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Two USAF F-35A Lightning IIs, assigned to the 4th Fighter Squadron at Hill AFB, Utah, conduct flight training operations over the Utah Test and Training Range on Feb 14, 2018. Air Force photo by SSgt. Andrew Lee.


F-35 Aims to Finish System Development and Demonstration This Week

The F-35 Program Office expects to hit a major milestone in its development this week, conducting the final flight in its system development demonstration test – wrapping up a test program that included 70,000 test points and 9,000 flight hours. The milestone comes at a time when the program is moving forward on negotiations for the next production lot contract and pressing contractors to reduce production and sustainment costs. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Trump Taps O’Shaughnessy for NORTHCOM

President Trump on Tuesday nominated Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy to take over as leader of US Northern Command. O’Shaughnessy, currently the commander of Pacific Air Forces, would, if confirmed, take over for the retiring USAF Gen. Lori Robinson. Robinson, who has lead NORTHCOM and the North American Aerospace Defense Command since May 2016, was the first female leader of a US combatant command. O’Shaughnessy has been in his position since July 2016. His possible replacement at PACAF has not been announced. Also Tuesday, Trump nominated Navy Adm. Philip Davidson to take over as commander of US Pacific Command. Davidson, who is currently the commander of US Fleet Forces Command, would, if confirmed, take over for Adm. Harry Harris, who has been nominated to be the next US ambassador to Australia. —Brian Everstine

Two Airmen Taken to Hospital after Fire Breaks out at Nebraska Missile Facility

Two airmen assigned to the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., were receiving treatment Wednesday for smoke inhalation following an electrical fire at a missile alert facility in Nebraska. F.E. Warren, in a statement on Facebook, said a piece of electrical equipment produced smoke in the alert facility at 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday, and local first responders were the first on the scene. “There was never a threat to the public or the Minuteman system,” according to the base. The airmen were treated for “minor smoke inhalation,” and no further information would be released. “The public was never in danger and the safety and security of the Minuteman system was never in doubt,” said Col. Matthew Dillow, 90th Missile Wing vice commander, in a statement. “We would like to thank the outstanding local community first responders for providing such rapid support. Their professionalism and swift response were key to the safe resolution of the incident.” —Brian Everstine

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Rand: DOD Must Consider Updating National Airborne Operations Center

Pentagon officials will need to begin looking at modernizing the E-4B National Airborne Operations Center, Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, told a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing Wednesday. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.

Mattis: US Military Has Options Ready as Trump Promises a Strike

The US military is standing ready with options should President Trump decide to strike targets inside Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday shortly after Trump took to Twitter to issue a direct threat. “We stand ready to provide military options if they are appropriate as the President determined,” Mattis said during a brief appearance at the Pentagon. US officials are deciding the course of action for how to respond to Saturday’s alleged chemical weapons attack that left dozens dead in a suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. Trump, in a series of Twitter statements Wednesday morning, responded to reports that Russia would shoot down US missiles over Syria, saying “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ ” As public statements about possible forthcoming strikes have continued, the Syrian military has repositioned its air defense systems in advance of expected military action, Reuters reported. Mattis avoided responding to a question asking if he was concerned about the US telegraphing its military movements. The US military is still assessing intelligence about the chemical attack. “We’re still working on this,” he said. —Brian Everstine

Rand Expresses Confidence that UH-1N Replacement on the Way

Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, Wednesday expressed confidence the planned replacement of UH-1N helicopters, which guards US nuclear missile fields, will proceed, despite delays. Rand told a House Armed Services Committee hearing last month a request for proposals for the new helicopter had been released and he hoped a source would be picked by the end of the summer. Speaking to an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast Wednesday, Rand acknowledged that he has some concerns about the possibility of further delays to the contract award, but said he hoped it would be later this summer. “Everything expires, otherwise we’d still be flying B-17s and P-51s. So, it’s time,” said Rand, noting that although other commanders have talked about replacing the Vietnam-era helicopters, he is the first “that can say we have dollars allocated” for the program. “So it’s going to happen,” he said, “and that is something that I take great comfort in knowing, that we’ve been able to move the ball right inside the five-yard line.” —Steve Hirsch

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RADAR SWEEP


—An airman was found dead in their residence at Eielson AFB, Alaska, on Tuesday afternoon. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations is investigating the incident. The name and rank of the airmen is being withheld pending next of kin notification: Eielson release.

—Lockheed Martin continues to produce F-35 aircraft, but the Defense Department has stopped taking deliveries until it irons out a dispute over who will pay for a production error found last year on more than 200 jets located around the world: Reuters.

—Boeing has been awarded a $24 million contract modification to advance its design work on the next Air Force One. Work will be complete in Seattle, Wash., and is slated for completion in December: DOD contract announcement.

—Rockwell Collins has been awarded multiple contracts worth about $27 million over the next five years to keep the KC-135 tanker fleet in compliance with communication, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management mandates: Rockwell Collins release.

—Nearly 100 people have filed a federal class-action lawsuit claiming the firefighting foam used at Fairchild AFB, Wash., and elsewhere, is contaminating their water, causing health problems, and diminishing their property values: The Spokesman-Review.