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​Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told members of Congress on Wednesday the service's failure to report the criminal background of the Texas church shooter was not an isolated case, noting the service has a "systemic" problem it is working to address. Air Force photo by TSgt. Joseph Zuccaro.


Air Force Taking Steps to Correct “Systemic Problems” with Criminal Reporting

The ongoing Air Force review of its criminal reporting practices has found “the breakdown in reporting was not limited” to the case of the Texas shooter or the “detachment at Holloman Air Force Base” in New Mexico that failed to report his previous military conviction to the FBI, service Secretary Heather Wilson told Congress Wednesday. The investigation has uncovered “systemic problems,” she told the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the service is already taking steps to improve its reporting. Also on Wednesday, a second family filed claims against the Air Force for its failure to report the domestic violence that would have prevented the shooter from purchasing a weapon. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

Information Will be King in Future Warfare

Future success in warfare will no longer be determined by who owns the best “things,” such as planes ships, tanks, and satellites. Instead, it will come down to who does the best job harnessing information to put assets in the right time and place to prudently yield effects, said panelists at the West Coast Aerospace Forum, a joint venture between AFA’s Mitchell Institute, RAND’s Project Air Force, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Aerospace Corporation. Read the full story by Doug Birkey.

Clarifying the Cost of Cyber Attacks

To address the proliferation of global cyber threats today, the US military must “convince a potential adversary that the costs of conducting a cyber attack outweigh any potential benefits,” said USAF Maj. Gen. Ed Wilson, the deputy principal cyber advisor to the Secretary of Defense, according to a Department of Defense release. The route to achieving this goal is by “strengthening our cyber defenses and reducing our attack surface,” Wilson told the audience at a George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies event in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Doing so will improve US cyber resiliency, Wilson said, so that “even if any single attack is successful, we can reconstitute quickly so that our adversary’s ultimate objective will not be achieved.” He also praised the work of the Marshall Center’s Program on Cyber Security Studies for its role in “building trust and confidence” for the cyber mission between the US and its partner nations. “We have more than 50 countries’ key cyber professionals represented here in this program right now, who will be sharing their best practices on how to develop the human capital across the international front,” Wilson said.

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Vance T-6s Resume Flying Operations

Vance AFB, Okla., resumed T-6A flying operations on Tuesday following a 20-day grounding after pilots reported four “physiological events” in November. While T-6s returned to the air, Air Force inspectors still have not found a root cause for the physiological events, according to a Vance release. A team of aviation, medical, functional, and industry experts investigated, but were unable to identify a problem. The investigation will continue as flights resume. “We are actively using lessons learned across the aeronautics enterprise to determine the cause of these events, and are confident implementing mitigation techniques will enable us to return to our primary mission of training the world’s finest aviators,” said Col. Darrell Judy, commander of the 71st Flight Training Wing, in the release. —Brian Everstine

US Presence in Syria on a Downward Trend, but Still Open Ended

The US military has 2,000 forces inside Syria and 5,200 forces in Iraq as part of the ongoing fight against ISIS, a number that is trending downward as the fight wanes. ISIS has lost about 97 percent of the territory it held in both countries at its peak, and now only remains in small pockets. The US mission has shifted, now focusing on maintaining the gains and helping allied forces become security forces to maintain stability, Pentagon spokesman US Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters on Wednesday. The released tallies are current as of Wednesday, and does not include about 400 US Marines who have left Syria as fighting decreased. The US will maintain a “conditions-based” presence inside Syria to assist Syrian Democratic Forces. —Brian Everstine

First USAF KC-46A Flies

The first Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker that will serve operationally with the Air Force—the seventh built so far—made its first flight Dec. 5, completing a three-and-a-half hour mission to check its systems. Boeing said the jet will be delivered to the service “next year.” The tanker flew to 39,000 feet on an FAA-approved flight profile that assessed its engines, flight controls, and environmental systems. Before making a second flight, it will undergo a ground inspection and its instrumentation will be calibrated. The other six KC-46As continue with the Air Force test flight program. They have so far accumulated 2,200 flight hours and performed more than 1,600 refueling contacts with a range of “fast” and “slow” aircraft including A-10, AV-8B, F-16, and F/A-18 fighters, C-17 airlifters, KC-10 and other KC-46 aerial tankers. Air Force KC-46 System Program Manager Col. John Newberry said the flight is “another milestone for the Air Force/Boeing team and helps move us closer to delivering operational aircraft.” Boeing is on contract for 34 Pegasus aircraft out of a planned 179 in the KC-X program. In addition to its ability to refuel all types of US and allied aircraft, the KC-46 can be configured to carry cargo, patients, and passengers. —John A. Tirpak

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MQ-9, C-130s Joint Fight Against California Wildfires

An MQ-9 Reaper and two California Air National Guard C-130Js have joined the fight against growing wildfires in Southern California. The two specially equipped C-130Js, from the 146th Airlift Wing, and the Reaper from the 163rd Attack Wing, are based at the Channel Islands ANGS, Calif., and began flying Tuesday night as wildfires raged through Ventura County, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters on Wednesday. The C-130s are equipped with the Modular Airborne FireFighting System. CalFire has issued mandatory evacuations as the Ventura County fires have burned more than 65,000 acres near Highway 150 and Highway 126 north of Santa Paula. —Brian Everstine
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RADAR SWEEP


—Israel announced on Wednesday its first nine F-35 strike fighters were ready for operational use: The Times of Israel.

—Two B-1B bombers deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, as part of the service’s continuous bomber presence in the region, recently returned from RAAF Amberley, Australia, where they participated in US Pacific Command’s fifth enhanced air cooperation initiative: DOD release.

—F-16s assigned to the 8th Fighter Squadron at Holloman AFB, N.M., recently completed the first flight since the squadron was reactivated in August: DOD release.