Sometimes, you need a really big plane. An Air Force C-17 Globemaster evacuated 640 passengers in a single flight from Kabul during the U.S. withdrawal two years ago. The C-5M Super Galaxy, even bigger than the Globemaster, can carry anything in the Army’s arsenal—or the presidential motorcade and helicopter. The mammoth jets, however, are aging and out of production. That has pushed the Pentagon to start looking at replacements capable of flying vast distances in support of U.S. forces in the Pacific as part of its policy to deter China. More broadly, the Air Force envisages a family of systems including a large new aircraft, small uncrewed delivery drones, gliders, and even space rockets to blast cargo anywhere in the world within minutes.
President Joe Biden has formally nominated Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be the next chief of naval operations, making her potentially the first woman to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Franchetti, a career surface warfare officer who the White House said has “extensive operational and policy experience,” is only the second woman to be the Navy’s vice chief, behind now-retired Adm. Michelle Howard. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to serve as chief of naval operations as well as the first on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Biden administration expects American-made F-16 fighter jets will arrive in Ukraine near the end of this year, a top spokesperson said, signaling that U.S. officials are feeling a new sense of urgency to deliver the warplanes as quickly as possible. “Now look, the F-16s will get there probably towards the end of the year,” John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said on Fox News. “But it’s not our assessment that the F-16s alone would be enough to turn the tide here.”
Congress is poised to advance two major pieces of defense legislation ahead of the start of its end-of-summer break, but completion of either measure is still months away. The Senate is expected to finalize its version of the annual defense authorization bill before the end of the week. The House passed its draft earlier this month. If the Senate finishes its work, it will allow staffers to work behind the scenes over Congress’ upcoming six-week break to start negotiating a compromise bill, a hefty task given the partisan fights in the House over the proposal.
In Episode 138 of the Aerospace Advantage podcast, Doug Birkey chats with retired Maj. Gen. Larry Stutzriem and David Tweedie, GE Edison Works vice president and general manager for advanced products, about a key element of America’s combat aircraft advantage in the sky: engines. No military aircraft design can execute any mission without its engine. In today’s military, that translates to incredibly sophisticated jet technology. Mission requirements for today and tomorrow demand enhanced performance, greater efficiency, and continued top-of-the-line reliability. The Air Force is pursuing a new generation of capabilities.
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.
The Biden administration is holding firm, for now at least, on its refusal to send long-range Army missiles to Ukraine despite mounting pressure from U.S. lawmakers and pleas from the government in Kyiv, according to U.S. officials. Disappointment at the slow pace of Ukraine’s counteroffensive against entrenched Russian forces and a newly equivocal tone by President Biden have led to widespread speculation that the missiles will soon follow the path taken by other U.S. weapons systems that were first denied but ultimately approved during the 17 months of the war.
Five Marines who took off on training flight on June 8, 2022, died when their Osprey suffered a catastrophic clutch issue, the Marine Corps revealed in an investigation report July 21. Despite the findings—and earlier concerns over the possibility of a deadly crash caused by the clutch—the military continues to fly the V-22 with no firm understanding of the cause or any definitive mechanical fix for the problem in sight.
The Air Force’s mobility command is thinking more than ever about how it will operate closer to a future fight in the Pacific. Mobility Guardian 2023, a two-week exercise that ended July 21, practiced tactics for operating across vast distances during a conflict, said Maj. Gen. Darren Cole, operations director for Air Mobility Command. Cole said his command has always had a combat role, but there’s potential for AMC to expand into other mission areas, including firing weapons off of aircraft long regarded as unarmed cargo haulers.
In 1981, Capt. Carmen Lucci appeared to have an unlimited future in the U.S. Air Force. The Ohio native had earned a full scholarship as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s first female AFROTC cadet, and in 1975 she had received her Air Force commission as a distinguished graduate. Her next stop was the University of Tennessee Space Institute, where she earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering. In 1977, she entered Air Force active duty. Lucci had her sights set on being an astronaut, so during her first assignment at Los Angeles Air Force Station, she applied to attend pilot training and the flight test engineering course at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School (TPS). Accepted to both, she turned down pilot training to attend TPS and arrived at Edwards Air Force Base in June 1980.