B-21 Whiteman AFB Rendering

Loads Data for New B-21 Stealth Bomber Confirms Digital Models; Rollout May Be Weeks Away

Loads testing on the first B-21 Raider bomber is progressing well and matching computer predictions, and a formal rollout will closely follow completion of these tests and final equipment installs in the coming weeks, the program director said. Six B-21s are in production at Northrop Grumman's Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., with the first aircraft on its landing gear and externally complete in most ways. Outside engine runs, calibration of various controls, and low- and high-speed taxi tests will precede the first flight.
Air Force infant formula

Air Force C-17 Delivers 78,000 Pounds of Infant Formula

An Air Force C-17 flew from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to Indianapolis on May 22, delivering 132 pallets of specialty infant formula to help address the shortages currently affecting parents across the U.S. All told, the aircraft, assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, delivered 78,000 pounds of formula, enough for more than 750,000 eight-ounce bottles.
Taiwan

Biden Signals U.S. Defense of Taiwan—Pentagon Stays Mum

President Joe Biden again drew into question America’s “strategic ambiguity” regarding the defense of Taiwan by saying the United States would become involved militarily if China invaded the island. However, Pentagon leaders declined to discuss military plans or strategy when asked to elaborate. At a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, Biden said China was "already flirting with danger right now by flying so close and all the maneuvers they’ve undertaken.” At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III was asked to elaborate on Biden’s comments. “The President was clear on the fact that the policy has not changed,” Austin said.
Ukraine contact group

Second Meeting of Ukraine Defense Contact Group Adds Nations, Yields ‘Sharper’ Focus

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III hosted his second Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting in a virtual format May 23, drawing 47 nations that back Ukraine’s fight against Russia but leaving questions about when the war might end. New coastal defense systems and more artillery, armor, and tanks were highlighted among Ukraine's needs as its major shipping port remains closed, cutting off the country economically from the world. Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley told reporters that targeted assistance will continue but that Ukraine’s political leadership alone would decide any concessions to Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict.

Radar Sweep

Australians Bring Wedgetail to Black Flag Test as US Preps for AWACS Replacement

Defense News

The U.S. Air Force conducted its first testing exercise with an E-7 Wedgetail, the Boeing aircraft now used by Australia’s military that will begin to replace retiring E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System planes this decade. The Wedgetail’s participation in the Black Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., could help the service devise new tactics and capabilities for using it once it joins the service’s fleet.

‘Just Getting Started’: Too Early to Say When Hypersonic Interceptor Will Go Live

Breaking Defense

It’s still too early to say when the Glide Phase Interceptor, designed to knock out hypersonic glide vehicles, will actually join operational missile defenses, according to Vice Adm. Jon Hill, who said, “We’re just getting started.” Hill, head of the Missile Defense Agency, said the program is so nascent that he couldn’t say whether it would mature in the 2020s or 2030s. But he said his agency plans by the end of the summer to decide which of three defense contracting vendors will go ahead with the program—if not all of them.

New Allowance Greenlit for Troops Ordered to Move From Barracks to Off-Base Housing

Military Times

Service members who are forced to move from their unaccompanied housing to off-base housing are now authorized to get the partial dislocation allowance, or DLA. Previously, only service members required to leave family housing were authorized to get the partial DLA. As of Jan. 1, 2022, the partial DLA rate was $840.07, according to the Defense Travel Management Office site. It’s a one-time payment at a flat rate, designed to reimburse a service member for at least some of the expenses incurred in moving their household. These moves may be required, for example, when there’s a shortage of housing.

Senators Pressure DOD to Expand Housing Review After Investigation Suggests Dangerous Conditions

Military.com

A bipartisan pair of senators are calling for the Pentagon to expand a review of military housing owned by Balfour Beatty Communities following the lawmakers' own scathing investigation that found the company continues to ignore residents' concerns about hazardous living conditions. The Army already announced a new probe in response to the recent report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, or PSI, and a subsequent hearing the subcommittee held about its report. Now, the leaders of that subcommittee are pressing the Pentagon to expand the probe to the Navy and Air Force.

OPINION: Guam Needs Better Missile Defenses—Urgently

Defense One

The Defense Department “has dithered as China builds ballistic, hypersonic, and cruise missiles to attack Guam, America’s most important military base in the western Pacific. The good news is that the Pentagon is finally requesting nearly $1 billion for the island’s missile defense in the 2023 budget. But seeing it through on time will require assertive congressional oversight and action,” write Mark Montgomery of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; Riki Ellison of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance; and Bradley Bowman of the Center for Military Power.

$800M Needed to Build a New An-225 Mriya Cargo Jet, Zelensky Says

The Drive

Oleksandr Halunenko is glad to hear Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talk about building a new An-225 cargo jet to replace the only one ever built that was destroyed during the Russian occupation of Hostomel airport. But Haluenko—the first pilot of the world’s biggest operational airplane known by its nickname Mriya—Ukrainian for dream—said any replacement will never be the same.

A-10 Pilot Explains How the Air Force Can Outfit the Beloved ‘Warthog’ to Take On China

Task & Purpose

“Throughout my 10-year flying career in the United States Air Force, the A-10C Thunderbolt II, affectionately dubbed the Warthog, has been the subject of divestment. There is a joke amongst the A-10 community that discussions of getting rid of the A-10 started 2.5 minutes after the last one rolled off the Fairchild-Republic assembly line in 1984. Despite such quips, there is one resounding fact that defines our community; the mission comes before the plane. Now don’t get me wrong, with more than 2,000 hours and two deployments in the A-10, I love the jet with all my heart. But the mission will always come first. So herein lies the paradox: how does a jet under constant threat of divestment adapt and evolve to support the ever-changing mission?” writes Maj. Maurice Grosso, an A-10C weapons officer.

Military Looking for New Ways to Acquire and Use Commercial Satellite Data

SpaceNews

Over a two-day conference, U.S. military and intelligence officials were briefed on the capabilities of commercial spy satellites and how data from these satellites could be used in military operations. Defense and intelligence agencies are longtime customers of commercial imagery companies, and their consumption of commercial imagery has increased during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But there is also an emerging demand for new types of data now being collected by commercial satellites, such as radar imagery, radio-frequency signals, and maritime and aerial traffic data.

One More Thing

​​An Air Force Base’s Secret Weapon Against Invasive Plants? Sheep

Task & Purpose

It’s spring, and that means Travis Air Force Base is letting loose its main weapon for fighting plant overgrowth: sheep. Approximately 1,000 tactically deployed sheep took to the fields around the northern California base to graze on the grasslands the base manages. Their mission is to cut back invasive plants in the fields and provide stability for habitats for endangered species in the area.

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Celebrating 75 Years of Air and Space Power