The Pentagon is considering giving the Space Force a greater role in a stepped-up effort to track and investigate reports of UFOs. But the newest military branch isn't over the moon about the idea. Space Force leaders are still struggling to rebrand an organization that has been lampooned since before its birth. Now, they are conflicted about becoming the military's go-to on what the Pentagon calls "unidentified aerial phenomena," according to five current and former officials taking part in the discussions.
Draken US has returned its fleet of Dassault Mirage F1 jets to flight after grounding them for nearly three months to check for defects following a fatal crash in Nevada. Nicholas Hamilton, a 43-year-old contract pilot for Draken who flew against Air Force aviators in aggressor training, died May 24 after he lost control of an F1 on his return flight from Nellis Air Force Base’s Nevada Test and Training Range. The Air Force veteran known as “Scooter” had logged more than 2,500 hours in military jets and was married with two sons, according to an online obituary.
A bill to connect more veterans with service dogs trained to support mental health conditions is headed to President Joe Biden's desk. The Senate on Aug. 6 passed the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers, or PAWS, for Veterans Therapy Act, which requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to train service dogs.
The Senate on Aug. 9 confirmed veteran defense official Mara Karlin to lead Pentagon strategy hours after Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., announced he’d lifted a procedural hold on the nomination over China policy concerns. Hawley’s hold delayed Karlin’s bid to be assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities. But he said he released it after receiving Karlin’s assurances that she favors centering the Pentagon’s force planning process on China and that she believes in employing a strategy of “deterrence-by-denial” to counter China and its aggression toward Taiwan.
The Department of Defense‘s new plan to acquire enterprise cloud services could include an option for more than just the very largest cloud companies to be providers, a top IT official said Aug. 10. The DOD is planning on launching a “cloud marketplace” as part of the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC), the cloud contract that replaces the scrapped Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract.
Congress is taking a particular interest in helping the Defense Department plug deficiencies in hard-to-fill positions, especially as near-peer competition with rivals such as China and Russia continues to heat up. The House Appropriations Committee’s 2022 defense bill reflects concern with DOD’s recruitment and retention challenges, especially when it comes to career and technical education and science, technology, engineering and math issues. The legislation will direct a handful of reports and plans in order to address hiring shortages.
Cloud technologies are accelerating change at every level of the Air Force—and the Space Force. Whether it's pure computational power to enable autonomy or advanced encryption to ensure mission-grade security, the future of IT is here and now.
In the context of national security, “deterrence” is usually shorthand for “having an arsenal scary enough to frighten another nation and keep them from attacking you.” But in the modern digital era, that simply isn’t enough, Gen. Glen VanHerck, the head of U.S. Northern Command, warned Aug. 10. Deterrence now needs to include signaling and messaging to make sure that a weapon is never launched against the U.S. or its forces.
China’s main spacecraft maker is developing a human landing system for lunar missions, according to an account of an official academic visit. The brief news report from Xiamen University School of Aeronautics and Astronautics on July 1 names individuals leading projects pertinent to China’s human lunar landing plans and notably refers to the landing project as a “national strategy.” China is already known to be developing and testing new launch vehicles and a new-generation spacecraft capable of sending astronauts to the moon. A lunar landing and ascent system has one of the missing key components of a human lunar landing architecture.
The Antares rocket that launched Aug. 10 to replenish the International Space Station will be carrying a camera sensor with a unique missile-defense task: to begin gathering data that could help the U.S. more quickly detect and defend against hypersonic missiles. The Prototype Infrared Payload, nicknamed “PIRPL,” was developed by Northrop Grumman and the Missile Defense Agency to see how low Earth orbit, or LEO, satellites might be used to help detect hypersonic missiles.
The Mitchell Institute hosted a virtual Nuclear Deterrence & Missile Defense Forum event Aug. 10 with Maj. Gen. Michael J. Lutton, the commander of the 20th Air Force and previous deputy director for nuclear and homeland defense operations of the Joint Staff. Lutton discussed the need for U.S. nuclear modernization, how our competitors such as China and Russia are changing the nuclear deterrence landscape, and other topics.
On Sept. 15, if all goes according to plan, Jared Isaacman—the billionaire CEO of Shift4 Payments—and three other private citizens will strap into a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft—all four seats paid for by Isaacman—and blast off for orbit on the mission dubbed Inspiration4. Three days later they will return to Earth. Unlike most of the rest of us, they will have spent time off of the planet. But will that earn them the label of “astronaut?”