Space Force Seeks New Options for Launch

The Space Force is opening up its competition for rocket launches with a “dual-lane approach,” according to a new draft request for proposals (RFP) from industry—potentially giving smaller companies more opportunities. Late Feb. 16, the service released the draft RFP and announced it would be hosting an industry day event Feb. 28-March 1 to discuss its approach to Phase 3 of the National Space Security Launch program.  
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IISS: China’s Aggressive Exercises Near Taiwan are a ‘New Normal’

China's mock attacks against Taiwan, forcing fighter jet scrambles and putting the Taiwanese military on full alert, are likely to continue as long as Beijing thinks it's getting value out of them, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said in its annual report, "The Military Balance, 2023." Taiwan can learn from those attacks and the Russian experience in Ukraine as it develops plans to ward off invasion, the IISS said.

Radar Sweep

Biden Declares ‘Kyiv Stands’ in Surprise Visit to Ukraine

The Associated Press

President Joe Biden swept unannounced into Ukraine on Feb. 20 to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a defiant display of Western solidarity with a country still fighting what he called “a brutal and unjust war” days before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion. “One year later, Kyiv stands,” Biden declared after meeting Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace. Jabbing his finger for emphasis on his podium, against a backdrop of three flags from each country, he continued: “And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you.”

4 US Troops Injured in Syria Helicopter Raid Targeting ISIS Senior Leader

Task & Purpose

Four U.S. service members and a military working dog were injured in an explosion during an operation on Feb. 16 that killed Hamza al-Homsi, a senior leader with the Islamic State group, U.S. Central Command announced. “The injuries to the U.S. troops and working dog resulted from Hamza al-Homsi detonating an explosion on the target in the vicinity of Deir ez-Zor Syria,” said CENTCOM spokesman Army Col. Joe Buccino. “Hamza al-Homsi oversaw the group’s deadly terrorist network in eastern Syria before he was killed in the raid. The U.S. service members and working dog are in stable condition.”

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In Satellite Images and Video, Hidden Clues About an Iranian Air Force Upgrade

The New York Times

On Feb. 7, Iran unveiled a new underground Air Force base called “Eagle 44” in a slick propaganda video. On the wall was a clue hiding in plain sight: a poster with silhouettes of fighter jets. One in particular stands out. It’s situated front and center, and is in the shape of a state-of-the-art military jet that Iran currently doesn’t possess, but which officials claim Russia is in the process of selling to them.

‘Smaller, Better, Cheaper’—the Rise of Portable Drone Interceptors

Defense News

Manufacturers of counter-drone weaponry say they are increasingly miniaturizing and simplifying their solutions to meet rising demand for man-portable weapons, as recent conflicts have accentuated the importance of mobile capabilities. Man-portable, counter-unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS) have been around for some time, however, with the growing threat of weaponized commercial drones in recent years, their proliferation has accelerated.

Space Force FY24 Request Likely to Jump by Billions, but Lawmakers May Balk: Analyst

Breaking Defense

The Defense Department’s fiscal 2024 budget request is more than likely to include yet another giant leap for the Space Force’s budget, perhaps by as much as $3 billion to $6 billion more than the $26.3 billion appropriated this year, according to an analysis by Mike Tierney, legislative affairs head for the National Security Space Association. But the key question will be whether Congress is satisfied with the service’s actions to untangle a bevy of management and oversight issues troubling lawmakers.

Nearly Half of Junior Enlisted Spouses Coped with Food Insecurity

Military Times

Nearly half of junior enlisted spouses say they have experienced food insecurity, according to results of a new survey released by the Defense Department. Overall, one out of four active duty spouses reported being food insecure, according to the results of the 2021 Survey of Active Duty Spouses. Yet 3 percent of spouses reported using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly food stamps, in the previous 12 months.

PODCAST: That Others May Live: CSAR in Future Conflicts

Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

In episode 116 of the Aerospace Advantage podcast, John “Slick” Baum talks to Col. Russ “Bones” Cook, 23rd Wing Commander of Air Force Rescue at Moody Air Force Base; Lt. Col. Patrick “TISL” Parrish, National Defense Fellow at the Congressional Research Service and longtime A-10 pilot; and Michael “Mongo” Kingry, Air Force Fellow at the Mitchell Institute, about the challenges facing the USAF’s Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) mission as it looks to adapt to changing global threats.

‘You Can’t Fix the Problem If You’re in Denial:’ The Military’s Surge of Fentanyl Overdoses

There have been 332 fatal overdoses within the military, according to information newly released by the Pentagon on ODs between 2017 and 2021 that was sent to lawmakers. The vast majority of those have been newly categorized as “accidental.” The five-year period saw 15,000 non-fatal ODs amongst the active-duty force. The release of statistics on overdoses comes after a request from lawmakers last fall, following previous “Rolling Stone” magazine reporting on a startling string of overdoses at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Space Force Considers Public-Private Partnerships to Respond to Crises


When the Pentagon was ordered to evacuate U.S. troops and civilians from Afghanistan in 2021, the military’s transportation command called up the nation’s commercial airlines to help with the evacuation. This was a rare instance when DOD activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF), a program set up by the U.S. government with commercial airlines to augment airlift capacity during emergencies. The U.S. Space Force is looking at how to establish similar arrangements with commercial space companies that manufacture satellites, operate launch vehicles and provide services like satellite-based communications and Earth imagery.

Lockheed Martin Awarded Navy Hypersonic Missile Contract Worth over $1 Billion

FOX Business

Lockheed Martin announced Feb. 17 that it will receive a contract that's potentially worth more than $2 billion to integrate a hypersonic missile system onto certain U.S. Navy destroyers. The deal, which is initially worth $1.1 billion, involves the integration of the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) hypersonic missile system onto the Navy's Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers. If all contract options are exercised, that figure would rise to more than $2.2 billion.

One More Thing

The Air Force Built One of the World’s Fastest Computers Out of PlayStations

When the PlayStation 2 was first released to the public, it was said the computer inside was so powerful, it could be used to launch nuclear weapons. It was a stunning comparison. In response, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein opted to try and buy up thousands of the gaming consoles, so many that the U.S. government had to impose export restrictions. But it seems Saddam gave the Air Force an idea: building a supercomputer from many PlayStations.