stealth tanker

USAF Shakes Up Its Plan for Tankers: Fewer ‘Traditional’ Refuelers, Focus on Stealth Future

The Air Force will reduce its next buy of aerial tankers and push on toward development of a new, stealthy system that will be operational in the 2030s-2040, service acquisition executive Andrew Hunter said. He told reporters at the AFA Warfare Symposium that the Air Force is discarding it KC-X, -Y, and -Z stages of tanker recapitalization in order to speed the arrival of aircraft that can meet the long-term threat.

Chinese Balloon Means NORAD Now Getting Proper Attention, VanHerck Says

After a Chinese high-altitude spy balloon traversed the United States in late January and early February, much of the public spotlight focused on Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, the head of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). But for VanHerck it has become a call to arms. “Actually, that high-altitude balloon was a great opportunity for NORAD and United States Northern Command to get some attention that I think we deserved,” VanHerck said during a panel at the AFA Warfare Symposium. “Magically, the appropriators want to talk to me.”
countering russian aggression

Ukraine Has Lost 60 Aircraft, Taken Down 70 in Russian Invasion, Hecker Says

Ukraine has lost roughly 60 aircraft so far since Russia's renewed invasion of the country in February 2022, while the Russians have lost 70, according to the top U.S. Air Force commander for Europe. After Russia's larger air force failed to establish air superiority in the early days of the war, the air picture has turned into a mutually denied environment, Gen. James B. Hecker said March 6 at the AFA Warfare Symposium.
biden ukraine

US Policy Is Prolonging the War in Ukraine 

President Joe Biden is pursuing a ‘gradualist’ policy in Ukraine, ratcheting up the pressure on the Russian invaders by progressively arming the Ukrainian military. Gradualism didn’t work in Vietnam, and it may not work in Ukraine, writes Brian J. Morra, a former Air Force Intelligence officer and retired senior aerospace executive.

Radar Sweep

Preparing for Russia: Inside NATO Fighter Pilot Training in Texas

Air Force Times

More than 5,000 miles from NATO’s eastern flank, a new generation of allied fighter pilots is coming of age in North Texas. After decades of peace at home, American and European airmen here face a new reality: They are the frontline flyers who will keep Russia’s war in Ukraine from spilling across NATO’s borders, and the instructors who will teach the new pilots how to do it.

China Expands Defense Budget 7.2 Percent, Marking Slight Increase

The Associated Press

China on March 5 announced a 7.2 percent increase in its defense budget for the coming year, up slightly from last year’s 7.1 percent rate of increase. That marks the eighth consecutive year of single-digit percentage point increases in what is now the world’s second-largest military budget. The 2023 figure was given as 1.55 trillion yuan ($224 billion), roughly double the figure from 2013.

The Reaper UAV Is Getting Its Own Drone Swarm

Defense One

The venerable Reaper UAV could become a mothership for a single-operator drone swarm, the head of Air Force Special Operations Command said recently. AFSOC’s Adaptive Airborne Enterprise project aims to develop highly autonomous swarms of drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance—and perhaps even strike, Lt. Gen. Tony D. Bauernfeind told an audience at the Global SOF Special Air Warfare Symposium in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

China Outpacing US in Critical Tech Research ‘Should Be a Wake Up Call’: Report

Breaking Defense

China is outpacing the U.S. and other democratic nations in 37 out of 44 technology research areas considered advanced and critical, setting the stage for potentially devastating immediate and long-term consequences if western nations don’t “wake up,” according to a think tank’s latest findings. In a new report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), the U.S. comes second to China in the majority of critical technology research areas examined.

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Pentagon Sees Giant Cargo Cranes as Possible Chinese Spying Tools

The Wall Street Journal

U.S. officials are growing concerned that giant Chinese-made cranes operating at American ports across the country, including at several used by the military, could give Beijing a possible spying tool hiding in plain sight. Some national-security and Pentagon officials have compared ship-to-shore cranes made by the China-based manufacturer, ZPMC, to a Trojan horse.

Air Force Conducts Sentinel Static Fire Test

Air Force release

The Air Force and Northrop Grumman conducted a static fire test March 2, 2023, for the LGM-35A Sentinel weapon system at Northrop Grumman's facility in Promontory, Utah. This open-air test is the first in a series of static fire tests that will validate the design and performance of Sentinel's three-stage propulsion system during its development. The Stage-1 solid rocket motor (SRM) tested here is the largest of Sentinel's three stages and the first SRM to fire upon missile launch.

SPONSORED: Maintaining What Matters: An Engine Fit for the F-35

Pratt & Whitney

The looming decision on the future of the F-35’s engine—Pratt & Whitney’s F135—has fostered plenty of debate, with some suggesting the F135 should be completely replaced with a new engine through the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP), while others say integrating a new adaptive engine into the F-35 would be wasteful and unnecessary. Even Pratt & Whitney—which is developing its own adaptive engine, the XA101, through AETP—insists that the F-35’s continued aerial dominance as a joint strike fighter depends on incremental upgrades to the existing technology powering it.

Lawmakers Paint Dire Picture of Britain Running out of Weapons

Defense News

Britain’s Ministry of Defence must rapidly grow local industrial capacity in order speed rebuilding weapon stockpiles, the parliamentary Defence Committee says in a report to be published March 7. The committee said at the current rate of progress it will take 10 years to replace weapon stocks gifted to Ukraine and rebuild British weapon numbers to an acceptable level.

One More Thing

AC-130J Gunship Unleashes Hell on South Korean Island

The War Zone

We recently got an unusually detailed look at a USAF AC-130J Ghostrider gunship using much of its diverse arsenal from a recent military exercise in South Korea. The deployment of the AC-130—which is as much a arsenal ship as a gunship these days—constituted the first time a ‘Ghostride’ J model, the most recent AC-130 to enter USAF service, has ever gone to that country.