F-35 JPO and Lockheed Martin Reach Handshake Deal for 375 Aircraft

More than 10 months beyond the originally expected goal, the F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin have reached a “handshake deal” on Lots 15-17 of the fighter, which collectively will amount to only 375 aircraft. No pricing information was included in the JPO’s announcement, which awaits formal signature. The announcement included no by-country or by-variant breakdown. While the per-year production rate is unlikely to be the same across all three lots, at 375, production will average 125 aircraft a year.

USAFE Won’t Add Extra F-35 Squadrons—But Will Get Rotation of F-22s, New Commander Says

At a NATO summit in June, President Joe Biden highlighted the two F-35 squadrons the U.S. is placing in the United Kingdom as part of his administration’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But once those two squadrons, both stationed at RAF Lakenheath, are built out, the U.S. has no immediate plans to further expand its permanent fleet of F-35 fighters in Europe, the new commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe said. At the same time, the number of American fifth-generation fighters on the continent will be bolstered.

After Successful Flight Tests for Skyborg, XQ-58 ‘Continuing to Evolve’

A pair of XQ-58 Valkyrie drones completed a series of tests for the Air Force’s Skyborg program, an artificial intelligence-enabled autonomous system to control uncrewed aircraft in a future manned/unmanned aircraft teaming concept. This marks the first public announcement of the Valkyrie flying for the Skyborg program. The drone was developed as part of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology portfolio and flew its first several tests before Kratos was selected in late 2020 as one of three companies to conduct Skyborg flights.
Pentagon GPS

At Readiness Hearing, Air Force Calls to Retire Old Aircraft, Space Force Asks for Advanced Training

The House Armed Services subcommittee on readiness asked Air Force and Space Force leaders how the Ukraine conflict and competition with China have required increased readiness at a time when sustainment costs are constrained by investments in new technology. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin focused on the need to retire legacy platforms to free up funds, while Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson said existing levels of training were “not sufficient” to teach Guardians how to counter adversaries’ threats in the space domain.

Radar Sweep

US-UK Special Relationship in Space Deepens


The United States and United Kingdom have collaborated on space-related security efforts for decades, and U.S. and U.K. space officials are now discussing the next steps, a conversation that has gained momentum due to concerns that satellites are becoming military targets and a stronger defense posture is needed to deter and counter threats. U.S.-U.K. collaboration in space entered a new phase when the commanders of U.S. Space Command and U.K. Space Command signed an Enhanced Space Cooperation memorandum of understanding.

Senate NDAA Has $13 Billion Extra for Defense Inflation

Roll Call

The Senate Armed Services Committee recommended $45 billion more for national defense in fiscal 2023 than President Joe Biden sought, and the panel disclosed that $13 billion of the increase would go toward offsetting the effect of surging inflation on Pentagon buying power.

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Air Force Aims to Increase Exports of Air-to-Air Missiles

Aviation Week

The U.S. Air Force is working to shift internal Pentagon thinking on selling advanced air-to-air weapons to allies, saying the worry needs to be over the risk if other nations do not have the missiles, not over the risk if they do. Kelli Seybolt, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for international affairs, told reporters at the Royal International Air Tattoo that although the U.S. is expecting to move away from the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile family soon, there is still international demand.

New Air Force One Will Be 2-3 Years Late

Breaking Defense

The Pentagon has approved a new schedule for the next-generation Air Force One planes, with the government now projecting that Boeing will deliver the first new VC-25B aircraft by September 2026 at earliest—a full two years behind its originally scheduled date. The rebaselined schedule, which was approved by Pentagon acquisition czar William A. LaPlante, also includes a later September 2027 “threshold” date for the first delivery.

Space Force Welcomes Clemson University to Partnership Program


Clemson University, S.C., joined the USSF University Partnership Program. The UPP is designed to develop and retain the Space Force’s science and technical workforce. Universities in the program are selected based on four qualifications: STEM degree offerings and space-related research initiatives and labs; ROTC program; student diversity population; and degrees and programming that support veterans, their families, and Active service members pursuing higher education.

Live, Virtual & Constructive Training

Air Force Magazine

The Air Force is transitioning to more virtual training to give pilots an edge, saying some higher-end maneuvers cannot be replicated in real-time training. Learn more on Air Force Magazine’s Live, Virtual & Constructive Training page.

Another Nuke-Sniffing Plane Joins Offutt Fleet

Air Force Times

Crew members from Offutt Air Force Base’s 55th Wing in Nebraska feasted their eyes on something they hardly ever get to see: a new plane. Well, sort of new. The WC-135R “nuke-sniffer” jet that landed at the Lincoln Airport—the 55th’s temporary operating base while Offutt’s runway is replaced—was actually built in 1964.

Raytheon Says Upgraded Aircraft Landing System Could Help Air Force in Conflict Zones

Air Force Times

In recent years, Raytheon’s Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, or JPALS, has helped Navy and Marine Corps pilots land on carriers and amphibious assault ships. JPALS uses GPS sensors, antennas, and other equipment on ships to guide in aircraft in all types of bad weather and surface conditions. Raytheon officials said the company’s new Expeditionary Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, or eJPALS, could help the Air Force establish a network of austere air bases to help it fight a future war against a major adversary as part of its agile combat employment, or ACE, concept.

Russia Following 2014 ‘Annexation Playbook’ in Eastern Ukraine, White House Says

Defense One

Russia is preparing to annex parts of eastern Ukraine following the same “playbook” it used to illegally seize Crimea in 2014, a White House official said. There is “ample evidence” that Russian leader Vladimir Putin is seeking to make Ukrainian territory part of Russia, said John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications. “The Russian government is reviewing detailed plans to purportedly annex a number of regions in Ukraine, including Kherson, Zaporizhia, all of Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts,” Kirby said at a White House briefing.

General Dynamics IT Wins $908 Million Air Force Networks Contract in Europe


General Dynamics Information Technology will provide network and data technology support to U.S. Air Forces in Europe after scoring a contract worth as much as $908 million. Over the course of several years, the Virginia-based division of General Dynamics will upgrade existing infrastructure and cyber systems as well as perform operations and maintenance. Work on the Europe-Wide Information Technology and Enterprise Network contract, or EITN, also spans legacy communications equipment and annual accreditations, among other tasks.

One More Thing

Space Celebration Returns to the National Museum of the US Air Force

Air Force release

An eight-day space celebration will take place from July 30 through Aug. 7 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The Space Celebration includes guest speakers, artifact displays, space-themed exhibits, a build-and-launch rocket activity, and an after-dark event for ages 21 and over.

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