Daily Report

May 29, 2024

Belgium Pledges F-16s to Ukraine ‘as Quickly as Possible.’ F-35 Deliveries Could Complicate Things

Belgium pledged to provide Ukraine with more than two dozen F-16s in a pact agreed to by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during the Ukrainian leader’s visit to the country on May 28. The F-16s will be delivered “as quickly as possible,” according to the security cooperation agreement. But Belgium’s pledge comes with significant caveats.

The Man Who Shot Down Yamamoto

Capt. Thomas G. Lanphier Jr. claimed to have shot down Yamamoto’s plane, killing him in the process, but the evidence indicates it was not Lanphier, but his wingman, Rex Barber, who deserved the credit.  

Radar Sweep

USMC F-35 Crashes Off of Airfield near Albuquerque Airport

ABC News

A military aircraft has crashed off of the airfield at the Albuquerque International Sunport, the primary international airport in New Mexico, officials said. The only person on board, the pilot, was conscious and taken to a hospital with serious injuries, according to airport officials and Albuquerque Fire Rescue. ... The downed aircraft was a new F-35 belonging to the United States Marine Corps, a U.S. official told ABC News. A Defense Contract Management Agency pilot was flying the aircraft, which was being transferred from a Lockheed Martin factory to be handed over to the service, at the time of the crash, the official said.

US Soldiers Were Stuck in Beached Boats Along Gaza After Storms Broke Apart Aid Pier


The Pentagon said May 28 that U.S. Soldiers had been stuck on three Army boats beached in Gaza over the weekend after high seas and a storm broke apart an aid pier the service built to deliver food to starving Palestinians. U.S. Central Command confirmed that the Soldiers had been evacuated from the boats by May 28 after the vessels broke free from their moorings on May 25, though it was not immediately clear how long the troops were stuck on the shore.

Massive China-Focused Black Flag Test Exercise Flies Deep into the Virtual Realm

The War Zone

This year, for the first time, the U.S. Air Force’s Black Flag large-scale test and evaluation exercise involves a Virtual Black Flag (VBF) test event, bringing together Navy, Army, and Space Force capabilities. This is just the latest development for an exercise that continues from strength to strength, and which is now overtly postured toward preparing for a potential future conflict with China. TWZ spoke with exercise directors from the Air Force and Navy during the most recent iteration of the live-fly exercise, Black Flag 24-1, last month.

SNC Plans ‘Fully Digital’ Development for Air Force’s ‘Doomsday Plane’ Replacement

Breaking Defense

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s behemoth task of converting Boeing 747 jumbo jets into militarized aircraft that can survive nuclear war will be no easy feat, but the mid-size, privately-held firm hopes that a set of special digital tools will ease the process. SNC, which won the Air Force’s Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) contract late last month, plans to make a near-“digital twin” of the aircraft through a years-long design phase.

Defense Innovation Unit Awards Funding for Sea-Based Launch Pad

Defense News

The Defense Innovation Unit selected The Spaceport Company to demonstrate the ability to use a sea-based launch platform to quickly send cargo or satellites to orbit. The company, headquartered in Woodbridge, Va., builds floating launch pads that could allow commercial companies or the Defense Department to fly payloads offshore. The concept is particularly relevant amid unprecedented launch rates, which are increasingly causing congestion at U.S. ranges.

Space-Capable Link 16 Will Be ‘Game Changer’ in Indo-Pacific Conflict with China: General

Breaking Defense

As the U.S. looks to exploit cracks in China’s formidable “red kill chain,” built expressly to keep the United States well outside the Second Island Chain in the event of a war for Taiwan, Beijing is going have a much harder time doing the same to America’s own “blue” kill chain thanks to a formidable new technology—a jam-resistant Link 16 that now extends to and from space.

DARPA Picks Two Firms to Design a Fast, Runway-Less Airplane

Defense One

Two companies will vie to design a new high-speed, runway-independent aircraft, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency announced. “As of May 2024, two performers—Aurora Flight Sciences and Bell Textron, Inc.—have been awarded contracts for Phase 1B” of the Speed and Runway Independent Technologies, or SPRINT program, a DARPA official said in an email. “Performers have approximately one year to complete preliminary design work for their aircraft.”

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Calls Mount to Let Ukraine Strike Russia with Western Weapons

The New York Times

Western nations are stepping up their calls to allow attacks on Russian territory using weapons that they have sent the Ukrainian military—an issue that is taking on greater urgency as Russia builds up troops on the border in preparation for a possible offensive.

Air Force Reservists Can Soon Apply to Join the Space Force

Air Force Times

The Space Force on June 1 will begin accepting applications from Air Force reservists to join the newest service as full-time Guardians, the service said in a release. Bringing reservists who already work in space-related jobs into the fold will mark the Space Force’s next step toward what it hopes will be a more flexible system for managing troops across full-time and part-time roles.

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New MDA Charter Being Finalized as Statutory Deadline to Rescind 2020 DTM Approaches

Inside Defense

The Pentagon is finalizing a new update of seminal missile defense governance policy mandated by law to replace a controversial memorandum advanced during the Trump administration that curtailed the Missile Defense Agency's autonomy by elevating approval authority for key activities to senior Defense Department officials.

One More Thing

Battle of Britain Planes Grounded After Pilot Killed in Spitfire Crash


The RAF has temporarily grounded the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight following the death of a pilot in a crash. Sqn. Ldr. Mark Long was killed when the Spitfire he was flying crashed in a field in Lincolnshire. ... The RAF said it had taken the decision to ground the aircraft while investigations take place.