Keesler BMT graduation ceremony September 18, 2020

Here’s How a Three-Month CR—or Longer—Would Affect the Air Force

As Congress looks to delay passage of a new federal funding package until after the November elections, the Air Force is warning that even a three-month gap would harm national defense. “[Continuing resolutions] immediately disrupt major exercises and training events, affect readiness and maintenance, curtail hiring and recruitment actions, and adversely impact contracting negotiations,” Air Force spokesman Capt. Jacob N. Bailey said in a Sept. 24 email. A stopgap spending bill would also slow the service’s adoption of technology it wants to compete with other advanced militaries like those of Russia and China.
B-1 upgrades

B-1B Fleet Finishes Integrated Battle Station Upgrade

The Air Force this month finished the biggest upgrade to the B-1B Lancer fleet ever. The Integrated Battle Station program, which includes three separate avionics and cockpit upgrades, began in 2012. Since then, 62 aircraft have received the upgrade, almost all on a dedicated line at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. The program cost about $1.25 billion, and included 1,050,000 total hours of work. “I think everybody’s heard of how complex this upgrade is, and how complicated it’s been,” said Lt. Col. James Couch, commander of the 10th Flight Test Squadron, which handled test flights in the program. “But through teamwork, through maintenance and the (System Program Office), and through engineering, ops, we all came together as a team and we did something that’s never been done before in the B-1 enterprise.”
Pentagon Town Hall

DOD to Keep COVID-19 Restrictions, Mask Requirements Until Vaccine Broadly Available

The military’s travel and other restrictions related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are likely to stick around for a while, until a vaccine is broadly available, which Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said he expects to be a matter of months. Milley, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, and Senior Enlisted Adviser to the Chairman Ramón Colón-López on Sept. 24 hosted a virtual town hall with service members, during which multiple questions were focused on COVID-19 restrictions. In response to a question on how soon restrictions would be lifted, Milley said changes are “conditions based” and depend on where a service member is stationed. “We have to be mindful of our No. 1 priority, which is the health of the force writ large,” Milley said.
Reaper crew

With an Eye on China, Reaper Drones Train for Maritime War

MQ-9 Reapers, the workhorse drone of America’s two-decade counterterrorism fight in the Middle East and Africa, want to show they’re getting a second wind. The MQ-9 schoolhouse at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., recently rewrote its syllabus to prepare Reaper pilots and sensor operators for a more complex fight, 29th Attack Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Brian Davis told Air Force Magazine in a Sept. 21 interview. The Air Force approved the new coursework shortly before the start of Exercise Agile Reaper, the first training event focused on those tactics in the Pacific.
First flight during Thracian Viper 20

Triple Nickel Hones Skills at Thracian Viper 20

For Aviano Air Base’s 555th Fighter Squadron, Thracian Viper 20 is about more than just training. The multilateral exercise, to which the squadron sent Airmen and six F-16s, boosts “operational capacity and capability," as well as interoperability with Bulgaria, Maj. Rohan Naldrett-Jays, the squadron’s chief of standardizations and evaluation, told Air Force Magazine. But, it also helps the Italy-based squadron fine-tune its ability to deploy aircraft and manpower anywhere in the European theater with agility—a critical part of Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.’s “accelerate change, or lose” directive for the Total Force.

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.

AIA Unveils “Roadmap to Recovery” to Guide A&D Industry’s Comeback

AIA press release

“This crisis is not only devastating our aviation sector, its shockwaves are reverberating across the defense sector because of our shared supply chain,” said Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Eric Fanning. “While companies and government leaders have taken initial steps to support jobs and help businesses survive, the severity of this crisis requires additional action. AIA’s ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ provides a strategic blueprint to help ensure a strong comeback, one that ensures the health of our workers, the resilience of our industry, and renewed strength in America’s national and economic security.”

Air Force Tests New Anti-Drone Technology with MEDUSA Network

Inside Defense

The Air Force has tested the ability of new sensor and missile technology to thwart a fleet of small unmanned aerial systems while integrated with an emerging command-and-control network at the large-scale Apollyon exercise last month, the service revealed Sept. 23. The 96th Test Wing evaluated over 20 anti-drone systems—including a successful live fire of an air defense missile—during the event, which was held at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., between Aug. 10 and Aug. 24, according to a notice published on the service's website.

OPINION: Are the Days of Manned Fighters REALLY Numbered?

Breaking Defense

“The Observe and Orient steps of the OODA Loop are the heart and soul of dogfighting—the two most critical elements in the OODA sequence,” writes John Venable, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense.. “No system in the world can touch a human’s ability to capture and process those tasks.”

A Creative Approach to Improving Software for the Air Force

Federal News Radio’s “Federal Tech Talk” podcast

This week on Federal Tech Talk, host John Gilroy speaks with Nicolas M. Chaillan, chief software officer of the Air Force. The two focal points of the interview are PlatformOne and CloudOne.

Flooding the Zone: Future Aviation Capability Tightens Kill Chain at Project Convergence

Defense News

Partnering helicopters and unmanned aircraft just a few years ago meant that a pilot could control a drone to fly ahead to conduct reconnaissance. Maybe it meant a pilot could control payloads or even the weapon systems on that drone. But at Project Convergence at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., this month, manned-unmanned teaming took on a far more advanced meaning.

’Who Is Our Enemy?‘ Neutral Switzerland Votes on Fighter Jets


Switzerland, which last fought a foreign war more than 200 years ago and has no discernable enemies, wants to spend billions on new fighter jets. Many oppose the idea, saying the neutral country neither can afford nor needs cutting-edge warplanes to defend Alpine territory, which a supersonic jet can cross in 10 minutes.

Behold a British Carrier Carrying the Most Stealth Fighters of Any Warship to Date

The Drive

The U.K. Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has embarked the largest number of aircraft on its deck ever, as F-35B stealth fighters from British and American squadrons have gone aboard for the next phase of maneuvers. The Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps have been working up to this for weeks now.

One More Thing

The Air Force Now Has Its Own Tattoo Shop

Military Times

Getting a tattoo is as a much of a rite of passage for military personnel as the ritualized—and oftentimes scalp-gouging—buzz cut at boot camp. And while barber shops have been a mainstay on bases around the globe, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have never had the convenience of on-base ink—until now.