Department of the Air Force Leaders Will Pick Tech Winners, Losers Based on What’s Fieldable, Kendall Says

Secretary Frank Kendall and his two service Chiefs are sifting through Department of the Air Force technology efforts in search of the ones most likely to “make a difference” and be fielded, and the men are discarding the ones that might be a lab success but impractical for operational service. The culling will conclude in time for the fiscal 2024 budget request. Kendall did say Feb. 15 that enough work has been done "on the tactical level” to convince him that the time is right to launch programs that will produce unmanned flying teammates for manned fighters and bombers.

What F-22s Arriving in UAE Can Offer After Recent Iranian-Backed Houthi Attacks

F-22s from the 1st Fighter Wing landed at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, on Feb. 12, fulfilling a pledge by Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III to deploy fifth-generation aircraft to the Gulf nation. The decision to deploy fifth-generation fighters, instead of F-15s or F-16s, presents several advantages for the U.S. and the UAE in their efforts to combat recent airstrikes, retired Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, dean of the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, told Air Force Magazine.
Russia diplomacy

‘Cautious Optimism’ as Moscow Hints at Diplomacy, Withdrawal Ahead of NATO Meeting

NATO defense ministers from across the alliance arrived in Brussels on Feb. 15 eager to verify Russian claims that it is withdrawing forces and open to a diplomatic solution to end the Russia-Ukraine crisis, even as tens of thousands of Russian troops remained on Baltic borders. With more than 130,000 Russian troops surrounding Ukraine on three sides and a continuous buildup of military equipment, Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to change course Feb. 14. In a televised exchange with Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested a diplomatic solution was still possible. Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced Feb. 15 that some units had completed their tasks and were returning to their military garrisons. But NATO was hesitant to take Putin at his word.

Only Small Inventories of Hypersonic Missiles in USAF’s Future, Due to Cost

The high cost of hypersonic missiles will likely drive the Air Force to build only small inventories of them, relying more heavily on other types of munitions such as lower-speed cruise missiles, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said Feb. 15. “Hypersonics are not going to be cheap anytime soon,” Kendall said during a streaming broadcast with the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “So I think we’re more likely to have relatively small inventories of [hypersonic missiles] than large ones, but that still remains to be seen, and hopefully, we can drive down the cost to where they’re more attractive.”
air force secondhand parts

USAF Should Take Advantage of Secondhand Parts Market, Pentagon Nominee Says

As the Air Force looks to boost its aging aircraft’s mission capable rates and to control sustainment costs, the Defense Department should encourage the service to take full advantage of the secondhand market for parts, the nominee to lead the Pentagon’s sustainment enterprise told Congress on Feb. 15. During the same confirmation hearing, the nominee to become the Air Force’s top lawyer pledged to review staffing levels to ensure the Department of the Air Force has enough people and resources for its special victims office.
spectrum monitoring

Electronic Warfare Guardians’ New Homegrown, Fast-Deploying Spectrum Monitoring Tool

Members of the Space Force’s 16th Space Control Squadron put their heads together to figure out the features they’d want on a mobile setup to detect electromagnetic interference, and they’re building the system themselves. The Multiband Assessment of the Communications Environment, or MACE, can load up onto a single aircraft pallet. Once it’s in the field, no one need stick around—the Guardians have designed it to run remotely and so that linked MACE systems could ferry data from one to the next.

Radar Sweep

The First Shots in a Ukraine Conflict May Be in Space

This past November, the Russian Federation destroyed one of its own Soviet-era satellites with a missile, sending thousands of scraps of shrapnel hurtling through space, a cloud of debris that threatened other orbiting satellites including those belonging to the U.S. The missile launch could be a preamble, a reminder that, as the threat of a Russian invasion looms in Ukraine and modern warfare increasingly relies on satellites for intelligence and communications, space could be one of the first battlefields, according to experts.

How Autonomous Wingmen Will Help Fighter Pilots in the Next War

Air Force Times

Imagine that sometime in the next decade, a long-feared war with China has erupted. In a bid to destroy Chinese defenses and break through to its airspace, the U.S. Air Force sends its advanced fighter jets and bombers into the most hostile territory it’s faced in decades. But this mission is different from those of the past. Swarming alongside each manned aircraft is a handful of small drone wingmen, operating with minimal direction from the accompanying pilot. They scout ahead to map out targets, jam enemy signals using electronic warfare capabilities, and launch their own missiles to carry out airstrikes and destroy targets—multiplying the effect a single pilot can have in battle.

OPINION: Why the Space Force Merits Respect and an Expanded Mission

The Hill

Retired Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton has proposed that the Space Force be empowered to do more to defend America’s space assets and to place those of its enemies at risk. He also proposes that the new service branch be tasked with support from other branches of the military, mainly by providing real-time, near-instantaneous reconnaissance of the battle spaces that the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps operate in. Chilton, who was not only a NASA astronaut but also commanded the Air Force’s Space Command, suggests that Space Force Guardians need the same sort of training that members of the other service branches engage in. Chilton’s suggestions would transform the Space Force from an esoteric organization that many people have never heard of into a true, war-fighting military service branch.

AFA Announces National Finalists for CyberPatriot XIV

Air Force Association release

The Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education program announced the 28 teams that will compete at the CyberPatriot XIV National Finals Competition from March 18 to 20, 2022. From the initial field of 5,254 teams that began the competition in October 2021, only 12 Open Division, 13 All Service Division, and three Middle School Division teams advanced through all four highly competitive online qualifying rounds to earn the distinction of national finalist.

Missile Warning & Defense

Air Force Magazine

Defending against missile threats launched in, at, or through space has never been more challenging—or important. Learn more on Air Force Magazine’s Missile Warning & Defense page.

Airman Eliminated After Third Women’s Skeleton Heat at Beijing Olympics

Air Force Times

American Olympian Kelly Curtis finished 21st in women’s skeleton at the Winter Games in Beijing, narrowly missing the cut to compete for a medal in the final heat. Curtis, an Airman First Class and first-time Olympian, recorded a combined time of 3:09.23 across three rounds on the mile-long ice track—0.38 seconds behind her nearest opponent and 3.24 seconds behind the third heat’s first-place finisher, German Hannah Neise. Curtis needed to land in the top 20 on Feb. 12 to qualify for the fourth heat later that day but finished one spot short.

The Iraqi Air Force: Perpetually Between East And West


From its foundation in 1931 until today, Iraq has gone through several periods of procuring its aircraft from both East and West. In the 1950s, Iraq acquired its first-ever fighter jets when Britain sold it de Havilland Vampires, de Havilland DH 112 Venoms, and Hawker Hunters. However, following the 1958 coup in Iraq that ended the monarchy, Baghdad drifted closer to the Soviet Union. As a result, it first began acquiring MiG-17s, followed by MiG-19s and MiG-21s. As a result, by the 1960s, as military aviation historian Tom Cooper pointed out, Iraq “had a very mixed fleet of fighter jets, consisting of Vampires, Venoms, Hunters, MiG-17s, MiG-19s, and MiG-21s.”

Grand Forks Air Force Base Flexes With Swift Transition from Operation Allies Refuge to Operation Allies Welcome

Air Force release

After providing critical high-altitude overwatch and intelligence support for the largest airlift in American history, within hours, the 319th Reconnaissance Wing pivoted to worldwide relocation support. In the first 48 hours of tasking notifications, 11 Airmen were in place and assisting refugees. From security and administration to logistics and linguistics, more than 35 Grand Forks Airmen from over a dozen career fields deployed to assist with Operation Allies Welcome, the majority aiding Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

DOD Needs to Improve How It Tests Cyber Weapons Architecture, Weapons Tester Says


The way U.S. Cyber Command procures and tests new capabilities for cyber operations lacks a test and evaluation strategy as well as the proper authority and resources to manage new tools, which the Pentagon’s weapons tester has said could result in fielding capabilities without demonstrating or understanding their effectiveness, suitability, or survivability.

OPINION: It’s Not Just 5G: China’s Telecom Strategy Needs to be Countered in Space

Breaking Defense

In Washington the consensus is well set that China’s strategy for 5G has created a telecommunications nightmare for American interests. What is less clear is how to proceed. In this op-ed, Lt. Col. Gabe Arrington, a national defense fellow at the Center for a New American Security and Seminar XXI fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, suggests that the Biden administration needs to look up to space to provide a counter for China’s telecommunications plan.

OPINION: The Indo-Pacific Strategy Needs Indo-Specifics

Defense One

“What is objectionable is not so much what is in the strategy than what is not in it. Namely, it repeatedly skirts around the defining challenge of our time: China’s rise. The strategy is long on vague, anodyne pledges: “We will foster security ties among allies” and “meet civilian security challenges” and “build connections.” But it and the fact sheet are worryingly short on concrete proposals and creative ideas for meeting the China challenge. Indeed, Biden’s strategy says virtually nothing about the military competition with China or the steps necessary to roll back its intimidation of allies and partners,” writes Jeff M. Smith, a research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center and the editor and contributing author of “Asia’s Quest for Balance: China’s Rise and Balancing in the Indo-Pacific.”

One More Thing

How an Air Force Spy Plane Pilot Saved a Civilian Aviator in Distress from 70,000 Feet

Task & Purpose

You might not think a 66-year-old spy plane that flies top secret missions in faraway places would also double as a rescue plane in a pinch, but that’s exactly what happened earlier this month high above northern California. On Feb. 8, an Air Force pilot flying the U-2 Dragon Lady, an all-black spy plane that first entered service in 1956, doubled as a flying relay station between air traffic control and a civilian pilot having engine trouble. After about 30 minutes, the civilian came to a safe landing, all because the U-2 had the altitude to get messages to and from the imperiled civilian aircraft.