F-35s

Air Force ‘Would Buy More F-35s’ if Resources Allowed, Plans and Programs Chief Says

Budget compromises driven by the need to modernize two-thirds of the nuclear triad forced Air Force leaders to cut planned F-35 purchases in 2023 to just 33—15 fewer than it bought in fiscal 2022 and 27 fewer than 2021, said Lt. Gen. David S. Nahom, the service's deputy chief of staff for plans and programs. The Air Force's $169.5 billion budget plan, released March 28, opted to slow down F-35 purchases while accelerating acquisition of the F-15EX. The necessity to pay for billions in nuclear modernization meant something had to give, and with upgrades pending to the F-35, the service reduced the F-35 buy in 2023 from 48 to 33 in favor of a purchase of 24 F-15EX aircraft. Nahom said the tough choice was in part due to the required stealth to meet the current threat. “Would we have bought more F-35s if we had more resources? Yes, absolutely,” Nahom told Air Force Magazine in a Pentagon interview.

New War Strategies Could Renew Emphasis on Intra-Theater Airlift

The military’s capacity to move people and objects around within single geographic combatant commands may have taken a back seat to other “mobility priorities” in recent years, but the commander of U.S. Transportation Command now sees intra-theater airlift as an “area of increased interest.” In her testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Air Force Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost described a “complex new security environment” that will challenge the command’s “ability to deliver a decisive force for high-end conflict when needed.”
pentagon inflation

With Troops Facing Squeeze from Inflation, Pentagon Budget Bumps Up Pay, BAH, BAS, and More

The Defense Department’s fiscal 2023 budget request contains a 4.6 percent pay raise for service members and DOD civilians, a figure touted by officials during the March 28 rollout as the largest increase for troops in 20 years. But at the same time, a new program included in the budget is aimed at helping service members living near the poverty line, highlighting concerns about the effects inflation is having on the rank and file.
us troops europe

EUCOM Boss: ‘My Suspicion is We’re Going to Need More’ US Troops in Europe Long-Term

The head of U.S. European Command predicted that more American troops will need to be stationed on the continent in the coming years, even after the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine ends. Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, didn’t say how many more troops would be needed in Europe, or whether they should be permanently stationed or continuously rotated in. But his endorsement of an increased presence comes as the Defense Department seeks to pivot its focus to the Indo-Pacific and China.

Radar Sweep

Missile Defense Agency Seeks $9.6B in FY23 Budget

Defense News

The Missile Defense Agency’s $9.6 billion fiscal 2023 request seeks to expand regional and homeland defenses against increasingly complex and capable missile threats. The MDA asked for $8.9 billion in fiscal 2022 but received an additional $1.5 billion from Congress for a total of $10.4 billion. Congress has boosted the MDA two years in a row, arguing there’s a disconnect between the agency’s requests and its ability to meet the requirements of the National Defense Strategy.

Russia’s Kyiv Pullback is ‘Not a Real Withdrawal,’ Pentagon Warns

Defense One

The Pentagon warned March 29 that Russia’s announcement that it was “drastically reducing hostilities” in Kyiv and Chernihiv is not a real withdrawal and said Russian leader Vladimir Putin still hopes to take all of Ukraine. “Nobody should be fooling ourselves by the Kremlin’s now recent claim that it will suddenly just reduce military attacks near Kyiv, or any reports that it’s going to withdraw all its forces,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said.

VA Asks for 22% Increase in Spending on Medical Care as Part of Record $301B Budget

Military.com

The White House is requesting an 11 percent boost to the Department of Veterans Affairs' budget for 2023, money that would fund anticipated increases in medical costs, expand the family caregiver program, and provide for several capital improvement projects at medical centers and cemeteries. The $301 billion proposal marks the first time the VA's budget would exceed $300 billion—more than six times what it was in fiscal 2001 just before the 9/11 attacks and subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—and moves the department second only to the Defense Department in discretionary spending.

JROC Flexes New Muscles on Joint Requirements for FY23 Budget Request

Breaking Defense

The beefed-up Joint Requirements Oversight Council’s newfound influence is apparent in the fiscal 2023 budget’s orientation toward joint warfighting, according to Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Christopher W. Grady, who leads the council. “I’m very confident that the JROC is having a significant impact, which is what I’m responsible to help with,” Grady said.

COMMENTARY: Ukraine Shows the Need to Change US Export Rules on Unmanned Systems

Breaking Defense

Despite reform efforts by the Trump administration and a major push from the defense industry, American unmanned aerial vehicle exports remain limited to a handful of countries. With the conflict in Ukraine proving the benefit of such systems, a new reform push is needed to be able to supply allies in Europe and elsewhere with the best American equipment, argues Heather Penney of AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in this new op-ed.

What are Military Burn Pits? And Why are Veterans Worried About Them?

Air Force Times

Burn pits are well known within the military community, but the reasons for using them and the dangers that accompany them are less familiar to the American public. With the topic gaining prominence in recent months, here’s a look at the issues surrounding burn pits and the help veterans could receive in dealing with their effects.

Pentagon Asks for Another $1B for Red Hill Facility That Tainted Water in Hawaii

Military.com

The Pentagon's latest budget request, released March 28, includes an ask for another $1 billion to help the Navy deal with the Red Hill fuel spill that has sickened and displaced thousands of military families in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The money would go toward a new recovery fund that would let the department "quickly and flexibly address the health, environmental, and national security needs of the community."

Missile Warning & Defense

Air Force Magazine

Defending against missile threats launched in, at, or through space has never been more challenging—or important. Learn more on Air Force Magazine’s Missile Warning & Defense page.

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The Russian Air Force Is Losing Its Best Jets Over Ukraine

Forbes

The Sukhoi Su-34 was supposed to change the Russian air force. The twin-engine, twin-seat, supersonic fighter-bomber—a highly-evolved variant of the Su-27 air-superiority fighter—promised to usher in a new era of high-tech, precision bombing. Instead, the Su-34s have flown into Ukraine lugging the same old dumb bombs. A lack of precision-guided munitions—not to mention Russian doctrine that conceives of aircraft essentially as flying artillery—forces the $50 million warplanes to fly low through the thickest Ukrainian air defenses in order to have any chance of delivering their bombs with any degree of accuracy. As a result, Su-34s are falling from the sky in numbers that must be startling for air force commanders. Their newest planes are suffering the same fate as their oldest.

Why Canada Picked the F-35 for Its Next Fighter, and Why Now

Breaking Defense

In 2015, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to office promising to cancel a planned purchase of the F-35. Seven years later, the Trudeau government has decided the F-35 is the best solution for Canada’s needs. The announcement, made March 28 by Minister of Public Services and Procurement Filomena Tassi and Defense Minister Anita Anand, serves as a culmination of years of political wrangling between Canadian political parties and lobbying from the U.S. defense industry. The planned procurement of 88 jets could be under contract before the end of the year, with negotiations between Ottawa and prime contractor Lockheed Martin set to begin.

The Air Force Wants to Spend Big Bucks Replacing its Decades-old Surveillance Plane

Task & Purpose

If the E-3 is too old to serve, what might take its place? Senior Air Force officials have their heart set on the E-7A Wedgetail, an airborne early warning and control system based on the Boeing 737 that the Royal Australian Air Force has flown for about 10 years. A better AWACS will make both fifth-generation fighters such as the F-35 and fourth-generation fighters such as the F-15 and F-16 stronger, Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mark D. Kelly said.

Air Force World Class Athlete, Shooting Programs Relocated to Colorado Springs

USAF release

Airman and Guardian Olympians now have a new home, as the Department of the Air Force relocated its World Class Athlete and Air Force Shooting programs to Colorado Springs, Colo. Moving the programs from Air Force Services Center headquarters in San Antonio to Colorado puts Air Force and Space Force athletes in the heart of the U.S. Olympic training grounds, said Dale Filsell, DAF WCAP program manager. The move should improve program management and strengthen collaboration between the Air Force and the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, he added.

Turkey Wants to Buy up to 100 South Korean Tank Engines

Defense News

Turkey is negotiating the purchase of up to 100 South Korean-made engines and transmissions to power its first indigenous tank in the making, the Altay. Turkey’s top defense procurement official, Ismail Demir, said negotiations with two South Korean companies are focused on the quantity of power packs (which the engine and transmission make up) that would be supplied for the Altay program.

One More Thing

How the Legendary Ukrainian Pilot ‘Grey Wolf’ Earned His Call Sign, According to a US Air Force F-15 Driver

Task & Purpose

Few military pilots ever become household names, but one was heard around the world shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. Col. Oleksandr Oksanchenko, a retired Ukrainian Air Force pilot also known as “Grey Wolf,” joined back up to fight for his country when the war began Feb. 24. In the intensity of the fighting, Oksanchenko was killed by Russian anti-air defenses Feb. 25. One person who felt the loss personally was U.S. Air Force Col. Rob Swertfager, an F-15 fighter pilot with the California Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing, a unit that has worked closely with the Ukrainian Air Force since 1993. Among those friends was Col. Oksanchenko, who Swertfager described as a remarkable pilot, a clever fighter, and a buddy of the 144th Fighter Wing. But like many military callsigns, the origin of Oksanchenko’s “Grey Wolf” is not quite as badass as you might think.

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