Rolls-Royce won the Air Force's B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program contract with its F130 engine.

Rolls-Royce won the Air Force's B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program contract with its F130 engine. Rolls-Royce via Defense Department

The Air & Space Brief: New B-52 engines will ‘never come off’; ‘Continuous vetting’ aims to expand to social media; Shatner launch delayed...

Welcome to the Defense One Air and Space newsletter. Here are our top stories this week:  

New B-52 engines to “never come off”: The new Rolls-Royce replacement engines for the B-52 Stratofortress will never need to be removed for maintenance, Tom Bell, Rolls-Royce president of Defence and chairman and CEO of Rolls-Royce North America, told Defense One during the Global Business Briefing Thursday. That’s an important readiness achievement, as removing engines from military aircraft increases the chance that a part is broken in the process, which can sideline an aircraft for months. 

The Pentagon has begun “continuous vetting” of all troops to monitor for security issues, including extremism, the service announced last week. It’s the first time all service members have been covered by the program, which at present looks at major criminal databases but has plans to expand into social media monitoring. 

Tyndall Air Force Base was rebuilt to withstand 165 mph winds and to new flood and sea level rise standards after it was ravaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018, and is just one example of the many ways DOD is having to adapt to extreme weather, the Pentagon revealed last week in its 2021 climate plan. The services are all preparing plans for how “extreme environments may require changes to where and how U.S. forces train for future conflict,” the Pentagon said. 

Shatner space flight delayed: “Star Trek” star William Shatner’s anticipated launch into space aboard Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin’s New Shepard NS-18 was delayed until Wed., Oct. 13 by high winds at the Texas launch site, the company said. Shatner, 90, will take part in Blue Origin’s second manned flight and become the oldest person ever to travel in space. 

Sign up to get The Air & Space Brief every Tuesday from Tara Copp, Defense One’s Senior Pentagon Reporter. Space fact: On Oct. 15, 2003, China launched its first astronaut into space. 

From Defense One

Pentagon Begins ‘Continuous Vetting’ of All Troops for Insider Threats, Extremism; Social Media May Come Next // Patrick Tucker: Automatic alerts will flag records or activities of concern among all Defense Department personnel.

New DOD Climate Plan: Adjust Ops, Training, Gear for Extreme Weather // Tara Copp: Virtual exercises will help when wildfires rage; equipment will be tested for health effects in intense heat and cold.