kc-46 tail flashes

AMC Blocks Tail Flashes for Its KC-46s, Pushing Heritage Aside to Better Manage the Fleet

For decades, Air Force gray-tailed aircraft have displayed their home base and heritage with a small graphic on the plane’s tail, but that tradition will come to an end for much of the Air Force’s next-generation tanker fleet. Air Mobility Command has ended the policy of allowing tail flashes on the Active-duty KC-46s, a step that will make it easier for the command to manage its fleet of tankers from base to base. This means the KC-46s based at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., will not have the white-and-black “MCCONNELL” graphic that the KC-135s had at the base. AMC’s governing document for the policy states that “only mandatory markings are approved and all markings will stay as manufacturer produced. Waivers, changes, or optional marking requests will not be approved.” The only approved markings are the U.S. flag, the National Star, Radio Call Numbers, and “U.S. Air Force” on the fuselage.
afghanistan airstrikes

Pace of US Airstrikes in Afghanistan Increases as Taliban Violence Continues

U.S. aircraft are increasing the pace of airstrikes targeting the Taliban in Afghanistan after nearly all American troops have left the country, as the level of violence continues to rise. More than 95 percent of the U.S. withdrawal process is complete—a number that has stayed steady over the past several weeks, according to U.S. Central Command's latest update. CENTCOM boss Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., during a July 25 visit to Kabul, said the U.S. military’s assistance to Afghan forces will remain steady as the Aug. 31 deadline for the full withdrawal approaches. “The United States has increased airstrikes in the support of Afghan forces over the last several days, and we're prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks,” McKenzie said in a CENTCOM release.
Space and cyber command

Dickinson: Space Command and Cyber Command ‘Inseparable’

U.S. Space Command boss Army Gen. James H. Dickinson said his work is inseparable from that of U.S. Cyber Command but that policy must change to keep up with evolving threats in the cyber domain. A former senior Pentagon official in national security space told Air Force Magazine that the space and cyber domains are the most likely areas for a conflict with a great power adversary like China. “We’ve got to be able to protect what’s important to us,” Dickinson said.
air force arctic

USAF to Increase Arctic Investment as Strategy, Wargames Outline Needs in the Region

The Air Force spends around $6 billion a year on systems and priorities focused on the Arctic, a number that is expected to grow as the region’s importance rises and the Department of the Air Force’s first-ever Arctic Strategy hits its one-year anniversary. While the exact number is difficult to determine, because USAF is a “global Air Force, … our latest estimates are that we’re spending a pretty decent amount, certainly, out of the Department of the Air Force’s budget on things that are clearly related to Arctic security, Arctic operations,” said Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote said July 27. Recent wargames have shown that “we’re not nearly as secure and safe as we may be thinking we are, especially in the avenues of approaches over the Arctic,” Hinote added. The region is the shortest route for competitors, and “our views of the Arctic as a strategic buffer is eroding,” because of military actions by Russia and China and the impacts of climate change.

Radar Sweep

Troops to Stay Put in Syria Even as Biden Seeks to End America’s ‘Forever Wars’


The Biden administration is pulling all American troops out of Afghanistan and formally transitioning to an advisory role in Iraq. But the U.S. military operation in Syria has seen no changes—and officials expect hundreds of troops to remain in the country for the foreseeable future. Roughly 900 U.S. troops, including a number of Green Berets, will remain in Syria to continue supporting and advising the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the Islamic State, the same role they have played since the American-led intervention in 2014, according to a senior Biden administration official.

Russia is Producing Two New Doomsday Planes, Says Government News Agency

Defense News

Russia is reportedly working on two so-called Doomsday planes to carry the country’s senior military and political leadership in case of a nuclear attack. The Russian Air Force and Space Forces will receive two airborne commanding posts based on the Il-96-400M plane, according to Russian government news agency RIA Novosti, citing a source in the country’s defense sector.

House Panel Wants Details on Space Force Plans to Upgrade Launch Infrastructure

Space News

The House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on strategic forces in its markup of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act raises concerns about the state of the U.S. space launch infrastructure and questions DOD’s procurement of commercial space data. The subcommittee, led by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), released its proposed NDAA language July 27. The full committee will mark up the bill July 28.

Down to the Wire, the Senate Has a Deal to Fund the National Guard


The Senate has agreed on a massive funding package that would refund the National Guard ahead of the fast-approaching Sunday deadline as the force faces a near total shutdown. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, on Tuesday announced an agreement with Republicans on a $2.1 billion plan that would pay the $521 million tab the Guard accrued during its response to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Air Force Takes Next Step in Fuel Cleanup at New Mexico Base

The Associated Press

The U.S. Air Force has spent years trying to keep a jet fuel leak from reaching Albuquerque’s drinking water supply and now says it has enough information to outline its work, paving the way to wrapping up the cleanup efforts. Officials from Kirtland Air Force Base say they will spend the next several months to a year writing a report that they will submit to the New Mexico Environment Department. Once the state reviews and approves it, the base can make recommendations for a final cleanup.

‘We Will Not Flinch’: Austin Promises US Will Continue to Bolster Taiwan’s Self-Defense

Defense One

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said the United States will continue to help Taiwan and other allies in the Pacific defend themselves against aggression from China even as he said a new, more transparent relationship with Beijing is desired. “We will not flinch when our interests are threatened, yet we do not seek confrontation,” Austin said at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore on July 27, during his second overseas trip to the Pacific.

Anduril Nabs DIU ‘Service’ Contract For Counter-Drone AI

Breaking Defense

The Defense Innovation Unit has signed an agreement with tech company Anduril to provide counter-unmanned aerial system capability, with a unique setup that will allow Anduril to quickly update the military capabilities. The agreement, a five-year deal worth up to $99 million, could serve as a proof of concept for both DIU and the tech firm—that a software solution can be quickly integrated in existing DOD locations, then updated on a rolling basis as new threats emerge, under a services contract model.

US Cyber Command Touts Acquisition Advancements


During a forum to present capability needs to industry members, U.S. Cyber Command leaders gave their take on how the operation has improved its acquisition practices and structures over the last few years. Cyber Command, still relatively young and continuing to mature in many ways, received limited acquisition authority just five years ago. Congress capped the command’s buying power at $75 million, under a so-called crawl, walk, run approach to determine whether the command could execute the authority.

DOD Calls for Broader Dialog on Space Rules of Behavior

Space News

A​​ set of guidelines issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III for responsible space operations should be part of a wider conversation about how to maintain safety and security in space, a senior Pentagon official said July 26. Austin in a July 7 memo said DOD should operate in space “with due regard to others and in a professional manner.” The memo also listed “tenets” of responsible behavior: Limit the generation of long-lived debris; avoid the creation of harmful interference; maintain safe separation and safe trajectory; communicate and make notifications about space activities.

One More Thing

Watch this Air Force Team Do Pushups at 20,000 Feet

Task and Purpose

The sun was shining on Air Force Lt. Col. Rob Marshall and his buddies last month when they got down on their hands and feet and cranked out 20 pushups on the snow-capped peak of Denali, the highest point in North America. Though many people might not choose to do pushups after climbing up 20,310 feet of snow and ice, it was easy-peasy compared to the ordeal the handful of Airmen and veterans had just been through.