NORAD, Allies Practice Intercepting B-1s Returning from Europe

The U.S. and its allies intercepted American B-1 bombers coming across the Atlantic toward North America, in a NORAD-led exercise simulating an enemy attack on June 26. During an exercise dubbed Noble Defender, B-1 Lancers that were leaving Europe after a month-long Bomber Task Force deployment were successively tracked and intercepted by the U.S., Canadian, British, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish militaries.

Radar Sweep

Space Development Agency Issues New Solicitation for 100 Satellites


The Space Development Agency on June 28 released a final request for proposals for its next procurement of 100 satellites as the agency continues to build out a military constellation in low Earth orbit. These 100 satellites, named Alpha, will be part of a mesh network known as Transport Layer Tranche 2. The Transport Layer Tranche 2 also includes 72 Beta satellites for which SDA already has requested bids.

State Approves $5.6 Billion F-35 Sale to Czech Republic

Breaking Defense

The U.S. State Department approved the potential sale to the Czech Republic of 24 Lockheed Martin-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighters on June 29, as well as a plethora of weapons, parts, and equipment, in a deal worth up to $5.6 billion. “The proposed sale will improve the Czech Republic’s defense capabilities as well as support NATO operations by guarding against modern threats and maintaining a constant presence in the region,” the State Department said in a statement, though it added a claim that the new fighters “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

Military Academies Exempt From Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Ruling

The Wall Street Journal

A landmark Supreme Court ruling against affirmative action in university admissions contained an exception for the U.S. military’s service academies that has exposed a division within the court over the role diversity should play in national security. In a footnote within the ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion, cited the “potentially distinct interests that military academies may present” when it comes to using race-conscious admissions as reason why “no military academy is a party to these cases.”

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.

Space Force Still Figuring Out How Bad the Fuel Spill Atop a Sacred Hawaiian Volcano Was

Five months after a fuel tank at a Space Force observatory spilled 700 gallons of fuel atop a sacred Hawaiian volcano, officials are still trying to determine how much of the soil has been contaminated. In the months since the fuel spill at a facility perched on the 10,023-foot summit of Haleakalā, a volcano on the Hawaiian island of Maui, the Department of the Air Force has been working on cleanup efforts with local and federal agencies. In that time, workers had removed an estimated 84,000 pounds of soil, but crews are still working to see how deep the fuel may have saturated into the ground.

China’s J-20 Fighter With Long-Awaited WS-15 Engines May Have Flown

The War Zone

There are signs that a Chinese J-20 stealth fighter has flown for the first time with two new indigenously developed WS-15 jet engines installed. If true, this would be a significant milestone in the continued development of the J-20 design and the WS-15 turbofan. Pictures and videos reportedly from the test flight have been increasingly circulating on social media.

The A-10 Is Retiring and the Air Force Has No Close Air Support Replacement

Task & Purpose

The Air Force plans to retire its legendary A-10 Warthogs within the next five years and it’s still not clear how the service will be able to provide troops on the ground with the level of close air support that the A-10 brings to the fight. Although Congress has prevented the Air Force from retiring all or part of its A-10 fleet five times since 2014, the opposition from lawmakers appears to be softening. The House version of the Fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act would allow the Air Force to retire 42 A-10s, but it would pause further cuts to the A-10 fleet until the service tells Congress how it plans to keep aircrews proficient in close air support using other aircraft.

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Some Military Families Could Gain, Others Could Lose in Policy Changes to DOD’s Special Needs Program

Stars and Stripes

Policy changes announced last week to a Defense Department program that assists troops who have family members with special needs could result in some military families gaining services while others lose them, Pentagon officials said. Changes to the Exceptional Family Member Program revealed June 23—more than two years after Congress mandated changes—were established so each service branch has similar standards and guidelines to track performance and improve oversight.

Former DIU Chief Mike Brown Urges Approval of $1B Defense ‘Hedge’ Fund, More Testing of Commercial Tech on Ukraine’s Battlefields


Mike Brown, the former director of the Defense Innovation Unit, is hopeful senators will support a proposal by House lawmakers to create a $1 billion fund to support the acquisition and fielding of “hedge” capabilities for the U.S. military. And he told DefenseScoop that Ukraine should serve as a “proving ground” for commercial technologies that the Pentagon might want to buy. The House Appropriations Committee, through a provision in its fiscal 2024 defense spending bill, is recommending investing slightly more than $1 billion to “begin deliberately fielding a hedge portfolio” of capabilities from nontraditional sources within one to three years.

DOD: Chinese Spy Balloon Did Not Collect, Transmit Data over the US

Air Force Times

The Pentagon said June 29 that the Chinese spy balloon that flew across the continental United States earlier this year did not collect any data during its flight. “It has been our assessment now that [the spy balloon] did not collect while it was transiting the United States or overflying the United States,” Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during the briefing. “And as we said at the time, we also took step steps to mitigate potential collection efforts.”

One More Thing

Surviving the Arctic With Air Force SERE Specialists

Coffee or Die

You’re on a plane that goes down in the Arctic. There is nothing but snow and ice as far as you can see. What do you do? And how do you survive? The U.S. Air Force has a course for that. In a 4-day, 3-night exercise, a mobile training team of Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape instructors, known as SERE specialists, hit the wavetops (er, ice caps?). A repeat customer, the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing calls the training Barren Land Arctic Survival Training, or BLAST camp for short.