A Ukrainian fighter jet returns from a mission after firing missiles on Russian positions on January 7, 2023 in Kherson, Ukraine.

A Ukrainian fighter jet returns from a mission after firing missiles on Russian positions on January 7, 2023 in Kherson, Ukraine. Pierre Crom / Getty Images

Will Roper’s startup; NATO talks Ukrainian fighter jets; Poland cleared to buy $10B in HIMARS; and more.

Former Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper is leading Istari, a startup that “plans to revolutionize the field of digital engineering, where all technology is created, tested, and even certified through modeling and simulation.”

The nine-month-old company, which raised $12 million in a seed round from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and other venture investors, “emerged from stealth mode” on Monday, according to a company statement.

“Excited to work with Eric Schmidt again! I founded Istari to make #digitalengineering easier,” Roper wrote Monday on LinkedIn.

"Software ate the world, and now hardware can too via the magic of collaborative models," he said in the company statement. "We can design things, test things—in general, learn things—faster, cheaper, and greener than the physical universe allows."

While at the Pentagon, Roper was among a number of top officials championing the use of digital engineering to more quickly design and build next-generation weapons.


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NATO defense ministers are expected to discuss sending fighter jets to Ukraine during meetings in Brussels on Tuesday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pushed for Western fighters during a visit to the U.K. last week. But our February 2022 story about the challenges and what needs to be done to make high-performance warplanes effective on the battlefield remains relevant today. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has cleared Poland to buy up to $10 billion in HIMARS rockets and launchers. “The proposed sale will improve Poland’s military goals of updating capability while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allies,” the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement. “Poland intends to use these defense articles and services to modernize its armed forces and expand its capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats. Poland will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.” The deal includes thousands of different rockets and 18 launchers.

The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a contract to maintain the guidance systems in its nuclear-tipped Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles until 2039. The Air Force is expected to field the Northrop Grumman-made Sentinel ICBM in 2029. If the schedules hold, that should allow for a decade-long transition from the Minuteman III to the Sentinel.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency awarded Maxar a contract that could be worth up to $192 million over five years for satellite imagery for U.S. allies. “Under the Foreign Commercial Imagery Program contract, Maxar will provide multiple U.S. allies and partners with commercial imagery services consisting of high-resolution electro-optical, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and 3D data products,” the company said.

Japan has ordered the Raytheon Technologies-made Joint Precision Approach and Landing System for its JS Izumo carrier. “The JPALS system guides aircraft onto carriers and amphibious assault ships in all weather and surface conditions and is integrated on the F-35,” Raytheon said.

Making Moves: General Dynamics has named Richard Clarke, a retired Army general and former head of U.S. Special Operations command, to its board of directors.