OTV-2, the Air Force’s second unmanned X-37B reusable spaceplane, successfully returned to Earth on June 16 after 469 days in orbit. The orbital test vehicle landed at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., at 5:48 a.m. West Coast time, said Vandenberg officials in a release. The Air Force has not disclosed the exact nature of the experimental spaceplane’s activities during the mission, saying only the vehicle performed risk-reduction tasks, experimentation, and helped to develop concepts of operation for reusable space vehicle technologies. “The X-37B’s advanced thermal protection and solar power systems, and environmental modeling and range safety technologies are just some of the technologies being tested,” said Lt. Col. Tom McIntyre, X-37B program manager. “Each mission helps us continue to advance the state-of-the-art in these areas.” (Includes Washington, D.C., report by TSgt. Julie Weckerlein)
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.