NORAD russian warplanes

NORAD Intercepts Russian Warplanes for Second Time in Two Days

Two U.S. Air Force F-35s intercepted a quartet of Russian fighters and bombers near Alaska on Feb. 14—the second such intercept in two days. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said the Russian flight, which included Tu-95 Bear-H strategic bombers and Su-35 and Su-30 fighters, approached the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone, an early warning buffer for North America that includes international airspace. 
GE XA100

GE Says New F-35 Engine Would Refresh Propulsion Industrial Base

If the Air Force and Pentagon decide the F-35 fighter needs an all-new engine, it wouldn’t just give the jet range and performance improvements—it would drive a refresh of the entire fighter propulsion industrial base, a GE Aerospace official claimed Feb. 16. Competitor Pratt & Whitney, however, says putting a brand new engine on the F-35 would hurt future development for programs like the Next Generation Air Dominance fighter.
Air Force cargo aircraft automation

Autonomous C-130s and C-17s? Air Force Invests in Feasibility Study

The Air Force is exploring the potential of autonomous cargo craft, awarding a contract to tech company Reliable Robotics to study the feasibility of automating large, multi-engine airlifters. Reliable Robotics announced the contract Feb. 8, after previously working with the Air Force under three phases of Small Business Innovation Research contracts.

Radar Sweep

Blinken: Crimea a ‘Red Line’ for Putin as Ukraine Weighs Plans to Retake It


A Ukrainian attempt to retake Crimea would be a red line for Vladimir Putin that could lead to a wider Russian response, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a Zoom call with a group of experts Feb. 15. The Russian president sees Crimea as fully part of Russia, not Ukraine, and would be loath to see the peninsula ripped from his clutches—even though that’s precisely what he did to Ukraine nearly a decade ago. Republican and Democratic administrations have since then said repeatedly that “Crimea is Ukraine.”

Pentagon’s Top China Official to Visit Taiwan amid Rising Bilateral Tensions

Financial Times

The Pentagon’s top China official is to visit Taiwan in the coming days, a rare trip to the island by a senior US defense policymaker that comes as relations between Washington and Beijing are mired in crisis over a suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down two weeks ago. Michael Chase, deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, will go to Taiwan in the coming days, according to four people familiar with his trip. He is currently in Mongolia for discussions with the country’s military.

How Enlisted Troops’ Roles in Space Command Operations Are Evolving

Air Force Times

Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott Stalker became the top enlisted leader at U.S. Space Command in August 2020, one year after the organization was resurrected in a vast overhaul of the military space enterprise. He hosted a forum on joint graduate and postgraduate military education in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Feb. 14-16. Stalker spoke to Air Force Times for his first-ever interview in the role.

US Woos Other Nations for Military-AI Ethics Pact

Defense One

The U.S. will spell out ethics, principles, and practices for the use of artificial intelligence in military contexts in a new declaration, with the hope of adding cosigners from around the world. The announcement is intended to highlight a “contrast” between the U.S. approach and what one senior defense official called “the more opaque policies of countries like Russia and China.”

Sentinel ICBM ‘On Track’ for Flight Test This Year: Senior USAF Official

Breaking Defense

Development of the Air Force’s next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile, the LGM-35A Sentinel, remains “on track” to undergo a flight test later this year, according to a senior Air Force official—despite a Defense Department report to Congress in September showing an estimated 10-month slip in contractor Northrop Grumman’s development effort.

Why the Air Force’s Best ‘Secret Weapon’ Has Nothing to Do with Airplanes

Task & Purpose

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Charlynne McGinnis is one of 3,600 service members speaking more than 90 languages who have participated in the Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP), which is part of the Air Force Culture and Language Center. The LEAP program takes airmen and Space Force guardians who have some proficiency in a foreign language—whether from growing up in a household speaking it or from learning it in a classroom—and sharpens that skill level and cultural knowledge so that the LEAP scholar can serve as a cultural and linguistic expert for their fellow service members.

OPINION: US Needs Attritable Systems, Strategic Logistics Analysis to Win Wars

Defense News

“Wars are won and lost well before they even start. The key to victory, if the U.S. is forced to engage in a near-peer fight, will rely on the adoption of attritable weapon systems: simplistic in design, rapidly reproducible and highly lethal. It will also depend on a sharper focus on strategic logistics planning and analysis across the defense-industrial base,” writes U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ernest “Nest” Cage, a senior defense fellow at the Center for a New American Security think tank.

Spouse Satisfaction with Military Life at a New Low, DOD Survey Finds

The percentage of military spouses who say they are happy with military life and would support their member staying in the service has sunk to the lowest point in nearly a decade, according to Defense Department survey results released last week. Satisfaction with the military lifestyle dipped below 50 percent for the first time since 2012, with only 49 percent of spouses who answered the DOD’s 2021 spouse survey reporting that they were content.

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Behind China’s Balloons, a Push for Business to Serve the Military

The New York Times

A People’s Liberation Army veteran turned drone manufacturer. A Shanghai real estate company that wagered there was more profit in high-altitude airships. An eminent Chinese aviation scientist who started more than a dozen companies to commercialize his expertise. Each sought to help their business by supporting China’s military modernization. Each now stands accused by the United States of helping to build China’s spy balloons.

Lockheed Martin Completes Delivery of 10th GPS 3 Satellite


The U.S. Space Force accepted delivery of the 10th and final GPS 3 satellite made by Lockheed Martin under a 2008 contract. Of the 10 satellites built, six have been launched and four are stored at a Lockheed Martin facility in Waterton, Colorado, awaiting launch opportunities. In a statement Feb. 16, the Space Systems Command said it declared the 10th satellite “available for launch.”

Russian Fears Explain Reluctance to Deploy Air Force over Ukraine—UK


Russia has been reluctant to deploy its air force over Ukraine since it launched its full-scale invasion of the country almost a year ago, due to the danger of a strike against Russian airfields and the “continued high threat” of Ukrainian air defenses, according to British intelligence. In its daily intelligence update on the Ukraine War on Feb. 16, the British Defense Ministry said that the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) continue to deploy a similar number of aircraft in the Ukraine war “as they have for many months.”

One More Thing

No, an F-22 Isn’t Rocking an Aerial Victory Marking for that Chinese Spy Balloon—Yet

Task & Purpose

It’s been more than a week since a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia downed a Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast with an AIM-9X missile, and some of you are still sharing photos of an alleged aerial victory marking across the side of the purported jet that made the kill. While the appearance of a balloon-shaped victory marking on the side of any jet would be an awesome occurrence in the history of aerial combat, this F-22 photo is, unfortunately, a fake.