Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A federal judge on Oct. 22 refused to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff sexually assaulted a former top aide during a Southern California trip. Air Force Gen. John Hyten has denied the allegations brought by former Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser that he attacked her during a December 2017 trip to attend the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, northwest of Los Angeles.
A recommendation to eliminate the Air Force physical fitness test has shot to the top of the rankings on the service’s main idea submission platform. The fitness program proposal, submitted Oct. 16 to the Airmen Powered by Innovation website, has received almost 800 votes and is now the most popular suggestion for Air Force Spark Tank 2021, an annual campaign designed to spur creative solutions and improvements by Airmen.
European NATO nations without the fifth-generation F-35 combat jet should mold their fleets to complement the U.S.-developed aircraft in future operations, according to a new report commissioned by U.S. European Command. The analysis, done by the think tank Rand and published Oct. 22, ascribes such a vital advantage to the F-35′s stealth and sensor-fusion features that the jet would be the only aircraft suitable for an initial contact with Russian forces in the event of a conflict.
A C-17 Globemaster had an emergency landing at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan on Oct. 18. No one was injured in the landing, U.S. Forces in Afghanistan spokesman Army Col. Sonny Leggett said in a tweet that day, and enemy activity was not involved.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently granted the Air Force a patent for an innovative runway repair solution developed at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center. The formula, developed by members of AFCEC’s laboratory at Tyndall Air Force Base, will allow Rapid Airfield Damage Repair, or RADR, teams to quickly repair runways using materials that can be gathered locally, such as sand and clay.
The Air Force in August selected United Launch Alliance and SpaceX as its launch providers for the next five years. Blue Origin competed for the job but lost and, as a result, the Air Force plans to terminate a $500 million contract Blue Origin received in 2018 to advance the development of its New Glenn rocket. The company is moving forward with New Glenn with the goal to debut the vehicle in 2021 and pursue commercial work, but it is trying to make the case to the Air Force that it should continue to fund the vehicle and the ground infrastructure that it would need to be certified for national security missions.
The “diabolical ironclad beetle” is teaching Air Force researchers new ways to resist outside pressure. The beetle’s crush-resistant armor holds secrets that could unlock new ways of making armor or designing stronger airplane materials. The beetle study is part of an $8 million project funded by the U.S. Air Force to explore how the biology of creatures can provide solutions to military technological challenges.