NATO air

NATO’s New Air Commander Prepares for New Phase of Vigilance Along Eastern Front

FAIRFORD, U.K.—Two weeks into his job as the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa and NATO Allied Air Command, Gen. James B. Hecker has gotten a running start on one of his top priorities—building partnerships. On the sidelines of the Royal International Air Tattoo, Hecker was able to meet with air chiefs from dozens of other countries to introduce himself and start building relationships.
Tracking Layer

SDA Awards $1.3B to L3Harris and Northrop Grumman for 28 Missile-Tracking Satellites

The Space Development Agency awarded L3Harris and Northrop Grumman Strategic Space Systems contracts to build Tranche 1 of the Tracking Layer for its planned National Defense Space Architecture, a multipurpose defense constellation. Each company will build 14 low-Earth-orbit satellites to detect and track the infrared signatures of missile launches and flights. The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act passed in March added funds to speed up contracting.
AMRAAM

Air Force Successfully Tests Redesigned AMRAAM AIM-120D3

The Air Force successfully tested its redesigned Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile Form, Fit, Function Refresh (F3R), firing the AIM-120D3 missile from an F-15E Strike Eagle at a target over the Gulf of Mexico near the Florida coast. The first of five live-fire tests, it assessed a full hardware system redesign of early 2000s technology components in the Raytheon missile.
Sahel

African Coups Give China and Russia an Edge in Restive Sahel

Service members working to fight terrorist groups expanding in Africa have their hands tied by restrictions on security cooperation with military-led countries, giving China and Russia an edge, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa Chidi Blyden told senators. The restive Sahel region of Africa consists of five vast, sub-Saharan nations plagued by terrorist groups that have helped unseat democracies and welcomed America’s strategic competitors.

Radar Sweep

Senate Armed Services Releases Full $847 Billion Defense Bill

Breaking Defense

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) released the text of its annual defense policy bill, boosting the department’s procurement and research funds by billions over its budget request. The SASC version of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act would authorize a $45 billion increase in defense spending over the budget request, to a total of $847 billion, at a time when high inflation is eating into the Pentagon’s coffers, the U.S. is contending with an increasingly aggressive China, and the Pentagon is shipping weapons to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of the country.

Air Force’s Sixth-Gen Fighter Downselect ‘Not All That Far Away,’ says Kendall

Breaking Defense

The Air Force has yet to pick a winner among the companies still vying to build the service’s sixth-generation jet, but a final downselect is “not all that far away,” the service’s top leader said. While Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall declined to say when the service will choose a manufacturer for the fighter jet that will be the cornerstone of the Next Generation Air Dominance family of systems, he offered a small clue about the trajectory of the highly classified program. “It’s not imminent, but it’s not all that far away,” Kendall said in an exclusive interview at the Royal International Air Tattoo.

Tribes, Air Force Eye Protection of Sacred Sites During ICBM Project

Standard-Examiner

The Air Force’s massive project to replace its 50-year-old Minuteman III nuclear missile system has triggered a review of how hundreds of prehistoric archaeological sites on the Utah Test and Training Range will be protected during the work. The Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, other tribes, and Hill Air Force Base will work together during the Air Force’s planned decommissioning of the Minuteman and the deployment of the Sentinel, the U.S. military’s ground-based nuclear force of the future. The solid rocket motors of 400 Minuteman missiles, arrayed in silos in Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, and North Dakota, will be transported to Hill and UTTR, many of them to be destroyed on the test range.

Air Force Considers Removing Co-pilot From Boeing KC-46 Tanker Crews

Air Force Times

Officials in the Air Force’s mobility enterprise are considering amending rules to allow just two crew members onboard the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tankers during dangerous missions, raising eyebrows among Airmen. Air Mobility Command is discussing the option as part of how it may handle war in the Indo-Pacific, where it believes large, slow jets including tankers would be more vulnerable to attack from Chinese anti-aircraft missiles. Shrinking the number of Airmen onboard a tanker could help minimize potential troop casualties while still getting combat jets the fuel they need.

‘Space is Where We Need to Go’: Air Force Preparing Networked Infrastructure for New Mission

C4ISRNet

As the Space Force eyes a new mission to track ground targets from space, the Air Force needs to make sure the foundational battle management infrastructure is in place, according to the Air Force’s top acquisition official. The two services have been conducting reviews and meeting with members of the defense industry to define their roles in providing tactical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and to develop a plan for space-based ground moving target indication, or GMTI. Those studies have concluded, and Air Force acquisition executive Andrew Hunter told reporters they confirmed the important role space will play in the GMTI mission.

National Guard’s International Training Program Needs Better Oversight, Report Finds

Military Times

The National Guard program that pairs states with partner countries for training needs to improve its record-keeping, according to recommendations from the Government Accountability Office. The State Partnership Program implemented a new tracking database in 2021, according to the report, but partner countries haven’t been thorough in reporting of all of the training events they’ve completed with their National Guard counterparts. During fiscal 2021, for example, 37 of 780 activities were marked as completed, just 5 percent.

UK to Fly Fighter Prototype Within Five Years, Defense Minister Says

Defense One

The U.K. plans to fly a prototype of its next-generation combat fighter within five years, government and industry officials announced. On the first day of the Farnborough Air Show outside London, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Parliament that the demonstrator aircraft will prove out technology for the future combat plane, dubbed Tempest. "The design and development of the demonstrator aircraft represents an important milestone, showcasing the success and talent of our engineers, programmers, and software developers,” Wallace said. “This program will go on to attract opportunities for many more great minds and talent from across the U.K."

AFMC Celebrates 30 Years of Being ‘the Command With Answers’

Dayton Daily News

Air Force Materiel Command was born of the merger of Air Force Logistics Command and Air Force Systems Command in July 1992, uniting an organization that today controls more than a third of the Air Force budget, shepherding planes, weapons, and a host of other tangible goods from cradle to grave. The command emerged after the end of the Cold War and Desert Storm, as the Air Force was shrinking, reinventing itself, and searching for new efficiencies. “The Air Force really cannot exist without AFMC,” AFMC Historian Yancy Mailes said.

Air Force Weighing Future of Key Hypersonic Program After Two Successful Tests

Defense News

The Air Force is encouraged by successful back-to-back tests of a key hypersonic weapons program but hasn’t yet decided how to proceed once it moves beyond the middle-tier acquisition phase, its top acquisition official said. At a roundtable with reporters at the Royal International Air Tattoo, Andrew Hunter said the Air Force is still trying to answer a key question as it develops hypersonic capabilities: What is the mix of weapons it needs for the threats the U.S. faces, particularly China, and how might a hypersonic weapon such as the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, fit in?

Air Force Says Options Limited for Speeding Deliveries of Wedgetail

Defense News

The Air Force is trying to find ways to speed delivery of the E-7 Wedgetail, but the service’s top acquisition official said there may not be much that can be done. The Air Force in April chose the Boeing-made Wedgetail to be its next battle management and command and control aircraft, replacing part of its aging E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System fleet. But the service said in the announcement the first rapid prototype E-7 would be delivered in fiscal 2027, following a contract award to Boeing in fiscal 2023.

One More Thing

‘Do You Wish You Were a Real Pilot?’—Comedian Grills Her F-35 Pilot Fiance in Hilarious Interview

Task & Purpose

When I grow up, I want to be as good at asking fighter pilots questions as the comedian Caroline Kennedy, who peppered an Air Force F-35 pilot with questions about military life that bounced between absurd, insulting, and awkward in an amazing 15-minute video she posted to YouTube earlier this summer. “Do you think that you have to be a narcissist to be a fighter pilot, or is that unique to you?” Kennedy asked her fiancé, the F-35 pilot, in the satirical video.

This Day in Airpower
Celebrating 75 Years of Air and Space Power