SDA Director: Next Batch of Data-Transport Satellites Will Amount to ‘250-ish’

The Space Development Agency’s warfighter council will set requirements in March for the second large batch of satellites to join the Transport Layer of the agency’s National Defense Space Architecture, a planned constellation in low Earth orbit. A solicitation will then go out in the “late spring of 2023,” SDA director Derek M. Tournear said Nov. 10. While the agency is still waiting to hear from the council before it finalizes the minimum viable product and exact force design structure for the Tranche 2 Transport Layer, Tournear indicated that the tranche will include “250-ish” satellites for data transport.

Radar Sweep

Biden and China’s Xi to Meet Face to Face on Nov. 14

Defense One

President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in person for the first time as counterpart heads of state Nov. 14 in Bali, Indonesia, during the G-20 meeting, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced. Biden’s key objective is to rebuild a “floor for the relationship,” a senior administration official told reporters Nov. 10.

X-37B Space Plane Returns to Earth After Over 2 Years in Orbit

The Verge

The Space Force’s X-37B space plane landed back on Earth after spending a record-breaking two and a half years (908 days) in orbit. It landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:22 a.m. Nov. 12, marking its sixth mission. While the Space Force is pretty tight-lipped as to what exactly the Boeing-built space plane does, the service did reveal that it deployed the Air Force Academy’s FalconSat-8 in October 2021.

Air Force Chief of Staff: ‘We’ve Got to Change’

Voice of America

The Air Force chief of staff is warning that the U.S. military must "change" if it wants to stay ahead of China and Russia. “Our adversaries have continued to advance their capabilities at the same time we’ve been using some of the same capabilities we’ve been using for the past 30 years,” Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said in an exclusive interview. “The threat we were up against is not the threat we'll see in the future," he said. "And that's why we've got to, we've got to change."

US Sending Ukraine $400 Million More in Military Aid

The Associated Press

The U.S. will send $400 million more in military aid to Ukraine, U.S. officials announced Nov. 10, amid concerns that financial assistance for the war against Russia could decline a bit if Republicans take control of Congress. The aid came as the vote counting from the Nov. 8 election continued.

Iran Claims It Has Developed a Hypersonic Missile

CBS News

Iran has developed a hypersonic missile capable of penetrating all defense systems, Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh, the commander of its Revolutionary Guards aerospace unit, claimed Nov. 10. Hypersonic missiles can fly more than five times the speed of sound.

Air Force Pilots to Try Out XQ-58A Valkyrie Drones Ahead of Potential UAV Wingman Program

Breaking Defense

As the Air Force considers starting a program of record for autonomous drone wingmen to fly alongside next-generation fighters, the service is tapping one of its test squadrons to begin regularly flying the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie. The 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., has taken ownership of the first of two Valkyrie drones to be delivered to the unit, with the inaugural flight of the aircraft set to occur by the end of this month, the Air Force said in a news release.

Special Ops Airmen Get Fewer New Gunships Than Promised

Air Force Times

The Pentagon has quietly cut procurement of its new AC-130J Ghostrider special operations gunships, downsizing the fleet from 37 to 30. U.S. Special Operations Command originally planned to buy nearly 40 Ghostriders to replace three older gunships: the AC-130H Spectre, AC-130W Stinger II, and AC-130U Spooky. Each of those 37 aircraft are now retired. Rather than swap out the airframes one-for-one as expected, SOCOM wants to end the decade-long AC-130J acquisition seven short of the full program.

What It’s Really Like Going From Flying Air Force F-15s to Airline 737s

The War Zone

For one U.S. Air Force veteran, leaving the service after 21 years, 19 of which were spent flying the Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle, it was all about it being the right time to move on. Bill Wooten retired from the USAF as a lieutenant colonel in early 2022. Now, he has traded the cockpit of the Strike Eagle for that of a Boeing 737 airliner. “One of the strangest things has been introducing myself as Bill. For 20 years, I’ve been known as ‘Wild,’ my callsign in the Air Force,” he said.

One More Thing

Pentatonix Joins the Air Force for a Holiday Radio Special

Air Force release

Pop a cappella group Pentatonix has joined the Air Force to help celebrate the holiday season on a “Red, White, and Air Force Blue Christmas.” Produced by the Air Force Recruiting Service, the one-hour radio special features songs from the group’s latest album “Holidays Around the World.” Show host Tech. Sgt. Greg Cerny conducted a virtual interview from Spotland Productions in Nashville with Pentatonix in Los Angeles.