China Dongfeng41 DF-41 ICBM

China’s Nuclear Development Outstrips Predictions; 1,000 Warheads by 2030

China is building new nuclear weapons much faster than previously predicted, already has a “nascent nuclear triad,” and will field more than 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, according to the Pentagon’s 2021 report on China's military power, released Nov. 3. According to a Pentagon briefing paper, “the accelerating pace of the [People’s Republic of China’s] nuclear expansion may enable [it] to have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027 … [and] at least 1,000 warheads by 2030, exceeding the pace and size” that the Defense Department previously projected. China is also shifting to a “launch on warning” posture for its nuclear weapons.
Vaccine ready

800 Airmen and Guardians Refuse COVID Vaccine by Deadline; 10,000 Remain Unvaccinated

The Air Force released its first snapshot of COVID-19 vaccination compliance Nov. 3, the day after the Active-duty deadline, with some 800 uniformed personnel refusing the shot and nearly 5,000 Airmen and Guardians waiting to find out if their religious exemptions will be approved. In all, 10,352 Airmen and Guardians, including 1,866 who have received medical or administrative exemptions, remain unvaccinated out of a total Active-duty force of approximately 326,000.

‘Confirmation Bias’ Cited in Erroneous Strike That Killed 10 Civilians in Afghanistan

Three days after 13 Americans were killed at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, a U.S. Central Command strike cell in Qatar made a series of assumptions over the course of eight hours based on the intelligence available at the time, leading to the death of 10 innocent civilians, including seven children, according to the final report by the Air Force Inspector General. Air Force Inspector General Lt. Gen. Sami D. Said interviewed 29 individuals, including 22 directly involved in the operation, as part of a 45-day investigation directed by Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and ordered by Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall before briefing senior defense officials. Said told defense reporters Nov. 3 that the strike cell made a “reasonable” conclusion that the white Toyota Corolla driven by aid worker Zemari Ahmadi was a vehicle of interest.
Space Innovation

DOD Invites Companies to Help It Visualize the Space Domain

The Space Force wants to better visualize the space domain, so the Defense Innovation Unit is asking companies—both from the U.S. and internationally—to send in ideas for a shot at funding. Having teased the Global Space Innovation Project on social media, officials with the DIU previewed the project via video conference Nov. 3. It’s a solicitation for technology that’s already in existence or in development that could take the types of data collected for space operations and turn it all into something user-friendly like an app to visualize the domain and the status of space systems.

Radar Sweep

US Air Force Tests Cross-Country Data Sharing Across Three Flag Exercises

Defense News

For the first time, the Air Force last week carried out three major test flag events at three separate locations simultaneously to see how well the service can share data electronically across different battle spaces. The Orange Flag, Emerald Flag, and Black Flag large force test events were held Oct. 26 in California, Florida, and Nevada, the Air Force said in a Monday release.

Air Force Opens Enlisted DSD Assignments at AFROTC Detachments

USAF release

Air Force noncommissioned officers will have the opportunity to directly influence the development of future officers with the release of a new developmental special duty. The new Special Duty Identifier 8B300, ROTC Training Instructor, places NCOs as enlisted mentors at one of the service’s 145 Reserve Officer Training Corps detachments. Currently, only NCOs in the personnel and administration career fields serve at detachments. The new training instructor position allows enlisted cadres to be a deliberate part of the detachment mentorship team and opens the duty to all career fields.

Cadets from the Air Force Academy Build Satellite Operating in Space


Cadets helped build and operate a satellite that is now successfully operating in space. The FalconSAT-8 launched aboard the Air Force X-37B orbital test vehicle in May 2020. As of Oct. 20, the satellite is transmitting from several miles above the Earth. The satellite is returning information for five research experiments, including in electromagnetic propulsion and flywheel energy storage, a star tracker, low-power antennae, and a carbon nanotube radio frequency experiment.

Firefly Aerospace Hires Former Air Force Officer to Lead Space Transportation Sales

Space News

Firefly announced Nov. 3 that it hired Jason Mello to be president of Firefly Space Transportation Services, a subsidiary responsible for sales of its Alpha rocket, Blue Ghost lunar lander, and in-space transportation services. Mello, a retired Air Force colonel with 23 years of service, was previously chief research and technology officer for science and engineering at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and held other defense and intelligence positions, many related to launch and space systems.

A+ Toolkit Presented at Fall Corona Conference

USAF release

The A+ Toolkit was presented at the 2021 Fall Corona Conference, a biannual meeting with Air Force senior leaders and MAJCOM commanders, Oct. 21, 2021, at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The A+ Toolkit, published in September 2021, was designed to facilitate collaboration between military installations and their local school districts to increase access to high-quality public education for military-connected children.

Still No Timeline for When Annual Defense Authorization Bill May Move in the Senate

Air Force Times

Senate Republicans on Nov. 2 bashed Democratic leaders in the chamber as apathetic or possibly antagonistic to the needs of the military in their decision not to speed up legislative work on the annual defense authorization bill. “Each year we come together in a bipartisan way with input from Republicans and Democrats in order to pass this,” said Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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OPINION—Needed: A Military Strategy for China

Wall Street Journal

The Pentagon, with its outdated policies, may not have the luxury of time when a crisis develops, according to Seth Cropsey, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of Hudson’s Center for American Seapower. Cropsey previously served as a naval officer and as deputy undersecretary of the Navy.

Planned NRO Imagery Contracts to Ease Sharing, With One Big Exception

Breaking Defense

The National Reconnaissance Office’s highly anticipated call for bids from commercial providers of electro-optical imagery debuts new “user friendly” contract terms spy agency officials say will ease data sharing—including adjustments made at the behest of industry. At the same time, NRO has maintained a controversial provision to initiate a new Civil Space Reserve Fleet, first revealed by Breaking Defense, that gives the agency the right to permanently commandeer imagery taken during the time when that “fleet” is called up.