Air Force Space Command all-call addresses future of space

SPACECOM Calls Out Apparent Russian Space Weapon Test

A Russian satellite is arousing suspicion at U.S. Space Command after sidling up to an American government satellite, then flying away to release what appears to be a weapon into orbit. The July 15 incident appears to be a “a non-destructive test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon” from a satellite known as Cosmos 2543, SPACECOM said in a July 23 release. Air Vice-Marshal Harvey Smyth, head of the United Kingdom's Space Directorate, called the object a “projectile with the characteristics of a weapon.” SPACECOM did not answer which American satellite was involved in the encounter or whether the object released was another projectile. U.S. officials did not report any damage to space systems.
NDAA

House, Senate Approve Defense Authorization Bills

House and Senate lawmakers are headed into conference for the fiscal 2021 defense policy bill after both chambers passed their respective legislation this week. Senators voted 86-14 to approve their version of the National Defense Authorization Act on July 23. The House voted 295-125 to green-light its own bill July 21. Each package allows $740.5 billion in defense spending and earned enough support to likely avoid a presidential veto when the final version heads to the White House. Their deliberations were complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to spread around the country as lawmakers met remotely and in Washington to discuss the text.
B-1 Bomber Task Force

B-1s Fly Through South China Sea Sending Message to Beijing

Two B-1B Lancers flew over a U.S. Navy carrier strike group and then over the South China Sea on July 21, about one week after the U.S. State Department issued a statement calling China's efforts to control resources in the contentious waters “completely unlawful.” The bombers, which are assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron but are deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, as part of a bomber task force, flew a 14-hour mission in which they integrated with the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group in the Philippine Sea on a route that went through the South China Sea. “The BTF construct provides the flexibility for our bombers to operate in any area of responsibility and enhances our readiness,” Lt. Col. Lincoln Coleman, commander of the 37th EBS, said in a Pacific Air Forces release. “It gives us the ability to project air power across the globe.”
Academy basic cadets begin ROM

US Air Force Academy to Bring All Students Back to Campus

The U.S. Air Force Academy will bring back its entire student body to the Colorado Springs campus this fall, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, under Pentagon orders declaring that all accession sources and training pipelines are mission essential. Cadets will begin returning to campus early next week, with the entire student body back by the end of the July—making the Academy one of the first universities to have its entire contingent of students back on campus, according to a USAFA release. To counter the pandemic, the Academy will test cadets multiple times over the first two weeks back and then randomly after that.

Virtual Events: 6th Annual Schriever Space Forum, and More

On Nov. 20, the Air Force Association's Schriever Chapter will host the 6th Annual Schriever Space Futures Forum—a live, virtual event—featuring appearances by Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John E. Hyten, Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson, Space and Missile Systems Center Commander Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, and incoming U.S. Space Command boss Lt. Gen. (sel.) John E. Shaw. Register for free here.

Radar Sweep

America Really Does Have a Space Force. We Went Inside to See What It Does

TIME

China has started training specialized units with weapons that can blast apart objects in orbit. Both China and Russia have deployed ground-based laser and communications-jamming equipment that can disable satellites. In short, an arms race for space has begun. This is the story of America’s effort to keep ahead.

Singapore Requests Future F-35 Training Location Also Host its F-16 Jets

Defense News

Singapore has told the U.S. Air Force it wants to co-locate its Arizona-based F-16 training detachment with its future F-35 training unit, with five locations in the U.S. shortlisted as potential sites for training international F-35 operators. In a statement to Defense News, U.S. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said the service “plans to establish an F-35 Foreign Military Sales training Center in the Continental United States which could accommodate up to 36 F-35 aircraft.”

Northrop Grumman Delivers a New Solid Booster for ULA’s Atlas 5

SpaceNews

Northrop Grumman announced July 21 it has delivered three custom designed solid rocket motors that will fly later this year on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 vehicle. The performance of these strap-on boosters on the Atlas 5 will serve as a preview for a larger version that Northrop Grumman is developing for ULA’s future launch vehicle Vulcan Centaur.

OPINION: Combatant Commanders Want Reaper To Stay

Breaking Defense

The news about our military has gotten better because our military has gotten better—and one technology in particular, our drones, has boosted American military efficiency and effectiveness. But now the star of that program, the MQ-9 Reaper, is under the knife in the Air Force’s 2021 budget plan, which would reduce funding for Reaper patrols and stop buying new MQ-9s altogether.

OPINION: Air Force ‘Digital Century Series’ Is Stuck In The Wrong Century

Breaking Defense

The original Century Series was intended to master the critical emerging technologies of its time: revolutionary improvements in hardware for jet propulsion and supersonic flight, which were central to the Cold War competition between nuclear-armed bombers and defending interceptors. With the advent of long-range missiles, space-based targeting, and cyber operations, manned fighters no longer hold that same strategic importance. The equivalent technologies today might be unmanned aircraft, man-machine teaming, and command-and-control networks to reorganize forces on the fly in real-time, write the Hudson Institute’s Bryan Clark and Dan Patt.

This Is Our First Look At Boeing's MQ-25 Tanker Drone Carrying A Refueling Pod

The Drive

We now have our first look at Boeing's MQ-25 carrier-based tanker drone test article, also known as T1, carrying a Cobham buddy refueling store under its wing. Senator Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, Tweeted pictures of T1 after a recent tour of MidAmerica Airport, where work on and various testing of the unmanned demonstrator have been going on for more than a year now.

Air Force Tweaks OCP Nametapes, Insignia for Easier Reading

Air Force Times

The Air Force said Thursday it is tweaking the newly-adopted OCP uniforms to make things like nametapes and rank insignia easier to read or identify.The OCP uniform, which the Air Force began shifting to in 2018, currently has a seven-color background for nametapes, service tapes, rank insignia, and badges. But now, the Air Force is switching to a lighter, three-color background.

One More Thing

These American Mercenaries Were the Heroes of China

CNN

Consider this job offer: A one-year contract to live and work in China, flying, repairing, and making airplanes. Pay is as much as $13,700 a month with 30 days off a year. Housing is included and you'll get an extra $550 a month for food. On top of that, there's an extra $9,000 for every Japanese airplane you destroy—no limit. That's the deal—in inflation-adjusted 2020 dollars—that a few hundred Americans took in 1941 to become the heroes, and some would even say the saviors, of China.