Daily Report

Nov. 28, 2023

F-15 Eagles Train with the Philippines Over South China Sea

The U.S. and the Philippines conducted a three-day aerial exercise together last week, with fighters from both nations operating over the strategically vital South China Sea. The joint drill ran from Nov. 21-23, with two U.S. F-15 Eagles flying alongside two Philippines Air Force FA-50s, a Pacific Air Forces spokesperson told Air & Space Forces Magazine.

Radar Sweep

Pentagon Looks to Commercial Space for an Edge


Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, who has spearheaded Pentagon efforts to bring cutting-edge technology into defense programs, is overseeing the military’s first commercial space integration strategy. The new strategy comes as the Pentagon seeks to tap into advancements in commercial space technology to maintain an advantage over China, now seen as America’s top military competitor.

Belgium to Join Europe’s FCAS Next-Gen Fighter Program in June 2025

Breaking Defense

A senior Belgian official revealed that by June 2025 her nation will become the fourth partner nation behind Germany, France and Spain to join the Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/SCAF sixth generation fighter program. Ludivine Dedonder, Belgium’s defense minister, announced the expected timeline in a LinkedIn post last week, which comes after the country first committed to the project at the Paris Air Show in June.

‘Campaign of Learning’: 6 Questions about the F-35 with a Lead DOD Sustainment Official

Breaking Defense

For the many weapon systems in the portfolio of Christopher Lowman, few underscore the challenges of platform sustainment like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a program with numerous foreign partners and an intricate global supply chain expected to support a planned fleet of thousands of jets. Lowman, the assistant secretary of defense for sustainment, has taken a leading role in the Pentagon to boost the Lockheed Martin-made stealth fighter’s disappointing mission capable rate of just 55 percent as of March 2023, as well as ensure the global fleet can stand up to the pressures of peer conflict.

German Air Force Plans Major Asia-Pacific Tour in 2024

Defense News

The German air force is planning an exercise tour through the Asia-Pacific region in 2024, accompanied by aircraft from France and Spain, the partners in the trinational Future Combat Air System, according to defense officials. The weekslong deployment next summer, which also involves at least one German navy ship, follows Berlin’s logic that Germany must help stabilize an economically important region as China looks to grow its influence.

This Holiday Season, NDAA Shaping Up as End-of-Year ‘Christmas Tree’

CQ Roll Call

Despite an action-packed year on Capitol Hill, lawmakers return this week to a long to-do list that includes issues ranging from military aid for allies to surveillance programs to the massive Pentagon policy bill—and much more. House members have spent much of 2023 in a prolonged battle over federal spending, but the three-week sprint to a planned holiday recess will force them to try reaching common ground on all those matters, and others like reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration and dealing with a number of set-to-expire tax and health provisions.

B-2 Spirit Now Operational with New B61-12 Nuclear Bombs

The War Zone

The B61-12 nuclear bomb is now formally in the U.S. stockpile and cleared for operational use on the B-2A Spirit stealth bomber. It's the first U.S. combat aircraft cleared to employ the advanced B61 variant operationally. U.S. Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighters, F-15E Strike Eagles, and F-16C/D Vipers, as well as the service's future B-21A Raider stealth bombers, are also in the process of being certified to employ the B61-12.

Hicks to Host First International Briefing on Replicator with UK Counterparts


Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks is set to brief senior officials in the United Kingdom this week on the ambitious effort she recently launched to enable the U.S. military to field thousands of low-cost autonomous systems across multiple domains in less than two years, as the Pentagon aims to offset China’s military buildup.

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At Lackland, Air Force Brass Aims to Build a Smarter Boot Camp

San Antonio Express-News

On a cloudy, damp October evening, the recruits step off a bus and onto the grounds of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. “Let’s go, come on! Let’s go, come on!” an Airman barks at them as they began falling into ragged lines. “Move it!” he calls out a moment later as the young men and women stand ramrod straight, holding their bags. There is no screaming in the recruits’ faces, no swarm of instructors circling them like sharks, no verbal abuse or harassment hurled their way.

Western Pennsylvania Tech Companies Are Eying Air Force Partnerships

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Seconds after Jan Berkow took control of the C-17, one of the largest cargo planes in the Air Force fleet was veering sideways through the Pittsburgh skyline. Suddenly sirens were blaring. "You're going past 37 degrees," Lt. Col. Scott Cook calmly explained, before autopilot kicked in to steady the horizon. Fortunately for the half dozen tech workers on board, the flight was only a simulation, carried out at the the Air Force Reserve Command's 911th Airlift Wing outside Pittsburgh International Airport. The base last week hosted Mr. Berkow, a University of Pittsburgh program manager, along with dozens of tech companies from the region who are looking to collaborate and potentially land contracts with the Department of Defense. For the base, the visit was a way to increase visibility. For the companies, a chance to refine their pitch.

Space Force MEO Missile-Warning Satellites Pass Critical Design Review


The Space Force’s acquisition branch announced Nov. 27 that the first group of satellites for its future constellation designed to track high-speed missiles from medium-Earth orbit (MEO) has completed critical design review. The successful review paves the way for six systems—part of Epoch 1 of the service’s Resilient Missile Warning and Missile Tracking MEO (MEO MW/MT) program—to move into production.

One More Thing

Remains of a WWII Heavy Bomber Gunner Identified Nearly 80 Years after His Death

The Associated Press

A U.S. Army Air Force gunner’s remains have been accounted for nearly eight decades after the heavy bomber he was flying in was shot down over France during World War II, military officials said Nov. 27. Staff Sgt. Franklin P. Hall, 21, of Leesburg, Fla., was identified in July by scientists who used anthropological and DNA analysis, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said in a news release.