Editor’s Note

There will be no Daily Report on Monday, Feb. 21 due to Washington’s Birthday. We’ll be back in your inboxes on Tuesday, Feb. 22.
Space Acquisition

Space Acquisition Nominee Pledges ‘Culture of Program Management Discipline’

The man nominated to serve as the first confirmed assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration pledged to bring program discipline to the position—even if it means canceling struggling programs. “I am a firm believer in delivering programs on cost, on schedule, and meeting our requirements," Frank Calvelli told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his Feb. 17 confirmation hearing. "And if there's programs that are awry or not heading in the right direction, I have no problem either taking corrective action or terminating them."
Chaudhary

Air Force Installations Nominee ‘Regrets’ Calling for AI-monitoring of Troops for Extremism

The former Air Force C-17 pilot nominated to oversee the department’s installations came under fire during his confirmation hearing Feb. 17, as multiple senators pressed him over an editorial in which he advocated for the use of artificial intelligence to track extremism in the military. Ravi Chaudhary, nominated by the Biden administration to serve as assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment, and energy, tried to walk back that argument during the hearing, saying he regretted the article and pledging not to use AI in such a manner if confirmed.
Col. Gail S. "Hal" Halvorsen

Famed ‘Candy Bomber’ Gail Halvorsen Dies at 101

Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, who came to fame as the “Candy Bomber” of the Berlin Airlift, earning international goodwill for the United States and the Air Force, and who worked on Air Force space projects such as the Titan III, X-20 Dyna-Soar, and Manned Orbiting Laboratory, died Feb. 16 at the age of 101.
Russia NATO

Austin Sees ‘Strong NATO’ as Russia Adds Troops and Air Combat Power to Ukraine Border

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III wrapped up a two-day NATO defense ministerial in Brussels saying Russia’s bluff withdrawal did not fool him, and that the alliance is only stronger, as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to add troops and air combat power to Belarus, Crimea, and the Black Sea to encircle Ukraine. “In many ways, this brings Russian troops right up to NATO's doorstep,” Austin told reporters after the conclusion of the 30-member meeting. “The Russians say that they are withdrawing some of those forces now that exercises are complete, but we don't see that,” he added. Austin said Russia had flown in more combat aircraft, sharpened readiness in the Black Sea, and stocked up blood supplies, including adding a field hospital and pontoon bridge. “I know firsthand that you don't do these sort of things for no reason, and you certainly don't do them if you're getting ready to pack up and go home,” the longtime Soldier said.

Radar Sweep

Texas Guard Members Move to Unionize, Pointing to Troubled Border Mission

Military.com

Several Texas National Guard Soldiers are moving to unionize amid reports of a troubled border mission ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott that has been plagued by accounts of wage disruptions, rejected hardship requests, alcohol abuse, and self-harm. At least six Guard members are working with the Texas State Employees Union to try to unionize Guard troops, Military.com has learned. The union has a long track record of lobbying elected officials and filing lawsuits tied to employment rights and wage-related issues on behalf of members.

New US, UK Agreement on Helicopters Gives Brits Unique FVL Access

Breaking Defense

The U.S. and British armies have agreed to pursue a “Future Vertical Lift Cooperative Program Feasibility Assessment,” which aims to ensure interoperability between their respective rotorcraft aviation forces in the future. The assessment, signed Feb. 14 in London by Maj. Gen. Walter Rugen, U.S. Army Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team director, and Maj. Gen. James Bowder, Director Futures, U.K. Ministry of Defense, outlines how both nations will “share information about their future rotorcraft requirements and programs.”

Ukraine, UK, Poland Announce Security Pact Amid Heightened Tensions

Defense News

The Ukrainian government announced a new security pact with the U.K. and Poland Feb. 17, as the day’s developments upped the ante yet again in the standoff with Russia. The tie-up is meant to deepen Ukraine’s relationships with the two European nations in matters of cybersecurity, energy security, and countering disinformation, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a statement.

Military Tenants Were Promised a Database for Housing Complaints. They’re Still Waiting.

Air Force Times

Defense officials say they are running into roadblocks in creating a publicly available database for complaints about military privatized housing units, as required by law. The publicly available database would allow tenants of housing units to file a complaint about issues with their housing unit for inclusion in the database. Information is expected to include the name of the installation, the name of the landlord responsible for the housing unit, and a description of the problem they are having. It won’t include personally identifiable information, but it would be available to anyone, including other military families, military leaders, and privatized housing landlords.

The Extraordinary Story of the Last Fighter Mission Over Afghanistan

The Drive

In the dead of night, high over Kabul, with no diversion airfield available in the event of an emergency, U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles watched over the final American withdrawal from Afghanistan last August. Working independently, with what can only be described as chaos in the air and support just from eyes on the ground as thousands of people fled the clutches of the Taliban, it was a mission full of extreme risk with the highest of stakes.

The Latest on Missile Warning & Defense

Air Force Magazine

Recent Russian and Chinese missile launches raised the stakes in space. Find out the latest news on sensing, tracking, and defending against enemy missile strikes.

A Coast-to-Coast Battle to Bring Home the Space Jobs

SpaceNews

With California losing its luster as the aerospace industry’s golden state, a coast-to-coast competition for space companies is heating up. Cities, counties, and states offer grants, tax incentives, land, facilities, and workforce training to convince space companies to move. “California will still and forever remain the startup capital of the world just because of the venture capital ecosystem,” said Sean Casey, former Silicon Valley Space Center managing director and co-founder of the New York Space Alliance. “You’ll always pull them in based on Silicon Valley, but can you hold onto them?”

WATCH: Aerospace Nation: Spectrum Warfare

Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

In the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies’ latest Aerospace Nation event on Spectrum Warfare, retired Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula is joined by Maj. Gen. Daniel L. Simpson, assistant deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; Col. William E. Young Jr., head of the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing; retired Maj. Gen. Ken Israel, former assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for airborne reconnaissance; and Ken Dworkin, executive adviser for electromagnetic combat at Booz Allen Hamilton. They cover a range of spectrum warfare concepts, plans, and requirements, including a report on the Air Force’s consolidation of EMS capabilities into the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing.

One More Thing

How a Rivalry Between Two WWII Vets Led to the World’s Smallest Flyable Airplanes

Task and Purpose

Everybody has a hobby, and for some it involves building airplanes in their garage. Ray Stits and Robert Starr were two such people who drew upon their knowledge of fixing and flying aircraft in the military to become pioneers in the world of homebuilt aircraft. Along the way, they created some of the smallest aircraft ever built, aircraft that look more like go-carts than flying machines. Like many great stories, this one started with a bet.