Northrop Wins $13.3B Contract to Design New ICBMs

Northrop Grumman will officially move ahead as the sole company in the Air Force’s competition to design a new intercontinental ballistic missile, under a $13.3 billion contract, the service said Sept. 8. Northrop’s design for the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent will replace the 400 nuclear-tipped Minuteman III missiles that are scattered in silos around Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. The engineering and manufacturing development contract formally unseats Boeing as the Air Force's future ICBM provider after more than 60 years as the primary contractor.
F-16 Poland

Joint Exercise Brings New Battle Management Ideas to Europe

U.S. and European military forces will try to push the boundaries of how the alliance responds in the face of air and missile threats during the “Astral Knight” exercise this month. The second annual Air Force-led exercise hopes to mirror the Pentagon’s broader push to proactively connect conventional combat forces with those in space and cyberspace, using more technology like artificial intelligence and cutting bureaucratic hurdles. It’s an opportunity to more closely integrate the U.S. military as well as the vehicles and weapons owned by other countries. If all goes according to plan, the exercise could show whether European countries could act on allied intelligence and early warnings to take out a cruise missile or other threat—possibly fired by Russia or another regional adversary—that is headed for U.S. assets or the homeland itself.
Department of the Air Force

USAF, Space Force Commanders May Approve Emergency Leave

The Department of the Air Force has empowered unit commanders and civilian directors to greenlight emergency leaves of absence for members of the Air and Space Forces under certain circumstances, according to a Sept. 8 release. Prior to this policy change, the Air Force Secretary had to sign off on such requests. “This delegation gives commanders and civilian directors the flexibility to assist their Airmen and Space Professionals directly and eliminates steps to get this type of leave approved,” USAF’s Deputy Director of Military Force Management Policy Lisa M. Truesdale said in the release. “Additionally, our leaders can now aid their members faster and help prevent them from going into an unfavorable leave status in such a difficult time.”
U.S. Army firefighters assist local departments during 2020 California wildfire season

California National Guard Using Satellites to Fight Wildfires

The California National Guard is employing National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency satellites in its fight against wildfires impacting the state. The state’s National Guard has “pioneered the use of space-based systems” that help it detect and map fires, as well as assess the damage they cause, California Adjutant General Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin told reporters Sept. 7. The California Air National Guard worked with NGA “to be able to use the systems in an unclassified mode to be able to share information ... primarily on fire starts,” he said. The California National Guard is also collaborating with the Defense Innovation Unit in hopes of leveraging Silicon Valley artificial intelligence capabilities to speed the process of determining a fire’s threat potential, he added. Baldwin said the CANG’s daily employment of space-based systems—not only for wildfire response, but also for its personnel’s wartime missions—demonstrates the need for a Space National Guard.

Virtual Events: Scowcroft Group’s Miller on Mitchell’s Nuclear Deterrence Series, and More

On March 23, the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies will host a virtual Nuclear Deterrence Series event featuring Scowcroft Group Principal Frank Miller. At a time when nuclear modernization programs are accelerating around the world, proposals to recapitalize the U.S. nuclear arsenal are at the forefront of debates over defense spending. Miller will share his insights into the prospects for U.S. nuclear modernization programs and the value of nuclear deterrence in today's competitive security environment. The think tank will post event video on its website and YouTube page after the live event.

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.

USAF to Compete F-15EX Engine Production


A presolicitation notification posted on the government procurement website on Sept. 3 said that a request for proposals for up to 461 engines to cover Lots 2 to 8 of aircraft production will be issued in November. Deliveries would begin in June 2023.

DOD Upholds JEDI Award to Microsoft

Federal News Network

The Pentagon said Sept. 4 it’s sticking with its original decision to award the multibillion dollar JEDI Cloud contract to Microsoft, six months after telling a federal court it wanted to reconsider the original award to fix alleged irregularities in the source selection process.

White House Issues New Space Cybersecurity Policy Directive

Inside Defense

The directive, SPD-5, is the government’s first comprehensive policy geared toward space systems. Senior administration officials said the directive is not meant to be prescriptive—and they don’t intend to ask agencies to mandate its recommendations—but instead it provides principle-based best practices for space operators and agencies that develop space systems.

The JADC2 Revolution

Air Force Magazine

U.S. forces are redefining joint operations to be more tightly integrated. Joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) accelerates the speed and complexity of warfare by tying forces together across the air, land, sea, space, and cyber domains. For the latest on what this means to operators and the industry, check out our JADC2 landing page.

One More Thing

The Air Force Just Tested Robot Dogs as Backup for Security Forces

Task and Purpose

The robot dogs—developed by Ghost Robotics as part of an Air Force Research Laboratory contract awarded back in April—were deployed last week to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada as part of an agile combat employment exercise during which airmen scrambled to secure a simulated airfield against hostile attack.