Americas

Four B-1B bombers left Texas this week, arriving in Guam for Bomber Task Force training missions with allied partners, the US Air Force announced. On the way, the bombers integrated with 16 F-15 and two F-2 planes of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force for training over the Sea of Japan, the Air Force said. They also conducted a training exercise with the amphibious assault ship USS America in the western Pacific Ocean. The visit to Guam comes after the Air Force adjusted its force employment model, enabling strategic bombers like to B-1B to be forward deployed in the Indo-Pacific region from a broader array of worldwide locations.

The first AC-130W gunship to record a combat kill has been flown to its final home at Sheppard AFB, Texas whereby it will become a ground instructional trainer for ammo and armament students in the 363rd Training Squadron as well as crew chief student in the 362nd Training Squadron. The aircraft was received from the Lockheed-Martin factory Jun. 6, 1989, with the original nickname of ‘City of Hurricane.’ It recorded its first combat kill on February 9, 2011 and on December 2016, it became the first AC-130W to score a combat kill with the 105mm cannon.

Middle East & Africa

Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the test-firing of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, adding that US objections did not concern him. The truck-mounted S-400 system was tested in Turkey’s Sinop province on the Black Sea, where it was delivered earlier this month with British-made Banshee drones for use as targets. “It is true that tests have been carried out,” Erdogan said in televised remarks from Istanbul, Bloomberg reported. “What are we supposed to do, not test these capabilities? Obviously we’re not going to ask the US“.

Europe

US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday conducted a bilateral Strategic Dialogue via video teleconference with the First Sea Lord this week. The leaders discussed the two navies’ alliance and areas for continued collaboration and cooperation around the globe. Additionally, the two leaders signed a Statement of Intent for ‘Future Integrated Warfighting’ that will set a “cooperative vision for inter-changeability between the two navies, synchronize pioneering capabilities, strengthen operating concepts, and focus our collective efforts to Deliver Combined Seapower, together”.

The Swedish Air Force (SwAF) will retain a number of its Saab JAS 39 Gripen C/D fighters beyond their current planned 2026 retirement date, solidifying an earlier announced plan to make up an anticipated shortfall in Gripen E numbers. The plan, announced by the Swedish Defense Ministry in mid-October and confirmed by manufacturer Saab on October 23, is part of a wider increase in national defense spending by more than 40% between 2021 and 2025 that was revealed by Swedish defense minister Peter Hultqvist. Of the current six Gripen C/D squadrons fielded by the SwAF, four are set to transition to the Gripen E over the coming years. As revealed in Hultqvist’s latest announcement, the two outstanding squadrons will remain operational with their existing Gripen C/D aircraft.

Asia-Pacific

The US Marine Corps at Iwakuni, Japan, announced formation of a new attack squadron on Friday in anticipation of the arrival of F-35B fighter planes. Marine Aircraft Group 12 re-designated Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 242, or VMFA-242. The change is part of the Marine Corps’ ongoing transition process from F/A-18 Hornet fighter planes to the more-advanced F-35B. It will be the second overseas Marine squadron.

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