December 2021

Vol. 104, No. 12

U.S. Northern Command was created 20 years ago in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., and though the threats have evolved significantly since then, the command still largely relies on the same analog systems and processes to share threat data and intelligence. Solutions are mostly regionally focused and still involve human analysts entering data into spreadsheets, verbally providing updates across operations centers, and pulling together PowerPoint slides to brief leaders. That's about to change.
Chronically high operating costs might be tamed with a new deal. A new sustainment contract between the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) and Lockheed Martin, inked in September, will give the company a chance to bring down operating costs over the next three years.

Hacking the Supply Chain 

The Defense Department’s cyber challenges are enormous. Systems increasingly rely on software code, much of it incorporating open-source components. Growing dependence on cloud-based systems to host databases and computer workloads also expanded the Pentagon’s attack surface. Conventional cyber defenses based on keeping hackers out of DOD networks have given way to new strategies built on protecting the data inside the network, because that’s what hackers are after. 

Facing Down Semiconductor Supply Chain Threats

The lack of domestic chip supplies is a growing threat. John Abbott, an analyst at S & P Global Market Intelligence, said the cyclical nature of the semiconductor industry lends itself to booms and busts, “with dips in the market having occurred roughly every five years since 1980.” This cycle has seen a double dip, both in 2019 and again now. Major aerospace contractors haven’t faced the extent of shortages that slowed automotive production, at least not yet. But regional breakdowns in the supply chain have highlighted concerns.

Letters

We love letters! Write to us at letters@afa.org. To be published, letters should be timely, relevant and concise. Include your name and location. Letters may be edited for space and the editors have final say on which are published.

Space Force’s S&T Matrix

AFRL’s realignment is finally complete. Andrew Williams, an 18-year veteran of AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate, will be the first full-time permanent deputy technology executive officer (D-TEO) for space science and technology.

The Plan to Rescue Depots

Calling the condition of the military’s depots, shipyards, and arsenals a “crisis,” House Armed Services Committee Readiness panel chair John Garamendi (D-Calif.) gave Pentagon acquisition and sustainment officials three months to return a five-year plan for modernizing the military’s organic industrial base, warning that the “request … will be enforced.

Faces of the Force

Tell us who you think we should highlight here. Write to afmag@afa.org. Five members of the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron came to the aid of a fellow passenger during a commercial flight from Okinawa to Tokyo Sept. 10, assisted by...

Verbatim

A collection of quotes on airpower and national security issues.

AFA in Action

Al Maggini, who completed 35 bombing missions as a B-17 navigator with the Eighth Air Force in World War II, turned 106 recently.