jdams bombs

USAF Slashes Bomb Funding, Hinting at New Systems or Return to Boom and Bust

The Air Force's fiscal 2022 budget request for munitions cuts deeply into production of staples like the Joint Direct Attack Munition bomb and Hellfire missile. The service, however, promises its stockpiles are adequate and that it needs to invest in new munitions that are better suited for heavily defended airspace. The move also signals that USAF hasn't smoothed out its boom-and-bust cycle of weapons procurement.

USAF Unfunded Priorities Include More F-15EXs, No Additional F-35As

The Air Force wants another dozen F-15EXs as part of its $4.2 billion unfunded priorities list it submitted to Congress this week, but the service is not asking for any additional F-35A strike fighters. The Space Force sent a separate request to the Hill, but it's not clear what is included on that list or how much it would cost. Last year, the Department of the Air Force sent a $4.2 billion unfunded priorities list to the Hill, which included $3.2 billion for the Air Force and $1 billion for the fledgling Space Force.
609th Air Operations Center Al Udeid

NATO Buys, Operates Kessel Run’s Tanker Planning App

NATO has bought and already used an application known as Jigsaw, which was developed by the Air Force’s Kessel Run to handle refueling tanker planning in the Middle East. The alliance used the application, known as Jigsaw, which it purchased in late 2020, to plan air-to-air refueling operations during the two-week exercise Ramstein Ambition 21, according to a press release. “The use of the application during the NATO exercise showcases how far reaching and influential the modernization efforts of Kessel Run have become,” said Col. Brian Beachkofski, commander of Kessel Run, in the press release. “Our efforts to enhance our AOC Weapon Systems, now seem to be positively enhancing the abilities of our allies as well.”
air force arctic exercise

Spangdahlem F-16s Deploy to Sweden for Arctic Exercise

More than 300 Airmen along with U.S. F-16s from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, deployed to Sweden for a large exercise alongside six other nations. Arctic Challenge Exercise 2021 kicked off June 2 at Kallax Air Base, Sweden, and is scheduled to run for more than two weeks. The Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing join personnel and aircraft from Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom for the exercise.

Radar Sweep

Air and Space Warfighters in Action: Space Delta 2

AFA release

Register to attend the Air Force Association’s free professional development event with Space Delta 2 commander Col. Matthew S. Cantore and Chief Master Sgt. April L. Brittain, Space Delta 2 Senior Enlisted Leader. The virtual Air and Space Warfighters in Action event will be held June 3 at 11:00 a.m.

Space Force Ditches Some Promotion Tests, Moves Toward Boards for All NCOs

Air Force Times

to determine promotions to E-6—USSF announced 52 total promotions for NCOs on May 27, including 26 who will become technical sergeants. Other services have used selection boards for higher ranks, but the Space Force is the first to do so at this level for enlisted service members. The change was only for those in the space systems operations field this time, but the plan is to transition completely to selection boards for E-5 through E-9 in all fields in 2022, as testing has been criticized for being unnecessarily stressful and not an all-encompassing metric.

US, Japan Reaffirm Alliance Amid China Territorial Claims

The Associated Press

The new head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. John Aquilino, met with Japanese officials June 1 to reassure them of the U.S.’s commitment to the two countries’ alliance. The meetings come at a time when China has become increasingly aggressive in asserting its power in the region. Japan in particular has expressed concerns over Chinese activity in and around Japanese-claimed waters surrounding the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls Diaoyu.

China Sends 16 Military Aircraft Over Disputed South China Sea Shoals Near Malaysia

Defense News

In a move Malaysia’s government termed a “serious matter that threatens national security and aviation safety,” China flew more than dozen military transport airplanes within 60 nautical miles of Malaysian coast, over both Luconia Shoals and James Shoal, features claimed by both Malaysia and China in the South China Sea. The shoals are within Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone, and the airspace the Chinese were in is administered by Malaysian air traffic control, who made several attempts to contact the Chinese aircraft with no response. The Royal Malaysian Air Force then scrambled a fighter jet to investigate.

Israeli Defense Minister To Ask US For $1B For Iron Dome Missiles

Breaking Defense

Having used up much of its munitions stockpile during the recent conflict in Gaza, Israel is seeking a $1 billion grant from the U.S. to buy more weaponry for the Iron Dome rocket interceptor, as well as “special air launched weapon systems,” specifically JDAMS. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is expected to meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on June 3 and brief him on the issue, explaining that Israel’s heavy use of missiles and bombs in the conflict, which halted May 21 with a cease-fire, has left their stockpile depleted.

The US Military Is Starting to Get Really Interested In Starship

Ars Technica

Tucked away in the Air Force’s justification book for the fiscal 2022 budget is a plan to invest $47.9 million into a project listed as “Rocket Cargo” with the intent “to leverage the current multi-billion dollar commercial investment to develop the largest rockets ever, and with full reusability to develop and test the capability to leverage a commercial rocket to deliver AF cargo anywhere on the Earth in less than one hour, with a 100-ton capacity." While the budget does not specify which commercial rocket that is, there’s only one spacecraft in development in the world right now with those capabilities—SpaceX’s Starship. The $47.9 million would not be invested in Starship directly but instead in science and technology needed to interface with the commercial rocket.

Pentagon Shelves Plans for New Air Force Two

Defense One

After funds were first requested to identify and develop new aircraft to serve as Air Force Two back in 2017, the Pentagon has dropped the project from its fiscal 2022 budget request. There are currently four Boeing 757s that serve to fly the vice president and other top-level cabinet officials, as well as the President when flying to airports with runways too short for Air Force One. The 2022 budget switch comes three months after Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, head of Air Mobility Command, called the C-32A—the military designation for the Boeing 757—“a very capable aircraft.”

Official Talks DOD Policy Role in Chinese Pacing Threat, Integrated Deterrence

DOD Release

Undersecretary of defense for policy Colin Kahl spoke during an all-hands meeting of the policy office in the Pentagon last week, explaining how Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s declaration that China is America’s “pacing threat” means that “China is the only country that can pose a systemic challenge to the United States in the sense of challenging us economically, technologically, politically, and militarily,” Kahl said. That doesn’t mean conflict with China is inevitable, Kahl said, but it does emphasize the importance of “integrated deterrence,” he said, specifically in the realms of space and cybersecurity.

One More Thing

RAF, Air Force to Exchange ‘Swords of Honor’ at Museum

Dayton Daily News

Representatives of the U.S Air Force and the U.K.’s Royal Air Force met at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, on June 2 to confer “Swords of Honor” on the “two most-deserving officers exchanged” between the services. Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr., commander of U.S. Air Force Materiel Command, will present a sword to Capt. Katie Broyles for her service at RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire, England, while British Consul General Alan Gogbashian will present one to RAF Group Capt. Andrew Lloyd.