air force books covers

New Brown and Blue Books: Air Force Releases Updates to Foundational Documents

Two of the Air Force’s foundational documents received updates May 6, as the service released new versions of its Blue and Brown Books—“The Profession of Arms: Our Core Values” and "The Enlisted Force Structure,” respectively. The release of the new texts, which lay down many of the core concepts that shape and define the Air Force, comes as the service faces a pivotal moment, transitioning away from conflict in the Middle East to competition with great powers such as China and Russia.
phoenix ghost switchblade

First Phoenix Ghost Training Complete as Ukraine Aid Shifts From Air Defense to UAS

The flat, open lands of the Donbas region of southeastern Ukraine call for a different type of weapon, and the U.S. is responding with more unmanned aerial systems and the training to use them, completing the first seven-day course with Ukrainians on the use of the Air Force’s Phoenix Ghost system. About 20 Ukrainian soldiers are wrapping up their training on the Air Force’s newest UAS weapon, Phoenix Ghost. Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby declined to say where the training was conducted, how many more trainings may take place, and whether any of the new systems had arrived inside Ukraine. But Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William A. LaPlante told journalists May 6 that the weapon was made by the Air Force’s Big Safari office, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, which works to quickly develop special-purpose weapons systems.

Pentagon Taking a ‘Three-FYDP’ Approach to Building Future Force  

The Pentagon knows the equipment and posture it must have now and what it must have 15 years from now. But filling in the middle is what’s delaying the public release of the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, which now may not come out for several months, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks said. Speaking at a Reagan Forum event to explain the connection between the defense budget request and the NDS, Hicks said the administration has fulfilled its requirement to provide Congress with a classified summary of the NSS and NDS.

What a NATO Bid by Finland Could Mean for US Air Force Arctic Cooperation

Finnish fighter pilots take off, land, and fly in harsh Arctic conditions routinely—all within range of Russian air defenses. They often share these specialized capabilities with the U.S. Air Force to hone Arctic agile combat employment concepts. But as the Nordic nation contemplates a NATO bid, Finland worries it could be left in the cold if Russia attacks before a potential Article 5 protection is triggered.

Radar Sweep

AFA’s Mitchell Institute Launches Center for UAV and Autonomy Studies

AFA Mitchell Institute release

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.”

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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

Defense News

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

Defense One

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

Air Force Times

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

Mitchell Institute Aerospace Advantage podcast

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.

One More Thing

‘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.