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​In the last year, almost half of all Active Duty deaths in the Air Force were self inflicted. Source: Air Force Personnel Center

Suicide Leading Cause of Death for Active Duty Airmen

In the last 12 months, suicide was the largest single cause of death for Active Duty airmen who “died while performing military duty or traveling to/from military duty.” Out of 151 reported deaths, 45 percent of them were self-inflicted, according to a report Air Force Magazine obtained from the Air Force Personnel Center. Of those 69 instances, all but four comprised Active Duty airmen. Read the full story by Gideon Grudo.

Nuclear Inspections Shift to Focus on Mission

Air Force Global Strike Command is making changes to its nuclear systems inspection regime that it hopes will emphasize compliance for mission success. In the past, AFGSC’s inspection process became so all consuming that “airmen were spending a greater portion of their time preparing for an inspection when the emphasis should be placed on being mission ready on a daily basis,” said Col. Omar Colbert, AFGSC’s Inspector General Inspection Division Chief, in a press release. For the new process, the IG will perform a major external Unit Effectiveness Inspection (UEI) every two years, with a defined series of internal inspections performed by wing members in between. The UEIs help to identify infrastructure needs at the bases as well as issues of airman morale and quality of life. AFGSC said it will also conduct Nuclear Surety Inspections (NSI) on a 24-month cycle, and these will focus on “a unit’s ability to generate, safeguard and employ nuclear weapons safely and effectively.” Finally, Gen. Robin Rand has also directed the AFGSC IG to conduct “no-notice” inspections to evaluate daily operations anywhere from two to nine months after a major inspection, UEI Capstone or NSI. (See also: Rebuilding the Missile Force from the February 2017 issue of Air Force Magazine)

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Capt. Kurtis, an instructor with the 9th Attack Squadron at Holloman AFB, N.M., demonstrates a new Block 30 MQ-9 Ground Control Station used to train new Reaper pilots. Air Force Magazine photo by Brian Everstine

Increased Need for RPA Pilots Means More Work for Training Unit

MQ-9 Reaper instructors are on track to graduate about 700 new pilots and sensor operators this year, a big increase in response to the constantly growing need for more intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Read the full report by Brian Everstine

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Two Service Members Killed in Iraq

Two US service members were killed and another five injured while conducting combat operations in northern Iraq on Sunday. The US-led Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve said the casualties were not caused by enemy contact. Coalition commander Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend in a statement said the service members died “fighting to defeat a truly evil enemy and to protect our homelands.” ISIS reportedly claimed a rocket attack in the area killed American soldiers, but that claim was immediately denied, The Washington Post reported. — Brian Everstine

Dunford Heads to South Korea as Peninsula Tensions Rise

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford will meet with the South Korean president on Monday as tensions have continued to rise between the US and North Korea. Dunford will meet with President Moon Jae-in and senior South Korean military leaders in Seoul before a previously scheduled visit in China, Bloomberg reported. Dunford’s visit comes as senior US leaders have tried to calm increasing tensions with North Korea. National Security Advisor US Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, said the US is no closer to war than one week ago, “but we are closer than we were a decade ago.” USAF aircraft in the region have flown repeated missions in recent weeks as North Korea has continued testing ballistic missiles, most recently flying B-1B Lancers to the Korean Peninsula on Aug. 8. — Brian Everstine

Lockheed Gets Bridge Contract for GPS Military Code

The Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center awarded Lockheed Martin a $45 million contract for work on early use military code, or M-Code, capability for current and future GPS satellites. The contract is another sign that the Air Force is taking steps to remediate the schedule delays and cost overruns produced by Raytheon, the prime contractor for the next generation GPS ground control system. ​Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.


GAO: US Spent $66 Billion on Afghan Equipment

The US has spent about $66 billion on equipment for Afghan security forces since 2002, a hefty amount that covers hundreds of thousands of weapons, thousands of surveillance items, and hundreds of aircraft, according to a new Government Accountability Office accounting of the spending. Spending last year was the highest in five years, with more than 87,000 items purchased. Since 2002, the US has purchased about 600,000 weapons, mostly rifles. From 2007 to 2016, the US funded 208 aircraft, more than half of which were Mi-17 and MD-530 helicopters. — Brian Everstine

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The AFRL Advanced Power Technology Office’s High Efficiency Innovative Aviation Diesel Engine is shown here in the Arnold Engineering Development Center T-11 Test Cell. (Arnold Engineering Development Center photo)

High-Efficiency Diesel Aircraft Engine Prototype Ground Tested

The Air Force recently completed ground testing on a high-efficiency diesel aircraft engine developed for use in manned or unmanned aircraft. The Graflight engine, designed by Engineered Propulsion Systems, promises to use up to 40 percent less fuel than standard engines while expanding either payload capacity or mission length. It could increase aircraft loiter time by as much as 50 percent, according to a press release from the Air Force Research Laboratory, which collaborated with EPS on the project. Because it can operate on diesel, Jet-A, or JP-8 fuels that are accessible in-theater, the Graflight could also drastically reduce the need to transport specialized fuel for global operations and enable unmanned operations in regions that were previously unreachable. During the ground testing at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, the Graflight performed as expected on simulated flights at various altitudes. The next step will be flight testing, after which the Air Force will consider Graflight for use in manned aircraft. A smaller version would have to be developed for use in current unmanned aircraft. — Wilson Brissett


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RADAR SWEEP


— About 100 Reservists participated in an aeromedical exercise earlier this month at Dobbins ARB, Ga. Air Force release

— A US airstrike reportedly killed 16 civilians in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan officials claim. The New York Times

— Two US airstrikes against al-Shabab reportedly killed a high-level leader of the group. The Associated Press

— Yokota AB, Japan, received its fourth C-130J on Aug. 10. Yokota release