U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Banke, 20th Component Maintenance Squadron egress technician, performs a final inspection of an ejection seat and canopy installation at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, March 2, 2022.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Banke, 20th Component Maintenance Squadron egress technician, performs a final inspection of an ejection seat and canopy installation at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, March 2, 2022. U.S. Air Force / Senior Airman Madeline Herzog

The Air & Space Brief: AFSOC’s C-130 overhaul; Russia satellite tampering an “act of war?” Why is Ukraine’s internet still up?

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

AFSOC C-130s overhaul: By next year, Air Force Special Operations Command will have made two major changes to its C-130 fleet‚ turning some into amphibious planes and others into JASSM launchers. AFSOC is working with the Air Force Research Lab on Rapid Dragon, which will enable a cargo plane to drop a pallet of AGM-158 JASSM missiles from its back ramp, fire them off in midair, and put 450-kilogram warheads on targets more than a hundred miles away, forcing adversaries “to honor every cargo airplane as a potential high-volume, precision-fires platform, it creates different kinds of problems,” the Air Force said. 

Russia’s satellite war warning: “Disabling the satellite group of any country is generally a casus belli, that is, a reason to go to war. And we will be looking for those who organized it,” Roscosmos Director-General Dmitry Rogozin warned the U.S. and others last week after Russia invaded Ukraine. The U.S. has not set policy for whether an attack on a satellite would be an act of war. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, however, cautioned “that anyone who attacks a U.S. asset has to be very concerned about the consequences of that act.”

Ukrainian internet and the war: In the days before Russia invaded Ukraine, many observers thought the tanks would be preceded by cyber attacks and a media blackout as Russian hackers took down the country’s communications. Instead, Ukraine’s IT infrastructure has held up, allowing officials and citizens alike to dominate the global narrative with images of confused Russian soldiers and downed fighter jets. One prevailing theory on why? Russia is dependent on that same network to carry out its attack.

Sign up to get The Air & Space Brief every Tuesday from Tara Copp, Defense One’s Senior Pentagon Reporter. This week in space history: From March 3-13, 1969, Apollo 9 astronauts orbited the Earth and tested all of the hardware needed for a lunar landing.


From Defense One

Air Force Special Operations Looks To Reinvent Itself On the Cheap // Patrick Tucker

Cargo planes that drop cruise missiles from pallets and land on water show how air special operators are trying to trick out what they've already got on the tarmac.

If Russia Hacks a US Satellite, Is It an Act of War? // Brandi Vincent

After a Russian official issued dire warnings against tampering with satellites, U.S. officials declined to follow suit.

Why Is Ukraine's Internet Still Up? Perhaps Because the Invaders Need It // Tara Copp

As well, eight years of effort to harden IT infrastructure may be paying off.

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