USAF B-2s Fly with British F-35s Over the North Sea

U.S. Air Force B-2 bombers teamed up with the U.K.’s Royal Air Force F-35 Lightning IIs to fly across Europe’s North Sea in a single-day exercise. A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, U.K., providing air-to-air refueling for the mission. Following the mission, one of the B-2s returned to Whiteman on the same day, and another landed at RAF Fairford.

Congress Passes NDAA, Provides 5.2 Percent Pay Raise for Every Airman, Guardian

Congress finally passed the National Defense Authorization Act and sent its 3,000 pages to the White House for President Biden’s signature. The annual defense policy bill was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support, as the Senate and House voted it through on Dec. 13 and 14, respectively.  Included is a 5.2 percent pay raise, the largest in 20 years, and new rules governing the basic needs allowance.

BAH Rising 5.4%, But Some Bases Are Getting Much More

The Pentagon announced the release of updated basic allowance for housing rates for 2024 on Dec. 14, with an average increase of 5.4 percent across the board—less than half of last year’s huge 12.1 percent jump, but still one of the biggest increases this decade. The new rates will kick in Jan. 1, 2024 and increases vary by location. 

Radar Sweep

Most Americans Would Discourage Young People from Joining Military as Enlisted Service Members, Report Says

Most Americans would discourage a young person close to them from enlisting in the military, but a wide majority would encourage them to join as an officer, according to a new Rand Corp. study published this week. The study found that 54.4 percent of respondents would dissuade a 17-year-old relative from joining the military as an enlisted service member, though nearly two-thirds of Americans would encourage them to go the officer route, either through a service academy or the Reserve Officer Training Corps, also known as ROTC.

Air Force Aims to Debut New PT Uniforms in March

Air Force Times

The Air Force’s new physical training uniforms are slated to hit shelves in March, bringing Airmen a fresh set of workout gear nearly two years later than initially promised. Their debut will mark the first major update to the service’s athleticwear in almost two decades, aiming to make airmen more comfortable during their sweat sessions.

RTX CEO Greg Hayes to Step Down in May

Defense One

Christopher Calio will be the next CEO of RTX, replacing long-time leader Greg Hayes when he steps down in May in what the company called “a planned leadership transition.” The move comes as the company works to increase production of key weapons given to the Ukrainian military and grapples with quality issues in its airliner engine manufacturing business.

China Launches Mystery Reusable Spaceplane for Third Time


China launched its experimental reusable spacecraft for the third time Dec. 14 while maintaining strict secrecy around the mission. A Long March 2F rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert Dec. 14, sending a “reusable test spacecraft” into low Earth orbit, Chinese language state media Xinhua reported.

Space Force Budget Must Keep Growing to Support Mission, Thompson Says


In the four years since Congress established the U.S. Space Force, its budget has doubled. That growth needs to continue in order to meet the increasing demand for space capabilities, according to one of the service’s top officials. Gen. David Thompson, who retires this week from his post as the vice chief of space operations, said that as the Space Force takes on new responsibilities and missions, it needs the resources to match.

89 Department of Air Force New Starts at Risk Unless Congress Acts on Budget: Official

Breaking Defense

Congress’s failure to pass a fiscal 2024 budget is putting 89 new starts, or brand new programs, for the Department of the Air Force (DAF) at risk, a top service official said Dec. 14. Though lawmakers this week passed next year’s National Defense Authorization Act, there has been no movement on an accompanying budget or an over $100 billion supplemental package championed by the White House. The budget impasse that resulted in a continuing resolution (CR) beginning in October, “would stop 89 new starts” for the DAF—which encompasses the Air Force and Space Force—and specifically stymie 19 modernization initiatives meant to counter China should it continue too long, according to Kristyn Jones who is performing the duties of the undersecretary of the Air Force.

GE’s Breakthrough in ‘Detonating’ Hypersonic Propulsion Is a Big Deal

The War Zone

GE Aerospace says it successfully demonstrated an advanced jet propulsion concept that involves a dual-mode ramjet design utilizing rotating detonation combustion. This could offer a pathway to the development of new aircraft and missiles capable of flying efficiently at high supersonic and even hypersonic speeds across long distances.

Pentagon Eyeing ‘Bridging’ Solutions for JADC2


Developing new technologies and architectures to enable the U.S. military’s ambitious vision for Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control may take a while. In the near term, the Department of Defense needs “bridging” solutions that might be discarded once better capabilities come online, according to a top official overseeing the initiative.

Senate Approves Back Pay for Military Officers Caught in Tuberville’s Blockade


The Senate on Dec. 14 approved legislation to grant back pay to senior military officers whose promotions were delayed for months by Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold on nominations. The Alabama senator had blocked confirmation of general and flag officer promotions for 10 months in protest over the Pentagon’s policy of reimbursing troops who travel to seek abortions. He finally relented last week, allowing more than 400 military nominees to be confirmed.

One More Thing

Legendary Combat Controller from Task Force Dagger Dies at 51

Task & Purpose

Retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt Alan T. Yoshida, a combat controller who was awarded the Silver Star as one of the original special operations soldiers that routed the Taliban in 2001, died peacefully on Dec. 9 at the age of 51. … Yoshida served in the Air Force from February 1991 until August 2019 and in addition to the Silver Star, his other military awards include the Bronze Star with “V” device and Purple Heart, according to the Air Force.