space force guardians

SpOC Commander Sees Spacefaring Guardians in Future

As military operations in space move farther from the Earth, the commander of Space Operations Command believes Guardians joining the Space Force now may eventually need to enter orbit or transit through space to make quick decisions to protect American interests in space. The Space Force currently has two former NASA astronauts within its ranks, Col. Mike Hopkins and Col. Nick Hague. But their practical application as spacefaring Guardians is still unclear. Recent space forays by billionaire space entrepreneurs Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson demonstrate a capability that could benefit the Space Force, Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting told Air Force Magazine.
air force firefighting c-130

Wildfires Challenge Blaze-Fighting C-130 Crews

High temperatures and drought across the West are sparking an almost unprecedented operations tempo for Air Force firefighting C-130s and aircrews. C-130s from three Air National Guard wings and an Air Force Reserve wing are flying missions with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System, supporting the U.S. Forest Service. Activated a month earlier this year than in 2020, they are flying at twice the pace as last year, fighting huge blazes including the Dixie Fire in Northern California. “You can really see the impact," said Col. Gary Monroe, commander of 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern)’s 153rd Modular Airborne Firefighting System Air Expeditionary Group. “The heat, the drought, and all the conditions out there are just very bad for sparking wildfires. ... That's why we’re here, to help with that, and to mitigate any damage or suffering that’s out there for our neighbors, our friends, our families, our citizens all around us.”
special leave accrual

Roth Extends Special Leave Accrual Rules for All Airmen, Guardians

Once more, Airmen and Guardians will be able to carry over up to 120 days of leave from fiscal year 2021, acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth announced July 23. The move, Roth wrote in a memo distributed to the major commands, is aimed at helping service members who have been unable to take leave due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While more and more of those restrictions have been lifted as of late, “many [Department of the Air Force] service members, through no fault of their own, have found it difficult to manage and reduce their individual leave balances to no more than 60 days,” Roth wrote.

Lakenheath F-15E Pilot Thanks Spotter Who Alerted Him to Engine Malfunction

An F-15 pilot with the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, got to meet the civilian plane spotter who potentially saved his life. In a Facebook post from RAF Lakenheath, 492nd Fighter Squadron pilot Maj. Grant Thompson was seen personally thanking Ian Simpson, a British aviation enthusiast. Simpson happened to be watching planes take off at the base July 13 when he noted that one F-15E Strike Eagle was seemingly spewing fire and sparks out of its right rear engine, but the pilot seemed unaware. Simpson said he called the base's switch board and was connected with the 48th Fighter Wing field operations group. From there, Thompson was alerted to the issue and was able to land safely without incident.

Radar Sweep

Triple Nickel Wraps up Exercise Thracian Star 21 in Bulgaria with Allies

Air Force Times

The Air Force wrapped up Thracian Star 21—an exercise designed to enhance interoperability and combat effectiveness—July 23. The exercise, spearheaded by the Bulgarian air force and held at Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria, involved more than 150 personnel and eight F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the famed 555th Fighter Squadron—known as the “Triple Nickel”—based out of Aviano Air Base in Italy.

Scrubbed AWACS Flights Lead to Toxic Leadership Allegations at Tinker Air Force Base

A leaked audio recording of a group commander at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., lecturing airmen after sorties were canceled due to crew fatigue has raised concerns about the wing’s leadership style and safety culture. The concerns became public July 17, when the unofficial Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page posted an account by an anonymous author alleging “toxic culture of leadership” in the operations group for Tinker’s 552nd Air Control Wing, which flies the Boeing E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System, or AWACS, aircraft.

Pregnant Cadets, Midshipmen Must Give Up Their Child or Their Career. Two Senators Want To Change That.

Defense One

Two senators are teaming up to change an “unfair, antiquated” policy that requires students at military academies who get pregnant to choose between abandoning their military career or their child. Last week, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., introduced the Candidates Afforded Dignity, Equality, and Training, or CADET, Act of 2021, which would ensure that students at military universities have the option to continue their education while also maintaining their parental rights.

PODCAST: From the Ostfriesland to the B-21: Billy Mitchell and Modern Aerospace Power

Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

In episode 32 of the Aerospace Advantage, “From the Ostfriesland to the B-21: Billy Mitchell and Modern Aerospace Power,” we mark the 100th anniversary of Brigadier General Billy Mitchell and the Air Service’s First Provisional Air Brigade sinking the captured German battleship Ostfriesland. While that accomplishment is incredibly significant unto itself, this anniversary also gives us an opportunity to consider Mitchell’s accomplishments with a broader lens and think about what it all means today. Mitchell’s vision fundamentally changed what it means to project effective military power.

Senate Defense Bill Would Require Women to Register for the Draft

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s proposed 2022 defense policy bill contains a provision that would require women to register for the draft, officially known as the Selective Service System. The initial version of the Senate’s proposed National Defense Authorization Act would amend the Military Selective Service Act and for the first time include a requirement for women.

FAA Revises Criteria for Commercial Astronaut Wings

Space News

​​The Federal Aviation Administration has revised its criteria for awarding astronaut wings to those flying on commercial spacecraft, making the requirements stricter while including a significant loophole. The FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation issued an order July 20 describing its FAA Commercial Space Astronaut Wings Program and the criteria for awarding them. The order represents the first formal update of the wings program since it was introduced in 2004.

DOD Tests New Machine Learning Capabilities for JADC2


The Department of Defense recently concluded a round of tests of new machine learning technology that aims to increase data sharing between combatant commands. The North American Aerospace Defense Command and Northern Command’s Global Information Dominance Experiment 3 (GIDE 3) brought 11 combatant commands, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) and other tech leaders together July 8-15 at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado to test the use of AI in warfare.

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Following Schedule Slip, Gateway Prototype Next Slated to Fly in Early FY22

Inside Defense

The Air Force's communications gateway prototype is expected to next fly in early fiscal year 2022 after the product experienced a schedule slip that pushed back a planned demonstration slated for earlier this summer, according to a service spokesman. The service previously announced it planned to test the prototype, formerly known as gatewayONE, during an Orange Flag exercise in June.

One More Thing

Space Systems Command Emblem—Final Reveal

Space Force release

The wait is over. Space Systems Command’s Guardians and Airmen are called to defend American interests and ensure our forces, our allies, and the world never experience a day without space. We are honored to reveal SSC’s emblem signifying our gold standard of space acquisition. Watch it here.