White House Launches Effort to Examine Policy Choices for Shooting Down UFOs
The National Security Council will lead a team of experts to “study the broader policy implications for detection, analysis, and disposition of unidentified aerial objects,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters. “Every element of the government will redouble their efforts to understand and mitigate these events” he said. The news comes after U.S. military aircraft downed three unidentified objects over U.S. and Canadian airspace over the weekend, and just about a week after a U.S. F-22 took down a Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast.
US Airstrike in Somalia Kills 12 al-Shabaab Militants
The U.S. military launched another airstrike in Somalia last week in support of Somali army forces who were engaging al-Shabaab militants. Twelve al-Shabaab militants were reportedly killed in the strike, which occurred on Feb. 10 roughly 28 miles southwest of the town of Hobyo, which is approximately 290 miles northeast of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, according to U.S. Africa Command. U.S. Africa Command declined to provide further information about what units or assets were involved, but the airstrike is the latest mission carried out by the U.S. as part of its enduring presence in Somalia and East Africa.
US Tells Ukraine It Won’t Send Long-Range Missiles Because It Has Few to Spare
The Biden administration has given its Ukrainian counterparts another reason for not sending them much-wanted long-range missiles: The U.S. is concerned it wouldn’t have enough for itself. In recent meetings at the Pentagon, U.S. officials told Kyiv’s representatives that it doesn’t have any Army Tactical Missile Systems to spare, according to four people with knowledge of the talks. Transferring ATACMS to the battlefield in eastern Europe would dwindle America’s stockpiles and harm the U.S. military’s readiness for a future fight, the people said.
F-35 Readiness and Flight Hours Fell in 2022, Says CBO
A new report from a key government office is packed with bad news for the Pentagon’s biggest weapons program: In 14 pages and 11 colorful charts, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reveals that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet not only struggles to keep up its combat readiness, but actually lost ground in 2022. Availability rates for both the conventional take-off-and-landing F-35A and jump-jet F-35B models fell in 2022, while their flight hours per aircraft were effectively flat. Only the relatively small carrier-based F-35C fleet went up in either metric.
99 Red Balloons: US Air Base Launching Slew of Weather Balloons as Scrutiny Intensifies over Flying Objects
Numerous red balloons floating off the coast of Florida's panhandle this week may be an unwelcome and alarming sight for some residents amid recent reports of American fighter jets shooting down unfamiliar flying objects. But, according to Eglin Air Force Base, it's just part of a planned weather experiment by the Naval Postgraduate School. The base said a little over a dozen red balloons will be set free in the winter sky.
When Will the War in Ukraine End? Experts Offer Their Predictions.
Defense News spoke with national security analysts, lawmakers, and retired officials, asking each how the conflict in Ukraine could end. Their answers are glum: The war will be expensive, cost lives and likely last at least a few years—or even become interminable. It will tax the American and European defense industries, especially when it comes to munitions, and could cause economic ruin in Russia. All this while the possibility of nuclear escalation remains.
China’s Top Airship Scientist Promoted Program to Watch the World From Above
In 2019, years before a hulking high-altitude Chinese balloon floated across the United States and caused widespread alarm, one of China’s top aeronautics scientists made a proud announcement that received little attention back then: His team had launched an airship more than 60,000 feet into the air and sent it sailing around most of the globe, including across North America.
Eyes on Ukraine, NATO Preps New Ammo Guidelines to Boost Production
With an eye on Ukraine’s needs to defend itself from the ongoing Russian offensive, NATO plans to implement new stockpile guidelines while working with member nations’ defense industries to boost its own arsenals while continuing to fill Kyiv’s. Speaking to reporters on Feb. 13 at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was blunt in his assessment of munition stockpiles and delivery times.
US Air Force, SimX Expand VR Medical Training
The U.S. Air Force and California-based SimX have signed a $1.7-million contract to expand the service’s virtual reality (VR) medical training. The project upskills the Air Force’s special operations medical personnel on prehospital combat casualty care. Under the agreement, SimX will supply the U.S. Air Force with training setups and immersive technology capabilities not offered in previous contracts.
Vietnam Veterans Speak to Air Force Academy Cadets on Golden Anniversary of War’s End
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the first release of American prisoners from the Vietnam War in a process called Operation Homecoming. As part of the occasion, several Vietnam veterans spoke Feb. 13 to cadets at the Air Force Academy. The veterans want to educate cadets about the reality of situations they may face when they begin their active-duty careers. Cadets heard from Mike McGrath, a retired Navy captain and former prisoner of war (POW), and Air Force veteran George Hayward, who has written a book about the attempted escape of two POWs in 1969.