Visitors to The Great Texas Airshow tour the B-29 Superfortress static display Apr. 23, 2022, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

Visitors to The Great Texas Airshow tour the B-29 Superfortress static display Apr. 23, 2022, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. U.S. Air Force / Sean Worrell

The Air & Space Brief: Space Industry for Ukraine launches, China’s ‘grab and throw’ satellite, Late F-35s, and … Phoenix Ghost

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

Space Industry for Ukraine: More than 20 satellite and space industry firms announced Tuesday the start of the “Space Industry for Ukraine” humanitarian initiative, which has already raised almost $1 million for needs in Ukraine over the next three months, including medical and food supplies, communications gear for NGOs, and evacuation assistance. “Given the degradation of the local cell networks … they are eager to get access to satellite phone-based communication capabilities,” said HawkEye 360 CEO John Serafini. The firms won’t provide the satellite services, but instead will provide funds for NGOs to buy the gear and contracts they need for sat phone services. 

Late F-35s: Lockheed Martin has delivered one-fourth of its F-35s late; and those still on order will eventually face costly bills to install new systems that won't be ready for prime time until at least 2029, the GAO warned this week. Additionally, problems with the jet’s simulators have delayed DOD plans to declare the plane ready for “full-rate production,” a bureaucratic milestone that signals the F-35 is stable and reliable.

Phoenix Ghost: Ukraine asked the U.S. for a new drone to fight Russia, so the U.S. Air Force delivered one for them: Phoenix Ghost, a new lethal aerial weapon that the Pentagon is reluctant to detail, except to say it will take on many of the qualities of the kamikaze Switchblade drones already in theater. 

“Grab and Throw” China satellite: In February, China tested a satellite that can grab and throw other satellites. “That proves that they have the ability and the intent to compete against us for space superiority,” Space Systems Command head Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein said this week. Russia and China’s advancements on how they could take out U.S. satellites is affecting how the Pentagon builds, launches, and relies on commercial partners for them, Guetlein said. 

Sign up to get The Air & Space Brief every Tuesday from Tara Copp, Defense One’s Senior Pentagon Reporter. On April 26, 1966, U.S. F-4 Phantoms shot down the first Vietnam People’s Air Force MiG-21 of the Vietnam War. 

From Defense One

Kyiv Asked for a New Kamikaze Drone to Fight Russia. The Air Force Delivered Phoenix Ghost // Tara Copp

At least 121 of the new drones are headed to Ukraine as part of the latest $800 million security package.

Lockheed Is Delivering F-35s Late—But the Pentagon Is Also Buying Them Too Quickly, GAO Says // Marcus Weisgerber

More than one-quarter of recent jets are arriving behind schedule, but ahead of planned components that will require costly retrofits, the watchdog says.

Space Force Trying to Prep Old Satellites for New Threats by 2026 // Patrick Tucker

Russia and China are developing new space weapons faster than the U.S. can field new constellations. That's forcing a big rethink on how to keep the lights on in space.