In episode 27 of the Aerospace Advantage, Guiding the Fight: Airborne Command and Control, join battle manager Major Alex Wallis to explore why the information advantage is crucial at the tactical edge of the battle space. For decades, the E-3 AWACS and E-8 JSTARS have defined the command and control mission. However, given the rapid evolution of technology in the information age, the way in which these missions are executed is going to change—whether talking about the power of space-based assets, artificial intelligence, or increased connectivity. It’s all about understanding how to maximize a relative position to best achieve the mission, while avoiding or minimizing threats.
The Air Force is preparing to issue an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for IT and technology services for an operations center dedicated to flying a squadron of drones. The contract has a $750 million ceiling and would be to service network and data curation for the Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Squadron Operation Center Enterprise at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
The Pentagon needs to create a unified “innovation ecosystem” from the services‘ experiments, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said June 21. So it will create a Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve – RDER, pronounced “Raider.” Organizations across the Defense Department can propose experiments and compete for RDER funding, with winners determined based on how well they bring in multiple services and entities to work on joint concepts.
As the Air Force transitions its nuclear missile force from the Minuteman III to the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) in the coming decade, the Air Force will have to manage a delicate balancing act: simultaneously sustain the legacy force while developing and deploying its replacement. “The handoff between Minuteman III and GBSD is the most complex [replacement operation] ever undertaken between two nuclear weapon systems,” said Col. Luke Cropsey, ICBM Systems director, in a recent Air Force release.
According to data and corresponding information provided to Military.com, the Air Force did not see a need to hasten inspections or accelerate maintenance on an ejection seat’s sequencer, because work was already underway. But that sequencer malfunctioned during a fatal crash, preventing the pilot from ejecting safely. And even after the tragedy, no comprehensive fast-track has been ordered. While parts from the same production line have been sidelined, it's not certain whether another ejection seat mishap could happen before maintenance work is complete.
On June 17, an undisclosed number of students became the first to graduate from a new special warfare school, earning the title of Special Reconnaissance Airmen. The new job replaces what used to be called Special Operations Weather Teams, the meteorology experts who infiltrate hostile territory to gather and forecast weather conditions for special operations teams or air support. The SR career field underwent a major restructuring recently that keeps short-term weather forecasting in the job’s skillset, but it is no longer the main focus.
A senior U.S. general warned June 18 that the “wildfire of terrorism” is sweeping across a band of Africa and needs the world’s attention. He spoke at the close of large-scale U.S.-led war games with American, African and European troops. The African Lion war games, which lasted nearly two weeks, stretched across Morocco, a key U.S, ally, with smaller parts held in Tunisia and Senegal. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, head of the U.S. Africa Command, praised the work accomplished in joint operations, and painted a dark picture of threats besetting parts of Africa.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of the Air Force signed an agreement June 15 aimed at eliminating red tape while protecting public safety during commercial space activities at ranges operated by the U.S. Space Force. The agreement recognizes common safety standards for FAA-licensed launch and reentry activities that occur on, originate from, or return to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. It also removes duplicative processes and approvals for the U.S. commercial space sector.
Since May 1, the original deadline for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban military has overpowered government troops to take at least 23 districts to date, according to local media. That advance has further denied Afghan security forces the use of roads, meaning all logistical support to the thousands of army and police outposts and checkpoints — including resupplies of ammunition and food, medical evacuations or personnel rotation — must be done by air. The result is an operational tempo the pilots can’t sustain; their aircraft routinely exceed the maximum number of hours they’re allowed to fly.
Watch This Plane Shoot Down Drones with a High-Powered Laser in a First-of-its-Kind Israeli Military Test
The Israeli military used a plane armed with a high-powered laser to intercept and shoot down several unmanned aircraft in flight in a first-of-its-kind test for the Israeli armed forces, which are constantly searching for new ways to counter airborne threats like rockets and drones from Gaza and elsewhere. The High-Power Laser Weapon System was installed on an aircraft equipped with advanced sensors and tracking systems and used to engage multiple drones at various ranges and altitudes.
The first-in-her-class USS Gerald R. Ford underwent its first shock trials on the afternoon of June 18 off the coast of Florida. Full Ship Shock Trials (FSSTs) are a massive and potentially invasive test of how all of the ships' systems, as well as her crew, fare after large concussive blasts occur in close proximity to the ship. The underwater blast on June 18 registered 3.9 on the Richter Scale.