It is powered into flight by a rocket engine. It can fly a distance equal to the width of China. It has a stealthy design and is capable of carrying missiles that can hit enemy targets far beyond its visual range. But what really distinguishes the Air Force’s pilotless XQ-58A Valkyrie experimental aircraft is that it is run by artificial intelligence, putting it at the forefront of efforts by the U.S. military to harness the capacities of an emerging technology whose vast potential benefits are tempered by deep concerns about how much autonomy to grant to a lethal weapon.
A United States Marine Corps aircraft with 23 Marines aboard crashed on a north Australian island Aug. 27, killing at least three and critically injuring at least five during a multinational training exercise, officials said. Three had been confirmed dead on Melville Island and five were flown in serious condition 80 kilometers (50 miles) to the mainland city of Darwin for hospital treatment after the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey aircraft crashed around 9:30 a.m., a statement from the Marines said.
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.
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on Aug. 18 that would require the Defense Department to launch a new pilot program to use industry-built machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to calculate the monthly rates of basic allowance for housing in certain places.
Senate Democrats could circumvent the lingering hold on more than 300 senior military nominees as soon as they return to town next month. It would just take until next spring to finish the work. Chamber leaders have already ruled out the approach as cumbersome and impractical, and insist that the only reasonable path ahead is for Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., to end his blockade on the Defense Department confirmations. But senators could be forced to take up the first individual nomination votes when they return in September on key military posts because of both the necessity of filling the leadership voids and the high-profile nature of the roles themselves.
Federal authorities have been investigating nearly 5,000 pilots suspected of falsifying their medical records to conceal that they were receiving benefits for mental health disorders and other serious conditions that could make them unfit to fly, documents and interviews show. The pilots under scrutiny are military veterans who told the Federal Aviation Administration that they are healthy enough to fly, yet failed to report—as required by law—that they were also collecting veterans benefits for disabilities that could bar them from the cockpit.
Qatar may be pursuing ever-closer economic ties with China, but today the Gulf nation’s prime minister suggested that when it comes to weapons purchases, Qatar would continue to look to the West. Speaking in Singapore, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani was asked how Qatar views the increase of Chinese defense sales in the region, and whether his country feels like it’s being forced to make a choice between Beijing and Washington.
An official from U.S. Space Command’s division charged with identifying capability gaps and possible solutions is urging the commercial space industry to ignore apprehensions about working with the government and come forward with their emerging and original technologies. “Without engagement with [commercial industry], we don’t even know how to write the best requirements that we can. And so I would just ask that, don’t let the bureaucracy scare you,” said Col. Edward Ferguson, chief of SPACECOM’s advanced warfighter capabilities and resources analysis division and director of the command’s Space Technical Analysis Group (STAG).
Sedaro, a startup that develops digital engineering software, won a Space Force contract to demonstrate the use of digital twins to design spacecraft. The $1.5 million contract announced Aug. 22 is a Small Business Innovation Research Phase 2 award under the Orbital Prime program run by the U.S. Space Force and the Air Force Research Laboratory. Robbie Robertson, co-founder and CEO of Sedaro, said the company will use its cloud-based digital engineering software to design prototype spacecraft for missions known as ISAM, short for in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing.
Ukraine is mourning one of its most widely known fighter pilots after a midair collision in Zhytomyr Oblast. Major Andrii Pilshchykov, better known by his callsign “Juice”, was one of three pilots killed in the crash involving two L-39 jet trainer aircraft. Juice served as something akin to the informal 'voice' of the Ukrainian Air Force at times, providing numerous first-hand accounts of Ukraine’s air war to The War Zone and other media outlets.