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The Top 10 DoDBuzz Posts of 2017

  • Air Commandos from the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron tow an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship out of the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base on March 22, 2017. Airman 1s Class Dennis Spain/Air Force
    Air Commandos from the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron tow an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship out of the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base on March 22, 2017. Airman 1s Class Dennis Spain/Air Force
  • An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 442nd Fighter Wing, out of Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., flies over the Atlantic Ocean during the National Salute to America’s Heroes Air and Sea Show media day May 26, 2017, at Miami Beach, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jared Trimarchi)
    An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 442nd Fighter Wing, out of Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., flies over the Atlantic Ocean during the National Salute to America’s Heroes Air and Sea Show media day May 26, 2017, at Miami Beach, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jared Trimarchi)
  • A B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress perform a flyover during the 2017 Barksdale Air Force Base air show, May 6, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Curt Beach)
    A B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress perform a flyover during the 2017 Barksdale Air Force Base air show, May 6, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Curt Beach)
  • The AT-802L Longsword. (Photo courtesy Air Tractor).
    The AT-802L Longsword. (Photo courtesy Air Tractor).

1. Air Force's Newest Gunship, AC-130J Ghostrider, Is Almost Ready for Combat

By Brendan McGarry: "The U.S. Air Force this month plans to declare its newest gunship, the AC-130J Ghostrider, ready for combat -- or initial operating capability (IOC) in acquisition parlance -- but the aircraft won't actually deploy to a war zone for a couple more years, a general said. 'We are declaring IOC, Initial Operating Capability, this month on the AC-J,' Lt. Gen. Marshall 'Brad' Webb, head of Air Force Special Operations Command, said during a briefing with reporters at the Air Force Association's annual conference outside Washington, D.C." Read more.

2. Air Force Acknowledges Clandestine Base in UAE

By Oriana Pawlyk: "For the first time in over a decade, the U.S. Air Force is publicly acknowledging it runs an air war out of Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The U.S. embassy in country recently worked with Emirati counterparts to make the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing -- an Air Combat Command-run unit at the base -- known, officials told Military.com. Military.com first spoke with members of the 380th on a trip to the Middle East earlier this summer on condition the name and location of the base not be disclosed, and that full names of personnel not be used due to safety concerns amid ongoing air operations against ISIS." Read more.

3. Check Out These Photos of a Crippled F/A-18 Hornet That Flew Home

By Hope Hodge Seck: "On a Nov. 9, 2016, two U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets collided during a routine training flight off the coast of California. As I reported at Military.com, one of the aircraft erupted in flames -- the pilot safely ejected -- and the other was damaged but still able to fly home to Naval Station North Island, San Diego. An investigation into the incident concluded the pilots failed to see that they were on a collision course, a failure attributed in part to inexperience and not getting enough flying time. Despite all that, the pilot who landed this aircraft got high praise." Read more.

4. Academy Cadets: We Want to Make the A-10 Even More Lethal

By Oriana Pawlyk: "A pair of Air Force Academy cadets selected for pilot training are not only preparing for their day in the cockpit -- they're also looking to boost the performance and lethality of the A-10 Warthog. Cadets 1st Class Jon Clegg and John Potthoff have been working at the academy 'to research decreasing maintenance requirements and increase munitions capability,' according to a service release. 'We're working together to investigate replacing the existing leading-edge slat system with a fixed leading-edge droop to reduce complexity on this important aircraft,' Potthoff said in the release." Read more.

5. Air Force Wants More C-5s on the Flightline

By Oriana Pawlyk: "The Air Force plans to activate more C-5M Super Galaxies after removing a number of the cargo planes from active service due to budget constraints, officials said. A few years ago, the size of the fleet was more than 100 aircraft; today, it's half of that, according to Gen. Carlton Everhart, the head of Air Mobility Command. Over the next few years, the Air Force plans to allocate funding to move at least eight of the Lockheed Martin Corp.-made strategic airlifters out of backup status, according to Lt. Gen. Jerry D. Harris, the service's deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements." Read more.

6. Lawmakers Back $400 Million for Possible A-10 Successor

By Oriana Pawlyk: "Key lawmakers agreed to provide the Air Force with $400 million to explore buying a new light attack aircraft for missions in the Middle East. The $400 million figure is proposed in the negotiated fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, congressional staffers said on Capitol Hill. The House could vote on the legislation as early as next week, with action in the Senate sometime afterward. The Senate Armed Services Committee originally added language stipulating $1.2 billion to start procuring light attack aircraft; however, the light attack "experiment" is not currently a program of record." Read more.

7. Air Force: We Want 165 Bombers, Not Just B-21s

By Oriana Pawlyk: "The Air Force now says it wants a total future bomber fleet to be around 165 aircraft -- not just its fleet of B-21 Long Range Strike Bombers. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee's Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, Lt. Gen. Jerry D. Harris, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, was asked about increasing the planned quantity of B-21 Raiders -- the Air Force's future stealth bomber set to join the fleet in the mid-2020s. The service plans to spend more than $55 billion to acquire 100 of the next-generation aircraft as part of the Long Range Strike Bomber, or LRSB, program." Read more.

8. Trump to Coast Guard: I Saved You Money on F-35, Aircraft Carrier

By Hope Hodge Seck: "President Donald Trump's commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut took a strange turn Wednesday when he brought up two major military acquisition programs belonging to other services, bragging about how much money he had saved. The remarks immediately created a buzz on the internet, as critics wondered whether Trump realized the Coast Guard had no stake in the programs he mentioned. 'I won't talk about how much I saved you on the F-35 fighter jet. I won't even talk about it. Or how much we're about to save you on the Gerald Ford, the aircraft carrier,' Trump said." Read more.

9. Coast Guard Design for Navy Frigate? It's Doable, Zukunft Says

By Hope Hodge Seck: "As the Navy searches for the best design for its future frigate, some are promoting an option based on the Coast Guard's national security cutter. And while Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft isn't directly weighing in on the discussion, he has plenty to say about the ship in question. At an event this week organized by the U.S. Naval Institute and held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Zukunft recounted a 'sea story' that he has often retold in public: How the new Coast Guard cutter Hamilton, on its 2016 maiden deployment, more than paid for itself with a remarkable 13 major drug interdictions that resulted in the confiscation of a total of nearly $1 billion worth of cocaine." Read more.

10. Another Light Attack Offering Joins Air Force's OA-X Fly-Off

By Oriana Pawlyk: "Another aircraft will fly at the Air Force's OA-X light attack competition next week. Air Tractor and L3 announced Monday they will offer the AT-802L Longsword to participate in the fly-off at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, on Aug. 8 and 9, according to a release. Together, the companies developed the L variant off its predecessor, the AT-802U, the release said. The Longsword is a light attack and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft." Read more.

-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

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