Growing Commercial SATCOM Raises Trust Issues for Pentagon

News last fall that SpaceX owner and CEO Elon Musk restricted the Ukrainian military’s use of his Starlink satellite broadband service to stymie an attack on Russian forces highlighted the extraordinary power wielded in that war by a single business owner with some outlandish ideas. But beyond the antics and the angst associated with Musk and his controversial views, Starlink and its competitors are leading tectonic shifts in the commercial market for global satellite communications (SATCOM)—and driving emerging geopolitical risks for nation-state customers, including the U.S.

AFCENT Boss: New Deployment Model May Require ‘More Sustained’ Key Positions

The sweeping changes the Air Force is proposing as part of its re-optimization initiative are intended to strengthen the Pentagon’s ability to deal with China’s growing military might. But they have important implications for the American military posture in the Middle East as well, the top Air Force commander for the Middle East, Lt. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich, said April 3.

Pentagon’s Only Aerial Spray Unit Tests Its Life-Saving Mission on New C-130J

The 910th Airlift Wing, based at Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, is the Defense Department’s only large-area, fixed wing aerial spray unit, and late last month they took the mission into the future by testing their spray equipment on the new C-130J-30 Super Hercules, which is due to replace the wing’s current workhorse, the H model of the C-130.

Radar Sweep

Taiwan's Strongest Earthquake in 25 Years Kills 9 People, 50 Missing


Taiwan's biggest earthquake in at least 25 years killed nine people on April 3 and injured more than 900, while 50 workers travelling in minibuses to a hotel in a national park were missing. ... Taiwan's air force said six F-16 fighter jets had been slightly damaged at a major base in the city from which jets are often scrambled to see off incursions by China's air force, but the aircraft are expected to return to service very soon.

Ukraine Lowers Its Conscription Age to 25 to Replenish Its Beleaguered Troops

The Associated Press

Ukraine lowered its draft-eligible age for men from 27 to 25 on April 3, reflecting the strain that more than two years of war with Russia has put on its military and the need to infuse its depleted ranks with new conscripts. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed three bills into law aimed at strengthening the country’s beleaguered forces, which are trying to hold the front lines in fighting that has sapped Ukraine’s ranks and stores of weapons and ammunition.

Air Force Proposes Bypassing Governors in 7 States to Move Guard Units into Space Force

Air Force officials have submitted a legislative proposal to Congress that would sidestep governors in seven states and move Air National Guard units with space missions into the Space Force, angering National Guard supporters. The National Guard Association of the United States, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying organization that goes by NGAUS, said in a statement to that draft legislation approved March 15 by Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall seeks to “bypass the long-standing requirement in federal law for the Pentagon to obtain a governor’s consent before transferring a National Guard unit to another branch of the military.”

US Plan to Deliver Aid from Gaza Pier in Doubt after WCK Strike


The Biden administration has reached out to the United Nations to help distribute aid from a U.S. military-built pier to desperate civilians in Gaza—but the arrangement might be in peril after an Israeli drone strike that killed seven aid workers in the enclave on April 1.

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Air Force to Write Affordability into CCA Requirements

Inside Defense

The Air Force will write affordability into the requirements for its Collaborative Combat Aircraft, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin said last week. “We are really looking at the CCA differently than other weapon systems, and I think industry has responded to that,” Allvin said during an event hosted by Defense One. “Frankly, it’s quite encouraging.”

F-16 Aggressor Squadron in Alaska Becomes Unique Air Defense Unit

The War Zone

The 18th Aggressor Squadron (AGRS) based in Eielson AFB near Fairbanks, Alaska, has changed its designation to the 18th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS). This is a major switch and the first time the FIS designation has been applied to a USAF squadron since shortly after the end of the Cold War. The change is telling as it underscores the morphing security situation both in the Arctic and the Pacific, as well as the USAF's priorities in the region.

Air Force Reserve’s First F-35 Fighters to Arrive in August

Air Force Times

The 301st Fighter Wing doesn’t have to go far to get a glimpse of its future. Based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, the Air Force Reserve wing has a strategic vantage point near Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Lightning II production line: It’s right across the street.

US Military Deploys New JADC2 Capability to Middle East


U.S. Central Command is using a new Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) product to help pass and digest data amid ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, according to a top officer. The Pentagon’s JADC2 warfighting concept aims to connect sensors and shooters from across the U.S. military under a more unified network to enable faster and more effective decision-making and employment of forces, with the aid of artificial intelligence and other enabling tools.

Iran ‘Not Interested in’ Wider Regional Conflict, Despite Escalating Tensions: Air Force General

Breaking Defense

Though Iran’s support for its proxies in the Middle East continues, a top U.S. commander in the region said April 3 that Tehran is not courting a wider war. “I do continue to assess that the Iranians are not interested in a broader regional conflict,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central (AFCENT), said during a breakfast with reporters hosted by the Defense Writers Group.

China Launches First of a New Series of Yaogan Reconnaissance Satellites


China launched its first Yaogan-42 satellite late April 2, adding to the country’s growing military satellite reconnaissance capabilities. A Long March 2D rocket lifted off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 6:56 p.m. Eastern (2256 UTC). The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) announced launch success within the hour. CASC’s statement also revealed the previously unknown payload to be Yaogan-42 (01) (“remote sensing-42 (01)”).

One More Thing

Guard Units May Assist with Solar Eclipse Tourists Facing Dark Times

Military Times

A total solar eclipse will cross over North America on April 8, briefly shadowing cities and towns from Texas to Maine. And while this time Bonnie Tyler is not expected to serenade anyone with a pop ballad, those flocking around the country to catch a glimpse of the eclipse can expect that troops are ready to rise above the distant horizon to assist first responders, should the need arise. National Guard units and military installations from states in the path of totality—where the moon temporarily, completely covers the sun—are arranging plans ahead of a predicted tourism surge.