The White House is set to make a new announcement on the future of the trilateral security pact known as AUKUS sometime later this year, the Pentagon’s chief technology officer said today. Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said she expected the announcement to come sometime in the “fall.” And while she did not give details about what the announcement would be, her role in the discussions and her technology portfolio means it likely has to do with the so-called Pillar 2 AUKUS track.
The U.S. Air Force will increase its number of bases across the Pacific over the next decade, in an effort to spread out and become more survivable in conflict. The service’s bases “will grow in increments that are visible through time, across probably two or three [future years defense programs] as we work through that,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Zuhlsdorf, the service’s deputy director of resource integration for engineering, logistics, and force protection. But the total number of bases is dependent on how much funding the Air Force receives, Zuhlsdorf said Aug. 29 at the Mitchell Institute.
A panel of military leaders will convene this fall to decide which of the Pentagon’s joint, rapid experimentation projects should transition to the field, according to U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu. For the last two years, Shyu’s office has been leading an effort known as the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve, designed to address high-need capability gaps shared across the military services through intensive prototype and demonstration campaigns.
The United States is planning to announce a slew of new weapon co-production deals with governments around the globe, according to the Pentagon’s top acquisition official. “We’ve got multiple initiatives that are going to be coming out, [that] you’re going to be hearing about in the next few months, probably, including in European countries [and] including things that are going to be produced in this country that were a product from overseas,” undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment Bill LaPlante, told reporters on Aug. 28 during a National Defense Industrial Association conference.
The U.S. Navy’s secretive next-generation fighter program has completed concept refinement and has moved into a design maturation phase, while the service has officially announced the companies vying for the contracts. Confirming the long-expected names, the Navy announced Aug. 26 that Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are in the running for the airframe, while GE Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney are competing for the engine.
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.
The Biden administration on Aug. 29 announced a $250 million military aid package for Ukraine that includes equipment to clear Russian minefields that have stalled Ukraine’s counteroffensive. The shipment also includes additional ammunition for air defense to counter Russian drones and missiles. The Pentagon will also send artillery shells and three million rounds of small-arms ammunition.
Service members asked, and the Department of Defense listened. The DOD is establishing a user experience portfolio management office under its chief information officer organization, according to a top Pentagon IT official. The office is in part a response to the viral “Fix Our Computers” open letter from early last year that listed a raft of issues with IT systems—such as comically slow bootup times for computers—demanding DOD address them.
“In the years and months since the U.S. withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, public respect for our armed forces has been plummeting toward levels not seen since the end of the American war in Vietnam,” writes Thomas E. Ricks.
The U.S. Space Force awarded Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) a $574.5 million contract to maintain ground-based radar sensors used for missile warning and space surveillance. The Pentagon announced the contract Aug. 29. SAIC, based in Reston, Va., was awarded a seven-year contract. The Space Systems Command said four competitive bids were received for this project.
There’s no doubt that the air war over Ukraine has been intense, with no shortage of aerial engagements involving a wide range of different aircraft and targets. But imagery showing actual air-to-air encounters has so far been very rare. Now the Ukrainian Air Force has released a video from the cockpit of one of its MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters, as it successfully shoots down what’s said to be a Russian Orlan drone.