The U.S. Air Force’s top general backs proposed legislation that would cap the number of F-35s the Defense Department can buy unless it meets affordability goals for operating and sustaining the jet. The House Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2022 defense policy bill—approved by the committee Sept. 2—would require the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps to meet targets for “cost per tail per year,” which measures the average cost of flying, maintaining, and upgrading the jet.
Air chiefs and senior enlisted leaders from the Indo-Pacific region gathered for the Pacific Air Chiefs Symposium 2021 and the first-ever Senior Enlisted Leadership Summit at Headquarters Pacific Air Forces from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach, PACAF commander, hosted the event, which was attended by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. and air chiefs from 14 other nations.
The U.S. Space Force has ramped up use of its Space Enterprise Consortium, pushing out $1 billion in contracts for prototyping efforts in its first year under new management. That marks a significant increase. From 2017 through about the end of 2020, the consortium issued a total of just $856 million in contracts. For context, the Space Force requested $17.4 billion for the entire service for fiscal 2022.
The Defense Department is “weeks away” from finalizing the implementation plan for its joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) concept, J6 Deputy Director and Cross-Functional Chair Brig. Gen. Robert Parker said Sept. 8. The implementation plan represents the start of the next key phase in the DOD’s journey to move JADC2 from concept to operational technology.
With the aging Minuteman III ICBM system staring down obsolescence in the near future, the Air Force and its partners are looking to develop the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent. At the same time, they will have to sustain the legacy platform until the end of the decade. Find out how they’re managing the delicate balance.
The Pentagon’s next budget request will feature a more detailed breakdown of its investments on climate-related issues than ever before, with the department’s No. 2 official saying she has put a “special emphasis” on climate solutions. “These are not ideological issues of climate versus warfighting,” Kathleen Hicks, deputy secretary of defense, said Sept. 8. “This is about ensuring we are resilient and capable for the warfighter of the future, and we’ll be making those investments.”
The coronavirus pandemic has cost the Pentagon at least $13.6 billion over the past year, and more costs are expected as the military increases its testing of civilian personnel, according to U.S. defense officials. The current total includes an estimated $7.1 billion to reimburse defense companies for pandemic-related expenses and $6.5 billion for “other COVID-related costs,” said Pentagon spokesperson Jessica Maxwell.
The Defense Department is making progress on reinstating the 42 advisory boards, which suspended operations at the beginning of the Biden administration. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks says 16 of the Pentagon’s advisory boards are now starting operations and being staffed again. Hicks said during a speech at the Defense News Conference that she hopes all of the advisory boards that were put on hold will be up and running by the end of the year.
Top US General Praises Air Force Crews who Rescued Thousands from Kabul: ‘Nothing Short of a Miracle’
The top officer in the U.S. military gave Air Force crews a pep talk Sept. 8 for their effort to evacuate 124,000 Afghan refugees out of Kabul last month. Army Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it was the largest airlift in human history and that the Airmen involved should be proud of their achievement despite “all the negativity that’s out there,” he said.
Thousands of Kilometers From Anywhere Lies Point Nemo, a Watery Grave where Space Stations Go to Die
At the farthest point from any landmass on earth, and four kilometers under the sea, lies the space cemetery. When their outer space journeys come to an end, old satellites, rocket parts, and space stations are sent to this desolate spot in the Pacific Ocean to rest on the dark seabed forever. The technical name for this stretch of water is the “ocean point of inaccessibility” because it lies about 2,700 kilometers from any land. But it is more commonly known as the space cemetery, or Point Nemo—named for the fictional submarine captain in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.