The Air Force and its industry partners launched a classified National Reconnaissance Office intelligence satellite into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. “This mission helps to ensure that vital NRO resources will continue to bolster our national defense,” said Brig. Gen. Ed Wilson, commander of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla. CBS News reported that the satellite is believed to be an electronic eavesdropping spacecraft with a huge collecting antenna. In fact, it cited NRO Director Bruce Carlson saying back in September the Delta 4 Heavy would carry “the largest satellite in the world” into orbit. The Nov. 21 mission was the fourth launch of the Delta IV Heavy configuration. (Cape Canaveral report by Eric Brian)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.