F-117 Shoot Down | United Airlines Rough Month | Retiring F-22s | US Army Spy

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“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”
– Archilochus

🎙️ Listen to The Lowdown on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. We dive a bit deeper and share some “bonus” thoughts.  

Lowdown: 3-1 Brevity communication for a request for the tactical ground picture in an area of interest.


March 27th, 1999—Serbian air defenses, using a Soviet-made S-125 Neva/Pechora missile system, or commonly known by the NATO designation SA-3 successfully detected and targeted an F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft. Three days prior, F-117s led the initial strikes against Yugoslavia.

The F-117, callsign Vega 31, was flown by Lt Col Dale Zelko, and he had just successfully released two laser-guided bombs on targets near the capital of Belgrade. Zelko spotted two missiles punch through the low cloud deck and track towards him. The first missile passed so close it caused his aircraft to buffet. The second missile detonated next to his aircraft, sending shrapnel into the jet and forcing him to eject.

Lt Col Zelko successfully evaded near capture from an aggressive search party by hiding in an irrigation ditch. He spent approximately eight hours on the ground before being picked up by Air Force Combat Search and Rescue forces.

Canopy of F-117 tail number 82-0806


✈️ United -  Its been a rough month….

March 18, 2024: United Boeing 767 from Newark encountered landing gear issues, returned after fuel burn-off.
March 17, 2024: United Boeing 737-800 into Chicago experienced an air data system issue, and landed safely
March 15, 2024: United Boeing 737-800, flight UA-433, lost a panel near the left wing root.
March 14, 2024: United Airbus A320 reported a hydraulic leak and landed safely in San Francisco.
March 11, 2024: United Flight UA 830 (Boeing 777-300ER) returned to Sydney due to a hydraulic leak.
March 10, 2024: United Boeing 737 MAX 8 veered off taxiway at IAH.
March 10, 2024: United Boeing 777-200 experienced severe turbulence en route from Los Angeles to Newark, causing injuries.
March 9, 2024: United Airbus A320 near Chicago returned due to an oil warning and landed safely.
March 7, 2024: United Boeing 777-200 lost a tire after takeoff, diverted to LAX.
March 6, 2024: United 1118 out of Houston made an emergency landing after experiencing engine compressor stalls.

✈️ Travolta's Pilots in Embezzlement Scandal | Nearly $800K - John Travolta's pilots are accused of embezzling almost $800,000 by overcharging for aircraft services, leading to their arrest and termination from Constellation Productions

✈️ Election TFRs Impact Aviation | - With the presidential election campaigns heating up, Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) are increasing. Here is the FAA website for TFRs: https://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html

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🎯 USAF Fleet Downsizing | Significant Cut - The U.S. Air Force plans to retire 250 aircraft, including 22 F-22 Raptors, aiming for a $2 billion saving to fund modernization. The downsized fleet will drop to about 4,900 from over 5,000, with future procurements including 42 F-35s and 18 F-15EXs, despite Congressional resistance for F-22 upgrades

🎯 F-35 Engine Review Delayed | Detailed Assessment - The review for the F-35's engine upgrade, led by Pratt & Whitney, is postponed to May 2024 for a thorough evaluation. This delay aims to ensure the engine meets the advanced requirements for the F-35's Block 4 modernization, enhancing its power, thrust, and cooling capacities.

🎯 F-16 Heroics Recognized | Pentagon Award - Major Brady Augustin was honored for his skillful and composed handling of an F-16CM during a landing gear failure at Aviano Air Base, Italy. He successfully executed a gear-up landing, averting potential ground casualties and saving the aircraft, earning the 2022 Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy for his actions​

🎯 4 Charged in Weapons Shipment | - Four foreign nationals have been charged with transporting Iranian weapons in support of the Houthis. The four were intercepted upon a vessel by the U.S. Navy in January during a mission in which two U.S. Navy SEALS were lost at sea.

🎯 5 Killed by Pallet in Airdrop - Eyewitnesses and the Hamas-led Health Ministry of Gaza stated five people were killed and at least 10 injured by a pallet dropped by a C-17 on March 8th.

🎯 Army Intelligence NCO Arrested for Spying - Sgt. Korbein Schultz was arrested earlier this month for allegedly providing classified information information to a co-conspirator located in Hong Kong. He was paid $42,000 for information about U.S. fighter aircraft, helicopters, ICBMs, high mobility artillery, defensive systems and Chinese Military tactics. Included were Air Force Tactics, Techniques, and Procedure manuals for the F-22 and HH-60W.

🎯 China's Military Advances | ADIZ Alert - NORAD's new commander, Air Force Gen. Gregory M. Guillot, indicated that Chinese warplanes might begin operations near the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) within the year. This development is part of China's expanding military capabilities, which also include ships and submarines extending their operational reach. Guillot emphasized the need for enhanced domain awareness and prioritized investments in over-the-horizon radar systems to better detect and track various threats, including hypersonic weapons​.

🎯 Arctic Vigilance | NORTHCOM's Strategy - Amid increased Chinese military presence, Gen. Guillot of NORTHCOM emphasizes the need for more U.S. military exercises near the Arctic, especially along Alaska's coast, to counter potential threats and assert strategic dominance in the region

🎯 Yap Airfield Expansion | Strategic Enhancement - The U.S. Air Force plans a $400 million upgrade to Yap Island's airfield in the Pacific, aiming to enhance its Agile Combat Employment strategy and boost regional military capabilities.


🌎 Hong Kong Security Law | Freedom Concerns - Hong Kong's legislature passed a new national security law, expanding powers against dissent. Critics fear this law, set to enforce harsh penalties for various offenses, will further erode the city's freedoms and could be used to suppress opposition​

🌎 Panda Diplomacy is Back -  China has agreed to send a pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo later this year. The Madrid Zoo will also receive a pair. There are additional talks with other U.S. zoos. Determining ties between the U.S. and China have left the U.S. with almost no pandas.

🌎 Former British Women Loses Bid for Citizenship -  In 2015, Shamima Begum, left the UK to travel to Syria to join ISIS. She married a Dutch national who joined the terrorist organization. In 2019, the UK government revoked her citizenship. Last week, a Court of Appeals unanimously ruled to uphold the revocation of her citizenship.

Lady Chief Justice Baroness Carr said: "It could be argued the decision in Ms Begum's case was harsh. It could also be argued that Ms Begum is the author of her own misfortune.

🌎 Gwadar Port Attack | Eight Militants Killed - Pakistan's Gwadar port was attacked by armed fighters, resulting in a two-hour battle with security forces. Eight assailants were killed in the skirmish at this key facility, part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Balochistan Liberation Army's Majeed Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack​.

🌎 Gaza Conflict Continuation | Netanyahu's Stance - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed to U.S. Republican senators that Israel's military operations in Gaza will persist, aiming to defeat Hamas. This declaration comes amidst growing humanitarian concerns and increasing international calls for de-escalation.


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