Russia Paves the Way for Ukraine Invasion as Austin Travels to Eastern Flank

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III departs Feb. 15 for a NATO defense ministerial meeting in Brussels and for meetings with his Polish and Baltic counterparts that will take him to the Russian border just as U.S. intelligence predicts an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine. “This will not be bloodless. This will not be easy,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said from the briefing room podium Feb. 14 while discussing the implications should Russian President Vladimir Putin order an invasion of Ukraine.
digital first

Space Force Wrestling With ‘Digital First’ Culture

The Space Force—the only military branch born in the information age—has declared itself a “digital first” service. But its leaders are still wrestling with the challenges of digital transformation and working to build a 21st century service culture, they recently told attendees at an industry conference. “One of our biggest challenges is getting all of our folks’ heads around a new way of doing business,” said Brig. Gen. Kevin G. Whale, a Royal Canadian Air Force officer on assignment to Space Operations Command, or SpOC, to serve as deputy commanding general for transformation.
air force lasers

Airborne Lasers, New Kinetic Weapons Paired in Virtual Test

The Air Force Research Laboratory has already experimented with airborne lasers on the virtual battlefield. Now the lab’s latest test has combined those lasers with next-generation kinetic weapons to see how they could work together. Seven pilots, weapon systems officers, and air battle managers took part in one of AFRL’s Directed Energy Utility Concept Experiments from Jan. 24 to 28 at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. The DEUCE series of experiments aims to test how operators use directed energy weapons in simulated situations. This most recent experiment, however, went a step further in trying to explore “synergies between directed energy and kinetic concepts,” according to AFRL.
Lockheed Aerojet

Lockheed Martin Walks Away From Deal to Buy Aerojet Rocketdyne

The world’s largest defense contractor says it’s given up on trying to buy the only U.S. maker of certain propulsion components of missiles and missile defense kill vehicles. The Federal Trade Commission announced in January that it was suing Lockheed Martin to block the company from acquiring Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Radar Sweep

Air Force Fleet’s Mission-Capable Rates are Stagnating. Here’s the Plan to Change That.

Air Force Times

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.

'Finally': Tuskegee Airmen Honored 73 Years After Competition Win Was ‘Swept Under the Rug'

USA Today

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.

Sliver of Hope: Kremlin Sees a Diplomatic Path on Ukraine

The Associated Press

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 Appropriations Likely to Exceed Fiscal 2022 NDAA Levels

Roll Call

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 Major Helps to Subdue Unruly Passenger Aboard American Airlines Flight

Task & Purpose

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.

Finnish Air Force Commander on Running the F-35 Through a Time of Isolation

Defense News

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.

Is Project Blackjack Still Relevant?


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.

F-35B to Fly at Singapore Air Show, Plus B-52 Flyby & Indian Light Combat Aircraft

Breaking Defense

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.

Air Force Research Lab Building Momentum on Cislunar Projects


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 More Thing

California Town Tweets Photo of Russian Jet to Promote US Air Force Flyover

The Washington Examiner

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.