Two senior non-commissioned officers are promoted to the rank of chief master sergeant during a ceremony at Hulman Field Air National Guard Base in Terre Haute, Ind., June 3, 2023.

Chief Master Sergeant Promotion Rate Ticks Up to Seven-Year High

The Air Force is promoting 22.5 percent of eligible senior master sergeants to chief master sergeant in 2023, the service announced Nov. 28—the highest rate for E-9s in seven years. All told, 506 Airmen were selected from a pool of 2,249 eligible candidates. The full list of those selected will be released Dec. 1, according to the Air Force Personnel Center. 
The F-35 Joint Program Office will give Pratt & Whitney the sole-source contracts to upgrade the F135 engine.

F-35 Program Will Give Pratt Sole-Source Engine Upgrade Work

The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.

PHOTOS: Air Force C-17 With Humanitarian Aid for Gaza Lands in Egypt

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III with humanitarian aid bound for Gaza landed in Egypt Nov. 28, the U.S. government announced. The flight is the first U.S. military aircraft sent to the Middle East to deliver aid for the beleaguered civilians in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas conflict that began Oct. 7, according to the Pentagon. U.S. officials say two more military aid flights are expected in the coming days.

Radar Sweep

‘We’re Taking It out of Hide’: Pentagon Says It Has No Money for Middle East Buildup


The Defense Department has ordered an additional aircraft carrier strike group, air defenses, fighter jets and hundreds of troops to the Middle East since the surprise terrorist attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, in an effort to prevent the conflict from spiraling into a regional war. The problem: Congressional dysfunction means the Pentagon has no money to pay for the buildup.

SPONSORED: How an Enterprise Portfolio Approach Improves Cost Efficiencies, Interoperability Across MAJCOMs

HII Mission Technologies

Senior Air Force leaders have made a clarion call for improving Total Force readiness to prepare for potential conflict with the nation’s pacing threats. Most notably, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall is emphasizing readiness and mobilization as one of his seven operational imperatives, saying that “supporting [our forces] takes the collective success of a large number of information systems and supporting logistical and industrial infrastructure.” HII Mission Technologies is presenting an enterprise portfolio solution to break down the operational and technical stovepipes between Air Force Major Command (MAJCOM) training architectures, an advantage that will unify critical infrastructure elements among distributed training systems across a standardized, global network—all while enabling the warfighter to train as they fight.

What to Watch as Congress Negotiates Final Defense Policy Bill

Defense News

Congress will begin formal negotiations on a compromise defense policy bill this week, with final votes likely to occur before the holidays. The annual bill is usually a bipartisan product, but conference committee talks over the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act may be trickier than usual this year. House Republicans added numerous partisan provisions from the right-wing Freedom Caucus to their version of the bill. The Senate version contains several of its own amendments that enjoy bipartisan—though not always unanimous—support.

‘Broken and Alone’: Father Pens Scathing Letter to Top Brass After Losing Airman Son to Suicide

A grieving father who lost his son—an Airman at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico—to suicide this month has written an open letter to the service’s leadership, as well as the Joint Chiefs chairman and defense secretary, pleading for the military to confront alarming numbers of suicides within the ranks. Sean Stevenson said in the Nov. 22 letter that his son, 24-year-old Senior Airman Sean Ryan Stevenson, died Nov. 1 after the Air Force “let him down to the point he became broken and alone.”

Iran Claims It Has Finalized Long-Awaited Deal for Russian Fighter Jets, Helos

Breaking Defense

Iran has finalized a long-awaited deal with Russia to procure Sukhoi SU-35 fighters, attack helicopters, and military trainer aircraft, according to a senior defense official cited by local news agency Tasnim. “Plans have been finalized for Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, [military] Mi-28 attack helicopters, and Yak-130 jet trainers to join the combat units of Iran’s Army,” Iran’s deputy Defense Minister Mehdi Farahi reportedly told the outlet.

PODCAST: 4th Gen to 5th Gen Air Combat Evolution: Operator Perspectives

The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

In Episode 156 of the Aerospace Advantage podcast, host John ‘Slick’ Baum chats with Lt. Col. Gary Glojek and Lt. Col. Max Cover about how the combat Air Force inventory is evolving from a fourth-generation force to one increasingly populated by fifth-generation aircraft. Types like the A-10 are sunsetting. Others, like the F-16 will stay in the inventory for several more years, but in reduced quantities as F-35 numbers increase. Add this to the combination of F-22, F-35, B-2, and B-21, plus NGAD, and the Air Force is looking at a fundamentally reshaped combat inventory. Given Cover’s time in the F-16 and F-35, plus Glojek’s time in the A-10, these two Airmen are uniquely qualified to discuss this operational evolution.

South Korea Delays Its Own Spy Satellite Liftoff, Days after North’s Satellite Launch

The Associated Press

South Korea has postponed the planned launch of its first military spy satellite set for this Thursday, officials said, days after rival North Korea claimed to put its own spy satellite into orbit for the first time. Under a contract with SpaceX, South Korea is to launch five spy satellites by 2025, and its first launch using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket had been scheduled to take place at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in the United States.

Momentum Builds for Psychedelic Therapies for Troops, Vets

CQ Roll Call

After years of effort, momentum is building in Congress to explore a new path for service members and veterans struggling with psychological illnesses: psychedelics. Current legislative proposals include studies of the effectiveness of using psychedelics to treat PTSD among Active-Duty service members and veterans, reflecting a small but significant shift among lawmakers’ attitudes toward therapeutic use of the drugs.

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New Atomic-Scale Cooling Technology Could Unleash More Powerful Radar, Radios, EW Systems

Inside Defense

The Defense Department is reaching for a next-generation microelectronics advancement that promises order-of-magnitude improvements for radar, communications and electronic warfare systems by using diamonds to reduce heat in transistors, awarding Raytheon an applied research contract to demonstrate the efficacy of such novel cooling technology. On Nov. 16, Raytheon announced the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency had awarded the radar maker a four-year, $15 million contract “to increase the electronic capability of radio frequency with high-power-density gallium nitride transistors.

AI Has a Political Problem

Defense One

Left-leaning media outlets are more skeptical of artificial intelligence than right-leaning outlets, a new study shows, which could make a significant difference in voters’ attitudes toward military and government use of AI—as well as how those technologies are regulated. The study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science in September and made public last week, looked at the way media outlets such as the Washington Post, CNN, the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal, discussed AI, paying particular attention to specific sentiment tags to determine whether the coverage was positive or negative.

Signs Point to Less Range, Higher Performance for CCA Drones

The War Zone

The U.S. Air Force says it's considering drone designs capable of being aerial refueled for its Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program with range capabilities similar to its existing fighter aircraft. It has also revealed new details about what kind of payload it wants these highly autonomous uncrewed aircraft to have from the start, as well as a price tag that is at the top of what was supposedly being considered before.