F-35 Production Challenged to Keep Up with Demand

Increasing F-35 orders have raised questions about the capacity of the industrial base to keep up with demand, which could outstrip the planned peak output of the Lockheed Martin-made stealth fighter. Israel announced a fresh order for F-35s on July 2, saying it will buy an additional 25 aircraft. Since 2022, several European countries—Finland, Switzerland, Germany, and the Czech Republic—have announced plans to order 159 F-35s, collectively amounting to more than a whole year’s worth of production under Lockheed Martin’s planned maximum annual production rate of 156 aircraft by 2025.

SPACECOM’s New Senior Enlisted Leader Puts Guardian in Key COCOM Role

U.S. Space Command's new senior enlisted leader will be a Guardian, the first ever picked to advise a combatant command. Chief Master Sgt. Jacob C. Simmons will succeed Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott H. Stalker, the Pentagon said in a June 26 announcement. Simmons is currently the senior enlisted leader for Space Operations Command and was one of the five finalists to replace outgoing Chief Master Sgt. of the Space Force Roger A. Towberman.

First Air Force Pilot to Test T-7 Comes from a Family of History-Making Aviators

Aviation milestones are a family business for Air Force Maj. Bryce Turner, who on June 28 became the first Air Force pilot to take the T-7A Red Hawk on an official test flight, which marked the latest milestone in a three-generation tradition of Turner family aviation accomplishments. Turner's grandfather was among the first African American jet pilots and his father was the first African American F-22 pilot.

Can Cargo Be Delivered ‘To, From, and Through’ Space? DOD Wants Ideas Soon.

Space is taking on more responsibilities for the U.S. military. Next on the agenda: cargo. A June 30 solicitation from the Defense Innovation Unit is seeking “novel commercial solutions that enable responsive and precise point-to-point delivery of cargo to, from, and through space.” If successful, the concepts DIU hopes to demonstrate could expand to incorporate large payloads and conduct “suborbital delivery of cargo,” both for military objectives and potentially to assist in disaster response in the future.
Kendall NGAD

Building the Force We Need in the Pacific: SECAF Kendall Has the Right Vector 

As Air Force Secretary, Frank Kendall has brought a lifetime of experience, as a Soldier and as a policy maker, to the Department of the Air Force. By focusing strategically around seven core “Operational Imperatives” and three “Cross-cutting Operational Enablers,” Kendall has rallied his Air and Space Forces leaders around the key requirements that will transform his department’s operational effectiveness. Secretary Kendall knows the most important customers for new capabilities are our military operators. Forging close partnerships between operational customers and acquisition professionals is crucial.

Radar Sweep

NATO Extends Boss Stoltenberg’s Term by a Year


NATO on July 4 extended Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s contract by another year, opting to stick with an experienced leader as war rages on the alliance’s doorstep rather than try to agree on a successor. Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, has been the transatlantic security alliance’s leader since 2014 and his tenure has already been extended three other times.

Military Suicides Rose in First Quarter of 2023 Compared to Same Time Last Year, Pentagon Report Says

Stars and Stripes

Suicides in the Active-duty military increased in the first three months of 2023 compared to the same time last year, according to a newly released Pentagon report. The Defense Suicide Prevention Office revealed in its quarterly report that the overall number of active-duty suicides—94—from January through March was up 25 percent compared to the number of troops—75 —who took their own lives in the first three months of 2022.

Air Force Pararescue Teams Are Looking for a New Boat to Rescue Astronauts

Task & Purpose

The Air Force’s elite Pararescue teams are looking for a new boat. Among the features they’d like to get: a rigid-hull craft that can drop by parachute into the middle of the ocean from a C-130 or C-17, can carry a six-person team up to 300 nautical miles at 35 knots, and has room for at least two soaking wet astronauts.

Go Deeper on Operational Imperatives

Air & Space Forces Magazine

Virtually every part of the Department of the Air Force’s drive to modernize is being shaped by Secretary Frank Kendall’s seven Operational Imperatives—lines of effort that address the most important and urgent challenges facing the Air Force today. Now, the department and industry are working together to develop solutions for each imperative, and the results will likely change the Air Force and Space Force for the next generation. Keep up with all the latest news on each Operational Imperative.

Europe’s Defense Leaders Push Competing Air Defense Visions

Defense News

Amid the rows of fighter aircraft, drones, and helicopters at the Paris Air Show, an uptick in the displays of one key class of ground-based systems stood out: the radars and launchers of missile defense. On the sidelines of the show, European officials met to discuss the continent’s varied proposals for developing new air and missile defense systems, with Germany leading a 17-nation-strong initiative to procure off-the-shelf capabilities, and France pushing for a smaller, organic approach to building up European industry.

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Putin, Xi, and Modi Meet on Camera, but with No Signs of Greater Unity

The New York Times

The leaders represented the three biggest powers bidding to reshape a global order dominated by the U.S., convening over video feeds at a virtual summit meeting on July 4. But beyond the unity implied by their joint appearance, each seemed focused on his own, different aim. For President Vladimir Putin of Russia, that meant projecting strength in the aftermath of the uprising by the Wagner mercenary group. For China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, the summit was another opportunity to assail the U.S. by calling for an end to “hegemonism” and “power politics.” For India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, the meeting’s host, it was a way to signal his country’s rising stature.

US State Department Report Details Damning Failings Around Chaotic Afghanistan Withdrawal


The U.S. State Department on June 30 released its long-awaited Afghanistan After Action Review report, which found that both the Trump and Biden administrations’ decisions to pull all U.S. troops from Afghanistan had detrimental consequences, and details damning shortcomings by the current administration that led to the deadly and chaotic U.S. withdrawal from that country after nearly two decades on the ground.

‘Political Hostages’: Tuberville’s Promotions Blockade Is About to Hit the Joint Chiefs Hard


An Alabama senator’s blockade of military nominations is about to hit a new phase, and it will have a major impact at the highest levels of the Pentagon. Starting July 10, four members of the eight-member Joint Chiefs of Staff will begin retiring. And if Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s blockade holds, it’ll mean half the chiefs—the leaders of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, along with the chair—will have no successor in place.

One More Thing

Air Force Soars Over Disney World for Fourth of July

6th Air Refueling Wing

A KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 6th Air Refueling Wing and three F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing flew over Walt Disney World Resort, Fla., July 4, 2023. The flyover was conducted in celebration of the Fourth of July and highlighted the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company and of air refueling, a capability that enables global reach for the Air Force.