Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has proven enormously popular around the globe, with new nations signing on annually and older members increasing their buys. It’s a good problem to have — but one that also has consequences, not just for the defense giant but for its biggest customer, the US Air Force. Orders for the jet now exceed Lockheed’s production capability, a top US Air Force general told Breaking Defense, and while the service wants to increase its buy rate for the fifth-gen fighter, a maxed-out production line, combined with budgetary constraints, means that won’t be “possible in the very near term.”
The United States Space Force has had internal discussions about setting up a hotline with China to prevent crises in space, U.S. commander General Chance Saltzman told Reuters on Sept. 25. The chief of space operations said a direct line of communication between the Space Force and its Chinese counterpart would be valuable in de-escalating tensions but that the U.S. had not yet engaged with China to establish one.
With Congress barreling toward a government shutdown at the end of the week, some lawmakers are hoping to ensure troops can continue getting paid, but it’s unclear whether their efforts will be successful. Bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate that would allow service members, including members of the Coast Guard, to keep getting paychecks in the event government funding runs out when the fiscal year ends this weekend—a scenario that appears to be increasingly likely. So far, though, there have been no public signals from either chamber's leadership that they will move forward on those bills.
U.S. Space Force officials will meet next month with industry leaders and key international partners to discuss a strategy for supply chain resiliency. The discussions will be led by the service’s acquisition arm, Space Systems Command, and will include representatives from the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, and Japan. The event, dubbed a reverse industry day, will give those partners as well as space executives a chance to share their perspectives on supply chain challenges and opportunities, according to a command spokesman.
Over the next year and a half, the Pentagon’s new Replicator initiative—the ambitious, in-the-works plan to help the U.S. military deter China by fielding thousands of autonomous systems at scale in various domains—is envisioned to materialize via the Deputy’s Innovation Steering Group (DISG). That recent elevated group is set to host its first, government-only launch event associated with the pursuit this week, DefenseScoop confirmed Sept. 25.
stroscale U.S., a provider of on-orbit services to extend the life of satellites, has signed an agreement with the U.S. Space Force to co-invest in an on-orbit refueling vehicle. Col. Joyce Bulson, project manager at Space Systems Command, said the agreement includes $25.5 million in government funding and approximately $12 million to be provided by Astroscale. The company will deliver in 24 months a “manifest ready” prototype vehicle capable of refueling a satellite in orbit, Bulson said Sept. 25 in an interview with SpaceNews.
The U.S. will loan $2 billion to Poland’s military, using a little-used funding mechanism to support Poland’s push to rearm in light of the war in Ukraine. The loan, announced Sept. 25, will come via the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program. The program typically funds foreign military acquisition through grants, but also allows the U.S. to provide countries with loans. The last such loan was given to Iraq in 2017, following ISIS’s rise to power, a State Department spokesperson said.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, whose four-year tenure as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ends with his retirement this month, will exit center stage as one of the most consequential and polarizing military chiefs in recent memory, leading America’s armed forces through a fraught period that included the precarious final months of Donald Trump’s presidency, a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Washington’s high-stakes standoff with Moscow.
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is investigating an ‘inappropriate and unapproved’ call sign that was transmitted electronically from one of its aircraft on Sept. 25. RCAF identifiers, otherwise known as call signs, contain four letters and two numbers. They are assigned to pilots and usually remain unchanged, but on Sept. 25 it appeared one was tweaked when a CF-18 Hornet on a flight in the United Kingdom was broadcast globally as ‘D*CK69.’