Outstanding Airmen of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Justin S. Cruz

The Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2023 will be formally recognized at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference from Sept. 11-13 in National Harbor, Md. Air & Space Forces Magazine is highlighting one each weekday from now until the conference begins. Today, we honor Senior Master Sgt. Justin S. Cruz, the Superintendent of the Operations Flight with the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron at Space Base Delta 1, Peterson Space Force Base, Colo.

Radar Sweep

Air Force Pushes for Quickstart Plan to Launch Programs Without Budget

Air Force Times

The U.S. Air Force still hopes lawmakers will approve a proposal allowing armed services to start work on new programs before a budget is passed, a move that could ease problems brought about by a continuing resolution. Andrew Hunter, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, said Sept. 5 that the so-called quickstart legislative proposal would allow the service to progress with initial contract work and early-stage program activities—even if a budget isn’t yet passed and the military was forced to operate under a continuing resolution, or CR, limiting its spending to prior year levels.

National Academies Report Urges Air Force to Name AI Testing ‘Champion'

National Defense Magazine

A recent report scrutinizing artificial intelligence testing-and-evaluation practices within the Air Force had one key takeaway: someone needs to pilot the airplane. The report, released Sept. 7 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine titled, “Test and Evaluation Challenges in Artificial Intelligence-Enabled Systems for the Department of the Air Force,” said the service will require “dedicated leadership, continuous oversight, and individual responsibility and accountability” to reach its AI goals.

Pentagon Admits Some ‘Non-Essential’ Personnel Have Left Niger

Task & Purpose

The Pentagon admitted on Sept. 7 that an unspecified number of U.S. personnel deemed non-essential have left Niger since that country’s military ousted its democratically elected president in late July. Roughly 1,100 U.S. troops are deployed to Niger, where the U.S. military operates two drone bases: One, dubbed Air Base 101, out of Niger’s capital of Niamey and the other, Air Base 201, near Agadez that cost $110 million to build.

SPONSORED: Watch—Joe Sublousky, Jay Meil Discuss CJADC2


Joe Sublousky, SAIC’s Vice President for JADC2, and Jay Meil, SAIC’s Chief Data Scientist, sit down with Air & Space Forces Magazine Editor in Chief Tobias Naegele to discuss Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or CJADC2, and SAIC’s hand in its development.

New Report Recommends Space Force Change How It Buys Commercial Satellite Services


The U.S. Space Force should overhaul its current approach to procuring commercial satellite communications services, the RAND Corp. recommends in a report published Sept. 6. RAND argues in the report that existing methods for procuring commercial satcom services inhibit the government from harnessing the full potential of commercial innovations.

DOD to Review Agencies’ Zero-Trust Proposals over the Next Few Months


In the coming weeks, Department of Defense components will be submitting their plans for how they will achieve “zero-trust” principles within their slices of the network in line with the Pentagon’s strategy released last year, according to the top IT official. Last fall, DOD released its zero-trust strategy as well as its reference architecture. Zero trust is a concept and framework that assumes networks are already compromised and require constant monitoring and authentication to protect critical information.

Allies Target Early AUKUS Milestones to Keep 20-Year Plan on Track

Defense News

It will take two decades for Australia to operate the nuclear-powered submarines designed and built under a new arrangement with the United States and the United Kingdom, unveiled six months ago. Even so, a flurry of activity meant to get the undertaking off the ground has already begun, and experts say it’s critical to the program’s long-term timeline that the three countries meet these initial goals.

Poland Eyeing F-15EX Buy Amid Weapons Buying Spree

The War Zone

Poland has an active interest in buying F-15EX Eagle II fighters, according to the jet's manufacturer Boeing. This announcement comes amid continued uncertainty about the U.S. Air Force's F-15EX plans and a massive Polish defense spending spree that has already included the purchase of new combat aircraft.

Army Scrubs Latest Test of New Dark Eagle Hypersonic Weapon after Pre-Flight Checks

Breaking Defense

The Army plan to field a long-range hypersonic missile by month’s end hit another speed bump this week when it scrubbed a flight test of the new weapon dubbed Dark Eagle, a Pentagon official confirmed. “The department planned to conduct a flight test at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., to inform our hypersonic technology development,” a Department of Defense spokesman wrote in a short statement to Breaking Defense on Sept. 7. “As a result of pre-flight checks, the test did not occur.”

General Atomics LongShot Drone for DARPA to Start Flight Tests in December

Breaking Defense

General Atomics will begin flight tests in December of its design for DARPA’s LongShot program, the company announced Sept. 7. GA, which in June was awarded a contract from DARPA for Phase 3 of its LongShot effort that could be worth up to $94 million, plans to show off its new design for the drone at this upcoming Air and Space Forces Association conference.

Pentagon CIO Prepares to Take Over 5G Network Portfolio

Defense One

The Pentagon’s chief information office will soon take over all 5G network efforts starting Oct. 1, said Defense CIO John Sherman. “There are numerous pilots underway at various U.S. military installations. We're going to continue to build on that momentum,” Sherman said during a keynote address at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit on Sept. 7.

One More Thing

A Collection of the Internet’s Best Military Ghost Stories

Coffee or Die

Reported sightings of skinwalkers, UFOs, Bigfoot, a “box witch,” and plenty of other strange creatures populate Tales From the Grid Square’s Instagram feed. Nick Orton, the Army logistician who runs the account under a pseudonym because he’s on Active Duty, told Coffee or Die that the stories he shares aren’t his own inventions; rather, they’re sourced from within the military community at large—and apparently, they’re true.