The past week has seen new rounds of violence across the Middle East, deepening fears of conflict spreading in an already unstable region. Here is a brief guide to what has happened—and where it might lead.
As the second anniversary of Russia’s all-out invasion nears on Feb. 24, Ukraine’s military prospects appear to be dimming. It has abandoned hopes of a swift victory and is instead girding itself for a drawn-out war. One western official working on Ukraine policy believes there is “little prospect of an operational breakthrough by either side in 2024” let alone in the next few months.
As the Department of Commerce (DoC) gears up a new space tracking system to help commercial satellite operators avoid on-orbit smashups, the Space Force will be looking to see if it can leverage data gathered by DoC to enhance its own efforts to improve space domain awareness (SDA), the service’s newly confirmed vice chief said.
An industry team has for the first time destroyed an aerial target using a high-power shot with its DragonFire laser, the British Defence Ministry announced Jan. 19. The trial with the direct-energy weapon is considered a significant milestone toward the deployment of the system, possibly within five years.
U.S. Cyber Command plans to begin integration of the disparate factions of its warfighting platform this year. The Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture, or JCWA, was first envisioned in 2019 as a way of getting a better handle on the capabilities, platforms and programs the command is designing and setting priorities for the Department of Defense and its industry partners that are building them.
In episode 164 of the Aerospace Advantage podcast, John “Slick” Baum chats with Col. Keith “Ghost” Butler, long-time B-2 pilot and commander of America’s sole stealth bomber wing. The ability to attack any target around the globe anytime is a unique asymmetric advantage for the United States. Key policy options fundamentally rely on the B-2 and the men and women who fly and sustain the aircraft. The 509th is on call 24/7 to execute both nuclear deterrence and conventional strike missions—a tremendous responsibility.
U.S. lawmakers have banned the Defense Department from buying batteries produced by China’s biggest manufacturers, furthering efforts in Washington to decouple the Pentagon’s supply chain from its geopolitical rival. The rule implemented as part of the latest National Defense Authorization Act that passed on Dec. 22 will prevent procuring batteries from Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., BYD Co. and four other Chinese companies beginning in October 2027.
“The Pentagon warned in its annual report to Congress last year that China already possesses ‘the world’s leading hypersonic arsenal’ and is sprinting to field even more advanced offensive capabilities. These weapons would give Beijing a capability to conduct a prompt strike that paralyzes America’s command-and-control and missile-defense capabilities. The good news is that the United States is making progress on its own offensive hypersonic weapons. The bad news is that American efforts to develop systems that can defend against Chinese hypersonic capabilities are not keeping pace,” writes retired Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery and Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank.
As American warships burn through expensive missiles against Houthi targets in the Red Sea and Yemen, lawmakers, lobbyists and the Navy are angling to use a multibillion-dollar national security supplemental to replenish the military’s inventory of munitions. The move further raises the stakes for the supplemental, which has seen a months-long, partisan fight over funding for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and the border. While a desire for munitions funding is bipartisan, the high level of wrangling between the parties means that including it in the supplemental isn’t a sure thing.
Boeing has completed the final step for the KC-46A's Remote Vision System 2.0 critical design review, sending the application over to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Boeing spokesperson told Inside Defense. The move comes after the Air Force said in November that it was working on a plan for the FAA airworthiness certification of commercial-off-the-shelf cameras and had hoped to finish the process by the end of the calendar year.
As many as 121 unmarked graves in a former Black cemetery have been discovered at a U.S. Air Force base in Florida, military officials confirmed. A non-intrusive archaeological survey performed over the past two years at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa identified 58 probable graves and 63 possible graves, base officials said Jan. 18. ... The Tampa Bay History Center notified MacDill officials about the possible Black cemetery in 2019, and the base hosted a memorial service in 2021, dedicating a memorial on-site to those buried there.