Part-Time Wingmen: CCAs Won’t Always Be ‘Tethered’ to Crewed Platforms

Though touted as “loyal wingmen,” Collaborative Combat Aircraft may not always be paired with crewed aircraft and may function only in concert with one another or weapons in “swarms,” the better to complicate an enemy’s ability to track and counter them, senior Air Force CCA developers said. One of the first things to be decided about CCAs will also have to be how they are launched and recovered, they said during a panel discussion presented by Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies
military pilot

Military Pilots Avoid Health Care to Keep Flying, New Study Suggests

U.S. military pilots avoid health care or misrepresent and withhold health information from their flight surgeon at greater rates than civilian pilots out of fear they might lose their flying status, according to a new study conducted by Air Force and civilian medical experts. Though the population size of 264 military pilots surveyed was relatively small, the study marks one of the first attempts to scientifically analyze the widely-held belief that military pilots avoid health care, particularly mental health care, out of fear that certain medical conditions will take them off flight status.
e-3 elephant walk

PHOTOS: Tinker Practices ‘Weather Flush,’ Conducts E-3 Elephant Walk

More than a dozen E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control, or AWACS, aircraft lined up on the runways at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., on March 21. The crews of the distinctive E-3, with rotating radar domes perched above the fuselage, were practicing one of their more perilous missions: getting out of the way of severe storms.

CyberPatriot XV Crowns New National Champions

CyberPatriot XV launched last fall with 5,266 teams from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, U.S. overseas territories, and military dependent schools in Europe and the Pacific. Just 28 earned a ticket to the National Finals in Bethesda, Md., and just one team from each of three divisions earned the coveted title of “champion.” 

Radar Sweep

The Fallout of the Military’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Military Times

The new year brought a major victory for thousands of service members who refused the COVID-19 vaccines—and the conservative lawmakers and pundits who backed them. The Pentagon was forced to repeal its coronavirus mandate by a largely-GOP-backed requirement added to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in December. But many troops who balked at taking the shots still face uncertain futures.

Space Force Selects 18 Vendors to Provide Space Data Analytics and Software Services


The Space Systems Command announced March 24 it has selected 18 vendors to provide data analytics and software services to help decision makers analyze information about the space domain. These vendors will compete for $900 million worth of task orders under an indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract over the next five years.

Space Command Encourages Congress to Uphold Indo-Pacific Command’s $3.5B Wish List

Breaking Defense

Perhaps the most striking thing about U.S. Space Command’s fiscal 2024 wish list for funds not included in the Defense Department’s annual budget request is its full-throated call for lawmakers to back Indo-Pacific Command’s bold bid for $3.5 billion in extra FY24 cash. In a March 23 letter conveying his own command’s “unfunded priorities” list to the Senate Armed Services Committee, obtained by Breaking Defense, SPACECOM head Gen. Jim Dickinson expresses “strong support” for INDOPACOM’s ask.

New Developments in Warfighter Training

Air & Space Forces Magazine

Driven by advancements in technology and research, the Air Force and Space Force are adapting how they train their warfighters to complete the missions at hand. Keep up with all the latest news on changes and improvements to the services’ training enterprises.

How Self-Flying F-16s Will Enable Future Fighter Drones

Defense One

The Air Force is rigging F-16s to fly autonomously, but that’s not the main point of automating one of the service’s most numerous fighter jets, the commander of the Air Force Test Center said March 27. Instead, the Venom project aims to refine an AI engine to fly a wide variety of today’s and tomorrow’s aircraft. Venom, in turn, is part of the years-long push to develop autonomous aircraft that can work alongside crewed aircraft or operate autonomously, Maj. Gen. Evan Dertian said at a Mitchell Institute event.

Experts Question Military Recruiting Fixes Such as Pre-Boot Camp Courses

The military grew complacent with recruiting during the Global War on Terror, and that left it unprepared for the difficulties of finding new recruits after recent shocks from the pandemic and a newly competitive labor market, according to a group of experts. The lack of preparation is a key reason the services face a recruiting crisis now, and even some of the programs the branches have put in place to ease the dearth of Americans prepared to sign up come with their own risks, said panelists at an event on military recruiting and retention hosted by the Brookings Institution, a bipartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Subscription Required

Pentagon Woos Silicon Valley to Join Ranks of Arms Makers

The Wall Street Journal

The Pentagon is seeking to enlist Silicon Valley startups in its effort to fund and develop new weapons technology and more-nimble suppliers, as the U.S. races to keep pace with China’s military advances. The push to tap private capital comes in the midst of concern that U.S. defense-industry consolidation has led to dependence on a few large companies that rely on government funding for research and is hampering innovation. Meanwhile, China has pulled ahead in some key technologies, ranging from small drones to hypersonic missiles, helped by Beijing’s use of external public-private guidance funds, according to current and former Pentagon officials.

One More Thing

A New Opera about Drone Strikes Is Coming to the Kennedy Center

Task & Purpose

Since armed drones became a regular tool in the United States’ arsenal, movies and television shows have been trying to incorporate them and weigh in on the morals of a drone war. Now it’s opera’s time. And a new opera about drone strikes is coming to Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center. The Kennedy Center and the Washington National Opera announced their 2023-2024 season this month, and the opening production is the world premiere of Grounded. The opera, composed by Jeanine Tesori with a libretto by George Brant, is adapted from Brant’s 2013 play of the same name.