The Air Force has spent the past four years making a concerted push to ready its planes for war. It’s gained almost no ground. On average, seven out of every 10 planes were available as needed for combat missions, training, or other routine operations in fiscal 2021. Mission-capable rates, the main readiness metric across nearly 40 of the service’s major aircraft, remained essentially stagnant, from 72.7 percent in 2020 to 71.5 percent in 2021. It’s a meager bump from 2018, when it sank just below 70 percent, its lowest point in nearly a decade.
The 332nd Fighter Group, better known as the Tuskegee Airmen, made history in 1949 as winners of the first Top Gun contest, a gunnery competition that drew top military pilots. But when their names were announced, the room remained quiet. There was no applause. A photographer snapped a single photo of the team with their trophy, which was left in storage for 55 years afterward.
The Kremlin signaled Feb. 14 that it is ready to keep talking with the West about security grievances that led to the current Ukraine crisis, offering hope that Russia might not invade its beleaguered neighbor within days as the U.S. and European allies increasingly fear. Questions remain about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions, however. And countries are evacuating diplomats and on alert for possible imminent war amid the worst East-West tensions since the Cold War.
Defense spending appeared set for a larger-than-authorized increase in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 as part of a “framework” appropriators agreed to Feb. 9, though the pact’s contents remained a mystery as stakeholders scrambled to figure out what’s in store for a massive omnibus package being written in secret.
Air Force Reserve Maj. Carlos Rojas said he was watching a movie when the passenger, who has not yet been identified by the FBI, began to be disruptive. Rojas said another man sitting near him first noticed that something was wrong. That man, who told Rojas he was an Army officer, tried to help flight attendants subdue the unruly passenger, but it became apparent they needed backup. “He came back and actually grabbed me and said, ‘Hey, I need your help,’” said Rojas, who is assigned to the 701st Combat Operations Squadron at March Air Reserve Base, Calif.
As commander of Finland’s Air Force, Maj. Gen. Pasi Jokinen is a key player in orchestrating the country’s transition from its F-18 fleet to the F-35, a multibillion-dollar investment decision announced by the Finnish government late last year. He sat down with Defense News at the Finnish Embassy in Washington in January following a meeting with U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. at the Pentagon. Jokinen laid out how the Lockheed Martin-built jet managed to win Finland’s H-X program competition, particularly in the crucial evaluation categories of supply security, industrial participation, and military capability.
Project Blackjack started as a bold idea. Instead of relying on a small handful of satellites operating 20,000 miles above Earth, what if the U.S. military could get the same, if not improved, capabilities by using hundreds of small satellites operating less than 1,000 miles up and connected by an orbital mesh network? The U.S. military is already experimenting with commercial networks for connectivity at its most hard-to-reach bases, such as in the Arctic. But Pentagon leaders also wanted a government-owned, space-based, low-latency internet made of dozens of small satellites connecting sensors and weapons all over the globe, completely dedicated to military missions.
China will doubtless be tracking the every move of a U.S. Air Force B-52 when it performs a flyover at this week’s Singapore Air Show. But “the BUFF” won’t be the only plane showing off its capabilities during the show, which kicks off Feb. 14. Generally, the point of showing off hardware at air shows is to impress potential customers, and that’s certainly the case with the Singapore air show, the largest annual military aviation expo in the Indo-Pacific, arguably the center of gravity for great power competition for the next two decades. Geopolitics being what they are, it’s impossible to ignore the potential messaging being sent to China by the American presence at this year’s event.
The Air Force Research Laboratory could award a contract as soon as this summer for a new experiment on cislunar space domain awareness to help the U.S. military observe and track objects that reside between geostationary orbit and the moon. AFRL plans to issue a solicitation by March for the Cislunar Highway Patrol System, or CHPS, the director of the lab’s Space Vehicles Directorate, Col. Eric Felt, said in a recent interview.
One city in California mixed up its fighter jets amid the Super Bowl celebrations. The Twitter account for Santa Monica, Calif., tweeted a photo of a Russian jet Feb. 13 in reference to an Air Force flyover. "Just before 3:30 P.M., the [U.S. Air Force] will flyover #SantaMonica and #Malibu in preparation for the National Anthem performance for #Superbowl at SoFi Stadium," the account tweeted, with the image of a Russian MiG fighter jet attached.