Brian Engberg

Russian ASAT Test Emphasizes Urgency of AFRL Quest for Defensive Satellite Tech

The Russian test of an anti-satellite weapon this week highlighted the vulnerability of orbital assets on which the U.S. military increasingly relies, and it dramatically demonstrated why a new U.S. Space Force research and development program is focused on defensive technologies, according to experts and military officials. The test, which created hundreds of thousands of pieces of space debris, reduced a derelict Russian spy satellite to a cloud of orbital debris—showcasing the kind of weaponry the Space Force will have to counter if it is to provide critical communication, surveillance, and other capabilities to U.S. forces on the ground in an all-out shooting war with a peer competitor such as Russia or China, explained Brian Engberg, director of the Space Control Technology Branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Air national Guard covid-19 vaccine

15,000 Reserve, Guard Airmen Remain Unvaccinated Two Weeks from Deadline

Airmen from the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 2, the first deadline for any Reserve or Guard component in the military. While that deadline approaches, however, the Pentagon and the Oklahoma National Guard are engaged in a dispute over whether the Defense Department has the necessary authority to require the vaccine for the Guard.

DOD to Extend Housing Assistance, Help with Food Aid for Service Members

The Pentagon will ramp up monetary assistance to members of the military who are struggling to afford or locate adequate housing while also better advertising food programs, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said Nov. 17. “The pandemic and tight housing markets across the country have made financial struggles even tougher,” Austin told journalists in the Pentagon press room. “I've directed the Department to take several steps to strengthen the economic security of our force.” DOD will address housing and food costs with “immediate relief” as the holidays approach.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III briefs the press

Austin to Review Strike Policies After Civilian Deaths, Reaffirms Work to Counter Adversaries

The Defense Department may change its policies to hold leaders accountable when military strikes go awry and innocent civilians are killed, said Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on Nov. 17. During a rare press briefing by Austin at the Pentagon, he also questioned Putin’s actions on Ukraine’s border, but when asked, he did not explain why deterrence has failed to quell Iran’s malign activities or say why China is further along in the development of hypersonic weapons than America.
Pentagon arctic center

DOD Putting New Arctic Security Studies Center in Anchorage

The Defense Department’s new academic research and training venue focused on the Arctic will be located in Anchorage, Alaska, the Pentagon announced Nov. 17. The exact location of the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies, first announced in June, is still to be determined.

Radar Sweep

Probe After British F-35 Fighter Crashes in Mediterranean


A British F-35 fighter jet crashed into the sea during a routine operation in the Mediterranean, the Ministry of Defense said. The pilot ejected and safely returned to the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, and an investigation has begun, the ministry added. The incident occurred at 10 a.m. Nov. 17 over international waters, and no other aircraft were involved.

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Air Force is Investigating Tow Damage to B-52’s Wing at Barksdale

Stars and Stripes

The Air Force is investigating wing damage to a B-52 sustained Nov. 12 while the bomber was being towed at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Photos of the aircraft’s damaged right wing were first published on the Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco under the banner “Barksdale B-52 AC 0059 accident.” The unofficial site often publishes Air Force-related photos and redacted documents submitted by readers.

How One Airman Fixed the Air Force’s Night Vision Problem With a 4-cent Chunk of Plastic

Task and Purpose

A four-cent chunk of plastic doesn’t sound like revolutionary technology, but if put in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, it can make a world of difference. That’s what Air Force Master Sgt. Shannon Fulmer proved this fall when he invented a homemade “helmet mount spacer” that fixes a costly night vision problem in the service.

China Is Building a Massive Helicopter Base on the Tibetan Plateau

The Drive

Satellite imagery shows the development of several new heliports across the Tibetan Plateau. This vast elevated landform is the highest and largest plateau in the world. Surrounded by mountain ranges, including the Himalayas, it is almost five times the size of California. This rapid development of infrastructure clearly underlines China’s advancements and trust in its platforms enabling better air connectivity throughout the plateau’s remote locales for quick troop movement and logistics, as well as emergency relief work.

Rising Inflation Is Beginning to Worry Pentagon Leaders

Defense One

The biggest inflation spike in three decades has the Pentagon bracing for salary increases and more expensive weapons, according to current and former defense officials. Their warnings arrive as Congress is more than a month late in passing the Pentagon’s annual budget, meaning spending is frozen at the prior year’s level. Last week, the government said the Consumer Price Index rose 6.2 percent in the past year, the highest increase in more than 30 years. Americans are paying more for everything from cars to furniture.

American Official: US ‘Fully Committed’ to F-35 Sale to UAE

The Associated Press

The U.S. remains “fully committed” to a proposed sale of advanced F-35 stealth fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, despite the Biden administration's slowing down the deal, a senior American official overseeing arms exports said Nov. 16. Mira Resnick, a deputy U.S. assistant secretary of state in the Biden administration, also told The Associated Press at the Dubai Air Show that Gulf Arab partners are not looking to purchase weapons from Russia as a hedge over American concerns about human rights in the region.

Got Cruise Missile-Armed Cargo Planes? The US Air Force is Nearly There

Defense News

The Air Force conducted a test of its Rapid Dragon palletized munition system concept Nov. 3, which could one day pave the way to launching a barrage of cruise missiles out of the back of mobility aircraft. The Air Force Research Laboratory said in a Nov. 16 release that it deployed a long-range cruise missile separation test vehicle—basically a cruise missile without its engine or warhead—from an MC-130J Commando II aircraft.

Russia Clearly Knew the Consequences of ASAT Test, Says Former US Intelligence Official


Russia’s denials that debris caused by an anti-satellite missile test poses a threat to spacecraft and astronauts are disingenuous, said Sue Gordon, former principal deputy director of national intelligence. “No one understands the space environment as well as Russia does,” Gordon said Nov. 16 during a Center for Strategic and International Studies online forum.

Space Force Satellite Operators Not Yet Ready to Embrace In-Orbit Servicing


An emerging sector of the space industry is focused on servicing satellites in orbit, providing refueling, life extension, and repair services. NASA has embraced this technology and plans to launch its own On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing OSAM-1 mission in 2024 to refuel an aging satellite and assemble hardware in space. The Space Force, which operates more than 100 satellites for the U.S. military, has yet to figure out how to take advantage of this technology, said Karl Stolleis, space robotics and logistics team lead of the Space Force.

One More Thing

RAF Sets World Record for First Successful Flight Powered by Synthetic Fuel

The Independent

The Royal Air Force has set a new world record after completing the first successful flight using only synthetic fuel. Earlier this month, Group Captain Peter “Willy” Hackett completed a short flight out of Kemble Airfield, Cotswold Airport, on an Ikarus C42 microlight aircraft—the first flight ever powered entirely by synthetic gasoline.