AFA’s Mitchell Institute Launches Center for UAV and Autonomy Studies
The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies launched its new Center for UAV and Autonomy Studies (MI-UAS), a research center dedicated to elevating and informing the national debate on UAVs, autonomy, and the future of conflict. Led by Caitlin Lee, MI-UAS will embrace the Mitchell Institute’s commitment to produce objective, non-partisan, and innovative ideas and research focused on UAVs and autonomy to inform policymakers, experts, and the public. “I’m honored and excited to build a research center focused on the future of UAVs in the U.S. military,” said Lee. “And I look forward to helping the U.S. Air Force and the Defense Department chart a way forward that maximizes the advantages of UAVs and autonomous systems while taking a clear-eyed view of the risks, costs, and trade-offs.”
Taiwan Jets Scramble as China's Air Force Enters Air Defense Zone
Taiwan's air force scrambled May 6 to warn away 18 Chinese aircraft that entered its air defence zone, Taiwan's defence ministry said, part of what is a regular pattern of incursions that has angered the government in Taipei. Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, has complained of repeated such missions by Chinese aircraft. The missions have become a common occurrence over the past two years or so. Taiwan is currently in a heightened state of alert due to fears that China could use Russia's invasion of Ukraine to make a similar military move on the island, though Taipei's government has not reported any signs that Beijing is about to attack.
Defense Innovation Unit Chief to Resign in September
The director of the Pentagon’s innovation hub will resign in September, a Department of Defense spokesperson confirmed. Michael Brown, head of the Defense Innovation Unit, informed the department April 27 he would resign when his term ends Sept. 2.
China Likely to Use ‘Nuclear Coercion’ in Bid to Take Taiwan by 2027, STRATCOM Chief Says
China is closely watching the war in Ukraine and “will likely use nuclear coercion to their advantage in the future,” said Adm. Charles “Chas” A. Richard, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, or STRATCOM. “Their intent is to achieve the military capability to reunify Taiwan by 2027.” That timeline aligns with what then-INDOPACOM commander Adm. Philip Davidson told lawmakers in March 2021.
Spark Tank Competition Generates New Virtual Reality Training Opportunity for Air Force Welders
Military units have been increasingly acquiring and deploying virtual reality capabilities to supplement and advance real-world education options for their personnel in recent years. But what’s unique about this latest VR-centered request for quotations from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., is that it blossomed out of a winning idea from one of the branch’s innovation-focused Spark Tank contests.
Chasing Pavement: Offutt’s Massive Runway Renovation Enters Home Stretch
Workers at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., are entering the final stretch of a massive, 18-month renovation to a runway that had dangerously deteriorated after 70 years under the weight of military jets. On a recent visit to Offutt, home to some of the Air Force’s most niche airborne reconnaissance missions as well as U.S. Strategic Command headquarters, Air Force Times toured the vast construction site where the nearly 12,000-foot landing strip is starting to take shape.
PODCAST: A New Air Force Innovation Engine—WARTECH
In episode 75 of the Aerospace Advantage, host John “Slick” Baum is joined by Kristen Baldwin, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for science, technology, and engineering; Chris Ristich, director of the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office and the Transformational Capabilities Office at Air Force Research Laboratory; and the Mitchell Institute’s retired Maj. Gen. Larry Stutzriem to discuss one of the service’s newest innovation efforts. It’s called WARTECH, and it’s run by a team at AFRL to deliver combat capabilities in a faster, more responsive fashion. They are focused on big-leap capabilities the Air Force needs to deter, and, if necessary, win in peer-level conflict. AFRL is committing significant resources to it—about 20 percent of the AFRL budget. That means WARTECH is a top priority. We talk to the leaders behind this effort to learn more about it and to understand how it integrates across the service and what it will mean at the operational edge.
DARPA Moving Forward With Development of Nuclear-Powered Spacecraft
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency issued a solicitation for proposals for the next phase of a demonstration of a nuclear-powered spacecraft. The project, called Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO), started over a year ago when DARPA selected a preliminary design for a rocket engine reactor developed by General Atomics and chose two conceptual spacecraft designs by Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin.
‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Producer Says Darkstar Looked So Real, China Moved Spy Satellite to See It
The long-awaited “Top Gun: Maverick” will fly into theaters later this month, and while most of the movie features very real U.S. Navy aircraft, there’s one exotic platform aviation buffs might not recognize: the hypersonic Darkstar. Darkstar may not be a real airplane, but it certainly looks the part—so much so that the Navy apparently told “Top Gun’s” producer, legendary filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer, that China re-oriented spy satellites to get a glimpse of the full-size mock-up built for filming.