In Reversal, Biden Administration Will Help Ukraine Get F-16s

The Biden administration will support giving Ukraine modern, fourth-generation fighters, including F-16s, a senior administration official told Air & Space Forces Magazine May 19. President Joe Biden informed allies of the plan at a meeting of the G7 in Hiroshima, Japan, the official said. The U.S. “will support a joint effort with our allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighter aircraft, including F-16s, to further strengthen and improve the capabilities of the Ukrainian Air Force,” the senior administration official added.
The Tactical High-power Operational Responder, or THOR, a high-powered microwave counter drone weapon, stands ready to demonstrate its effectiveness against a swarm of multiple targets at the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, Chestnut Test Site, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., April 5, 2023. AFRL completed a successful demonstration of THOR simulating a real-world swarm attack. This was the first test of this scale in AFRL history. U.S. Air Force photo / Adrian Lucero

THOR Hammers Drone Swarm with High-Power Microwaves

An experimental directed energy weapon developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory successfully disabled a swarm of drones last month—its first test on such a scale. The Tactical High-power Operational Responder, or THOR, has been in development for years now, generating high levels of interest within the military and beyond. Using bursts of high-power microwaves, the weapon disables small unmanned systems non-kinetically, sending them tumbling from the sky. 
An F-15E from the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., decorated with a special paint job to honor the unit’s World War II heritages. Photo from Facebook/Seymour Johnson Air Force Base

Unique F-15E Paint Job Pays Tribute to WW2 Aviation

Eagle-eyed World War II buffs at the Wings over Wayne airshow in North Carolina this weekend will have their hands full trying to catch all the historical references packed on to the F-15E flagship of the 4th Fighter Wing. From the nose to the tail, the heritage paint job on the F-15E Strike Eagle from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base—with the base highlighted in a recent Facebook post—includes numerous nods to the 4th FW’s lineage as the 4th Fighter Group, one of World War II’s most decorated fighter units. 

Radar Sweep

Fur-midable: US Air Force Pairs Angry Kitten Jammer with Reaper Drone

Air Force Times

The U.S. Air Force meshed fearsome with furry in tests of electronic warfare equipment aboard a widely used drone. The service’s 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron in April completed initial ground and flight testing of an MQ-9A Reaper outfitted with the Angry Kitten ALQ-167 Electronic Countermeasures Pod, a cluster of components contained in a vaguely cat-shaped tube.

Pentagon Outlines Upcoming Contractor Cybersecurity Plan

Defense One

By November, Pentagon cybersecurity leaders aim to lay out just how private contractors will be expected to work with government agencies to safeguard data and ward off attacks. “We are working on a strategy—a [defense industrial base] cybersecurity strategy—that we hope to have out later this year,” David McKeown, DOD’s chief information and security officer, said at GovExec’s Cyber Summit event.

Will the US Send F-16s Directly to Ukraine? No Final Decision Yet, Sullivan Says


The U.S. will support a joint international effort to train Ukrainian pilots on modern fighter aircraft — but whether any of those jets will be sent directly from the U.S. to Ukraine is still up in the air, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said May 21. President Joe Biden announced support for the coalition, which has pledged to train pilots on the long-requested F-16 fighter planes, during the G-7 summit in Japan over the weekend.

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.

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Amid Leak of US Secrets, Pentagon Hunts How Documents Left Air Base

The Washington Post

Far from Washington’s marble floors and limestone facades, an unremarkable military facility in one of New England’s most picturesque shore-side destinations has become ground zero in the extraordinary leak of government secrets that has unnerved foreign capitals, embarrassed the Biden administration, and triggered an expansive effort to account for the breach.

HASC Chairman Questions ‘Continued Delays’ in Settling Dispute over Space Command’s Location


The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) is wading into the contentious battle over the proposed relocation of U.S. Space Command from Colorado to Alabama. Rogers on May 19 released a letter he sent to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall requesting that they preserve all documentation concerning the selection of the command’s headquarters location.

Pentagon Investigating If It Killed a Civilian Instead of an al-Qaeda Leader in Syria Drone Strike

Task & Purpose

Earlier this month U.S. Central Command announced it carried out an air strike against an al-Qaeda leader in Syria. Now the Pentagon is looking into whether or not it killed a civilian instead. U.S. Central Command originally reported that the strike on May 3 targeted a “senior al-Qaeda leader” in northwest Syria, but did not provide any additional details to the operation or the target. The United States has been steadily carrying out air strikes and raids in Syria this year, going after commanders of ISIS. But according to family and witnesses, the victim of the May 3 strike was Lotfi Hassan Misto, a 56-year-old former bricklayer and father of 10.

PODCAST: Kill Chains: From 5th Gen to JADC2

Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

In Episode 129 of the Aerospace Advantage podcast, John Baum discusses securing battlespace effects in the 21st century with Heather “Lucky” Penney from the Mitchell Institute. Combat aircraft serve a strategic purpose, such as precise strikes or electronic attacks, relying on efficient kill chains—systems and processes to Find, Fix, Track, Target, Engage, and Assess enemy targets. The U.S. military’s advantage in rapidly closing kill chains is now threatened by China's countermeasures, risking operational failures with severe consequences. To overcome these challenges, the Air Force must enhance kill chains by leveraging information age advantages and deploying ample capable mission aircraft.

Weapons Contractors Hitting Department of Defense with Inflated Prices for Planes, Submarines, Missiles

CBS News

With the U.S. supplying billions-of-dollars of munitions to Ukraine and growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait, some Pentagon generals are sounding alarms about the dwindling supply of U.S. weapons ... at a time when the cost of replacing them is skyrocketing—we wondered why the Pentagon is finding it hard to procure weapons it needs at a price taxpayers can afford? A six-month investigation by 60 Minutes found it has less to do with foreign entanglements than domestic ones—what can only be described as price gouging by U.S. defense contractors.

Mike Madsen Prepares to Depart an Elevated DIU


In his final weeks at the Defense Innovation Unit, Mike Madsen is helping its newly sworn-in chief get poised to “really take DIU to the next level,” he told DefenseScoop in an interview. Madsen joined the U.S. military in 1994. He’s a decorated pilot and former legislative liaison who brought a unique perspective to DIU, where he’s served as deputy director and director of strategic engagement, and most recently as acting director.

Satellite Image Shows WZ-8 Supersonic Drone at Chinese Base

Defense News

A satellite image obtained by Defense News shows what appears to be a WZ-8 supersonic reconnaissance drone parked outside one of two newly built hangars at China’s Lu’an Airbase. China is continuing to revamp a bomber base that was identified in recently leaked U.S documents as hosting a new supersonic reconnaissance drone.

One More Thing

Remains of Kansas WWII Airman Killed in Europe Identified


The remains of a Kansas Army Air Forces Airman killed in action in Europe have been identified. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) says U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Robert C. Elliott’s remains were officially accounted for on Feb. 8, 2023. In the summer of 1943, Elliott, 24, was assigned to the 343rd Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force. He was an assistant engineer on a B-24 Liberator nicknamed the Damfino.