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​A KC-46A takes off at Yokota AB, Japan, on Oct. 25, 2018, during a system evaluation.The Air Force announced Thursday it has accepted the first KC-46, with delivery expected within weeks. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe.

​USAF Accepts First KC-46, Though Deficiencies Could Continue for Years

The Air Force on Thursday accepted the first KC-46 from Boeing, a milestone years later than originally expected and a decision made despite continued known deficiencies on the aircraft. Thursday’s decision clears the way for delivery as early as the end of the month, though the Air Force does not expect solutions to known problems with the aircraft for another three to four years. Read the full story by Brian Everstine and John Tirpak

UK Says Its F-35Bs are Ready to Fight

The United Kingdom on Thursday declared initial operating capability for its F-35B fleet, becoming the fifth service to declare its Joint Strike Fighters ready for combat. UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson and Royal Air Force Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier made the announcement during a ceremony at RAF Marham. “With its cutting-edge stealth technology, our F-35s are now ready to deploy on operations and, alongside our combat-proven Typhoon, offer a step-change in our ability to employ air power around the world,” Hillier said, according to a Ministry of Defense release. The UK expects to eventually field 138 F-35s. The announcement comes as the US Navy prepares to declare IOC on its F-35Cs onboard the USS Carl Vinson in February, F-35 JPO Executive Vice Adm. Mat Winter told Air Force Magazine in December. —Brian Everstine

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Lockheed to Upgrade, Sustain GPS Ground Control as OCX Delays Continue

The Air Force recently awarded Lockheed Martin $462 million to continue sustainment of the GPS ground control system as the development of the next-generation system continues to be delayed. The contract, announced in December and a follow on to a 2013 award, will allow Lockheed to further modernize the ground control system through 2025, the company announced this week. The contract will allow the current system to support on-orbit operations of GPS III satellites, the first of which launched last month. The next generation system, known as OCX, was originally expected by February 2015 but has continuously been delayed, eventually leading to a Nunn-McCurdy breach of the entire program in 2016.  —Brian Everstine


Charleston Reservists, C-17 Fly Humanitarian Aid to Guatemala

A C-17 and airmen from the Reserve’s 315th Airlift Wing earlier this week delivered about 8,000 pounds of humanitarian aid to Guatemala as part of a joint Defense Department and State program to combine training with aid delivery. The C-17 and Reservists, based at JB Charleston, S.C., touched down in Guatemala City with supplies including firefighting and rescue equipment. “Guatemala is in the news a lot lately and missions like these not only help people in need, it shows them that we are here to help when we can,” said Lt. Col. Rick Chadwick, 701st Airlift Squadron commander, in a release. “When you can combine our regular training with a mission that helps people in need, it’s a win for everyone.” The mission stems from the Denton Amendment, a US Agency for International Development program which lets USAF aircraft fly donated humanitarian aid on a space available basis.

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AFA to Host Leadership Discussion With CMSAF Wright

The Air Force Association on Friday will host a professional development event at JB Andrews, Md., featuring AFA President retired Gen. Larry Spencer and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright. The event, scheduled for 1 p.m. EST at the Andrews base theater, will focus on leadership, mentorship, professional development, and other insights. The event will be streamed live on Wright’s Facebook page.
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RADAR SWEEP


DOD Launches Talent Exchange Pilot Program to Strengthen the Acquisition Workforce
This week the United States Department of Defense (DOD) launched the Defense-Industry Talent Exchange Pilot Program. This acquisition-focused pilot program will enable 13 DOD and private sector participants to gain a better understanding of each other’s business operations, and share innovative best practices. DOD

Thornberry Predicts Space Force Will Have Bipartisan Support in the House
Thornberry: “There has been consistent bipartisan support for greater emphasis on space, including organizational reform.” Space News

Trial Date Set for F-22 Pilot Charged With Rape
An Air Force F-22 Raptor pilot charged with multiple crimes, including sexual assault and striking and unlawfully grabbing an individual, is set to be court-martialed in March. Military.com

Pentagon Says Claims of Indefinite Observation Posts in Syria Untrue
The Pentagon says reports that the top US military officer rebuffed demands from Turkey Wednesday to remove a series of American military observatory sites in northern Syria, which many see as a bulwark protecting Washington-backed Kurdish forces from a Turkish attack after US troops leave, are unfounded. Washington Times

Bulgaria Ready to Start Talks With US on F-16 Jet Deal
The Bulgarian government has approved a plan to start talks with the United States on buying eight new F-16 fighter jets to replace its ageing Soviet-made MiG-29s and improve compliance with NATO standards, the defense minister said on Wednesday. Reuters

One More Thing …

It Looks Like the Real Star of ‘Captain Marvel’ Is the Air Force
A new behind-the-scenes featurette for Captain Marvel just dropped, and it looks like Brie Larson has some stiff competition for the spotlight from the United States Air Force. Task & Purpose