Sexual harassment will be its own unique crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice following an order by President Joe Biden on Jan. 26, marking the latest effort to stamp out sex crimes in the ranks. The president's executive order elevates the offense following an overhaul of military sexual assault prosecutions by Congress.
Two months after the New York Times revealed how a U.S. military strike purportedly against ISIS in 2019 actually hit a crowd of women and children, the Defense Department is standing up an organization specifically dedicated to preventing and accounting for civilian casualties of such catastrophes. In partnership with Rand Corp., the department submitted what data it had on civilian casualties, and the processes to prevent or address them, for a report released Jan. 27.
A community group on Guam is challenging the U.S. Air Force’s plans to blow up bombs and other waste munitions at a base on the U.S. territory, saying it could contaminate water supplies and threaten endangered species. The group devoted to protecting Guam’s natural and cultural resources alleged in a lawsuit filed in federal court Jan. 25 that the Air Force violated federal law by not evaluating cultural and environmental impacts from open burning and detonating munitions on ancestral lands.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in seeking to block the U.S. Department of Defense from mandating COVID-19 vaccines for National Guard members who are under state command. The Pentagon has required COVID-19 vaccination for all service members, including the National Guard and Reserve. Attorneys for the two governors, in an amended lawsuit dated Jan. 25, say that when National Guard members are serving the state, the federal government has no command authority. The lawsuit said the mandate is an unconstitutional overstepping of bounds.
Some American troops are on standby as the world waits to see whether Russia will invade Ukraine, but the U.S. Air Force’s involvement in the conflict is already well underway. U.S. and allied reconnaissance flights in the region have been ongoing since at least Dec. 24, dispatching multiple types of military planes to serve as extra eyes and ears over Eastern Europe.
Israel is launching a new effort to crack down on Chinese attempts to obtain Israeli defense technology, as the country gears up for a high-profile legal case, allegedly involving the sale of drones to Beijing, next month. Sources in the Israeli defense establishment say that enforcement has ramped up as a result of increased Chinese efforts, including Chinese firms making direct contact with Israeli industrial experts. Breaking Defense has learned that several months ago, the Biden administration warned Jerusalem that China is operating a web of companies inside Israel as part of a dedicated effort to acquire advanced defense technologies.
The U.S. military has indicated its interest in commercial supersonic flight by granting as much as $60 million to Boom Supersonic for its airliner development efforts. The Colorado-based company has announced that the Air Force awarded a three-year contract to Boom to accelerate research and development of its Overture airliner. Boom is designing Overture to carry between 65 and 88 passengers at subsonic speeds over land and supersonic speeds over water—more than twice as fast as current commercial aircraft.
The Air Force is chasing a slew of new technologies to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, to make its engines more efficient and use less gas, and to make it easier to keep bases and aircraft gassed up downrange. Those technologies include designing better engines, analyzing jet fuel use, and even washing down engines differently so that they run better. But there is one technology that could have dramatic implications not just for the Air Force but for society in general: renewable jet fuel.
In May 1983, what was then NASA's only Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a highly-modified Boeing 747 airliner capable of carrying a Space Shuttle on the top of its fuselage, arrived at the Paris Air Show carrying the shuttle Enterprise. The international aviation spectacle, arguably Europe's highest-profile air show, had long been an arena for Cold War competition. While the visit was hugely publicized, what most don't know is that the plane had been modified for its European trip with an advanced countermeasures system to protect itself from heat-seeking that was still highly classified at the time.