Daily Report

Sept. 13, 2021

Let There Be Light

Will recent cyber attacks and severe weather effects on the energy grid be enough to wake up the Air Force—and the general public?
b-2 bomber task force norway

Whiteman B-2s Integrate with Norwegian F-35s

A pair of U.S. Air Force B-2s integrated with Norwegian F-35s over the North Sea on Sept. 8 as part of a recent Bomber Task Force deployment. The mission was “designed to test escort procedures, stand-off weapon employment, and the suppression and destruction of air defenses,” U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa said in a press release. During the flight, the two different aircraft were able to link and use fifth-generation data-sharing capabilities. “What our collective Airmen accomplish on these missions is vital to our alliance and maintaining agility as we move into the future," said Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, in a statement.
GE F-35 engine

GE Says New Engine for F-35 Possible by 2027, but Not on STOVL Version

Engine makers should be able to meet House defense policy bill language calling for a new F-35 powerplant based on the Adaptive Engine Transition Program by 2027, but only for the conventional takeoff versions, a GE Aviation executive said. “We would be eager to step up to the challenge to meet the 2027 deadline” that the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act included, David Tweedie, general manager for advanced combat systems at GE Aviation, said in a Sept. 10 interview, adding that doing so is “certainly within the art of the possible.”
outstanding airmen of the year

Outstanding Airmen of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Christopher Bennett

The Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2021 will be formally recognized at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference from Sept. 20 to 22 in National Harbor, Md. Air Force Magazine is highlighting one each workday from now until the conference begins. Today, we honor Tech. Sgt. Christopher Bennett from the 81st Training Group at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.
satcom terminals

DOD Finalizing First-ever Digital-only Tech Conformance Plan for New Satcom Terminals

The Department of Defense is finalizing a new technical reference architecture (TRA) for satcom terminals it will buy—a highly detailed description of the engineering requirements for the devices, which maintain global two-way satellite communications for aircraft and other deployed forces. And for the first time, the TRA, typically a document hundreds of pages long, will instead be produced in digital form, according to Michael Dean, who heads the satcom team for the DOD’s chief information officer.

Radar Sweep

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‘They Want to Make Sure Their Loved Ones are Not Forgotten:’ Organizers Feel Urgency to Establish Global War on Terrorism Memorial

Stars and Stripes

When 13 U.S. service members were killed in a bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan on Aug. 26, Americans across the country found ways to pay tribute. The instinct to gather and memorialize is natural, said Marina Jackman, president of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation. And she argued it’s past time America had a dedicated place to honor veterans and service members of the Global War on Terrorism.

Defense Industry Reacts to New Vaccine Mandates for Federal Contractors

Defense News

President Joe Biden on Sept. 9 announced sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant. The expansive rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. Biden also signed an executive order to require vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government—with no option to test out.

China, Russia Loom Over Routine Air Operations Across the Globe

Air Force Times

Air Force leaders are promising a return to a Cold War posture opposite China and Russia, hoping for a reprieve from the counterterrorism operations of the past two decades as America winds down its presence in Afghanistan. The Indo-Pacific and Europe are often spotlighted as the central battleground for civil, military, and economic competition with China and Russia. But conversations with air commanders around the world show how the rivalry is shaping operations in their own backyards, from U.S. support for foreign troops to learning to deploy from bare fields.

How Equipment Left in Afghanistan Will Expose US Secrets

Defense One

The ultimate winner of two decades of war in Afghanistan is likely China. The aircraft and armored vehicles left behind when U.S. forces withdrew will give China—through their eager partners, the Taliban—a broad window into how the U.S. military builds and uses some of its most important tools of war. Expect the Chinese military to use this windfall to create—and export to client states—a new generation of weapons and tactics tailored to U.S. vulnerabilities, said several experts who spent years building, acquiring, and testing some of the equipment that the Taliban now controls.

Future Air, Space Force Tech Demos to Focus on INDOPACOM, SPACECOM

Breaking Defense

Over the next year, the Air Force plans to shift its focus on tech development and experimentation efforts toward capabilities that can be rapidly transitioned to operators at U.S. Space and Indo-Pacific Commands, according to Preston Dunlap, chief architect for the Air Force and Space Force.

Satellite Propulsion Startup Benchmark Eyes Growth in Military Market

Space News

A growing crop of startups in the space industry are developing propulsion systems for small satellites. The demand is driven by commercial constellations, but propulsion suppliers also see opportunities in the military market as the Pentagon shifts focus to small satellites. Organizations such as the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Space Force’s SpaceWERX are increasingly interested in smallsat propulsion technologies as the military tries to build more resilient constellations, said Chris Carella, executive vice president of Benchmark Space Systems, a startup based in Vermont.

Northrop Grumman Unveils Model of New Autonomous Aircraft

National Defense Magazine

Northrop Grumman has designed a new autonomous aircraft that it hopes will be the answer to the Air Force’s search for the next generation of drones that could accompany manned planes into battle. Unveiled Sept. 8 at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, Calif., the Model 437—a stealthy jet with a 3,000-mile range—is a collaboration between the company and Scaled Composites. Scaled Composites also revealed a new variant of its Model 401 technology demonstrator that can be operated in autonomous mode.

COMMENTARY: Lessons from Kabul: Resolving the Air Mobility Dilemma

Modern War Institute

“As a cargo aircraft jettisons flares as a countermeasure against any would-be missile attacks at Kabul’s international airport, the fragility of America’s single line of communication stands in contrast to the sea of Taliban flags encircling the airport. Here is America trying to extricate itself from 20 years of nation building in order to transition to strategic competition with China and others, and learning an important lesson for gray zone competition—the vulnerability of America’s air mobility lifeline,” writes Phillip Surrey, a senior intelligence analyst with 19 years' experience in air mobility.

Bell's Plan to Finally Realize a Rotorcraft That Flies Like a Jet but Hovers Like a Helicopter

The Drive

Bell has provided The War Zone with exclusive details about its recently revealed concepts for future High-Speed Vertical Take-Off and Landing, or HSVTOL, aircraft. While being able both to take off and land vertically using rotors and to fly at jet speeds in forward flight sounds far-fetched, it turns out that there is decades of elaborate risk reduction work and general research already done on this exact concept. As such, actually realizing such a capability set may be far less of a technological revolution than one would think at first glance.

Defenders Beta Test New Weapons Qualification Course

Air Force release

Defenders from across the Total Force are currently beta testing a new Air Force Security Forces weapons qualification course designed to enhance proficiency across the career field. Developed by the Air Force Security Forces Center, a primary subordinate unit of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, the proposed course will seamlessly instruct, test, and evaluate weapons training for the more than 38,000 Active duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and government civilian Security Forces members.

One More Thing

Inspiration4 Private Crewed Mission Nears Launch

Space News

SpaceX is gearing up for its first purely commercial human spaceflight, but many details about the mission remain unclear. A SpaceX Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch a Crew Dragon spacecraft on the Inspiration4 mission next week. Four people will fly on the mission, announced in February, spending three days in orbit but not docking to the International Space Station.