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The U.S. Air Force acknowledged it’s expanding the number of drone surveillance missions flown by contractors in response to a chronic pilot shortage in the service.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh discussed the issue Monday during a “State of the Air Force” briefing with reporters at the Pentagon. [Continue reading…]

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The U.S. Air Force wants to use another word to describe the expensive, high-tech helmet that can “see through” windowless parts of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

When asked about the price tag for the pilot gear — which has ranged from $400,000 to $800,000 apiece — Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said he didn’t know its unit cost and that it won’t be finalized until the hardware enters production.

But he did have this to say about the technology: [Continue reading…]

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James is making good on her threat to send the F-22 Raptor fighter jet to Europe for the first time in response to Russian aggression in the region.

Earlier this summer at the Paris Air Show, James said the U.S. may deploy a squadron of the fifth-generation stealth fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin Corp. to the continent in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine and support for separatists in the country. [Continue reading…]

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NORAD and federal authorities ran a training exercise over the nation’s capital Sunday to test abilities to detect drones and gyrocopters in restricted air spaces following several troubling incidents.

The exercise was intended to gauge the effectiveness of air defense systems to “identify and track low altitude, slow speed aerial vehicles operating in and around Washington D.C.,” NORAD said in a statement. “These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure rapid response capability.” [Continue reading…]

A fully armed MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle taxis down the runway at an air base in Afghanistan on its way to another wartime mission.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

Chalk up another high-value militant killed by a U.S. drone strike.

Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, the second-highest ranking member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, was killed Aug. 18 while traveling in a vehicle near Mosul in Iraq by a munition fired from an unmanned aircraft, according to a statement from the White House (see below). [Continue reading…]