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​The Air Force Thunderbirds Demonstration Team perform a fly-over at Officer Training School Class 19-07’s commencement ceremony on Sept. 27, 2019, in Montgomery, Ala. Air Force photo by A1C Charles Welty.

Record-Breaking “Godzilla” Class Graduates Officer Training School

Air University’s Officer Training School graduated its largest-ever cohort—OTS Class 19-07, nicknamed the Godzilla class—on Sept. 27. A total of 651 students walked at the ceremony, out of the total class of 800. About 149 other trainees finished earlier through a special off-ramp program for certain non-line officer trainees. The class was so big that the ceremony had to be held at the Cramton Bowl in nearby Montgomery, Ala., in order to accommodate all of the graduates and their supporters. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

USAF Inks Munitions Contracts, Eyes “JASSM-D” in Bigger Missile Buy

The Air Force is furthering three bomb buys while significantly ramping up procurement of two missiles meant for conflict with peer adversaries. The service on Sept. 26 awarded Boeing $280 million for Small Diameter Bomb I integration and engineering support, and on Sept. 30 awarded Raytheon $200 million for Small Diameter Bomb II production. Also on Sept. 30, the service awarded Boeing another $70 million for GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrators. The Air Force also indicated it wants to more than double its purchases of Lockheed Martin’s Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. After broadcasting its intent to grow the JASSM program from 4,900 to 7,200 weapons in the 2020 budget, the service said Sept. 27 it is growing the potential JASSM total to 10,000 missiles. Read the full story by Brian Everstine and Rachel S. Cohen.


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ULA Receives $1.2 Billion for NRO Launches

The United Launch Alliance will receive another $1.2 billion to support launches of five National Reconnaissance Office missions, under a five-year contract increase announced Sept. 30. The Sept. 27 award saves $455 million on the NROL-44, NROL-82, NROL-91, NROL-68, and NROL-70 missions, according to the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. All five missions will head to space on ULA’s Delta IV Heavy rocket. The total contract value grew from nearly $468 million to $1.6 billion with five annual options, according to the Pentagon announcement. The satellites perform secretive intelligence and national security missions under the current iteration of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program now known as National Security Space Launch. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

USAFE Teaches Nigerian, Tunisian Airmen to Call in Airstrikes

USAF instructors in September hosted the first-ever air-to-ground integration course with African partner nations, teaching airmen from Nigeria and Tunisia how to effectively call in airstrikes. The course, part of a US-funded, $300 million training program, took place over two weeks at the US Air Forces in Europe Warrior Preparation Center at Einsiedlerhof AS, Germany, according to a USAFE release. As part of the program, Tunisian and Nigerian airmen learned in classrooms, trained in simulators, and controlled aircraft on a range to practice for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. “A course like this is important for interoperability,” Capt. Matthew Roberts, the chief of plans and programs for the 4th Combat Training Squadron, said in the release. “We need to be able to deploy air power forward across any continent with any of our partners and conduct the same operational and training possibilities downrange.” —Brian Everstine

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RADAR SWEEP


The Naturalization Process Just Got Harder for Noncitizen Troops Stationed Overseas
US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Sept. 30 that the number of places overseas where noncitizen service members and their families can be naturalized has been cut from 23 to four in a move that critics charge will make it more difficult for them to become citizens. Military.com

USAF’s Donovan on Budget Outlook, Future Spending, Making Hard Choices
Acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan discusses the outlook for the department’s budget, future spending, and making hard tradeoffs to ensure a more capable force in an era of great power competition during an interview at AFA’s 2019 Air, Space & Cyber Conference. Defense & Aerospace Report

China Displays New Ballistic Missile
China’s military has shown off a new hypersonic ballistic nuclear missile believed capable of breaching all existing anti-missile shields deployed by the US and its allies. The vehicle-mounted DF-17 was among weapons displayed Oct. 1 in a massive military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese state. Associated Press via Politico

US Africa Command Airstrike Targets ISIS-Libya
In coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord, US Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting Islamic State-Libya terrorists in southern Libya, Sept. 29. AFRICOM release

EW, Cyber Require Next-Gen Hardware: Conley
It’s not all about AI and software. You need hardware compact enough—and secure enough—to deploy into a war zone. Breaking Defense

As Air Force Mulls F-35s for Truax Field, Will Local Opinion Sway Decision?
With unanswered questions and increasingly vocal opposition from some residents, Madison’s City Council has asked the Air Force to potentially reconsider Truax Field as a preferred site for a squadron of F-35 fighters, while 15 Dane County supervisors have signed a letter opposing the jets. But despite assurances that no decision has been made, history suggests the Pentagon is unlikely to reverse its position even after gathering public input on a 1,099-page environmental impact statement published in August. Wisconsin State Journal

Spangdahlem Airman Recovering After Fiery Crash that Killed Two Other Servicemembers
A car involved in a deadly crash on Spangdalem Air Base this week caught fire after it left the road and hit a stationary object, a base official said Tuesday. Two airmen were killed and a third was injured in the crash near the base’s passenger terminal on Monday morning. Stars and Stripes (subscription required)

One More Thing …

A Day With Major Michelle Curran, the Only Female Thunderbird Pilot in the US Air Force
Only five women have flown in the Air Force's elite squadron. But Curran thinks the tide is changing. Glamour