China’s New Two-Seat J-20: Trainer or Manned-Unmanned Teaming Platform?

Images of a new, two-seat version of China's J-20 stealth fighter, circulated on the internet, raise questions about the jet's purpose. It could be meant as a trainer, as a ground-attack variant, or as a platform for managing unmanned aircraft flying in coordination with other airplanes. The U.S. Air Force is pursuing manned-unmanned teaming as a way to bolster weapons load and sensor reach and to reduce the demand for pilots.
air force depots

HASC Readiness Panel Sets 3-Month Deadline for Plan to Rescue Depots

Calling the condition of the military’s depots, shipyards, and arsenals a “crisis,” House Armed Services Committee Readiness panel chair John Garamendi (D-Calif.) gave Pentagon acquisition and sustainment officials three months to return a five-year plan for modernizing the military’s organic industrial base, warning that the “request … will be enforced.” Although Pentagon leaders call the in-house industrial plants “national treasures,” Garamendi said, the “supposed commitment” to their rehabilitation “is not translated into action,” and the facilities are “chronically underfunded, to the point where [they] are relics of the past.” The “crumbling, WWII-era depots are outdated for today’s missions,” Garamendi asserted, adding, “some are on the national historic register.”
spectrum management

DOD Tests AI-powered Spectrum Management Technology on Aerial Combat Training Ranges

The Department of Defense is prototyping new spectrum management technology that lets artificially intelligent software route radio communications and wireless data links to the best frequency available, taking account of congestion on the airwaves and even enemy jamming. The news comes amid increasing congestion of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) and growing concern about peer adversaries such as China who might be able to hack, jam, or intercept the globe-spanning EMS communications upon which the U.S. military relies.

Radar Sweep

Pentagon to Skip Global Climate Conference, Despite ‘Existential Threat’

Defense One

Defense Department officials will not attend the global climate conference in Scotland that begins Oct. 31, despite the recent Pentagon report calling climate change an “existential threat” to national security. By not attending the conference as part of the presidential delegation, former defense officials said, the Pentagon is giving up the chance to make a statement on the world stage that climate change is important to the American national security enterprise.

US, China, Russia Test New Space War Tactics: Sats Buzzing, Spoofing, Spying

Breaking Defense

China has demonstrated the ability to track and maneuver a satellite with a remarkably high degree of precision, allowing the Chinese military to spot a U.S. satellite moving close and then to redirect its own satellite away from the U.S. bird in little more than 24 hours, according to never-before-seen video recreations.

Inside the Air Force Training Program That Will Pit Human Pilots Against AI


Air Force fighter pilots will soon face new opponents in their training: artificial intelligence-based enemy pilots that can match humans based on their personal learning needs. After steering the production of numerous AI-enabled pilot agents for years, Aptima Inc. confirmed it landed a four-year contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory to build an “automated librarian” that will categorize those AI pilots and pair them with military trainees in scenarios that are right to advance their skill sets.

Military Chaplains Weighing Religious Exemptions Ahead of Vaccine Deadlines


Military chaplains say they are navigating a nuanced process of determining which service members get religious exemptions to avoid the mandated coronavirus vaccine as attorneys representing some troops contend their methods have led to unfair treatment in some cases. Now as deadlines loom for all service members to get the vaccine, troops who are denied exemptions will be forced to choose between taking the shots or leaving the service. But measuring a person's religious sincerity can be tricky, leaving some troops waiting anxiously for a decision, some chaplains and attorneys said.

Satellite Images Show China May be Using Closed Civilian Airport to Launch Taiwan Overflights

Defense News

China is likely using an unused civilian airport just across the Strait of Taiwan to conduct its overflights near the island, with satellite imagery on different occasions showing military aircraft parked on the ground that correspond with Taiwanese military reports. Shantou-Waisha airport, less than 220 miles across the strait from the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan, has played host to rotating detachments of People’s Liberation Army aircraft since at least October 2020, according to satellite imagery provided to Defense News by Planet Labs.

DOD’s Sherman Teases New Talent Strategy in CIO Confirmation Hearing


John Sherman, the nominee to be CIO of the Department of Defense, said that if confirmed he would launch a new strategy to recruit and attract cybersecurity and digital talent into the DOD. “If confirmed I would move out on a new strategy to look at our cyber and digital talent,” Sherman said during his Senate confirmation hearing Oct. 28. “This is a whole-of-nation effort, and we must come at it much differently.”

VIDEO: The Future Fighter Force Our Nation Requires: Building a Bridge

Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies recently released its newest research study, authored by Heather Penney, senior resident fellow, analyzing the options the Air Force has to modernize the fighter force in the near term, plus factors it should consider over the long run. There is no silver-bullet answer—this is a matter involving both capability and capacity, and any viable path forward requires a comprehensive set of investments.

One More Thing

‘Basic’ Docuseries Goes Behind the Scenes at USAF BMT Beginning Oct. 28

Air Force release

An unprecedented look behind the scenes at Air Force basic military training will be available to the public through a docuseries on the Air Force Recruiting Service’s YouTube channel beginning Oct. 28. “Basic” presents the unique perspective of five enlistees from various parts of the country as they navigate the ups and downs of BMT beginning in October 2019.