to concentrate on his primary task. Acting!" Biddis told Insider. Business Insider