52nd FW vice commander takes final flight at Spangdahlem

Spangdahlem: Loss of Fighter Mission Doesn’t Mean the End of the Base

The end of the fighter mission at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, doesn’t mean the end of the base, 52nd Fighter Wing officials said, as uncertainty over the installation’s future lingers following the Pentagon’s proposed European restructuring announcement. As part of an overall reduction of forces in Germany, the 480th Fighter Squadron and other parts of the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem are expected to move to Italy, Defense Department and U.S. European Command leaders announced July 29. The announcement took many at the German base by surprise, with Airmen and other community members expressing confusion about their future. “We know that many of you are concerned about yesterday’s announcement, but please be reassured that these changes are not immediate, and from the highest levels of our military, leaders are keeping families in mind and working to ensure any decisions for moves are made in advance so members and their families have time to prepare,” the base said in a statement.
F-15EX Two Ship Peel Off

F-15EX Could Replace Strike Eagle Fleet, in Addition to Older C/D Models, USAF Says

A document justifying the Air Force's purchase of potentially $23 billion worth of F-15EX fighters from Boeing indicates the Air Force could buy even more, replacing not only the aging F-15C/D fleet but also its somewhat younger F-15E ground attack stablemate. The heavily redacted document notes that the contract for Boeing posits a “rough order of magnitude” purchase of 200 airplanes, but the “most probable quantity” would be 144 fighters. However, it also notes that while the program is “initially” intended to refresh the aging F-15C/D, a decision to similarly replace the F-15E Strike Eagle fleet with the EX “has not been made, but remains an option.”
STRATCOM Mitchell

STRATCOM Boss: U.S. Must Rethink Deterrence Given Russian, Chinese Capabilities

Given Russia’s vast improvements to its defense posture over the last two decades and the fact that China is on a track to become a strategic peer to the United States by the end of the decade, the Defense Department needs to rethink its deterrence strategy, U.S. Strategic Command boss Adm. Charles A. “Chas” Richard said. Speaking at a virtual Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event, Richard said the U.S. potentially could face two very different peer-capable nuclear competitors in the not-so-distant future, which would require two different methods of deterrence. “We have never faced that situation before. We’re working very hard at STRATCOM, along with the broader Joint Force, to understand that,” he said.
Peter Highnam

DARPA Plots Next Steps for Cutting-Edge Tech in 2022

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is eyeing new strides in artificial intelligence and biological technology as it lays plans for fiscal 2022, its acting director said July 30. Former DARPA Director Steven H. Walker’s departure to industry in January offers an “opportunity to rethink some of the things that we’re doing, albeit in the context of a pandemic,” Peter Highnam, the agency’s acting director, told reporters during a Defense Writers Group event. “You’ll see increasing emphasis in AI, … 5G, space, some more directed energy. We’re in quantum [computing],” Highnam said, plus a greater push into operational biotechnology like sprayable, self-growing helicopter landing pads.
Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration Shawn J. Barnes speaks at a virtual "Aerospace Nation" event

Slow Going for Space Force Acquisition Reform

More than seven months after Congress created a Space Force, House lawmakers want assurances that the new service can improve how it develops and buys new technology. They’re even willing to hand the military extra money to work on it. The catch: The Trump administration hasn’t yet named anyone to hold that key acquisition post, and the person doing the job right now isn’t sure how he’d spend an extra $15 million.
PME changes

Air Force Clears Pregnant, Postpartum Airmen for PME

Pregnant Airmen and those who have given birth within the past 12 months may now attend professional military education without getting special permission or passing a fitness test first, according to a recent Air Force policy change. The decision about whether or not to attend PME is now up to these Airmen and their medical teams, a July 29 USAF release said. The new policy also exempts these Airmen from performing any physical tasks that might make them feel uneasy while conducting PME.
Jonathan Rath Hoffman

Pentagon to Tweak OPSEC Training Verbiage Following Criticism

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper has directed the Defense Department to tweak its operational security training materials so it no longer refer to journalists as “adversaries,” following public criticism of the language, Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Rath Hoffman told reporters July 30. “To avoid confusion moving forward, and to address the concerns presented, the Secretary has directed that we adjust the training materials to identify individuals or groups trying to obtain information simply as ‘unauthorized recipients,’” Hoffman said.

Radar Sweep

Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19

Air Force Magazine

Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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How a Secretive Pentagon Agency Seeded the Ground for a Rapid Coronavirus Cure

The Washington Post

The scientists were working through the night over a weekend in February in their Vancouver offices, running a blood sample from an early American covid-19 survivor through a credit card-sized device made up of 200,000 tiny chambers, hoping to help save the world. Their mission was part of a program under the Pentagon’s secretive technology research agency. The goal: to find a way to produce antibodies for any virus in the world within 60 days of collecting a blood sample from a survivor.

Joint NNSA Strategic Nuclear Deterrence Forum with Charles P. Verdon

AFA's Mitchell Institute on YouTube

On July 29, the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies and the Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance Deterrence Center welcomed Charles P. Verdon, NNSA deputy administrator for defense programs, for a forum entitled "Nuclear Weapons Complex Modernization, the Cornerstone of our Strategic Nuclear Deterrent."

Was the Pentagon’s Blacklist of Chinese Companies Justified?

Defense One

When Defense Department officials released a list of companies it claimed were linked to Chinese military activity back in June, they didn’t provide much explanation or evidence. Naturally, some of the companies on the list protested, claiming unfair treatment and no involvement with the Chinese government. So who is right?

Faster Acquisition

Air Force Magazine

The Air Force is leveraging emerging technologies and new legislation to accelerate acquisition decisions and streamline sustainment. Read more here.

One More Thing

The Night a Mysterious Drone Swarm Descended on Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant

The Drive

In a trove of documents and internal correspondences related to the event, officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission described the incident as a "drone-a-palooza" and said that it highlighted concerns about the potential for a future "adversarial attack" involving small unmanned aircraft and the need for defenses against them.