The U.S. Defense Department has spent billions trying to help develop an independent Afghan Air Force, but the service still relies heavily on civilian contractors for maintenance—and when U.S. forces leave Afghanistan in the coming months, so too will American contractors, Secretary Lloyd Austin III has said. The Pentagon is still working on a plan to prevent the majority of the Afghan Air Force being grounded within a few months, spokesman John Kirby said June 8.
“Unfortunately, despite significant progress, the Afghan Air Force is not yet ready to provide the full range of air support. While it may conduct most air support now, Afghans still depend on the United States for some of the more difficult missions. An Afghan general in Kandahar warned in January that ‘without U.S. air support, the Taliban would gain power here,’” writes Bradley Bowman, Ryan Brobst, and Air Force Maj. Jared Thompson from the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Observers recently spotted the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation FC-31 Gyrfalcon at a naval aviation training facility in Wuhan, sparking speculation that the Chinese military is finally starting to utilize the fifth-generation fighter following years of development and reports that officials from the Chinese Air Force and Navy weren’t interested in the design.
Technical challenges in the development of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket could prevent the Defense Department from ending its use on the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine by 2022, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. Congress directed DOD in 2016 to stop using the Russian-made rocket by 2022, but the new rocket engine, the BE-4 developed by U.S.-based Blue Origin, is having issues with igniter and booster capabilities and may not be ready in time.
American troops are set to leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, at the direction of President Joe Biden. When they do, however, advocates for Americans who have been captured and are still being held hostage fear that “it will become more difficult to generate the intelligence needed to find Americans and conduct rescue operations for current hostages held in the area,” according to a report from the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, a hostage advocacy group.
The formation of the Pentagon’s UAP Task Force and reports on the unidentified aerial phenomena observed by U.S. military forces has led to a frenzy of media speculation in the past few months and years. But with the task force set to deliver an unclassified report in the coming weeks, what will it actually say and mean for those who believe in aliens? And what about those worried about advanced technology being developed by foreign governments? Scientists weigh in on the matter.
The German Space Agency has contracted with Lockheed Martin to use its iSpace system to track debris in orbit—space debris has become an increasingly common concern for agencies as the realm becomes increasingly congested, and Lockheed Martin’s system can help track more than 300,000 objects in multiple orbits.
If you were following the U.S. Air Force Facebook page last weekend, you might have noted a photo of an F-16 with an unusual paint scheme—orange and black with spots. The Portugese fighter is actually part of a longstanding tradition among NATO fighter squadrons to use tiger-themed paint jobs. There’s even the NATO Tiger Association, which exists to promote solidarity and teamwork between NATO fighter squadrons, and the Tiger Meet, when the crews and planes get together to fly training missions.