While USSF Budget Dips, Funds for New Nuclear Command and Control Satellites Jump

The Space Force is ramping up its plans to develop and deploy a new nuclear command, control, and communications satellite constellation, even as other parts of its budget take a hit. In the fiscal 2025 budget request released earlier this month, the service asked for nearly $1.05 billion for research, development, test, and evaluation of its Evolved Strategic SATCOM (ESS) program—a hefty $413 million increase over its 2024 request even as the Space Force’s RDT&E budget overall took a $500 million hit. 

Niger Junta Calls for US to Leave, but Pentagon Says Troops Remain at Air Bases for Now

Niger's ruling military junta says U.S. troops must leave the country, which would deprive the U.S. military of key air bases used for counterterrorism operations including one that the U.S. military spent $100 million dollars to build just a few years ago. But the Pentagon isn’t giving up hope of losing their presence in the restive Sahel region of Africa just yet, U.S. officials said March 18.

Air National Guard No. 2 Nominated to Become New Director

President Joe Biden has nominated Maj. Gen. Duke A. Pirak to pin on a third star and become the next director of the Air National Guard, the Pentagon announced March 18. If confirmed by the Senate, Pirak will replace the current head of the ANG, Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh, who is set to retire in the coming months as he nears the end of his four-year tenure. Pirak already serves as Loh’s No. 2 as the deputy director of the Air National Guard, a job he has held since February 2022.

Radar Sweep

Alaska Airman Who Died on Duty Identified, Loaded Weapons on F-22s

Task & Purpose

An Air Force munitions and weapons specialist died from injuries suffered while on duty at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Air Force officials said March 18. Staff Sgt. Charles A. Crumlett, 25, of Streamwood, Ill., was weapons lead crew chief with the 90th Fighter Generation Squadron when he died “in the line of duty” March 15.

Taiwan’s Tough Call on How to Stop China: Bigger Weapons or Lots of Cheap Ones

The Wall Street Journal

David shouldn’t rely too much on slingshots to repel Goliath. He’ll need plenty of tanks and jet fighters too. That is the takeaway for defense officials and scholars in Taiwan from the latest developments in Ukraine, where Kyiv has struggled to block Russian advances while waiting for allies to deliver more powerful hardware. The need for heavy weapons has been a point of contention between Taipei and Washington in discussing how Taiwan would blunt a Chinese attempt to seize the island.

Largest Number of A-10s Yet Could Be Headed to Boneyard as Air Force Shifts Strategy and Aircraft


The Air Force is hoping to retire more A-10 Warthogs in 2025, as the service continues to readjust its overall strategies and future aircraft based on China’s growing threat in the Pacific. In their 2025 budget request, Air Force officials are hoping to retire 250 aircraft—with 56 of those divestments being A-10s. If passed, it would mark the largest number of the close-air support stalwarts sent to the boneyard—the final resting place for scrapped aircraft.

National Reconnaissance Office Embracing Mix of Big and Small Satellites


The National Reconnaissance Office is pursuing a hybrid approach to its future architecture of spy satellites, leveraging both traditional large satellites and newer small satellites in low Earth orbit, a senior agency official said March 18. Troy Meink, principal deputy director of the NRO, said in a keynote speech at the Satellite 2024 conference that the NRO sees value in leveraging new commercial capabilities for certain missions where small satellites can meet requirements at lower cost. But the agency also continues investing in bigger, more capable satellite buses and launch vehicles for its most critical needs.

SDA’s Data Relay, Missile Tracking Networks to Be Operational by End of 2025: Tournear

Breaking Defense

The Space Development Agency’s planned constellations for data relay and missile warning/missile tracking will be operational and providing service to commanders on a region-by-region basis by the end of 2025, according to SDA Director Derek Tournear. The agency’s current fleet of 28 satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), called Tranche 0, is designed to demonstrate capabilities and work out the kinks for accomplishing both missions, but the next generation, called Tranche 1, will be capable for “real use,” he told the annual Satellite conference in Washington, D.C.

Pentagon Won’t Say If Troop Deployment Tempo Exceeds Recommended Goal

Military Times

The Defense Department is still operating under a 2021 policy that sets a goal for active-duty units to spend three months at home for every month they spend deployed, a spokeswoman confirmed to Military Times, but the Pentagon won’t disclose how often it’s being met. The policy, which technically expired in November but is still part of the department’s force management guidance, includes a waiver process for units to revert to the mandatory minimum 1:2 deployment-to-dwell ratio, but the numbers on waiver requests and approvals are classified, Army Maj. Grace Geiger said.

Japan Set to Lift Export Restrictions on F-X Fighter Jet

Defense News

The Japanese government is taking steps to allow the export of a stealth fighter jet currently under development with the United Kingdom and Italy. The move comes amid a shift in Japan’s security strategy and as the country loosens stringent post-war export regulations targeting weaponry. Under revised rules, Japan had approved the transfer of radars to the Philippines and the delivery of Patriot missiles to the U.S. last year.

A Better Way to Give Pay Raises to Junior Enlisted? Key Senator Says It’s Under Consideration This Year.


Reforms to junior enlisted pay will be among the Senate Armed Services Committee's considerations when it debates its annual defense policy bill in the coming months, the committee’s chairman said March 18. Speaking to reporters during a Defense Writers Group conference call, Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., said his panel is considering whether there is a “better model” to boost pay for lower-ranking service members than the annual across-the-board raises.

Tournear: Deorbiting Services Could Have Cost-Saving Benefits for SDA


Space Development Agency Director Derek Tournear is considering how planning for future satellite deorbiting could save the organization money down the line. “That’s something that I’m really interested in, because I want to be able to take more risks on my satellites, not have redundant propulsion and things like that,” he said March 18 during a keynote at the annual Satellite conference.

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Largest US Base in Middle East Works Nonstop to Get Aid by Air into Gaza

Stars and Stripes

Work has been going on around the clock since the beginning of this month at the largest U.S. base in the Middle East as Soldiers and Airmen scurry to assemble aid pallets for airdrops to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. On the Al Udeid flightline March 16, service members loaded two Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes with more than 28,800 military rations and 34,500 bottles of water.

New Zealand in AUKUS ‘No Guarantee,’ but Discussions Active: Defense Minister

Breaking Defense

While momentum towards New Zealand joining up as an AUKUS Pillar II partner seems building, the country’s new defense minister tells Breaking Defense that any decision is likely a long time away. The first briefing of the relatively new, conservative government here on AUKUS took place in late February, during a visit by Australian defense officials to Wellington. But Judith Collins, New Zealand’s Minister of Defence said the discussion was a background briefing only and not intended to address all of the issues of New Zealand joining.

China’s Moon Plans Worry Space Force

Defense One

The Space Force is concerned about China’s plans to operate on and around the Moon, which could enable new ways to attack U.S. satellites. Like the United States, China is racing to put astronauts on the Moon by the end of the decade—leading Pentagon leaders to consider what new capabilities China might field if and when it gets there.

One More Thing

‘The Bloody Hundredth’ Documentary Puts Real Faces to TV Show’s Heroes

Air Force Times

The World War II story of the Eighth Air Force’s 100th Bomb Group, which came to be known as the “Bloody Hundredth,” made its way to TV screens this year with the release of the Steven Spielberg-Tom Hanks series “Masters of the Air.” For viewers looking to learn more about the larger-than-life troops depicted on the show, a companion documentary titled “The Bloody Hundredth” is just the ticket.