Three Vanguards to Become Programs of Record in 2023, Air Force S&T Boss Says

Three of the Air Force’s four Vanguard programs—high-profile ventures chosen for extra investment and accelerated development—are slated to become programs of record by the end of 2023, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for science, technology, and engineering told Congress. The statement seemingly affirmed the department’s approach to rapidly turning key technologies into acquisition programs.

Kendall Sees Room to Change Space Force FYDP—But Not F-35 Plan

The Space Force’s budget got a big bump in the Pentagon’s 2023 budget request, with a topline of $24.5 billion—36 percent more than fiscal 2022’s enacted level. And even more money in the years ahead is likely, according to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. If Kendall’s prediction is accurate, it would contradict the numbers laid out in the Pentagon’s Future Years Defense Plan, which projects spending five years in advance. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), chair of the panel, noted that the overall FYDP for the Space Force is “basically flat, rising a bit in 2024 before falling below the 2023 proposed budget level.”

Mitchell Institute’s New UAV Study Center Looks at Drones in a China Fight

Unmanned aerial vehicles and autonomous aircraft may provide a solution to operating in heavily contested domains such as the Taiwan Straits, according to a panel of expert who suggested operationalizing artificial intelligence for such purposes sooner rather than later. The group gathered virtually to help launch the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies' new Center for UAV and Autonomy Studies (MI-UAS). The Mitchell Institute is part of AFA. “China, in particular, has developed networks of very long-range missiles, electronic warfare systems, and other power projection capabilities that could severely limit or even prevent the ability of the U.S. to defend its interests in the Indo-Pacific,” said Caitlin Lee, Mitchell Institute senior fellow for UAV and Autonomy Studies and head of the new center.

On NATO’s Eastern Flank, Navy Growlers Highlight Air Force’s Electronic Warfare Gap

Navy E/A-18 Growlers are conducting NATO enhanced air policing in Eastern Europe near Ukraine to show Russia that the U.S. stands ready with electronic warfare capabilities. But what the Navy is doing also highlights what the Air Force can't. Pilots from Navy Electronic Attack Squadron 134, or VAQ-134—nicknamed "Garudas"—who spoke to Air Force Magazine at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, said they were practicing integration with Air Force F-16s and flying NATO missions with EW pods turned off. But soon, Navy divestment will eliminate that joint force capability before the Air Force replaces it.

Four USAF Generals Tapped for Third Star, and Guillot to CENTCOM, in New Nominations

An Air Force three-star general would become deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, and the Air Force would get four more lieutenant generals, in a slate of nominations announced May 13. Lt. Gen. Gregory M. Guillot has been nominated to the CENTCOM post at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. He currently commands U.S. Air Forces Central Command (Ninth Air Force) and Air Combat Command’s Ninth Air Expeditionary Task Force; and is CENTCOM’s combined forces air component commander at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. 

Radar Sweep

Military Throwing Cash at Recruiting Crisis as Troops Head for the Exits

Hints that the armed services might soon face a problem keeping their ranks full began quietly, with officials spending the last decade warning that a dwindling slice of the American public could serve. Only about one-quarter of young Americans are even eligible for service these days, a shrinking pool limited by an increasing number of potential recruits who are overweight or are screened out due to minor criminal infractions, including the use of recreational drugs such as marijuana.

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Number of Acknowledged US Airstrikes Around the Globe Hits 15-Year Low

Stars and Stripes

The number of declared U.S. military airstrikes around the world last year declined to the lowest total since 2006, a recent report by an international monitoring group said. The civilian death toll from U.S. airstrikes also fell as a result of the end of combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the report by the London-based nonprofit group Airwars. The U.S. Air Force launched 500 airstrikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria in 2021, compared with 915 such missions in 2020, public data from the service says. But additional airstrikes may be undeclared, said the Airwars report, which accused the U.S. military of not being transparent about collateral damage to civilians.

Pentagon May Rethink How It Determines Which Space Programs Are Classified

Defense News

The Department of Defense may rewrite its guide for classifying space programs, a policy official told lawmakers this week. Congress last year directed the Pentagon to review its classified space portfolio to determine whether programs are appropriately classified. John Plumb, assistant secretary of defense for space policy, said in a Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing that DOD has conducted the review and determined that all of its space programs are “probably appropriately classified.”

‘We Are All Ghosts of Kyiv’


When the order comes in over his radio, the Ukrainian fighter pilot known as “Juice” has mere minutes to scramble. So he’s never more than 200 meters from his MiG-29 these days and, as he put it, living in a “constant state of readiness.” Any delay could be the difference between successfully intercepting a Russian jet and another airstrike on the territory of Ukraine, between life and death. Juice’s words were cold and serious. To do his job effectively, he explained, he needed to be those things at all times. But he showed a rare bit of emotion and anger when discussing Russian pilots and his wingmen killed in action by them in recent weeks.

PODCAST: 'Building Next Gen CSAR: HH-60W'

Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

In Episode 76 of the Aerospace Advantage, host John “Slick” Baum talks to Sikorsky team members involved with developing and producing the next-generation HH-60W combat search and rescue helicopter. The Air Force operates aircraft for decades, so introducing a new type is a big deal and involves a lot of different nuances and processes we don’t always think about. Now, some might ask—what’s the big deal? This is just another Blackhawk variant. And while that’s technically true at a big-picture level, the reality is that this aircraft, its mission systems, and its performance are fundamentally different from the older types it’s replacing, the HH-60Gs. In fact, it’s so evolved that the Air Force competed this as a new acquisition effort and is putting the helicopter through a series of tests reserved for new types entering the operational world. This isn’t just another mission. Combat search and rescue is a moral imperative.

Melting Arctic Ice Opens New Front in Strategic Power Competition


Warming seas and thinning polar ice caps promise to turn the Arctic into a hub of greater economic activity—and a new hotspot for military competition. That prospect is shaping U.S. military strategy for Arctic operations and is drawing attention to the importance of space systems to keep watch over the region, monitor the climate, and maintain constant communications.

Air Force to Bring Top-Secret Data Into the Mix in Next Weapons System Hackathon

Fed Scoop

The Air Force this summer will host a second “hackathon” focused on enabling coders to work with classified data in isolated, secured environments—but this time, the service is looking to up the complexity. The second run of the BRAVO hackathon will expand from including just Secret-level operational data to integrating data at additional levels of classification, such as the Top Secret/Secure Compartmentalized Information level, said Stuart Wagner, the Air Force’s chief of digital transformation and an organizer of the hackathon.

Space Force to Select Small Rocket for ‘Responsive Space’ Mission


The Space Force plans to select a small satellite launcher to fly a payload to low Earth orbit on short notice, a capability known as tactically responsive space. The Space Force’s Space Systems Command announced it plans to award a contract in August for the Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS-3) mission. Responsive space is a catchphrase for rapid access to commercial launch vehicles that can be rapidly integrated with payloads and launched during a conflict or a crisis to replace a damaged satellite or augment existing constellations. Congress inserted $50 million in the 2022 defense budget for this effort.

One More Thing

‘All Species of Russian Tank Die’ in This Genius Parody Video of a Nature Documentary

Task & Purpose

An aficionado of legendary narrator Sir David Attenborough has created a lovely tribute to the BBC’s nature documentaries with a brief video that treats Russian tanks as if they were an animal species that migrates to Ukraine to die. The 45-second video was posted on Twitter one day after Attenborough’s 96th birthday and just as Russian President Vladimir Putin was celebrating the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany, which was somewhat tempered this year by Russia’s lack of success in Ukraine.

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