The F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team’s commander performs a knife-edge pass at a March airshow.

The F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team’s commander performs a knife-edge pass at a March airshow. DoD

The Air & Space Brief: F-22s, deprioritized; F-35 buy, shrinking?; A Space Force CO, fired; And more…

Budget Day will be May 27. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown dropped a few hints about his spending priorities last week — and the F-22 won’t be one of them. Brown said the service intends to whittle its seven fighter frames to ”four-plus-one”: the Next Generation Air Dominance platform, F-15EX, F-35, F-16, and some newly re-winged A-10s the service will keep until the 2030s. 

About those F-35s: Air Force Magazine obtained budget talking points prepared for Brown that suggest the service wants to buy 20 fewer F-35s over the next five years due to higher-than-expected sustainment costs. The Air Force also aims to pare its older F-15s, F-16s, and A-10s, according to the talking points. But both plans depend on the will of Congress, which has in recent years rebuffed efforts to retire aircraft.  

GMTI in space. Space Force revealed last week it will add a space-based provide Ground Moving Target Indicator to track ground vehicles when enemy defenses keep Air Force JSTARS, U-2s, and Global Hawks at bay, or GMTI, capability from space. 

Space Force fired Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier, commander of 11th Space Warning Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base, on Friday “for comments made during a podcast promoting his new book, which claims Marxist ideologies are becoming prevalent in the United States military,” reported.

Welcome to Mars. China’s Zhurong rover landed on Mars on Saturday, just three months after NASA’s Perseverance arrived. The rover’s name alludes to a god of fire, CNN reported.

This week: 

  • May 17, 2:15 p.m.: Brookings hosts National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence members and Sen. Joni Ernst, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities to discuss a “National Strategy for AI Innovation.” 
  • May 18, 10:30: Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies hosts former F-16 pilot Heather “Lucky” Penney and DARPA Strategic Technology Office's Dr. Tim Grayson discuss the U.S. Aerospace Industrial Base.
  • May 18, 2:30 p.m.: Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies hosts Dr. Victoria Coleman, chief scientist of the Air Force. 
  • May 19, noon:  Washington Space Business Roundtable with Air Force Col. Robert Bongiovi, director of U.S. Space Force on impact of reducing space flight costs on military space operations. 
  • Hosting an event? Let us know.

Sign up to get The Air & Space Brief every Monday morning from Tara Copp, Defense One’s Senior Pentagon Reporter. One year ago today, the Air Force launched an X-37B space plane for the sixth time. It’s still up there, doing classified things.

From Defense One

The Air Force Is Planning For a Future Without the F-22 // Tara Copp and Marcus Weisgerber: Just four fighters will make up the future fleet: F-35, F-16, F-15EX, and NGAD, chief says.

Space Force Aims to Take on an Air Force Surveillance Mission // Tara Copp: Ground Moving Target Indicator satellites would begin to replace decades-old aircraft as the newest service expands its mission set.

It’s Official: New Air Force Ones Will Be Delivered Late // Marcus Weisgerber: “Definitely a setback” said Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson, the U.S. Air Force’s deputy weapons buyer, as Boeing legal battle delays production.

DOD Lifts Mask Mandate for Fully Vaccinated Personnel // Elizabeth Howe: Fully vaccinated DOD personnel are no longer required to wear a mask at Defense Department facilities.

Why the U.S. Needs a Space Czar // Julia Ciocca, Lauren Kahn, and Christian Ruhl: Bureaucracy must keep up with the new space age.