bridge tanker

Airbus, Boeing Reveal New Progress on Autonomous Refueling

The defense contractors vying for the Air Force’s “bridge tanker” program updated the status of their aerial refuelers, citing new capabilities aimed at automating the refueling process. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has repeatedly said the likelihood of a competition for the service’s “bridge tanker” program has gone down in recent months, a seeming endorsement of Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus and a blow to the LMXT, the alternative proposed by Lockheed Martin and Airbus. Lockheed Martin, however, continues to state publicly that it believes there will be a competition for the KC-Y program meant to “bridge” the gap between the end of the KC-46 and a next-generation refueling family of systems. 

Fourth Ukraine Defense Contact Group Meeting Adds HIMARS, Avoids Aircraft, Pilot Training

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III held his fourth Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting virtually from the Pentagon amid practically a standstill on the Ukraine front lines in the eastern Donbas region. Austin announced a new presidential drawdown transfer of sophisticated rockets but no aircraft or pilot training. The Russia-Ukraine war was entering its sixth month as casualties mounted on both sides for marginal gains in a grueling artillery battle, Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley told defense reporters.
2023 NDAA

SASC Wants Space Force to Report on Strategic Priorities

The Senate Armed Services Committee asks the Space Force to develop a "comprehensive strategy" and formalize a plan to achieve its priorities in the SASC's version of the 2023 National Defense Authorization bill, which the committee released publicly July 18. The committee also wants reports from the Space Force on officer personnel management and its plans to create the hybrid “Space Component,” which would include both full-time and part-time Guardians in a single organization, rather than setting up a separate Space Force reserve.

Raymond: Space Companies ‘Helpful’ in Russia-Ukraine War

Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond offered some of his early observations on the role of space activities in the war in Ukraine. After nearly a three-year pandemic hiatus, many of the world's top national security and foreign affairs officials gathered in Aspen, Colo., for the Aspen Security Forum. “A lot of people ask me, 'What are the lessons learned that's come out of Ukraine? It’s too soon for me to sit up here and say, 'Here's all the lessons.' But there are a couple of observations that I have,” Raymond said in the forum’s first “fireside chat.”

Radar Sweep

Subscription Required

Troubled F-35 Risks More Groundings on Lack of Working Engines


A shortage of spare engines may leave some F-35s grounded because it’s taking longer than planned to repair a key component of the U.S.’s costliest warplane, according to congressional auditors. “Inadequate maintenance depot capacity leading to a shortage of operating” engines has “grounded F-35s more often and for longer time periods than expected,” the Government Accountability Office said in a new report.

Air Force to Draw Up Environmental Review for F-15EX, F-35A Beddowns

Inside Defense

The Air Force is preparing an environmental impact statement that will assess the social, economic, and environmental impacts that could result from the beddown of F-15EX and F-35A squadrons. The beddowns are associated with recapitalization of F-15C/D fleets currently in use by the Air National Guard. The F-15s are approaching the end of their service lives, the notice reads, and retention of the aircraft “is not economically feasible” beyond fiscal year 2026. Under the proposed action, one F-15EX squadron would be based at two of three alternative locations, and one F-35A squadron would beddown at one of four alternative locations for a total of three new squadrons.

Pentagon Wants to Explore Space but is Short of Edge Computing Tech

Analytics Insight

Pentagon officials claim that while the Department of Defense intends to use edge computing and artificial intelligence to improve satellite communications, the current technologies are not perfect. In addition to other modernization initiatives, the Pentagon’s concept of joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) depends on artificial intelligence and space technology. In a panel discussion at the virtual Space Innovation Summit, Lisa Costa, chief technology and innovation officer for the Space Force, said: “Fundamentally, I would prefer to employ edge-based devices to handle much of our AI work.”

Air Force Pits Helicopter Pilots Against Russian-Made Hinds in Rare Mock Battle

Task & Purpose

The saying goes that practice makes perfect, and Air Force helicopter pilots just got some high-quality practice against an enemy they have a good chance of meeting on the battlefield should the U.S. fight a war against Russia, North Korea, or other countries that fly one of the world’s most famous combat helicopters: the Mi-24 Hind. Aviators with the Air Force’s 41st Rescue Squadron flew from their home at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., to Lancaster, Texas, to find out how to fly against the Hind in a rare match-up.

Air Force Releases Technical Sergeant Promotion List

Air Force release

Air Force officials have selected 5,430 staff sergeants for promotion to technical sergeant, out of 33,935 eligible, for a selection rate of 16 percent in the 22E6 promotion cycle, which includes supplemental promotion opportunities. The average overall score for those selected was 379.04. Selectees’ average time in grade was 4.51 years, and time in service was 9.44 years. The promotion list is available on the Enlisted Promotions page of the Air Force’s Personnel Center website, the Air Force Portal, and myPers.

NASA Aiming for Late August Test Flight of Giant Moon Rocket


NASA announced that it’s shooting for a late August launch of its giant, new moon rocket. NASA will attempt the more than month-long lunar test flight with three mannequins, but no astronauts, as early as Aug. 29. The 30-story Space Launch System rocket and attached Orion capsule were in the hangar at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., following repairs stemming from June’s countdown test. Fuel leaks and other technical trouble cropped up during NASA’s repeated launch rehearsals at the pad.

South Korea Makes First Test Flight of Its '4.5th Generation' KF-21 Fighter Jet


South Korea completed the successful maiden voyage of its homegrown KF-21 fighter jet, officials announced, as the country looks to bolster its defense capabilities amid growing threats from neighboring North Korea. The KAI KF-21 Boramae took off from an air force base in Sacheon, about 185 miles south of Seoul, and completed a flight of more than 30 minutes.

CSAF Visits the Arctic Circle

Air Force release

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. and his wife, Sharene, visited Thule Air Base, Greenland, to engage with Airmen and Guardians who play a vital role in mutual defense and space superiority. “Thule is a strategic part of our nation’s defense, offering a unique view over the North Pole,” Brown said. “Air Force and Space Force missions supported here are fundamental to our defense of North America and our allies, and allows us to deter adversarial behavior, project power, and defend our nation’s interest in the Arctic region.”

At Reborn RIMPAC, a Clear Mission: Deter China, Defend Taiwan

Defense One

Sailing off the coast of Oahu, South Korean Navy Rear Adm. Sangmin Ahn commands Combined Task Force 176. He’s the first Korean naval officer to lead an expeditionary strike group during the enormous Rim of the Pacific exercise known as RIMPAC. “It is my greatest honor. I participated in [my] first RIMPAC when I was an ensign in 1992, and I'm back here 30 years later as an admiral,” Ahn told reporters through a translator. RIMPAC involves 26 nations, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, about 170 aircraft, more than 30 unmanned systems, and 25,000 people, according to the U.S. Navy 3rd Fleet, which is overseeing the exercise.

Norway to Buy Raytheon’s StormBreaker Smart Bomb for F-35 Fleet

Defense News

The Norwegian Ministry of Defence confirmed that it will buy Raytheon Technologies’ StormBreaker smart bomb from the U.S. Air Force. The country has already begun to integrate the network-enabled munition on its F-35 fleet, and the head of Norway’s F-35 project office said the weapon will play an important role in helping the country begin initial operations for its Joint Strike Fighters.

As Recruiters Struggle, Air Force Seeks Lift from ‘Top Gun’

The Associated Press

When “Top Gun: Maverick” roared into theaters, the Air Force was ready. The smash hit movie may feature Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a hotshot Navy aviator, but to much of the movie-going public, the distinction between Air Force and Navy fighter jets is lost. So Air Force recruiters struggling to meet their enlistment goals took boxes of free mugs and lanyards, and fanned out to movie theaters for the premiere, determined to capitalize on the jet-fueled excitement surrounding the film.

One More Thing

Robot Dogs a First at Minot Air Force Base

Minot Daily News

Chappie, the robot dog, can walk, run, kneel, climb over a curb, go up and down stairs, and even bark. The 5th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Emergency Management Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Flight (CBRN) is the first CBRN flight in the Air Force to get Ghost Robotics’ Vision 60 unmanned ground vehicles, commonly called “robot dogs.” Chappie and its partner, Atom, are also the first for all units at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Robotic dogs are being used by security forces at a few other bases where they were introduced recently.

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