Lt. Gen. Michael Peterson, USAF’s top information officer, told this reporter Thursday that the “best part” of this year’s Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment “hotwash” was that no one was complaining. Peterson explained that the key software experiments comprising the battlefield airborne communications node (BACN) performed well enough that he expects to see a dissimilar tactical data links software roll out within the next year. “Some of the information didn’t flow the right way, but most of it did,” Peterson said. He also indicated that the Combat SkySat program (a near-space balloon to relay data) is on a fast track, since it performed very well. Peterson emphasized that it would be an incredible asset to deployed special operations forces—and only cost $7,000 a pop.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.