The Air Force Research Laboratory issued a plan to harness technology to more effectively track, and sustain the oldest average aircraft fleet the Air Force has ever operated, officials announced. The Sustainment Science and Technology Strategy, published in June, lays out a plan to “start with improving sustainment and making the job easier and move to harnessing digital capabilities,” said Joe Baker, AFRL’s head of sustainment in a July 8 release. “Looking into the future we know we cannot recapitalize at the pace the Air Force originally planned, so AFRL is investing to help ensure our fleet is operational and economical for a long time to come,” he added. The new strategy highlights AFRL’s ideas for preserving airframes and structures, introducing new fabrication processes, using high-tech diagnostics, and improving manufacturing, according to the release. “By harnessing the digital age, we will be better informed to make improved decisions on how to most affordably maintain our fleet,” Baker said.
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."