USAF Officials Urge Congress to Allow for More Fleet Cuts, Reinvestment in New Systems

Top Department of the Air Force leaders told lawmakers May 7 they need to divest aging aircraft to make room for more advanced systems, setting up a now familiar budget fight on Capitol Hill. “America cannot wait to modernize the Air Force any longer, not one year, one month, or one week,” acting Air Force Secretary John P. Roth and Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. wrote in testimony to the House Appropriations defense subcommittee. “To deter and defeat today’s competitors and tomorrow’s adversaries, we must re-capitalize our Air Force, and we must do it now … The call to accelerate change or lose is not hyperbole—it is a requirement.”
KC-135 Refuels F-35s over Afghanistan

F-35 Is Now the Air Force’s Second-Largest Fighter Fleet

The F-35A fleet is now the second largest in the Air Force’s inventory, behind the F-16 but surpassing F-15s and A-10s. There are now 283 Joint Strike Fighters in the Air Force’s arsenal, compared to 281 A-10s, 234 F-15C/Ds, and 218 F-15Es. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee that the F-35 passed that mark within the past week. The Air Force plans to buy 1,763 of the aircraft, and the numbers of jets have been growing at bases inside the continental United States and Alaska. Jets are expected to start arriving at the first overseas base—RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom—later this year.

Leaders Provide Insight Into the Newly Re-Established US Space Command

Special-ops aviators, a physicist from the intelligence community, and an enlisted Marine with decades of deployments: U.S. Space Command’s military and civilian leaders who spoke May 7 were as likely to come from strictly space backgrounds as not. These are some of the day’s insights from inside the command, which was re-established 19 months ago and whose geographic area of responsibility starts 100 kilometers above the surface of the Earth.
STRATCOM Commander Holds Pentagon Briefing

Richard Says Nuclear Deterrence Connected to All Other DOD Capabilities

If strategic deterrence fails, nothing else will work as intended, said U.S. Strategic Command boss Adm. Charles “Chas” A. Richard during a virtual Brookings Institution event on May 7. “Every operational plan in the Department of Defense, and every other capability we have in DOD, rests on the assumption that strategic deterrence, and in particular nuclear deterrence, … is holding right,” Richard said. “And, if that assumption is not met, particularly with nuclear deterrence, nothing else in the Department of Defense is going to work the way it was designed.”

Radar Sweep

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‘We Cut Too Deep’: Air Force Reinstates Hundreds of ROTC Cadets After Dismissals Spark Backlash

The Washington Post

The Air Force reversed its decision to dismiss hundreds of reserve officer training cadets and restored nearly 130 scholarships, officials said, after a lobbying effort assailed the decision as a punishment for many qualified cadets that would create catastrophic financial problems. The pandemic’s wave of economic and social uncertainty triggered the initial decision, officials said. The natural cycle of departing officers creating room for the younger ranks has been disrupted, and service members, wary of leaving jobs and health care, are staying at the highest rate in two decades.

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Sierra Nevada protests Air Force's planned award to Sikorsky for HH-60W upgrades

Janes

Sierra Nevada Corp. is contesting the US Air Force’s intention to sole-source a $980 million contract to Sikorsky for HH-60W Jolly Green II combat search and rescue helicopter upgrades. The bid protest, filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, alleges that the USAF’s intent to sole-source this contract violated the Competition in Contracting Act, which requires full and open competition in acquisition for supplies and services by U.S. federal agencies.

Defense Appropriators ‘Disappointed’ with Management of Space Force Acquisitions

Space News

The U.S. Space Force has moved quickly to organize its operational units since it was established 16 months ago. But Congress would also like to see the service make headway in acquisition programs, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee said May 7. “Progress in addressing longstanding acquisition issues has been disappointing so far,” Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota) told the leaders of the Department of the Air Force during a posture hearing.

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Pentagon Struggles to Wean Afghan Military Off American Air Support

New York Times

The United States has continued limited air support to Afghan national security forces in recent days, launching a half-dozen airstrikes as Taliban fighters stepped up an offensive in the country’s south before the full withdrawal of American troops ordered by President Joe Biden. Even so, Afghan ground commanders are asking for more help from American warplanes, exposing a stark reality of the war there: Even in the twilight days of the American involvement, the Afghan dependency on U.S. pilots and warplanes as backup is unquestionable.

Nobody Wants Rules in Space

Defense One

Debris from a crashing Chinese rocket hurtling toward Earth and a Russian projectile-shooting spy satellite are two examples of a big problem: too few rules governing how nations behave in space. Lawmakers pressed Biden administration officials recently on what the United States can do to set some hard boundaries. The answer: The United States wants norms in space, but don’t expect anything legally binding anytime soon.

Bill Seeks to Bolster National Guard’s Role in Cyber Response

Air Force Times

A bill introduced in the House seeks to bolster the National Guard’s ability to respond to cyber threats, including critical infrastructure attacks in their states. The National Guard Cybersecurity Support Act, introduced by Rep. Andy Kim (D-New Jersey) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) would give governors the ability to decide when and how to deploy their state’s National Guard to stand off against increasing cyberattacks that could impact various agencies and services, such as water supplies or the electrical grid.

OPINION: Why We Need the Advanced Battle Management System

Defense One

“… Warfare is becoming much faster, as are the decisions required in competition and crisis. We must once again adapt our tools for effective [command and control] to confront this reality, and this is the focus of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System—a way for humans and algorithms to manage mass quantities of data securely from multiple sources through multiple domains that is ingested, fused, processed, and presented in a manner useful to commanders,” writes Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin.

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U.S. Nuclear Weapons Upgrade to See Delay on Old Silos, Tech

Bloomberg

Upgrading America’s nuclear missile arsenal will likely take longer than expected because of the complexities of pulling 1970s-era ICBMs out of aging silos and testing and installing replacement missiles and technology to run the system for decades to come, according to a congressional audit.

More Than 130 House Lawmakers Push to Ramp Up F-35 Buy

Defense News

More than 130 members of the House of Representatives have signed a letter urging continued financial support for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, signaling a potential roadblock for lawmakers hoping to cut F-35 procurement in fiscal 2022. The April 28 letter called on the leadership of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subpanel to fully fund the Defense Department’s request for F- 35s during FY22, as well as any additional F-35s listed in the service’s unfunded requirements list.

A British Space Force? 'Never Say Never,' Says UK General

Military.com

As countries around the world expand their military space efforts, one of the U.S.'s closest allies wants to develop deeper cooperation on the final frontier—and hasn't ruled out creating a "Space Force" of its own someday. "Never say never," said Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, chief of the Air Staff for the Royal Air Force, or RAF, for the United Kingdom.

One More Thing

‘Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker’ May have been Terrible, but at Least We Have This X-wing

Military Times

I’ll never get back the 144 minutes I spent watching the midnight premiere of “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker,” a movie that took everything we knew and loved about a galaxy far, far away and crashed it into the forest moon of Endor. Although we can collectively agree that the final Star Wars trilogy was just shy of a dumpster fire, at least it did a half-decent job paying homage to fan-favorite aircraft from the original movies, including the X-wing.