KC-135 elephant walk

18 KC-135s Line Up at MacDill, as USAF’s Surge in Elephant Walks Continues

Eighteen KC-135s, spread over more than half a mile, lined up on the runway at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., on April 26—the sixth elephant walk the Air Force has put on across the country in the past six weeks. The tankers were participating in MacDill’s Operation Violent Storm, an exercise designed to force different units to work together to rapidly mobilize the fleet. More than 700 personnel participated in generating the KC-135s in less than six hours. 
wisconsin air national guard F-35s

Wisconsin Guard Wing Accepts First 3 F-35s

A second Air National Guard unit has its first F-35s, as three of the fifth-generation fighters arrived at Truax Field, Wisc., on April 25. The Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing has been working toward the F-35 for years now—Truax Field was selected as one of two preferred locations for the fighter back in 2017, and an official basing decision came three years later in April 2020. The wing’s final F-16 left the base in October 2022.

What Happens to the Air Force’s Oldest F-22s if Congress OKs Their Retirement?  

If Congress agrees with the Air Force’s request to retire 32 Block 20 F-22s as part of its fiscal 2024 budget, the aircraft be used as trainers a while longer, then stored for an undetermined period at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) “Boneyard” in Arizona, Air Combat Command said. Some will probably become museum pieces or "gate guards."

Radar Sweep

DOD and European Defence Agency Sign Cooperation Pact in Support of Shared Military Interests

Breaking Defense

The U.S. Department of Defense and the European Defence Agency (EDA) this week reached a new agreement designed to provide a framework for transatlantic cooperation on shared defense issues covering supply chains, military mobility, climate change, and information exchange. The signing of the Administrative Arrangement by Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante and EDA chief executive Jiři Šedivý in Brussels looks to be a step towards the U.S. and European Union moving past longstanding disagreements over protectionist measures designed to keep European defense trade flowing to European companies, rather than their American competitors.

Air Force Navigation Satellite Experiment Applying Lessons from GPS


The U.S. Air Force Navigation Technology Satellite-3—a flight experiment seven years in the making—is undergoing final tests ahead of a projected 2024 launch. A lot is riding on this project. The $250 million experiment led by the Air Force Research Laboratory aims to deliver novel technologies for space-based positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT). It’s also seen as a test case for the management of the so-called PNT enterprise, which includes the satellites, the ground system, and the receivers that allow users to talk to the satellites.

Pentagon Awards 3 Contracts to Bolster US Hypersonics Supply Chains


The Department of Defense has awarded three companies—Northrop Grumman, General Electric and Carbon-Carbon Advanced Technologies (C-CAT)—contracts to expand and strengthen the United States’ industrial base for hypersonic missiles and other strategic systems, the Pentagon announced April 28.

Go Deeper on Operational Imperatives

Air & Space Forces Magazine

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has defined seven Operational Imperatives for the Department of the Air Force to work on, warning that “if we don't get them right, we will have unacceptable operational risk.” From a resilient space order of battle to the development of next-generation tactical air dominance and global strike platforms, these imperatives will define the Air Force for decades to come—Dive deeper into each one with our new “Operational Imperatives” pages highlighting all the latest news and developments on these critical efforts.

Chinese TB-001 Scorpion Drone ‘Encircled’ Taiwan

The War Zone

A Chinese TB-001 Scorpion medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) drone has flown an apparently unprecedented mission around Taiwan, according to authorities on the island. The drone sortie came as part of the latest spike in Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) air and naval activity in the Taiwan Strait, something that has become more commonplace in recent months. However, according to local reports, this is the first time that Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense has publicly acknowledged that a PLA aircraft ‘encircled’ the island in this way.

US Considers Landing Bombers in South Korea: Air Force General


The U.S. Air Force is considering a plan to land strategic bombers in South Korea and to regularly deploy the aircraft in and around the Korean Peninsula, Nikkei has learned. Combined with visits by a nuclear ballistic missile submarine to South Korea, the latest move would enhance extended deterrence by providing a visible demonstration of the ability to counterattack North Korea. The commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, discussed the plan in an interview with Nikkei on April 27.

Biden, Marcos Set to Meet as Tensions Grow with China

Associated Press

President Joe Biden is set to host President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines for White House talks May 1 as concerns grow about the Chinese navy’s harassment of Philippine vessels in the South China Sea. Marcos’ visit to Washington comes after the U.S. and Philippines last week completed their largest war drills ever and as the two countries’ air forces on May 1 will hold their first joint fighter jet training in the Philippines since 1990.

Air Force’s Next-Gen ICBM Program Could Face Delays, Kendall Says

Defense One

Keeping the next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile program on schedule will be “a challenge,” the U.S. Air Force said April 27, raising new questions about the replacement for the Pentagon’s decades-old Minuteman III. The first of the Northrop Grumman-built nuclear missiles, known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, are slated to be ready by 2029.

PODCAST: F-35 Update: Test Flight Perspective

Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

In Episode 126 of the Aerospace Advantage, F-35 Update: Test Flight Perspective, John Baum discusses what happens when an F-35 rolls off the production line and executes its first flights with Lockheed Martin F-35 test pilot Tony “Brick” Wilson and J.R. McDonald, Vice President for F-35 Business Development.

Air Force Cracks Open Door on Hypersonic ARRW, Weeks After Indicating It Was Shut

Breaking Defense

The Pentagon may get an ARRW in its quiver after all. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee April 27, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the service was waiting on the conclusion of all-up-round tests for the hypersonic Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) before officials make a procurement decision—roughly one month after acquisition chief Andrew Hunter seemed to tell lawmakers in written testimony that the service would not go on to buy it once its prototyping phase concludes.

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Donated MiG Jets Will Not Give Ukraine Air Superiority Against Russia, Experts Say

The Washington Post

When Poland and Slovakia announced their plans to donate up to 30 MiG fighter jets to Ukraine, it was hailed as a breakthrough in getting Kyiv ever more sophisticated weaponry and as a sign that Eastern European nations were prepared to be bolder than the United States or NATO allies in Western Europe. Ukrainian soldiers and military experts say the donated planes will not be a game changer.

One More Thing

WATCH: Biden Awards Football Trophy to Air Force Academy


President Joe Biden on April 28 awarded the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy to the Air Force Academy for winning football games against its rival U.S. service academies. “Simply put, you can’t talk about the soul of the nation without talking about our service academies,” Biden told the team gathered in the White House’s East Room. “And you can’t talk about the service academies without talking about duty, teamwork, service and excellence. That’s all about you.”