Sunrise F-22 Raptor Launch

Breaking Down USAF’s 70-Percent Overall Mission Capable Rate

The Air Force’s fleet in fiscal 2019 maintained an overall mission capable rate of 70.27 percent, a slight increase from the previous year. Although some key combat aircraft, such as the fifth-generation F-22 Raptor, which hovers just over 50 percent, sustained low capability rates, service officials say the numbers don't tell the whole story. USAF officials say the mission capable rate—a snapshot of how much of a certain fleet is ready to go at a given time—is an inaccurate portrayal of the service’s health. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, in a September 2019 interview with Air Force Magazine, said the Air Force instead wants to highlight how deployable a fleet is within a short period of time. “How many force elements do we have—fighters, bombers, tankers—across all of the Air Force, and how are we doing relative to the time all of those forces need to be ready,” Goldfein said.
Space Force roadshows

Here’s What the Space Force is Telling Airmen About the New Service

As the Space Force stands up, there’s one constituency it has to get on board with its plans: Airmen. The Space Force squeezed in 10 “roadshows” to explain its mission before the coronavirus pandemic made it unsafe to gather for the presentations. Troops at Peterson, Schriever, and Buckley Air Force Bases and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado; Patrick Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.; Robins Air Force Base, Ga.; Thule Air Base in Greenland; and the Pentagon were briefed between March 3-12, according to service spokeswoman Lynn Kirby. The service has switched to spreading the same message online through videos, webinars, and Facebook Live.
F-35 Production

Lockheed to Miss 2020 F-35 Production Goal Due to COVID-19

Parts delays and the need to keep workers appropriately separate will translate to an 18-24 airplane shortfall in Lockheed Martin's planned 2020 F-35 production, the company said May 19. The figure is a worst-case estimate and could be mitigated by an earlier acceleration of parts deliveries and milder spread of the virus. It's not clear how many of those jets will be F-35As for the U.S. Air Force. Lockheed beat its 2019 production target by three aircraft.
RAND report

Air Force Splits ICBM Directorate in Two as GBSD Development Continues

The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center is splitting its management of intercontinental ballistic missiles in two as the next-generation Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent progresses. AFNWC’s former Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Systems Directorate at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is now the Minuteman III Systems Directorate and the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent Systems Directorate. “This restructuring is a natural progression of the Air Force’s increasing focus on the modernization of the ICBM, the third leg of our strategic nuclear triad,” said Maj. Gen. Shaun Morris, AFNWC commander and Air Force program executive officer for strategic systems, in an Air Force Materiel Command release.
051920 OPIR SBIR

Northrop Gets Billions to Develop Next-Gen OPIR Polar Satellites

Northrop Grumman on May 18 won a contract worth up to $2.4 billion to supply two polar orbit satellites that are part of the next generation of missile warning systems. Phase one development work will run through the end of 2025, and another contract that will fund production, testing, and launch is due out in fiscal 2022. The Space Force wants the first polar satellite in fiscal 2027 and all five initial satellites ready for operations in 2029. “The primary mission is to provide initial missile warning of a ballistic missile attack on the U.S., its deployed forces, and its allies,” according to Space Force budget documents. “Next-Gen OPIR Space enhances detection and improves reporting of intercontinental ballistic missile launches, submarine launched ballistic missile launches, and tactical ballistic missile launches.”

Virtual Events: Scowcroft Group’s Miller on Mitchell’s Nuclear Deterrence Series, and More

On March 23, the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies will host a virtual Nuclear Deterrence Series event featuring Scowcroft Group Principal Frank Miller. At a time when nuclear modernization programs are accelerating around the world, proposals to recapitalize the U.S. nuclear arsenal are at the forefront of debates over defense spending. Miller will share his insights into the prospects for U.S. nuclear modernization programs and the value of nuclear deterrence in today's competitive security environment. The think tank will post event video on its website and YouTube page after the live event.

Radar Sweep

Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19

Air Force Magazine

Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaked Pentagon Memo Warns of 'Real Possibility' of COVID-19 Resurgence, Vaccine Not Coming Until Summer 2021

Task and Purpose

The Defense Department should prepare to operate in a "globally-persistent" novel coronavirus (COVID-19) environment without an effective vaccine until "at least the summer of 2021," according to a draft Pentagon memo obtained by Task & Purpose. "We have a long path ahead, with the real possibility of a resurgence of COVID-19," reads the memo, authored for Defense Secretary Mark Esper but not yet bearing his signature.

Progressive Dems Urge Defense Spending Cut

Inside Defense

Nearly 30 progressive House Democrats have sent a letter to the House Armed Services Committee seeking a cut in defense spending in favor of devoting more elsewhere to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. "We encourage you to constrain defense spending during this pandemic so that we can defeat the greatest threat to our nation—the coronavirus," the lawmakers wrote. "America needs a coronavirus cure, not more war. We need more testing, not more bombs."

OPINION: Funding Two Military Services—with the Resources for One—Risks Both

Defense News

“America relies on space every day, and the benefits of our nation’s space-based capabilities are clear,” writes retired USAF Col. Keith Zuegel, the Air Force Association’s senior director for government relations. “The U.S. Space Force needs support now, and sustained investment over the next several years, to maintain our critical war-fighting advantages in space.”

Senate Committee Advances Nomination of U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe for Director of National Intelligence

The Texas Tribune

The Senate Intelligence Committee moved in a party-line vote May 19 to advance the nomination of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) for director of national intelligence. The move sends the nomination to the full Senate, which is expected to confirm Ratcliffe in the coming weeks. This is the second time President Donald Trump has tapped Ratcliffe for the cabinet-level position, which oversees 17 intelligence agencies.

OPINION: Winning The Spectrum: Pentagon Unveils New Strategy

Breaking Defense

The U.S. largely abandoned electronic warfare after the Cold War ended. Then the Russians made it very clear in their war against Ukraine just how effective EW could be and senior folks in the U.S. military grew uneasy. They and Congress realized how much we had made ourselves vulnerable and the Hill ordered the creation of a group to devise a strategy to restore American EW eminence. Bryan Clark and Tim Walton of the Hudson Institute preview the new strategy.

A Lucky Flight in the Fight: Aircrew Receives Combat Medal

USAF release

For their actions during the mission, the aircrew was awarded the Air Force Combat Action Medal. This medal is awarded to U.S. military personnel who actively participated in either air or ground combat while operating in an unsecured space.

Rapid Acquisition & Sustainment

Air Force Magazine

The Air Force and U.S. defense establishment are breaking down barriers and injecting speed, innovation, and creativity into the procurement system. Check out our new page to learn more about these efforts.

One More Thing

Air Force Photo Contest Launches July 1

USAF release

The theme for this year’s contest, which runs July 1-31, is “We Are Family.” The contest highlights and celebrates photography created by Airmen and families and is open to anybody ages 6 and older, at the time of submission, in five categories. When the contest closes on July 31, expert photographers will evaluate each entry based on impact, creativity, and technical excellence. Winners will be announced a few months later with the top three photographers in each category winning Amazon gift cards of $500 for first place, $400 for second place, and $200 for third place.