Editor’s Note

AFA is closed Monday, July 4, for Independence Day. We'll be back in your inboxes Tuesday, July 5.
Mackay Trophy

AC-130J Crews Awarded 2021 Mackay Trophy for Safeguarding Afghanistan Evacuation

A pair of AC-130J Ghostrider crews have been tapped to receive the 2021 Mackay Trophy, awarded by the Air Force and the National Aeronautic Association for the year’s most meritorious flight. The award is in recognition of their actions during the withdrawal from Afghanistan that aided in the rescue of some 2,000 American diplomats. All told, 18 Airmen from the 73rd Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., received the recognition.
space flag

Space Flag Becomes USSF’s First Joint Accredited Exercise

The Space Force’s Space Flag exercise has been accredited by the Joint National Training Capability initiative, joining a small group of exercises across the Department of Defense that have received such a designation. The accreditation, affirmed by the Joint Staff, will give the Space Flag exercise access to joint funding and support and will better allow the Space Force to integrate with joint partners as part of the exercise.

A-10s, AFSOC Aircraft Land on Michigan Highway to Practice ACE

A Michigan highway traded pickup trucks and minivans for A-10s and U-28s as members of the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and Air Force Special Operations Command trained for agile combat employment. All told, five different kinds of fixed-wing aircraft landed on and took off from a 9,000-foot section of Michigan Highway M-28, located on the state’s upper peninsula—the A-10, U-28A, C-145, C-146, and MC-12W.

NATO Summit Closes With More Warnings on China, Air Defenses to Ukraine

President Joe Biden previewed $800 million in new defense assistance to Ukraine, including “a new advanced Western air defense system,” in closing a NATO summit in Madrid that saw formal invitations offered to Finland and Sweden to join the alliance. Also during the historic summit, mention of China was added to the new NATO Strategic Concept to better prepare allies to defend against threats to the international order.

Radar Sweep

Air Force to Test 3D-Printed Rocket Motors

Defense One

The Air Force will test a “rocket factory in a box” made by a New Mexico startup in hopes of being able to 3D-print missile energetics. The technology could allow the military to get solid rocket motors for less money, more quickly, and in remote locations. “This is a technology push forward to see what the art of the possible is,” X-Bow Systems CEO Jason Hundley said in an interview.

New Rules Make It Easier to Kick Out Airmen Guilty of Sexual Assault

Air Force Times

Airmen and Guardians who commit sexual assault will automatically face military discharge unless they qualify for an exception to that rule, the Air Force said in an update to its department-wide guidance. “Sexual assault is incompatible with our core values, the ‘Guardian Ideal’ and military service,” Air Force Undersecretary Gina Ortiz Jones said in a news release. “These revisions will significantly improve our ability to discharge those unworthy of calling themselves Airmen and Guardians.”

NATO Leaders Establish New 1 Billion Euro Innovation Fund, Accelerator

Breaking Defense

NATO leaders launched a new innovation fund and defense innovation accelerator initiative in an effort to stay ahead of technological advancements and cyber challenges posed by Russia and China. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general, said during a signing ceremony at the close of the alliance’s Madrid Summit that the first-of-its-kind fund will invest 1 billion Euros in startups and deep-tech funds across 22 participating nations over the next 15 years.

Kendall Talks PTSD, Mental Health With Medical Leaders

Air Force release

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall met with Air Force Medical Service leaders to discuss the Department of the Air Force’s approach for prioritizing post-traumatic stress disorder care and support during a visit to Joint Base Andrews, Md. Air Force Deputy Surgeon General Maj. Gen. John J. DeGoes joined Kendall in meeting with medics from the 316th Medical Group this PTSD Awareness month to explain ongoing initiatives and new policies aimed at improving access to mental health care resources.

PODCAST: How the Air Force Is Innovating and Transforming


On this week’s episode of The DefenseScoop Podcast, the Pentagon is looking to partner with HBCUs on a new research center. At UiPath Together Public Sector 2022, Air Force Deputy Chief Information Officer Winston Beauchamp highlights how the force is extending automation to the edge and maximizing the leverage of those capabilities.

Live, Virtual & Constructive Training

Air Force Magazine

The Air Force is transitioning to more virtual training to give pilots an edge, saying some higher-end maneuvers cannot be replicated in real-time training. Learn more on Air Force Magazine’s Live, Virtual & Constructive Training page.

​​Johnson Vows Defense Budget Hike by 2030, but Critics Want It Sooner

Defense News

After days of infighting between senior members of the British government over the future level of defense spending, Prime Minister Boris Johnson used his closing remarks to the NATO summit in Madrid to suggest the budget may rise substantially by the end of the decade. Johnson told reporters defense spending could reach 2.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product within eight years. 

Northrop Grumman to Build Space Force Prototype for Cyber Protection of Satellite Networks

Breaking Defense

Northrop Grumman will next spring begin testing a new hardware/software prototype for the Space Force designed to protect large, interlinked satellite networks from cyberattacks, according to company officials. The prototype, called Space End Crypto Unit (ECU), is being developed in tandem with electronics firm Aeronix, with planned delivery in 2024.

Subscription Required

Greece Proceeds With Purchase of F-35 Fighter Jets


Greece has sent an official request to the United States for the purchase of 20 Lockheed Martin-made F-35 fighter jets, the country's prime minister said. NATO member Greece spends more than 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense. It has beefed up its military purchases in recent years as tensions with its neighbor, historic rival, and NATO ally Turkey have resurfaced.

US Military's Mysterious X-37B Space Plane Zooms Toward Orbital Record


The U.S. military's X-37B robotic space plane is closing in on a mission-duration record. The X-37B launched to Earth orbit May 17, 2020, on the sixth mission for the program, a flight known as Orbital Test Vehicle-6 (OTV-6). The Space Force mini-shuttle has now been aloft for more than 773 days. That's less than a week shy of the X-37B record of 780 days, which was set on OTV-5.

One More Thing

Here’s What Happens When Airmen Play Tug of War With a 49-ton Plane

Task & Purpose

Aircraft maintainers sometimes use the expression “apes together strong” on the unofficial Air Force subreddit—a reference to the reboots of the "Planet of the Apes" movies—and that sentiment certainly comes across in a recent video in which Airmen with the 92nd Maintenance Group at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., pulled a 49-ton KC-135 Stratotanker with nothing but rope, teamwork, and a whole lot of elbow grease.