US Drone Thwarts Militia Attack on American Troops in Iraq

The U.S. conducted a drone strike in Iraq on Dec. 3, as the American troops there continue to be targeted by Iranian-backed militants. The strike took place near Kirkuk as the militants were preparing to attack U.S. troops in northern Iraq, a U.S. official told Air & Space Forces Magazine. A half dozen airstrikes have been carried out by the U.S. against Iranian-aligned militias in Iraq and Syria in roughly five weeks, but this appears to be first one known to have been carried out by a drone.

To Counter Laser Weapons, Air Force Creates Better Eye Protection

Whether it be civilians pointing commercial laser pointers in the sky or adversaries using military-grade lasers, USAF aviators face eye damage or potentially fatal distraction. Looking to counter these threats, members of the Aircrew Laser Eye Protection Program are working to roll out “Block 3” of the Air Force’s protective eyewear. 
421st Fighter Squadron returns to Hill AFB

Air Force Announces Not One, But Two Bonus Programs to Retain Aviators in 2024

The Air Force is renaming its traditional aviation bonus program in 2024 and continuing a new, experimental second program, ordered by Congress, aimed at getting aviators to extend their commitment sooner and for longer. While the programs can’t be doubled-up, aviators may be able to move from one to the other, depending on their circumstances and the needs of the Air Force.
air force suicide

Air Force’s Most Comprehensive Suicide Study Still Not Complete

The Department of the Air Force is still working on a first-of-its-kind suicide analysis that is meant to help the service refine its prevention and response efforts. Originally due in the spring, the Standardized Suicide Fatality Analysis report is taking longer than expected because this is the branch’s first time attempting such a study and the service wants to get it right.

Radar Sweep

CCA Loyal Wingman Could Lose ‘a Year’ of Progress Due to Congressional Budget Logjam: Kendall

Breaking Defense

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

The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

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.

Anduril Unveils Jet-Powered Interceptor Designed to Down Enemy Drones, Missiles

Defense One

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?

US, UK, Australia Sign Agreement to Jointly Operate Deep Space Radar Network


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.

No More Late Night Alcohol Sales: Army and Air Force Exchange Stores to Ban the Practice Next Month

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 Green-Lights Procurement of 3 ‘Pretty Special’ RDER Capabilities


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.

Canada Taps into US Military Satellites for Mobile Communications


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.

Members Want $26 Billion for Programs the Pentagon Didn’t Seek

CQ Roll Call

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.

US, Australia Eye Joint Hypersonics Experiments in 2024

Defense News

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.

F-35 ‘Franken-Bird’ Being Made from Two Badly Damaged Jets

The War Zone

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.

One More Thing

Here Are All the Airplanes and Easter Eggs in the Amazing Skunk Works Video

Task & Purpose

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.