US, UK, Australia Agree to New Space Tracking System: What It Means, When It’s Coming

The U.S., U.K., and Australia have agreed to place advanced space tracking radar sites in their countries in a major new initiative that will expand the AUKUS agreement. The three countries will host and operate the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC), a state-of-the-art ground-based radar system by the end of the decade. “It is all in process, it is in motion, and it is real,” Dr. Mara Karlin, the Department of Defense’s number two policy official, told Air & Space Forces Magazine in an interview at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Dec. 2, a day after the new AUKUS agreements were reached.

Now Enlisted Airmen Can Stay in Uniform Longer

The Air Force is extending the amount of time Airmen can spend at most enlisted ranks by two years, as the service looks to combat sluggish recruiting and balance its force structure. The High Year of Tenure (HYT) program sets limits on how long service members can spend in each grade before they must either earn promotion or be separated—it is sometimes called the “up or out” rule. The changes to the program, detailed in a memo leaked to Reddit this week and confirmed by an Air Force spokesperson, affect all Airmen from grades E-1 to E-8. 

Remembering Pardo’s Push

Retired Lt. Col. Bob Pardo, a decorated Air Force fighter pilot and Vietnam veteran, died Dec. 5, 2023, in College Station, Texas. He was 89. In his memory, Air & Space Forces Magazine is republishing this October 1996 article recounting the story of “Pardo’s Push,” which has become Air Force legend.

Radar Sweep

A Gigantic New ICBM Will Take US Nuclear Missiles out of the Cold War-Era But Add 21st-Century Risks

The Associated Press

The control stations for America’s nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles have a sort of 1980s retro look, with computing panels in sea foam green, bad lighting and chunky control switches, including a critical one that says “launch.” Those underground capsules are about to be demolished and the missile silos they control will be completely overhauled. A new nuclear missile is coming, a gigantic ICBM called the Sentinel. It’s the largest cultural shift in the land leg of the Air Force’s nuclear missile mission in 60 years. But there are questions as to whether some of the Cold War-era aspects of the Minuteman missiles that the Sentinel will replace should be changed.

With New Threats, ‘CYBERCOM 2.0’ Must Push Past ‘Status Quo’: Nakasone

Breaking Defense

While the Pentagon and Congress are still weighing the pros and cons of standing up an independent cyber branch akin to the Space Force, the director of US Cyber Command said Dec. 8 that he’s concentrating on evolving to “CYBERCOM 2.0.” “I think all options are on the table except status quo,” Gen. Paul Nakasone said at an event hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. “So we have to have…[a] cyber force 2.0…CYBERCOM 2.0. … We built our force in 2012 and 2013. We’ve had tremendous experience. But the scope, scale, sophistication of the threat has changed.”

US Needs to Respond to Houthis after Red Sea Attacks, Former Middle East Commander Says


Retired Gen. Frank McKenzie, who commanded all U.S. forces in the Middle East for three years during the Trump and Biden presidencies, believes President Joe Biden should respond more forcefully to attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea—even as top administration officials remain wary of provoking Iran. The former head of U.S. Central Command said Iran has taken the lack of a strong U.S. military response to the recent spike in Tehran-backed Houthi attacks on civilian vessels, which pose a threat to U.S. warships, as an invitation to continue its aggressive behavior.

Back Pay Floated for Officers Whose Promotions Were Delayed by Tuberville While Handful Still Await Confirmation

Generals and admirals whose promotions were delayed for months by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., could get back pay for the time they were waiting to be confirmed under bipartisan legislation unveiled Friday. The bill comes as a couple of dozen officers are still waiting to be promoted despite the Senate clearing 425 nominees from the backlog earlier this week. In addition to 12 four-star nominees that Tuberville is still blocking, another Republican senator has said he is delaying a few military nominees over their support for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

Pentagon Unveils First Iteration of Joint Electromagnetic Visualization Tool


Commanders now have a tool to visualize and plan operations within the invisible confines of the electromagnetic spectrum. Electromagnetic Battle Management—Joint (EMBM-J) released its minimum viable capability release for the first iteration of the tool, called situational awareness, according to the Defense Information Systems Agency, the manager for the program.

The 2024 Defense Policy Bill Has a Lot of Cyber

Defense One

Lawmakers have finalized the must-pass annual defense policy bill that authorizes $874.2 billion for the Pentagon and other national security programs amid fervor from staunch conservatives—and quite a few tech amendments.

PODCAST: Affordable Mass: Understanding Next-Gen Munitions Requirements

The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

In Episode 158 of the Aerospace Advantage podcast, Doug Birkey chats with Mark Gunzinger and Jim Young, Executive Program Director, Precision Engagement Systems-Direct Attack, Boeing. Most DOD air-to-surface munitions were designed for U.S. campaigns of the past 30 years in which its forces confronted lesser regional militaries operating weak air defenses. DOD is now planning for conflicts with peer adversaries. This is why the Air Force is acquiring fifth generation F-35 fighters and B-21 stealth bombers. However, new stealth aircraft are only as effective as the weapons they can deliver. Developing multiple variants of mid-range, stand-in precision guided munitions suitable for operations in contested environments is crucial.

Experts Raise Concerns about US Commitment to GPS Modernization


Members of a key advisory board questioned the U.S. military’s commitment to deliver enhancements to the Global Positioning System, arguing that the network is at risk of falling behind other satellite navigation systems built by Europe and China. The critique came at last week’s annual meeting of the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Advisory Board.

Pentagon’s Acquisition Deputy Plumb Talks Stockpiles, Industrial Base

Defense News

The conference table at the center of Radha Plumb’s Pentagon office has two large maps sitting underneath a glass plate. One is of Taiwan, and the second Ukraine. There’s hardly a better image of the demands faced by her staff. As deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, Plumb is responsible for helping solve some of the Defense Department’s most vexing problems, from increasing industrial capacity to reforming the arcane Foreign Military Sales process.

One More Thing

Air Force Safety Trey Taylor Captures Jim Thorpe Award as Nation's Top Defensive Back

Colorado Springs Gazette

Air Force’s Trey Taylor picked off one of college football’s most prestigious awards on Dec. 8. The senior safety was named the Jim Thorpe Award winner during a live broadcast on ESPN. The award goes to the nation’s top defensive back “based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character.” Taylor is the second Falcons football player to win a major college football individual honor, joining Chad Hennings (Outland Trophy) in 1987.