Defense Head Calls Out Those Who Advocate Isolationism And ‘an American Retreat from Responsibility’
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday denounced those who advocate “an American retreat from responsibility” and said sustained U.S. leadership is needed to help keep the world as safe, free and prosperous as possible. He also urged Congress to end the partisan gridlock that has stalled the federal budget and war spending.
The Pentagon’s high-tech unmanned wingman project could face a serious delay of up to a year if Congress does not pass a full budget soon, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall warned Dec. 2. The effort, formally known as the Collaborative Combat Aircraft, is one of the service’s priority efforts. But it’s just one of the items that will face headwinds should Congress finalize a budget before the Feb. 2 deadline and instead keeps going with a stopgap Continuing Resolution, which holds spending steady at prior-year levels but largely prohibits starting new programs or ramping up existing ones.
PODCAST: Congressional Defense Update; B-21 First Flight; Spacepower Considerations, and a China Update
In Episode 157 of the Aerospace Advantage podcast, host John “Slick” Baum chats with members of the Mitchell Institute team about the latest defense developments in the beltway and the broader national security community, including defense bills stand in Congress and continuing resolution implications. Panelists also explore the latest developments regarding the B-21’s first flight and what the future will hold for the program, and also explain why the T-7’s arrival at Edwards is so important. The conversation then assesses the latest in spacepower news developments and wraps with an extensive national security assessment regarding China, especially the recent meeting between President Biden and President Xi.
For the past two years, Anduril Industries has been secretly building what executives say is a first-of-a-kind, turbojet-powered craft that can down incoming drones or missiles, perform reconnaissance, and handle other missions. Called Road Runner, the six-foot, delta-winged craft can take off and land vertically and fly autonomously. So is it a missile or a drone?
As part of the trilateral security partnership known as AUKUS, a network of three space-tracking radars will be set up in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The three nations announced Dec. 2 they will host and operate the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC), a next generation ground-based sensor funded by the U.S. Space Force and currently being developed by Northrop Grumman.
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, or AAFES, says that beginning Jan. 1 it will no longer sell alcohol between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. at its stores in the U.S. and around the world. The change on Army and Air Force bases is meant to support the Pentagon’s suicide prevention initiative, which said that limiting when alcohol is available “reduces heavy drinking and other adverse outcomes associated with alcohol misuse,” including suicide, according to Defense Department research and recommendations.
Pentagon leaders have approved the procurement of three “pretty special” capabilities that were tested under the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER) initiative, the department’s chief technology officer said Dec. 2. RDER is a signature initiative of Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu that started about two years ago. It includes a series of technology “sprints” to identify and experiment with prototypes in order to more rapidly field new systems, close capability gaps and address joint warfighting requirements, particularly for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
The Canadian Department of National Defense became the first international partner to access the U.S. Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite network, the U.S. Space Force announced Nov. 30. MUOS, developed by the U.S. Navy, is used for voice, video, and data transmissions over a narrowband network of satellites in geosynchronous orbit—four operational satellites and one on-orbit spare. The Navy in March 2023 handed over the system to the Space Force.
House and Senate appropriators have added into their two fiscal 2024 Defense spending bills a combined $25.7 billion the Pentagon did not formally seek for more than 1,200 research and procurement projects, according to a CQ Roll Call analysis of a watchdog group’s previously undisclosed database. The House-passed Defense appropriations bill would add $10.7 billion into these weapons accounts for 580 different programs. The Senate’s companion measure contains nearly $15 billion inserted by senators for an almost completely different set of 636 weapons projects, according to the Taxpayers for Common Sense database.
The U.S. Defense Department plans to conduct joint hypersonics experiments with the Australian military as soon as next year, according to the Pentagon’s chief technology officer. Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, told reporters Dec. 2 at the Reagan National Defense Forum that the countries have been deepening their partnership on hypersonics over the last year.
Large sections of two U.S. Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighters that were seriously damaged in separate accidents years ago are being grafted together into a single fully operational jet. The hope is that the process of creating this aircraft, which has been nicknamed the "Franken-bird," will demonstrate new equipment and procedures and help improve and expand the U.S. military's capacity to repair or repurpose severely damaged F-35s in the future.
The Skunk Works is the most famous airplane builder on earth, which is a little ironic for a factory that builds top secret planes. … Founded 80 years ago by legendary aircraft designed Kelly Johnson, the Skunk Works began as an unremarkable hangar in Burbank, California, then rotated through a series of workshops-slash-hiding spots that included an abandoned distillery (there were still barrels of booze on the factory floor) and a giant circus tent under which Kelly and his engineers built the P-80 Shooting Star. As a final commemoration of the factory’s anniversary year, Lockheed released a new video in November that celebrates 80 years of Skunk Works projects.