New Kirtland Lab to Explore How to Build a Better Spacecraft

A new space materials laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., is now open for business. The Air Force Research Laboratory’s space vehicles directorate opened the $4 million Deployable Structures Laboratory (DeSel) on Oct. 29. It plans to begin testing hardware in the next few months. “We're one lab and opening our doors to different programs and projects,” Benjamin Urioste, research engineer and lead for the team that will use the lab, told Air Force Magazine Nov. 23. “Whether they are large acquisitions or small acquisitions that want to come in and have an independent government assessment of their deployable structure, our lab facility is very capable of doing that.”

Air Force Academy Looks to Become a Place for Space

The U.S. Air Force Academy has long been the training ground for cadets headed for careers in military space. But with the creation of a Space Force, the Colorado school is looking to expand the opportunities available to space-minded students. USAFA's new Space Force detachment is creating mentorship and work experience programs as it vets candidates to become second lieutenants in the new service.
NH Air National Guard KC-46 aircrew fly to train

USAF, Boeing Finalizing Overhaul Design of Troubled RVS System

The Air Force is finished evaluating the proposed “interim” fix for the KC-46’s troubled remote vision system, and is moving toward finalizing the design of the “2.0” overhaul of the system. The Air Force is more focused on the 2.0 overhaul, and “we’ve completed nearly every aspect of the design” except for how the image from the rear cameras will be projected to the operator, said Will Roper, the Air Force's acquisition boss, on Nov. 24.
KC-135 Checkered Flag

Tankers Likely the First Aircraft to Receive ABMS Upgrades

The Air Force’s aerial refueling fleet could be the first platform to adopt new technologies developed under the Advanced Battle Management System effort, integrating pods complete with advanced communications and data links to feed information, along with gas, to combat aircraft as early as next year. “If we try to do podded solutions to artfully move around legacy hardware, we can move pretty quickly,” Department of the Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper told reporters. “I think that’s something we can do within a year …. I think the tech has that level of maturity. Certainly within 18 months, I think we could have these platforms as true battle nodes.”

Travis Doctor, USAFA Grad Dies in Al-Dhafra Accident

Capt. Kelliann Leli, a Travis Air Force Base doctor who was deployed to the United Arab Emirates in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, died in a “non-combat related vehicle accident at Al-Dhafra Air Base” on Nov. 27, a 60th Air Mobility Wing release stated. An investigation into the incident is underway, the wing wrote.
Sunset loading

PACAF Surveyed Every ‘Piece of Concrete’ in the Pacific for Agile Combat Employment

Pacific Air Forces has studied “every single piece of concrete” across the Indo-Pacific as it looks to find new ways to forward deploy different types of aircraft in a contingency, and to solidify the service’s Agile Combat Employment concept. The command has surveyed available airstrips to see if they can host aircraft like F-22s, F-15s, and C-130s, said PACAF boss Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach. The goal for ACE is to be able to operate from an austere location with a skeleton crew of multi-capable Airmen. “We have a plan for all of those airfields, and some of them meet the criteria and they are therefore part of what we call clusters,” he said, adding that while specifics are classified, the command has identified existing airstrips that will serve as a hub to reach other “spoke” locations.

USAF Wants to Base C-130Js in Georgia, Kentucky, Texas, and West Virginia

The Air Force on Nov. 25 publicly announced plans to house C-130Js at Air National Guard wings in Kentucky, Texas, West Virginia, and Georgia, pending environmental impact analyses. The tentative basing decisions were shared with Congress a day earlier, Air National Guard spokesperson Lt. Col. Devin T. Robinson told Air Force Magazine. The new tails will replace the selected wings' time-worn C-130Hs, the release added. However, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) in a Nov. 24 statement criticized the choice as unnecessarily politicizing the C-130J basing process.
Kentucky Air National Guard members return from deployment

Home for the Holidays: Kentucky Airmen Wrap Mideast Deployment

More than 90 citizen-Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing returned from a four-month Middle East deployment on Nov. 18, according to a wing release. The wing’s aircrews completed nearly 5,000 combat sorties, moving 15,000 people and over 10,000 tons of supplies within the U.S. Central Command region in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel, the release stated.

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.

OPINION: Stop the Budgetary Bleeding to Get the Air Force We Need

Defense News

“The time has come to openly articulate what is required to meet national security requirements,” writes Douglas Birkey, executive director of the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “That is what the 386 operational squadron goal is all about. It comes down to acknowledging what Airmen will need to fly into harm’s way, get the job done, and come home safe. This takes both capability and capacity. It is time to rebuild the Air Force we need.”

In Call with Troops, Trump Basks in Space Force Achievement


During a video teleconference with members of the military on his last Thanksgiving as Commander in Chief, President Donald J. Trump touted his efforts to establish the Space Force, calling the newest branch of the armed services “a very important thing to me.” Trump spoke Nov. 26 from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room with officers representing units from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, and Coast Guard.

Joint All-Domain Awareness

Air Force Magazine

Get a better sense of the drive for greater connectedness between air, space, cyber, land, and maritime forces. Catch up on all-things JADC2 now.

Mitchell Institute Launches ‘Aerospace Advantage’ Podcast

AFA release

AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies will release the first in a new podcast series titled “The Aerospace Advantage” on Nov. 30. Hosted by former Air Force Weapons School instructor and Thunderbird pilot retired Lt. Col. John “Slick” Baum, the series will delve into all aspects of air and space warfare, emphasizing firsthand accounts from current experts in the field.

Court Overturns Ruling that Germany Must Press US on Drones

The Associated Press

Germany’s top administrative court has ruled the country’s government can’t be forced to ensure that U.S. drone strikes controlled via an American military base on German territory are in line with international law.

Guard Chaplains Reflect on Floyd Protests, Lessons Learned

The Associated Press

National Guard troops were deployed during this summer’s widespread unrest over racial injustice following George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis, and again this fall in the city as a surge in violent crime collided with heated debate over law enforcement and race. Now the chaplains say they’re working on two main lessons learned from those tumultuous times: Building bridges within tense communities and bringing faith-grounded calm and comfort to the front lines whenever they may be mobilized again—possibly as soon as next March, when the officers charged in Floyd’s killing go on trial.

One More Thing

Take a Look at This Documentary about the Skunk Works’ History and the Birth of the SR-71 Blackbird

The Aviationist

Back in 2015, it was decided to move the SR-71 Blackbird exhibited at the Virginia Aviation Museum, which was about to close a year later, to the new gallery of the Science Museum of Virginia to “inspire the future of invention”. The story of the Blackbird is, in fact, still taught today as a roadmap to true innovation. Producer Todd Hervey, after learning about the museum’s plans, decided to document the move and tell the story of the innovation brought by the SR-71 and the Skunk Works.