January 25, 2021

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US Arms Exports Total $175B in FY2020

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The US approved $175 billion in arms sales to foreign nations in fiscal 2020, reports Inside Defense. That is a 2.8% increase over the prior fiscal year’s $170 billion in sales, reports Reuters. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency presented the figures on Friday and noted other security assistance and cooperation accomplishments and statistics.

The US House and Senate approved 14 F-35s over the Defense Department’s 2021 budget request: 12 F-35As and two F-35Bs, reports Breaking Defense. In addition, the US Air Force is authorized to add six F-35s meant for Turkey to its own fleet.

A National Commission on Military Aviation Safety report was studying the increase in deadly military aviation accidents during the past decade, reports Military Times, and there is a lot that needs fixing. Among the findings, aviation and maintenance experience, the key to doing a job safely and efficiently, is declining; newly trained pilots and maintainers are reporting to operational units without basic skills; and flight hours are being replaced with simulator hours on simulators that are often outdated.

A new flight training program that relies on VR simulations and detailed data is getting US Navy trainees better prepared for real cockpits, reports Breaking Defense. RADM Robert Westendorff said Project Avenger, an experimental class, is producing “promising results.”

There will be a reduction in staff at the US embassy in Baghdad, reports Military Times. The US is withdrawing some staff from the embassy and temporarily reducing personnel amid regional security concerns.

Israeli defense officials have held talks with US Central Command recently to tighten cooperation between the two militaries against the possibility of Iranian revenge in the region, reports Breaking Defense. This comes after Iranian government officials have been threatening to respond to the assassination of nuclear scientist Muhsin Fahrizadeh. Iran blames Israel for the killing.

Stargazers will have a rare opportunity later this month to view a planetary alignment that is expected to create a “Christmas Star,” reports Newsweek. The alignment of Jupiter and Saturn hasn’t been seen for 800 years. On Dec. 21, a glowing spot in the heavens will be visible as the two planets line up. “You’d have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky,” said astronomer Patrick Hartigan.

 

 

President Trump signed a bill that will allow Iraq War hero Army Sgt. 1st Class Alywn Cashe to receive the Medal of Honor, reports Task & Purpose. House Resolution 8276 waives the requirement that the award be approved within five years of the heroic action. Mr. Cashe saved soldiers injured in a roadside bombing in 2005 in Iraq.

Acting DefSec Christopher Miller met with Indonesia’s Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto on Monday as part of a visit to Asia where he will push Washington’s free and open Indo-Pacific policy, reports The Associated Press. DefSec Miller’s next stop will be the Philippines.

The US, Japan, and France will hold joint military drills on land and sea for the first time in May as the Chinese military steps up activity in the Pacific region, reports Reuters.

Vertical magazine reports that there has be an uptick in flights of the Presidential Helicopter VH-92A in the skies over Washington, DC. NAVAIR told the magazine that the aircraft are conducting both training and test flights throughout the nation’s capital region. President-elect Joe Biden will likely be the first president to call the VH-92 Marine One.

The Naval Air Warfare Center Air Division AIRWorks has selected L3Harris Technologies for the next phase of unmanned aerial systems demonstration, reports Naval Technology. The second phase involves identifying and assessing UASs that can be fielded in harsh environments without the need for any extra support systems.

The US Labor Department says veterans unemployment rose in November even as the national jobless rate declined, reports Military Times.

A Defense Department survey found that fewer active duty spouses are satisfied with the military lifestyle, fewer want their service member staying in, and there are signs of increased stress and distress, reports Military Times. About one in five military spouses who are in professions requiring licensing and certification said they waited 10 months or more to get their credential after a permanent change of station move.

DoD is changing its drug testing policy, reports Marine Corps Times, after the increased use of LSD was found among some of the troops. Drug tests for nearly 53,000 active-duty Marines and sailors were performed last month at Camp Lejeune, NC. The rest of the Defense Department may soon see random drug testing.

Early numbers for the 2020 Combined Federal Campaign this year indicate that federal employees have been motivated to give even more to charity than in years past, reports Federal Times.

The Virginia Military Institute removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on Monday, reports Military Times. VMI said the statue will be moved to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War at New Market Battlefield State Historic Park, reports The Washington Post.

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